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Africa: Fair Globalization Report

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Mar 3, 2004 (040303)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"No one likes to eat crumbs from a feast; everyone likes to sit at the table." Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa quoted this African proverb in introducing the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, released last week. The Commission, initiated by Juan Somavia of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and chaired by the presidents of Tanzania and Finland, offers specific proposals to move the world towards "fair globalization."

The Commission members stress the diversity of their backgrounds and the necessity of finding common ground despite significant divergence of views. In addition to President Mkapa, African members of the Commission included Heba Handoussa of the Egyptian parliament, Aminata D. Traoré‚ of the Centre Amadou Hampâté Ba in Mali, and Zwelinzima Vavi of COSATU in South Africa. Members from the U.S. included Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, and Ann McLaughlin Korologos of the Rand Corporation.

This issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the report synopsis and from a news release on the report, which is being considered by the ILO's governing body this month. Full text of the report and other related material, including a video-clip from President Mkapa's remarks, are available on the ILO website at:


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A Fair Globalization: Creating Opportunities for All


Our remit, the Social Dimension of Globalization, is a vast and complex one. As a Commission we were broadly representative of the diverse and contending actors and interests that exist in the real world. Co-chaired by two serving Heads of State, a woman and a man, from North and South, we came from countries in different parts of the world and at all stages of development. Our affiliations were equally diverse: government, politics, parliaments, business and multinational corporations, organized labour, academia and civil society.

Yet, through a spirit of common purpose, we arrived at the shared understandings that are before you. As a collective document it is quite different from alternative reports each one of us would have written individually. But our experience has demonstrated the value and power of dialogue as an instrument for change. Through listening patiently and respectfully to diverse views and interests we found common ground.

We were spurred on by the realization that action to build a fair and inclusive process of globalization was urgent. This could only happen in the future through forging agreements among a broad spectrum of actors on the course for action. We are convinced that our experience can and should be replicated on a larger and wider scale, expanding the space for dialogue aimed at building consensus for action.

World Commission says globalization can and must change, calls for urgent rethink of global governance

Tuesday 24 February 2004 (ILO/04/07)

[Excerpts only; for full text of this news release and the World Commission report, see]

GENEVA (ILO News) - Globalization can and must change, says a new, groundbreaking report presented today to the International Labour Organization (ILO) urging that building a fair and inclusive globalization become a worldwide priority.

A Fair Globalization: Creating Opportunities for All calls for an "urgent rethink" of current policies and institutions of global governance. The report was issued by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, which was co-chaired by President Tarja Halonen of Finland and President Benjamin William Mkapa of Tanzania.

The 168-page report acknowledges that globalization's "potential for good is immense" and that it "has opened the door to many benefits promoted open societies and open economies and encouraged a freer exchange of goods, ideas and knowledge (and) a truly global conscience is beginning to emerge sensitive to the inequities of poverty, gender discrimination, child labour and environmental degradation, wherever these may occur".

Nevertheless, it says, "There are deep-seated and persistent imbalances in the current workings of the global economy, which are ethically unacceptable and politically unsustainable Seen through the eyes of the vast majority of men and women, globalization has not met their simple and legitimate aspirations for decent jobs and a better future for their children".

"There is growing concern about the direction globalization is currently taking", says the report. "Its advantages are too distant for too many, while its risks are all too real. Corruption is widespread. Open societies are threatened by global terrorism, and the future of open markets is increasingly in question. Global governance is in crisis. We are at a critical juncture, and we need to urgently rethink our current policies and institutions."

Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO, who originally proposed the Commission, said this was the first time there had been a systematic attempt to deal with the social dimension of globalization. He added that the Commission was convened by the ILO to search for common ground and make proposals on issues which are today the subject of "parallel monologues" and a "dialogue of the deaf". "This Commission provides a clear-eyed, common sense message of hope. Making globalization fair and inclusive is difficult but do-able, and is an urgent worldwide priority", he said.

Mr. Somavia said the 26 Commission members - including a Nobel Economics laureate, politicians, parliamentarians, social and economic experts and representatives of business and multinational corporations, organized labour, academia and civil society - were "broadly representative of the diverse and contending actors and issues that characterize globalization today and had accepted the challenge to analyze its effects and provide a series of proposals for righting its imbalances". Their report "offers no miraculous or simple solutions, for there are none. But is an attempt to help break the current impasse by focusing on the concerns and aspirations of people and on the ways to better harness the potential of globalization itself".

