- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

People, not markets, should be the focus of globalization, according to a report released yesterday by the International Labor Organization.

“We believe the dominant perspective on globalization must shift from a narrow preoccupation with markets to a broader preoccupation with people,” said President Tarja Halonen of Finland and President Benjamin William Mkapa of Tanzania, co-chairpersons of the commission that conducted the study.

The ILO commissioned 26 political, labor and economic leaders to survey opinions in countries and prepare proposals to better address globalization issues. The results are outlined in the report, “A Fair Globalization: Creating Opportunities for All.”

“The future of our countries, and the destiny of our globe, demands that we all rethink globalization,” Mrs. Halonen and Mr. Mkapa said.

The commission says the social dynamics of globalization often are disregarded by governments and institutions and that steps need to be taken to incorporate social issues into the public debate.

But Bill Murray, spokesman for the International Monetary Fund, argued that social development has been considered by the IMF and in documents such as the United Nations Millennium Declaration, a broad mission statement issued by the world body to mark the new millennium.

“It’s been pretty clear in recent years that social development takes a prominent role,” he said.

The ILO report said there is a need for international organizations dealing with development to coordinate their policies. The separate agendas of the organizations sometimes undermine each other, it said.

The authors said the United Nations is best equipped to handle that coordination.

Globalization is occurring without proper governance to guide it, the report said. It recommends a globalization forum that would bring together the major actors, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the United Nations among others, to formulate policy initiatives. This forum also would produce a “State of Globalization” annual review.

“There is a rather great disjunct between the institutions created after World War II and the needs for the future,” said John Sewell, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Mr. Sewell said political leaders hold the key to reaching a global consensus on social issues. “Those institutions are really the property of their members. Until the heads of government decide they want to do things, it’s hard for them to do it themselves.”

International organizations need to better reflect the needs and voices of the small nations who typically lack influence in the global sphere, the report said. One reason for the lack of global governance is the disparity in power, which typically is shared only among the developed nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his report on the U.N. Millennium Declaration, “My own view is that member states need at least to take a hard look at the existing architecture of international institutions and to ask themselves whether it is adequate for the tasks we have set before us.”

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