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Policy Brief


By Selvon M. Waldron

Guyana Journal, August 2010

This document examines the relationship between Globalization and Human Rights. As the world races towards expanding free markets and internationalization more focus should be levied on the victims of this evitable process. The voice of the victims should be no less valid than the voice of beneficiaries.

Absolutely, globalization is an engine for commerce, higher standards of living, and the spread of cultures. However, absolute globalization corrupts absolutely. Globalization also has an inverse effect on “developing nations,” globalization can increase hatred among varied peoples, and globalization increases migration which may lead to “minority dominant” or “minority exploited” markets. Therefore, more should be done to support the victims of globalization and protect them from its twinned Human Rights disrespect – the Achilles heel of globalization – that results.

THERE ARE ATROCIOUS SIDE EFFECTS OF GLOBALIZATION that may not be all too obvious – concealed under the façade of “world economic development” is its direct impact on human rights. Globalization is a term that has been used to describe the complex series of economic, social, technological, cultural, political changes seen as increasing interdependence, integration, and interaction between people and companies in disparate locations. Globalization is often touted as a positive process and a necessity for an advancing world. Globalization, or Internationalization as it is also called, has become identified with a number of economical and cultural trends. Economically, globalization has been proven to increase international trade at a much faster rate, lead to the creation of international agreements like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and lead to the development of global financial systems. Culturally, globalization has facilitated the spread of local food to other countries, created worldwide fads and pop culture such as MySpace© and PokemonÍ, and increased participation in worldwide events such as Miss Universe, FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games. Notwithstanding, globalization is not utopia; globalization has had negative impacts on “developing” countries; through globalization ethnic hatred has reaped more bloody outcomes; and internal conflicts resulting from migration have multiplied. Globalization was the reason for the Berlin Conference 1884 -1885 when Europeans divided Africa; in Jakarta in 1998 when the wealthier Chinese minority had their shops and homes fire boomed or destroyed by aboriginal Indonesian mobs, about two thousand Chinese were killed; and globalization has caused globalizations to outsource and immigration to explode.

In recent years, there have been advances in the development of international legislation and human rights monitor institutions. The Office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and non-governmental organizations, International Criminal Tribunal, Committee on Migrant workers, Amnesty International, and Freedom House are premiere watchdogs of human rights. But, the link between globalization and human rights disrespect has been unanalyzed.

The continuation of genocide in Sudan, the hatred of “market-dominant minorities” in South Africa, brain and capital drain in developing countries due to immigration lead to the question: How do the elimination of the “nation state” and/or the presence of a growing heterogeneous society have an inverse affect on Human Rights?

As the benefactors of globalization race to expand the free market, measures to curb the human rights infringes must be intertwined into the law and practice.

Throughout the nineteenth century there has been focus on global inequality, genocides, the impact of global corporations, and internal conflicts as a result of globalization. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations where it states: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscious and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The U.N. General Assembly Resolution “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families” (1990) contained direct verbiage in regards to the protection of migrant workers and their families from exploitation and servitude, stating that migrants and their families “shall have the freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.

Another indication of global awareness of human rights infringement was the international outrage to the Sudan genocide situation. The U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1556 demanding that the government of Sudan disarm the Janjaweed militias, apprehend and bring to justice to its leaders and their associates who had incited and carried out violations of human rights and other atrocities in Darfur. This Resolution was meant to be a major combatant and a show of international support to the victims of Sudan. However, two key countries, China and Pakistan, abstained from the vote. Oil thirsty China (the second largest oil consumer) is dependant on Sudan for 7% of its oil imports. And, the Pakistan government provides much of Sudan's healthcare, providing the services of general physicians, specialist physicians, public health specialist, nurses and paramedics to the Government of Sudan. With these two countries abstaining from the Resolution, it speaks to a situation of greed outweighing ethics in their decision. The genocide in Sudan is sure to persist because beneficiaries remain silent - China is also a known supplier of arms to Sudan.

One major landmark in the protection of immigrant rights was the Commission on the need to “Ratify the Migrants Convention Now!” (15 April 2002). It was put forth that the present Convention needed twenty ratifications. It will soon secure universal ratification. In 2001, U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, urged universal ratification on International Migrants Day (December 18), noting: …the fate of many migrants lies in stark contrast to the aspirations reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights norms and labor conventions.

Policies against genocides must be strengthened during this era of globalization. There needs to be more direct admission and acknowledgement of moral failures due to the process of globalization. Human suffering is not irrelevant! According to Human Rights Horizons, “[one] impact of globalization seems to have been to marginalize the participation of those victimized by the discipline of regional and global capital, as well as to undermine the capacity of the electoral process to serve the interest of society as a whole and of territorial interest in particular”. Morality has always evaded the reasoning of globalists. In an era of globalization, Africa and Asia were colonized. And, economic pursuit sought free labor and indentured servitude. Often diluted, is the terrible magnitude of the genocide of the indigenous peoples who were in the way of Europe's global pursuit. Globalization's trends often encourage disruptive ethnic and exclusivist identities that subvert modernist secular and territorial commitments to tolerance and moderation. The link between globalization and genocide is pointed out again in World on Fire:

Ethnically targeted confiscations…has led to government-encouraged attempts to 'cleanse' the country of the minority altogether. Strategies for doing so include forced emigration, expulsion, and in the worst of cases pogroms, extermination, and genocide. Typically, such policies are triggered by aggravating circumstances, for example, an economic crisis, a border war, or the fortuitous rise of a particular effective, hate-filled demagogue.