Among its prescriptions for achieving a fair and inclusive globalization, the Commission proposes a series of coordinated measures across a broad front to improve governance and accountability at both national and international levels. These include fairer rules for international trade, investment, finance and migration, which take account of all interests, rights and responsibilities; measures to promote core labour standards and a minimum level of social protection in the global economy; and new efforts to mobilize international resources to raise capabilities and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Commission argues that a fair globalization also depends on better national governance in all countries, and maps out the priorities for national, local and regional policies which can empower people to participate effectively in the opportunities of globalization.

The Commission recommends that "decent work for all should be made a global goal and be pursued through complementary national and international policies. This would respond to a major political demand in all countries". Addressing the need to accelerate employment creation in all countries would help to reduce social tensions within countries and economic frictions between them. The report calls for "enhanced coordination of macroeconomic policies to attain a more balanced strategy for sustainable global growth and full employment, including an equitable sharing among countries of the responsibility for maintaining high levels of effective demand". ...

The co-Chairs of the Commission, Presidents Halonen and Mkapa, said: "We believe a better globalization is the key to a better and secure life for people everywhere in the 21st Century. Ours is a critical but positive message for changing the current path of globalization. We believe the benefits of globalization can be extended to more people and better shared between and within countries, with many more voices having an influence on its course. The resources and the means are at hand. Our proposals are ambitious but feasible. We are certain that a better world is possible".

Divergent views, converging voices

The Commission examined a wide range of data during its deliberations and concluded, "The current process of globalization is generating unbalanced outcomes, both between and within countries. Wealth is being created, but too many countries and people are not sharing in its benefits". It noted that work and employment are central to any strategy for widening the benefits of globalization, and highlighted the fact that global unemployment has reached over 185 million people, the highest ever recorded figure. ...

It developed its conclusions and recommendations after listening to the voices of a wide variety of people in consultations held around the world over the last two years. In the 26 "dialogues" held in over 20 countries, the Commission sought not only to establish the facts, but also to encourage debate among a range of divergent and often critical views. ...

The Commission noted, "In the kaleidoscope of opinions that emerged from the dialogues, there was also much common ground". This included a sense of insecurity and concerns about employment - in the words of one dialogue participant from the Philippines, "there is no point to a globalization that reduces the price of a child's shoes, but costs the father his job". ...

Among the widespread concerns was migration, in sending and receiving countries alike. In addition to the "brain-drain", which undermined efforts to build national capabilities, participants said poor migrants from all regions often found themselves - especially if they were women - driven into an illegal economy in countries of destination.

In all parts of the world, regional integration was seen as a route towards fairer, more inclusive globalization and there were repeated expressions of support for the United Nations as the best means of responding to the challenges of globalization. ,,,

Addressing globalization begins at home

The report argues that a fair globalization requires improvements in governance both within countries and at the international level. Public and private actors in countries at all levels of development must be democratically accountable for the policies they pursue and the actions they take. Says the report: "no country has a monopoly of good governance". ...

Within countries, the benefits of globalization can only be widely shared, and the adverse effects controlled, if the basic principles of democracy, social equity, human rights and the rule of law are respected. Sound institutions are likewise required to promote opportunity and enterprise in a well-functioning market economy.

The report calls for a more effective State with the capacity to manage the process of integration into the global economy, to strengthen the capabilities of people and enterprises, provide adequate social protection and to deliver on key social and economic goals. ...

The report emphasises that the benefits of globalization can only reach all people if the huge informal economy is brought into the economic mainstream by establishing and respecting property rights and the rights of workers, and by increasing productivity and access to markets. ...

Fair rules, equitable policies

Among its key recommendations, the Commission said global rules and policies on trade and finance must allow more space for policy autonomy in developing countries, adding "This is essential for developing policies and institutional arrangements best suited to their level of development and specific circumstances. Existing rules that unduly restrict their policy options for accelerating agricultural growth and industrialization and for maintaining financial and economic stability need to be reviewed".

"The policies of international organizations and donor countries must also shift more decisively away from external conditionality to national ownership of policies", the report says. "Affirmative action is required in favour of countries that do not have the same capabilities of those who developed earlier."

