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Democratizing Globalization

A High-Level Leaders' Forum with the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy

By Mary Robinson, Fantu Cheru, Colin Bradford, Shepard Forman | Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, Global Fairness Initiative | April 28, 2005

April 28, 2005, New York, N.Y.

Over fifty intellectual, political, and civil society leaders convened at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs to debate the links between poverty, democracy, security and globalization. Participants were challenged to explore the role that the United States and other G8 countries can and should play with regard to promoting human rights and development on an increasingly interconnected global stage. The interactive dinner and dialogue was hosted by the Carnegie Council's Global Policy Innovations program, Ethical Globalization Initiative, Global Fairness Initiative, and was convened in partnership with the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy.

Keynote panelists included Mary Robinson (Executive Director, Ethical Globalization Initiative), Carole L. Brookins (former U.S. Executive Director, World Bank), Fantu Cheru (Professor, American University School of International Service), Shepard Forman (Director, Center on International Cooperation, NYU), and Colin Bradford (Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution). Stephen Heintz (President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund) moderated the evening's discussion.

Globalization at a Crossroads?
Consensus quickly emerged that the uneven gains brought about by the current process of global integration pose a serious challenge to the international system. Citing the UNDP 2004 report, Democracy in Latin America: Towards a Citizens' Democracy, Stephen Heintz pointed to disturbing polls in which 54.7 percent of Latin Americans surveyed said that they would support an "authoritarian" regime over "democratic" government if authoritarian rule could "resolve" their economic problems. Such sentiments, discussants argued, are emblematic of the growing dissatisfaction in many parts of the developing world where promises of a rising tide lifting all boats have not been kept. Participants agreed that new rules, institutions and policies are required to ensure that developed and developing countries share more evenly in the gains of economic globalization.

Reinventing Globalization
Addressing this challenge requires a new vision for global development and international cooperation—one that promotes human dignity, economic opportunity, security, and freedom. Reflecting on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recent report, In Larger Freedom, Mary Robinson agreed with Annan's conclusion that "humanity will not enjoy security without development, it will not enjoy development without security, and it will not enjoy either without respect for human rights." Policies in these three areas are set to amplify each other in ways that can more effectively deliver on the promises of democracy.

Similarly, Diane Elson, economist at the Levy Institute and University of Essex, argued that political democracy must be accompanied by a more comprehensive sense of economic democracy that promotes citizen participation in the administration of domestic resources for development. By reinventing the rules of the game to enhance global accountability, and empowering developing countries to exercise a broader range of policy tools for promoting economic opportunity, globalization can be harnessed as a positive force for change.

Mobilizing Political Will for Change
Translating this vision into action requires a mobilization of political will and leadership. Evening participants agreed that, as a leader in the global economy and as a country officially committed to promoting democracy, the United States can and should play a central role in ensuring the spread of development and security. To get the United States on board, however, creative and inclusive multilateral solutions must build on core American values such as fairness, opportunity and equality. New alliances between governments, citizen groups, and the private sector will be required for building and implementing these new solutions. Evening participants also agreed on the need for a new global partnership based on shared responsibilities: Developed countries bear significant responsibility for maintaining fair rules of the game at the global level; and developing countries must take greater responsibility for defining their own development agenda and implementing the most appropriate mix of policies in their particular context.

Related Resources:

Read More: Democracy, Development, Globalization, Governance, Human Rights, Poverty, Security, Global


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