|Gurirab calls for Globalization with
Head, Heart and Human Face, and for cancellation of Third
Following are excerpts from the address by Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab,
President of the United Nations General Assembly, to the "World
Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving Social Development
for all in a Globalizing World", which was held in Geneva from
26 to 30 June 2000:
We have come to this historic and beautiful city to confront
one of the most urgent challenges of our time. It is the challenge
of putting the needs of the people at the centre of the global
agenda of peace and development and democracy. We are here to
agree on real solutions to the acute problems of real people.
Today, the main challenge facing humankind is represented by
the awesome force of globalization. It is said that millions in
the world welcome globalization, while millions fear it. What
the world actually needs is globalization with a head, a heart
and a human face.
The signatories at Copenhagen in 1995 framed a broad strategy
covering national, regional and international action to end marginalization
and injustice. They promised to establish time-bound targets to
cut poverty, to promote greater equality between women and men,
to achieve full employment and to establish universal access to
education and primary health care. World leaders vowed to accelerate
advancement of the least developed countries, and to increase
resources for official development assistance.
Our task this week and beyond Geneva is to build upon the strong
foundation of consensus that was reached in Copenhagen and to
uphold the social commitment expressed there five years ago. To
do that, we must marshal resources for social commitment commensurate
with the needs of real people. By this, I mean not only development
grants but also other critical areas of policy initiative: debt
cancellation, productive investment, measures to discourage financial
speculation, and firm action to end the tariff and non-tariff
barriers that are still imposed lopsidedly against developing
countries that can least afford them.
In that context, the burden of third world debt is in fact even
more crushing than the absence of aid. For example, a number of
African countries are forced to pay more for debt service than
for education and health combined. On top of that, much of their
debt was incurred by undemocratic regimes that were encouraged
and supported by certain industrialized countries. To add insult
to injury, more aid and cooperation were extended in the past
to those dictatorships than to the democratizing and reforming
governments in African today. Despite the 1996 Heavily Indebted
Poor Countries Initiative, only four or five of 33 applicants
have qualified. Some leaders in industrialized countries often
lament the burden that deficit spending will impose on their children.
Why, then, has there been benign neglect in the face of the crushing
mortgage being imposed on future generations in impoverished countries?
The package of resources needed to underwrite social development
has got to be balanced. It would need to include both national
resources raised through tax regime or earned through fair terms
of trade, and international resources generated through official
development assistance, debt relief and long-term productive investment.
Granted, developing countries themselves must deepen their commitment
to political, economic and legal reforms and accountable government.
Otherwise, the incidents of marginalization will be enforced even
more harshly and the victims will be the poor and the most vulnerable
sections in the society. There is really no pride in us being
arrogant and despondent when, in the case of Africa, today war,
death and economic woes deny livelihood to millions and denude
them of human dignity. On the other hand, those fortunate countries
that had benefited from early industrialisation and are, therefore,
today in an ideal position to profit immensely from globalization,
should acknowledge and assume the responsibilities towards the
least fortunate that accompany their power and great fortune.
Promoting sustainable social development will help eliminate
barriers to equality, to eradicate poverty and to overcome the
disparities, inequalities and injustices that exist in the world
today. If these goals are achieved, we will, at long last, be
able to say that a sea change is under way. I truly hope so. Now
let us dive in.