Need for equitable globalisation
The United Nations Millennium Summit ended its second day of presentations by top political leaders, with the question of how to share the benefits of globalisation among all the world's peoples — and to control its negative effects — as the dominant theme. For many leaders, the UN stood to play a key role in helping to redistribute the benefits of globalisation through its capacity for bringing together main actors — governments, civil society and the private sector — to tackle the challenges posed by a globalising world. But to do so, the UN would need to be significantly strengthened, most leaders agreed. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, said it was imperative that the UN be given the means to help the "peoples of the UN" to reach their aspirations by strengthening the Organisation's financial capacity. Echoing similar sentiments, Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato said the UN's credibility depended on its ability to overcome the divide between weak and strong nations. He said radical efforts should be made to reduce poverty, especially in Africa, through debt cancellation and economic policies favouring less advanced countries. As "no nation can tackle the challenges of globalisation alone", the UN must be "updated and strengthened", Goh Chok Tong, the Prime Minister of Singapore said, suggesting that the Organisation provide the leadership within the community of multilateral organisations to help poor nations develop the capacity to profit from globalisation and the knowledge revolution. Calling for a "new international contract", Amre Moussa, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, stressed the importance of linking legislative bodies with civil societies, to allow for decisions to be taken not only on matters pertaining to international peace and security, finance, economy and trade but also on matters related to women, children, population, social development, health, diseases. Noting the power shift from politics towards finance and the economy, Haitian President Rene Prival said the flows of capital and trade "seem to mock States and give birth to supranational entities" that were not chosen by the people. "Are we making democracy utopian, since we only elect the politicians, not the financiers?", he asked, adding that globalisation was not new, as slavery and the two great wars of the last century clearly demonstrated. "What is frightening today is that globalisation tends to be the privatisation of all powers", he said. The tendency for globalisation to overflow from the realms of technology and finances into the areas of culture and national traditions was a serious concern for many of the speakers, particularly those from smaller nations. Crown Prince Albert of Monaco said that, in the framework of the "irreversible process of globalisation", the UN should engage itself to respect the diversity of cultures and languages through which peoples have "nourished their roots and built their identities". Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov warned that the impact of globalisation on the sensitive areas of culture and customs should be studied thoroughly and ways of controlling it should be sought through new relevant legislation in the area of intellectual property protection, including traditional knowledge and biodiversity. Warning that information technology was "dangerously poised to become a powerful force of exclusion", Jamaica's Prime Minister, Percival J Patterson said that the digital revolution should be exploited for human development, to create a global knowledge-based economy with effective and meaningful collaboration among all stakeholders. A recurring plea in many of the leaders' speeches was for developed countries to nix the debt owed by poor countries. Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh reminded the Summit participants that in several regions, particularly in Africa, many countries found themselves in a "spiral of pauperisation and social disintegration". To achieve a real recovery, the terrible problem of the debt burden must be resolved, he said. In addition to increased assistance, he urged the establishment of equitable policies and mechanisms capable of both boosting development and strengthening the world economy as a whole. Along a similar line, Zambian President Frederick J T Chiluba said it was totally unacceptable that, in an age of modern technology and the Internet, squalor, misery and disease continued to ravage millions of people. Measures to address the situation were self-evident: deep and broader debt relief, improved market access, foreign direct investment and financial and technical support in the trading system, he said. The cause-and-effect relation between globalisation and poverty was highlighted by many of the speakers. Nepal's Prime Minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, said the current wave of globalisation, though holding promise, had widened the disparity between rich and poor. He urged for the world community to help poor countries to finance investment by meeting agreed aid targets, broadening debt relief and encouraging foreign investment. Noting globalisation's "dark side" — growing disparity between poor and rich countries — Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said there was a need to ensure that the era of "inexorable progress of communication" favoured culture and education, and would not be transformed into an era of "information chaos". Turkmenistan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Batyr Berdyev noted the link between globalisation-induced poverty and the potential for violence. Argentine President Fernando de la Rua also stressed that eradicating poverty was an essential factor in preventing conflict and that measures to perfect a system of conflict resolution should fully take into account that correlation. Giving priority to the development of the less advanced countries, while not the only prerequisite for resolving disputes, was an essential component, he said.