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Not Just Economics
"The Greater Caribbean This Week"
week the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) held
its 29th Session in Brasilia. Before it was a 380-page Report on Globalization
and Development. Several of the Report's findings are of interest to the
countries of the Greater Caribbean.
globalization is not just about economics. It has ethical, cultural and
political dimensions. One of its most important aspects is the spread of
"universal human values" as a result of international social
movements. These are set out in a series of international declarations on civil,
political, economic and social rights; on the rights of children and women; and
on the environment.
internationalism amongst people victimized by social, cultural and economic
discrimination is the latest expression of this development. According to ECLAC
there are 50 million indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) people and 150 million
Afro-Latin and Afro-Caribbean people in Latin America and the Caribbean, many of
whom live in the Greater Caribbean region.
of the two groups " have the worst economic and social indicators, enjoy
very little cultural recognition and lack access to public decision-making
circles ". The Report points to the need for states, governments and
societies to accept and recognize the rights of members of ethnic groups through
legislative action and targeted development policies.
the Report shows that the economic side of globalization has been going on for
at least the last 130 years. The first phase was from 1870 to 1913 and was cut
short by the First World War and the crises that came after. The second phase
was from 1945 to the early 1970s and came to an end with the floating
of the dollar and the oil price shocks. The third phase started in 1973 and is
still in process.
statistics, however, show that globalization has been accompanied by a growth of
inequality in per capita income among countries. The only exception was in phase
2, when the income disparity decreased slightly.
1820, the less developed region of the world had an average per capita income
that was 33.9 percent of the more developed region. By 1870 this had fallen to
18.3 percent, in 1913 to 11.1 percent and in 1950 to 6.8 percent. The ratio
increased slightly to 7.6 percent in 1973 but by 1998 it had fallen back to 5.8
latest phase of globalization has also seen worsening income inequality within
countries, including most developed countries.
attributes the widening gap to basic problems in the way that globalization has
worked. For example, capital is basically free to move anywhere in the world but
the movement of labor is highly restricted. Private international capital
markets are very unstable and contribute to the vulnerability of developing
countries. And transfer of technology to poorer countries is restricted by
stringent intellectual property regimes.
answer is to address the shortcomings of globalization; for example by full
inclusion of international migration on the global agenda; by adequate
management of private capital markets and by provision of " global public
goods ", such as primary education and health care, on the basis of "
common yet differentiated responsibilities ".
principle was accepted at the 1992 Earth Summit in relation to the global
environment. It now needs to be applied to the global economic and social order
as a whole.
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Norman Girvan is Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States.
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