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Synthesis/Regeneration 21   (Winter 2000)

Can Greens Go Global?

by Don Fitz, Gateway Green Alliance

The first meeting of the Global Green Network may have shot itself in the foot before its first scheduled meeting in Australia in 2001. Though Greens around the world look forward to joining with each other to forge a common program, the hosting Australian Greens have given a de facto announcement that they will single-handedly determine which Green Parties will and which will not participate directly in drafting the Global Green Charter.

US Greens are divided between the Greens/Green Party USA (GPUSA), which has a more "fundi" or radical approach; and the more "realo" or conservative Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), which split from the GPUSA in 1996. World-wide, most Green Parties seem to have drifted in a "realo" direction, as exemplified by the German Green support of US/NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.

Despite the wide range of views between and within Green Parties, the realos have not indicated an intention of excluding fundis from the Green family. This changed in September, 1999 when Australian Greens setting up the Global Green meeting wrote to the GPUSA that it would not be allowed to participate directly in drafting the Global Green Charter and instructed it to channel its input through the ASGP.

Many who were not members of the GPUSA considered the behavior of the Australian Greens to be highly arrogant. Their communication seemed incompatible with the principle of "self-determination" — Australians and not Americans would determine who would represent US Greens.

When the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas met in Oaxaca, Mexico later that month every delegate felt that the Federation should be the regional body which determines the legitimacy of Green Parties in the Americas. Since both the GPUSA and ASGP are recognized member parties of the Federation, both should be welcome in Australia. It unanimously passed the following resolution: "The Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas would like all member parties of this Federation to be welcome to participate in writing the Global Green Charter and be invited to send delegates to the Global Green meeting in Australia in 2001."

Differences between groups and individuals are an inevitable part of political life. How a party handles conflict within itself is a good indication of its ability to cope with conflict between groups and nations if elected to office. In October, 1999 GPUSA representatives wrote to the Australian Greens that

The best way for international Green bodies to encourage cooperation in a country with multiple Green Parties is to remain neutral concerning their differences. Neutrality can be expressed by inviting both or neither to participate fully in international events. Choosing one group over the other would encourage a "win-lose" attitude of each group trying to beat the other for international recognition. We feel that this would not be consistent with Green values of peaceful conflict resolution.
Though invited to resolve the problem by recognizing both US groups, the Australian Greens further exacerbated the conflict in a November 12, 1999 letter which rejected this request and refused to address a single substantive issue the GPUSA had posed. One unanswered question was the process used to exclude the GPUSA. The GPUSA letter had explained that
If a Green Party is denied full participation in the international Green community, it is analogous to an individual being denied membership or being expelled. Such a step should only be taken with extreme care, with full documentation of specific transgressions, and with complete opportunity for the accused to respond to written charges. Denying an individual or Green Party the opportunity to do so would violate democratic process and would manifest an unwillingness to utilize techniques of peaceful conflict resolution.

In late 1999 progressives from across the globe gathered in Seattle of oppose efforts by the World Trade Organization and its business partners to take away democratic rights of self-determination. If Green Parties are to present themselves globally as a progressive alternative to the WTO-oriented parties, they must not deal with differences between Greens as undemocratically as the WTO deals with its victims. The Australian Greens are not merely acting on their own behalf—they are projecting a model to the world of how Greens behave. It is time for them to change their course and respect regional self-determination and Green processes of conflict resolution.

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