The International Citizen Audit Network (ICAN) held its fourth meeting in London on March 28th, 30th, 31st. The conference « life before debt » presented by Jubilee Debt Campaign on the 29th was also an occasion for the members of the network to gather together and discuss the deepening of their own campaigns.
A confirmed diversity
The introductive discourse by the thirty delegates from 14 different countries |1| confirmed the differences of experiences and practices within the citizen debt audit campaigns. Some have been launched recently, others, older, have already given some results. Some focus on groundwork research, others on popular education. Some of them gather few people, others hundreds. Some are devoted to lobbying, others to popular mobilisation.
This diversity of context and approaches stood out during the open discussion on the concept of illegitimate debt. Echoing the conclusions of the last meeting in Thessaloniki (Greece), we recalled that every audit campaign should define by itself its conception of illegitimate debt through the practice of the audit since the concept is a politically dynamic notion. You will find, very soon, on the ICAN website, documents proposing definitions of this concept that are already in use.
A network to be strengthened
The network has more and more participation and new citizens’ audits movements that refuse austerity and the debt system are arising all over. It is to be recalled that this network has been inspired by the struggles carried on in the “South” and that at the moment it has a more European, rather than international, content. This is a logical evolution, considering the present crisis in Europe and all agreed on this convergence of different European campaigns struggling against debt dictatorship. However, it also true that this discussion has just started and the network is open to every kind of citizens’ audit.
The second observation was about the functioning of the network itself. This network is already extraordinary, but with just a little more effort, if only, in terms of exchange of information and experiences, it could realise much more of its potential. To do this, a communication team (internal and external) has been set up and is running. Among other concrete decisions, it is worth mentioning the launch of an audit of the European Central Bank (ECB), the production of short movies to present our own campaigns, or the « OCAx », an instrument developed by the Spanish campaign that permits the collection of debt data from the different local authorities and public entities; this instrument is open to citizens who may upload and share data, and interrogate their representatives, acting as a citizen lobby.
Part of a broader movement
One of the most underlined points of this four days meeting was the fact that a citizens’ debt audit is part of a broader movement that claims to be really democratic and struggles against the dispossession of the majority of the population at the benefit of the richest 1%.
This was clear for the militants present at the ICAN meeting who are active on many fronts and trying to converge their struggles. It was clear also during the Jubilee conference “Life before debt” on Saturday where ICAN presented a panel and a variety of workshops linked to other spheres and aspects of the same combat.
To strengthen this interconnection of subjects and struggles ICAN members will be present at the following events and mobilisation: Troika Party or Troika Watch; Social Movements University organized by ATTAC in August; the European week of action from 15th to 25th May; the week of action against the International Financial Institutions, “celebrating” their 70th anniversary this autumn, and others. See you there.
WE DON’T OWE, WE WON’T PAY !
|1| Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, United-Kingdom, United-States.