This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at


Our Planet and Human Security

Selected Papers delivered at the United Nations University
Global Seminar '96 Shonan Session,
1-4 October 1996,
Kobe, Japan

Edited by Kentaro Serita and Takashi Inoguchi


Kentaro Serita and Takashi Inoguchi

1. Human Security and Sustainable Development
José Ayala-Lasso

2. Our Planet and Human Security: Women and Human Rights
Gertrude I. Mongella

3. Human and World Security
Makoto Iokibe

4. Our Planet and Sustainable Human Development: Learning from Our Mismanagement of the Tropical Rainforests?
Sanga-Ngoie Kazadi

5. Globalization and Human Development: Challenges for a New Century
Inge Kaul

6. The UN in the Post-Cold War International Order
Adam Roberts


The end of the Cold War brought a sigh of relief to people throughout the world, and with it the expectation that we at last had a safe and peaceful world and could turn to such pressing issues as poverty and environmental destruction without having to worry about ideological and/or armed conflict. Moreover, it was believed that the end of East-West rivalry would allow the United Nations to function as originally intended, and that it would indeed be a force for the preservation of international peace and harmony.

Unfortunately, those expectations proved overly optimistic. Rather than the peaceful world we all had dreamed of, the post-Cold War world has turned out fraught with strife. Ethnic conflict, religious turmoil, growing numbers of refugees, increased poverty, more disparity between the rich and poor, and no apparent end to environmental degradation. Moreover, the "new" UN seems bound by budgetary troubles and an inability to respond to crises in an effective way. What has gone wrong, and why? Is the UN functioning reasonably, considering its financial and other constraints, or do we need a new organization? What are the solutions, and how can we go about implementing them?

It is with these grave questions in mind that the UNU Global Seminar '96 Kobe Session Steering Committee held its first meeting to decide on the theme for this year's seminar. After considerable debate, it was determined that we would focus on the idea of human security, but link it to environmental concerns as well. We therefore selected the theme of "Our Planet and Human Security", with the expectation that it would provide a broad base from which to examine the question of security in all its aspects. We discovered early on that this theme was a difficult one, in the sense that it lacks a particular focus. In fact, in the course of the Steering Committee discussions, we found that it was even hard to find agreement among ourselves as to what exactly is meant by the term human security. At the same time, however, we realized that by choosing such a theme, we would be challenging the students and ourselves to seek new perspectives and solutions and this, we believe, is what the UNU Global Seminar is all about.

In order to address the issue of Our Planet and Human Security, we felt that we needed to approach the subject from a variety of perspectives. When we think about "our planet", environmental issues come immediately to mind. If we are to continue to dwell on this planet, we must ensure that the security of the earth itself is protected. Professor Sanga-Ngoie Kazadi was invited to address this subject, and in his lecture on "Climate Variability over the Zaire Basin", Professor Sanga eloquently stressed the need not only for environmental protection, but for coordination and cooperation between experts in both the natural and social sciences. He also demonstrated the importance of linking academic research with local action.

The concept of "our planet" is not limited to environmental concerns, however. In identifying our world as one world, we must reflect on the historical processes which have made it so. The European Age of Discovery which began in the 15th century marked the beginning not only of European expansion, but also the incorporation of non-Western cultures into the Western world. That process of westernization has continued, and today one of the challenges which faces us is the interpretation, affirmation and assertion of non-Western world views. Moreover, through modern technology, economic integration and movements of peoples, today our planet and its people are linked in a variety of ways, some abstract, some symbolic and others visible and real. Our task is to recognize and strengthen those links, while at the same time preserving the differences in a positive way.

This broad definition of "our planet" leads us directly into the issue of "human security". In his keynote address, Professor Makoto Iokibe looked at the evolution of the concept of human security, touching on the transformation and diversification of the role of the nation state and the processes of integration and globalization as well as global issues such as population, hunger and resource scarcity. This broad overview set the stage for further discussions of each of the various aspects of human security.

In order to define each of these aspects further, we discovered that we needed first of all to look at "human security" in relation to more traditional concepts of security, particularly military security. Professor Adam Roberts addressed this issue and related it to the role of the UN in his lecture on "The UN in the Post-Cold War International Order". This topic was further examined by Professor Takashi Inoguchi in his talk on "Preventative Diplomacy". These talks examined the role of the UN in the present international system, and led to discussion of not only the role of the UN and its successes and failures, but also the underlying issues such as when, and under what circumstances, intervention might be appropriate and what kind of peace it is that the UN is attempting to keep. This in turn led to the question of "what kind of security do we want?".

The focus on peacekeeping and military security raised the question of whether military security is sufficient. Dr. Inge Kaul, in her lecture on "Globalization and Human Security: The Policy Challenges", addressed this issue, proposing that there is a human security challenge in terms of increasing job insecurity, economic insecurity and environmental deterioration. Dr. Kaul examined the implications of the forces of globalization at work in our world, and discussed the role of the UN in dealing with the current crisis. Dr. Kaul's remarks turned the focus of the discussion to human development, posing the question of "what exactly is it that we mean by ‘development'?". This question was put into perspective by Professor Jun Nishikawa in his talk entitled "Social Development: Theory and Policy". This discussion of social development led to consideration of sustainability, essentially raising the question of security as defined by the link between development and environment. Clearly this is a very broad topic, and the links became more visible through presentations on specific issues, namely Professor Michio Ozaki's talk on "Population Problems and the Role of Japan" and Professor Andrzej Wojtczak's presentation on "Urban Life and Health".

In the course of our search for the meaning of "Our Planet and Human Security", we came to the realization that respect for all life, human and otherwise, and respect for basic human rights must form the base for all other activities. We were reminded quite forcefully by Ms. Gertrude Mongella in her keynote lecture "Women and Human Rights" that in many cases, "human" is taken to mean "men" rather than "men and women". Ms. Mongella stressed that if we are to talk about Our Planet and Human Security, we must make women part of the planet first. This issue of gender equality was a continuing theme throughout our discussion, and the importance of maintaining a gender perspective was emphasized.

Wherever there are human beings, they are going to form social units and live together. For hundreds of years, the nation state has provided one such unit of social order, and it is likely that it will continue to comprise one broad framework of social organization into the 21st century. At the same time, we realize that other forms of social and political organization are becoming increasingly important and effective. Local communities, NGOs and other organizations of the civil society, international organizations like the UN and its affiliates - these are also important and vital aspects of our world. It is hoped that through the discussion of Our Planet and Human Security, we can help to clarify the roles and potential of these aspects of human society and that we can then work to create a more secure world and a more secure planet. We wish to acknowledge the following co-organizers, supporters and co- operating universities: as co-organizer the Kanagawa Foundation for Academic and Cultural Exchange (K-Face); as supporter the Japan Foundation for the United Nations University; and as cooperating universities Aoyama Gakuin University, the International University of Japan, Tsuda College, Chuo University, the International Christian University, Waseda University, Keio University, the University of Tokyo and Tokai University. Prof. Kentaro Serita
Chairperson, Steering Committee
Seminar Director

Prof. Takashi Inoguchi
United Nations University


José Ayala-Lasso, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

I am very pleased to address this distinguished forum and to share with you some ideas on issues which concern and interest us all. The topic of the Kobe Seminar, "Our Planet and Human Security", provides us with an excellent framework to begin thinking about some of the most important issues challenging humanity today and tomorrow. My own focus will be from the human rights perspective. I will attempt to examine the key role that human rights has within the framework of human security.

I also hope that this exchange will spur further reflection on the part of the United Nations University, in terms of how human rights influence the development processes taking place in the world today. Let us recall at the outset that the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development stated that the human person is the central subject of development. This concept provides a useful point of departure for the purpose of our analysis.

In a world where the rapid advances of technology and communica- tions seem at times to overshadow the simple man or woman, it is easy to lose sight of the needs and interests of the human being. It is in this regard that I believe that the establishment of a universal human rights culture has a crucial role to play in preserving and defending the basic and fundamental liberties of people everywhere. Although a seemingly simple notion, this idea should become a basic tenet as we fast approach the next century.

Nearly fifty years have passed since the community of nations adopted in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During this time, a notable evolution has taken place in terms of human rights promotion and protection. Important legislation and norm setting standards were put in place, both at the national and international levels.

However, one cannot deny the regrettable fact that during this period, the Cold War impeded more substantial progress by often entwining human rights issues within the ideological debate that pitted East against West.

It was only the end of the political confrontation which brought renewed hope to the possibility of advancing in the sphere of human rights. Almost immediately after the end of the Cold War, the stage was set for a new and more constructive dialogue and thus the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights was convened. From this historic meeting emerged an international consensus on a universal human rights policy. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of June 1993 is a solemn commitment by Governments for the promotion and protection of human rights which has charted a course of action for them as they enter the 21st century. More importantly, it is a commitment which engages not only Governments but also regional, national and local human rights institutions and organizations which represent all segments of civil society.

The World Conference yielded numerous positive results. Besides reaffirming the universality of fundamental human rights, it also called for effective participation of all in the realization of human rights and recognized the right to development as a human right while at the same time stressing the close interrelationship between democracy, development and respect for human rights.

The Conference achieved important progress toward the integration of economic, social and cultural rights, as indivisible and interlinked with civil and political rights. The human rights dimensions of extreme poverty were recognized as well as the need to deal not only with violations of human rights but also with their causes. At the Vienna meeting, the international community gave priority to action aimed at securing the full and equal enjoyment by women of all human rights. As a result, respect for women's rights has become a more integral part of the overall UN human rights programme. The Conference made important progress in ensuring effective protection of the rights of children. Furthermore, it recognized the human rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and called for the full participation of minorities in efforts to promote and protect their rights. The rights of disabled people and the need to take specific measures to protect vulnerable groups was recognized. The World Conference emphasized the inherent dignity and unique contribution of indigenous people as well as the commitment of the international community to ensure respect for their own rights. It reinforced policies and programmes to eliminate racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The role of education for human rights was repeatedly underlined as a crucial element in building future respect for human rights. In terms of preventing human rights violations, the Conference recognized the importance of technical cooperation programmes aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law and national human rights infrastructures.

In sum, this was a landmark event which made a monumental contribution toward situating the issue of human rights high on the domestic and international agenda.

The Changing Concept of Security

It has been said that human security has two dimensions: freedom from fear and freedom from want. Until now, most efforts were concentrated on the first of these. Little or no attention was directed at ensuring the second and regrettably it was not fully realized how interrelated both truly are. Furthermore, ensuring human rights is also ensuring security. It is self-evident that respect for basic human rights is perhaps the best guarantee against social and political upheavals that may occur precisely because those rights were neglected or non-existent. Recent and past history is all too full of examples of conflicts, genocides, mass migrations, and other tragedies that had at their roots a human rights problem. Thus, this speaks eloquently for the need to channel greater attention to the human rights concerns if we truly seek to ensure security.

Almost as quickly as the Berlin Wall crumbled, so did many political and social concepts which prevailed during the Cold War era. Global interdependence took on greater meaning once the ideological divides were removed. In this context, the traditional notion of security began to evolve so as to encompass concerns which more directly touched the lives of people. Security no longer simply referred to the protection of the nation-state, the defence of territories and boundaries and the preservation of political sovereignty. Security was also now concerned with the personal well-being of individuals. People now had a right to feel secure in the basic needs that affected their existence: food, health, employment, population, human rights, environment, education, etc. For the common person, much more menacing than ballistic missiles and invading armies were the threats to their daily lives.

And so as this concept matured, developed and gained acceptance, there was a much more assertive participation of civil society in the affairs which affected them directly as well as greater attention devoted to issues with social dimensions. It was in this spirit that several successive world conferences were convened to focus specifically on some of these more pressing global con- cerns: environment, human rights, population, social development, women and housing.

Empowering People

One of the more positive results that emerged from the several world gatherings held in Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul was that for the first time, on a wider scale and at the international level, people became much more involved in shaping their fate and their destinies. They became players in the arena and not merely spectators. This was best illustrated by the broad, active and constructive participation of non-governmental organizations throughout the preparatory processes to the meetings and naturally at the venues themselves. More importantly, NGOs would also play fundamental roles in implementing many of the policies and recommendations which the meetings produced.

Through popular participation in the affairs of state, people became more and better committed to causes which until now were charged to a central authority. They became investors in their future and stakeholders in the success or failure of their social enterprise. New and important concepts, such as decentralization of authority, gender equality, the rule of law, good governance and democracy, began to take root and flourish in societies all over the world. Human Development and Human Rights I firmly believe that the human security concept is intimately linked to the promotion and protection of all human rights. As I expressed above, it is not enough to protect people from fear but also from want. This means that while it is necessary to promote and defend their civil and political rights, it is equally imperative to ensure their economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the Right to Development. Just as people should be liberated from the threat of, say, political oppression or persecution, they should likewise be free from the worry of unemployment, lack of education, inadequate health care, etc. This was eloquently reflected in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which consecrated the notion that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated and called on the international community to treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis.

I am particularly pleased to observe that the debate on the Right to Development increasingly focuses on substantive issues and that the functions of this right have become better identified and its impact on other rights more profoundly recognized. If this right is to truly crystallize, then it is essential to move from a theoretical or political discussion to practically oriented measures. The positive consequences of the Right to Development should be felt at the domestic level. There should be concrete, tangible manifestations of progress.

As High Commissioner, I have from the outset of my mandate endeavoured to ensure that these social rights be given equal attention within the context of the overall UN human rights programme. For example, one of the three branches of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights, which operates in Geneva, is entitled "Research and Right to Development". I specifically established it recently in order to help promote this too often "neglected" right. Furthermore, I have engaged in important and high-level contacts with the leadership of the World Bank and the United Nations Regional Economic Commissions in order to collectively design and implement policies geared toward making economic, social and cultural rights, and the Right to Development, a more integral part of the development processes of nations.

It is imperative to mobilize the entire UN system to integrate fully the efforts directed at implementing the Right to Development. I am committed to this purpose and take this opportunity to invite the United Nations University to assist us in analysing and promoting this initiative.

Preventing Human Tragedies

Intimately linked to the concept of human security is the notion of preventive action. This is perfectly compatible with the efforts that my Office is undertaking in order to bring human rights work to the people and to avoid the outbreak of human crises such as those we have seen in places such as the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. One of the priorities of my mandate has been to promote an active human rights presence in the field. As a result, a series of offices have been established or strengthened where human rights demands exist. At present there is a United Nations human rights presence in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zaire, Burundi, Rwanda and Cambodia. There will also shortly be offices in Colombia and Abkhazia, Georgia.

Through this field presence we are better able to defuse potentially critical situations before they explode into major human catastrophes. Through activities such as providing human rights education, building or strengthening of human rights national institutions, dispensing legal advisory services, promoting confidence-building measures, and monitoring human rights situations, etc. we are able to ward off possible disasters or at the very least alert the international community of impending trouble.

The wise old adage "prevention is the best medicine" is perfectly applicable to the human rights challenge of today.

Even in economic terms, preventive work is unquestionably the best investment. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda, the annual cost of which is equivalent to the expenses for the activities of a single day of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), which was present there until March of this year. This does not, of course, take into account the immeasurable suffering and loss of life which could have been averted. Is there any doubt that prevention is by far a sound and humane investment?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: The Next 50 Years

In December 1998 we will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Surely the period leading up to this date will be filled with excitement, reflection, analysis, criticism, cynicism, optimism and many other reactions to the state of human rights around the world since the Declaration was first proclaimed half a century ago. Let us make the best use of this opportunity to take stock of what we have and have not achieved in the realm of human rights promotion and protection and strive to achieve greater results during the next fifty years. Perhaps the greatest tribute that we can pay to the Universal Declaration is to ensure that by its 50th anniversary all women, men and children around the globe are familiar with this document and its content. This will be a major step toward making a reality the fundamental freedoms and rights which it proclaims for all peoples and nations.

As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I am firmly committed to fostering the establishment worldwide of a culture of human rights that truly reflects the needs and concerns, social and political, of people everywhere. In this way, perhaps the next fifty years will endow humanity with a more benign fate and one in which human rights are an integral part of human security.

This of course is a collective endeavour of great magnitude, and which demands substantial dedication, persistence and political will. To achieve this lofty aspiration, we must jointly summon our sincerest and most committed determination and efforts. I hope that you share in my optimism that this indeed can and will be accomplished.

Thank you.


Gertrude I. Mongella, Secretary General, UN Fourth World Conference on Women

The United Nations University has from time to time facilitated a forum for people to reflect on important issues of human development. Today the University in collaboration with the City of Kobe has brought all of us together to address a very crucial item of "Our Planet and Human Security".

The results of the UNU Global Seminar '96 will definitely enhance the debate on human development as we move to the 21st century. I am honoured to make a contribution on Women and Human Rights. It is perfect timing since this seminar takes place exactly a year after the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing.

The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China, 4-15 September 1995 was one of the greatest milestones in the history of the world's nations. Representatives of 189 nations gave a firm commitment to work for the advancement of women throughout the world. It was a conference with a difference. It called for action and accountability of all actors in society which include governments, non-governmental organizations, institutions, legislative bodies and private sectors to work for Equality, Development and Peace as major goals but with specific targets to address the following critical areas of concern: - The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women.

- Inequalities and inadequacies and unequal access to education and training.

- Violence against women.

- The effects of armed or other kinds of conflicts on women, including those living under foreign occupation.

- Inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources.

- Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels.

- Insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women.

- Lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of human rights of women.

- Stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media.

- Gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment.

- Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child.

The Fourth World Conference on Women was not an isolated event, but it was part of an international process to address the human development agenda with particular focus on the 21st century. Within this process the United Nations Organization held a series of conferences to address the problems of environmental degradation; the fast growing population; the social development issues.

Women's Rights Are Human Rights

In all these conferences it has become evident that inequality between men and women does exist and it is the major cause of the violation of women's human rights, discrimination and marginalization, violence against women and the low status accorded to women in society.

Inequality between men and women does exist despite the existence of international treaties and legal instruments. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms ... without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex ...".

The Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women makes it clear that "discrimination against women shall mean any distinction or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field".

It is obvious that sustainable human development can be achieved only when women and men become full and equal partners in the planning and implementation of development programmes. This entails the provision of equal rights and equal access to opportunities, resources and participation in decision-making of both women and men. It calls for structural changes in order to empower women who have for a long time been accorded unequal and low status in many societies regardless of the level of development.

The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirmed clearly that the human rights of women throughout the life cycle are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The International Conference on Population and Development reaffirmed women's reproductive rights and the right to development. Both the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantee children's rights and uphold the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of gender.

The 4th World Conference on Women reaffirmed that all human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social, including the right to development - are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, as expressed in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights. The Conference reaffirmed that the human rights of women and the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by women and girls is a priority for governments and the United Nations and is essential for the advancement of women.

There still exists a gap between the existence of rights and their effective enjoyment due to lack of commitment of society to promote and protect those rights. Many women are not informed of their rights. Many women face additional barriers to the enjoyment of their human rights because of such factors as their race, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, disability or social economic class. Indigenous people, migrants, including women migrant workers, displaced women or refugees very often experience the violation of their human rights. Women may also be disadvantaged and marginalized by a general lack of knowledge and recognition of their human rights because of lack of information.

The violation of human rights of women can be checked by ensuring the equality between women and men and non-discrimination under the law and in practice. Violence against women in society, particularly in the family, is one of the common examples of violation of human rights of women. In some cultures women are excluded from ownership of property. Very often women as employees suffer from discrimination in promotion and equal payment. There are still some countries in the world today which still deny women their democratic rights to vote. Steps have been taken by many governments to promote universal human rights for women, although a lot still remains to be done.

Contribution of Women to Sustainable Development of Society

Although many women have advanced in economic structures, for the majority of women, particularly those who face additional barriers, continuing obstacles have hindered their ability to achieve economic autonomy and to ensure sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their dependents. Women are active in a variety of economic areas, which they often combine, ranging from wage labour and subsistence farming and fishing to the informal sector. However, legal and customary barriers to ownership of or access to land, natural resources, capital, credit, technology and other means of production, as well as wage differentials, contribute to impeding the economic progress of women. Women contribute to development not only through remunerated work but also through a great deal of unremunerated work.

On the one hand, women participate in the production of goods and services for the market and household consumption, in agriculture, food production or family enterprises. Though included in the United Nations System of National Accounts and therefore in international standards for labour statistics, this unremunerated work - particularly that related to agriculture - is often undervalued and under-recorded.

On the other hand, women still also perform the great majority of unremunerated domestic work and community work, such as caring for children and older persons, preparing food for the family, protecting the environment and providing voluntary assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups. This work is often not measured in quantitative terms and is not valued in national accounts. Women's contribution to development is seriously underestimated, and thus its social recognition is limited. The full visibility of the type, extent and distribution of this unremunerated work will also contribute to a better sharing of responsibilities.

The empowerment of women is empowerment of society. Women bear the primary responsibility for health, education and nutrition. It is women who are the poorest in society and in fact, 70% of the world's poor are women and girls. Out of the 1 billion illiterate people of the world, women account for the highest number. Humanity will never succeed in meeting the challenges of the new Human Development Agenda as long as one-half of the human race is denied its most basic human rights.

Progress towards more gender balance, governance and power sharing between men and women has been too slow. The gap between de jure and de facto rights to political participation and decision-making of women continues to be the greatest of all areas. This is a problem which remains prevalent in both so-called developed and developing countries. The results of a world survey, "Women in Parliaments: 1945-1995", prepared by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, show how insufficient the progress has been and how little has actually changed in this respect, in half a century. Today, women make up only 10.5% of the world parliamentarians with the exception of the Nordic countries, with female representation of more than 40%.

Individual women are not passive beneficiaries but they are creators and authors of their own future and that of their societies. In that respect they must have a voice and power over issues that affect their lives. Women's participation in democratic activities at all levels of society is therefore crucial. Non-governmental organizations, voluntary associations and women's self-help and empowerment groups enhance women's participation in democratic activities and meet a broad range of their needs.

Women's commitment to the protection of the environment has been demonstrated in many cases. They are committed to the protection of natural forests or tree planting where there are none. They respect water as a source of life. In most cases, women have organized themselves in NGOs which work to protect the environment, fight pollution and lobby against militarization in order to save life. Women, particularly rural and indigenous women whose livelihoods most likely depend directly on the health of the environment, have demonstrated wisdom and appropriate techniques to preserve the environment.

Women's contribution to building a sustainable future will also depend on whether the constitutions and legal structures change in order to create space and remove obstacles which women face because of the low status accorded to them in society.

