Globalization’s Glass House Must Remain Open
Globalization’s Glass House Must Remain Open
It is a great pleasure for me to visit Yale, and to pay tribute to the very important work that will be done by the Centre for the Study of Globalization. By devoting the remarkable intellectual resources of this institution to this central phenomenon of our time, you can help guide us in understanding and grappling with the sweeping changes affecting the world. Let me also say how valuable your World Fellows programme promises to be - in bringing bright and promising young leaders to Yale and equipping them to help their own nations make the most of globalization. I had the privilege of meeting them. My wife and I spent 30-40 minutes with them. We walked away quite excited by the program and the contribution they will make in their respective countries.
It has often been said that globalization is what distinguishes our era from all its predecessors. Globalization, we are told, is redefining not only the way we engage the world, but how we communicate with each other. Globalization is commonly understood to describe the increasing flow of goods, services, capital, technology, information, ideas and labour at the global level, driven by liberalization policies and technological change.
For a time, this logic was borne out by reality. Indeed, it worked so well that in many cases underlying schisms were ignored in the belief that the rising tide of material growth would eliminate the importance of political differences and social grievances. However, over the past few years, I and others have urged greater consideration for the potential political backlash if the social - as well as the economic - consequences of globalization, if they are left unattended.
Today, I would like to share some thoughts on an equally important aspect of globalization - namely its potential to be a truly integrating and inclusive force - and the very real dangers if it fails to live up to that potential.
In other words, just as we worry about the gap between haves and have-nots, we need to be equally concerned about the gulf between insiders and outsiders in a globalized world where no border is impermeable, and where the privileges - economic as well as political and social - of the few are painfully apparent to those multitudes who still yearn for liberty and opportunity. We need, in short, to direct our energies towards realizing the aspiration inherent in the awkward, but revealing Arabic translation of the word "globalization" - which means literally "world inclusivity."
Of course, globalization is not wholly new. As far back as we can trace human history, people have traded, been on the move, colonized and migrated, and in the process have transformed both the places they came from and the places to which they journeyed.
What makes our era different is the degree of inter-penetration, the speed with which change is taking place - and the dramatic and ever-growing gaps this process is creating between insiders and outsiders.
Today, I wish to suggest that one way to address this new division - between those who are benefiting from globalization, and those who simply see it as one more manifestation of the inequity of the world - is to pursue an inclusive globalization whose purpose lies not only in opening markets but in expanding opportunity and promoting cooperation. By this I mean the need to ensure that the globalization of economies and societies is supported and sustained by a "globalization of community" - to create a wider, more expansive definition of our duties to our fellow men and women in the global village, and to ensure that globalization benefits them all - economically, politically and socially.
The question before us, therefore, is not whether globalization is good or bad, but rather how we adapt our policies, priorities and personal choices to account for the realities of a new era. In a world without walls, we can no longer think and act as if only the local matters, as if we only owe solidarity and allegiance to those within our own city or state.
Such a world demands that we tear down the walls in our own minds as well - those separating us from them, rich from poor, white from black, Christian from Muslim from Jew - so that we are able to recognize the untold ways in which we can all benefit from cooperation and solidarity across lines of nationality, race or economic development. Whether it is the area of crime, health, the environment, or the fight against terrorism, interdependence has ceased to be an abstract concept, and become a reality in our own lives.
This poses a real challenge not only to political leaders, but to civil society, NGOs, businesses, labor unions, thinkers, and citizens of every nation. We need to rethink what belonging means, and what community means, in order to be able to embrace the fate of distant peoples, and realize that globalization's glass house must be open to all if it is to remain secure. This will require leaders in every sector to present the choices facing the public in a different light. They need to make the difficult, but necessary case that we cannot continue to exclude the poor, the disenfranchised or those who are denied basic rights to liberty and self-determination. Or that if we do, we cannot at the same time hope to secure lasting peace and prosperity.
Of course, including all those people in our circle of concern will not be easy. We all feel a deeply rooted sense of loyalty to those closest to us - families, friends, fellow citizens of city and country. To say that we - and here I think in particular of those of us privileged to live in the developed world - should include citizens of poor and distant countries in our circle of concern - to suggest that we have an obligation to help them achieve their rights and opportunities in a spirit of tolerance and diversity - is to ask a lot. I recognize that. And yet, does globalization leave us with any choice? Either we help the outsiders in a globalized world out of a sense of moral obligation and enlightened self-interest, or we will find ourselves compelled to do so tomorrow, when their problems become our problems, in a world without walls.