Take a snapshot of genocide throughout modern time, the genocide of the Amerindian, American Indian and Aborigines of Australia by Europeans, Jews by Nazi imperialist, the Bosnia ethnic cleansing, the Cambodian genocides, Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, and the Sudan genocide. It is obvious that International Law does not prevent or protect victims of globalization.

Globalization has not caused “developing” countries to catch up with the developed world. Inequality has risen during this present globalization period. The developed world - their intellectuals and policy makers - view globalization as “providing good opportunities for their countries and their people.” History proves, however, that globalization is somewhat a reversed “Robin Hood”, where the wealthy nations gain at the expense of poorer nations. Africa and her relationship with the Western World is a good example of this. Presently, the world's poorest countries have a lot to do before they can benefit from the full potential of the positive effects of globalization. The wealthier countries should be more to aid in this crisis. The impact of globalization has harmed “developing” countries in a number of ways. Notably, poor countries growth rates have accelerated during globalization.

Beyond economic perils of “developing” countries due to globalization are the intellectual perils. There continues to be a constant problem of “brain-drain” affecting “developing” countries as intellectuals, skilled, and potential intellectuals and skilled natives leave to reside in developed countries. Global corporations have capitalized on both developing countries and their immigrants becoming somewhat of a modern plantation. In developing countries corporations such as Nike© have been cited with exploiting native labor by paying minimal wages for extensive work hours. While in developed countries, North America in particular, immigrants have been exploited by companies such as Wal-Mart©. Immigrants have also been accused of lowering native wages. This may or may not be the reason for increasing internal conflicts across the Globe. Immigrants, legal or illegal, accepted or unwelcome, hospitable or hostile… may be of different ethnic groups, language, and religion and morals to the native population. International Laws must also address prevalent civil and sectarian wars that continue to occur.

Globalization can be preserved from two angles. One angle is that globalization is a means of increasing the wealth of nations and promoting international trade. However, globalization is a direct cause for the widening economic gap between “developing” countries and “developed” countries; it is a cause of massive 'brain” and capital drain from poor to rich nations; and globalization must be cited as a facilitator of genocide throughout modern times. In addition, global corporations have capitalized on both “developing” countries and their immigrants. Therefore, old policies must be revised and new policies must be implemented.

Policies of major groups (multilaterals) have failed and consequently, the world has moved from one human rights crisis to another. Rich nations drown out the voice of poorer nations and beneficiaries have silenced victims. New policies need to be formulated with the presence of Human Rights NGOs and affected nations at the table.

1. Countries that finance (imports-export, health-care, etc.) governments that infringe on human rights should be levied with harsher punishment. Globalization, and thus its disadvantages transcend borders. Connect the dots: Sudan-China-Pakistan.
2. Global corporations should allocate financial resources in an international; monetary reserve to help facilitate commitment to building schools and improving standards of living in the developing countries they occupy.
3. A global money watch “czar” should be established (the UN should take the lead) to monitor and report the unethical transactions that take place between the governments of developing nations and global corporations. The governments of developing nations should not continue to get rich by selling their factors of production (land, labor) to global corporations.
4. Requirements to become a free trading nation should be revised. Present requirements eliminate many developing countries. Developed countries need to do more to assist by making it easier for developing countries to benefit from trade and investments.

1 Weinstein, Michael. Globalization: What's new? New York: Columbia University Press, 2005: 77-80.
2 From Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
3 Chua, Amy. World on Fire: How exporting free market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability. New York: Random House, Inc, 2003:20-21.
4 Robinson, Mary. A Voice for Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006: 18-22.
5 ____________. A Voice for Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006: 339.
6 ____________. A Voice for Human Rights. “Ratify the Migrants Convention Now!” Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006: 89-90.
7 ____________. A Voice for Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006: 89-90.
8 Falk, Richard. Human Rights Horizons: Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. “The Challenge of Genocidal Politics in an Era of Globalization” New York: Routledge, 2001: 147-149.
9 ___________. Human Rights Horizons: Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. “The Challenge of Genocidal Politics in an Era of Globalization” New York: Routledge, 2001: 176.
10 Chua, Amy. World on Fire: How exporting free market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability. New York: Random House, Inc, 2003: 163.
11 Weinstein, Michael. Globalization: What's New? New York: Columbia University Press. 2005: 96.
12 ________________. Globalization: What's New? New York: Columbia University Press. 2005: 97.
Other References
o Kaplinsky, Raphael. Globalization, Poverty and Inequality. Cambridge, England: Polity Press. 2005.
o Kwadwo, E.Osei. Globalization and the Human Factor. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited. 2004.

Selvon Waldron was born in Trinidad and Tobago and is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia. He is a Human Rights activist that has presented on human rights topics in Hiroshima, Japan and Washington, DC. He is also a Human Rights reporter on the weekly radio program "Let's get it on" on WCLM Radio.