Gender Approach to Sustainable Development

Insufficient attention to gender analysis has meant that women's contributions and concerns remain too often ignored in economic structures, such as financial markets and institutions, labour markets, economics as an academic discipline, economic and social infrastructure, taxation and social security systems, as well as in families and households. As a result, many policies and programmes may continue to contribute to inequalities between women and men. Where progress has been made in integrating gender perspectives, programmes and policy effectiveness has also been enhanced.

The equitable distribution of power and decision-making at all levels is dependent on governments and other actors undertaking statistical gender analysis and mainstreaming a gender perspective in policy development and the implementation of programmes. Equality in decision-making is essential to the empowerment of women. In addressing the inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels, governments and other actors should promote an active and visible policy of using a gender perspective in all policies and programmes so that before decisions are taken, an analysis is made of the effects on women and men, respectively.

Need for Change

Discrimination against women is deeply entrenched and institutionalized. It is in our families, communities, cultures, governments as well as in our minds. Overcoming this may be the most fundamental challenge to achieving the new Human Development Agenda. Changes in political, economic and social systems are necessary.

This is not only a change, but a revolution to which social, economic and political experts should pay attention. The change calls for re-examination of some basic principles of democracy in order to allow more women into decision-making; promote equality in order to ensure that women's human rights are not violated. There is a need to re-examine the world resources and the way they are generated and allocated in order to avoid the marginalization, discrimination and exploitation of women in societies.

Women are not a homogeneous group and the situation they find themselves in differs from place to place, one age group to another. The advancement of women should therefore be addressed from a wholistic and life-cycle approach taking into consideration the diversity of cultures, different levels of development, age, occupation and other environmental factors in which women live.

Impact of Women's Participation in Decision-making on Policies and Values of Society

It is important to examine the changes which will be brought about by women as equal partners of men. The future will be created by both men and women working together independently or collectively within their communities and nations. The world is becoming one small village. There is, therefore, a need for global cooperation to mobilize and utilize the existing limited resources such as land, water, forests, wildlife and clean water; things which seemed to be abundant and were taken for granted. The future must guarantee the security and peace and create hope for all people, women and men, young and old. The world must, therefore, work collectively to stop national and ethnic conflicts in order to eradicate human miseries, to maintain peace and prosperity. Peoples of developed countries must be willing to work together with those of developing countries, exchanging experiences, skills, technological and scientific knowledge.

Women have demonstrated considerable leadership in community and informal organizations, as well as in public office. However, socialization and negative stereotyping of women and men, including stereotyping through the media, reinforce the tendency for political decision-making to remain the domain of men. Likewise, the under-representation of women in decision-making positions in the areas of art, culture, sports, the media, education, religion and the law has prevented women from having a significant impact in many key institutions.

The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted by the UN Fourth World Conference on Women was a clear demonstration of a renewed commitment of the international community and governments to the advancement of women in society. The implementation of this commitment is expected to take place at the national, regional and international levels. At the national and community levels, the impact brought about by the implementation of agreements made in Beijing will be most felt by the majority of women. Mechanisms to monitor the implementation at the community and national levels must be strengthened or created to ensure action and accountability on all concerned parties including governments, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations (CBOs), women and men. Along with these, there must be a political will and mobilization and allocation or re-allocation of resources to facilitate the actions.

Owing to their limited access to the traditional avenues to power, such as the decision-making bodies of political parties, employer organizations and trade unions, women have gained access to power through alternative structures, particularly in the non-governmental organization sector. Through non-governmental organizations and grass-roots organizations, women have been able to articulate their interests and concerns and have placed women's issues on the national, regional and international agendas.

Women will create the future in partnership with men. The lack of partnership between men and women resulted in structures which disregarded women's contribution to sustainable development, their skills and experiences, their rights as human beings and their participation in economic and political decision-making. It is this gross omission that the world is committed to change in the 21st century.

In creating the future, women's actions should not be limited to their national boundaries. International cooperation among people of different nationalities, cultures and historic backgrounds have produced positive results in areas of technology and science, political liberation and advocacy for human rights. Women should now take a more active role in international agendas on peace and conflict resolution. They should also engage in international trade for their economic empowerment. Women should also organize and work together with other women beyond their national boundaries on issues of common interest.

Contribution of Women to Peace and Democracy

Peace is an important condition for sustainable development. Throughout history women have played a role in promotion of peace due to the recognition that women suffer most during armed conflict and any other type of conflict. While entire communities suffer the consequences of armed conflict and terrorism, women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society and their sex. Parties to conflict often rape women with impunity, sometimes using systematic rape as a tactic of war and terrorism. The impact of violence against women and violation of the human rights of women in such situations is experienced by women of all ages, who suffer displacement, loss of home and property, loss or involuntary disappearance of close relatives, poverty and family separation and disintegration, and who are victims of acts of murder and terrorism, torture, involuntary disappearance, sexual slavery, rape, sexual abuse and forced pregnancy in situations of armed conflict, especially as a result of policies of ethnic cleansing and other new and emerging forms of violence. This is compounded by the lifelong social, economic and psychologically traumatic consequences of armed conflict and foreign occupation and alien domination.

Women have been grossly under-represented in the areas of peace negotiation, conflict resolution and security issues, as a result women's values, perspectives and experiences have not been reflected at national and international levels. Women have a right to make decisions on military expenditure, to negotiate for peace and to contribute strategies for conflict resolution. The advancement of women and sustainable development cannot be achieved without peace. In order to create a developed peaceful world, men and women must work together as equal partners.


Makoto Iokibe, Professor of History, Kobe University

1. What Is Security?

We, humanity as a whole, face many threats to our existence. Security, therefore, simply put, is protecting oneself, other people, or society from these threats and challenges to our safety and existence. In thinking about who is responsible for our security, individually, one by one, we are responsible for our own personal safety. For example, let's say a car is racing down the road at 100 kilometres per hour (65 mph). If we are standing in the middle of the road, it would do no good to simply yell for the police saying that that car was violating the speed limit and to give the driver a ticket. Instead, we should immediately get to the side of the road. That movement happens naturally because we want to protect ourselves. Before saying that the driver is bad, or society as a whole is bad, we must make the move to protect ourselves first. In other words, it's self-help, self-preservation. Just like when a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning approaches we run in to a building or house, that is a logical move to protect ourselves. It is again a self-help motivated action.

The Japanese are said to take too much of an optimistic view of international events. The reason is that for an extremely long time, Japanese society existed in isolation and the people lived in more or less a vacuum in which they did not have to worry too much about anything. In this situation, the Japanese did not even need to think about survival to any significant degree. Not only that, but, if one was down or sad, we would hope that even without saying anything, someone else would pick up on our depression and help one out. In this case, we became dependent on the kindness of others. Indeed, if one participated in the village society that existed from long ago and obeyed its rules, one did not even have to think about security at all. In the same way, if one did talk or worry only about oneself, the sanctions and penalties of the village, such as ostracization and exclusion from the village life, were feared beyond description. Belonging to "the community" is more important than anything else for Japanese.

However, countries like Japan, an island country where most people live out their entire lives, is rare in the world. Indeed, there are some people who don't even have a place or country to call home. Those people need to think constantly about their own survival and possess the necessary skills and senses to preserve their own security: the Jewish people as well as others who live or have lived away from their country and despite overwhelming odds have tried to be both safe and successful. In Japan, on the other hand, most people believe just having paper money is enough. However, the financial system could crash at some point and only money would not be enough. Perhaps gold or precious stones would be better. Japanese are known as being slow and are often the victims of crime when they go abroad, whether it be purse-snatching or hostage taking in exchange for a ransom. We Japanese need to be better at language and social interaction skills, as well as being more sensitive to information. Logically, security begins at the individual level. In order to protect our personal security, particularly in the financial sense, we use insurance to help us in times of illness, accidents, or injury.

2. National Security

From Self-Help to the Nation State

While we established that for one's own safety, responsibility first and foremost lies with the individual; yet, there are limits to just what the individual can do. For this reason, the state or society as a whole bear some of the burden. While the private sector can handle some areas of insurance and finance, etc., it can not take care of everything and the need for the state or society to play the main role is clear. Modern theories on social contracts are based on this reasoning. Individuals in other words can not take care of all of their needs. For example, were war to break out between two peoples, leadership or control would have to be given someone. Like in Hobbes's theories that the state is supported by the people for fear of anarchy, certain powers are given (or surrendered) by the individual to a larger body or state authority. With these enlarged powers, the state in turn protects the individual. In this sense, a social contract between the individual and state is established.

While "existence" and "security" were distinctly important issues for people in Hobbes's time, individual rights and liberty were also highly valued. It was argued that the state should not interfere with or threaten individual liberties in any way. At the same time, social rights and rights to exist also came to be stressed. In other words, it is important that the state or society provide the necessary conditions for economic viability to each and every individual. Whether we use the term "economic security" or not, the underlying concepts are well known to everyone.

If one hears thunder or sees lightning, one can run. Yet in major disasters, like the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995, what can one do? No one can say our fleeing was too slow or self-help was too little, like some foreign countries or local government officials apted to say. As a survivor of the earthquake, my response to those comments was one of disbelief. People who had stronger housing, even by only a little difference, were saved by the hundreds and thousands. Strengthening one's home is indeed a way to protect one's family and possessions against a disaster or whatever. Yet, no one even imagined that an earthquake would strike Kobe. Who was it that didn't inform us accurately? And when the earthquake struck, self-help obviously wasn't enough. Many were not able to flee, or even stand up for that matter, having fallen victim in the debris of the direct hit of that terrible and all-powerful earthquake. Because of this disaster, several tens of thousands of people were victims. If the scale were beyond anything the individual can do, it is necessary for society and the state to help care for the victims. Safety and security must be provided. State authority and power exist precisely for guaranteeing the people's security. That is one of the reasons why taxes are gathered: to be able to mobilize all of the state's resources efficiently.

In the wake of this disaster, the state is said to have failed to provide for what the individual can not. If such help and support are not provided, the legitimacy of the state is called into question. In China long ago, similar concepts of the relationship between the ruler (government) and the ruled (people) existed. When a ruler failed to provide against flooding or other disasters and the people went hungry due to the inability to farm or harvest and subsequently died of starvation by the thousands, unrest occurred which called into question the legitimacy given by heaven to the ruler to rule. Heaven would then punish the ruler because he no longer possessed the ability or qualifications (i.e., the legitimacy) to guarantee the people's security and revolution would occur. In this way we can see how important security is for a people. By just putting down a people's revolt was not enough. When foreign enemies, in China's case, powers from all directions, threatened China and the rulers were no longer able to expel the threatening countries and protect the people, the legitimacy of the imperial throne was lost.

In this sense, while self-help is the starting point of the individual's quest for safety, in actuality, the state and society guarantee security. Kurosawa Akira's movie "The Seven Samurai" perhaps illustrates this point well. In it, there is a village which works together as a community, with a village elder who displays wisdom about farming and village matters. However, there is no actual strong leader (the state) to mobilize the community. Working together year in and year out, the villagers plant and harvest the rice. Yet after the rice is harvested, marauding bandits come in and take the rice and wreak havoc. The villagers' hard work is destroyed and they are left poor, victims of aggression, not having been able to provide for their own security. Eventually the villagers hire some samurai to help protect them and seven samurai gather; hence the title of the movie. The villagers wanted help in their defence. The samurai fight bravely and also teach the villagers how to protect themselves. The bandits eventually leave and the villagers proceed to celebrate. Out of the seven samurai, only two remain alive. The leader of the samurai watches the singing and the celebrating. When he grumbles at the defeat, his remaining associate asks why he is not as happy - didn't they win? The leader corrects him by saying the only ones who won were the villagers - not the samurai fighters. That scene is a very powerful one.

When Kurosawa made that movie it was after Japan's defeat in the Fifteen Year (Pacific) War. Japan had mistakenly taken to weapons, leading to its defeat and destruction. In the wake of Japan's defeat and surrender, Japan decided never again to take up arms. Like the villagers in the above story, it was a time when Japan simply wanted to be left alone to work in peace. Japanese consider themselves the losers in World War II. But even if Japan won, like in Kurosawa's movie, the victors would not be the fighters; rather the villagers, the people who work and live their daily lives in peace are the winners in life's quest for safety, security, and prosperity. His movie tries to express that very point. However, his ideas are idealistic and do not match, unfortunately, the real world we see in the 20th century. The two remaining fighters would not look nostalgically on the battle and let the people live in peace, but would seize power and create a new all-powerful state authority. That happening would more likely be the reality of things to be.

Paradox of the Sovereign State - Two Total Wars in the 20th Century

The state gets its legitimacy and in turn is strengthened by its ability to guarantee the security of the people, gaining political legitimacy and economic (taxes) means. In the modern era, the incredible, rapid development of technology, as well as the increasing democratization of society, have strengthened and made more productive the bonds between authority and the people, making the sovereign state as a whole more powerful. The effect of this scale of power, in other words the increase of power through technological innovation and the mobilization of the people, led to a rationalization of a country's resources to the degree that in the modern era only another large country (sovereign state) could compete. In contrast, small and weak citizen's movements could not compete. State power was the only resort to guarantee national interests. Two world wars in this century resulted from such concentrations of power.

In paying lip-service to defending the people, countries expanded at phenomenal rates and amassed great power, becoming behemoths and leviathans which used their people and resources without care. What were the results of the world wars in which such large power was used? The people were mobilized, sent off to war, and sacrificed in unbelievable numbers. If such large-scale world wars had continued, humanity itself would probably have disappeared; mankind would have been destroyed. We almost reached that point.

In the latter half of the 1960s amid the US-Soviet missile race, US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara studied whether to build an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) net to stop incoming Soviet missiles. While technologically not impossible, the economic costs would have been too large to bear and in the end it was decided not to build the ABM system. Instead, mutually assured destruction (MAD), the concept in which if one side attacked with nuclear missiles, the other side would launch a counter-attack of such large proportions that the attacking side would also be completely destroyed, took its place (because it was deemed an economically cheaper means of defence). This means that the two superpowers, by far the largest military powers in the world, could not even defend their own people. They could not defend their people by traditional defence, but through the policy of deterrence. In other words, one country could likely make a successful attack on the other, yet at the same time, the other country would have the ability to respond in kind and in the end both would die. Just like the acronym MAD, this mad situation became the reality of the world after two world wars and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

International Cooperation and International Regimes - Going Beyond the Sovereign State

For twenty years after World War I, it was the period of internationalism. This period was also called the age of arms reductions. The League of Nations was formed as well as other international regimes. In twenty years they failed, but after World War II, these international regimes were strengthened. The League of Nations was strengthened, becoming the United Nations. It was given more defined power. However, due to the exercise of the veto power in the Security Council, the functions of the United Nations in the security realm were more or less paralysed during the Cold War. However, where these international regimes worked better was in the economic field.

The world order in the aftermath of war is usually the victor's prerogative. The winner often creates a system beneficial only to itself. The more restrictive and lopsided the new order, the more necessary it becomes for another country to, at some point, take up arms and initiate war to overthrow the order created by the victor. That is unfortunately the repetitive pattern of history. However, during the Second World War, planners designed a free trading system for the post-war world. While it was not a perfect trading system, it was by far better than anything that had yet existed in history. Because of this system, even the losing countries in the war, Germany and Japan, could profit and enjoy rather remarkable economic development without needing to go outside of the system or breaking it in order to gain. And it was not just Japan and Germany that benefited, but developing countries in South-East Asia also came to enjoy rapid growth with all countries coming into line with each other in terms of free trade in the 21st century sometime in the future. These international regimes came into existence after World War II and played a very important role in the post-war period, which while sometimes hot, was significant for the long peace which became possible due to the mutually beneficial world trading system.

3. Global Security

Increase in Interdependency and Moving to a Borderless World Amid the explosion of technology and economic activity at the private level has of course been the increase of interdependency. US and Japan trade friction also occurred at an increasing rate. Japan, under the free trading system, was the principal benefactor and enjoyed great prosperity, sending more and more of its exports to the US as if in a flood, until the point that economic friction between the two countries became a common, everyday occurrence. As Japan became the most productive country in important industrial areas and products, the US became forced to call on Japan to voluntarily restrict its exports.

The US did not stop at calling for voluntary restriction but went as far as to call for the use of sanctions against Japan. Calling the flood of Japanese semiconductors unfair, at one point the US initiated sanctions against Japan. When discussions moved to banning Japanese semiconductors from the US market, it was not the Japanese who said not to do that, but rather it was the US that couldn't do it. It was argued domestically that if Japanese semiconductors were unobtainable then the quality of the US advanced computers could no longer be maintained. It was argued that sanctions should not prevent the importation of semiconductors into the US. So, what choice was left? The US came to realize that sanctions hurt both countries in the end. This example shows just how real interdependency is.

The economy is becoming borderless. Not only borderless economies but borderless cultures are at an unprecedented scale nowadays. CNN is just one example. News from anywhere in the world comes in a flash. In hotels in America or Europe, or South-East Asia, live news is available instantly. In Japan if one has satellite TV to some extent this is also true, but Japan is far behind. It used to be that Western things were first brought to Japan where they were modified in an Asian context, making it easier for other countries in the Asia region to accept. However, now this common information and living styles are being directly absorbed by countries in the region, literally bypassing Japan.

In that sense, points of common interest are increasing rapidly. Borderless security, world security issues are also rapidly becoming points of common concern. Last year, then United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and then Minister of International Trade and Industry Hashimoto Ryutaro clashed dramatically over the automobile parts issue. It was the peak of US-Japan trade friction and many seemed to feel that the end of US-Japan cooperation was near. But at that time, Hashimoto symbolically put the end of the kendo bamboo sword he had given Kantor as a present to his neck in a type of performance as if being cornered. However, by then, the Clinton administration had lost the support of its European and ASEAN trading partners for its numerical targets that it was hoping to impose upon Japan. After that, trade friction between the two countries reached a watershed in relations and bilateral agreements such as the semiconductor agreement were replaced with multilateral arrangements such as the World Trade Organization, the new world economic system under which the US and Japan agreed to work out their trade disputes. Trade disputes just like between the US and Europe will continue to take place between the US and Japan. Indeed, trade friction won't end of course, but the era of confrontation may be over for good.

International Security

If compromise was not reached after the sword to the throat display of Kantor and Hashimoto, would war between Japan and the United States have erupted in the end? No, war would not have taken place. Between the US and Europe, the US and Japan, or for that matter between Japan and Europe, in other words, between advanced countries, war is unthinkable. This is the reality of common security - the actual existence of a security community. Among the ASEAN countries, a similar situation seems to be developing. Recently, Thailand, for example, purchased an aircraft carrier (for helicopters) from Spain. While there have been fears that an arms race would get out of control in South-East Asia, in reality, Thailand and its neighbour Malaysia are actually practising manoeuvres together, so fears of such an arms race do not seem to be taking on such scary proportions. Borderless security between mature societies is actually taking shape.

There are many of these so-called mature or advanced societies. Recently, scholar Tanaka Akihiko, in his well-written book (in Japanese) entitled "The New Middle Ages", discusses the increase of countries trying at all costs to modernize and develop their sovereignty, such as nearby China and the countries of Asia. There are only 20 or so advanced countries, but there are more than 100 countries that fall into the rapidly modernizing category and will make their presence felt more and more on the international scene in the coming years.

For that reason, there are sometimes countries, like Sadam Hussein's Iraq, that use military power to advance their modernization process. On the other hand, there are some other countries like those in the Pacific region that have only five or six thousand people - not even enough to make a large corporation. If some terrorist group like Aum attacked such a country, then it would be all over. There are quite a few small, weak countries like that.

So what conditions are necessary for a country to be a sovereign state? The traditional definitions were that a government (the state) had to be able to govern the people and at the same time protect the country from outside enemies. By this definition, can those little countries in the Pacific region be considered sovereign? By traditional power politics, it would be quite hard to say that they can be independent. However, as a sovereign state, a small country is a member of the United Nations and possesses a vote in the General Assembly. How is that possible? That is because of international security considerations. In looking at self-defence (self-help), one reason for its security is that a small Pacific country is surrounded by the sea and no country would want to go all the way to its shores to attack it. But secondly, and more importantly, is the United Nations system. That all important clause which says that force should not be used to settle international disputes is not found just in Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution, but is also part of the Charter of the United Nations. If a country resorts to force, it would be breaking the premises found in the Charter. Such a move would be a challenge to international rules and the international regime and would result in the country being branded a criminal of the world. Since World War II, international security has taken on a new powerful meaning.

The Cold War ended. In one sense, the Cold War may have been World War III. The Korean War first of all became a hot war and then cooled down. How many times has humanity repeated wars? Despite being the nuclear age in which just one mistake could mean the end of the world and of humanity, we experienced the Berlin crises, the Cuba crisis and yet have somehow managed to make it to the next age. Now with the Cold War over, will a happy world of peace and unity emerge? Not likely. An era of world disorder and ethnic conflict seemed to emerge instead. What a hard job it is for people like Ogata Sadako, High Commissioner for Refugees, who must deal with all of these outbreaks of violence. At the same time, while calls for a borderless community emerge, it seemed almost as if protectionism and regionalism would drown out such globalism. Indeed, there was a great deal of talk about the clash of civilizations. The world disorder after the Cold War looked pretty bleak to some.

I have always been, for better or worse, somewhat of an optimist. Everyone talks of world disorder and clashes, but in this day and age we can travel just about anywhere with ease. There are international rules and regimes in places and areas we never even knew existed, made in the years after World Wars I and II. A true international body, a community, has been created. Different joining and overlapping threads have come together to form the fabric of the international community. The United Nations symbolizes this international community and the world will not easily move back to an era of disorder.

After the Cold War, I participated in a symposium in Kyoto with a well-known scholar. He discussed what the identity of Japanese was after the Cold War. I think he said "ethnic group", "religion", and "Asia". I tentatively agreed but thought again and disagreed when I considered my seminar students at Kobe University. I don't see ethnicity, religion, or Asian. What I see rather are human rights, environment, international. That is what my active students seem to believe in. In that sense, future Japanese will hold human rights, the environment, and internationalism as more important than ethnicity, religion, and Asian identity.

