WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

WTO NEWS: SPEECHES - DG MIKE MOORE

Wednesday, 9 February 2000
"Open societies do better"

Statement by Mike Moore Director-General, World Trade Organization, at the 11th International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference

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Thank you for the invitation to speak and share some thoughts.

The millennium subject is globalization. I wish that word had never been invented. The word conjures up a vision of an uncaring, unrepresentative future where ordinary people , Parliaments, cultures and Nations lose their character, power and sovereignty. In the absence of an "ism" to hate and to march against, globalism has become the target. Globalization is a process, an idea not an ideology. But every great lie has within a germ of truth. There is injustice, the world is unequal and we are faced with unequalled opportunity and challenges. These must be answered.

I speak to you today as Director-General of the World Trade Organization or as so much of my correspondence accuses, The World Terrorist Organization.

I sought the job as Director-General of the World Trade Organization because I believed, and still do, that open societies do better. Where peoples and nations enjoy each other's culture and music, ideas and commerce they do better. Open societies always tend to have better human, environmental, and labour rights. Those nations that trade, enjoy each other's company and companies have better results. That is the lesson of history. In Europe you have two visions: one a united Europe, a Union where people do respect each other and see the benefits of exchange; and then the tribal hatred that is the Balkans, the mirror opposite. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters, born in the image of God, thus created equal. We are equal, but not the same. Trade and business is only one aspect of the interchanges and the civilising effect of cooperation. Moreover, trade and increasing interdependence among nations is nothing now. Neither is the exchange of ideas and the movement of peoples across borders.

Indeed, one of the first multinational institutions was the Church. Faith knows no boundaries. Faith has withstood nationalism, persecution, empires and ideologies. It is eternal.

There will be no lasting peace unless there is peace and co-existence between religions. There have been those who predicted the death of history, that there will be one global community. This is not so. Yet there is so much in common among religions and faiths that should make this task easier. All the great religions and great civilizations have at their heart, a core message of human unity. Can I quote from Hans Küng's book "A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics" where he writes of the Golden Rule of Humanity?

"What I mean by this can be demonstrated relatively simply by means of that Golden Rule of humanity which we find in all the great religious and ethical tradition. Here are some of its formulations:

- Confucius (C.551-486 BCE): 'What you yourself do not want, do not do to another person" (Analects 15.23).

- Rabbi Hillel (60 BC-10CE): 'Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you' (Shabbat 31a).

- Jesus of Nazareth: 'Whatever you want people to do to you, do also to them' (Matt. 7.12; Luke 6.31).

- Islam: 'None of you is a believer as long as he does not wish his brother what he wishes himself' (Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi, 13).

- Jainism: 'Human beings should be indifferent to worldly things and treat all creatures in the world as they would want to be treated themselves' (Sutrakritanga I, II, 33).

- Buddhism: 'A state which is not pleasant or enjoyable for me will also not be so for him; and how can I impose on another a state which is not pleasant or enjoyable for me?' (Samyutta Nikaya V, 353, 35-342, 2).

- Hinduism: 'One should not behave towards others in a way which is unpleasant for oneself: that is the essence of morality' (Mahabharata XIII, 114, 8).

No one thinks globalization can be stopped or should be. But there are dangers and fears that need to be addressed. Celebrating a non-result in Seattle is as useful as suggesting Europe ought not to enlarge or China engage.

There is anxiety because there is unfairness, not everyone is getting a fair opportunity. Alas they never have, this has been true of the other great economic and social upheavals. As we shifted from hunter-gatherers to an agricultural, feudal and then industrial society, we are now moving into a post-industrial society, the information age. Now as then these great upheavals cause social dislocations. Be they Kings or Popes in the past or politicians now, leaders are blamed for not preserving the present. Yesterday always looks better.

In a speech celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Pope John Paul II put it most eloquently:

'On the threshold of a new millennium we are witnessing an extraordinary global acceleration of that quest for freedom which is one of the great dynamics of human history. This phenomenon is not limited to any one part of the world; nor is it the expression of any single culture. Men and woman throughout the world, even when threatened with violence, have taken the risk of freedom, asking to be given a place in social, political, and economic life which is commensurate with their dignity as free human beings. This universal longing for freedom is truly one of the distinguishing marks of our time.'

Any great change in history causes resentment and breeds fear and causes anxiety. You could mount a case, indeed some of our critics do, that the motorcar is lethal, pollutes, kills and divides communities. But it's not about banning the motorcar, we cannot uninvent the combustion engine! It's about road rules, road rage and better managing and sharing more equally the costs and advantages.

This is also true of the impact of globalization, technological change and the WTO and its sister organizations.

Now that the dust has started to settle after the turmoil of Seattle, perhaps we should revisit what the multilateral trading system means to us and to the people of the 135 other countries who are part of the WTO, and Governments representing some 1.5 billion people who want to join. Perhaps they did not dominate the headlines, as did the 30,000 outside protesting, but aren't their concerns important too?

