Ten Ways to Democratize
the Global Economy

by Deborah James

excerpted from the book

Globalize This

edited by Kevin Danaher and Roger Burbach

Common Courage Press, 2000


Citizens can and should play an active role in shaping the future of our global economy. Here are some of the ways in which we can work together to reform global trade rules, demand that corporations are accountable to people's needs, build strong and free labor, and promote fair and environmentally sustainable alternatives.

1. No Globalization Without Representation

Multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund create global policy with input mainly from government elites and multinational corporations, with very little input from grassroots citizens groups. We need to ensure that all global citizens must be democratically represented in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of all global social and economic policies of the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. The WTO must immediately halt all meetings and negotiations in order for a full, fair, and public assessment to be conducted examining the impacts of the WTO's policies to date. The WTO must be replaced by a body that is fully democratic, transparent, and accountable to citizens of the entire world instead of to corporations. We must build support for trade policies that protect workers, human rights and the environment.

Focus on the Global South www.focusweb.org
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch/Citizens Trade Campaign ' www.tradewatch.org
Third World Network www.twnside.org.sg
International Forum on Globalization www.ifg.org

2. Mandate Corporate Responsibility Corporations have so heavily influenced global trade negotiations that they now have rights and representation greater than individual citizens and even governments. Under the guise of "free trade" they advocate weakening of labor and environmental laws-a global economy of sweatshops and environmental devastation. Corporations must be subject to the people's will; they should have to prove their worth to society or be dismantled. Corporations must be accountable to public needs, be open to public scrutiny, provide living-wage jobs, and abide by all environmental and labor regulations. Shareholder activism is an excellent tool for challenging corporate behavior.

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy www.poclad.org
Campaign for Labor Rights www. summersault.corn/-agj/clr/
Transnational Research and Action Center www.corpwatch.org
Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility www.iccr.org
United Students Against Sweatshops www.asm.wisc.edu/usas
StudentAlliance to Reform Corporations www.corpreform.org

3. Restructure the Global Financial Architecture

Currency speculation and the derivatives market move over $1.5 trillion daily (compared to world trade of $6 trillion annually), earning short-term profits for wealthy investors at the expense of long-term development. Many countries are beginning to implement "capital controls" in order to regulate the influence of foreign capital, and grassroots groups are advocating the restructuring and regulation of the global financial architecture. Citizens can pass local city resolutions for the Tobin Tax: a tax of 0.1 percent to 0.25 percent on currency transactions which would (1) provide a disincentive for speculation but not affect real capital investment, and (2) create a huge fund for building schools & clinics throughout the world.

Tobin Tax Initiative www.ceedweb.org/noframe.htm
Friends of the Earth www.foe.org
Institute for Policy Studies www.ips-dc.org

4. Cancel all Debt, End Structural Adjustment and Defend Economic Sovereignty

Debt is crushing most poor countries' ability to develop as they spend huge amounts of their resources servicing odious debt rather than serving the needs of their populations. Structural adjustment is the tool promoted by the IMF and World Bank to keep countries on schedule with debt payments, with programs promoting export-led development at the expense of social needs. There is an international movement demanding that all debt be cancelled in order for countries to prioritize health care, education, and real development. Countries must have the autonomy to pursue their own economic plans, including prioritizing social needs over the needs of transnational corporations.

Jubilee 2000 wwwj2000usa.org 50 Years is Enough www.SOyears.org
End the Blockade Against Cuba www.igc.apc.org/cubasoli/ cubalink.html


5. Prioritize Human Rights-Including Economic Rights- in Trade Agreements

The United Nations-not the WTO-must be the strongest multilateral body. The U.S. Congress must ratify all international conventions on social and political rights. Trade rules must comply with higher laws on human rights as well as economic and labor rights included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We should promote alternative trade agreements that include fair trade, debt cancellation, micro-credit, and local control over development policies.

Global Exchange Corporate Accountability Campaign www.globalexchange.org/economy/corporations
International Labor Rights Fund www.laborrights.org
HOPE for Africa Act www.citizen.org/pctrade/Africa/ HOPE/hopehome.htm
Alternative Agreement for the Americas www.globalexchange.org/economy/alternatives/americas/

6. Promote Sustainable Development-Not Consumption- as the Key to Progress

Global trade and investment should not be ends in themselves but rather the instruments for achieving equitable and sustainable development, including protection for workers and the environment. Global trade agreements should not undermine the ability of each nation, state or local community to meet its citizens' social, environmental, cultural or economic needs. International development should not be export-driven, but rather should prioritize food security, sustainability, and democratic participation.

Redefining Progress www.rprogress.org Food First www.foodfirst.org
Institute forAgriculture and Trade Policy www.iatp.org

7. Integrate Women's Needs in All Economic Restructuring

Women make up half the world but hold less than five percent of positions of power in determining global economic policy, and own an estimated one percent of global property. Family survival around the world depends on the economic independence of women. Economic policies need to take into account women's important role in nutrition, education, and development. This includes access to family planning as well as education, credit, job training, policy decision-making, and other needs.

Women's EDGE: Economic Development and Global Equality www.womensedge.org
International Center for Research on Women www.icrw.org
Women's Environment and Development Organization www.wedo.org

8. Build Free and Strong Labor Unions Internationally and Domestically

As trade becomes more deregulated, labor unions are still restricted from organizing in many countries. The International Labor Organization should have enforcement power as strong as the WTO. The U.S. government should ratify ILO conventions and set an example in terms of enforcing workers'rights to organize and bargain collectively. As corporations increase their multinational strength, unions are working to build bridges across borders and organize globally. Activists can support their efforts and ensure that free labor is an essential component of any trade agreements.

American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations www.aflcio.org/home.htm

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions www.icftu.org

International Labor Organization www.ilo.org
Open World Conference www.geocities.com/owc_2000

9. Develop Community Control Over Capital; Promote Socially Responsible Investment Local communities should not be beholden to the IMF, the World Bank or transnational corporations. Communities should be able to develop investment and development programs that suit local needs including passing anti-sweatshop purchasing restrictions, promoting local credit unions and local barter currency, and implementing investment policies for their local governments, churches, and unions that reflect social responsibility criteria.

ACORN www.acorn.org
Sustainable America www.sanetwork.org
Unitedfor a Fair Economy www.stw.org
Alliance for Democracy www.afd-online.org

10. Promote Fair Trade, Not Free Trade

While we work to reform "free trade" institutions and keep corporate chain stores out of our neighborhoods, we should also promote our own vision of Fair Trade. We need to build networks of support and education for grassroots trade and trade in environmentally sustainable goods. We can promote labeling of goods such as Fair Trade Certified, organic, and sustainably harvested. We can purchase locally made goods and locally grown foods that support local economies and cooperative forms of production and trade.

FairTradeFederation www.fairtradefederation.com
Rural Coalition www.farmworkers.org/rcpage.html
TransFairUSA www.transfairusa.org
Co-op America www.coopamerica.org
Global Exchange www.globalexchange.org

A special group that deserves mention because of the important role they have played training activists for mass nonviolent protests, such as the one in Seattle, is the Ruckus Society, 2054 UniversityAve., Suite 204, Berkeley, CA94704 (510)848-9565. Check their websites: www.ruckus.org and www.globalizethis.org

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