World Commission Takes on Social Consequences of Globalization

Participants at a regional dialogue of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, agree on the importance of the social dimension to be put on the agenda facing globalization.

Press release | BANGKOK | 17 December 2002

BANGKOK (ILO News) – Participants at a two-day regional dialogue of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, which ended Tuesday, agreed that while the globalization process continues to be a major factor in driving economic development, it is vital that the social dimension be factored into the agenda.

The lively and diverse debate at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) featured a wide array of players from Government, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), employers’ and workers’ groups, NGOs and academia. They highlighted the growing complexity of the globalization phenomenon and its painful social consequences, including unemployment, underemployment, displacement, and a loss of educational opportunities.

One major reoccurring point during the talks was that a more level playing field in terms of trade would be essential before globalization could regain credibility in the region, particularly among developing nations. While the United States bolsters its Farm Aid and the European Union (E.U.) puts reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on the back burner, cynicism would likely persist, delegates said.

Sabur Ghayur, Director of External and Institutional Relations at ICFTU-APRO, called for a change of investor mindset. "With a choice of markets to develop their businesses, many investors pick countries that are willing to leave labour standards, the ‘essentials’, aside until a later date, and see medium-term economic gains as more important," he said. Mr N.M. Adyanthaya from the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) also called for a link between globalization and labour standards.

In terms of Asia and the Pacific, Professor Nigel Haworth of the University of Auckland highlighted China as being a major issue. Its growing influence, he said, would mean that countries would have to carefully consider whether to try and compete or collaborate.

Regional cooperation was also identified as being of great importance.

H.E. M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, Governor of the Bank of Thailand, said, "each of us becomes stronger if we work together as a group". He added that countries need to ensure they are smart enough to maximize the benefits, while avoiding potential crises.

Professor Nieves Confessor, Dean of the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines, said that a new kind of education would be required in order to be better prepared for globalization. Schools should not be the only source of learning, rather the concept of "lifelong learning" must be adopted for the region to benefit more from existing and future developments created through globalization.

The meeting, "Strategies for Making Globalization More Inclusive for People – Views from the Asia Pacific", was aimed at exploring regional and sub-regional strategies for making globalization more inclusive. The views expressed at the meeting will be submitted, in the form of a report, for consideration by the World Commission as a whole.

The World Commission gives high priority to holding dialogues with key regional and sub-regional actors in the globalization process, allowing it to listen to a diversity of views and perceptions, as well as to elicit knowledge and ideas for policy innovation.

Members of the Commission who were present in Bangkok included co-chair of the Commission H.E. Ms Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, Lord Bill Brett (U.K.), Chairperson of the Governing Body of the ILO, Dr Surin Pitsuwan (Thailand), MP and former foreign minister, and Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Founder & Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Center for Policy Research and Education).

The ILO launched the World Commission in February 2002 to identify ways of utilizing the potential of globalization to improve people’s lives, reduce poverty, and increase opportunities for all.