• English
  • 日本語
  • France
  • Deutschland
  • Italy
  • España
  • Slovenia

The end of poverty? Expert panel discussion at UK screening


Expert panellists and film director Philippe Diaz discuss the structural causes of poverty and suggest possible solutions at the UK premiere of ‘The End of Poverty?’ on 12th December 2009. The event was coordinated by STWR and the British Film Institute (BFI).

The following is a transcript of the panel discussion that followed the screening at BFI Southbank, London. The panel featured Irene Khan - secretary general of Amnesty International, Clare Short MP, the film’s director Philippe Diaz, John Hilary - executive director of War on Want, and was chaired by Colin Prescod from the Institute of Race Relations.

STWR 'End of Poverty?' Event page

STWR Summary of the event

The End of Poverty? Official website

Colin Prescod [chair]: Let me introduce you to the panel; we have Philippe Diaz, John Hilary, Clare Short and Irene Khan. What I am going to do is really very simple. I am going to ask Philippe about how, why and wherefore he came to be involved in making this film, and he can tell us a bit about that; although the film as you saw was extremely eloquent, he doesn’t need to tell us the whole essay all over again but I would like to hear what he has to say about that.

To the other people in particular I’d like to ask them what do they, of all the main themes in this hugely impressive essay, what was it that they take first so to speak, and to comment on what they think might be done, what is to be done about the thing they are looking at that comes out of this film.

First let me ask Philippe Diaz to say a few words about his film, how he came to make it, why he came to make it, and what he hopes might come out of it.

Philippe Diaz: Well thank you for coming first of all, did you not have a better more fun movie to see today, I don’t know, Avatar? The same subject by the way. Well why this film, it’s a long story. First of all I think for me what was important is to raise awareness on what’s going on. I think we are in an extremely dramatic situation, much more dramatic than we can imagine and I discovered that in doing this film, but also in the research and all that.

Why personally, I always was interested in this kind of issue. I studied political philosophy and philosophy of art as well, so it made the connection that a movie can make a difference in the world, and I live in Los Angeles and I have a little company called Cinema Libre Studio, which is specialised in producing and distributing social and political film, feature film or documentaries, and we saw in many circumstances that a movie can make a difference, either one person at a time which is great but not enough, but also, you know I can even give you a little funny story to start the discussion, I will make it as short as possible.

The guy that you see in the movie, Joseph, who says you know I can’t go to school, I have four brothers and sisters to look after, etcetera. He is in Kibera [a large slum in Kenya], and Kibera is a place where there is no piped water, no sanitation, and to go to the bathroom they use what they call flying toilets, which are plastic bags. They go in the plastic bags and they toss them in the street afterwards, so every couple of blocks in Kibera you have a mountain of plastic bags with human excrement inside.

But the little story is that when I was editing the film, I sent it to a friend of mine you know I wanted his point of view, he’s an old friend from the Cannes Film Festival, and he sent me his comments on the film, and he said, “let me ask you a question, how much does it take for this kid to go to school?” I said, “Well, I don’t know.” He said, “Well, I’m going to do something, I’m going to send you $100 every month, every month I’m going to send you $100. Send it to him, and make sure he goes to school.” I said, “Ok.” And my friend has been sending like $100 to Joseph for a year, and Joseph went to school, he went to study web design, and now he’s a web designer in a company, as a job, and he can feed his family, which is a very small thing, but you know we can do a lot of things like that.

And to go back to the main subject, you know it’s all great, but it won’t change a thing, and the reality is that we can do many many things, we can eat less and drive less, and as you saw at the end of the film, degrowth. And that is important, like all the development programs and all the aid and this and that. But it won’t change a thing, because at the end of the day if we are consuming 30 percent more [than] what the planet can regenerate, it means that we are in very serious trouble because, as the world population increases every year, it simply means that for us, in the countries of the North to maintain this great lifestyle, this level of consumption and this level of waste, we will have to plunge more and more people below the poverty line in the countries of the South. It’s a mathematical issue.

So sometimes it’s much more dramatic even than global warming. I’m not minimising the effect of global warming or the level of drama in global warming, but we know with global warming that people will start to die massively in the next ten, twenty or thirty years. But people have been dying massively for the past ten, twenty, thirty and more years because of poverty-related problems.

The last card of the film, as you saw, its 18,000 children die every single day of poverty related causes, and now it’s even more, 20,000 children, and next year it will be 25,000 children. And that was the worst part [of] shooting the film, to see all that and feel that we are totally responsible for that, because let’s not kid ourselves, we are 100 percent responsible for that because of the system we created.

Colin Prescod: Thanks Philippe. Already just from what Philippe said, I know there are things you want to pick up on but I’m going to stick to my plan and just continue all the way through [the panellists]. Before I introduce John Hilary, just to provoke you, if you’ll allow me an anecdote… the Guardian today on the front page, there’s a boast by Tony Blair, that he’d have gone in, weapons of mass destruction or not, into Iraq. On the first page of the financial section of the same Guardian there is not quite a boast, but there’s the reporting that right now there’s an auction going on in Iraq. Forty of the world’s biggest companies are in there, and the administration that’s in there is so poor that it finds itself having to auction off its oil resources. Ninety percent of the resources will be controlled by foreign corporations by the end of today and the end of the auction. John.

John Hilary: Thank you very much Colin. It’s the second time I’ve seen the film and I think it’s still massively powerful. It’s an amazing film, not just because it gives you a primary view of what poverty means on a daily basis for people, also not because it gives you a sense of the system of poverty, and that’s really absolutely critical as well - and it’s an important bit of the film that it shows you how poverty is perpetuated through the system of globalisation that we have in the world today. But it also says why. It actually gives you the ‘why’ behind the system behind the poverty, and it’s that politics of poverty which I think is absolutely critical.

At War on Want one of the founding slogans of all we do is ‘poverty is political’, and this idea that poverty in developing countries and in our own countries is the result of political choices made by elites for particular reasons. And I think this for me is what is so important in the film, that you begin to sense why it is, what are the reasons behind the system, behind the poverty. And we’ve heard exactly as Colin was saying in terms of the need for oil, and the invasion of Iraq, and the fact that, as you say, Shell has just got access to this massive contract to exploit Iraqi oil.

But not just the corporate stuff, the whole sense of what we in Europe are doing in terms of our exploitation of the resources of the planet. And I think that the historical aspect of the film is extremely important to see how that goes back all the way to 1492; it’s hundreds of years of exploitation of the resources of the South. I think what we need to do, for us here today, is to recognise that it’s going on absolutely as we speak.