Interdependency, internationalism, borderless-ization, all of these aspects comprise what could be called globalization. In one sense, these changes in the international environment could bring about clashes in civilization due to the increase in interaction and the related friction that might be in store. However, although ethnic conflicts may still emerge, the larger powers are all moving to reducing their armaments. The former Soviet Union, that former superpower, is no longer able to maintain such massive forces and has rapidly reduced its military spending. At its peak, the United States was spending seven percent of its GNP on defence, and has now brought it down to four percent. Indeed, when the Clinton Administration was born in 1993, its theme was not military security but rather economic security - a move from high politics to low politics. Moreover, problems on a global scale were felt necessary to be dealt with. The context of security has taken on new meanings.

Incidentally, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces during the Cold War thought primarily about how to deal with an invasion of Hokkaido by the Soviet Union. At that time of course Japan possessed no deterrent power whatsoever. Deterrence as discussed above was the concept of if one person (in this country) is attacked and fatally wounded, that person would respond with enough to destroy the other person before dying. In the end both would die. Deterrence refers to the ability to inflict fatal damage on the other side. However, while Japan did not possess this power, it did possess the power to deny victory to the Soviet Union. Japan would not give up and fight until the US military would come to Japan's rescue through the US-Japan Security Treaty arrangements.

However, now that hypothesis is no longer viable and as such, a new programme and policy are in the works. Indeed, rather, the redefining of the post-Cold War US-Japan security arrangements is meant to make it possible that the Asia Pacific region need not rely on military force. Just having America's presence in the region, with its overwhelming power and force projection, is enough - there may be no need to use it.

In that way the redefinition of the US-Japan Security Treaty has taken place. For the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, PKO, disaster relief, and other internal challenges will likely occur with greater frequency. This is representative of the changes from military security to economic, human rights, environment, and other global problems that are occurring now. However, the Japanese government and the Self-Defense Forces have yet to be able to truly adjust their thinking, although there are more and more PKO and disaster relief situations that the SDF are participating in. The SDF's role must be redefined.


In moving from military security to economic security after the end of the Cold War, an unfortunate trend has been developing however. Military related spending for security has decreased dramatically without a corresponding increase in spending for humanitarian affairs and development. With the end of the Cold War, America has seemed to lose any and all interest in Official Development Assistance spending. When the US-Soviet rivalry was at its peak, these two countries used all means necessary, especially military and economic aid, to gain the support of or influence in developing countries and areas.

Japan fortunately has put more weight on economic security than other countries. Japan can speak from experience in the area of development. Japan not too long ago was in dire straits during and after WWII in the aftermath of destruction. Being able to feed one's family and eat at the same time was an incredible feat in and of itself. Food and supplies had to be bought on the black market and mothers and fathers did without food to be able to feed their families, eventually collapsing from exhaustion or tuberculosis. Japanese today now do not know about such a time due to their successful economic development and accomplishments. Japan has become a mature, stable society and looks at the world through the eyes of a developed, advanced country. With the end of the Cold War, the US and Europe are tired of giving ODA. Japan on the other hand continues to give ODA not because of any feeling of pride or need, but rather simply because it is already allocated in the budget and the bureaucratic mindset won't allow any changes in it. Former number 1 aid-giver America has rapidly dropped and Japan has now become the largest aid giver.

And now, in Japan, which always seems to follow in the footsteps of America and Europe, there have been some calls to reduce ODA spending. This is a great mistake I believe. There are many ways to make international contributions. It is very important of course to hold security-related problems like in North Korea or in the Taiwan Straits in check. That work America is doing all by itself. America still is spending about four percent of its GNP on defence. Quite a large figure. In addition to that, the US used to spend about 0.2 percent on ODA, and has now dropped that to about 0.1 percent, a massive drop in percentage figures. At one point, Japan was spending 0.33 percent of its GNP on ODA, and has now fallen to 0.28 percent. And there are still calls ridiculously to reduce that figure further. However, Japan spends just one percent of its GNP on defence. In order to fulfil its international role, it must not do away with or reduce its ODA programme.

Moreover, there has been criticism about yen-based loans as "a lot of money with little value". This criticism is mistaken. The problem is that there are various levels of countries. Some at this point don't need industrial aid but rather need the very basic humanitarian aid like food and medical supplies. Once their economies are better developed, then loans help greatly. These massive loans go toward industries and infrastructure. But of course the loans have to be paid back. From that desire to pay back loans, countries work harder. The countries of East Asia have had similar experiences. For countries and societies about to economically take off, these loans are very important. Not only yen-based loans but all loans of course. Loans from Japan must not be stopped.

And not just loans and money, but at many levels, helping the soft sides of a country's infrastructure is very important. For example in education and training programmes, assistance from Japan is very important. Also establishing functioning taxation systems to provide for government revenue is vital. There is a lot of concern with China's ability to accomplish exactly this. In Professor Tadokoro's book on United Nations finance, he describes the rules for contributions, including voluntary contributions. China's taxation system is similar. Jiang Zemin is the first leader from Shanghai to do well in Peking. For that reason, he has been able to collect a lot of taxes for Shanghai from the central government coffers. However, those from the Canton region don't have that connection. China is supposed to be one country yet it does not possess a functioning system for tax collection. Although China is too big to help soon, for other developing countries in their drive to modernize, such advice on taxation systems would prove invaluable to helping them. In that sense, Japan possesses such large-scale plans and can help countries with their needs. For these reasons Japan should not be content with only giving what it does for ODA, considering that Japan spends only one-quarter of what the US and one-third of what the Western European countries pay for defence. Japan should at least pay one percent of its GNP on ODA. It can at least afford to contribute twice what it uses now to around 0.5 percent in order to help support the world.

Global Issues

The era of common interests and global interests has come. The population of the world has exploded in recent years. Now there are approximately 5.7 billion people, maybe closer to six billion as we speak. Population figures are likely to jump to more than 10 billion people by the year 2050. There is a great debate among experts about whether there will be enough food and energy for all of these people, with no conclusion. Yet one thing is for sure - we are facing a difficult situation. We are rapidly approaching the limits, the ceiling if you would - global warming, the climate is being affected as well. It is very likely that food crises and energy crises will come in waves in the 21st century in various areas and regions. In some areas starvation could occur. If one has money, enough money, well maybe one can survive any instability, but if one doesn't have enough money, what will happen?

In times like this, how can global interests, the interests of humanity, be preserved jointly? Until now, national prosperity meant thinking only of the prosperity of one country. Even now that is still true to some degree. How can Japan get out of its recession? As Japan's economic weight is being replaced relatively by other countries in the region, it is no longer Japan bashing that is being heard but rather Japan passing. These trends are the focus of attention with the people and in the mass media. However, before thinking about whether Japan is rising or sinking, it is more important to look long term and think about the approaching of global interests captured by the phrase "Our Common Future". If no one is thinking long term and looking out over the horizons, we will end up like the Titanic which sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic.

There are many experts and scholars in various fields. But many are all like bureaucrats in the top-down, isolated areas. They may be familiar with their own small areas, but when they need to look at the broader picture and think about what our common future is, they offer very little. Recently, the phrase "Epistemic Community" has come to be in use. It is a community of experts who possess intelligent foresight. For example, the experts that warned of the effect on the atmosphere by the use of fluorocarbons was extremely foresighted. If they had not thought to analyse the data, gather like-minded scholars, warned the world of the dangers, and worked to obtain agreements on the reduction of these chemicals, what kind of future would we, the average people, have faced in the 21st century? Likewise, they have warned about the openings in the ozone layer over the Arctic and Antarctic masses. If people with such knowledge did not have the courage to warn the world then what would become of humanity? Particularly with the environment, where change is slow, it takes a long time to understand the danger and damage from acid rain or fluorocarbons. In that sense, their energy and desire are coupled with specialty experience and intelligence.

Can the United Nations Support the Earth's Fortunes?

All of these problems concerning the environment are very important. Pointing out the problems, providing possible solutions and answers to the problems all come down to the intelligence, energy, and desire of people. The question is how can people use those skills and qualities. "Global Governance" is also a phrase that has been coming into use recently. There of course is no such thing as a world government which is above the various states of interdependence and international regimes that we have today. However, at the same time, we are entering an era where a world government is becoming more and more necessary. Can the United Nations play such a role? There are many many problems that we are facing today. I don't believe that they will automatically lead to the end of mankind. Yet whether mankind can be properly safeguarded or not is more the problem. Can mankind solve the problems that mankind itself is facing?

4. Humanity and Security

As was discussed in the beginning, the responsibility for security rests first and foremost with the individual. However, that is not because the individual is taken care of by society, but simply for practical reasons. Rather, as is usually the case, for the security of the group, the individual is often asked to work and to sacrifice. To save the fatherland, to save one's country, to protect one's parents and brothers and sisters, to save the emperor were all calls to arms during World War II. For the security of the group, the individual had to throw away his or her own security. That was the logic of the time.

Historically speaking, that has usually been the case. To protect the group, the tribe, the clan, many individuals died. Afterwards, in the age of the monarchy and imperial rule, the people gave what they could to the ruler. Later, as democracy developed, the all powerful sovereign state came into being and what it determined was absolutely necessary, often in the name of ideology the people were expected to give, both in sweat and blood.

However, now, we are finally moving from the security of the sovereign state to the security of the entire globe. As the limits of the world approach, the security of one state can no longer be had independently of the security of the globe. People must think of the larger picture and take care of the environment and respect the other peoples of the world.


Sanga-Ngoie Kazadi, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Mie University, Tsu, Japan

1. Introduction

The evolution of human civilization has, since the olden times, always been connected with deforestation: fuelwood, farming, city building, etc. And the more civilization evolved, the more forests were destroyed, up to becoming the global environmental issue we face nowadays (Mabberley, 1994).

Of particular interest is the fact that ancient-time peoples - and the same is true for those peoples who still lead primitive lifestyles - depended almost entirely on the surrounding nature for their everyday life. They could survive through centuries by adapting their lifestyle to their environment so as to coexist with it (Erasmus, 1990). However, as development proceeded, the process of development itself became the main cause of natural destruction: human beings divorced from the local ecosystem by devising new production and living methods independently of the surrounding ecosystem, especially the forests (Tisdell, 1989). Presently, the relation between civilization and deforestation is strongly manifest in the presence of very reduced forest covers in developed countries, and the high deforestation rates in developing countries (Sanga-Ngoie, 1991). History shows that more than one former glorious civilization, which flourished over areas that eventually turned into dry deserts or barren grounds owing to such unsustainable lifestyles, were sooner or later forced to an abrupt end.

Nonetheless, modern civilization is led by a frenetic urge for economic growth, characterized by overproduction and overconsumption of goods and services. This is done by using new and sophisticated technologies which have a strong impact on people's lifestyle and ways of thinking, not only locally, but on the global scale as well. Consequently, all of the huge amounts of consumed goods and the so many new products created end up as waste or pollutants, by far beyond the natural recycling capacity of the earth ecosystem.

Pollution and wastes are now a global and manifold problem, crossing geopolitical boundaries and sparing nothing, from the deep sea to the highest levels of the atmosphere. The earth's thin biosphere is assaulted by many kinds of problems: waste disposal, pollution of air, soil and water, acid rain, the ozone hole, forest destruction and depletion of natural resources (Gore, 1993; Wilson, 1994). The consequences of these problems in terms of public health, ecoclimatic impacts, loss of untapped genetic resources as well as the future of humankind itself, are hard to be economically assessed.

It is only recently that the concern for this global destruction of the environment has gained momentum, drawing the attention of researchers and politicians from all over the world, especially since the Earth Summit. At this international meeting convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992 in order to discuss ways and means for protecting our living planet (Gaia), people recognized that environmental destruction was the result of the modern development process, which is based on excessive production and consumption. An international outline for a sustainable and environment-friendly development toward the 21st century (Rio Declaration, Agenda 21) was thus proclaimed.

Two main points have to be stressed about the outcomes of this summit. First, humanity has come to understand that environmental problems have to be solved through international cooperation (governments, individuals, groups, researchers and financial institutions) on the global scale, as said in the slogan "Think globally, act locally''. Second, there is not only one way - an almighty one - to solve all these problems: a second thought has to be given to non-Western philosophies and ways of living which have been neglected so far, in order to generate a new type of development where man and nature can coexist now and for the years to come.

Our planet and human security are the main theme of this seminar. The United Nations stresses that human security is just one subset of human development (Kaul, 1996). Nonetheless, it is beyond doubt that no sustainable human development can be achieved if humans do not care about the security of our common ship, the earth. The very survival of humankind, as well as life itself, is at stake.

Our main concern in this paper is, first of all, to shed some new light on the complex interrelationships between development and global environmental destruction, focusing on the deforestation of tropical rainforests and, secondly, to discuss a new approach for a secure and global sustainable development, with due attention to the Rio Declaration. For this purpose, after presenting the current state of the rainforests in the world in relation with economical development, I will first dwell on the role of tropical rainforests and the impacts of deforestation on the global ecosystem. Then, referring to the Rio Declaration, I will discuss a new paradigm for sustainable development, showing that there is still a lot to be learned from non-mainstream and non-Western civilizations. A study case of the Luba people of Zaire will be discussed to support this new approach.

2. State of Tropical Rainforests

Although man has been interfering with nature since olden times, it is agreed that drastic changes in human activities have occurred since the Renaissance, especially in terms of agriculture, industry and technology, urbanization, communication networks, etc. For this, vast forest areas were cut down for new lands or wood resources (lumber or energy), first of all in Western Europe and later on in other parts of the world.

The United States of America, which boasted about 3.85 million km2 of forests in 1630 when its colonization by Europeans started, saw them reduced to 2.49 million km2 in 1920, owing to intensive "forest development" projects. Nowadays, about 30,000 ha of old virgin forests are being cut down every year for lumber to be exported to Japan and other countries in the Pacific rim. In Europe, 80% of the national lands in France used to be covered by forests, but only 14% of them remained by 1789. Consequently, in the middle of the 19th century, an extremely serious shortage of forest resources in France and England forced these countries to fetch for them from abroad, especially from tropical rainforest areas, in order to maintain their shipbuilding capacity, and therefore, their maritime supremacy ( Postel and Heise, 1988).

Tropical rainforests account for about 6% of the earth's surface and cover approximately 30 million km2 (fig. 1). This encompasses about 2/3 of all the tropical countries. From this forest coverage, 12 million km2 are virgin forests with high temperature, high humidity and high rainfalls. They are the habitat for countless known and unknown organisms (plants, animals, insects, micro-organisms, etc.) and used to be the realm of minority tribes, living primitive lifestyles. Nowadays, they are the theatre of drastic "forest development projects" through human activities. Another 14 million km2 of the rainforest lands are savanna woodlands (savanna in Africa and "cherado" in South America), where most of the populations live on traditional agriculture or livestock. The remaining 4 million km2 are covered with secondary forests or fallow lands, made of recently cut down rainforests but now recovering (table 1).

The annual deforestation rate of the tropical rainforests is noted to be very high: about 0.6 to 1% in the 1980s, i.e., 70,000 to 120,000 km2 of closed forests cut annually, among which about 80,000 km2 are totally destroyed by clearance while the remaining 40,000 km2 are left to regenerate (Whitmore, 1992; Wilson, 1994). The annual reafforestation rate lags far behind these figures: for the 70,000 to 120,000 km2 of forests cut down annually, only 11,000 km2 were reafforested in the 1980s (table 1). This makes an average ratio of about 1 to 10, with strong variability from one region to another: 1 to 5 in Asia and 1 to 29 in Africa! (Postel and Heise, 1988; Lanly, 1995)

The main causes of this drastic deforestation are to be found on two levels of action, having both the same common denominator: poverty (Lieth and Werger, 1992). First, on the individual level: traditional and impoverished rural peoples rely almost totally on the forests and the surrounding nature for their living (slash-and-burn agriculture, fuelwood, bushfire for hunting and pasture lands). Second, on the national and governmental level: in order to acquire badly needed foreign hard currencies (lumber, pastoral and agrarian lands for livestock and cash crops) or to catch up with fast modernization (urbanization, roads and dam building, factories, etc.) In either case, the process is almost out of control, with lots of unexpected, far-reaching and mostly negative mid- and long-term results.

Fig.1. Tropical Rainforests in the World
(after Nectoux and Kuroda, 1989

Table 1. The State of the Tropical Rainforests in the World

Countries Total cover
(million ha)
Closed forests
(million ha)
(million ha/year)
Asia 16 336.5 305.5 1.82
Latin America 23 895.7 678.7 4.12
Africa 37 703.1 216.6 1.33

(Adapted from Nectoux and Kuroda, 1989)

3. Causes of Deforestation

3.1 Commercial Logging

"Forest development" in the tropics by lumber companies only aims at exporting as many forest resources as possible in order to acquire the maximum of foreign hard currencies. This kind of exploitation is characterized by chronic lack of funds and poor coordination for forest management and reafforestation programmes. Its impact on the tropical ecosystem is still poorly evaluated (Beazley, 1990; Kartawinata et al., 1992; Sayer et al., 1992).

At present, there is hardly a place in the tropical region where integrated forest development is fully conducted (Nectoux and Kuroda, 1989; Keito et al., 1990). However, as mechanized logging proceeds, little trees and other plants with no direct economical value are indiscriminately destroyed, and the soil is compressed under the weight of heavy vehicles, rendering it more easily attacked by erosion. This damage to the residual ecosystem is known to be high, be it from the uniform logging or the highly heralded selective logging (Kartawinata et al., 1992), and long-term ecological effects are difficult to quantitatively assess (Beazley, 1990; Lamb, 1990; Weidelt, 1993). Moreover, as new roads are opened, they allow local farmers to proceed even deeper into the previously impenetrable forests, where they go rampant with tree felling for slash-and-burn agriculture or new pasture lands (Fearnside, 1989).

These roads, which thus become open corridors for the wind into the forests, the presence of huge amounts of dried dead trees and litter, as well as slash-and-burn agriculture, contribute altogether to increasing exponentially the chances of fire hazards and large-scale casualties.

3.2 Fuelwood and Slash-and-Burn Agriculture

Since olden times, forest- and savanna-dwelling peoples in tropical areas used to traditionally make their living on shifting cultivation by slashing, burning and ploughing plots of forests in their surroundings. Cleared plots were of small scale (0.5 to 1 ha) and were exploited for 2 to 3 consecutive years at most, followed by quite long fallow periods (8 to 80 years, depending on the culture, the land tenure system and the local ecoclimatological conditions), which allowed nature to recover by itself (Wiersum et al., 1985; Houghton et al., 1987; Mabberley, 1994).

Modernization and the market economy have deeply changed people's lifestyle and production methods all over the world, including even those peoples in the very remote rural areas of the tropical region, generating everywhere new types of (Western-like) relationships between man and nature (Sanga-Ngoie, 1993). Nowadays, it is estimated that about 240-300 million people occupying nearly half of the total tropical area are involved in shifting cultivation, altering more than 100,000 km2 of original forests annually. This makes of farming the most destructive activity for the tropical rainforest (Mabberley, 1994).

Traditionally most of the African population (70 to 90%) used to live in the non-modernized rural areas. With modernization and the hardship of the traditional life to adapt to the new economic system, an ever-growing portion of this population is pouring everyday into the insufficiently urbanized squatter areas around big cities, in places without running water, gas and electricity. These peri-urban peoples rely on the forests for fuelwood and agriculture as do their rural kin from whom they departed. The pressure of the high population concentrations around the cities compels these peoples to collect larger and larger quantities of fuelwood from the dwindling forests, while the snowballing inflation rates push them to clear every year wider and wider plots of land for always smaller and smaller incomes. Increasing deforestation rates, overuse of scarce agricultural land, and therefore, shorter fallow periods (between 3 and 8 years) are the direct outcome of such socio-economical pressures (Houghton et al., 1987). This is noted to be the cause of 70% of deforested lands in Africa, 50% in Asia and 30% in Latin America (Postel and Heise, 1988; Lanly, 1995).

3.3 Fires and Bushfire

Fires and traditional bushfire are one of the main causes of rainforest destruction in the tropics, but about which still not much is known. They occur for many various reasons: some are caused by natural phenomena (lightning, foehn ...), while in many cases, they are the results of human activities.

In former times, rural people used to set fire to the dried savanna grasslands at the end of the dry season for hunting or for enhancing the sprouting of new grasses for their livestock at the first rainfalls. In present days, however, the bushfire custom has survived its original causes (hunting, grazing) while more often, forests are set ablaze by uncontrolled fires from land preparation for slash-and-burn agriculture, pasture, roads or city building (Linden, 1989). This practice has become a large-scale annual phenomenon over Amazonia, where plumes of smoke from burning forests can be seen on satellite imagery from July to November every year. Repeated fires over a long period of time have accelerated the savannization process in such countries as Haiti and Dominica, which were formerly covered with lush evergreen forests under heavily wet climates (Whitmore, 1992).

In Burundi, where natural forests are scarce, we observed the burning of about 10,000 ha of reafforested lands during a three-week period in September 1992: 4% of these fires were found to be accidental, while the remaining 96% were due to traditional bush burning or probably to arson (Sanga-Ngoie et al., 1994). During the 1982-83 El Ni-o-related drought period, a big fire broke out in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, burning to ashes more than 35,000 km2 of tropical forests (Whitmore, 1992).

Once again we have to stress here that, unlike the virgin forests still undisturbed by human activities, current forest development in the tropics opens deep corridors in to previously closed forests (roads, camps, ranches, etc.), litter the normally damp forest floor with lots of dry woody leftovers (leaves, branches, dead wood), thus creating optimal conditions for steady and quickly expanding fires with casualties beyond any evaluation.

3.4 Forest Development in Amazonia

About half of the annually deforested Amazonian lands are used for family-scale pastoral or agrarian activities (coffee, corn, livestock). Because of poor land management, the very thin layer of tropical topsoil is quickly washed away by heavy rains and the soil quality irreversibly deteriorates. Cleared agrarian or pasture lands can thus be used for only 4 to 8 consecutive years at most, after which they become unproductive and have to be abandoned for relatively fertile, newly cleared plots (Postel and Heise, 1988; Mabberley, 1994).

The exploitation of Amazonia clearly illustrates this typical pattern of soil destruction in this region: pioneering farmers flowing out from the overpopulated Rio and Sčo Paulo squatter areas clear plots of forest starting from the south-eastern fringes, exploit them for some years until production declines, then sell them as pastoral lands to the newcomers, before moving deeper and deeper to the north-eastern reach, with the pastoral colonos trailing after them. The yearly expansion of this ever-increasing deforestation (slash-and-burn agriculture, grazing, roads, dams, industry, charcoal ...) over Latin America, especially Brazil, can be clearly seen in meteorological satellite images (Lieth and Werger, 1992; Gash et al., 1996).

