Johannes Rau Remarks
Globalizing Opportunity versus Globalizing Privilege
Here are portions of a recent speech given by German Federal President Johannes Rau in Berlin. Our thanks to the Share International Media Service for making this available.
Everyone must be able to share in the benefits of the global division of labour. We are a long way from this ideal. Globalization is not yet as global as it sounds:
— Forty per cent of the world’s population live in the poorest countries of the world; their share of world trade is less than three per cent. In contrast, over three-quarters of world trade is effected by just under 16 per cent of the world population.A policy of freedom will only be convincing in economic terms too if it frees people from exploitation, poverty and overindebtedness; if it provides equal opportunities; if it helps promote mutual respect and if it lets all people share in global developments.
— Over 80 per cent of direct investment is concentrated on just 10 countries.
— Thirteen per cent of the world population lives in Africa, but they have only 0.3 per cent of all internet connections.
A child in the industrial countries consumes on average 50 times as much as a child born in a developing country. When the sense of injustice spreads, people react with withdrawal or protest, rejection or even violence....
Freedom and justice — these are values to which we must orient ourselves if we want to shape globalization positively in both political and economic terms.
The overindebtedness of many countries is not merely an economic problem. It is an existential problem for many people. Their country’s indebtedness robs them of the freedom to share in the advantages of globalization. For far too long the developing countries’ debt problem was regarded merely as a question of their temporary inability to pay, and not as a structural problem. Attempts to solve the problem by granting more loans, and by extending their debts, were therefore bound only to make the situation worse.
Ninety per cent of the money circulating in the world each day has nothing to do with the exchange of goods and services. Over 2 trillion euro is moved around each day purely speculatively. This can cause the social and political destabilization of entire countries, indeed can drive them to economic ruin.
A very broad coalition has emerged, comprising not only well-known critics of globalization but also politicians of all hues as well as Nobel economics laureates, all of whom agree on one thing: we must do something about speculation and we can do something about it.The Progress Report asks-- has this "broad coalition" ever explained exactly what is harmful about trading currency? We ought to know exactly what the problem is, who the victims are, and what the full effects of potential remedies are. For more on this subject, see Fred Foldvary's editorial on Taxing Financial Capital.Global co-operation
Global governance does not mean ruling the world, and it certainly does not mean that the nation-state is superfluous. We need regional and global co-operation, not centralism; we need multilateral co-operation, not the primacy of individual states.
The most important element is the United Nations. The United Nations must be strengthened. It is after all much more than just the Security Council. It also concerns itself with health issues and industrial health and safety, with global environmental issues and with the fight against hunger and poverty. The debate on the reform of the United Nations is at last under way. It is good that many sides are participating. The tasks facing us today are not those of 50 years ago. The United Nations must take account of this.
In 1999 Kofi Annan called upon the multinational enterprises to join in a “Global Compact”, pledging to respect human rights at all production centres, to employ neither forced nor child labour and to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Even more companies should respond to this call. By the way, anyone can look on the internet to see which companies are facing up to their social responsibility worldwide, and how. All multinational companies must face up to the question of whether they comply with these standards.
People [who have been marginalized] feel that their dignity has been violated. Anyone who feels himself to be homeless and uprooted can easily fall victim to fundamentalism or populism. Political extremists are gathering large followings in European countries too, gaining a frightening number of votes in elections.
We can only stem this dangerous development if we take seriously such feelings of alienation, and trace their causes. A globalization which overstretches people will in the end damage society as a whole. This too shows that globalization must be given political shape.
For an additional perspective on this topic, see the Debacles of Globalization
Are some of the powerful forces promoting "globalization" today really concerned with globalizing Opportunity, or just globalizing their own gains? What policies do we most need for a global future? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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