There are myriad ways in which nations can act on this imperative - by opening markets for the products of developing countries; by increased development assistance - and here the UN Conference at Monterrey was a good start; by promoting good and transparent governance; by addressing diseases and environmental problems that have not reached our shores, or at least not yet; by recognizing obligations to provide asylum; by fostering a more orderly process of integrating migrants; and by valuing pluralism as an overarching priority for every state.
We need to think globally - and to consider not only domestic factors, but also international ones as integral to decision-making today, in governments, businesses and organizations - does not mean a uniformity of thought, or just one approach. There are, quite naturally, a great variety of ways that we can think and act globally, and in so doing celebrate and strengthen global diversity. In this sense, the local is not in opposition to the global, but is infused and enriched with global impulses and influences. Essential to realizing this new reality is a dialogue across nations and cultures based on common values and common concerns.
The United Nations itself was created in the belief that dialogue can triumph over discord, that diversity is a universal virtue, and that the peoples of the world are far more united by their common fate than they are divided by their separate identities. This dialogue must take place every day among all nations - within and between civilizations, cultures and groups. But it must be based on a genuinely shared values. Without these values - values rooted in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - no peace can be lasting and no prosperity secure. That is the lesson of the United Nations' first half -century. It is a lesson that we ignore at our peril.
While it may seem somewhat vague to speak of a globalization based on shared values, the vision of the world it seeks to create is quite clear and quite specific.
It is a world defined by solidarity and understanding, tolerance of dissent, celebration of cultural diversity, an insistence on fundamental, universal human rights, and a belief in the right of people everywhere to have a say in how they are governed. It is a world characterized by the belief that the diversity of human cultures is something to be celebrated, not feared.
This vision is based on an understanding that we are the products of many cultures and impulses, that our strengths lie in combining the familiar with the foreign. That is not to say that we cannot rightly take pride in our particular faith or heritage. We can and we should. But the notion that what is ours is necessarily in conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous. It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict, leading men and women to commit the greatest of crimes in the name of a higher power.
It need not be so. People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what - and who - we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings. You who are privileged to pursue knowledge and understanding at this great institution know this truth in every day and every hour of your work.
My dear friends,
If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further - we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status. A deeper awareness of the bonds that bind us all - in pain as in prosperity - has gripped young and old.
The process of globalization cannot remain unchanged in the face of this recognition. It must be made to benefit those at the margins as well as those at the center, the poor as well as the privileged, the shackled as well as the free.
The global reaction to the 11 September attacks should give us courage and hope that we can succeed in this fight. The sight of people gathering in cities in every part of the world from every religion to mourn - and to express solidarity with the people of the United States - proved more eloquently than any words that terrorism is not an issue that divides humanity, but one that unites it.
I do not thereby mean to suggest that the aftermath of those attacks - or, more broadly, the effects of globalization - have in any uniform way been beneficial to the broader cause of tolerance and coexistence. Indeed, over the past year, we have witnessed a dramatic rise in acts of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere; and we have seen Muslims become the victims of suspicion, hostility and even physical attacks in this country and elsewhere.
These acts of bigotry and ignorance can be seen as the ugly faces of an exclusive, antagonistic globalization. An inclusive globalization must address all these ills as well.
The victims of the attacks on 11 September were, first and foremost, the innocent civilians who lost their lives, and the families who now grieve for them. But peace, tolerance, mutual respect, human rights, the rule of law and the global economy are all among the casualties of the terrorists' acts.
Repairing the damage done to the fabric of the international community - restoring trust among peoples and cultures - will not be easy. But just as a concerted international response can make the work of terrorists much harder to accomplish, so should the unity born of this tragedy bring all nations together in defence of the most basic right - the right of all peoples to live in peace and security.
An inclusive globalization will be central to achieving this fundamental goal.
Thank you very much.
Kofi Annan is the United Nations Secretary-General. He was speaking at Yale at the invitation of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.