Certainly one of the campaigns we’re involved in is around the European Union’s external relations policy; you may know that all of the trade policy, the commercial policy of Britain is actually routed through the EU. The European Commission has competence as its call for all of the member states’ external trade policy, and in the last couple of years they’ve just launched another new strategy about how to gain access to the natural resources of the developing world, whether that be oil, or gas, or the minerals and the metals which are actually crucial to our industrial production at the moment. And that strategy, the Global Europe strategy, is a strategy which deals with trade; the EU raw materials initiative literally in the last two years has said [that] we need to gain access to those metals, to those minerals, to those oil and gas reserves in the South in order to be able to sustain our riches, and particularly to be able to sustain corporate profits here in Europe.

And I think that sense of why it’s all happening, why is it that the system doesn’t change, despite all we know about poverty, despite all we know about the problems of the system, despite the crisis that we’re currently facing which has revealed the crisis which has been there for tens of years, [or] decades in the South. Why is it that none of this knowledge changes things? It’s because of the entrenched political interests of those who benefit from it. One of the things that Colin was saying as well, asking us in a sense, is what can we do about it, what are the alternatives, what are the solutions if that’s the level of the problem?

Firstly, I think we saw some of the solutions in action in the film, for example we saw the resistance in Cochabamba in Bolivia when the people rose up and threw out Bechtel, threw out the idea of privatised water. What we didn’t see of course is that the Bolivians also managed to surge forward this great social movement which brought Evo Morales to power and ushered in a completely new era in Bolivia, of really re-appropriating the commons, re-appropriating the public wealth of that country. So supporting grassroots social movements in the South, in their resistance to neoliberal globalisation and their ability to create alternatives is crucial.

One of the movements War on Want works with in the South, we saw representatives there, the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil, Movimento Sem Terra, and they have constructed across 23 of Brazil’s 27 states a completely new alternative form of communal agriculture, of communal living; societies where people own the education, the health in common, where people practice sustainable agriculture with minimal input, anti-GM, anti-genetically modified seeds and everything which have swept across Brazil.

That type of alternative structure is completely challenging from the grassroots the idea of neoliberal globalisation which you saw in the film, and which, I have to say, is sometimes held up by our government and by NGOs, by charities in this country, as a success. We need to recognise that a lot of the success stories you read about in the press are exactly the failings that we have just seen here. So yes I think supporting the social movements of the South and their resistance is key.

The second strand of it is for us to recognise that all of these policies are implemented in our name. It’s our government and the institutions that our government sits on that promote these policies, that force them onto developing countries. That’s why it’s our responsibility to challenge our government, to challenge the European Union, to challenge the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, and to stop them promoting these policies in the future. That I think is the double strand of how we can actually see justice come about, and that will be the end of poverty.

Colin Prescod: We live in the belly of the monster, and we ought to be doing something about attacking it here. The next person on the panel is Clare Short, you may recognise her - she’s had a rather more public profile than some of the others. I know that she’s come out of a not-too-well bed, she’s not all that well, and she’s come to be here with us today. Clare was somebody who stuck her head above the barricade, as you all know, during the time of the invasion of Iraq. Clare, welcome.

Clare Short: Thank you. I think the film was incomplete. It’s true that colonialism was grossly exploitative, and it’s true that neoliberalism started charging for healthcare and so on. Of course at the time of colonialism there was a sort of famine in Ireland and there was, in my city of Birmingham, we had child labour and cholera, and people struggled to set up trade unions and so on. Of course there were the Opium wars in China, and now China’s industrialising. So I think one of the things that was really missing [in the film] is the greedy, selfish elites of developing countries.

Latin America’s the most unequal continent, and in Kenya, a lot of [the filming of the documentary] was in Kenya, right next to that massive slum, Kibera, there is a massive golf course that is as big as Kibera and who plays there are rich Kenyans. And you know who was elected in Kenya and the trouble afterwards, and the whole elite is now in a government of National Unity and they are all at it [sic]. I’m not saying there isn’t deep, Western policy, historically exploitative [sic], but you have to say - why is this going on after so long?

Eighty percent of the population of the world are being exploited. Now there’s more democracy across the world, it can’t just be our corporations and the World Bank and the IMF, there’s more to it than this. And the other thing I would say, because big big change is coming in my view. There’s been very large population growth and massive urbanisation; it’s not just the big slums, its small towns everywhere across the developing world. And two things are going to happen; one, because of climate change and the unsustainability of our way of life, which of course we live but people in the poorer parts of the world aspire to live, but it’s unsustainable for the whole world and we’ve all got to change the way we live. There’s going to be more and more catastrophe, shortages of water, food is going to get more and more expensive following oil getting more expensive as we saw previously.

Things are going to get very nasty, so I think the urbanised poor in the world are going to get much more angry and organised. Like the history of Western Europe tells us, the rural poor came into the cities, they were exploited and impoverished, but as they got together they could both riot and organise, and the poor of the world are now urbanising and can riot and organise. There’s going to be more catastrophe and hunger, you know the hunger figures have gone down steadily and now are up again to a billion. We’re going to have a lot of new people, by 2040 to 2050 there’s going to be 9 billion of us, there’s 6.7 billion at the moment. Ninety percent of the new people are going to be born in the poorest countries, so the strain is going to be enormous and there’s going to be so many displaced in Bangladesh, in Africa, because of weather and droughts and floods and so on. And our governments are going to move to the right in a fascistic way as they try to keep out the people who riot and say ‘we need to escape and we’re displaced’.

So I am expecting enormously turbulent and difficult times when politics is going to get very nasty, and people of generosity and decency are going to have to gather, North to South, and we’re all going to be in trouble. So this [view], ‘oh dear, people who live in the North are guilty and did the colonisation and it’s their corporations, and if we were just a bit nicer, or gave some more money to NGOs or something it would all be fixed’. I think that’s just wrong, and history never works like that. People make their own history, and the people of the South are going to lead their own liberation, but through turbulent times. But we’re going to be in trouble too, and we’ll need new alliances and new movements.

It’s going to be a hard but kind of an exciting time in the sense that it will be in our hands to gather again and make something more decent, and the only way for any of us to have a future is to make a more sustainable, less consumerist, more equitable world order. Because otherwise it’s just going to be a lot of trouble for all of us, and who knows in a couple of hundred years homo sapiens might go the way of Neanderthal man.

