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International North-South Dialogue

As long as democracy and social justice are threatened in some areas, regions or countries, they are in jeopardy everywhere. This is why the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is trying to apply suitable development policy measures to ensure the implementation of these principles at national level. However, in view of the globalization of politics, the economies, financial transactions and increasingly also of social problems, the point is not only to enable marginalized groups to participate in decisions in their national societies, but at the level of international politics, too. In close cooperation with Willy Brandt, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has supported the countries in the Southern hemisphere in their efforts for a more just world economic order.

After the collapse of communism, the political situation has become rather more difficult for the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America because the power position of the Third World vis-a-vis the First World has been weakened significantly by the disappearance of the Second World. At an international level, political and economic positions of power are being even more clearly articulated than in the past. This is why the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung wants to help disadvantaged groups not only to participate in the international discussions, but to present their views and to further their interests, in other words to be included in the actual formulation of international policies and platforms. The aim is to empower the representatives of Africa, Asia and Latin America to participate efficiently in international negotiations and to exert an influence on decisions taken within that frame-work. Differences of opinion between institutions in our country and organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America are to be discussed, and, whenever possible, a mutually acceptable position is to be worked out.

Consequently, one of the major concerns of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung consists in strengthening international institutions. In this context cooperation with the United Nations and their specialized organizations like ILO and UNESCO is given a prominent place. The Foundatio supports the discussion about a reform of the United Nations and promotes "South-South cooperation" between developing countries. Increasing attention has to be paid to global problems about which the German public is not yet well informed (migration, drug trade, international crime). It is necessary to explain their causes and effects and to help identify possible solutions.

Together with the trade unions, welfare organizations and non-governmental organizations the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has been involved in the development of a German platform for the World Social Summit in 1995 and it has contributed to the preparations for the World Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995 with national and international dialogue-orientated meetings.

Human and trade union rights have a completely different status in Asia than in Europe. In the past this has led to disagreement about whether social clauses should become part of international trade agreements or not. The Foundation has co-organized a number of meetings with partner organizations and will continue to encourage a constructive dialogue about this topic.

It is possible to promote an international dialogue and democracy only if all parties concerned have access to means of communication. Through its project activities, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has facilitated an exchange of news between the media in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Carribean. In a great many training programmes, journalists were taught the principles of ethics and responsibility of the media in a democratic society.

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©Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition mv&ola | August 1997