by Someshwar Singh

Geneva, 26Jun 2000 -- From Summit to Summit, the search for solutions to human development has deepened, giving rise to increasing concerns as solutions remain far behind.

And, over the past decades development has been looked at from so many perspectives that it has reached the point where poverty is now hoped to be contained only in its “extreme” manifestation, rather than the eradication (as slavery was in the 18th century) that world leaders committed themselves to at Copenhagen.

At a press briefing last Friday, the president of the UN General Assembly, Dr. Theo-Benn Gurirab, described the progress since Copenhagen as “abysmal and disappointing.”

Dr. Gurirab said developing countries have put much of the blame on the doors of globalization. “It is often said that globalization should have a human face. But it needs a heart as well.” Calling for a renewed and massive political will to achieve the objectives set in 1995, Dr. Gurirab said, “global partnership” was necessary to achieve social development and economic justice.

The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Juan Somavia, who was the chairman of the preparatory committee for the Copenhagen Summit, told the press that “globalization has failed and is failing the world. Governments gave globalization the benefit of doubt in 1995 but now it is clear that globalization has flunked.”

Calling for more “radical changes” by all the principal actors in the development process, Somavia said civil society in particular would have to press harder for the reforms needed.

“A radical rethinking is needed  and the practice of ‘one-size-fits-all’  to all countries (in terms of policies) must end,” Somavia added. “This is simply not on. We also need to be extremely hard on ‘international experts.’ In the case of  Russia and Eastern Europe, they came with ready-made solutions which did not work. We also need coherence to understand the specificity of different societies to be able to make a difference.”

Gurirab regretted that donor countries today were insisting on certain “conditionalities” such as democracy, good governance and human rights etc. “They sound as if the Cold War in a different form is back. Accept these pre-conditions or die.”

Dr. Gurirab noted that often, it was not that developing countries had failed but that they have been made victims of ideology or political judgement “because some leaders are not liked.” He said none of these modern conditionalities - of democracy, good governance and human rights - were raised when the Europeans ruled over Africa. Developing countries were being affected by these conditionalities and were being told in a greater detail how to behave “precisely when they are doing right,” Dr Gurirab affirmed.  He also regretted that multilateral institutions should be used for that purpose.

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