Colin Prescod: I’m not going to let you go straight back at Clare on this one, I know she wanted some more of some things in the film [sic], and you want to argue and say ‘hold on, you can’t say those things about the film’, but that will have to wait. Finally from the panel in terms of the presentations before I give you a chance to say some things, Irene Khan from Amnesty...

Irene Khan: Thank you. For me I think the film showed two very important aspects of poverty; the systems, the history, the dynamic forces that keep people poor, but it also very powerfully projected the voices of the people. So you have the story of Joseph on the one hand, as well as that of the corporations on the other. The voices of the people are very important, because the voices actually show that poverty is not just about a dollar or two dollars or even six dollars, but it’s about the powerlessness that keeps them poor, their lack of control over their lives, the insecurity that is so much a daily part of their lives, job insecurity and physical insecurity. And that shows really that the law doesn’t work for the poor, the systems that we have don’t work for the poor, even human rights don’t work for the poor because one of the rights, as you know, is the right to property. And that actually makes poor people very cynical about the ethics and the values that we promote, even the human rights movement.

That brings me to emphasise the issue of participation. You mentioned John the social movements, and one of the problems of poverty has been that participation has been seen as a topical issue filling in forms in development projects rather than creating open societies where people, where poor people can genuinely participate in decision making. The film showed very clearly how absent the poor are from any of the decisions that are being made which have a huge impact on their lives. So that’s where I think we almost need a reframing of human rights in terms of participation of people in issues that affect their lives.

I would also say that in that film, something that comes out very strongly is the lack of accountability, the lack of accountability of international financial institutions. We saw the policies that have failed, and yet there’s no accountability for it. The lack of accountability of the North, the lack of accountability of the global South governments, the lack of accountability of companies. And that calls for a different framing of accountability, and that is one of the biggest challenges, is how do you bring the corporate sector into an accountable framework when they are so totally undemocratic and unaccountable to anyone, and sometimes not even to their shareholders as the recent corporate scandals have shown. But also the lack of accountability of international financial institutions, they get away with it.

So freedom matters, accountability matters, we here have to do more, but we are really the converted, so how do you bring those who are not converted into the debate, and that is really the big challenge that we face. And I would say that there are two messages there; one is that this is about justice, not about charity; and the second is that it is also [about] our own self interest. The self interest of most people, and there is self interest there. The insecurity angle was highlighted in the film, about how the poor will not just be there to be oppressed [sic]; the poor can also rise, and sometimes they rise very violently and destabilise a situation. But there is I think a bigger self interest now that is being driven, that ought to be driven I should rather say, by climate change, and there I do see a link between climate change and poverty, they are not two silos.

The silo approach is the other big danger I think in our policy making, where we see an add on, we do a bit here and a bit there, an add on approach. Climate change will not only increase the number of the poor, it will wipe away any progress that has been made, it will bring a totally different dynamic to how people become poor, to impoverishment, and if we don’t take that seriously and we don’t take an integrated approach to poverty eradication and to tackling climate change, I think we are in very great danger.

So for me I would say freedom, open societies, are very important for tackling poverty. Open societies in which we don’t just talk about equality, because wherever you push equality without recognising the structural inequalities and injustices that exist, it’s the middle class that benefits. You create schools, we know that here in the UK, state run schools and who benefits from them the most [sic]; health systems, who benefits from them the most. So there needs to be a real visibility and attention given to the injustices that exist, and that means in many ways a stronger state. What we’ve seen is a retreat of the state in recent years. The state has to come back into the debate, but the state itself has to be made more accountable to the poor.

Colin Prescod: Strong, direct statements, perfect, thank you Irene. So, participation, and I think that both Irene and Philippe realise that the issue of sustainable development is the thing that people are going to be moving around, what is going to be [sic].

I said to Clare Short before we came up onto the platform earlier on, I have been speaking with my son who is just 37. The politics he makes now is around this issue of sustainable development. It’s around ecology; it’s about world resources and so on. When I was his age, my politics was around socialism, it was about having a political root to controlling things. Socialism is not the front line that anybody moves around now; it is around the sustainability of the kind of development that we’re going to have on our planet.

[Lights go up and questions are taken from the floor.]

Question 1: Thank you for producing the film because I think it raises a lot of points that need to be raised and highlighted. I just wanted to ask the panel about all their opinions on Zimbabwe please.

Question 2: Hello, I’d like to congratulate and thank Philippe for the film which I know was sponsored by the Schalkenbach Foundation, but I have to say, I’m also disappointed to see how little attention was given to the prevalence of poverty throughout the world, rather than merely in the South, and the common cause. And I would link here with the observation of Clare Short in relation to the structural failures that we have here. It would have been, I think, very much more powerful if you had been able to show how, in London, in New York, in Los Angeles and Rome and everywhere else, the prevalence of poverty and the cause [that is] still remaining - the monopolisation of the most fundamental of nature’s resources; the land. But it seems to me you made a fundamental mistake by focusing upon poor land, upon agricultural land, upon industrial land and upon mining. The robbery of the poor here is of the urban land, it’s of the fact that young people working cannot afford to find somewhere to live because they cannot afford to pay for the land upon which every house is built. They could afford to build their own houses, but they can’t afford a home because they cannot get access to the fundamental resource - the land.

There are mechanisms by which that could be made far more readily available linked to the public revenue system, linked to that division between the return that goes to labour and capital, as distinct from the community created value that exists in every city throughout the world through the work of the community, and it rests in land value. That’s what we need to collect and make available to everyone.

Colin Prescod: Thank you very much. I take that as not a question, but a statement, and the way I read it is – make more films that address these matters. This film addressed enough it seems to me in its scope, but there is a need for more.

Question 3: Hello, first of all I would just like to remark on what the woman from Amnesty said about self interest. I wish that people would recognise more the kind of self fulfilment that you can get from selfless service to others. And this is the real self interest, that you can fulfil yourself just by serving others, by looking after other people’s interests once you have your basic interests satisfied for yourself.

I’d like to direct my question to Clare. As somebody who has had experience in Parliament, I wonder what you think about people like us - and there are many more out there, not just in this room, who want to make change and know that political change is needed, but feel completely disenfranchised by what we’re being offered by the parties which we’re supposed to vote for. And the majority of the population now doesn’t vote, and what are we supposed to do about that? How can we change the kind of people that are supposed to represent us in a way in which we feel like we really are being represented?

Colin Prescod: So we’ve got Zimbabwe and we’ve got mobilising people. I’ll take one more question before I direct them to the panel.