The report also says:

  • The multilateral trading system should substantially reduce unfair barriers to market access for goods in which developing countries have comparative advantage, especially textiles and garments and agricultural products. In doing so, the interests of the Least Developed Countries should be safeguarded through special and differential treatment to nurture their export potential.
  • Fair rules for trade and capital flows need to be complemented by fair rules for the cross-border movement of people. Steps have to be taken to build a multilateral framework that provides uniform and transparent rules for the cross-border movement of people and balances the interests of both migrants themselves and of countries of origin and destination. ...
  • Core labour standards as defined by the ILO provide a minimum set of global rules for labour in the global economy and respect for them should be strengthened in all countries. Stronger action is required to ensure respect for core labour standards in export processing zones and, more generally, in global production systems. All relevant international institutions should assume their part in promoting these standards and ensure that no aspect of their policies and programmes impedes implementation of these rights.
  • A minimum level of social protection for individuals and families needs to be accepted and undisputed as part of the socio-economic "floor" of the global economy, including adjustment assistance to displaced workers. Donors and financial institutions should contribute to the strengthening of social protection systems in developing countries.
  • The international financial system should be made more supportive of sustainable global growth. Cross-border financial flows have grown massively but the system is unstable, prone to crises and contagion, and largely bypasses poor and capital scarce countries. Efforts to devise effective and equitable mechanisms for debt resolution should be intensified, so as to provide for a fair allocation of responsibilities and burdens between debtors and lenders, alongside an acceleration and deepening of debt relief.
  • A greater effort is required to mobilize more international resources to attain key global goals, particularly the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The 0.7 per cent target for ODA must be met and new sources for funding over and above this target should be actively explored and developed. If this target had been met over the last 30 years, 2.5 trillion additional dollars would have been available for development. ...

Reinforcing the multilateral system - Improving the quality of global governance

"The implementation of reforms in international economic and social policy will require worldwide political support, the commitment of key global actors, and the strengthening of global institutions", the report says. "The UN multilateral system constitutes the core of global governance and is uniquely equipped to spearhead the process of reform. For it to cope with the current and emerging challenges of globalization it has to enhance its effectiveness and improve the quality of its governance, especially with respect to democratic representation and decision-making, accountability to people, and policy coherence."

Key recommendations in the report include a variety of measures to make the multilateral system, including the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, more democratic and accountable to people, in its decision-making procedures, mechanisms for independent evaluation, and through parliamentary scrutiny of international policies. The report recommends a global parliamentary group to develop integrated oversight of the major international organizations. ...

Making it happen - Buy-in of multiple stakeholders

The Commission stresses the responsibilities of all actors to respect universally shared values and principles, and to contribute to the overall goal of a fairer globalization, and calls for follow-up of its recommendations by a wide range of people, in government, politics, business, labour and civil society. At the international level, the Commission notes that many of the proposals in the report should be addressed in existing institutions and forums that have the mandate to do so. But other issues require new forums for dialogue and consensus building among all interests concerned.

It therefore proposes a series of multi-stakeholder Policy Development Dialogues, ...

The report will be discussed by the ILO's Governing Body in March, and the Director-General will make proposals for follow up in the ILO to its International Labour Conference in June. It will also be submitted to Heads of State and Government, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the heads of the main international organizations, as well as other intergovernmental bodies, and to the key non-state actors of the global community. Each will be invited to debate the recommendations and consider appropriate follow-up action in their own spheres of responsibility and institutional competencies. ...

"This is an ambitious but realizable common sense vision", the two presidents say. "The choice is clear. We can correct the global governance deficit in the world today, ensure accountability and adopt coherent policies that forge a path for globalization that is fair and just, both within and between countries; or we can prevaricate and risk a slide into further spirals of insecurity, political turbulence, conflicts and wars."

Annex I

[summary: The Commission was chaired by President Tarja Halonen of Finland and President Benjamin William Mkapa of Tanzania. Other members included Giuliano Amato, Italy; Ruth Cardoso, Brazil; Heba Handoussa, Egypt; Eveline Herfkens, Netherlands; Ann McLaughlin Korologos, USA; Lu Mai, China; Valentina Matvienko, Russia; Deepak Nayyar, India; Taizo Nishimuro, Japan; Francois Perigot, France; Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand; Julio Maria Sanguinetti, Uruguay; Hernando de Soto, Peru; Joseph Stiglitz, USA; John J. Sweeney, USA; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Philippines; Aminata D. Traore, Mali, Zwelinzima Vavi, South Africa; and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsaecker, Germany.]

Annex II [selected points]

  • Since 1990, global GDP growth has been slower than in previous decades. This, the Commission said, "is at variance with the more optimistic predictions on the growth-enhancing impact of globalization"; ...
  • The income gap between the richest and poorest countries is widening significantly, rising from US$ 212 versus US$ 11,417 respectively in 1960-1962 to US$ 267 versus US$ 32,339 in 2000-2002; ...

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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