We, social movements, and civil society organisations of the Reclaim Our Future Conference, held on 8 to 9 October 2023, demand that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group (IMF-WBG) be shut down and held accountable for their roles in driving and exacerbating today’s multiple crises.
This year’s Annual Meetings took place amid devastation and war in the Arab world and Africa, regions heavily affected by global powers’ interventionism to protect narrow geopolitical interests, such as that of the United States (US). The host country Morocco is still reeling from a devastating earthquake that killed and injured thousands a month prior. Meanwhile, Israel launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip a day before the Annual Meetings were held, declaring its war against Palestine – the land it has illegitimately occupied for almost as long as the IMF-WBG has been in existence.
For the IMF-WBG, however, holding the Annual Meetings in these regions means the promotion of “better business climates” for its leading countries, especially from the Global North. Conflict in the region will be bolstered, resulting in more wealth inequalities, aggravation of societal tensions, displacement, killings, and the prevention of a peace based on social justice.
Hold the IMF-WBG and its dictates accountable for creating and worsening multiple crises
Indeed, since their establishment, the IMF-WBG have played major roles in perpetuating today’s neocolonial world economy, which plunders the resources and wealth of the Global South and hollows out their domestic economies for the financial oligarchy, transnational corporations, and elites of the Global North and South. On the other hand, peoples in these countries are forced to live under poverty wages, dangerous working conditions, landlessness, as well as forced migration in search of better livelihoods.
IMF-WBG’s interventions in the Global South, from structural adjustment programs to current policy conditionalities, further liberalised and deregulated their economies for foreign corporate plunder, and decimated public infrastructure and services. With policy dictates enforced mostly through conditionalities in loans, and amid the use of debt bondage as another colonial mechanism of wealth extraction, debt cancellation and even repudiation continues to be urgent possibilities for the Global South.
IMF and WBG-led austerity measures such as budget cuts to education, health, social protection, public transport, the wage bill and subsidies; reforms to social security/protection and labor; and privatization/PPPs of public services pass the burden and weight of crises on populations, particularly on women, workers, farmers, and Indigenous Peoples. All this human suffering is unnecessary, as governments have many financing alternatives to support public services, social security, and fulfillment of human rights.
The Bank’s private finance-first approach, encapsulated in its prevailing Cascade Approach of de-risking for investors, reinforces the power of finance capital and big business in development. The Bank’s active promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs), blended finance, and foreign investments as solutions to crises put into pedestal actors whose track record is marked by resource extraction, race-to-the-bottom wages, human rights violations, violence, and environmental destruction. The allocation of IMF’s international reserve assets follows colonial patterns. In 2021, USD 160 billion is available for Europe compared to USD 34 billion in Africa.
Under different pretexts, from backing market-friendly governments to peacebuilding, the IMF-WBG have also historically supported authoritarian regimes–from Chile to the Philippines–as well as policies that undermined people’s sovereignty. Today, the WBG boasts of undergoing a reform through its Evolution Roadmap to supposedly be able to better respond to the various crises facing the world.
We expect these realities of harms to be erased or obfuscated by these Bretton Woods Institutions as they mark 80 years in 2024. And all these dictates and harms, we strongly condemn and reject.
Reject the “progressive”-washing of IMF-WBG culpability
We oppose the IMF-WBG’s false, market-based, techno-fix solutions to the global food and climate crises that will further undermine people’s food sovereignty and constrict developing countries’ resources for adaptation and mitigation. If anything, these “solutions” only solve how global powers and their corporations can continue to extract superprofits while exploiting today’s global hunger and climate catastrophe.
We call out the WBG for spending billions of dollars to finance fossil fuels. WBG-funded large-scale infrastructure and energy projects have violently displaced peasant, Indigenous, and rural communities, violated their rights, destroyed their ecosystems, and exacerbated climate, disaster, and environmental risks. We are also against the World Bank’s financing of the same infrastructure projects, such as large hydroelectric projects in indigenous territories that have fostered conflicts and divisions in communities, induced water scarcity, and worsened flooding such as in Pakistan.
We denounce IMF-WBG’s gender strategies that adopt feminist rhetoric to camouflage dictates that privatise social services, and liberalise and deregulate economies to further exploit women and girls’ labour in workplaces, communities, and at home for the profit of big business.
We reject the WB’s Evolution Roadmap as an attempt to erase the Bank’s role in driving today’s crises, assert its legitimacy as a development institution despite its track record, and continue its dominance over our economies and development.
We strongly oppose these neoliberal “solutions,’’ which show that these institutions are interested not in change but in merely repackaging the profit-oriented economic model under new guises. We reject the IMF-WBG’s co-optation of people’s issues and agenda to reinforce and greenwash the status quo for big business and the elite.
Reclaim our future after almost 80 years: Not a day more, shut down!
In solidarity with the people of Morocco, we demand relief and rights-based, people-centered recovery. We assert that the situation should not be instrumentalised by IFIs to facilitate big business interests.
We also stand with Palestinian peoples who have been suffering from apartheid and oppression by the Zionist state and its backers – the US and Europe. This is neocolonialism in action: the IMF-WBG, with its power coming from the West, has enabled Israel’s occupation, including the ongoing war in Gaza. They must retract from all forms of financing that are subjugating Palestine and other Global South nations.
Holding the IMF-WBG accountable means holding Northern states, their corporations, and elite cohorts in the Global South accountable for shackling us in neoliberal and neocolonial dictates. Their further legitimation of the IMF-WBG and their interventions in the Global South jeopardise peoples’ rights, including our right to chart our countries’ own socio-economic paths.
Peoples in the Global South, as well as civil society around the world, will continue to amplify our demands against the IMF-WBG, to end their unjust interventions in developing countries and to hold them accountable for extensive debt, liberalised economies, violence, destruction of our planet, and violations of peoples’ rights. They must be shut down, once and for all.
The track record of the IMF-WBG against peoples’ needs, rights, and sovereignty raises the need to collectively craft a people’s history of their 80 years in 2024. Their culpability for perpetuating the monopoly capitalist system and facilitating super-profits from current multiple crises requires strengthening the counter-narrative of social movements, civil society, and peoples.
By reclaiming our future, we also reclaim history – our history that is grounded in the realities of the exploited and oppressed, and not of the pro-big business narrative of the IMF-WBG. By reclaiming our future – a future where there is no IMF-WBG – we disentangle the world from neoliberal dictates toward advancing peoples’ sovereignty, democratic ownership of economies, and self-determination. By shutting down the IMF-WBG, we reclaim our future that is free from neocolonialism and imperialism. #