Globalisation means different things to different people, which is one reason why
opinions of it differ so dramatically. Some proponents see it as not only inevitable but
fundamentally beneficial, if only we could distribute the benefits better. Yet many
millions experience it not as progress, but as a disruptive, even destructive force.
There is not too little globalisation, nor is there too much - the wrong kind of
globalisation has dominated. Corporate-led globalisation, that is, accelerated
deregulation of commerce and investment, is the most advanced and the most destructive
aspect of globalisation, and the aspect which cries out for the United Nation's guiding
hand to bring it under control.
With corporate globalisation, there are winners and losers, and the decision about who
wins or loses is currently made in a most undemocratic fashion. Corporate globalisation
per se cannot foster improvements in democracy or respect for cultural diversity.
We must not assume that all people in all countries are best served by the same
economic and technological agenda. This assumption can damage not only economies but
cultures and politics as well. Multinational corporations influence the lives and welfare
of billions of people, yet their accountability is limited largely to their shareholders,
with their influence on national and international policy-making kept behind the scenes.
To many millions of people the great gains of science, medicine and technology, let
alone access to the internet, might as well take place on another planet. Meanwhile,
criminal groups take advantage of porous borders and powerful new technology for their own
nefarious aims. Although we have more wealth and technology than ever before, the number
of people living in poverty and dying of hunger is still growing. Many poor countries and
poor people are increasingly marginalized. Increasing inequity is taking a particularly
heavy toll on women. People's of colour are experiencing old and new forms of xenophobia
as races jostle for positions in the undemocratic new world order. Although the cold war
has ended, we are facing new threats to humanity such as the terror of potential nuclear
wars and the crisis of environmental sustainability. Corporate driven globalisation puts
the integrity of cultures at risk.
To treat people as statistics, such as in poverty and mortality statistics and to
commodity them in some form has repercussions. Social realities such as unemployment, loss
of identity, loss of the will to live, cannot be quantified. They are deep and profound
factors of the soul and their effect is both individual and collective. Alcohol, drugs and
suicide then become alternatives to living. This too often has been the situation with
Indigenous peoples around the world in surviving the decimating and corroding impact of
colonisation, and is becoming more pervasive throughout the world. Globalisation must
never be allowed to fill the shoes of colonisation.
The very nature of globalisation deprives families and households headed by individual
parents, most often women, of their formative and caring roles by placing on them
unprecedented new and old burdens as they are forced into longer hours of paid and unpaid
The nature of the current economic globalisation process changes, and in fact weakens
the role and the authority of governments, the building block of the UN. Through
activities in the WTO, governments have become complicit in accelerating economic
globalisation at the expense of their own people. While the UN must steer the current,
corporate dominated forms of globalisation toward a human centred process, this will
require the strengthening and democratisation of the UN as the legitimate forum of the
global community. The question is how the UN will empower itself to reform this corporate
driven globalisation process towards a human-centred globalisation that values equity,
justice and diversity.
Globalisation of human rights and environmental standards will be aided by grassroots
globalisation - the coming together of diverse movements for human rights, labor rights,
health and environmental protection, and by governmental and intergovernmental support for
those values above the value of free market economics.
The Millennium Assembly of the UN is a global forum that could provide powerful
momentum for moving the agenda forward on the future of global governance. Civil society,
or we the people, will be present in large numbers to witness this historic event. We
commend to the heads of government who will be participating in the Millennium Summit, the
concerns and proposals for action in facing the challenges of globalisation formulated at
this UN NGO Millennium Forum. We also urge that these concerns and proposals be discussed
and debated through public gatherings around the world leading up to the Summit so that
the voices of we, the peoples of the United Nations, will also be heard on this historic