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International Socialist Conference in Parliament

The challenges of globalisation are on the agenda of leaders from more than 140 nations attending the three-day Socialist International conference in Paris. John Howard reports.

Leaders from countries who are members of Socialist International were opting Monday for traditional values of social justice rather than the liberal approaches such as those touted by Britain's Tony Blair and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder.

However, both Blair and Schroeder also agreed that the old socialist goals spelled out a century ago remained a cornerstone to left and centre-left policies for the 21st century.

In a lyrical and much-applauded speech French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin said, "The market is no more than an instrument, an affluent and precious one, but it is only an instrument. It needs to be regulated and it must remain at the service of society."

"We refuse the merchandisation of societies," he said. "Health is not a merchandise, the works of the mind are not merchandise, the work of men is not merchandise."

"Globalisation could not be reduced to free trade. Globalisation is the realisation that mankind has a common destiny," Mr Jospin said.

Tony Blair said, "This gathering comes at an important time. There is a debate underway about the future of the left. Whether in other words we can stand for fairness and enterprise together. My case is that we can, and we must."

Blair added, " When I say New Labour means enterprise and fairness, and Lionel (Jospin) says he believes in a market economy but not a market society, we are both saying we must rise to the challenge of change; find different ways for our different countries; of reaching the same goals, inspired above all by our true and last values: solidarity, social justice, a community based on opportunity for all."

Germany's Schroeder also stressed his party remained attached to the same "basic values" that have bonded Socialist International for around a century. "Berlin was working for a Europe that was both an economically efficient continent but was also a socially just one," he said.

The more than 1,000 delegates from countries in power across the globe, included those from 11 of the 15 European Union states, Argentina, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat, and Nelson Mandela's African National Congress.

A draft copy of a text to be approved later calls for renewed efforts against poverty and hunger. The delegates gathered under a banner proclaiming "a more humane society, a world more fair and just."

Commentators and analyst's now say there is a shift throughout the world away from globalisation which does not include social justice for all.

ends


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