Question 4: Thanks, I enjoyed the film a lot, I thought it was brilliant. It looked really good; it sounded really good; I particularly liked the voiceover bringing it all together at certain points. So congratulations, I think it’s really good.

[Voice from crowd: It didn’t offer any solutions]

It did offer some. But I was going to ask a question about the central focus of the film [which] was about global poverty and on a human level, universally speaking. And it occurred to me that the Chinese have lifted something like 600 million people out of poverty over the last 25 years on a completely new model that has never been used before and seems to be extremely successful. Probably most of the people in this room have got some attachment to ideas of liberalism and democracy, and those ideas haven’t been used in the Chinese model that has been particularly successful. So I wanted to ask you, did you consider bringing in the Chinese model and decide to leave it out? What is your position on that?

Colin Prescod: Thank you. I’m going to break my own rule and have one question from down here.

Question 5: Hi Philippe; a welcome and timely examination of poverty. Just a minor quibble which was: many of your African contributors in the documentary were very lucid, very eloquent, so why did you subtitle them? That’s a minor quibble, but apart from that it’s excellent.

My question is really directed at Clare. Ms Short, I do take issue with some of the points you’re making because my frustration is: why is there this tendency to locate the problem regarding poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, in corrupt leadership? Of course there is corrupt leadership, but we know from that documentary and elsewhere that the root cause is Structural Adjustment Programs, its market fundamentalism. Why is there this tendency to locate the problem with corrupt leaders? I think that in part answers Irene’s question about how we engage the unconverted. To be quite honest, if it’s located in corrupt leaders, it’s no wonder people don’t want to get involved. If it’s those corrupt leaders, it’s pointless sending money, even though charity is not the only issue itself [sic]. I would really like you to help me address that issue.

Colin Prescod: Thank you very much, and now I would like to get back to the panel, if they can remember the questions directed to them in different kinds of ways.

Clare Short: Can I take this one Colin?

Colin Prescod: Of course Clare.

Clare Short: I didn’t use the word corrupt, but I said there are powerful elites in Latin America. Latin America’s the most unequal continent, and in the case of Kenya [sic]. But you can’t leave it out because if you do, you’re saying it’s neoliberalism and structural adjustments, and all those African people are powerless and useless. And if you go there they will tell you what they think of their governments… [dissent from the crowd]. If we want to pretend nicely nicely that it’s all the fault of colonialism and the World Bank, I think it’s disrespectful of the people who live in those countries and their anger if you go and talk to them [sic]. Of course wrong things have been done, but also it doesn’t find the answer, because the answer is going to come from those angry people, and they are going to use their power to change their governments. And the fact that they’re urbanising is going to increase their power in my view. So I think this old fashioned NGO [view that] ‘it was all colonialism and then the World Bank and so give a bit more money to Oxfam’ is actually a very patronising analysis. It’s meant well but it doesn’t really work.

[Voice of Questioner no 5: That’s not what I was saying actually...]

Clare Short: Well, that’s my answer. [Inaudible murmuring in crowd.] I know that, but I’m telling you something that I think is very important. People who don’t want to be critical of the governments of the countries of the South are leaving a massive chunk of the story out of the picture.

Colin Prescod: Okay, yes Philippe...

Philippe Diaz: Well, first of all I think you have a great point and I want to jump on this one. Because what is important and should have been developed more, I agree with you, is that we do the corruption and we are 100 percent responsible for the corruption. You know, it’s why John Perkins was someone I really wanted to work on the film because he really explained that very clearly. He said that we come with 100 million in this pocket and a gun in the other pocket. What is the responsibility of the people when you have also a family to take care of and you have [someone with] a gun in one pocket and a 100 million in the other?

[Voice from crowd: Why are we corrupt?]

So, we have built a system and… I will answer briefly, in one second, the other points. I think it’s great; I’m very, very happy that a lot of people here are making their own movie. That’s what we need, you know; I made my own, and Clare was making her own, and this gentleman here is making his own - it’s great. Unless you take over and you start to work with these ideas and make your own ideas, it will not go anywhere. We need you to take over because the politicians will never do anything for the [inaudible] of poverty or for the poor people.

If something happens it will come from you, from the people. We saw it in Bolivia, we saw it all around the world. So I’m very happy that people make their own movie, that’s not the issue. It was Joseph Stiglitz who was saying in the film… I didn’t put it there because it was too long. The first cut of the movie was three hours long, so I decided I could not impose that on you. But Stiglitz was saying that; he was saying to do corruption you need a corruptee and a corrupter, and unfortunately we are the corrupter as usual. My goal was really to show, not to make us feel guilty, it was to make us understand where the system started because I don’t think we can take care of a problem unless we understand how it started.

Clare Short: This is not just an issue of corruption. There was a new study here yesterday that showed that here in Britain, of the wealth of the country, the 50 percent lower income people in Britain own 9 percent of the wealth of Britain. Now this isn’t just a corruption problem. This is a kind of social and economic system that drives inequality and exploitation and marginalisation.

I didn’t use the word corruption, that’s another discussion. What you’ve got is very elitist governments that don’t listen to their own poor or empower them, and run the same kind of economic system to an even greater degree in those countries. And the remedy will come from… And I want to answer the guy up here, I agree with you about the mood of the country; that you can vote for any of these parties but they all stand for exactly the same thing. I think we’ve been living through an economic bubble where everyone had some more [sic]. It’s coming to an end. Times are going to get much tougher. People are going to get much angrier and people are going to mobilise more, and strike and demand and agitate, and they’re going to throw up new political forces and demand change. And we’re going into that era now.

When Karl Marx, in 1945, they published the Communist Manifesto there were revolutions all over Europe, Western Europe, and there were the Chartists here agitating for the vote. And then there was a big economic bubble and nothing happened for ages, and he got very depressed. We’re just coming into a time of change, but here we’ve got a system where everyone can vote but everyone feels disgruntled. And it’s the same of course in the United States; you can vote but you can’t vote for anything that will bring about any change. And therefore, we’ve got to agitate and move in different ways.

Colin Prescod: Okay, okay, I’d like John to say something and Irene to say something.

John Hilary: I think this is the really good news. I think it’s exactly this disaffection with the parliamentary process which is the good and most hopeful and optimistic side of all of this. Because that means that if we can actually join up on a movement basis, building our own social movements here just as it’s happened in Brazil, in Bolivia, in other countries around the world, that offers us a completely new model, and that is where it is about linking up with the inequalities in this country. After 12 years of a Labour government we now have inequality levels in Britain which are higher than they’ve been for the last forty years. That type of condemnation of our system is what should be the anger that mobilises people here absolutely in solidarity with people in the movements of the South, because that means we are sharing exactly the same common cause, and I think that is a sign of hope.