We ought to get back to core principles and values, restate our case. We all realize that no nation can now enjoy clean water, air, manage an airline, even organize a tax system or hope to contain or cure AIDS or cancer without the cooperation of others. Thus we must seek democratic internationalism and cooperation if we are to prosper and enjoy balanced development on our crowded planet.

When the Berlin wall came down, when Nelson Mandela was freed, and when freedom has flourished elsewhere, the world celebrated. We celebrated the universal values of political and economic freedom. No one shouted, cursed and swore about the evils of globalization or common values then.

Every mother with a sick child wants the best the world has to offer from science, no one wants the old technology when they go to the dentist. They don't complain then about global or universal values.

And yet, at a time when the world is more integrated than ever, where technology brings us all within reach of each other and offers unprecedented opportunities for communication, increased cooperation and solidarity, there is a growing sense of unease at the impact of this globalized world on people's lives.

I have some empathy with some of those who protest in the streets of Seattle, New Delhi or Auckland about change and the WTO. People around the world are right when they say they want a safer, cleaner more healthy planet. They are correct when they call for an end to poverty, more social justice, better living standards. But they are wrong to blame the WTO for all the world's problems. They are especially wrong when they say we are not a democratic house. We are owned by Governments who represent hundreds of millions of voters. The Indian Ambassador is appointed by his Government, his government is answerable to Parliament. Parliament and congresses and governments must ratify our agreements. That’s how it should be. How do we manage? History tells us democracy and freedom is not just a moral imperative. It makes better economic sense. Gets the best results.

There is a perceived loss of identity and ownership given the new economic age. A democratic deficit. Our mission must be to ensure that people and Parliaments own us, that the people are the masters of globalization and not the servants. Thus the active understanding, engagement and ownership of the great institutions like the WTO by Sovereign Governments and its people is necessary if we are to have any moral authority. That's how it is. That's how it should be. The challenge to policy-makers is how we can achieve this. I have some ideas and will be working with the Heads of other institutions, Ministers and Ambassadors to help correct this democratic deficit. That deficit is so deep that almost one quarter of the Members of the WTO cannot afford representation in Geneva. We have organized the first ever seminars for non-resident Ambassadors. We are working on some creative ways of advancing and facilitating their involvement; thus ownership.

The new century poses enormous challenges. Within 25 years over 3 billion people will be added to the global population. Urban populations will treble over the next 30 years. By the year 2020, two-thirds of Africa's population will live in cities. Over the next 30 years food production will have to double. The World Bank reports that 2 billion people will suffer from chronic water shortages within 30 years. Half the world's population lives on under US$2 per day.

Who is brave enough to say that our political structures, that the international institutions you own such as the WTO, the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, are equipped to serve the people and their Governments to meet these challenges?

Clichés about coherence between the institutions must become a working reality. We must adapt and be bold enough to look at ourselves and how we can collectively do a better job.

To me it's a simple proposition. The first half of this century was marked by force and coercion. Our new century ought to be one marked by persuasion and cooperation. Of States settling their differences through that great equaliser, the law. Of a binding disputes mechanism, to settle differences, of engagement and interdependence.

I come from a small country. I see interdependence, and treaties and the great global institutions as guarantors of our sovereignty and safety. I recall a splendid comment of Julius Nyerere, of Tanzania, who claimed that as each village's wealth once depended on its neighbour's ability to purchase, this is now true of nations. Our parents learnt from the great depression, made deeper and more lethal by rising trade barriers from which came the twin tyrannies of our age, fascism and Marxism, thus war; hot and cold. Economists and historians have costed the hot wars. We know of the casualties. We are still carrying the cost of the cold war. Our global institutions do not yet reflect the new reality born of the post cold war era and the post industrial age where knowledge not coal is king.

Still, our parents had a profound and compelling vision, because they saw economic and political integration as assisting in uniting nations and promoting development and peace.

They created an international architecture which included the UN, IMF, World Bank, and the GATT, now the WTO, to achieve that peaceful purpose and noble vision. In the main it's worked. Far from perfect. But the world would be a less safe place without them. The WTO is NOT the GATT. We now have more countries in the much criticized "green rooms" than we had as original members. We endure a culture in Geneva based on an old organization of 30 Members when we now have over 130. And 20–plus more want to join.

That's why we must change how the WTO operates, we are driven by our Members, owned by them. So I will be calling Member Governments for advice, even giving some, to increase transparency and efficiency, to ensure that national governments and their parliaments must have a greater involvement and ownership.

This century offers us the opportunity to achieve much. The last 50 years have seen Empires shrink, democracy rise, freedoms grow, and living standards lift in most continents and countries. Not all. I'm full of confidence because I have an abiding, unshakeable confidence in the people who, given freedom, will do the right thing by their families and nations. Too much is at stake for us to falter, be timid or to fail.

As we address the issues of managing globalization, we could do a lot worse than heeding the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi who warned of the SEVEN deadly sins in today's world:

  • Wealth without work

  • Enjoyment without conscience

  • Knowledge without character

  • Business without morality

  • Science without humanity

  • Religion without sacrifice and

  • Politics without principles.