Among the many multinational development projects in Amazonia, it suffices here to cite the Grand Carajas Project. This huge project, which will necessitate the removal of 900,000 km2 of Amazonian forests for iron ore exploitation at its final stage, has about 550 km2 of forests cleared annually in order to provide the cheap fuel for its engines: charcoal! In another project, the Brazilian government is planning to flood an area covering 65,000 to 150,000 km2 for hydroelectric production (Myers, 1992). The total deforested area is noted to have expanded from 1% of the Brazilian Amazonian forests to 4% in 1975, and to more than 14% in 1980 (approximately 540,000 km2) (Treece, 1987). Presently, this deforestation spree is running at an incredible rate of 50,000 to 80,000 km2 a year, approximately 2.5% of Amazonia (Myers, 1992; Mabberley, 1994; Lanly, 1995).

3.5 Acid Rain

Vast areas of conifer forests and countless numbers of freshwater bodies in industrialized countries in Europe, Asia and America are reported to be devastated by acid rains, e.g., along the eastern coast of North America, in western and eastern Europe (Abrahamsen et al., 1993). It is beyond doubt that developing countries will definitely face the same problems if, for their own industrialization, they stick to the same development steps as those taken by the developed countries. The symptoms of this environmental mismanagement can already be seen in the high SO2 and NO2 concentrations over the fast industrializing eastern China (UTAN, 1991).

Acid rain related problems have not yet been fully investigated in the tropical region. With the present rate of deforestation and the accelerating industrialization speed, we can foresee for the not-so-remote future even more devastating damages than in the developed countries, owing to the thinness of tropical topsoils and the high sensitivity of the underlying laterite soils to acid rain attack.

3.6 Wars and Famine and Displaced People

Recent natural or man-made disasters (drought, wars) especially in Central and Sahelian Africa have made huge numbers of people to be displaced from their natural environment and to dwell in makeshift shelters of refugee camps. Left to themselves with nothing, these people become thus an uncontrollable environmental threat, having the surrounding nature as the only one resource left for sustaining their struggle for life. The assessment of the environmental side of these calamities has been a neglected research field so far.

In a recent report, Biswas et al. (1996) show the range of environmental devastation of the Zairian rainforests by the sudden influx of 1.5 to 2 million refugees from Rwanda and Burundi into Zaire since 1994. They note that the extensive vegetation destruction by trampling and the rampant deforestation for fuelwood, shelter construction or agriculture around refugee camps near Goma, Bukavu and along the Rusizi plain, jeopardize the precious and unique local habitat for both man and the rich genetic resources (endemic plants, insects, fish and animals, such as mountain gorillas) found in the buffer zones of the Virunga National Park, or in the Park itself. Within 3 days of their arrival, refugees cut down all the trees along roads and near schools, within weeks they shaved clean more than 300 ha of reafforested lands in Goma and 19 ha in Bukavu: presently, a total of 7,200 ha of forests are feared lost irreversibly. At one camp near Goma, more than 19,000 people set out into the forest fetching about 410 tonnes of fuelwood everyday (Biswas et al., 1996).

Mid- and long-term environmental impacts are beyond any evaluation. One thing is quite sure, however: the reafforestation of these areas will not be achieved within a short-term timescale, considering the present economical situation in Zaire. On the contrary, I foresee that the destruction thus caused by the refugees will eventually be exacerbated later by ill-planned land use by local populations short of new agrarian lands, as soon as the refugees move away - if ever they do.

4. Tropical Rainforests and the Global Ecosystem

Are the tropical rainforests so important an element of the global ecosystem? Why should we care for them? Before responding to these questions, we should remember first of all that the English word "forest" derives from the Latin word forestus, which means "something saved away for precaution's sake". So, since the earliest of times, forests had been the new frontiers for human beings: they were considered to be an unlimited resource bank for the expansion of human activities, placed aside for precaution's sake. They could provide not only firewood, lumber, medicinal herbs, edible plants and hunting areas, but they also offered new lands for agriculture and city development, when necessary.

As far as the tropical rainforests are concerned, they are the reservoir of countless biogenetic resources, most of them unknown so far, they provide stable and rich soils, they stabilize the flow of surface and underground waters, impacting strongly on the ecoclimatological system (bio-resources, weather, climate) on both the local and global scales (Clarke and Palmer, 1983; Sanga-Ngoie, 1993). Some of these properties will be briefly presented hereafter.

4.1 Water Cycle, Weather and Climate

Of the solar radiation on tropical rainforests, about 12% is reflected while the remaining is absorbed into the plant leaves and converted into chemical energy through photosynthesis. This is a very high rate of conversion compared to other types of surface covers which show higher albedos: 16-20% for grass, 25% for herbaceaous crops, and 35% for deserts (Whitmore, 1992). This makes of the rainforests a very efficient sink of solar energy, contributing to the cooling of the atmosphere on a global scale.

Moreover, these forests are known to play a determinant role in the earth's water cycle by reinjecting, through evapotranspiration into the atmosphere, 50 to 90% of water received as annual rainfall, while grass and/or herbaceous crops and barren lands recycle only 40% and 30% of incoming waters, respectively (ICIHI Report, 1986; Whitmore, 1992).

Owing to these forests, tropical regions receive more than three times the world average rainfall (746 mm), and have more than three times the world average for running water (266 mm) (Forrester, 1985; ICIHI Report, 1986), of which about 23% is accounted for by three tropical rivers, namely the Amazon, Zaire and Orinoco rivers. The Amazon River basin alone contains 2/3 of all the world's river water, amounting to about 20% of the earth's freshwater resources. This huge river discharges itself into the western Atlantic at the incredible rate of 200,000 m3/s, amounting to about 6,200 km3 per year. This is more than three times the total of all the rivers in the United States of America and more than sixteen times that of Japan. On the other side, draining a 3,500,000 km2 basin in the central part of Africa and encompassing 2/3 of African freshwater resources, the Zaire River pours into the eastern equatorial Atlantic about 52,000 m3 of water every second, i.e., about 1,622 km3/year. The ecological impacts of these huge rivers on the local and global land and maritime ecosystems, of which only little is known, should not be overlooked (Forrester, 1985; Sanga-Ngoie and Fukuyama, 1996).

Evapotranspiration from the tropical rainforests is very high. This moisture, which contributes about 62% of the atmospheric water vapour and humidity, is transported to other areas over the globe, playing thus a very important role in the atmospheric thermodynamics and water circulation. Moreover, the unevenness of the forest canopy enhances turbulence and therefore upward motion of the winds. These ascending currents of moist air generate clouds, and therefore rains, contributing to 70 to 90% of the annual precipitation over the rainforest areas (Moran, 1994).

In a word, it can be said that the occurrence of these rainforests at the foot of the lower-level convergence zones of the tropical east-west circulation (Walker Circulation) where moisture is high and rainfall very heavy, denotes the important dynamic and thermodynamic role of these forests within the global ecoclimate. Therefore, changes in their structure or distribution would surely imply deep changes in the state of the regional or global climate (temperature, rainfall) as shown in a recent work by Sanga-Ngoie and Fukuyama (1996).

4.2 Biogenetic Resources

It is estimated that about 50% of all the living species of the world are found in the tropical rainforest ecosystems, making of these regions the last frontier for genetic resources. Here live countless types of micro-organisms, insects, plants and animals, within an interlinked web of mutual dependency and antagonism. Only about 10% of these species have been the object of any scientific investigation, being merely given a scientific name (Wilson, 1994). More surprisingly, every year about 200 new tropical living species are being found, and many other new edible plants, medicinal herbs or micro-organisms are to be discovered in the future (Ankei, 1990; Terashima, 1991; Mabberley, 1994).

However, due to our poor forest management skills, these biogenetic treasures are being lost at tremendous rates, with the very existence of most of them still unknown. So far, almost 55% of the original virgin tropical rainforests are reported to have been destroyed, and together with them, 0.27% to 0.63% of the living species every year. Assuming a minimum of 10,000,000 living species in the tropical rainforests, Wilson (1994) calculated that so far, human activities have put more than half of them on the verge of total extinction, while every year, 27,000 are being lost, i.e., 74 everyday, or 3 species per hour. This is between 1,000 and 10,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate of one species per million per year. The ecological or economical potential of these lost species - most of them before they are discovered - is hard to be assessed.

4.3 Soil Stability and Richness

Notwithstanding the bountiful living species and the towering height of its vegetation, tropical rainforest soil is known to consist of a very thin topsoil layer, over sterile laterite substrata. Because of the fast decomposition rate of dead leaves and trees by colonies of decomposers (mites and micro-organisms), time residence of nutrients in the tropical soil is found to be short: they are quickly available and absorbed by the plants. The fertility is thus found not in the soil but in the trees: tropical soils are poor, contrary to higher latitude, nutrient-rich ones (Wilson, 1994; Cotton and Pielke, 1995).

Moreover, the forest canopy and the roots contribute to increasing the soil stability and its seeping capacity. In fact, falling over or through the leaves of towering trees, raindrops lose most of their kinetic energy when they reach the soil surface, having thus very little eroding effect. As their flow is hampered by the dense root network and other litter, they are swiftly soaked into the soil as underground water. In the absence of plants (canopy, roots, litter), soil would be directly subjected to the destructive impact of the sun and raindrops, and is easily washed away by flowing rainwater. Erosion, landslides and other water disasters are thus generated (Lazarus, 1990; Cotton and Pielke, 1995), and savannization and desertification from within the very heart of the tropical rainforests are triggered (Treece, 1987; Kadomura, 1989; Sanga-Ngoie and Fukuyama, 1996).

5. Consequences of Deforestation

With the present pace of tropical rainforest destruction, their total extinction from the earth's surface is estimated for 2075. Impacts of this deforestation on the biosphere and the global ecosystem are likely to be enormous, far-reaching and very complex. I shall briefly discuss some of them hereafter. Forest cover decrease is more likely to immediately affect the atmospheric content of CO2, O2 and water vapour, which forests produce through respiration, photosynthesis and evapotranspiration, respectively. Moreover, as deforestation brings forth drastic changes in the earth's surface cover, it therefore implies sensible changes in the earth's albedo, and the rainfall regimes. The ICIHI Report (1986) notes that a 0.1% increase in albedo would lead to 23% decrease in rainfall. Many other related effects, some of them discussed in previous subsections, are to be expected: (1) deterioration of soil quality and stability which will trigger progressive savannization and uncontrollable erosion; (2) loss of countless known and unknown living species, and therefore their unique contribution to the life-sustaining capacity of the earth, and (3) negative impacts on the weather and climate on local and global scales.

Thermodynamically, persistent deforestation coupled with the present 1% annual increase in fossil fuel use imply tremendous increase in atmospheric CO2, and therefore, accelerated global warming. Numerical simulations (Revkin, 1989) show pronounced desiccation and 2 to 4.5oC increase in the mean temperature over the mid-latitude northern hemisphere. The large-scale and thermally driven Walker and Hadler circulations, which are located on these most thermodynamically active regions of the tropics (lower-level convergence and rainforests), will not be spared in the changes, and together with them, large-scale changes all over the world: change in the occurrence of El Niño warm events and the related floods and drought patterns, change in the desertification process as well as in the water circulation and the global circulation itself (Sanga-Ngoie and Fukuyama, 1996).

An important proof of the ecoclimatological impacts following this uncontrolled destruction of the tropical rainforests is given by a recent analysis of 1960-1990 climatic data records of temperature, rainfall and number of rainy days at several stations in Zaire by Sanga-Ngoie and Fukuyama (1996). Their results show first of all the existence of two background inter-annual variability cycles, attributable to natural phenomena: a 2- to 5-year oscillation strongly related to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and another one with approximately a 10-year period (the quasi-decadal oscillation, QDO) which has very strong correlation with the solar activity cycle. On the long-term time-scale, they detected a strong tendency to regional warming (0.60 to 1.18oC temperature increase over 30 years) and desiccation (127 to 472 mm decrease in rainfall, and 0.80- to 73.6-day longer dry seasons) over the wet tropical rainforests of the Zaire River Basin (fig. 2). Even more pronounced changes are to be expected over the Maritime Continent and Amazonia, where the deforestation rate is tremendous (Dirmeyer and Shukla, 1994).

The entire scenario is as follows. As tropical rainforests are destroyed, heavy rains falling over these regions wash away the nutrient-rich topsoil, creating erosion and damage to arable lands. Without the protection of the forest canopy and roots, rainwater flows at once into rivers causing even more erosion upstream and water hazards downstream of the catchments. Temperatures increase, desiccation, drought and desertification are caused by the changes in the thermodynamical property of the soil cover (increase of albedo) and the decresase in photosynthetic activity due to the replacement of the primary rainforests by bare soils, sparser vegetation or high-albedo secondary forests. Loss in biogenetic resources should not be evaluated only in terms of loss of countless plants and animal species, but also in terms of the disappearance of forest-dwelling cultures, owing to the irreversible loss of their life-sustaining environment (Moran, 1994; Wilson, 1994).

Fig. 2. Long-Term Climatological Trend in Temperature (T), Rainfall (R) and Number of Rainy Days at Matadi, Zaire. A remarkable increase in temperature, and a permanent decrease in rainfall and length of the rainy season (therefore a strong tendency for dessication and drought) over the 1960-1990 period have been detected. This is true all over the Zairian subcontinent (see Sanga-Ngoie and Fukuyama, 1996)

It will never be emphasized enough that, once the rainforest habitat is disturbed, it can never be restored to its initial state. And therefore, the possibility of reafforestation should not be taken as a pretext to uncontrolled deforestation. The same is valid from both the climatological and ecological perspectives. It only creates an irreversible threat to the future of humanity and jeopardizes the continuity of life on the earth as well, whatever the short-term economic benefits earned.

6. Toward Man-Nature Coexistence?

I have shown so far that the present forest development for lumber, fuel-wood, agricultural or pastoral use, etc., constitutes by itself the most irrational way of using forest resources. Indeed, the most important resources the tropical rainforests provide are: fresh and cooler air, rich and stable soils, plenty of rain, bountiful underground water and regular river flow, countless species of biogenetic fauna and flora, all of them being infinitely renewable if exploited in an environment-friendly manner (Lamb, 1983; Wilson, 1994).

Here arises what has been sensed as the biggest dilemma of modern civilization: shall we have to choose between pursuing economic development or promoting ecological protection? (UNDP, 1991; Franke and Chasin, 1980) Anticipating with my concluding remarks, I can state with Devall and Sessions (1985) that there is definitely no dilemma to be solved: economic growth and environmental protection can both be achieved if the very concept of progress and economic development - which is the fundamental motive for environmental destruction - could be deeply re-evaluated.

6.1 Progress and Economic Development

The mainstream approach to economic development supposes an ever-growing production of consumer goods and services on one side, and over-consumption of the same on the other side, with the largest benefit margins targetted in between (Franke and Chasin, 1980). Thanks to this system, high living standards, advanced medical care and a better educational environment have been achieved. Development performance is measured in terms of GNP (Gross National Product) per capita, and raising this index becomes thus the ultimate goal of development for any nation.

But in the same process, huge amounts of energy and natural resources are used, and mountains of waste and pollutants (solid, liquid, gas) are discharged in the atmosphere, in the water bodies (rivers, lakes and seas) and in the soil. Resource depletion, environmental destruction and pollution are looming over the future of humankind like the sword of Damocles. Gaining momentum since the early years of the Industrial Revolution, this process has now pushed the earth system to the limit of its self-restoring capacity.

Set to follow this development pattern by taking developed countries as models, developing countries are trying hard to catch up with the former in terms of GNP per capita through double digit economic growth rates. In these cases also, owing to ill-imitation of development policies for which basic philosophies and methods are not well mastered by developing countries, negative consequences often overcome the benefits of the coveted development (Richards, 1986; Kalala, 1988). Rampant environmental and socio-cultural destruction, heavy indebtedness, poverty and misery are the final outcomes: an endless vicious cycle of poverty and environment destruction (De Haan, 1992). Rural exodus from impoverished villages, population explosion in mushrooming slums around urban areas, poverty and social unrest become common. It becomes evident that, in order to survive in the short term, poor people have no choice but to sacrifice their own future by destroying the only resource left to them: the surrounding environment (Harrison, 1986; Franke and Chasin, 1980).

6.2 Sustainable Development: A Global Concern

Then, what is the right development and how should it be achieved? Is there something to be changed in our way of thinking and dealing with nature? Those are among the many questions people have come to ask themselves considering the multitude of unpredicted consequences generated by current economic development schemes.

Recently, environmental groups have become more active, and the concern over the earth's critical state has grown stronger, broader and global. It is known nowadays that the consequences of human activities on the environment are borderless, and their impacts felt thousands of kilometres away from the source region. And the cost for environmental restoration often upsets the benefits gained from the economic activity which caused the problem (Clarke and Palmer, 1983). Therefore, any local activity aiming at solving the environmental issue should be based on a sound and holistic appraisal of the problems within a geo-cultural environment, and a clear assessment of its implications on both the local and the global scales, as expressed by the slogan "Think globally, act locally".

The Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992 subsequent to this global consciousness, putting together decision makers from all over the world, as well as environmental researchers and activists, in order, if not to find immediate solutions to the problems, at least to define global guidelines along which environment-friendly development can be achieved toward the 21st century (Boyd, 1992). This has been embodied in the Rio Declaration (Agenda 21), the highlights of which can be summarized as follows.

  • Environmental preservation and/or restoration cannot be conceived separately from the development process itself (Rio Declaration, Article 4).
  • Need of international concern, cooperation, and participation in order to solve development-related environmental problems (Article 7).
  • Present-day production and consumption patterns, which are environment-unfriendly, should be discarded (Article 8).
  • Development from within the local communities should be pursued (Article 9).
  • Participation of people from every walk of life (intellectually, socially, economically) should be stimulated (Article 10).
  • Special attention should be paid to local knowledge or traditional wisdom in environment management and economic production in order to attain sustainability (Article 10).

This declaration therefore makes it evident that environmental problems cannot be successfully tackled according to the guidance from one person, one country or one culture alone: the participation of all, great and small, is a must.

I would dare to say that this solution for sustainability cannot be achieved according to Western and Judaeo-Christian system of values alone, as these have been so far prone to human-centred development only through GNP increase, and perfectly contemptuous to the non-economic treasures and functions of nature (Sanga-Ngoie, 1993; Laszlo, 1992). Even the seeds for this new approach for an environment-friendly and sustainable development are hardly to be found in these frameworks which have led the world economies so far (Gore, 1993). I deeply believe these seeds of sustainability are to be rediscovered from within those non-Western or tribal peoples who for millennia have lived lifestyles without irreversible alterations to the surrounding environment. It is an irrefutable agreement among most of those researchers with some experience in tribal cultures that these peoples do have this traditional wisdom for mutually profitable coexistence between man and nature, and from which a lot can be learned (Harrison, 1986; Richards, 1988; Posey, 1989; Sanga-Ngoie, 1993; Easterbrook, 1995).

Therefore, strong with this experience accumulated during my field research on environment and climatic change in the African rainforests region, and having managed to get acquainted with the typical and deep environmental approach of the Luba tribe in Zaire, I realized that undertaking some social activities based on their own culture and with their own participation was the most realistic way of helping them work for their own sustainable development. The following are some of the findings obtained from the analysis of data gathered through a 9-month on-site investigation between 1991 and 1996.

Fig. 3. Vegetation Map of Zaire and the Location of the County of Kayamba (after Sanga-Ngoie, 1993)

6.3 A Lesson from the Rural African

The Luba tribe is one of the oldest and biggest tribes in Zaire: more than 3 million people living across 300,000 km2 in the south-eastern part of Zaire. This was the former Luba Empire which extended over the northern parts of Shaba State and the south-east of Eastern Kasai State.

Our research focuses on the Luba of Shaba State, living in the county of Kayamba, who traditionally are farmers within the savanna woodlands off the south-eastern fringes of the Zairian tropical rainforests (fig. 3). Adapting their lifestyle to the annual cycle of rainfalls (rainy season, dry season), these peoples mainly live on agriculture (maize, cassava, peanuts, fruits, etc.), supplemented by fishing, small-scale livestock rearing (goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks) and hunting for antelope in the savannas.

How did these people deal with their environment so as to survive through the millennia?

6.3.1 Forest Generation through Life Activities

Each Luba village consists of several clans (in this case, X,Y and Z), each one led by a patriarch (fig. 4). There, each male adult (more than 18 years old) is given a plot of land for his own household (in this case, A and B), where he lives alone (single) or with his wife and children (Sanga-Ngoie, 1991). Let us examine the evolution of the A household of X clan and the B household of Z clan through time, starting from the original village (Village 1) located by a small stream in figure 4.

Fig. 4. Migration of a Typical Village in the County of Kayamba, Shaba, Zaire (after Sanga-Ngoie, 1993)

People's life in Village 1 goes over an endless and immutable succession of life activities according to the seasonal changes: fieldwork in the rainy season, and fishing, hunting and many traditional festivals in the dry season. Food is abundant and trees bear a lot of fruit (mango, avocado, palm kernel, orange, tangerine, pineapple, etc.) that people enjoy eating, throwing seeds and kernels at random wherever they can. Owing to the plentiful rains and the rich soils, young plants quickly sprout from the seeds or kernels here and there within and around the village. As time passes, these plants grow into big trees that hamper the smooth occurrence of social activities in the village. Then, instead of shaving clean the village plaza, village people decide to move into a new place, called here Village 2. There, each clan selects its own location, and each adult male is given a new plot of land for his household, and a new cycle begins. This is done approximately every 25 to 30 years (Sanga-Ngoie, 1991).

While in Village 2, each clan uses the plots of land formerly occupied by its members in Village 1 as graveyards: trees and their products are thus believed to be protected by the spirit of the deceased relatives. Because of the presence of these deceased relatives in these forests, people are forbidden to cut trees or make fields there. This allows, meanwhile, Village 1 to slowly turn into a new forest, standing isolated within a sea of the original grasslands.

Two or three decades later, Village 2 also becomes old and many trees have grown up everywhere. Then people decide to move to a new, Village 3, and from there on, Village 2 becomes the new graveyard, while Village 1 is now a completely grown forest where graveyard tumuli are found no more. This cycle is repeated over and over in time.