I just wanted to go back to the fellow in the middle who asked about the alternative model in China and Vietnam. I worked in China in the eighties and that has been the focus of my postgraduate studies as well, and I think that it is a profound challenge, it’s a very profound challenge. Not because it opened up to the world economy, but because you have four decades of massive state investment in infrastructure, in human capital, social capital and the infrastructure of the country. And then you have the de-collectivisation of agriculture in the 1980s; this led to a massive, massive eradication of poverty across the country, and then on that basis, the development of a manufacturing industrial heartland, along particularly the eastern literal. That is what has led to this type of great success story. Now what’s fascinating about that of course is that China did absolutely nothing according to the World Bank and the IMF and the dictates which are being pushed on other countries by the rich North. Similarly Vietnam; these are countries which have gotten very successful by bucking the trend. Everybody around the world now sees that, and that I think is another cause for hope, because we’re now coming into a situation where the capitalist system has gone into crisis. Developing countries are looking at that and saying: ‘We want no more to do with it; we don’t want to go to the WTO’.

The World Trade Organization had its latest ministerial conference in Geneva last week. I was there; it was an absolute non event. But at the same time, a group of 22 developing countries said ‘forget the WTO; we’re going to set up our own trading system which is actually good for all of us’. In Latin America they said forget the IMF and the World Bank, we’re going to set up the Banco del Sur, the Bank of the South, which gives us the power to create our own development finance. In East Asia ‘forget the IMF, we’re going to have the Chiang Mai initiative’ which brings together the ASEAN countries; China, Japan, Korea.

In a sense we are already seeing that shift to a new world, a new century. Not a new American century which was a great dream of the Bush administration, but actually a multipolar century where developing countries and the poorer North countries are actually beginning to take back that power, and that’s cause for hope.

Clare Short: But it’s investments in the West and it’s markets in the West; it’s not a new economy.

Colin Prescod: Let’s let Irene have a shot.

Irene Khan: Let me say something now. You know Amnesty International today in the UK has more members than the Labour party, so maybe that says something. Well, I emphasised the issue of participation and accountability precisely because the other side of corruption is collusion. And it’s not just corruption, it’s also misgovernment - mismanagement of resources - and that’s why you need the focus on accountability and transparency. Freedom of information has been a very powerful tool for mobilizing people and for bringing about change. And yet in so many instances, donors - whether it’s the World Bank, or whether its bilateral donors, or governments from the North - do not emphasise freedom of information; they do not emphasise the space for civil society organisation. And yet both of those are ways in which you get accountability at the national level, but you can also push accountability of donors and even of corporations.

The second point I wanted to make was on the issue of China. Now, John is right, China’s progress came because of the investments they made. But there is another side to it and in my recently published book I actually look into that issue - that there is no correlation between China’s economic growth and China’s suppression of civil and political rights. That means China did not eradicate poverty because it suppressed civil and political rights. That was a policy choice that the Chinese made. On the other side, however, the policy choice was that they were not going to promote civil and political rights, but they would invest in economic and social development issues. But what is usually forgotten in that story is the huge cost of development in China: the big mistakes that they made - the great famine for instance; the inefficiencies in China’s system even now; how long it takes for the Chinese government to correct mistakes, whether it’s HIV/Aids or whether it’s SARs or whether its melamine powder - all those mistakes are because it is a closed society. There’s a huge price that people are paying.

The other point about China is growing inequality between urban areas and rural areas, within urban areas of urban migrants. To what extent can China sustain this particular model while inequality grows? Now according to the film, sooner or later inequality will become the biggest threat to China’s stability. That is yet to be seen.

Now on the issue of Zimbabwe, I was in Zimbabwe in June this year, and of course what Zimbabwe reminded me most of was really of Cuba; a country with a lot of resources totally destroyed by a very repressive government leadership - like Mugabe - total destruction [sic]. On the other side, what also struck me was how despite the depression people were organising themselves to the best of their ability in Zimbabwe. I travelled in the countryside; Amnesty has a very close partnership with Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Woza, and I saw how people were resisting what was happening there. But what struck me very much too was South Africa and South Africa’s silence on Zimbabwe; the inability of the South... And that is why, John, I’m afraid I am not as optimistic as you are about people in the South grabbing power, or rather governments in the South grabbing power, and therefore being able to actually make a difference to poverty.

You know the bottom of the pile - the poorest of the poor - I’m not sure will always benefit from transfer from one elite in the North to another elite in the South, unless we open up the systems and make powers really accountable to the poorest sectors of society. The bottom five to ten per cent remains in the bottom, and therefore I also think that one should emphasise that as these powers are emerging in the Global South - whether it’s Brazil, whether it’s India, whether it’s China, or whether its South Africa - whether they will play the game a different way from the powerful in the North.

I’m not very optimistic about the G20 on human rights. As you know Amnesty has bashed Europeans and Americans, the US government, as much as it has bashed governments in other parts of the world. And in the G20 you have a range of countries - from Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China and Brazil on one end, and Russia to the US and the Europeans on the other - and none of them have really shown [a] strong commitment to global values of human rights, and that’s very worrying. Because without that sense of equality and non-discrimination and fairness and justice towards the poor, I think we will simply see one system being replaced by another system but the outcomes being not very different for those who are at the bottom of the pile.

Colin Prescod: Thank you very much, Irene... [Clapping] ...the strong point she makes that satisfies your question and all the others is [on] accountability and participation. Those are the things that we have to organise around so we have the possibility of putting pressure on those who come to represent the people. Okay, I open again to the floor.

Question 6: I just want to congratulate you on the film Philippe. One of the most important things for me is about showing the history, because we’re talking about the history of capitalism, and in order to make a better world we’ve got to get rid of capitalism or we’ll just perpetuate the current system. The question I really wanted to ask the panel was about solutions and attacking the system. Doesn’t one of the solutions here have to be recognising that we’re part of that same system so we have to attack it here? We often talk about it in terms of the Third World and never talk about our responsibility to tackle it here. Unless we tackle it here in the belly of the beast, why are things ever going to change?

Colin Prescod: Thank you; another question here.

