PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller was elected a vice-president of Socialist International at its 24th Congress held recently in Cape Town, South Africa.
Simpson Miller, who was elected in absentia, joins 32 other prominent world figures elected to serve with Greek President George Papandreou who was re-elected unopposed as president of the worldwide organisation of social democratic, socialist and labour parties.
Socialist International (SI) explained on its website that the 33 vice-presidents "were elected from a ballot paper including candidates from all regions through a system that secured a fair geographical representation and also ensured gender balance as stipulated in the statutes".
Simpson Miller joins former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley who was elected a vice-president of the organisation in 1977 on the strength of his advocacy of a New International Economic Order with a more equitable deal for developing countries.
Held under the title 'For a New Internationalism and a New Culture of Solidarity', SI said that the 24th Congress began with a significant address on the state of the global economy by Elio di Rupo, the Belgian prime minister and an SI vice-president.
"Di Rupo explained that we have now lost control of the financial sector, which is causing enormous damage to the real economy. Further, he said, this is taking place with full impunity. Stock markets are capable of destroying businesses and wiping out employment within seconds, and without supervision the financial sector lies in absolute speculation," SI reported on its website.
This, he said, constitutes one of the biggest contemporary challenges for the progressive movement. As such, he argued that states and governments should not be subordinated to financial markets.
"The only way to ensure greater social justice and regain prosperity for all is to take control," SI report said. "He stipulated that well-thought-through reforms must be applied to the financial sector, which can only be achieved by avoiding the current liberal and conservative policy that may steer us toward social chaos."
The keynote address was given by Democrat Phil Angelides, chair of the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, who examined the roots of the financial crisis and ongoing power in the current global financial sector.
"Global unemployment levels, he said, clearly demonstrate the ramifications of the crisis are far from over," SI reported, adding that he warned that it is now imperative that history is not rewritten by conservatives wishing to disassociate their market practices from blame and imply the financial crash could have happened at any time, or have been a result of over-spending on welfare.
Angelides explained that the financial crash was due to ruthless risk-taking at the expense of innocent people. "We must now ensure greater market regulation and accountability, and further, to address both the global economy and climate change, to invest in energy efficiency for a green economy," the SI report quoted Angelides.
He concluded that a truly democratic economic system with opportunities and financial justice for all can be achieved "if we are able to learn from the previous mistakes made".
The Congress also elected Luis Ayala of Chile as secretary general.
The other vice-presidents are Sükhbaatar Batbold (Mongolia), Victor Benoit (Haiti), Nouzha Chekrouni (Morocco), Ahmed Ould Daddah (Mauritania), Elio Di Rupo (Belgium), Ousmane Tanor Dieng (Senegal), Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón (Mexico, PRD), Mizuho Fukushima (Japan), Alfred Gusenbauer (Austria), Eero Heinäluoma (Finland), Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana (Namibia), Carin Jämtin (Sweden), Bernal Jiménez (Costa Rica), Chantal Kambiwa (Cameroon), Kemal Kiliçdarolu (Turkey), Marian Lupu (Moldova), Mario Nalpatian (Armenia), Julião Mateus Paulo (Angola), Attila Mesterhazy (Hungary), Beatriz Paredes (Mexico, PRI), Helga Pedersen (Norway), Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (Spain), Victor Ponta (Romania), Henry Ramos (Venezuela), Ségolène Royal (France), Antonio Jose Seguro (Portugal), Jalal Talabani (Iraq), Sandra Torres (Guatemala), Miguel Vargas (Dominican Republic), Carlos Vieira da Cunha (Brazil), Asif Ali Zardari (Pakistan), and Jacob Zuma (South Africa).