IMPORTANCE OF HUMANIZING GLOBALIZATION STRESSED,
NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- While globalization could be a formidable multiplier of growth and prosperity, it also risked widening inequalities and disparities within and among countries, said the President of the General Assembly this morning at the conclusion of its high-level dialogue on strengthening international economic cooperation for development through partnership.
In his summary remarks for the dialogue, Assembly President Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea) stated that the dialogue was particularly timely in the context of the current global economic slowdown, enabling the international community to make major progress in defining a new development strategy. The importance of humanizing globalization was stressed so as to assist developing countries to smoothly integrate into the world economy by opening world markets and generating new flows of financing for development.
He added that delegates had agreed that a favourable international economic environment was crucial for mobilizing financial resources. Improving governance at the national level and creating an environment conducive to investment, both domestic and foreign was needed. Delegates also concurred that information technology could play a pivotal role in economic and social development. Narrowing the digital divide was a priority requiring bold policies for developing human resources and the institutional capacity to manage such changes.
During the morning’s debate, a number of representatives stressed the importance of Africa in development efforts. The representative of Nigeria said the dependence of African countries on primary commodities coupled with a weak productive base and declining world prices, further delayed the integration of Africa into the global economy. To remedy this, creditor nations needed to cancel Africa’s external debt. To have Africa contribute over two-thirds of its Gross National Product to service external debt was to consign the continent permanently into poverty.
The representative of Myanmar called for a reassessment of the entire system of international relations. There was a need to forge a new partnership that would enable the integration of developing countries into the world economy so that everyone could enjoy the benefits of globalization.
The representative of Guatemala said discussions should move past finger pointing by both developed and developing countries. All efforts aimed at improving the global economy could be exponentially maximized if they were applied in a true spirit of partnership, where the internal efforts to overcome the main obstacles to development were complemented and enriched by a renewed effort in the realm of international cooperation. There was a need to complement specific proposals with a change in attitude, where all parties concerned -– rich and poor countries –- assumed individual and collective responsibilities to achieve development and reduce poverty.
Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Mongolia, Bangladesh, Paraguay, Yemen, Czech Republic, Libya, Thailand, Nepal, Nauru (on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum), Maldives, and Bolivia.
Summary statements were also made by the Rapporteurs of the two ministerial round table-cum-informal panels. Eladio Loizaga (Paraguay) spoke on the sub-theme of information and communication technologies for development; and Ion Botnaru (Republic of Moldova) spoke on the sub-theme of financing for development.
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its two-day high-level dialogue on strengthening international economic cooperation for development through partnership. Delegations have been focusing on the theme of "Responding to globalization: facilitating the integration of developing countries into the world economy and generating new public and private financing resources to complement development efforts".
The high-level dialogue on development through partnership constitutes the intergovernmental follow-up to, and assessment of the Agenda for Development, adopted by the Assembly in 1997. The Agenda provides that such a dialogue should also be used as an opportunity to discuss new and emerging issues concerning international cooperation for development.
The dialogue is intended to promote a broader and deeper understanding of issues of global or transboundary nature and to provide impetus for the promotion of international economic cooperation for development. The dialogue should not be seen in isolation as a two-day event, but rather as part of the broader intergovernmental process that encompasses major United Nations conferences and summits, especially the Millennium Summit, and the regular work of intergovernmental bodies, especially the Second and Third Committees of the Assembly, and the Economic and Social Council.
The outcome, in the form of a President's summary, should constitute a contribution to the implementation of the Agenda for Development and other relevant intergovernmental processes. It should stimulate follow-up by Governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental actors and other development partners, and enrich and move forward the policy debate on development issues.
JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said the current process of globalization and technological advancement remained highly selective, and a vast majority of the global population did not benefit from it. A situation, where the income of the top 20 per cent of the global population was nearly 80 times more than that of the 20 per cent at the bottom was not only morally difficult to accept, but was also impossible to sustain.
International trade played an important role in the economic and social advancement of developing countries, he said. The current trade regime overlooked the fact that greatly varying international transport costs created extreme vulnerabilities for landlocked countries. Those countries were paying three times more than industrialized States and twice as much as fellow developing countries to transport their exports to the world market. Therefore, it was difficult, or even impossible, to talk about the benefits of international trade and globalization for that particular group of countries. The special needs of those countries should be adequately addressed in multilateral trade forums, particularly at the upcoming World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting in Doha, Qatar.