Philippe Diaz: While we are waiting for the next question I just wanted to point out that one of the experts in the film is in the room and I know we’ll continue talking later on. Mr. John Christensen why don’t you stand up so everyone can see you? Don’t hide.


Question 7: First of all, I think it was a good film because it showed the historical process of impoverishment. Often, people just deal with the issue by looking at it today and ignore things that were done over a sustained period of time to create this situation. Also, the film showed that some of these things are still going on in terms of trade relationships.

 My question is: what about more South-South cooperation? We see that the relationship with the North, if you look at it through the historical period starting in 1492, has been disastrous, so therefore the South have got to start working together. I know there is an organisation called ALBA within Latin America. I’m very interested to see what the panel has to say about countries in the South working with each other, creating new markets, and ending this disastrous dependence on the Northern elites.

Colin Prescod: Thank you very much. So far two new questions, another question here:

Question 8: Thank you very much. First of all I’d like to congratulate you on the film - I think it was very informative, and to make a comment to the entire panel. The reason that I thought the film was very informative was because it was really based upon truth, and I think that’s very important in this day and age that we do have truth. I think we need accountability, we need transparency, and we need truth in our leadership. If we don’t have that in the community, very little is going to change. These films have been coming out for the last five or ten years, providing this truth, and I think it’s very important that everybody makes a film, because everyone has a story to be told. It really has to be based on some really fundamental tendencies; justice is not just about poverty. I’d like to congratulate you again; thank you very much.

Colin Prescod: Thank you. Can I take a question over here?

Question 9: I’d just like to ask a question about the role of aid - particularly government to government aid - and its possible role in deepening poverty rather than alleviating it by shifting the accountability to Northern donors rather than Southern electorates. I’m thinking particularly of the example of Kenya, which receives a lot of aid from this government, in comparison with Bolivia, which doesn’t receive a lot of government aid from the West, but which has a government which took on corporations and renegotiated grossly unfair contracts over its hydrocarbon resources - contracts which gave 82% to multinational corporations exploiting them and only 18% to the country. Evo Morales reversed that and with the profits, created a social program which has seen child benefit, which has seen old age pensions, which has seen all the things which the people would like to have seen done with the national wealth. Now that seems to suggest to me that government to government aid is not going to alleviate poverty, and I’d like to hear what the panel have to say about that.

Colin Prescod: Thank you. So we have a few questions: we’ve got aid; we’ve got South to South; we’ve got mobilising here. One more question please.

Question 10: Hi, coming from a media perspective the film I believe it’s incomplete as well. The film talks about poverty much like the documentary series Commanding Heights in the nineties, and again we have a repetition of the same problems. We have lots of experts from the West, from the North, talking about the problems of the South. Now in Africa alone we have Ayete [?] coming from Ghana, we have Dambisa [Moyo] who just wrote a brilliant book coming from Namibia, we have Andrew Mumbe [?] who’s running free media in Uganda and has brilliant discourse on development in Africa, yet we don’t get to hear from them. I am left with the feeling that this is a marketing ploy for development agencies, which we don’t hear about either in the film. It troubles me that the discourse continues to be unequal, asymmetrical, and how does that actually lead to solidarity? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Philippe Diaz: Let me answer that – I strongly disagree with you. There are a lot of experts, for example, one of the most important experts in the film is the chair of the University of Nairobi. I think if you count, you have almost as many experts from the South as the North. You have also a very serious budget constraint; I wish I could have flown in every country of the world to interview people, but ultimately it’s not that simple. But I can’t wait to see your movie… [clapping]. There is also another little question about the subtitles, and I absolutely agree with that. I didn’t want to subtitle anybody who speaks in English. But the problem is that for all the first test screenings of the film, people were saying ‘we don’t understand what they are saying.’ And I said well it was between the ethical part of not subtitling someone who speaks in English, and the fact that we don’t understand what they are saying. So of course if the majority of people - and we counted the people who were saying that - do not understand what they are saying we lose the message. So that’s why we decided to subtitle them.

I’ll just briefly answer another one, which is the South-South issue, because of course it’s very essential, no question about it, that there is real movement, like Pan-Africanism for example, which started a long time ago, or all these movements that are happening in South America with all the new leaders in South America. But let’s be clear - we will not let that happen. We destroyed Pan-Africanism; we destroyed the Arab nationalism; and we killed the presidents who were in the middle of all that. It’s clear that we should never forget that we built a system which started 500 years ago which is entirely dependent on the resources of the South. Tomorrow, if the countries of the South unite and say, ‘hey, we will not give you any more access to our resources,’ the economies of the North collapse immediately – America; Europe; Japan; Korea; whatever. So, we should always think about that.

It’s why I wanted to bring John Perkins in as an economic hit man because he would explain to you, for example, there is question of aid and development programs. He would explain to you that all these never come free of charge. Every time that we aid or every time that we give something, we take ten times more. This is why Susan George is explaining that [if you look at] the flow from South to North and North to South, the South is financing the North. It means that because of this system that we’ve built we will go to any extreme, including using the jackals as he said, or the military, to make sure that we get access to these resources. So you’re absolutely right, there should be this interaction and all these things created between Southern governments, but we won’t let it happen.

Irene Khan: Actually, I must say I disagree with you there. I think there is a lot of South-South cooperation growing up, either on a regional basis, look at ASEAN or SADC, Merco Sur, and so on, or even across regions between South Africa, Brazil and India now. So I think that dynamic is changing.

What worries me, however, [is] that I don’t see through that cooperation necessarily a perspective that is going to focus on the poor in these countries. Let’s not forget, these emerging economies have very large numbers of rich people now who have the same interest as in the North of not promoting equality because it is against their interests. So we shouldn’t forget that, and I would say actually just look at one statistic: Brazil. In Brazil, the Afro-Brazilian population is 45 percent of the overall population, yet among the poor they are 69 percent. Two thirds of the poor on Brazil are Afro-Brazilian. So there are issues of race; there are issues of gender; there are issues of class within these Southern countries that we need to be very aware of, and discrimination. Because poverty eradication is not just a simple issue of inequality between the global North and the global South.

I would say also that there is something that... perhaps it was strong in the film, but hasn’t been in the debate here, and that is corporate accountability. The one that is benefitting enormously - North or South - and don’t forget the Malaysian or Indian companies today, and yet has no accountability, a huge impact on human rights and impoverishment of people, and yet seems to be escaping [sic]. There is a movement - not a very strong global movement, and I hope there will be more people supporting it - a movement to create global standards to hold companies accountable, whether they’re Chinese companies, whether they’re American companies, whether they’re British companies, [to hold them] accountable for human rights.

