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October 31, 2007

New Ideas on Globalization

As one era ends, another begins. The collapse of the World Trade Organization negotiations, combined with coming changes in the U.S. presidency, seem to be spurring a lot of creative new thinking about globalization. And judging by two recent efforts, it appears civil society is making the quick transition from defense to offense.

In April, participants in the Eco Fair Dialogue, including IATP's Sophia Murphy, issued an alternative set of global agriculture trade rules. The group held eight regional dialogues around the world and came up with seven principles for a new agricultural trade architecture. Those principles are "based on the conviction that public interest values are to be placed before private interests, and that markets are to be framed by politics." The new agriculture trade system would support: multifunctionality, human rights, environmental integrity, democratic sovereignty, extraterritorial responsibility, economic solidarity and trade justice.

Last month, Corporate Ethics International published the Strategic Corporate Initiative: Toward a Global Citizens' Movement to Bring Corporations Back Under Control. The paper charged that the "root cause" of our environmental and economic challenges "can be found in the excessive power of global corporations. To solve these problems, we must bring corporations back under our control." Following a similar process, this paper was the product of several meetings and numerous interviews with thinkers about corporate reform, and again resulted in seven "pathways" to challenge excessive corporate power. These pathways would: separate the corporation and the state; change international rules; elevate community rights; protect the commons; transform corporate purpose; tame the giant corporations; and re-direct capital.

You can find common themes in both efforts, namely the need to place the common good over private gain. In both cases, these are bold ideas combined with specific policy proposals. More to come.

Ben Lilliston


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