The ability to benefit from globalization depended not only on the improved capacity to benefit from international trade, but also on the ability to make use of complex information and communication technology, he said. Perhaps a special brainstorming meeting could be held on information and communication technology (ICT) for development, which could provide impetus to the commencement of the ICT Task Force. Among other things, the meeting could discuss concrete measures to assist developing countries in acquiring technological infrastructure as well as in improving the quality of education to enable them to fully utilize the new technology.
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said that globalization was changing the world at an unthinkable pace, creating both opportunities and challenges. It was imperative to ensure that the twin forces of globalization and trade liberalization not be allowed to undermine social justice or marginalize developing countries, particularly least developed countries, any further. Though a series of major United Nations conferences had been convened in the area of sustainable development to aid the least developed countries, those countries have not yet seen much progress.
He said that, regional bodies and international organizations could play a vital role in making international cooperation effective in facing the challenges of globalization, as had been clearly reflected in the outcome of the Third United Nations Conference in Least Developed Countries. Such cooperation, specifically in the areas of increased participation of developing countries and transparency, would also be imperative in the international financial system. To that end, it was hoped that countries would be able to agree on concrete guidelines and measures for mobilization of resources from effective public finance policy and through increased foreign capital flows at the "high level intergovernmental event on financing for development" to be held in Mexico next March.
He attached great importance to the adverse impact on developing economies of protectionist policies by developed countries in the agricultural sector,. Specific areas where well-designed policies would be especially helpful in better integrating developing countries into the world economy included initiatives to provide developing countries with increased flows of official development assistance(ODA), foreign direct investment, and technical knowledge, greater access to markets for their goods, and easier movement of labour. Unless a special focus was maintained on the acute problems faced by least developed countries in bridging the "digital divide", today’s high-level event would not help them combat the negative effects of globalization.
ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said the international community must find a way to allow globalization to yield fruit for all mankind equitably. Globalization made available great advances in technology, means of production, trade and global finance. In that regard, he placed considerable importance on the international discussions on global finance that will take place in Monterrey, Mexico next year. Also crucial was the process of trade liberalization, especially in the area of agricultural products. There was a need for the absolute elimination of all barriers to trade. Developing countries must have access to all markets. Without such liberalization, developing countries risk being placed on the sidelines, without access to the benefits of globalization.
To have technology meant having an edge in development, he added. That was why developed countries must make technology available to all countries and avoid the risk of leaving some nations behind. It was important to be mindful of the most disadvantaged of developing countries. Technology was a tool essential for development, and it must be given to all. It was a tool all nations needed to achieve social justice.
AHMED AL-HADDAD (Yemen) said that globalization was characteristic of the modern era and represented a tremendous means for rapid development. However, it had confined its benefits to the markets and had ignored some of the social aspects involved. It had worsened the situation for those in the developing world, which were already suffering under the burden of external debt. In dealing with the crisis in the third world and achieving the integration of developing countries into the global economy, it was necessary for the international community to exercise joint responsibility and determination to achieve equality and justice.
The international community must ensure that developing countries can emerge from their weak economic structures, he said. It should also facilitate the access of agricultural and industrial products from developing countries into the markets of the developed countries. Developing countries very much depended on international assistance and bilateral aid. The problem of international trade relations on the multilateral level must be resolved. Efforts to integrate developing countries should consider the fact that those countries should be included in decision-making affecting them. He expressed great hopes for the upcoming International Conference on Financing for Development.
VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic) said the development dimension of international economic cooperation had enormous implications for integration of developing countries and countries in transition into the global economy. However, enabling the international environment was not enough. It could have a supportive and catalytic impact, but the primary responsibility for development and integration into the world economy rested on each developing country and country in transition.
He added that the countries themselves must be the driving force in their own integration. They needed to develop consistent country-driven poverty reduction and development strategies, which would set development goals at the country level. Developing countries also needed to establish a base for sound and coherent macroeconomic financial trade policies while embracing economic as well as social factors of development.
The potential for regional cooperation, he said, had not been fully recognized, particularly in financial and monetary matters. He was convinced that besides the extremely pressing issues of globalization and interdependence, appropriate and more focused attention should be given to regional cooperation and integration.
AHMED EL ATRASH (Libya) said it was important to strengthen international cooperation in regard to the global economy because globalization was facing increasing criticism. Until now, the distribution of wealth had not been equitable. Globalization had not benefited the poor, and there was a danger of abandoning developing countries and leaving them behind. Addressing poverty was especially important. Many countries could not participate in the global economy and therefore could not benefit from increases in wealth and living standards.
