by Thalif Deen
(IPS) UNITED NATIONS --
United Kingdom and France, in
a warning to the UN members, say that globalization -- which
promotes open markets and the removal of currency controls -- needs
to be regulated because it is in danger of being hijacked by
"The more the world becomes global, the more it needs rules,"French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin told the 188-member UN General Assembly in New York.
Looking at the darker side of the new economic phenomenon, Jospin said that globalization, among other things, also was changing the nature of organized crime.
"This has positively exploded," he said, "In point of fact, the very great fluidity in movements permits criminal networks to exploit the contradictions among national laws, and the weaknesses of some of them, to find a haven against justice."
Pursuing a similar argument, the 1999 Human Development Report, released by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in July, said that globalization had created "exciting opportunities" to enterprising and imaginative criminals all over the world.
"Lowering the barriers to international trade and the transit of goods across borders is generally seen as a good thing," the report said, "but it also helps the luxury car hijacked on a Johannesburg street to reappear for sale in Moscow."
multinational corporations led a drive to globalize the world,
the report said, so the "crime multinationals" had been quick
to exploit it.
The report also said that the preciptious removal of currency controls, before a regulatory environment had been established, was the perfect condition for money laundering by drug traffickers.
Jospin told the General Assembly that, since international drug trafficking seemed to have benefited from globalization, the United nations should conclude as soon as possible the proposed UN convention against transnational organized crime.
"We have a choice in confronting globalization," said Jospin. "We can either go along with the supposedly natural economic laws, and in so doing abdicate our political responsibilities. Or we can seek to order globalization, and thereby achieve control of our collective future."
The world, he said, needs rules of the game. "It needs the United Nations."
Robin Cook, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, told delegates that globalization was the term commonly used to describe how in today's world "we are interdependent with each other rather than independent of each other."
"We are bound together by our deepening links in trade and investment, in travel, communication...and the consequences of conflict," he added.
Cook pointed out that, as a result of globalization, what happens in one country now has a direct impact on the prosperity, security and even the climate of countries on the other side of the world.
In Britain, he said, 90 percent of the heroin on the streets of the big cities was grown in Afghanistan "under cover of the generation-long conflict in that land."
In central Africa, the population upheavals sparked by the genocide in Rwanda had destabilized the region and half-a-dozen countries had been caught up in ensuing conflicts.
Across the countries of Europe, Cook said, there were several hundred thousand citizens of the former Yugoslavia who had fled from repeated conflicts there to seek sanctuary.
"Just as few nations can stand alone in the modern world, there are few major conflicts which remain only an internal matter with no impact on the rest of the world," he argued.
UNDP report said that new technology and electronic
commerce -- both thriving under globalization -- have also created
new crimes, such as the piracy of intellectual property, including
music, films and software.
"A computer hacker in Russia came close to stealing millions of dollars from Citibank offices in New York," the report said, "while Nigerian conmen take advantage of the semblance of legitimacy that the fax machine gives a forged document."
The Chinese triads are in the restaurant trade in London; the Sicilian mafia is selling heroin in New York and the Japanese Yakuza is financing pornography in the Netherlands, the report said.
At a meeting of Third World trade ministers in Marrakesh, Morocco earlier this month, the chairman of the 133-member Group of 77 developing countries said globalization continued to have a profound impact on most developing economies.
Speaking on behalf of the Group, Clement Rohee, the Foreign Minister of Guyana, called for an "urgent" inter-governmental dialogue on globalization.
"Although the consequences of globalization are universal," he said, "the key decision-makers, in terms of global policy- making, are concentrated in a few major industrialized countries -- often in the hands of a few major corporations and individuals."
"National governments are known to feel increasingly marginalized as economic sovereignty is redefined and market forces become ascendant," Rohee said.
September 27, 1999 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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