"Under the guise of budget constraints and need to economize, the UN and its institutions are being starved of funds."









"The globalization process is being pushed in the name of the free market and free trade by the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO."

G-77/TWN Round Table
calls on developed countries
to honour Rio commitments

New York 3 Apr (G-77/TWN) -- Organized jointly by the Office of the Chairman of the Group of 77 in New York and the Malaysia-based Third World Network, the Round Table on Globalization, Sustainable Development and the South, held in April 1997 at the UN Headquarters, called on the governments of developed countries to honour their commitments made at Rio Summit five years ago.

Among the participating panelists and speakers were the Chairman of the Group of 77, Amb. Daudi Ngelauktwa Mwakawago of Tanzania, Mr. Martin Khor, Director of the TWN, the President of the UN General Assembly, Amb. Razali Ismail of Malaysia, Mr. Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Dennis Ben, Director of the Special Unit for TCDC of UNDP, Brazil’s Permanent Representative, Amb. Celso Amorim, Mr. Chakravarthi Raghavan, Chief Editor of SUNS, Mr. Bhagirath Lal Das, former head of UNCTAD’s Trade Programme and advisor on trade to the TWN, and Mr. Carlos Correa of the Buenos Aires University and former vice-minister of Argentina, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz of the Philippines and a leader of the Indigenous Peoples Movement, and Charles Abugre, Director of the TWN Africa Regional Secretariat.

Ambassador Mwakawago, Chairman of G-77, addressed the opening ceremony. He laid particular emphasis on the importance of the forthcoming Special Session of the General Assembly and reiterated the commitment of developing countries for the implementation of Agenda 21. He also called on developed countries to honor Rio Commitments including the promised mobilization of new and additional financial resources and transfer of safe and environmentally sound technologies. The call by the Chairman of the Group of 77 was strongly supported both by Government representatives and NGOs participating in the Round Table.

Most of the speakers were agreed that globalization could not be made into prescriptive norms, and that nations of the world, and particularly the developing nations, should look at it carefully and see how international actions and measures could be taken to maximize any benefits and minimize and eliminate elements that contribute to the marginalization and impoverishment of people.

All the speakers and most of the participants, were agreed that the issues raised by globalization should be addressed, and the United Nations was the proper forum to address all aspects of this -- economic, social, cultural, etc. -- and that the United Nations must set out the framework and the guidelines under which the process could move forward.

The UN General Assembly President, Amb. Razali Ismail of Malaysia, said that globalization had been institutionalized by the Uruguay Round Agreements and the WTO. There had been winners and losers in the Uruguay Round, and Africans were among the losers.

Citing a wide variety of academic studies and writings, Raghavan said, the globalization process was being pushed in the name of the free market and free trade by the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO, even as the industrialized North and the major powers were in fact, pursuing neo-mercantalist policies to advance the interests of their corporations. The BWIs and the WTO had become manipulative instruments to advance the interests of the United States, Europe and the other major industrial nations, he charged.

While the term globalization was used in mid-1980s to describe a process already under way, and involving complex elements of production, consumption, investment, technology, and trade in goods and services, it has gradually become a term to prescribe a normative strategy of development for developing countries, one of rapid integration into the world economy, he said.

And the Bretton Woods Institutions and the 2-year old WTO, under the guise of promoting the free market and free trade were in fact, promoting a particular form of globalization, namely, one of rapid integration into the world economy through the instrumentality of transnational corporations, he added.

While these institutions were thus promoting the interests of the TNCs based in the major industrial countries, and through non-transparent and undemocratic decision-making processes, the United Nations was being sidelined. The UN and its specialized agencies were being discouraged or stopped from addressing the core issues of economics, and this is in clear violation of the UN Charter, and particularly Chapters IX and X of the Charter.
Under the guise of budget constraints and need to economize, the UN and its institutions were being starved of funds. And while the UN and agencies, to persuade its biggest debtor to discharge its Charter obligations, was undertaking reforms and under this guise, the essential programs and activities in the core economic sectors were being abandoned, the BWIs and their staff continue their high-life styles - as exampled by the recent revelations about the gold-leaf panelling on the executive dining room at the new World Bank headquarters in Washington DC -- even while the Bank, Fund and their economists prescribe for developing countries, a “one-size-fit-all” policy package of perpetual belt-tightening, Mr. Raghavan concluded.