Magazine article UN Chronicle

From International to Global World

Magazine article UN Chronicle

From International to Global World

Article excerpt

"The benefits of globalization are plain to see: faster economic growth, higher living standards, accelerated innovation and diffusion of technology and management skills, new economic opportunities for individuals and countries alike. Why, then, has globalization begun to generate a backlash? ... For many people, globalization has come to mean greater vulnerability to unfamiliar and unpredictable forces that can bring on economic instability and social dislocation, sometimes at lightning speed."

WHEN THE UNITED NATIONS was founded, two thirds of the current membership did not exist as sovereign States, their people still living under colonial rule. The planet hosted a total population of fewer than 2.5 billion, compared to 6 billion today.

TRADE BARRIERS were high, trade flows minuscule and capital controls firmly in place. Most big companies operated within a single country and produced for their home market.

THE COST OF TRANSOCEANIC telephone calls was prohibitive for the average person and limited even business use to exceptional circumstances.

THE WORLD'S FIRST COMPUTER, just constructed and filling a large room, bristled with 18,000 electron tubes and a half-million solder joints, and had to be physically rewired for each new task. References to cyberspace would not have been found even in science fiction.

TODAY, GLOBALIZATION has been made possible by progressive dismantling of barriers to trade and capital mobility, fundamental technological advances, steadily declining costs of transportation, communication and computing. Its integrative logic seems inexorable, its momentum irresistible. Few people, groups or Governments oppose globalization as such.

BUT THEY PROTEST its disparities. Its benefits and opportunities remain highly concentrated among a relatively small number of countries and are spread unevenly within them.

AN IMBALANCE HAS EMERGED between successful efforts to craft strong and well-enforced rules facilitating the expansion of global markets, and support for equally valid social objectives, be they labour standards, the environment, human rights or poverty reduction.

THERE IS MOUNTING anxiety that the integrity of cultures and the sovereignty of States may be at stake. Even in the most powerful countries, people wonder who is in charge, worry for their jobs, and fear that their voices are drowned out in globalization's sweep.

UNDERLYING THESE DIVERSE expressions of concern is a single, powerful message: globalization must mean more than creating bigger markets. The economic sphere cannot be separated from the more complex fabric of social and political life, sent shooting off on its own trajectory. A global economy must have a more solid foundation in shared values and institutional practices--it must advance broader, and more inclusive, social purposes.

POST-WAR INSTITUTIONAL arrangements were premised on a world made up of separate national economies, engaged in external transactions, conducted at arms length. Globalization contradicts each of these expectations.

What We The Peoples Can Do

Ensure, through the United Nations, that globalization provides opportunities for every human being, everywhere.

See the United Nations as the place where the cause of common humanity is articulated and advanced, brokering differences among States in power, culture, size and interest. …

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