If globalization was to become a positive force, the international community must introduce changes on the world level that would address Africa, he said. Africa was most in need of changes. There was a need for a new humanitarian world order that was just and equitable and promoted development on an equal footing. His country was carrying out real measures to aid development around the world. But without real partnership on a world-wide level, such efforts would not achieve their goals. The countries of the North must do more to aid such regional and national efforts for development.
KULKUMUT SINGHARA NA AYUDHAYA (Thailand) said a "level playing field" was not enough to address the ever-larger gap between developed and developing countries. Developing countries needed help in capacity building to reap the benefits of globalization in areas such as trade, investment, finance and technology. They could generate economic growth through economic liberalization, but that should be undertaken in a progressive, step-by-step manner, according to readiness. It should be flexible and in context of national policy objectives and level of development. There should be a comprehensive reform of the international financial structure to provide a better mechanism for crisis management and to make the environment more conducive to trade and development for developing countries.
Regional and subregional arrangements could help developing countries integrate into the world economy, he said. In addition, the International Conference on Financing for Development, to be convened in Monterrey, Mexico, in March would help in holistically addressing national, international and systemic issues related to interdependence. It would also help address the mobilization of financial resources to reach goals set by conferences, summits and the Millennium Declaration. The Conference agenda covering such areas as foreign direct investment, trade, official development assistance and systemic issues would impact on integration of developing countries into the world economy.
He said information and communication technology (ICT) was part and parcel of the globalization process. Liberalization in this area should focus not only on constructing better telecommunication infrastructure but also on consumer protection, fair competition and pricing, service licensing and stipulation of penalty. Since access to connections and level of knowledge were basic to making use of the ICT, human capacity building should be promoted along with the transfer of technology and incentives for research and development. Support of the United Nations and its recently established ICT Task Force would help equip developing countries to prevent further widening of the existing digital divide.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that globalization and the information revolution had failed the poor. Promoting the integration of developing countries into the global economy and in the global information network entailed similar measures -– building capacity, enhancing access and ensuring fairness and justice. Essentially, integration necessitated comprehensive national development. To "get the ball rolling", developing countries would need substantially enhanced, front-loaded official development assistance packages, deeper and wider debt relief, and strengthened institutional capacities that could create impetus for investment and trade. It was also absolutely crucial for developing countries to enjoy unfettered access to markets in the North, as the developed countries did in the markets of the South, to sustain their trade and development.
Similarly, to be integrated in the global information network, developing countries would need to have improved national capacities to process and use information. People must have jobs and incomes to afford necessary hardware and software, roads to transport them to potential users, and advanced and reliable telecommunications facilities. For developing countries to really take advantage of the global information network, they must have room to meaningfully participate in it, particularly in managing information. The control of global information by a few giants, which were further consolidating, hardly helped to create a conducive climate for the South to join and effectively engage in the network.
He added that every crisis spawned opportunity and reinforced resolve. The world was now in an economic slump. Perhaps, the international community could convert that into an opportunity of sorts by putting together a global economic stimulus package to make globalization and information technology work for all.
VINCI N. CLODUMAR (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said that in the Asia-Pacific region, globalization remained an enigma. The larger "Tiger" economies had indeed benefited, but the gap between the faster and slower growing economies in the region had widened in nearly all respects. The fear was that the latter risked being further marginalized –- the small Pacific island economies in particular, whose long-term development prospects had shown little improvement.
The 1994 Barbados Programme of Action drew the world’s attention to the problems facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and if anything those problems had increased in both intensity and urgency, he said. Due to the small size and remoteness of their countries, over-emphasis on public sector-led development strategies and gaps in technological capabilities, the Pacific Islands in particular faced special difficulties in making the globalization transition. Adjustment to the external trade regime and the sequencing of changes in their economies would, therefore, take time and careful planning. To that end, clear signals about the direction of domestic trade and regulatory policies were needed to guide the process and to attract new investment.
For the small economies of the Pacific, specific issues included taking appropriate account of the special circumstances of SIDS, ensuring that any graduation from least developed country (LDC) status was not premature, he said. It was also necessary to ensure the provision of policy advice and technical assistance regarding trade and investment. In addition, it was important to support private sector development, especially in terms of education and training, creating improved regulatory frameworks and infrastructure development.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) said that each time delegates met to address the topics of development and globalization, there was a certain amount of finger pointing going on. Developed countries tended to make developing countries responsible for their own plight, putting emphasis on ill-conceived public polices, weak institutions, high levels of corruption and a lack of leadership. Developing countries, for their part, tended to accuse the international environment for their difficulties, putting their emphasis on lack of access to markets, lack of access to technologies, and lack of access to financing. There were elements of truth to both those sides.
