Forum 2000- All on Board

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Tue Aug 29 12:44:33 MDT 2000

Stakeholders Will Meet To Create Globalization Dialogue
by Mark Lobel
UNITED NATIONS - Heads of state, religious leaders and civil society
will meet in New York within the next two weeks in a forum designed to
air concerns and devise strategies to deal with globalisation.

Forum 2000 is to be hosted by The State of the World Forum, a non-
profit organisation working for sustainable globalisation. It will bring
together the different viewpoints on globalisation ''for the first time
ever, in a global town hall meeting,'' President of the State of the
World Forum, Jim Garrison, told IPS.
The meeting is timed to coincide with the United Nations (UN) Millennium
Summit (Sep. 6-8), convened by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to adopt
a global vision for the 21st Century. More than 150 heads of government
will attend the Millennium Summit.

''Unlike recent international meetings in Seattle, Davos and Washington,
D.C. - where dissenting views were heard only on the streets - this
meeting will bring all of globalisation's varied stakeholders to the
same table to discuss issues of mutual concern,'' Nils Hoffman, Press
Co-ordinator, said of Forum 2000.

''Institutions governing globalisation are all limited to
representatives of sovereign states, but in reality globalisation
affects everyone. As a minimum we need to create a mechanism for the
stakeholders to meet across the table. My instinct, from the experience
of democracy, is how these types of matters can be solved through
diverse discussions,'' Garrison said.

''We are taking the creative leadership to break through the
dialectic,'' he added.
Former Soviet President and Founding Member of The State of the World
Forum, Mikhail Gorbachev, will chair the initial stages of Forum 2000 in
New York, Sep. 4 - 10.

It will include the co-chairs Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa,
Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister of Japan (1982-87), Jehan Sadat, First
Lady of Egypt (1970-81), Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of Haiti
(1991-1996) and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Desmond Tutu.
Over 1,000 people from more than 80 countries are expected to
participate. The participants are representing all of globalisation's
key issue areas, from science and technology to business and
spirituality. They include AOL Chairman Steve Case and consumer advocate
Ralph Nader.

Over 35 heads of state have been invited to attend the Forum. Twelve
have accepted the invitation. They include heads of government from
South Africa, New Zealand, Senegal, Colombia, Gambia and Cost Rica.
Foreign Ministers from Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey have said they
will attend.

A release has been issued in advance of Forum 2000 to brief participants
for a post-Seattle (World Trade Organisation meeting) dialogue on
''It is aimed at convincing people that globalisation has really
replaced the Cold War as the organising framework for human affairs,''
Garrison said.
The State of the World Forum analysed trends and projections compiled by
the United Nations and other agencies in economic development,
international trade, communications, culture, labour, environment,
health, human development and religion. The report concludes that
globalisation will change the world as radically in the 21st Century as
democratisation changed it in the 20th Century.

''Globalisation has become a powerful force to be reckoned with. It has
as much power to change lives as the move from monarchy toward democracy
that took place in the 20th Century,'' Garrison concluded.

As a result of globalisation, the report states, the percentage of
people with access to telephones, television, the Internet and radio is
at its highest level ever, empowering many with information they never
had access to before.

''Globalisation comes down to much more than just communications and
economics. We must look at it in terms of workers' rights, the
environment, culture, health, ethics and development as well,'' Garrison

In 1900, no country had voting rights for all adults. Today, 70 percent
of countries have universal adult franchise.

In the developing world, where 80 percent of the world's population
resides, the lack of access to modern communications systems has
contributed to much slower economic growth and the largest ever income
gap between developed and developing nations. The average GNP per capita
in high-income countries is now 25,510 dollars, while it is only 520
dollars on average in all low-income countries.

The report also notes that developing countries that have attracted jobs
from overseas due to low labour rates also have poor protections for
Workers lack pension benefits and health insurance and some employers
force long work hours or dangerous conditions without ample safety
precautions, according to the report.

There is an increasing number of health problems that have only plagued
the development world are now found in the developing world, the report
In 1990, the most important global health risks were lower respiratory
infections, diarrhoeal diseases and conditions arising during perinatal
periods. By 2020, major global health threats are expected to match
those in the United States and other industrial countries, such as heart
disease, major depression, traffic accidents and cerebrovascular
disease, it says.

Telecommunications is also considered a key indicator of global
inequality. The average industrial country has 251 fax machines per
10,000 residents, while the average developing country has only five per
10,000. A person in an industrialised country spends an average of 43
minutes on international calls per year, while a person in the
developing world spends only three minutes, it is reported.

The State of the World Forum is planning to hold a meeting similar to
Forum 2000 in Prague, Czech Republic, from Sep. 26 to 28. This second
forum will coincide with the annual meetings of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, also being held in Prague.

''We need to add a third ingredient to a potentially polarised and
violent situation. Anti-globalisation protestors are gaining more and
more public support and there is no receptivity to this on behalf of the
IMF or World Bank,'' Garrison explained.

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