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Wider International Support for the New Global Human Order
By Odeen Ishmael
Guyana Journal, February 2008

Caracas, 22 January 2008: Guyana’s multilateralism achieved a signal honor in December 2007 when its resolution on the role of the United Nations in promoting the New Global Human Order (NGHO) was adopted by the UN General Assembly. This resolution follows two others on the same subject approved in 2000 and 2002.

It is clear from the adoption of this latest resolution that many ideas proposed by the New Global Human Order have taken deeper roots in the international community, especially among developing countries of the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. This is evidenced by the widespread support the resolution attracted, with more than 75 countries adding their names as co-sponsors. These included 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations making up the combined membership of Caricom and the Rio Group, and at least 30 from Africa. Significantly, the two most populous nations, China and India, as well as a number of other Asian and Pacific island states were among those that co-sponsored the resolution.

No doubt, the overwhelming co-sponsorship by the developing states of the South is significant since they feel that the NGHO initiatives promote in practical terms their fight against poverty and inequality and can help reduce the burdens of debt and dependency which suffocate their economic and social development.

The NGHO proposal was first enunciated in 1993 by the late President of Guyana Cheddi Jagan (1917-1997) in a letter to world leaders. Initially, some political and academic “experts” felt that the ideas promulgated in the proposal were utopian; that they would not gain support and would never engender serious discussions. Some even doubted that any government or multilateral institution would ever seriously try to implement the ideas for a long, long time.

But as President Jagan rightly pointed out, many ideas, which initially seemed utopian, eventually became accepted as realistic and practicable. As such, the Government of Guyana, since 1993, consistently propagated the proposal at all international forums, especially at the UN, OAS and other multilateral organizations. At first, it took some time for world leaders and governments to appreciate this fresh proposal coming from a Third World leader, but gradually – most likely because of Guyana’s persistence – many governments became interested and over the years regional and international bodies such as Caricom, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Rio Group expressed their total support.

As the NGHO initiatives were refined and expanded over the past decade, some leaders from richer nations introduced their own parallel proposals with many of the same objectives. These include “Global Partnerships”, “Action Against Hunger and Poverty Initiative”, “Dialogue of Civilisations”, “World Solidarity Fund”, “Human Security”, and the “International Humanitarian Fund”. Even though these have not acquired international prominence as the NGHO, these initiatives have assisted in identifying and providing new resources to foster development cooperation and in all respect, they can be seen as complementing the NGHO.

Basically, the NGHO calls for the mobilization of concerted long-term global actions, within a holistic framework, to address development challenges and improve the well-being of people. These actions, aimed overall at the alleviation of poverty, include a commitment to sound policies; good governance at all levels and the rule of law; mobilizing domestic resources and attracting international flows; assuring long-term investment in human capital and infrastructure; promoting international trade as an engine for economic growth and development; increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development; sustainable debt financing and external debt relief; and enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and equitable trading systems.

They also demand a review of the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO to focus more on human development; the reduction of military expenditures in favor of greater development spending and aid; the application of sound, sustainable environmental policies; creation of a Global Development Trust Fund; and the introduction of the “Tobin tax” of 0.05 percent on speculative transfer of currency.

All of these actions intend, in the final analysis, to promote partnership and cooperation among all nations for greater and more balanced economic and social progress, aimed at alleviating persistent poverty and under-development. Emphasizing this, the UN resolution insists that primacy must be given to people in the development process to create an environment which encourages them to develop their potential and contribute meaningfully to their societies. It also recognizes the disparities between rich and poor, both within and among countries, amidst current unprecedented global prosperity and notes that these have implications for the realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

As a result, the resolution calls on the UN Secretary General to submit to the 65th session of the General Assembly (i.e., in 2010) a report on the implementation of the resolution including an assessment of the implications of inequality for development. It is expected that by that time, many plans will be operational, and the report should eventually establish a framework for a fair and equitable system of international social and economic relations.

For the Latin American and Caribbean countries, it is important that they work together to implement the NGHO initiatives to combat inequality and boost their human capital. In this respect, Guyana’s proposal for the establishment of a “corps of development volunteers”, first mooted by President Jagan in 1994 at the Summit of the Americas, should be revisited. This proposal was aimed at supplementing the work of the volunteer group known as the White Helmets (which is now managed by the UN) to assist in emergency situations in various countries. Jagan envisaged that the corps of specialist volunteers – teachers, health workers, engineers, scientists, etc. – would assist in special social and economic programs throughout the Americas. While this proposal won unanimous support at the summit, it was never implemented. But, today, as new integration initiatives and cooperation expand across Latin America and the Caribbean, this proposal for the establishment of development corps of volunteers may prove to be very useful for battling poverty, ignorance and disease in many of the countries of the region.

Already, some initiatives pertaining to debt relief and the provision of improved social infrastructure, improved trade regimes, as well as growing representative democracy, are being implemented in many countries, but much more still has to be done to improve the human situation in various parts of the planet. While the poorer nations must pool ideas and resources to assist each other, the UN must also assert its influence on the larger economies and multilateral financial institutions to provide tangible resources and other forms of assistance to ensure the implementation of at least some of the NGHO initiatives. The increased participation of the larger economies in this project will, no doubt, go a long way to reduce inequality and poverty for vast sections of the world’s population.

But since building the NGHO is an incremental process, the poorer countries of the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, which all stand to earn greater benefits, must place their own houses in order by taking actions which, in a large part, do not require substantial forms of external assistance. For a start, many of them must improve on democratic governance, make greater efforts to curb corruption, improve their justice system and enforce the rule of law. Surely, such actions will definitely set these nations on the road to realizing at least some of the accrued benefits defined by the NGHO.

(The writer is Guyana’s ambassador to Venezuela. The views expressed are solely those of the writer.)

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