All efforts by the United Nations system in the area of improving the global economy could be exponentially maximized if they were applied in a true spirit of partnership, where the internal efforts to overcome the main obstacles to development were complemented and enriched by a renewed effort in the realm of international cooperation. There was a need to complement specific proposals with a change in attitude, where all parties concerned –- rich and poor countries -– assumed individual and collective responsibilities to achieve development and reduce poverty.
HUSSEIN SHIHAB (Maldives) said that most developing countries, especially the least developed countries, still found themselves marginalized in terms of economic growth, industrial output and trade. In fact, the majority of the flows of the benefits of economic integration had tended to be concentrated in only a few of the larger developing countries. He added that the developed countries accounted for a disproportionate share of the world's flow of foreign direct investment, accounting for over 90 per cent, while the rest of the world, almost 70 per cent of the world's population was able to attract less than 10 per cent of such investments.
The Maldives was a small island developing State (SIDS), and as such, it was among the world's poorest and most vulnerable nations. As so many SIDS, its market was small, its labour, both in terms of quantity as well as quality was limited, and its economy was narrowly based on one or two products which tended to be susceptible to external forces beyond its control. The Maldives had achieved much progress and made important strides in its social and economic development through political stability and prudent policies. However, it appeared that the international community was about to penalize the Maldives for its successes, he said, referring to the impending graduation of his country from the list of least developed countries (LDCs).
A closer and more careful look at the case of the Maldives and other SIDS would warrant the continued retention of these States in the LDC category. The ground realities in these island States were too severe to be ignored relying solely on abstract indicators, he said. His country believed that the blueprint for effectively tackling the problems faced by LDCs was fully contained in the Programme of Action adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on LDCs. It was therefore essential that the programme of action be implemented immediately.
KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said that a new partnership was needed for the international community, particularly during the current era of rapid globalization. It was time to reassess the entire system of international relations and to forge a new partnership that would enable the integration of developing countries into the world economy, so that everyone could enjoy the benefits of globalization.
In forging a new partnership, special emphasis must be placed on financing for development as a major vehicle in development cooperation, he said. In the face of sluggish economic conditions and financial uncertainty, the international community should collectively focus on that endeavour, which would not only strengthen the effective mobilization of domestic resources but also reinforce the system of international capital flows.
Information and communication technology could facilitate the integration of developing countries into the mainstream of the global economy, he said. A new partnership was required -- one that would support the developing countries in bridging the digital divide, so they too could share in the global prosperity emerging out of the information and communication revolution.
ERWIN ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said there should be certain deadlines set for bringing countries into the global economy. Such integration should be a goal for the first decade of the century. The current trade and financial system was not adequately responding to the needs of developing and poor countries, and gaps in living standards were widening. For a number of countries, globalization had made conditions worse with grave social and environmental consequences. The question was, what response the international community could devise to respond to the problems of globalization.
There was an enormous amount of know-how and insight available to face the problems of development, he said. However, many of those ideas had been flawed or slow in implementation. The best answer was to humanize the process of globalization and make globalization serve people. There was a need to build bridges between nations in the political, economic, financial and trade arenas. There was also a need to share information and other types of technologies. The entire international community should form a new alliance committed to standing together to build a new world based on fairness and equity for all.
TENIOLA OLUSEGUN APATA (Nigeria) said the dependence of African countries on primary commodities coupled with weak productive bases and strong supply-side constraints, small populations and weak domestic markets, declining world prices, lack of market access and increasing HIV/AIDS prevalence, would further delay the integration of African economies into the global economy. In that regard, there was a need to launch concerted efforts to accelerate the economic and social development of African States. Such concerted efforts were necessary in support of the comprehensive reforms being undertaken on the continent through the increasing and determined commitments of African leaders to democratic governance.
He said that regional integration offered developing countries a realistic opportunity to pool their resources together for development. For Africa, that required the effective linkage and integration of physical infrastructure, trade liberalization and harmonization of financial and monetary systems and private sector involvement. It must extend to regional transport, power, communication, education, conflict resolution, reconstruction and peace building. To achieve that required a huge inflow of financial resources, which Africa on its own with its vulnerable economies did not have.
As the first contribution to an African economic renaissance, it was necessary for the creditor nations to cancel Africa’s external debt, he said. To have Africa contribute over two-thirds of its Gross National Product to service external debt was to consign the continent permanently into poverty. World leaders entered into a commitment in the Millennium Declaration when they pledged to take measures to address Africa’s indebtedness, including cancellation of debt. However, there had been no concrete action in that direction. Creditor nations should therefore take another look at the Millennium Declaration and begin the process of fundamentally addressing Africa’s external indebtedness.