I could find out that X-clan people in Village 3, or eventually in Village 4 henceforth (fig. 4), would start using their ancestral plot of land in the old Village 1 for agriculture only when no one of the living members could identify the location of a former ancestor's grave in this village. This means that, at least for 60 to 90 years, trees in Village 1 are left alone for growing, undisturbed, until the newly created forest is matured! Almost all the forests in Kayamba County and in the surroundings are found to be the vestiges of old villages of which they perpetuate the old glory and history through their shapes, sizes and locations (Sanga-Ngoie, 1991).

6.3.2 Man-Nature Relationships

Traditionally, Kayamba County people conduct agricultural activities in the savanna lands, and only for specific products (especially rice) do they clear small plots (0.5 to 1 ha) of forest for slash-and-burn agriculture. However, after two to three consecutive years of use, the plots are let to lay fallow, and are very quickly recovered by nature as secondary forests.

I have shown earlier that forests are created through village people's life activities and that these forests are used as graveyards for the deceased relatives. And since the spirits of these relatives are believed to dwell within these old villages, people are not allowed to cut trees. In fact, this would disturb the ancestors' spirits who therefore might turn angry against the village (Sanga-Ngoie, 1991). This belief for a given old village can persist for about 100 years, the time for this old village to change entirely into a rich, stable and grown up forest!

Although I do question the veracity of the fundamental belief that makes village people not to cut the trees, I nonetheless admire the depth of this traditional wisdom which could produce such a wonderful coexistence between man and his environment! Similar environment-friendly behaviours can also be found in many other forest-dwelling communities, notwithstanding how backward their cultures are believed to be (Posey, 1989; Richards, 1986; Erasmus, 1990).

Another proof of this deep-rooted friendly coexistence with nature can be found in the Luba language itself. Even though the existence of the verb to be is obvious in this language, the equivalent word for to have can be found nowhere. Instead, the expression to be with is used to express, not possession as conceived in Western languages, but to convey the relationship between two entities, i.e, the possessor and the possessed in Western languages. People will say "I am with a pen" instead of "I have a pen". I personally think this constitutes a deep philosophical concept and not merely a sign of language poverty as some linguists might pretend. This concept seems to permeate all the relationships between man and his surroundings, and to guide his behaviour within his social, cultural and natural environments.

Such a linguistic feature is not peculiar to the Luba people alone; it is common to most of the Bantu peoples living in sub-Saharan Africa. It expresses that human beings are to behave not as the highest possessor and steward of nature but as part of nature as a whole, nature which he has to share with, in which he has to coexist with other beings, namely plants, animals and minerals.

6.4 Proposal for Man-Nature Coexistence

The above-mentioned African attitude toward nature can be found with striking similarities in some oriental philosophies or religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, etc.) or among some tribal peoples in the New World. Its non-existence in Western or Judaeo-Christian cultures is striking.

As far as environment and development are concerned, the issue is not about how to protect the global environment, but mostly how human beings should behave within the global ecosystem so as to interact sustainably with the surrounding nature. This is humankind's biggest challenge from now on.

Since the Industrial Revolution, Western thinking and production patterns, spearheaded by developed countries, have led the world (Kohls, 1984). But since the Earth Summit in Rio, environment activists, scholars and institutions have started to question these mainstream models and patterns of development (Gore, 1993; Easterbrook, 1995). Governments in some developed countries, as well as many others in developing countries which have so far faithfully imitated the developed countries as models, have come to admit the obviously inherent limitations and weaknesses of the present system and are now trying hard for a change. But how?

In such a case, one might be inclined to hastily propose the disposal of the Western civilization model and to claim the eventual return to the ancient lifestyles. Here also, I do not think that to be the solution.

For the purpose of a sustainable man-nature coexistence, I call for the consideration of the following two aspects. First, there is not only one way for development, according to one model, one system of values or culture. Development should be pursued from within the local community or nation, according to the needs, the wisdom and the geo-cultural peculiarities of the local peoples, in conformity with their social structure, their cultural assets and the local natural environment. Secondly, in order to achieve a development which is really sustainable and environment-friendly, we would have to make an appropriate and balanced combination of the powerful Western production methods and the wonderful wisdom for coexistence with nature found in oriental cultures or the supposedly backward civilizations in the rainforests of Africa, South-East Asia or Latin America.

Realizing this balanced combination between the Western technology and the non-Western wisdom - envisioned in terms of a balance between man, his culture and nature - is the biggest challenge humankind has to overcome for its survival through and beyond the 21st century. In other words, paraphrasing Easterbrook (1995), man must start to learn from nature and to live with it. And for me, this is the most sustainable way of solving the apparent dilemma of environment protection and economic development we are facing nowadays.

7. For a Sustainable Development of Africa

Can the above-discussed traditional wisdom help the achievement of sustainable development in Africa, and how? In other terms, is there any future to this continent which is now crumbling under the weight of poverty and environmental destruction? Some concrete approaches will be presented hereafter.

Suffice it to recall first of all that Africa is a vast continent comprising more than 50 countries, with various climatic regions, and natural and socio-cultural environments. It is not my intention to discuss each one of them here. But generally speaking, all of the African countries are facing similar problems; environment destruction, ill-managed economies, defective development policies, indebtedness, poverty and misery.

7.1 Roots of Poverty and Environmental Destruction

With colonization, Africa found itself, suddenly, propelled into the world economy, as an appendage to the Western colonial powers. Africa had to provide them with cheap raw materials for their industries (minerals, precious stones, ivory, lumber, coffee, rubber, etc.) and to absorb their value-added processed goods and technology. This trade pattern has not changed since, it still prevails in all African countries more than 30 years after their independence (Lanning and Mueller, 1979; Clarke and Palmer, 1983; Harrison, 1986). Consequently, even though these African countries pour into the world markets a great deal of agricultural and mineral products, they earn only very little in return: their products are sold at very low prices, decided not in Africa by themselves, but by the buyers in London, New York or Tokyo. This weak inflow of foreign currencies makes it very hard for Africa to acquire advanced technologies and build itself. Poverty and indebtedness eventually follow. Nowadays, most African countries do have to sacrifice more than 30% of their annual income to pay back the accumulated interest of these unproductive debts. Life is hard, especially for the 70 to 90% of the African people living traditional lives in the countryside, or for their fellows starving in slums mushrooming around megalopolises.

Before looking for solutions, we have first to investigate deeper causes for this impoverishment of a continent which is paradoxically blessed with so many natural resources and such deep-rooted traditional wisdom in environmental management. How has all this been made possible?

First of all, we have to understand that the modernization of Africa initiated by the colonial powers has not been conceived in order to respond directly to the problems of African people. It has been a corollary to colonization for ensuring the economic profit of Western powers. Cities, schools and hospitals were built for accommodating African workers and their families in order to keep them physically, socially and mentally healthy for efficient work. Waterways, roads and railroads were merely designed for facilitating the import-export of merchandise to and from the metropoles. Secondly, for many Africans, modernization and development meant, and still mean, abandoning en bloc their traditional system of values, and adopting instead the Western culture and way of life. Western-style education has been very determinant for conveying these changes to be made according to the developed country models. African big cities are the showcases of the successfulness - however partial - of this imitation.

We should not keep silent on the responsibility of the Africans themselves, especially after independence. Many African countries have been ruled since by dictators, most of them grabbed power during the political void just after the celebrations of independence. This was made possible with the support of some foreign mentors according to the East-West divides of the Cold War. With no accountability to the people they ruled, these rude and mostly incompetent leaders were provided with security, money and power, and were indulged for any wrongdoing (rampant corruption, human rights violation, mismanagement, etc.) as long as they kept faithful with their foreign masters. Very eloquent are the notorious cases of Bokasa (Central Africa), Mengitsu (Ethiopia), Siad Bare (Somalia) and Mobutu (Zaire), and many others, most of them dumped sans autre forme de procès by their mentors after the end of the Cold War. This approach to development, whose means and leading philosophy were and are still ill-mastered by most Africans, brought nothing but disappointment and failure: debts, impoverishment, underdevelopment, loss of the sociocultural tissue, environmental destruction, insecure future. This web of development problems in which Africa has been entangled since the sixties, has grown even worse nowadays, notwithstanding the aid and support from international donors, experts and non-governmental organizations. No short-term solution can be foreseen in the near future, unless Africans manage to become by themselves the true actors and targets for their own development process (Sanga-Ngoie, 1993).


My awareness of this issue became thus the motivation for my social involvement, so that my research could contribute to the achievement of this sustainable development through the self-sufficiency of rural Africa.

Indeed, blessed with bountiful nature and a rich traditional culture, rural Africa has about 70 to 90% of the share of the population. I realized that, more than concentrating effort upon urban areas only as so far, pursuing culturally sound and environment-friendly self-sufficiency for rural Africa was the key element to a successful and sustainable development of Africa as a whole. The present development schemes shaped to the Westernized African cities by neglecting the rural areas have led to the wholesale destruction of the continent. And this has been proven to be true so far.

The SAVE AFRIKA PROJECT was thus launched in 1990, in order to channel rural Africa's effort, stressing their full participation in their own development process from its conception to its completion. To be noted here is that AFRIKA is written here not with a "c" as in English, but with a "k" as in most African languages (Swahili, Zulu, Luba, Lingala, Kikongo, etc.), in order to put an accent on action from and by the Africans themselves. The leading motto is: "Education for children, and environment-friendly economic self-sufficiency to their parents!"

Activities are undertaken on two steps. In the first, the county of Kayamba, Shaba State, Zaire (fig. 3) was chosen as the model area. There, grass-roots level programmes for an integrated and sustainable development of human and natural resources are implemented along three main lines: (1) agriculture and infrastructure, (2) environment conservation and restoration and, (3) education and literacy. Full participation of village people in every step of the execution of the programme is our main concern. By so doing, we want the village people to get informed about the development process in the world, and at the same time open their eyes to the wonderful culture and environment of their own, so that they become able to devise means and ways of improving their life standards with what they find around them, without posing too big a threat to their sociocultural and natural environments. A development from within, and therefore sustainability in both space and time, could thus be realized, with the village people as the motor and the target of their own development process.

In the second step, development programmes and approaches successfully implemented in the county of Kayamba will be transferred and adapted to other Zairian or African regions, taking into consideration the sociocultural and natural environments of the new locations, later on.

7.2.1 Education and Literacy

Should they want it or not, even African village people are involved in the world production and consumption system. And the best way to get along with it is by being able to choose one's fittest development process, based on a broader and deeper information base. For this, school education for children and literacy or training programmes for adults are unavoidable.

With the SAVE AFRIKA PROJECT an elementary and junior/senior high schools were built in Kabamba Village in the county of Kayamba, where school education for children (daytime) and development and environment education for adults (night-time) are provided (fig. 5). The education curriculum is set so that it includes agriculture (production, distribution, transformation), appropriate technologies, public health and environment observation and management. The literacy programme for adults (specially for women) includes the aforementioned topics and is conducted not in foreign languages (English, French) as done in governmental projects so far, but in the local language (Luba), which every villager can speak and understand.

Fig. 5. The SAVE AFRIKA PROJECT's Literacy Programme for Women in Kayamba

Self-sufficiency in the Kabamba School planning, management and maintenance is referred to as the measure of the successfulness in the implementation of the educational programme, before expanding it to other villages in the county.

7.2.2 Education on Development

Besides schoolteachers and a small group of administration staff, nearly all the 30,000 inhabitants of the 30 villages of the county of Kayamba live on extensive, traditional agriculture. Owing to the lack of road maintenance by the government since the late seventies, the communication network is very poor and the rural areas are cut off from the consumption centres all over Zaire. The county of Kayamba is thus totally isolated, separated from the cities of Kabongo, Kamina, Kabinda or Mbuji-Mayi by big rivers where bridges or ferries do not exist any more.

Therefore, more than encouraging agricultural production per se, we opted for stimulating road building and maintenance with the full participation of all the rural communities. More than 100 km of dirt road have been reclaimed from the invading bush and one small bridge has been repaired, while a new east-west road across the 3-km wide marshland of the Lubangule River is being made. A team of 30 permanent road workers has been set to conduct and supervise these road works all over the county (fig. 6).

Fig. 6. Road Building by Village People Across the 3-km Wide Marshlands of Lubangule River. A total of 100 km of drt roads have been restored

The SAVE AFRIKA PROJECT (SAP) puts much importance on helping village people rediscover the rich (human, cultural and natural) potentials they do have, and utilize them judiciously for the stability and enjoyment of their own village life. New concepts of agriculture-related appropriate technologies are also introduced through the literacy or other training programmes: stock raising, fishery, storage and transformation of agricultural products, pottery, brick making woodworks, etc. This approach is strongly supported by other researchers who did remarkable pioneering investigations in West Africa or India (Harrison, 1986; Richards, 1986).

Since the end of 1995, the creation of an embryonic Community Manage- ment System has been carefully launched. It is beyond doubt that such a managing organization is crucial in deepening village people's awareness and commitment in the management of their own patrimony. This is our ultimate goal. However, in order to create from the base a pool of capable leaders, some special training facility was badly needed. Invaluable support has been forwarded to the SAP since 1994 by the AICAF (Association for International Cooperation of Agriculture & Forestry) for organizing training sessions in Kenya and Zimbabwe for a total of 10 young Zairian people as extension leaders. In July 1995, financial support from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication of Japan made it possible to start the building of our Agricultural Research and Training Centre in Lubumbashi, Zaire (fig. 7). Planned to be open in January 1997, this Centre is the first facility for our Centre for African Resources Development (CARD), where research and development along the main lines of the SAVE AFRIKA PROJECT will be undertaken.

Fig. 7. A View of the Agricultural Research and Training Centre in Lubumbashi, Zaire

7.2.3 Environmental Education

Environmental management (conservation, restoration) is a sine qua non condition for the successfulness of any development project which aims at being sustainable. In face of present hardships, rural people seem to have traded their traditionally wise lifestyles for environment-detrimental and highly unsustainable ones described in previous sections.

Our environmental education includes a county-wide campaign for raising village people's concern over the negative impacts of their recent lifestyle on the ecosystem, and for getting them involved in environment preservation and restoration activities. It was found that village people's motivation for participation in tree-planting programmes was strongly increased when we used palm trees instead of eucalyptus or pines, as is done in government reafforestation projects (Basnet, 1992; Mgeni, 1992). As a matter of fact, palm trees have here such a high economic value that even bushfires are not allowed in palm tree orchards (Sanga-Ngoie, 1993). Moreover, being a local plant, the palm tree is used to the climatic and soil characteristics of this area. Likewise, local people have accumulated enough know-how for growing the trees, treating its fruits and making many other products.

Fig. 8. School Children Participating in the Tree Planting Programme of the SAP. More than 15,000 trees have been planted during the last 3 years, half of which by school children

The contribution for this project is twofold. First, traditionally Kayamba people did not plant trees, they just took care of eventual sprouts, while the only treatment of palm fruits consisted in making palm oil for cooking. With this programme, all the steps from seedling to tree planting to the transformation of palm oil into soap or margarine and other value-added by-products are scheduled. Secondly, it should be recalled that over this area, forests are the products of human activities, and that most of them started with palm trees. So the building up of an economic base as well as intensive forest restoration are being implemented side by side within the same programme, to the great satisfaction of the local people in particular, and all the global ecosystem in general. That is sustainability!

Presently, a total of 15,000 palm trees (over 150 ha) have been planted by Kabamba Village people, and half by Kabamba elementary and high school students (fig. 8). Our objective is to plant about 100,000 palm trees (1,000 ha), under the shade of which other fruit trees (coffee, cocoa, mango, etc.) will be grown. This will create a full-scale forest, richer, more diversified and more productive than those spontaneously made from old villages so far.

In order to ensure a scientific follow-up and guidance to the village people, the construction of a new facility of CARD, the Environmental Research and Training Centre, financed by the Global Environment Foundation, Tokyo, Japan, was launched in September 1996 in Lubumbashi. Here experts in environmental sciences and technology, as well as extension workers for sustainable environment management will be created and disseminated all over Africa.

8. Conclusion

Sustained economic development within the traditional and mainstream Western approach has merely created a short-term utopia for the developed countries and a nightmare for most of the developing countries. This approach leads to the irreversible destruction of both the sociocultural tissue of human patrimony and the global ecosystem in the long term. I undertook the case of tropical rainforest destruction and its complex consequences to illustrate this phenomenon, with a special focus on Africa.

Difficulty in solving the dilemma of economic development and en- vironment conservation only with Western or Judaeo-Christian frameworks alone has been widely acknowledged (Clarke and Palmer, 1983; Devall, 1985; Harrison, 1986; Laszlo, 1992; Basnet, 1992; Sanga-Ngoie, 1993) and this is confirmed in the formulation of the Rio Declaration (1992), which recommends us to look for hints for sustainability wisdom from among some of those allegedly backward non-Western and up to now neglected cultures.

I maintain that the real purpose of development is not just to double GNP or stimulate snowballing double-digit economic growth rates, and that human happiness cannot be measured just from whatever material wealth one has acquired. It should be evaluated in terms of quality of life enjoyed by the people, i.e, the richness of their culture, the depth of their relationship with the natural environment, the mutually supporting warmth of their social system or social welfare, the level and content of their educational system and the appropriateness of their technology and infrastructure to support their lifestyle within their natural surroundings. The Luba people analysed here have this old saying, "The happiest person is not the one who managed to accumulate lots of wealth, but the one who is blessed with many good and helpful friends" (Sanga-Ngoie, 1993).

In the borderless world in which we live now, sustainability cannot be achieved unless a concerted and balanced lifestyle is maintained between man (with his needs, desires and aspirations), his culture (history, education, technology, economy) and nature (natural resources and environment). This is what I call the holistic approach to sustainable development. It has to be valid in both space (contribution from all, on the global scale) and time (intergenerational responsibility), if man comes to learn that human security is subordinated to the security of the earth, our living planet (Gaia) (Lovelock, 1991) and common vessel. Therefore, discarding the old thinking of almighty dominance of the globe, man has to start learning from nature and living in a friendly way with his other partners of the global ecosystem (animals, plants, micro-organisms, minerals) and perform his constructive role just as an integral part of this system.

From this perspective, global environment and development are no more a dilemma, but something we can achieve in the foreseeable future. For this purpose, a lot is to be learned from those who have been living such environment-friendly lifestyles from the dawn of time. The case of the Luba people discussed here has been for some hints toward the finding of this new wisdom for sustainable development. I am thus certain that, once we understand this new paradigm, the only challenge the international community has to face in the 21st century and later on will be about how to combine in a holistic manner both the Western-style advanced science and technology on one side, and the profound and environment-friendly traditional wisdom of other cultures on the other side, for a better quality of life and a sustainable development for all the people over the world, now and for generations to come.

In this respect, the role of international platforms such as the United Nations organization for the realization of this new global order becomes very important.


This research has been financed by the Grant-in-Aid (C2-07680553) for Scientific Research of the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Japan. Fieldwork investigations in Zaire have been supported by CARD (Centre for African Resources Development) for its programme for rural development in Africa, the SAVE AFRIKA PROJECT (SAP).

I have to acknowledge here, with heartfelt gratitude, the participation of many Japanese individuals and organizations as sponsors for education, environment or infrastructure development activities of the SAP in Africa.


Abrahamsen, G., A.O. Stuanes and B. Tveile, eds., Long-Term Experiments under Acid Rain in Norwegian Forest Ecosystems, 344 pp., Springer-Verlag, New York, 1994.

Ankei, T. Cook book of the Songola: an anthropological study on the technology of food preparation among a Bantu-speaking people of the Zaire forest, Afr. Stud. Monogr. Suppl. Issue, 13, 1-174, 1990. Basnet, K., Conservation practices in Nepal: Past and present, Ambio, XXI-6, 390-393, 1992.

Biswas, A.K., and H.C. Tortajada-Quiroz, Environmental impacts of the Rwandan refugees on Zaire, Ambio, 25, 403-408, 1996.

Boyd, D., UNEP after Rio, Our Planet, 4-4, 8-11, 1992.

Clarke, R. and J. Palmer, The Human Environment: Action or Disaster? Edited by R. Lamb, 73 pp., UNDP and Tycooly Intl. Pub., Dublin, 1983.

Cotton, W.R., and R.A. Pielke, Human Impacts on Weather and Climate, 288 pp., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1995.

De Haan, L.J., Changes in livelihood strategies in northern Benin and their environmental effects, The Courier ACP-EC, 133, 88-90, 1992.

Devall, B., and G. Sessions, Deep Ecology, 267 pp., Gibbs Smith Pub., Salt Lake City, 1985.

Dirmeyer, P.A., and J. Shukla, Albedo as a modulator of climate response to tropical deforestation, J. Geophys. Res., 76, 2203-2209, 1994.

Easterbrook, G., A Moment on the Earth, 745 pp., Penguin Books, New York, 1995.

Erasmus, G., Notes for an Address to the Globe '90 Conference. 5 pp., 1990.

Fearnside, P.M., Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: The rates and causes of forest destruction, The Ecologist, 19-6, 1989.

Forrester, F.G., Inventory of the world's water, Weatherwise, 83-105, April 1985.

Franke, R.W. and B.H. Chasin, Seeds of Famine: Ecological Destruction and the Development Dilemma in the West African Sahel, 267 pp., Rowman and Allanheld Publ., New Jersey, 1980.

Gash, J.H.C., C.A. Nobre, J.M. Roberts and R.L. Victoria, An overview of ABRACOS, in Amazonian Deforestation and Climate, 1-14 pp., John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 1996.

Gore, A., Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, 207 pp., Plume, New York, 1993.

Harrison, P., The Third World Tomorrow: A Report from the Battlefront in the War Against Poverty, 414 pp., Pelican Books, Harmondsworth, U.K., 1986.

Houghton, R.A., R.D. Boone, J.R. Fruci, J.E. Hobbie, J.M. Melillo, C.A. Palm, B.J. Patterson, G.R. Shaver and G.M. Woowell, The flux of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere in 1980 due to changes in landuse: Geographic distribution of the global flux, Tellus, 39B, 122-139, 1987.

ICIHI Report, The Vanishing Forest: The Human Consequences of Deforestation, 89 pp., Arena Press, Hong Kong, 1986.

Kadomura, H., ed., Savannization Processes in Tropical Africa I, 230 pp., Tokyo Metropol. Univ. and Zambia Geographical Association, 1989.

Kalala, K., Essai sur la contribution de Paul Richards à la compréhension de l'agriculture paysanne en Afrique, Afr. Study Monogr. 8(3), 129-143, 1988.

