By "lifting all boats" and extending the concept of being "our brother's keeper" we begin, as a society, to address basic human rights worldwide.
Question #2: What role should governments play in regulating commerce to ensure that the rights of people and the environment are sustained? Economist Daniel Litvin has written an article in the journal Foreign Policy ("Raising Human Rights Standards in the Private Sector") worthy of close attention. In the piece he claims the UN's Compact - and the UN's "Human Rights Norms for Businesses" - fail to set "reasonable and well-defined limits" or a "code of conduct" on corporations' responsibilities in the global workplace.
And so, what does he believe governments should do - what role should they play? In the first place, Litvin believes that "many human rights controversies" that involve companies involved in globalization can be attributed to "the lack of a clear dividing line between the responsibilities of a company and a host government." Better communication between the multinational company and its host nation is an absolute necessity, Litvin insists.
The bottom line when it comes to human rights is that a multinational can't build a plant in a country like China and expect to be able to allow unauthorized unions in its factories, or come into a country like Burma and protest its jailed dissidents, Litvin writes. "Profit-making enterprises have neither the expertise nor the capacity to supplant" the role of the local government. it's got to be the governments of the nations where globalized companies are hiring labor to initially protect the rights of citizens.
A government should establish strict guidelines for the behavior of corporate interests that produce goods using labor in its country, and those guidelines should be patterned after Amnesty International's approach. To wit, governments should develop an "explicit" policy on human rights prior to allowing any company to enter the country and exploit workers and resources. Governments should must insist that multinational corporations train their managers and their staff in international human rights standards, with guidance and technical training from non-governmental labor-related organizations, where possible.
Governments should make certain all companies are in compliance with the UN Code of Conduct for law Enforcement Officials, in order to prevent cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment of workers; governments should also take, according to the Amnesty International Human Rights Principles, "reasonable steps to ensure that visiting corporate operations do not have a negative impact" on the enjoyment of civil and human rights in the community. Any employee who feels she or he has been mistreated or abused in any way may report to an independent non-government organization (NGO) that is set up by the government.
It must be a condition of all governments that allow multinational corporations to build facilities in their country that health and safety concerns need to be met; the policies of companies must pass muster when it comes to safe working conditions, healthy food services on site, and the company must not engage in or support "the use of corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion, or verbal abuse" (Amnesty International).
Further, a government must receive from a corporation that is setting up business in their country assurances that the policies and practices of the company are in no way discriminatory when it comes to hiring and advancement. There should be national codes of conduct established for all multinational companies doing business in that particular country that prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, sex, skin color, language, economic status, religion, political or other "conscientiously held beliefs," birthplace or other status. Besides hiring and advancement, there should be no discrimination allowed during recruitment, promotion, remuneration, customer relations, actual working conditions and these codes should also apply to contractors, vendors, and partners who are involved in the project with the visiting corporation.
Question #3: What economic strategies will sustain developing countries? Nobel Prize-winning economist (a professor at Columbia University) Joseph E. Stiglitz, in his presentation to the Social Development Bank in Brazil (Stiglitz 2002), stated that globalization has three "advantages." One, the demand for a country's products is "no longer constrained to its own markets"; two, a country's investment it no longer "constrained to its own markets"; and three, producers can and do have access to "most advanced technology." But given these advantages, Stiglitz continues, developing countries also need to have access to "highly trained labor," and that means paying "internationally competitive wages, which they can ill afford" and that leads to problems because losing skilled workers prevents the developing country from staying competitive in the global market.
A key strategy then, is for developing countries to borrow necessary capital from foreign sources to be able to maintain their highly technical and well-trained labor force. "The rate of return on these investments exceeds the cost of capital," Stiglitz said. Also, a strategy that seems imperative for a developing nation is "social stability" which depends on "education" so large portions of the population are not left behind. The educational program must be built, Stiglitz continues, so that "those who remain [in poverty] see their productivity rise, both by attuning them to better production technologies" and by "sensitizing them to the products that are most valued by the market."
Conclusion: The United States should be showing leadership by establishing peaceful and productive economic policies regarding the globalization of the world's economy and the assurance of human rights; the U.S. should be providing sound economic R&D assistance to developing nations in Africa and South America, and elsewhere. Rather than the current Bush Administration policy of spending billions weekly on a futile war in Iraq - which is alienating Americans from millions of Muslims around the world - billions should be spend in supporting Third World countries' transition out of obscurity and poverty and into the global marketplace, where they can prosper and provide education for their children. And rather than violating human rights by means of torture in Iraqi prisons, and by spiriting suspected Islamic terrorists off to hidden torture camps, the Bush Administration should be showing the way towards respect for all humans and solid economic development for the rest of the world to follow.
Amnesty International. "Human Rights Principles for Companies" / "UN Global Compact: the Nine Principles" / "Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal Disaster." Retrieved 6 March 2007 at http://web.amnesty.org.
Engardio, Pete. "Global Compact, Little Impact." Business Week (issue) 3891 (2004): 86-87.
Litvin, Daniel. "Memo to the President: A Strategy for Business and Human Rights." Foreign
Policy (issue) 139 (2003): 68-72.
Stiglitz, Joseph E. "Development Policies in a World of Globalization." Seminar at the Social
Development Bank, Rio Janeiro ("New International Trends for Economic Development")
September 12-13, 2002. Retrieved 6 March 2007 at http://www3.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/index.cfm.
Therien, Jean-Philippe, & Pouliot, Vincent. "The Global Compact: Shifting the Politics of International Development?" Global Governance 12(2006): 55-75.