Vienna, 14 February 1997/P/K/15458c-is


At an international panel discussion on "The Impact of Globalization on Economic and Social Development" held at Vienna's United Nations Office, Dr. Hans-Peter Martin, author of the German bestseller "Die Globalisierungsfalle" (The Globalization Trap), called for a European alternative to the US-dominated "global governance" that is shaping up since the end of the East-West rivalry. Mr. Martin stated that the United Nations is not a really global player and that it was a major strategic decision of the United States to shape new global power structures around the World Trade Organization (WTO) instead of the United Nations. He referred to the appointment of Ms. Albright as Secretary of State as further confirmation of this American strategy. Mr. Martin, who is also correspondent of the German Newsmagazine "Der Spiegel," recalled that never was a global accord concluded against the will of the United States. He characterized the rapid process of globalization as "Americanization of the world within the terms of neoliberalism."

Participants in the discussion regretted that the United Nations Organization in its present state has not sufficient political clout to create alternative political structures that could keep in check the rapid globalization process which by many was seen as a major threat to democracy on the national and transnational level.

In a different evaluation, Dr. George B. Assaf (U.K.), teamleader of UNIDO's "Global Report", saw new opportunities of globalization for the developing countries. He referred to the increase of investments, access to markets, and new job opportunities which may reduce the threat of mass emigration. Mr. Assaf saw a specific role for the United Nations system as far as globalization and economic development are concerned.

Additional analyses were presented by Dr. Leo Gabriel (Boltzmann-Institute for Latin America, co-ordinator of the meeting) and by Dr. Regina Prehofer, head of the department for finance and consulting of Creditanstalt-Bankverein, one of the major Austrian banking corporations.

The panel discussion was organized by the NGO Committee on Development, a group of NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) that is co-ordinated by the Vienna-based International Progress Organization (I.P.O.).