Kartawinata, K., T.C. Jessup and A.P. Vayda, Exploitation in Southeast Asia, 591-610, in Ecosystems of the World 14B: Tropical Rainforest Ecosystems, Elsevier Pub., Amsterdam, 1992.

Kaul, I., Globalization and human development: Challenges for a new century, UNU Global Seminar Kobe Session (personal comm.).

Kohls, L.P., The values Americans live by, 8 pp., Merid. House Intl. 1994.

Lamb, D., Exploiting the Tropical Rain Forest: An Account of Pulpwood Logging in Papua New Guinea, 329 pp., UNESCO MAB Series, 1990.

Lanly, J.P., The Status of Tropical Forests, in Tropical Forests: Management and Ecology, 10-32, Springer Verlag, New York, 1995.

Lanning, G., and M. Mueller, Africa Undermined: A History of the Mining Companies and the Underdevelopment of Africa, 592 pp., Penguin Books, Middlesex, U.K., 1976.

Laszlo, E., Global survival and the responsibilities of science, Env. Conservation, 16-2, 103-106, 1992.

Lazarus, D.S., Sauvons nos sols, Notre Planète, 2(4), 10-11, 1990.

Lieth, H., and M.J.A. Werger, eds., Introduction, 1-5, in Ecosystems of the World 14B: Tropical Rainforest Ecosystems, Elsevier Pub., Amsterdam, 1992.

Linden, E., Playing with fire, Time, 18.9.1989, 76-85.

Lovelock, J., Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, 192 pp., Gaia Books Ltd., London, U.K., 1991.

Mabberley, D.J., Tropical Rain Forest Ecology, 300 pp., Blackie, Glasgow, 1994.

Mgeni, A.S.M., Farm and community forestry: (Village afforestation) program in Tanzania: Can it go beyond lip-service? Ambio, XXI-6, 426-430, 1992.

Moran, E.F., Through Amazonian Eyes: The Ecology of Amazonian Populations, 230 pp., University of Iowa Press, 1993.

Myers, N., The tropical forests: Present status and future outlook, in Tropical Forests and Climate, 2-32, Kluwer, Norwell, Mass., 1992.

Nectoux, F. and Y. Kuroda, Timber from the South Seas, 134 pp., WWF Int., Gland, Switzerland, 1989.

Posey, D.A., Alternatives to forest destruction: Lessons from the Mebengokre Indians, The Ecologist 19-6, 241-244, 1989.

Postel, S., and L. Heise, Reforesting the earth, in State of the World, 83-100, W.W. Norton and Co. Pub., 1988.

Revkin, A.C. Living with the greenhouse effect, Dialogue, no. 85.3/89, 24-37, 1989.

Richards, P., Indigenous Agricultural Revolution, 192 pp., Unwin Hyman Publ., London, 1988.

Sanga-Ngoie K., The African culture: A comparative analysis with the Western and Eastern cultures, Journal of Oriental Philosophy, 30, 23-37, 1991 (in Japanese).

Sanga-Ngoie K., A new approach to the coexistence of man and nature: Learning from the traditional life expertise of the rural African, J. Arid Land Studies, 3(1), 35-49, 1993 (in Japanese).

Sanga-Ngoie K., and Fukuyama K., Interannual and long-term climate variability over the Zaire River Basin during the last 30 years, J. Geophys. Res., 101(D16), 21.351-21, 360, 1996.

Sanga-Ngoie K., Fukuyama, K. and Yamamoto R., On the landuse practices and their ecolo- gical impacts in Burundi, Central Africa, Bull. Fac. Educ. Mie Univ., 45 (Natur. Sci), 95-102, 1994.

Terashima H., Kalala S., and Malasi N., Ethnobotany of the Lega in the tropical rain forest of eastern Zaire: Part 1, Zone de Mwenga, Afr. Stud. Monagr. Suppl. Issue, 15, 1-61, 1991.

Tisdell, C.A., Environmental conservation: Economics, ecology and ethics, Environmental Conservation, 16(2), 107-112, 1992.

Treece, D., Bound in Misery and Iron, 149 pp., Survival International, London, U.K., 1987.

UNDP Annual Report, The challenge of the environment, UNDP, 1991.

Weidelt, H.J., Some effects of selective logging on forest productivity and ecology, in Restoration of Tropical Forest Ecosystems, 155-162, Kluwer, Norwell, Mass., 1993.

Whitmore, T.C., An Introduction to Tropical Rain Forests, 226 pp., Oxford Univ. Press, 1992.

Wiersum, K.F., P.C. Anspach, J.H.A. Boerboom, A. De Rouw and C.P. Veer, Integrated rural development project in Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in Changes in Shifting Cultivation in Africa, FAO Technical Paper, 50-1, 1985.

Wilson, E.O., The Diversity of Life, 406 pp., Penguin Books, London, U.K., 1994.


Inge Kaul, Director, Office of Development Studies, United Nations Development Programme, New York

(The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the UNDP. Research assistance was provided by Marc Stern.)


"The economic news on Friday was so good it was a disaster." With these words, James K. Galbraith opened his commentary in The New York Times of 13 July 1996 on the events which had followed the release of the latest unemployment figures by the US Department of Labor. Unemployment in the US had fallen to 5.3%, the lowest it had been in six years. June payrolls had increased by about 230,000 jobs and the average hourly wage had risen by nine cents. There was pandemonium on Wall Street. Bond yields leaped and stocks plummeted. Traders expected inflation to rise and the US Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates. Their expectation was in line with mainstream economic thinking, especially the concept of NAIRU, the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. It was also based on past experience. Only all too often had the government on previous occasions shared the financial markets' preoccupation with price stability and given "curbing inflation" precedence over "employment creation".

"The market expects it !" is a policy response which is by now also familiar to people in other parts of the world, developed and developing. In Europe in particular, workers have in recent times been told that the markets do not like their wage levels and social benefits and that it would be best to lower both in the interest of safeguarding international competitiveness and eventually achieving more vigorous economic growth (see Tagliabue 1996 and Grunberg 1996). Similar trends are to be found from South Korea to Argentina and Chile.

Some analysts argue that human development is coming under pressures because of globalization: the uncontrollable forces of international markets and multinational organizations that owe allegiance to no nation state. Others promise that globalization holds bright promises for all of us; and yet others argue that globalization is a myth.

The present paper will make its contribution to this debate by exploring three questions:

  • First, what sort of world economy do we live in: Is it a global economy? Or is it just an inter-national economy?
  • Second, what are the outcomes of the current functioning of the world economy in terms of human development: will all of us be better off? Who will be the winners and who the losers?
  • Third, what are the policy options available for enhancing human development in and through the global market place?
The following discussion will examine each of these three issues in turn. Its findings and conclusions can be summarized as follows:

  • First, there has been significant progress during the past five decades in terms of openness of economies, integration of transportation and communications policies and infrastructure, convergence of domestic policies, decentralization of government (e.g. internal openness of economies) and human capital formation. Goods, services, labour and, in particular, capital are today moving more freely than ever before. Much of this change is durable - there to stay and to deepen. We are living in a globalizing world economy.
  • Second, progressive globalization has coincided with the emergence of growing socio-economic inequities between and within countries as well as reversals in human development. However, globalization per se is not the main culprit. The primary reason lies in the high and often exclusive policy priority accorded to economic concerns - in particular, price stability and competitiveness of enterprises. These two concerns even seem to have "dethroned" the formerly cherished goal of national income expansion.
  • Third, economic concerns have come to the fore with renewed vigour because the end of the Cold War has changed the international political economy. The balance between markets and state has shifted in favour of markets, nationally and internationally. Policy makers have gone along with this shift not always as a matter of policy choice but often by default. Well-tested alternative development theories and policies are lacking - theories and policies which do not pitch economic, social and environmental concerns against each other but aim at achieving consistency among them - e.g., sustainable human development.
Development researchers confront a major challenge. To make sustainable human development work in the global market place of the future will, in large measure, depend on them - on their distilling new, forward-looking, practical and pragmatic policy advice. As John Maynard Keynes reminded us in his "General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money", the "ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood". Paul Krugman has recently added that: "If the people with good ideas do not fight for them, they have no right to complain about the outcome" (1994, p. 292). So, let us search for good ideas about how to maximize the opportunities which globalization presents and minimize its costs, especially its social costs.

I. The World Economy Today

Much of the disagreement that exists in the literature about the present nature of the world economy stems from the fact that the term "globalization" lacks precision. Many authors today use it in many different ways. Before entering into further discussion, it might, therefore, be useful first to clarify how the term "globalization" will be defined here and what will be the yardstick against which we will measure it.

Defining Globalization

In his review of the book by Hirst and Thompson, Globalization in Question, Martin Wolf (1996) concluded that: "The Platonic idea of a globally integrated economy would be one in which prices of goods, services, labour and capital tend to equalise across the world, subject solely to differences in quality - This is not our world." But, should one take factor price equalization (FPE) as the criterion to judge whether or not we are living in a globalized world? FPE might, one day, be the ultimate outcome of globalization. However, long before that, economies could already be open and integrated.

Other studies, including the World Bank's 1996 report, Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries, measure globalization in terms of the level of international activities - e.g., the level of international trade, capital flows and migration. But again, are these activities not an outcome of globalization rather than the fact itself?

But then, what is "the fact itself"?

I would like to propose that "globalization" refers to the structure of the world economy rather than to its actual functioning (e.g. the activities which this structure might help to unleash, or one step further removed, the results which these activities might, in turn, help to produce).

In my view, a global world economy would have five distinguishing structural features:

  • Openness of national borders - the existence of liberal foreign trade, investment, currency exchange and labour regimes;
  • Decentralization - extension of the right to "enter the country" or "engage in external relations" beyond the level of central government (e.g. down to lower-level governmental actors such as municipalities or private corporations and individuals);
  • Domestic policy convergence - harmonization of national policies on issues such as rule of law, property rights, "good" macroeconomic management and stability;
  • Integrated and reliable infrastructure - the existence of internationally coordinated policies and physical infrastructure for transport and communication purposes;
  • Spread of skills - the existence worldwide of at least a minimal stock of human capital (e.g. people qualified to participate in the international economy - as workers or managers, exporters or importers; in agriculture, manufacturing or services).
According to this definition, "globalization" denotes the potential for free international movements. The assumption is that the more open to the outside and to the inside nation states are, the more integrated and efficient their communications and transportation systems, the more similar their basic economic policies, business practices and their human capital, the fewer the obstacles to cross-border transactions and movements and the more global the international markets. Whether and to what extent cross-border movements actually happen will depend on a range of variables, including people's and nations' policy choices.

Measuring Globalization

How then does the world economy measure up to this definition of globalization?

As regards openness, the international community has achieved considerable progress towards eliminating barriers to international trade. The various GATT negotiating rounds have contributed to that and so has the growing number of regional economic agreements - the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation agreement, to name but a few. During the 1960s, countries such as the East-Asian NICs would, for example, have encountered tariffs on their exports to OECD countries amounting to up to 17%. Today, these tariffs are below 4% (World Bank 1996, p. 38). Non-tariff barriers, such as quotas and export subsidies, have also been addressed by the GATT rounds and will again be taken up by the newly created World Trade Organization (WTO), together with other trade and trade-related measures. Although a lot still needs to be accomplished, international trade today is freer than it ever was before.

It is also important that GATT/WTO membership has, in recent years, increased dramatically: more and more developing countries as well as transition economies have joined the negotiations. At present, WTO has 123 member countries, and another 31 governments have requested to join the Organization. This has given the international trade agreements added strength, and almost an existence of their own. Since so many countries were involved in their negotiation and have by now a vested interest in their implementation, it would be very difficult for any one country - or a few countries - to act openly and bluntly against the established principles and rules. Although deviations from the norm of free trade are occurring, governments these days seem to be uncomfortable about them. For example, instead of deciding on import quotas, the US prefers "voluntary export constraints", that is, requesting other nations, such as Japan, to consider limiting voluntarily their exports so as to help reduce the US trade deficit (Kuttner 1996, p. 113). Similarly, labour representatives in industrialized countries often use moral and ethical notions of "fair trade" to fend off low-cost products which, they argue, are based on exploitative labour, such as the work of children. Also, some countries employ more subtle macroeconomic policies, such as exchange-rate policies, in order to "manage" international trade and to boost exports. These types of efforts are not necessarily indications of continuing protectionism. They can also be interpreted as an acknowledgement of free international trade and the wish, in certain instances, to guard oneself against some of the consequences which the acceptance of this principle might entail.

The international financial markets are said to be even freer than international markets for goods and services. Western industrialized countries adopted capital convertibility almost universally in the 1970s and 1980s. The trend was facilitated by various international agreements, including the OECD Code of Liberalization of Capital Movements, first introduced in 1961 (IMF 1995, p. 2). The watershed in terms of free flows of capital was, however, the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1973 and the move away from fixed exchange rates to floating exchange rates. Many developing countries and the transition economies have lifted controls on capital movements in recent years. Even where these controls still exist de jure, they are less prevalent de facto (ibid.). An important next step will be monetary union in Europe and some analysts predict that the world will move increasingly towards three major currency areas - the dollar, the yen, and the Euro.

Compared to goods, services and capital, labour still faces the largest number of restrictions on its free movement from one country to another. Nevertheless, international migration has become easier, especially that of qualified labour (UNDP 1992, pp. 54-58). This is, among other things, obvious from the earlier debates on "brain drain", and more recently, from those on the "reverse flow of human resources", that is, North-South migration. Also, the immigration laws of most countries allow multinational corporations to bring in their staff. "Required" labour is legally mobile. And as the HDR 1992 has pointed out, poverty in any case travels without a passport: illegal migrants will somehow find their way.

However, one has to ask whether it is still meaningful to equate labour mobility with migration. In today's world of high-speed information technology and growing foreign direct investment, labour anywhere is accessible to capital everywhere. Nowadays, labour can potentially move into the international market just by meeting certain skill requirements. There is no need for people to migrate physically to where the factories and offices have been in the past. More important is that people are trained and skills are spreading, that schools are available, technology is being shared, and information is flowing freely. These conditions are increasingly being met. For example, developing countries today have more students at all levels of schooling than industrial countries. In the science and technology areas enrolment rates in the South are even slightly higher than in the North: 30% compared to 28% (UNDP 1996, pp. 164-65).

Higher levels of education and training have also enabled people to make better use of the growth in infrastructure. In fact, it is in the infrastructure area that globalization is probably most advanced. International regime formulation in this area began more than a century ago (see Zacher and Sutton 1996). For example, the first international agreement on postal services was formulated in 1874. Businesses concerned about high transit fees and risk resulting from changing regulations in different countries were one of the driving forces behind this agreement which, among other things, established the Universal Postal Union. The International Telecommunications Union was founded even earlier, in 1865. Agreements on the use of air space date back to 1919 and in the area of international shipping, it was also business, especially insurance companies, that have encouraged the adoption of international conventions.

International cooperation has by now created a nearly seamless network of worldwide transportation and communications, keeping constantly abreast with the latest developments in technology. Barriers of time and space have largely been removed and the level of "connectedness" of some developing countries is rapidly approaching that of industrial countries. For example, the latter have on average 40 telephone lines per 100 persons; Hong Kong has 46, the Republic of Korea 33, and Singapore 40. Malaysia so far has only about 10 lines per 100 persons but Hungary, too, has only 11 (UNDP 1996, pp. 166-67). In 1995, mobile telephones and personal beepers were being used by an estimated 86.6 million and 75.6 million persons, respectively (US Dept. of Commerce 1996).

The vanishing of the East-West divide and the end of the Cold War have been accompanied by a rapid and far-reaching convergence of domestic policies in virtually all countries, developed and developing. Liberalization of economic and financial policies as well as privatization have been actively promoted, even in countries that already called themselves "market economies". Broad-based consensus has been reached on basic policy principles and objectives as well as on what are the "right" ways of achieving them - the "economic fundamentals".

In developing countries and transition economies, policy change along these lines has been encouraged through the Bretton Woods institutions, notably the IMF and the World Bank, in connection with stabilization and structural adjustment programmes. The Bank for International Settlements has also played a role. In addition, policy convergence has been fostered - and is being closely monitored - by entities such as rating agencies (e.g. Standard and Poor's or Moody's), commercial banks and insurance companies, in short "the markets".

An increasing number of developing countries today are being risk-assessed and receiving investment-grade or near-investment-grade ratings (World Bank 1996, p. 23). This is an indication of their growing capacity to deliver expected "sound" macroeconomic management, and hence, an indication of policy convergence throughout the world. Should they decide to move "offshore", traders, investors and workers today can be pretty confident that they will find a familiar business environment wherever they go. Policy convergence is working, and this has significantly multiplied the number of potential international actors (governments, corporations, NGOs, or individual producers and consumers).

Openness has, in many countries, not only increased to the outside - through such measures as international trade liberalization - but also inside - through decentralization. As part of the "re-engineering of government" states have reduced their involvement in productive sectors and in the direct delivery of social services, and encouraged the devolution of power - and responsibility - from the centre to lower levels of government. Responsibility for promoting trade and investment has also been shifted downward, as evidenced by the "external relations" offices that many municipalities have established (UNDP 1996). This has increased further the number of potential actors - and competitors - in international markets.

In sum, the structure of the world economy has changed in all five critical dimensions of globalization. Some of the changes are virtually irreversible, such as the human capital formation which has occurred. National borders have become porous and less meaningful as boundaries between different domestic policy strategies. While the world economy is not yet fully globalized, it is rapidly globalizing.

Certainly, there has always been trade, and there have always been international capital flows and migration. But then, in previous days, the movements were not always based on mutual agreement. Colonial traders had to rely on battle ships and guns. Settlers occupied by force the territory of other nations. Today's international economic activities (at least the legal ones) do not use force. They are based on consent - agreed-upon conventions, laws, rules, procedures. That is one difference between then and now.

Another difference is that today's flows are not just flows from country to country - trade between Japan and the USA, or between China and India. Deregulation has reduced the role of government, especially central government, in cross-border transactions. For example, today's flows can move more or less directly from municipality to municipality, from firm to firm, within firms, or through the Internet, from computer screen to computer screen. Most US toll-free telephone numbers are not being answered in the USA but abroad. Foreign currencies are being traded in one and the same market, let us say London. Do such transactions constitute cross-border flows? There are too many crossing lines today in the world economy to call it inter-national (as for example Hirst and Thompson suggest). "Global", or "globalizing" seems to be the more appropriate adjective.

The Cross-Border Movements Unleashed

To what extent then has globalization led to increased, or freer, movements across national borders?

Any attempt to answer this question is confronted with a multitude of extremely difficult and complex theoretical and methodological issues. We have to recognize that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. So, even if we find that changes in international economic activities coincide with changes in globalization, there may not be a direct link between the two trends. There could be intervening variables. The following discussion does not, therefore, purport to do more than to illustrate - and try to make a plausible argument for - some of the consequences of globalization, using a few selected key indicators such as: growth and composition of world trade, and volume and direction of international capital flows. Special attention will be paid to changing patterns of developing- and industrial-country participation in the global economy.

Starting with the broad picture, the ratio of world trade to GDP rose during 1985-94 three times faster than in the preceding ten years and nearly twice as fast as in the 1960s (World Bank 1996, p. 1). In 1993, the share of global trade in GDP worldwide was 32%; in developing countries it reached 48% and in industrial countries 28% (UNDP 1996, p. 207). Since the 1950s growth in world trade has persistently outperformed growth in world output (WTO 1995, p. 15).

International capital flows, too, have witnessed explosive growth. Up fourteenfold since 1972, the $1.3 trillion in daily foreign exchange trading registered in 1995 has grown by 30% in real terms since 1992 (or 50% in nominal terms) (Kaul, Grunberg and Haq 1996, p. 3) Cross-border (cross-currency) sales and purchases of US Treasury bonds between 1983 and 1993 have risen seventeenfold: from US$30 billion to US$500 billion (Eatwell 1996, p. 2). During the same period, the value of the world's total outstanding equity issues has gone up from US$4.7 trillion to US$15.2 trillion (Levine 1996, p. 7). Meanwhile, by 1993, the global stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) amounted to US$2 trillion. This investment generated sales by foreign affiliates worth about US$5.5 trillion - compared to world exports of goods and non-factor services of US$4 trillion in the same year (UNCTAD 1995, p. 2).

Developing countries as a group have significantly increased their participation in the world economy. For example, their share in world merchandise trade has risen from 33% in the mid-1980s to 43% in 1995 and is estimated to exceed 50% in the next decade (Quereshi 1996, p. 31). Similarly, their share in world FDI has increased from 23% in the mid-1980s to about 40% in 1992-94. Total private capital flows to developing countries are up 35 times from about US$5 billion in 1970 to about US$175 billion today. In 1992, ten percent of the world's 37,000 multinational corporations were headquartered in developing countries (UNCTAD 1993, p. 1).

But, these averages hide wide inter-country disparities. In trade, the contrast is most marked between East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The latter has, over the past two decades, seen the share of merchandise trade in its total trade fall continuously - down from about 60% in 1979 to about 40% now. East Asia's experience has been the reverse. For the region, the share of merchandise trade in GDP went up from about 40% in the mid-1970s to close to 60% in 1994 (Quereshi 1996, pp. 31-32). Marked differences also exist in the area of capital flows. Ninety percent of all capital flows going to developing countries are concentrated in just a dozen countries (World Bank 1996, pp. 84-85).

It is noticeable that developing countries with a high human development index (HDI) have, on average, a higher export to GDP ratio than developing countries with medium or low human development. In high-human-development developing countries the ratio is on average around 32%. In medium-human-development countries it stands at about 18%, and in low-human-development countries at 13%. But trade as a percentage of GDP can be as high as 150% (the case of Hong Kong) and as low as 3.5% (the case of Ethiopia) (UNDP 1996, pp. 184-85). Obviously, good investment in people is closely linked to doing well in trade.

Many developing countries, both those with higher and those with lower levels of exports, have been able to make significant inroads to the area of manufactured goods. In 1955, manufactured goods amounted to just 5% of the developing countries' exports. Today the figure stands at 50% (Wood 1994, p. 2). Even when only considering the period 1980-93, developing countries have accomplished major advances in moving towards the export of manufactures. In Bangladesh, for example, the share of manufactured products in total exports went up from 69% to 83%, in China from 48% to 81%, in Thailand from 28% to 73%, and in South Africa from 39% to 94% (UNDP 1996, pp. 216-17). Services are also enjoying an increasing share in developing country products and are predicted to witness fast growth in the future (See Braga 1996).

