Report on Globalisation: Parliament to give instructions for new policy definitions

On Tuesday, June 19, the Government gave a report to Parliament on Finland’s policy on questions related to the control of globalisation. The Report had been requested by the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament last October. The committee wanted to have a comprehensive view on globalisation, the key international organisations that are involved in it and Finland’s policy in them.

The Government asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare the report. The Ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, Environment, Labour, Social Affairs and Health, Transport and Communications and Justice also took part in the preparations.

Everybody should be winners in globalisation

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja justified the need for discussion on ways to control globalisation with the paradox of our time: “At the same time as democracy has spread wider than ever before in the world, people’s confidence in its capacity and in their own influence has weakened. This is shown in the low election participation in many countries and in the search for other channels to make one’s voice heard.

The rise of civil activism is looking for ways to have an impact on global trends. The control of globalisation is a focal viewpoint in this report. Globalisation is seen as a primarily positive and unavoidable phenomenon, and as advantageous for a country like Finland. However, everybody should be among the winners in globalisation. The uneven distribution of wealth brought about by it is the main problem.”

The report examines the role of international organisations, such the UN, global financial institutions, environmental organisations and agreements, and the World Trade Organisation, as well as the need for coordination among them. It includes a summary of the positions taken by Finland so far, but the parliamentary debate is expected to give instructions for new policy definitions.

Globalisation promotes openness and human rights

According to Minister of Foreign Trade Kimmo Sasi, Finland is at the forefront of the globalisation debate. He pointed out that Finland has gained from globalisation and saw a positive attitude as important. Globalisation and the closely related spreading of information technologies increase pluralism, openness and respect for human right in societies. Market reactions challenge politicians to bear their responsibilities and avoid promising pies in the sky. Minister Sasi called on non-governmental organisations to start a dialogue with decision makers, instead of only demonstrating.

Minister for Environment and Development Aid Satu Hassi applauded the starting point of the report: in what kind of world do we want to live, instead of selfish interests. Globalisation also opens the way for widening the gap between industrialised and developing countries and within nation states.

There should be a genuine dialogue to counter the increased dominance of the industrialised world, instead of mere negotiating tactics.

A world environmental organisation ?

The worldwide control of environmental threats is not on a satisfactory level. Hassi mentioned that the financing of the UN Environmental Programme UNEP is based on voluntary donations and the management and follow-up of international environmental agreements is fragmented. She stated that the goal within the European Union is to create a world environmental organisation. The first steps should be to confirm the financing of the UNEP on the basis of membership fees and the harmonization of the management of environmental agreements.

Order to the chaos

Mrs Liisa Jaakonsaari, MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the aim of the parliamentary debate is to create order in chaos by giving social interpretation to globalisation. The chaos resulting from globalisation causes unease and powerlessness among citizens. She emphasized the growing role of parliaments in the debate, especially after the events in Seattle and, more recently, Gothenburg. A democratic process is needed to create an overview of globalisation, how it can be controlled, and to define Finland’s policy. The Foreign Affairs Committee is going to listen to experts and non-governmental organisations in the autumn, and then present its statement to the plenary session of Parliament in order to give instructions to the Government.