Capdevila / IPS
GENEVA, Feb 25 (IPS) - An independent commission of
experts suggests that the criticisms against the
current globalisation process would be sharply reduced
if there were full employment, though warned that to
achieve such a lofty objective requires international
institutions to act with coherence.
When it comes to globalisation issues, there are
contradictions amongst the various agencies of the
multilateral system specialising in trade and finance
with respect to those specialising in social affairs,
says the World Commission on the Social Dimension of
The targets of anti-globalisation criticism are often
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank,
the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and some of the
key agencies of the United Nations.
"People say, if a solution can be found for the jobs
issue, my views of globalisation would be different,"
states Juan Somavia, director general of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The report released this week by the World Commission
on the Social Dimension of Globalisation, created two
years ago by the ILO, argues that the idea of "decent
work" should be a priority on the policy agenda
because "that is what people are demanding."
The Commission's report underscores the global demand
that decent work be made into a universal goal. It is
probably the most widespread demand in all societies,
according to Somavia.
The concept of decent work promoted by the ILO entails
productive employment, sufficient wages, respect for
rights and freedom to organise, as well as adequate
social protections and safe working conditions.
Any politician today knows that he or she cannot
expect to compete in elections without offering
something in the field of employment, and that is
something insinuated in the report "A Fair
Globalisation: Creating Opportunities for All", said
"My personal conviction is that unless we deal with
globalisation in general, and particularly the social
dimension," the world will be faced with serious
problems, said the ILO chief.
In his first meetings with the other heads of U.N.
agencies, Somavia argued that the entire U.N. system
needed to conduct a study of globalisation from
different perspectives, "and including the Bretton
Woods institutions (IMF and World Bank)."
But his idea did not prosper, so the ILO decided two
years ago to set up a commission of 19 experts from
diverse backgrounds, including government,
parliaments, businesses and multinationals, labour
unions, universities and civil society, co-chaired by
presidents Tarja Halonen, of Finland, and Benjamin
Mkapa, of Tanzania.
The group drew up a critical report that questions the
current path of globalisation and concludes that it
must be changed so that globalisation's benefits are
shared by all peoples of the world.
The Commission recognises that it "offers no
miraculous or simple solutions," but that progress can
be made on a wide range of issues within a reasonably
short amount of time.
On this point, the experts criticise the role played
by the multilateral system, which in some aspects has
performed unsatisfactorily in terms of efficiency,
effectiveness, transparency and accountability, said
The report scolds international institutions for
failing to maintain a balance between economic issues
and social and environmental concerns.
Somavia mentioned the lack of coherence amongst the
institutions as evidenced by the contradictions in
policies coming from different sectors of the
multilateral system. These gaps prove that they must
be more capable "of responding to the democratic
demands of people."
People's concerns are focused on employment, he said.
As such, the Commission urges international
institutions to work together to develop an integrated
policy focus for growth, investment and job creation
around the world.
Co-chair Halonen said that the Commission's
conversations with the IMF and World Bank give hope
that those two institutions would be willing to
recognise greater autonomy for countries in outlining
their own development policies.
The Commission has issued criticisms against the
multilateral system, but also urges it to function
with greater coherence, said the Finnish president.
International organisations, like the WTO and ILO,
must respect the values and objectives of other
institutions. "It is really elementary that these
organisations have coherent policies and that there is
cooperation," she said.
The Commission realises that in practice, the
responsibilities for international financial, trade,
development and social policies were assigned to
different institutions, but that appropriate
mechanisms for coordination amongst them were never
The report also makes note of the power asymmetries
between institutions specialising in trade and finance
and those that focus on social and development issues.
Somavia suggested as he presented the report Tuesday
in London that the international institutions must
work together to guide globalisation to benefit the
world's people, and as long as they fail to do so,
they are failing in their mandates.