Thus, the overall volume of international economic activities has significantly expanded with globalization. Industrial countries are still responsible for the lion's share of the transactions, but the developing countries as a group have gained increasing market shares. They have also been able to change the traditional patterns of trading and to diversify their products. However, while some developing countries have been moving ahead fast, especially the East Asian and Latin American NICs, others, such as sub-Saharan Africa's poorest nations, are still lagging behind and are at risk of becoming marginalized.

II. Human Development in the Global Marketplace

Tracing the Impact of Globalization on Human Development

When the classical trade economists talked about the welfare enhancing effects of international trade, they had nations in mind, not each and every individual or group within nations. Also, the neoclassical theorists, such as Heckscher, Ohlin, Samuelson and Stolper, alerted us to the fact that trade will not have only winners but also losers. In assessing the effects of the world economy on human development it will thus be important to look beyond national averages to what has been happening to different population groups.

UNDP's Human Development Reports have defined "human development" as the widening of people's choices - e.g. people's capability to be healthy and to live longer, to be educated, to be properly housed, or to participate in economic, political and social life. Human security means people's protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the pattern of their daily lives - whether in their homes, communities, environment or work (see UNDP 1994). Human development and human security are the outcome of the sum total of our developmental activities - economic, social and political, as well as local, national and international. Thus, we are again confronting enormous theoretical and methodological problems of "impact assessment", and again it will be necessary not to over-interpret any correlations which we may find and not to ignore that many other variables may also play a role.

Given the current state of research and data availability, the most do-able approach is to trace the impact of international markets on the economic side of people's lives, that is, on variables such as "income", "wages" and "employment". Certainly, these variables represent but a few choices of all the options people may want to have. Yet, they are important ones. Many other things in life depend on them, directly or indirectly.

Mixed Results

Let us begin by examining progress in terms of economic growth and income expansion. Contrary to what theorists of economic and financial liberalization maintain, the movement towards freer markets during the past decades has not been accompanied by faster growth. In fact, economic growth has slowed worldwide. In industrial countries, average annual growth in real GDP per capita during the three periods 1966-73, 1974-90 and 1991-94 was 3.0%, 1.2% and -0.1%, respectively, with an upturn to 1.3% in 1994. In low- and middle-income developing countries, the same figures were 3.5%, 1.7% and 2.9%, respectively, with 3.6% recorded for 1994 (World Bank 1996, pp. 76-77). Africa, meanwhile, today looks back to years and years of negative growth. Contrast this to the 4.9% annual growth rate of GDP per capita of the industrial countries for the period 1947-73 during which real total GNP growth in developing countries was almost the same as in developed countries. As Irma Adelman put it, the Bretton Woods epoch (1947-1973) was a truly "golden era of economic development" compared with its successor era (1991, p. 24).

As regards then to the global distribution of economic growth and income, we find that between 1960 and 1991, the share of world income (real GDP) for the richest 20% of the global population rose from 70% to 85%. Over the same period, all but the richest quintile saw their share of world income fall. The share of the poorest quintile dropped from 2.3% to 1.4%. As a result, the ratio of the income share of the richest quintile to that of the poorest quintile doubled from 30:1 in 1960 to 61:1 in 1991 (UNDP 1994, p. 35). In other words, inequity in the global distribution of income has doubled. In fact, the richest 20% of the world's population has more than 85% of most economic opportunities: 80% of income, 81% of world trade and 95% of commercial lending (UNDP 1992, p. 35).

In a number of countries, growing international inequity has been accompanied by growing domestic income inequity. Examples include Bangladesh, Thailand, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Russia, the Baltic states, the UK and the United States (UNDP 1996, pp. 13-17). New evidence on income inequality becomes available virtually everyday, and we have not yet seen the end of this trend. According to World Bank projections up to 2010, income inequality could further increase and poverty deepen, particularly if the present trend of growing wage dispersion between skilled and unskilled workers is allowed to continue. For the OECD countries, the Bank's "divergent trend" scenario predicts that wages of unskilled workers will rise by 15%, while wages of skilled workers will rise by 47%. In Latin America, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa, unskilled workers will even see real wages fall, while their skilled counterparts will enjoy real wage gains of 45% and 27%, respectively (World Bank 1995, p. 120).

This trend towards growing wage and income inequality started in the 1970s and has since continued to surge and to spread. Take the example of the USA. All the gains in male earnings in the 1980s went to the top 20% of the workforce. An amazing 64% accrued to the top 1% of the male workforce. The trend in women's wages followed that of men's wages with a certain time lag. Year after year, the income share of the top quintile of households increased so that, by 1992, all quintiles but the top one were worse off in terms of real wages and incomes than in 1973. The bottom quintile suffered a decline of 3%, while the top quintile enjoyed a gain of 16% (Thurow 1996, pp. 22-25). Top salaries, such as CEO salaries, tripled and doubled in many countries during the 1980s/early 1990s. And so did the profits of Fortune 500 companies. In 1994 alone, their profits grew by more than 60% (Fortune, 7 August 1995).

Bear these differences in mind when considering the modest average annual growth rate of real earnings per employee between 1980 and 1992! It was: 0.5% in Australia; 0.1% in Canada; 1.9% in Japan; 0.4% in the USA; and as regards developing countries: -2.4% in Brazil; 2.1% in India; 8.4% in the Republic of Korea; 5.1% in Singapore; and -5.4% in Venezuela (UNDP 1996, pp. 169 and 194). It is surprising that we have heard so little news about the "tough distributional struggle"!

In part, the growing income disparities not only reflect a growing wage squeeze but also increasing unemployment and a growing trend towards part-time work and temporary forms of employment - i.e. decreasing job security. Between 1960-73 and 1988-94 the unemployment rate has increased in many countries: 1.8 times in Canada; 2 times in Italy and Japan; 4 times in the UK; 5 times in France; and 8.5 times in Germany (Grunberg 1996, p. 5). Unemployment has dramatically increased in Eastern Europe and the CIS, while paid employment in many sectors is down in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America (ILO 1995, pp. 65-66). In all regions of the world except East Asia, employment growth has been trailing behind output growth - a phenomenon which the Human Development Report 1993 labelled "jobless growth". If one were to add discouraged workers and involuntary part-time workers to the already high unemployment rates of the OECD countries, the figures would probably double (UNDP 1996, p. 195). In 1991, 13% of those employed in Finland were part-time workers; and the figures were even higher elsewhere: 15% in Greece; 17% in Portugal; 20% in Australia; 32% in Spain. Self-employment has also reached high proportions: in the 1980s, it accounted for 68% of total employment in Ghana, 56% in Pakistan, 36% in the Philippines and 27% in Brazil (UNDP 1993, pp. 35-42).

In sum, globalization has led to widening socio-economic disparities: A few people have gotten a lot richer; and many people had to accept cuts in real income and in job security. The winners are in the North and in the South; and so are the losers.

How do we explain these trends?

Possible Causes

There is a lively debate in the relevant literature, especially that on trade, about the human development/security impacts of global economic trends. However, most studies discuss only the social implications of trade. Very few have focused on the social benefits and costs of financial liberalization (an exception is Eatwell 1996). Even fewer have attempted a comprehensive assessment of global economic trends and related macro-economic policies on human development/security (Grunberg 1996). The following discussion will, first, examine possible effects of trade and financial liberalization and then move on to other factors suggested in the literature, such as technology, either as alternative explanations or additional contributing factors.


Looking at the studies which examine linkages between trade and human development in industrial countries, one is hard-pressed to find a unified conclusion. One reason for this is that different studies examine different aspects of trade: some trade liberalization (e.g. tariff reductions), others the increased volume of trade, and yet others changed trade patterns or changes in the composition of the goods and services traded. Another reason is that some studies are theoretical and examine the linkages ex ante; others are empirical, providing ex post analyses. (For an overview of the literature see, for example, Belman and Lee 1996.)

Despite their differing findings and conclusions, the studies nevertheless agree on one point: trade matters. The question still being disputed is "how much?". More recent literature seems to reach a point of common understanding: Trade is found usually to account for between 10% and 20% of the increase in wage inequality which occurred in industrial countries during the 1980s. And trade is said to account for between 9% and 23% of the decline in the wages of less-skilled workers discernible since the early 1970s in these countries (Belman and Lee 1996, p. 97). These outcomes are being attributed to a variety of trade-related causes, including: factor price equalization among industrial countries as well as between industrial and developing countries; increased competitiveness among enterprises which leads to aggressive market expansion (exploiting economies of scale), cost cutting (through the introduction of labour-saving technology and lean management practices), and operating at the leading edge (which often means employment of advanced technology and R&D, shifting the skill composition of labour upward).

As regards developing countries, various World Bank studies have highlighted a number of beneficial effects of both North-South and South- South trade. Chief among them is that growth in trade is shown to have pulled along the GDP growth of these countries (World Bank 1996, pp. 34-46). Additional positive spillovers of developing-country integration into the world economy have included: "improved resource allocation, heightened competition as a spur to achieving world standards of efficiency, wider options for consumers, the ability to tap international capital markets, and exposure to new ideas, technology and products" (op. cit., p. 43). These effects are said to account for most of the rise in developing countries' total factor productivity in 1971-90. However, other studies have pointed out that the NICs could achieve their successes because of their prior indigenous development efforts, including import-substitution policies, good investment in education and other human-development concerns, and relatively high spending on R&D (see Smith 1996). Developing countries which just open up and liberalize have often seen their terms of trade decline and their overall economic situation weaken - rather than improve - when trade expanded. This has, for example, been the experience of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They increased their commodity exports in order to earn foreign exchange to pay back their debts only to see their already weakened commodity prices fall further. The harder they tried to earn foreign exchange, the more expensive their debt became (UNDP 1992, pp. 48-62).

Evidently, integration into the world economy alone does not always work. It helps the strong - be they countries, firms, individuals - and taxes the weaker. As the following discussion will show, similar experiences can be found in the area of financial markets.

Financial Markets

A recent study by John Eatwell (1996) on the effects of financial liberalization concludes that governments have never before been under greater pressure to "market conform", that is, to comply with what financial markets consider "prudent" policies (pp. 42-45). Governments that fail to comply must pay a premium on the interest costs of their finance, or, if the loss of credibility is more severe, confront a financial crisis. The recent Mexican peso crisis is an illustration of that.

Prudent policies in the eyes of financial markets are policies that ensure price stability and low budget deficits (but without raising taxes, or even better, while lowering tax rates, and consequently reducing public expenditures). The result is a vicious circle: low inflation, low levels of employment, reduced tax revenues, depressed domestic demand, lower potential sales, declining investment and productivity enhancement - and ultimately, lower economic growth. For example, real gross fixed capital formation in OECD countries during the periods 1960-68 and 1968-73 was 6.5% and 5.8%, respectively. For 1973-79 and 1979-90, the corresponding figures were 1.1% and 3.1%, respectively (Grunberg 1996, p. 33).

Financial liberalization has also brought with it increased real interest rates which have further hurt employment and economic growth. During the period 1956-57, real interest rates in Germany, France, the UK and USA on average stood at 1.7%. During the period 1981-93 the average rate was 5.1% (Grunberg 1996, p. 34). The reason for this increase lies, primarily, in the increased volatility which marks today's financial markets. Under conditions of depressed demand, technological innovations tend to change the skill composition, rather than the volume, of production - yet another explanation for the observed increases in unemployment and wage dispersion.

Moreover, financial markets increasingly expect borrowers - rather than lenders - to cover investment risks. The price of capital is risk adjusted and financial transactions are increasingly of short-term maturity, giving investors the opportunity to choose and move. Borrowers have to adjust to the ups and downs in capital flows; and the adjustment burden is particularly difficult for borrowers in developing countries, often with only nascent capacity for macroeconomic policy management (see IMF 1995c and Agosin and Ffrench-Davis 1996).

Thus, in addition to trade, financial liberalization has also contributed its share to the observed slowdown in economic growth, increased unemployment, wage decline, and dispersion and human insecurity.

Cumulative Effects

So far, we have been looking at different aspects of globalization separately. One can, however, also show that when these individual components of globalization coincide, they tend to reinforce each other. The proof is the growing rivalry among states and the rivalry among workers.

Financial liberalization enhances capital mobility. Human-capital formation in developing countries improves the conditions for FDI and for the production of manufactured goods and services in the South. Trade liberalization, meanwhile, facilitates the exports of manufactured goods and services. Thus, firms increasingly have a choice of location, since transport and communications systems work smoothly and at continuously decreasing costs. Simultaneously, governments competing with each other to attract potential investors offer tax breaks, infrastructure development, and often also breaks in terms of environmental or social standards. Given, in addition, the trend towards decentralization mentioned in section I, corporations today have not only some 180 countries from which they can invite offers of investment conditions, but hundreds and thousands of provincial, municipal and other local authorities. Simultaneously, governments are pressing workers to adjust to the local effects of global competition through retraining and "mobility" (see Reich 1995).

The same processes have led to a further weakening of the power of unions. Empirical studies have shown that in particular, wage dispersion is affected by union strength (see World Bank 1995, pp. 80-81). At the present time of crisis, the workers in industrial countries lack organization. Maybe that is why wage squeezes and labour shedding happen so quietly, moving from the lower ranks to middle-level management where the cuts are falling at present.

Other Possible Factors

The debate about the effects of trade on employment and wages is often between those who believe that trade matters and those who argue that technology is the main culprit (see, for example, Bhagwati 1996 and Krugman 1996). Certainly, technology has been labour saving and it is requiring more skilled labour inputs. Also, transportation and communications costs have rapidly declined as a result of technological advances and helped promote FDI and outsourcing (see Krugman and Venables 1995). The "truth" may be in the middle: both technology and trade matter - as do financial liberalization and other factors, including the ones discussed below.

Migration has many beneficial effects on both sending and receiving countries. In some developing countries, for example, net workers' remittances have reached significant proportions - about 13% of GNP in Egypt and 4% in Bangladesh (UNDP 1992, pp. 164-65). But migration has also been found to contribute to the decline of wages, in particular those of low-skilled workers in industrial countries with a high intake of migrants (World Bank 1995, pp. 66-67). However, similar effects could probably also be found in developing countries with high levels of immigration.

Another demographic factor that may play a role is the aging of the populations of industrial countries as well as the high living standards attained in these countries. Both factors may also contribute to slower growth in effective demand. Therefore, investors and fund managers of industrial countries are increasingly looking towards emerging markets which are projected to have higher growth rates than industrial countries in the future.

Finally, there is the end of the Cold War. This factor is especially important in the case of the US. Promotion of free-market ideas, including trade liberalization, has been an integral part of US policies during the East-West conflict. Opening the country's markets to foreign imports has been one of the measures - besides foreign aid, military assistance and the like - through which the American government tried to build political alliances. For political reasons, for example, the United States has accepted the costs of running a trade deficit (Kuttner 1996, pp. 12-14).

In addition, during the Cold War era, most Western governments pursued Keynesian types of domestic policies for external political reasons - proving the capacity of market-oriented economies to ensure social progress. As Gilpin noted, it was Adam Smith outside and Keynes at home (p. 355). Now that the Eastern bloc has imploded, there is less compulsion to deliver social outcomes. Moreover, five decades of relatively high social spending has over- strained the capacity of most Western governments, leaving them with high levels of public debt and mounting interest payments (see OECD 1995).

Under these conditions, the expectations of the financial markets for lower budget deficits often constitute a welcome excuse for governments to cut expenditures. The axe falls most often on those areas of government spending that could potentially increase demand: welfare, unemployment benefits, or subsidies to sunset industries.

In part, the social and economic changes happening in industrial countries today are long overdue. They constitute adjustments that were delayed because of the Cold War. And because they are delayed, they now are painful. Now "price stabilization" is allowed to topple "economic growth" and "employment" from the top of the list of policy priorities.

However, it would be wrong to conclude that our policies now authentically reflect Adam Smith's vision outside and at home, because Adam Smith had the means-end relationship right. As the Human Development Report 1990 has reminded us, Adam Smith saw economic growth and income expansion only as a means. The end was improved living conditions - people's ability to mix with others without being "ashamed to appear in public" (p. 10). Today, many of us are really no longer ashamed to tolerate poverty in the midst of plenty. But some are - notably those who helped bring about the 1995 World Summit on Social Development, and in particular those who work on its follow-up.

To conclude, it is important at this point to remind ourselves that globalization is not a mysterious, self-generated development. It has for the most part come about through governmental action - often long and arduous negotiating processes. Just think of the recently concluded Uruguay Round of GATT. But once globalization exists, does it unleash uncontrollable forces? Not necessarily. The positive trade experience of the East Asian NICs demonstrates that. These countries successfully combined national capacity building with external openness. The policy experiences of the Western industrial countries during the Cold-War era provide further proof for the fact that one can be "open and social". The social costs of open markets were cushioned by social security measures; active immigration policies (encouraging "family-unification" of refugees and offering generous political asylum arrangements) were combined with active measures of facilitating the socio-economic integration of new arrivals.

Thus, it is more a matter of political choice, rather than necessity, that globalization today has such high social costs: We allow markets to set policy priorities and the "markets" opt for such priorities as low labour costs, labour-market flexibility and low inflation. Furthermore, they do so usually in a rather automatic, standardized fashion, leaving little scope for politicians - and people - to fit in other concerns.

But we must realize that markets are not actors in and by themselves: They are means. When we say "the markets" we really mean "private business", "investors" and "consumers". In a way, we mean "us" because we are all consumers and an increasing number of people worldwide has joined - and continues to join - the ranks of investors (due to the expansion of new financial services such as mutual funds and privatization of pension schemes).

The experiences with managing private capital flows of countries such as Chile, Colombia and South Korea prove that it is possible to steer the forces of globalization. Today's economic consensus around macroeconomic stability has placed the cart ahead of the horse: We are more concerned about interest on savings (and investments) and stable prices than enabling people in the first place to earn a decent living. Finding our way back to the central priority of improving human welfare is the task ahead.

Policy Options for the Future

The literature is replete with advice on what could be done to tackle the problems of slow growth, high unemployment, growing inequity and downward pressures on wages and social benefits. Some analysts propose that more laissez-faire will cure the present ills of liberalism. There are frequent and determined calls for more labour-market flexibility - although as Grunberg (1996) has shown, the assumed positive correlation between labour market deregulation and employment expansion has been contested theoretically and empirically (p. 39).

Others propose to place more emphasis on strategic trade management - ranging from carefully crafted export subsidies to R&D support for the development of new comparative advantages. (See for example Krugman 1994 and 1996 and the collection of essays edited by Blecker 1996).

International policy coordination - e.g. in the areas of money and taxation - also figures among the more central policy recommendations, endorsed by some and queried in its practicability by others. (See in particular Kapstein 1996.) Yet another idea is to rekindle the world economy through a new "Marshall Plan" for the global rethinking of trade (Bergsten 1996). In addition, there is a lot of debate about arrangements which could help curb financial volatility. (See Eichengreen 1996.)

More education and training for the less-skilled workers is one of the most frequently suggested ways forward. (See Kapstein 1996.) It is certainly necessary, given that production processes are becoming more knowledge- intensive. But would it really help? Would it not just lead to a repetition of the competitive race at a higher level? Better work sharing is also a popular recommendation. (See World Bank 1995.) A few commentators propose to reorder budgetary priorities so that governments could help cushion the social costs of adjustment without increasing total outlays (among them is Levine 1996). Others bank on the strengthening of labour unions and their internationalization. (See Donahue 1996 and Grunberg 1996.) Social and environmental conditionality linked to trade is yet another idea (Nader et al. 1993).

As regards the developing countries, one of the frequent recommendations is also "more and faster liberalization". (See World Bank 1996.) However, emphasis is also placed on national capacity building and infrastructure development - in short, development. Some analysts stress that the successful NICs have gone through important phases of import substitution and that developing countries ought to remember that when contemplating further liberalization. (See Smith 1996.) Similarly, attention is being drawn to the role that the state had in, for example, bringing about the East Asian "miracle". (See Ohno 1996.)

Considering the above sets of recommended policy options, three comments may be made.

First, countries obviously could do many things. However, the right mix of the policies needed will depend on their specific circumstances. Therefore, one should probably add another recommendation to the existing list, viz. to devise - preferably in a participatory way - country-specific strategies for ensuring sustainable human development in the global market place. Standardized policy responses do not work well. The experience with structural adjustment in the South has shown that. (See on this point also Taylor and Pieper 1996.) And the experience with "letting markets set policy priorities" is proving it again. Second, given the trend towards increasing competitiven

ess between South and North, would it not be obvious to conclude that more aid - rather than less aid (as is being called for at present in many donor countries) - would be an important policy measure to implement? Increased aid, well utilized, could promote development in the South, expanding markets and improving people's living standards, thus placing less downward pressure on Northern levels of human development.

Third, none of the above-mentioned other remedies is likely to succeed unless we introduce one further change: We must reorder our policy priorities to put people back at the centre of our concerns. In other words, we must put "ends" before "means". Yet, if we were to try that we would soon realize that today we know very little about how to achieve sustainable human development. Present development theories and models are mostly silent about how to reconcile - rather than pit against each other - economic, social and environmental concerns. They often assume - rather than prove - the efficiency of markets and the inefficiency of state intervention. Policy makers are largely left empty-handed. So they continue traditional policy approaches.

A new approach would moderate the policy prescriptions of today's neo-liberal economists, evaluating their macroeconomic priorities through a prism of social and environmental welfare that ensured the primacy of people-centred development, rather than capital-centred development. Policies that reinforced complementary improvements in social, environmental and economic values would be encouraged, while policies, rules, laws, norms and regimes that privileged "growth" - or worse, competitiveness and profitable investment - exclusively would be reformed. As simple as this concept seems in the abstract, its practical meaning and do-ability remain unclear to us today. We urgently need new development theories and new, well-tested, pragmatic and practical policy advice. This places a heavy burden of responsibility on the international development research community. We should rise to the challenge; otherwise, as Paul Krugman said, we will no longer be able to complain about the outcome.


Adelman, Irma. 1991. "Long Term Economic Development". Working Paper no. 589. Berkeley: California Agricultural Experiment Station.

Agosin, Manuel R. and Ricardo Ffrench-Davis. 1996. "Managing Capital Flows in Latin America". New York: UNDP/ODS. Discussion Paper 8. Anand, Sudhir and Lincoln Chen. 1996.