We have seen in recent years a growth in international law for universal jurisdiction against war crimes and crimes against humanity. Why is there not universal jurisdiction to hold companies responsible? Because you cannot expect an international oil company operating in Nigeria to be held accountable by the Nigerian government, both because they’re unwilling and because they don’t have the legal systems to do so, but why can’t that company be held accountable in Amsterdam or London when they’re located here?

Clare Short: Just to the first guy who said shouldn’t we be agitating here: we are living here - the rich people of the world, the people living in the rich countries, the 20 percent of us - in a completely unsustainable system that’s becoming more and more unequal and has also seen privatisation and de-industrialisation, and is now going to see cuts and cuts and unemployment, and there will be more turbulence and agitation, and that needs to link up with the fight for justice in the South. I mean that is my view, and that’s the real way that we will contribute.

Secondly on aid, we’re meeting at a time when the countries of the South are in Copenhagen saying we want more aid or we won’t do a deal. Aid can be well or badly used. It can be used cynically to prop up Mobutu in Congo or whatever, or it can be used to help a country more rapidly get all its kids into primary education free. So we can’t just say ‘no aid’. Bolivia did have some aid and does get aid from America and Canada and so on.

And then South-South cooperation: there’s now a massive presence of China in Africa, partly because China’s industrialising so fast it needs all the raw materials - same old story - but they are agreeing to build infrastructure in return for access to mining and so on and so forth. And India is now in Africa also for the same reason as its economic growth takes off. And the question is: is there going to be another scramble for Africa where it’s exploited again, or is the fact that everybody wants its resources going to give it the strength to lay down conditions and to make more for its people? But there is a massive increase in that Chinese presence in Africa, Indian presence in Africa [and in] Brazil-India-South Africa cooperation - that’s an interesting new phase.

Colin Prescod: John.

John Hilary: Very interesting comments, actually, from a Chinese activist at the World Social Forum, who said, ‘don’t expect capital to act any differently in Africa just because it’s got a Chinese face. Capital acts as capital whatever its face looks like’.

The thing that I was going to come back to was in respect of aid as well. I think we need to completely rethink the concept of aid. It should be exactly as was said in the film a concept of reparation: that we owe as a result of a historical debt but also a current debt, a massive transfer of finance from the North to the South. And that is also in terms of climate debt, which I’m sure many of you have heard a lot about in respect of the Copenhagen talks at the moment. We are one quarter of the world’s population using three quarters of the world’s resources, and have been for hundreds of years. How do we make reparation for that imbalance? And I believe [it requires] that type of transfer of finance - not through aid, not through exactly as you say the corrupted strings which come with aid at the moment, the conditionalities which are promoted to developing countries; but actually a transfer of finance through the United Nations or through other types of bodies which don’t come with those strings attached. That’s incredibly important.

And finally, the first question, what about us having joined up strategies and campaigns here. Philippe picked out John Christensen from the Tax Justice Network. The tax agenda we have here is exactly the same as in the South. Britain loses 100 billion pounds a year in corporate tax dodging - to corporate tax evasion, avoidance and non-payment. 100 billion pounds a year is what could go towards halving our national deficit, and pay for the entire NHS all again. Developing countries have exactly the same problem: 250 billion pounds a year lost through this corporate tax dodging. It’s exactly the same problem and by joining it up we are that much stronger, so I completely agree with what you’re saying.

Colin Prescod: Thank you very much. We have just a few minutes left, and I saw a question over here and another one over there…

Question 11: Good evening, I’d like to thank Philippe very much for your film. I was very impressed with it; a lot of the images were quite startling. To know that African children are still living below the poverty line and having nowhere to live, throwing their poo outside - this is something that happened in this country back in the last century. I wonder what was going to be done about this slum; you’ve got a slum next to a golf course. Come on, I mean this is 2009; doesn’t anybody care about people in Africa? They’ve been the bread basket of the world for centuries, and everything has been taken out, and I can’t see the future. I can’t see where the future of Africa is, I can’t see anything. So I want one of you to answer. Something has to be done, please.

Question 12: I thought the film was really good. I want to go back to the issue of Zimbabwe. I think it is a bit difficult because the situation in Zimbabwe now is a result of the Zimbabwean president speaking against the policies of the West. That brought about actions from the West, the sanctions and everything, and I think we need to take that into context as well. So I think that poor people need to rise up and begin to speak up against what is happening, but I don’t think that is going to make any changes. The West is going to have a worse reaction to that because their economies are sustained by the countries in the South. So we need to rethink, but I don’t know what the problem is.

Question 13: Thank you. Philippe unfortunately I missed your documentary because some of us got here slightly late and were not allowed to come in. [Noise from the crowd]. However, I gather from the debate what it was all about, and my first question to you is will you do it on DVD so that the general public can have access to it? In relation to Clare Short’s statement regarding African leaders, the reality about African countries is that whenever we have leaders that seek to look after the welfare of Africans, they suddenly die from plane crashes or they get assassinated. In the Caribbean also, we are not even now allowed to go home for holidays because of the rise in air fare because of taxes, etc. In relation to global Africans on the whole, we‘ve been portrayed by the media all over the world as being the pariah of planet Earth, by criminalising us and making it justifiable to put our young men and women in prison, creating another cheap labour force. Basically what I would say is leave the South to govern itself, and we don’t want more aid we just want the freedom to use our own hand for our own benefit.

Colin Prescod: I’m going to come back to the panel as we’re at the very end. Maybe they’ll have the last words.

Philippe Diaz: Two little things I want to tell you which are not in the film, because I think they will answer this little question. The first one is yes, you’re right about the situation in Kibera, for example, which [is] it’s not a golf course, actually, it’s a cricket field, but it’s the same concept.

The little story is that I interviewed a very interesting man when I was in Kenya, [who] was one of the historical leaders of the Mau Mau rebellion. And he’s 84 years old and he was in the Mau Mau rebellion [that] started as ‘take our land back’ and of course continued as ‘let’s kick the British out of the country’. And he said, ‘when we succeeded we were so happy, we said that’s it, we’ll get our land back’. But he said ‘we were very naïve and stupid because we had not thought is that the British had organised everything’. And what they did is they transferred the land from a white minority, which were the settlers, to a black minority - the black minority which were close to them and which would continue the same policy of growing food for export. It’s why you have the agriculture minister with his humour says, you know, Germany is the biggest producer of coffee, because to this day it controls their coffee and dries their tea. So that’s why I thought it was essential to go back to colonialism, because I don’t think we know these kinds of things.

