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Improve quality of life not discover new markets

Por Laurence Pantin

Governments are at the service of civil society, not above civil society, stressed Estela Escandola, of the Multilateral Network of Brazil, in a conference on the new global, national and local governance during the Global Forum this morning.

Escandola started with a set of questions on how to build global governance, first, should a global government be at the service of governments or of the people? Today, when governments plan development assistance, they do it with the idea that it will create new markets, not because they want people to improve their life conditions, she regretted.

She then added that if global governance happens, it shouldn’t be at the expense of local differences. Differences enrich rather than impoverish and conformity is harmful, she added. For example, when the Inter-American Development Bank finances projects of development through tourism, they always build the same kind of hotels. As a consequence, tourists get tired and never come back, only leaving behind prostitution and child labor.

The second question to raise is how to create this global governance, Escandola said. Today, only federal executive powers are involved in this process, leaving aside legislative and judicial powers, as well as local representatives and civil society, she regretted.

Thirdly, Escandola invited her audience to wonder to whom the rules should apply. Referring to the US war against Afghanistan, she said that once more, the US broke the rules they contributed to define in the context of United Nations, but that small countries are forced to obey these rules.

Escandola then stated the ways to reach a fair global governance. First, civil society should strengthen their local nations, because it’s at the local level that people and NGOs can have an influence. Then, civil society should work on the international financial institutions, but from the base. Finally, she stressed the importance of mutual respect among NGOs and of avoiding perpetuating the same paternalist attitude international financial institutions show toward poor countries.

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