Belman, Dale and Thea M. Lee. 1996. "International Trade and the Performance of US Labour Markets". In: Blecker, Robert A., ed., US Trade Policy and Global Growth. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 61-107.

Bergsten, Fred. 1996. "A New Trade Summit". In: Foreign Affairs, May/June 1996, pp. 105-120.

Bhagwati, Jagdish and Marvin H. Kosters, eds. 1996. Trade and Wages: Leveling Wages Down? Washington, D.C.: The AEI Press.

Blecker, Robert A., ed. 1996. US Trade Policy and Global Growth. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Braga, Carlos A. Primo. 1996. "The Impact of the Internationalization of Services on Developing Countries". In: Finance and Development, March 1996, pp. 34-37.

Donahue, Thomas. 1996. "Across the Tracks". In: Foreign Affairs, July/August 1996, pp. 174- 177.

Eatwell, John. 1996. "International Capital Liberalisation: An Evaluation". New York: UNDP, ODS Discussion Paper (forthcoming).

Eichengreen, Barry. 1996. "The Tobin Tax: What Have We Learned?" In: Haq, Mahbub ul, Inge Kaul and Isabelle Grunberg, eds., The Tobin Tax: Coping with Financial Volatility. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gilpin, Robert. 1987. The Political Economy of International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Griffin, Keith and Azizur Rahman Khan. 1992. Globalization and the Developing World: An Essay on the International Dimensions of Development in the Post-Cold War Era. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Grunberg, Isabelle. 1996. "Rival States, Rival Firms: How Do People Fit In? The Challenge of Global Unemployment". New York: UNDP, ODS Discussion Paper no. 4.

Hirst, Paul and Grahame Thompson. 1996. Globalization in Question: The International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance. Cambridge: Polity Press.

International Labour Organization (ILO). 1995. World Employment 1995. Geneva.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). 1995a. "Capital Account Convertibility: Review of Implications for IMF Policies". By Staff Teams headed by Peter J. Quirk and Owen Evans. Washington, D.C.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). 1995b. "International Capital Markets: Development, Prospects, and Policy Issues". Washington, D.C.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). 1995c. "Private Market Financing for Developing Countries". Prepared by a Staff Team in the Policy Development and Review Department. Washington, D.C.

Kapstein, Ethan. 1994. Governing the Global Economy: International Finance and the State. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Kapstein, Ethan. 1996. "Workers and the World Economy". In: Foreign Affairs, May/June, pp. 16-37.

Kaul, Inge, Isabelle Grunberg and Mahbub ul Haq. 1996. "Overview". In: Haq, Mahbub ul, Inge Kaul and Isabelle Grunberg, eds., The Tobin Tax: Coping with Financial Volatility. New York: Oxford University Press.

Krugman, Paul. 1994. Peddling Prosperity: Economic Sense and Nonsense in the Age of Diminished Expectations. New York: W.W. Norton.

Krugman, Paul. 1996. "Workers and Economists: The Global Economy Has Left Keynes in Its Train". In: Foreign Affairs, July/August, pp. 164-170.

Krugman, Paul and Anthony J. Venables. 1995. "Globalization and the Inequality of Nations". In: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, November, pp. 857-880.

Kuttner, Robert. 1996. "Managed Trade and Economic Sovereignty". In: Blecker, Robert A., ed., US Policy and Global Growth. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, pp.3-36.

Lawrence, Robert Z. 1996. "Resist the Binge". In: Foreign Affairs, July/August, pp. 170-173.

Levine, Ross. 1996. "Stock Markets: A Spur to Economic Growth". In: Finance and Development. March, pp. 7-10.

Nader, Ralph et al. 1993. The Case Against Free Trade: GATT, NAFTA, and the Globalization of Corporate Power. San Francisco: Earth Island Press.

Ohmae, Kenichi, ed. 1995. The Evolving Global Economy: Making Sense of the New World Order.

Ohno Izumi. 1996. "Beyond the East Asian Miracle". New York: UNDP/ODS, Discussion Paper 5.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 1995. OECD Economic Outlook 58. Paris.

Ploug, Niels and Jon Kvist. 1996. Social Security in Europe: Development or Dismantlement? The Hague: Kluwer Law International.

Quereshi, Zia. 1996. "Globalization: New Opportunities, Tough Challenges". In: Finance and Development, March, pp. 30-33.

Reich, Robert. 1995. "Who Is Us?" and "Who Is Them?" In: Ohmae, Kenichi, ed., The Evolving Global Economy: Making Sense of the New World Order, pp. 141-160 and 161-182, respectively.

Smith, Stephen C. 1996. "Industrial Policy and Export Success: Third World Development Strategies Reconsidered". In: Blecker, Robert A., ed., US Trade Policy and Global Growth: New Directions in the International Economy. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 267-298.

Stopford, John M., Susan Strange and John S. Henley. 1991. Rival States, Rival Firms: Competition for World Market Shares. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tagliabue, John. 1996. "In Europe, a Wave of Layoffs Stuns White-Collar Workers: Europe Downsized". The New York Times, 20 June.

Taylor, Lance. 1996. "Income Distribution, Trade, and Growth". In: Blecker, Robert A., ed., US Trade Policy and Global Growth. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 239-266.

Taylor, Lance and Ute Pieper. 1996. "Reconciling Economic Reform and Sustainable Human Development: Social Consequences of Neo-Liberalism". New York: UNDP/ODS, Discussion Paper 2.

Thurow, Lester. 1996. The Future of Capitalism: How Today's Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow's World. New York: William Morrow.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 1993. World Investment Report 1993: Transnational Corporations and Integrated International Production. An Executive Summary. New York (ST/CTC/159).

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1990. Human Development Report 1990. New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1992. Human Development Report 1992. New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1993. Human Development Report 1993. New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1994. Human Development Report 1994. New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1996a. Human Development Report 1996. New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1996b. Globalization and Urbanization: Cities for People in the Next Millennium. New York: ODS Roundtable Report 1.

U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Telecommunications. 1996. "World Cellular Subscriber Growth, 1995" and "Paging Subscribers Worldwide". Unpublished databases.

Wolf, Martin. 1996. "The Global Economy Myth". In: Financial Times, 13 February.

Wood, Adrian. 1994. North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill Driven World. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

World Bank. 1995. World Development Report 1995: Workers in an Integrating World. Oxford and Washington, D.C.: Oxford University Press.

World Bank. 1996. Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries. Washington, D.C.

World Trade Organization (WTO). 1995. International Trade, Trends and Statistics. Geneva.

Zacher, Mark W. and Brent A. Sutton. 1996. Governing Global Networks: International Regimes for Transportation and Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Adam Roberts, Montague Burton Professor of International Relations, Oxford University

Some time in the past ten years the Cold War between the Western powers and the "socialist bloc" ended. We are all now involved in the task of trying to understand, and perhaps also to influence, the international order which is now emerging. We face new challenges, many of which (such as the problems of population, disease, resource depletion and global environmental change) transcend national frontiers and seem to call for global solutions.

We could argue, pedantically, about exactly when the Cold War ended. Perhaps the turning point was as early as ten years ago. On 22 September 1986 the Final Document of the CSCE Stockholm Security Conference was adopted: the Soviet Union accepted, after 40 years of militant opposition, the idea of inspection of armaments, even before actual disarmament. Perhaps the turning point was when a non-Communist government emerged in Poland in August/September 1989. Perhaps it was the opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Perhaps it was the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.

We could also argue about how complete the end of the Cold War was. In Asia, there are still tensions between a major Communist power, namely China, and other states, including the USA. Korea is still bitterly divided between a decaying communist system in the North and an increasingly self-confident South. Clashes and confrontations reminiscent of the Cold War still continue.

Yet the end of the Cold War as we knew it is a reality - at least in the sense that major parts of the landscape of international relations are transformed, so much so that understanding the new order is extremely difficult. Equally, understanding the various roles of the UN in that new order is difficult. Many attempts are being made to conceptualize these roles, including the project on which the UNU has embarked on "The United Nations System in the 21st Century".

Not surprisingly, a time of great change has led to the emergence of many visions of a completely transformed international relations, in which the future of mankind is seen as being quite unlike the past. There were similar visions in past times of change. The first use of the phrase "united nations" in the English language was in poetry, in Lord Byron's poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" (1816). He applied the expression to the allies whose forces had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo one year earlier. A quarter of a century later, the English poet Alfred Tennyson wrote in his poem "Locksley Hall", first published in 1842:

    For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the Vision of the world, and the wonder that would be; ...

    Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

    There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe, And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.

There is a need for such visions if change is to be achieved. There is, however, also a need to keep our feet firmly on the ground, and to be aware of the real difficulties that we face in the post-Cold War world.

A. Post-Cold War Visions of UN Roles

In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, an attractively teleological view of the UN's place in the international order gained some currency. In this view, the UN was intended in 1945 to be an essentially supranational body. For over four decades in which the world had been divided between East and West, it had been unable to act effectively; indeed, in matters relating to war and peace it had been almost completely powerless due to frequent threat or use of the veto in the Security Council. Then, with the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s, it was at last in a position to act more or less as its founders had supposedly intended. It took a decisive role in many crises, including in the Gulf War in 1991. To many, the 1991 Gulf War proved that the UN could now act as intended. It now had an opportunity to advance, if not to world government, at least towards a centrally regulated and well ordered international system. Elements of such a view are evident in the statement issued by the first-ever summit meeting of the UN Security Council, at the end of January 1992: it called for an "analysis and recommendations on ways of strengthening and making more efficient within the framework and provisions of the Charter the capacity of the United Nations for preventive diplomacy, for peacemaking and peace-keeping".

The result of this unusual Security Council pronouncement was Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's June 1992 report, An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peace-keeping. This document had a limited purpose. It was never intended as a comprehensive overview of the problems of international order in the post-Cold War world. It was stronger in matters which might be described as military or organizational than in those of a more historical or philosophical character. It was most notable for making a number of proposals and suggestions, addressed to Member States, for enhancing the capacity of the UN to respond to the challenges of the post-Cold War world.

An Agenda for Peace made ambitious proposals for the UN to:

  • Tackle a huge array of conflicts by a range of techniques, including pre- ventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building.
  • Establish a rational division of labour between the UN and regional organizations.
  • Make armed forces available to the UN on a permanent basis, including through agreements under Article 43 of the UN Charter.
  • Secure a more stable system of financing of peacekeeping efforts.
Some things proposed or foreshadowed in An Agenda for Peace have been realized. However, its more ambitious proposals have so far yielded only limited results. In particular, states seem more reluctant to transfer control over their armed forces than the report's authors had hoped. This may be partly due to widespread criticisms of the UN's existing machinery for directing the use of forces under its control; but it may also be due to broader doubts about the capacity of the UN, or indeed any large multilateral organization, to manage a world torn by a huge range of conflicts.

B. Limits of the Idea of Collective Security

The term "collective security" normally refers to a system, regional or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to aggression. Many had hoped that such a system would emerge in the post-Cold War world, and indeed something along those lines was implicit in An Agenda for Peace. However, ideas for collective security have run into trouble for the same kinds of reasons that they have repeatedly failed since at least the seventeenth century. There are still fundamental difficulties with the idea of collective security, including:

1. The lack of agreement on which elements of the existing international order, and what systems of government, are to be defended.

2. The lack of agreement on whether a collective security would involve guarantees of a collective response against all types of threats (e.g. civil war, terrorism and externally inspired revolution), and in all types of circumstances (e.g. even if the government of the country seeking assistance had been acting provocatively).

3. The problems of burden sharing between different states, and of multilateral control of armed forces.

C. The Impact of Events Since 1992

Since the publication of An Agenda for Peace in June 1992, a succession of events has had a corrosive impact on the more ambitious visions of the UN's roles. In 1994 the world community did very little while genocide took place in Rwanda. UN peacekeeping forces were unable to keep any kind of peace in several countries, including Angola, Somalia and Bosnia.

In his Supplement to an Agenda for Peace, issued in January 1995, the Secretary-General has thoughtfully set out to draw "lessons from the Organization's successes and failures in the first years of the post-Cold War age". Specifically, Boutros Boutros-Ghali declares his purpose as to "highlight selectively certain areas where unforeseen, or only partly foreseen, difficulties have arisen and where there is a need for the Member States to take the ‘hard decisions' I referred to two and a half years ago". This new report is notably more pessimistic than its predecessor. For example, it explains the factors that make contemporary civil wars very difficult to manage; and it notes the difficulties of applying (and getting results from) economic sanctions.

In 1995 the UN had to withdraw a large peacekeeping force from Somalia without achieving any settlement. The UN was humiliated in both the Croatian and Bosnian segments of the wars of succession in the former Yugoslavia, with the conquest by the Croat army of the supposed "UN Protected Areas" (UNPAs), and also the conquest by the Bosnian Serb forces of the UN-proclaimed "safe areas" of Srebrenica and Zepa. Thus the UN's fiftieth anniversary was commemorated in an unpromising situation, marked by the collapse of one vision of the UN's roles, and the failure to develop a convincing alternative vision. The UN's actual roles are unique, and we have to try to grasp the essence of their uniqueness.

D. Ten Propositions about the Roles of the UN

The following propositions are based on the view that the UN faces special hazards as well as opportunities in the post-Cold War era. It is required to address a wider and more taxing range of problems than ever before, it has an enhanced capacity to take decisions on action concerning these problems, and it can no longer use the Cold War divide as an all-purpose exculpation for its numerous failures to take effective action.

1. An International Organization Cannot Be Like a State

We have to avoid the intellectual mistake of thinking that an international organization can, or should, be like a state. There is no prospect of anything like a world government. The UN has to operate in conjunction with the system of states, and only has a very limited degree of authority over the states and other bodies that comprise the system. (On the problems of false analogies between the principles which sustain order within states and those of international society, see especially Hidemi Suganami's book, The Domestic Analogy and World Order Proposals, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989.)

2. The UN Charter Embodies a Realistic Acceptance of the System of States

On some issues the UN Charter, drawn up in 1945, is notably cautious, and is based on more realistic assumptions than was the Covenant of the League of Nations (1919). Articles 11 and 26 of the Charter make only cautious references to disarmament and the regulation of armaments. As to preventive action against threats to the peace, the Charter reflected an innovative compromise between elements of collective security (Articles 39-50 of Chapter VII) and an acceptance of a continuing role for national and regional defence arrangements (Articles 51-54).

There have been some notable developments which have taken the UN beyond the Charter vision so far as security issues are concerned. Peace- keeping was not envisaged in the Charter but has become a symbol of the UN's role. Nor was UN authorization to coalitions of states to use force envisaged in the Charter, yet it has happened in countless cases. Practical innovation and creative Charter interpretation are likely to continue in the post-Cold War era, and may be more important than formal "reform".

3. The Veto System in the Security Council Has Some Merits

The Charter provisions for the UN Security Council (originally eleven members, enlarged to fifteen in 1965) provided a more realistic structure for reaching decisions than their equivalents in the League Covenant. In the UN Security Council, Britain, China, France, USSR/Russia, and the USA have permanent membership and the power to veto resolutions, but otherwise resolutions are passed by three-fifths majority vote. Thus decisions can sometimes be reached. The much criticized UN veto system has helped to keep major powers in the UN; and it should be seen in its true historical light as a reduction of a veto which was more extensive before.

On the other hand, the veto has negative aspects. Because of the veto, military actions by any of the "Permanent Five" cannot be effectively opposed by the UN itself. That is a principal reason why the Cold War was conducted largely outside a UN framework; and it also helps to explain why certain conflicts today (including those in Georgia and other countries which have emerged from the former Soviet Union) have not seen anything more than a marginal UN role. The category of permanent Security Council membership, complete with veto, naturally attracts criticism, and adds to pressure for reform.

4. The UN System Derives Strength from Tackling a Wide Range of Issues

Part of the genius of the UN system is that it is involved not only in international security and in many functional activities (in fields as diverse as health, aviation, the environment, and intellectual copyright), but also, and unlike the League of Nations, in a very wide range of issues concerning individual human rights. The original vision of the UN was to eliminate the causes of war not just by strengthening arrangements for peaceful settlement of disputes, and by extending the network and the reach of international functional bodies, but also by promoting social progress and human rights.

This wide range of activities is likely to remain a strength of the UN in the post-Cold War era for two related reasons: (1) Peace is of course much more than the absence of war, and depends upon harmonious relationships within and between states. (2) The range of activities makes UN membership much more useful to states, and much more meaningful for their individual citizens, than it would be if the UN dealt only with security issues narrowly defined.

5. The Sovereign State Is Not About to Disappear

In the post-Cold War period, it has been asserted particularly often that a particular form of social organization, the sovereign state, is under acute challenge. This view has been expressed most often in the USA, which is a country with a long tradition of deploring the international system because it consists largely of evil potentates, weak and corrupt governments, power-political games, and wars. Common forms of the assertion that the state is, or ought to be, finished are:

  • global challenges call for global responses;
  • international interdependence and transnational economic processes threaten the state's capacity to take meaningful decisions;
  • regional bodies, such as the European Union, are eroding the capacities of individual states;
  • within states, separatist tendencies and the emergence of local loyalties further erode central power;
  • the UN's capacity to authorize "humanitarian intervention" exposes the limits of sovereignty of the state in whose territory intervention takes place, and also exposes the limits of sovereignty of those intervening, since they have to act within the collective framework of the UN.
Despite all these assertions, it is far from obvious that the state is disappearing. On the contrary, in the post-Cold War era, just as before, the UN has, paradoxically, presided over the decline of empires and the great expansion in the number of sovereign states. Well-organized states are often a critically important vehicle, not just for attaining a degree of welfare, security and identity for their citizens, but also for ensuring a degree of cooperation, not least in the implementation of international norms.

6. The UN Has Difficulties in Enforcing Norms, Including Human Security

The constraints of the Cold War meant that the UN could only tackle human rights at the level of enunciating principles (as in the two 1966 human rights covenants) and passing resolutions. In most cases it could not intervene in countries to enforce its principles, nor could it give peacekeeping or other forces a mandate to defend human rights and protect vulnerable populations.

Now, in the post-Cold War era, some of the constraints which prevented the UN from authorizing action within states have gone. In many debates, human security has been presented as a key approach to security issues in the 1990s. As the Commission on Global Governance said on p. 82 of its report, Our Global Neighbourhood, published in 1995: "Although it is necessary to continue to uphold the right of states to security, so that they may be protected against external threats, the international community needs to make the protection of people and their security an aim of global security policy".

As so often in life, the principle is fine. The devil is in the detail. It is extremely difficult to work out a coherent UN-based system of "human security". In the 1990s the UN has in fact intervened in an unprecedented number of conflicts. UN Security Council resolutions in respect of northern Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Rwanda have all put great emphasis on humanitarian issues as justifications for the use of outside forces. In July 1994 it went so far as to authorize military action against Haiti to change its government - an intervention which eventually occurred in September 1994.

As the experience of the 1990s has shown, enforcing humanitarian and human rights norms in distant conflicts is a very uncertain business. International forces seem less willing to accept sacrifices in such causes than they would be in cases where their own interest was directly involved; and they may simply not understand important aspects of the society in which they are intervening. Further, there are strong arguments about the selectivity of UN actions. Why restore democracy in Haiti, but not in Burma or China? The answer, of course, is that traditional great power calculations, and traditional considerations of prudence, still play a key role in contemporary international politics.

The sobering experience of post-Cold War interventions is bound to lead to a revival of the old idea, common in the Cold War, that the UN's job is not to act in a coercive way, nor to claim to be a guarantor of human security, but is to shape debates, raise consciousness about certain issues, to legitimize certain approaches and warn against others. This is the idea of the UN as a global advisory body rather than as a quasi-world government.

7. The View of the UN As Dominated by the USA Is Too Simple

In the post-Cold War order, the UN is widely seen as the instrument of the one remaining superpower and as having moved rapidly from being paralysed to being led by the nose. Such a perception is an inaccurate reflection of the complexities of UN diplomacy and decision-making. Acting through the UN may be the only or best alternative for the US on many issues, but it is likely to have costs. Multilateral decision-making is frequently complicated and inconclusive, and liable to produce a series of incoherent compromises. Commitment to the UN brings a Member State valuable allies and political support on particular issues, and may well contribute to the broader stability of the international system, but it also leads to a degree of entanglement which may propel states, even the USA, into involvements they might otherwise prefer to evade. Neither the US government nor public has a perception that the US is able to dominate the UN.

8. The UN Needs to Avoid Becoming a Dustbin

The UN needs to avoid becoming the convenient repository for the most difficult problems of international relations, including civil wars. It cannot be assumed that an international organization will necessarily be more successful than states in tackling problems of a perennially difficult character. States tend to address manageable problems themselves, and to transfer unmanageable ones to other bodies. The UN is likely to need means of avoiding intractable or excessively risky commitments, and for all its faults the veto system may continue to provide one such mechanism.

9. Reform of the Security Council Is Necessary but Difficult

Reform of the Security Council has become an especially pressing question because the Council is, for the time being at least, able to play a significant role in some security issues. The Council is required to make difficult decisions about which problems to address, which actions to take, and which problems to evade. If decisions on such matters are to have a chance of commanding legitimacy and securing effective support, some form of wider participation in the decision-making process is essential. An increase in the membership of the Council would require Charter revisions that will be difficult but not necessarily impossible to achieve. Such an increase must not render the Council unwieldy and incapable of effective action. The proposals for formal change most likely to command the necessary support include a small increase in permanent members, possibly without the veto; and a somewhat larger increase in the number of non-permanent members, with some relaxation in the rules that presently prevent re-election following a two-year term. Another way of viewing such proposals might be to see them as part of a revised system of regional representation on the Council.

10. A Vision of the UN's Future Needs to Focus on the UN's Strengths

Any vision of the UN's future should focus on areas in which the UN has, at least potentially, a comparative advantage over states acting unilaterally or in other ways, and also over non-governmental bodies. In many such areas a global consensus on policy and values is fundamental to effective action: Protection of the global climate system; maintenance of a high seas regime; resolution of coordination problems of global communications; control or eradication of diseases; development of population policies and programmes; elaboration of a degree of shared responsibility for such goals as sustainable development; maintenance and implementation of minimal standards of human rights; and delivery of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. There are also areas in which the UN's prestige, detachment and experience are valuable assets: peacekeeping, election observation and supervision, human rights monitoring, and dispute settlement. This vision, rather than that of an aspiring world government, is the more appropriate one in the present state of international society.

Return to UNU Reports page

Return to the UNU Homepage