Ministerial Round Table Summary
ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) summarized the Ministerial round tables cum-informal panel on the sub-theme: "enhancing the integration of developing countries in the emerging global information network, facilitating access to information and communication technology for developing countries." He said that today, globalization was driven by information and communication technology (ICT) that expedited the flow of information across national boundaries. New opportunities had emerged for promoting development through greater access to markets and better access to knowledge in areas such as health and human resource development. However, the challenges and constraints in bridging the digital divide were enormous due to the lack of infrastructure, an inadequate regulatory environment, high cost of access and lack of human resources.
He emphasized the importance of addressing the gender aspect in this context as well as encouraging development of local content, in order to respect social and technical pluralities and to avoid a "one size fits all" approach. The role of the State was also vital in creating an enabling environment for a knowledge-based economy, particularly in the establishment of an appropriate regulatory environment and in ensuring affordable access to ICT.
The issue of digital divides had been addressed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) since the mid-1980’s, however, the United Nations as a whole had started its efforts in the 1990s, he said. On average, developing countries had made significant progress in the ICT area, but the least developed countries and Africa had been left behind. It was hoped that the United Nations ICT Task Force, created by the Secretary-General, would make a tangible difference for people on the ground through its efforts to bridge the divide through facilitating partnerships among governments, NGOs, the private sector and the international community. In this regard, a proposal had been made for the establishment of an ICT Trust Fund to support these activities. Finally, he reported that several speakers had underscored the need to view affordable access to information and knowledge as a fundamental human right.
ION BOTNARU (Republic of Moldova), summarized the ministerial round table-cum-informal panel on sub-theme a: "Promoting the integration of developing countries into the world economy and generating new public and private financing resources to complement development efforts." He said the financing for development process was an opportunity to answer the open question of how to finance the public policy interventions called for by the United Nations global conferences on development, as well as an opportunity for joining the larger development debate with that on reform of the international financial architecture. Since global financial crises remained a threat to the task of promoting development, coordinated action was needed in the short term to reduce the risk of a crisis. Long-term aspects, such as macroeconomic interdependence and potential contagion effects, also needed to be addressed.
He said the Financing for Development process had highlighted the need for increased international cooperation. Speakers had discussed proposals for collecting an international tax such as a currency transactions tax or a carbon tax. The possibility of an International Tax Organization was also mentioned. The impact of trade on financing for development was also mentioned. Official development assistance remained an important issue. There was also a need to go beyond the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and to put in place a more transparent and fair system, ensuring respect for debtors' rights. With regard to mobilizing domestic resources for development in developing countries, a number of proposals were mentioned, such as funded, defined-contributions pension schemes to increase savings. Recapitalizing credit institutions was an important way to ensure availability of resources in post conflict and other countries.
In his closing remarks, General Assembly President HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea) stated that the Dialogue was particularly timely in the context of the current global economic slowdown, enabling the international community to make major progress in defining a new development strategy. Globalization was widely seen as a reality that must be accepted. While it could be a formidable multiplier of growth and prosperity, it also risked widening inequalities and disparities within and among countries. The importance of humanizing globalization was stressed so as to assist developing countries to smoothly integrate into the world economy by opening world markets and generating new flows of financing for development.
Regarding the sub-theme of financing for development, he said that it was agreed that a favourable international economic environment was crucial for mobilizing financial resources. Attention was also called to the need for improving governance at the national level and creating an environment conducive to investment, both domestic and foreign. It was also agreed that the upcoming Financing for Development Conference represented an invaluable opportunity to promote significant improvements in the growth and development prospects of developing countries.
He went on to say that the need was reiterated for deeper, broader and expeditious debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and beyond for effective and coherent debt policies, including post-HIPC programmes. Also, the delegates had affirmed their high expectations for the upcoming World Trade Organization meeting in Qatar in providing a renewed opportunity to focus on market access, capacity building in trade, and growing protectionism during the global economic slowdown.
Turning to the sub-theme on information and communication technologies (ICT) for development, he said that delegates had concurred that ICT could play a pivotal role in economic and social development. It was felt that narrowing the digital divide was a priority requiring bold policies for developing human resources and the institutional capacity to manage such changes. Comprehensive national action was viewed as a prerequisite for establishing the necessary capacities and infrastructure to successfully reap the benefits of ICT.
In addition, he said, delegates highlighted the importance of forging partnerships between the public and private sectors. To that end, the establishment of the ICT Task Force was welcomed and it was hoped that its activities would provide tangible results.
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