The other thing that I wanted to tell you, which is not in the film either, is I went to Zimbabwe and had a word to [name unclear] who unfortunately just died and he was great man - a specialist of land law - and he told me the story of Zimbabwe. So I think we have to be careful of always judging what is apparent on the surface. He told me, ‘you know what happened in Zimbabwe? When the British left, they put [a clause?] in the constitution that in order to change the split of the land... 80 percent of the land was in the hands of the 3 percent of white owners, 80 percent of the arable land’. But the British put in the constitution of Zimbabwe that in order to change that, they needed unanimity in Parliament - I’m not quite sure of the numbers, but it was probably close to that – unanimity in Parliament. But 20 percent of parliament was reserved for white settlers, which means they would never be able to change this law.

And the British said that’s okay, because just wait ten years after independence and we’ll give you the money to pay the white settlers and to indemnify them and you can get the land back. So everybody was fine with that. And, [name unclear], I quote - don’t jump on me I’m just quoting Okot Ogandu [?], he’s a specialist - he said they waited ten years and nothing came. So they waited another ten years and still nothing came and so they decided... [Shout from the crowd: ‘Clare Short reneged on the agreement, she knows it!’]. And so Okot Ogandu [?] explained that at the end of the day they decided to take back the land. I’m not defending Mugabe or anybody but I’m just telling you what Okot Ogandu [?] said. And yes, to answer your question, of course the movie will come to DVD. It opened in the US, it’s in theatres; it’s opening in France next week; we hope it will open in the UK when we find a distributor, and after that it will go to DVD.

Colin Prescod: In a way it would be nice to finish there because I was trying to get him to be the last person to speak, but I now have to... you’ve ruined my narrative. But I will come to the other speakers now as much as they want to engage. The last two or three questions were asking you to stray into this terrain of being commentators on the freedom of Africa and Africans.

Clare Short: Can I comment?

Colin Prescod: Yes, of course Clare.

Clare Short: I know it’s not popular, but I really think this infantilising of Africans or Latin Americans or people of the South as actors in their own right takes all the... of course colonialism was exploitative and cruel, there’s no question about that. But that... so ‘Mugabe has no responsibility at all; it’s because of what British colonialism did’ [sic]. [Philippe Diaz: ‘That’s not what I said!’] That is a line that’s being taken and people can take that – it’s what we all argued in the sixties. [But] I think we’ve had a lot of experience since then and it isn’t true.

There was a deal made with the independence of Zimbabwe on some British money for land redistribution which was never all taken up. And that was over by the time I came along and then we said there needs to be more land redistribution responsibly done in Zimbabwe, but there should be a focus on the poor and the people in the communal lands, and that made Mugabe very angry.

But the other thing I wanted to say to the sister here who asked what is to be done if people are living so badly, is that for the past ten years in Africa there has been faster economic and population growth, and there has been improvements across the continent. This is now challenged very much by the collapsing commodity prices and the rest; in countries like Rwanda they are producing their own tea and their own coffee. So some of it is more justice in trade rules and there’s been some improvement and there needs to be more; some of it is governments in Africa using the interest of China and India and Europe to get better deals for their people out of those sorts of negotiations. But the last ten years have seen progress. I think we’re going into worse times now, but there has been progress in the last ten years, and lots and lots more children in schools and spread of access to vaccination for children and so on.

Colin Prescod: Thank you Clare. John...

John Hilary: I think it’s really important to get the sense from this film that it isn’t colonialism in the past, it’s colonialism also in the present. The continuation of that colonial dream is absolutely clear. If you study the stuff that was coming out of the British cabinet in the period after the Second World War during decolonisation, it’s absolutely clear that they were all focusing on how to keep access to the resources of the South while getting rid of the administrative burden, and that sense of continuity remains absolutely critical to this day.

The other key thing I think which we haven’t maybe talked about enough is the importance of this film in drawing the connection between that ongoing colonial imperative and the militarisation. I think that’s absolutely key, not just in terms of us bumping off dictators that we don’t like, and I think this is again right - we don’t like Mugabe here because he’s not our dictator. The British government is perfectly happy to support dictators around the world until they start speaking up against them.

So I think that link between colonialism and militarisation is absolutely key, but I would agree that there is cause for hope because look at Latin America. We had this discussion with some specialists from within Lula’s government in Brazil just last year. Ten, twenty years ago, the sorts of resistance, the sorts of new movements and governments that we’re seeing in Latin America would have been completely unacceptable to the United States’ government. And it would have continued going, like it did with [Salvador] Allende, like it did with so many others, and getting rid of those governments - it hasn’t been able to do that. It tried to overthrow Chavez in a coup and they didn’t manage to do that, and you’re seeing now much greater strength coming out of the South.

Now I think it’s absolutely right what Irene said: we must ensure that those governments are not just accountable - I don’t think accountability is the end of it but the beginning of it - but that they are actually serving the needs of their people, and that they are then elected by the people or controlled by the people or driven or dictated by the people, and I think that’s the way to go. Because if we want to see what’s going to happen in the future of Africa, where is Africa going to stand, it’s got to be for its own people and not for the interests of others.

Colin Prescod: Thank you, John. Irene...

Irene Khan: Thank you. I think when it comes to Mugabe there is always going to be a lot of controversy and discussion, but we shouldn’t forget that most of Mugabe’s victims are not white, they are black Zimbabwean. When I was in Zimbabwe in June the farmers union came to see me, but also I met many more farm workers, journalists, teachers, human rights activists, who had been beaten up, imprisoned, tortured by him, women activists for instance. So we shouldn’t forget where Mugabe’s oppression is having [the] most impact. But that brings me to the issue about double standards. I think there is huge double standards operating when it comes to dealing with governments, and in that sense your colonialism of the past is continuing today, except that today’s colonial leaders are not necessarily all from abroad, but mixed from abroad and at home there. I would therefore just say very briefly that the big issue today is not enrichment, it is empowerment of the poor. Empowering the poor is the way out of poverty.

Colin Prescod: I am going to very abruptly say thank you to you all for being here. I want to say a big loud thank you to our panel; they were courageous. I want to say thank you to the African Caribbean Consultation Group and thank you Philippe for making the film. Lastly, I'd like to thank Share The World's Resources for helping to convene this event. They will be up in the Delegate's Centre discussing some of the possible solutions to the problems brought up in this important film.

Filed under: