|Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor - White Paper on International Development (DFID - The Stationery Office, 2000, 106 p.)|
|Chapter 2: Promoting Effective Governments and Efficient Markets|
68. Globalisation has been associated with a growth in democracy. The proportion of countries with forms of democratic government has risen from 28 per cent in 1974 to 61 per cent in 1998ix. Moreover improved global communication has facilitated greater international solidarity in support of democratic freedoms and human rights. Information is circulated more widely within civil society. People everywhere are better informed about developments elsewhere. Abuses are given global publicity. And, increasingly, governments have to explain their actions and omissions to a global audience.
69. This spread of democratic structures represents a crucial advance. But the existence of the formal structures of democracy - political parties, elections, and parliaments - does not guarantee the empowerment of poor people, even when they make up a majority of the population. A poor majority often lacks influence because power is held by a narrow elite, with rulers exercising power through support from a regional group, through social status or through concentrated wealth.
70. Making political institutions work for poor people means helping to strengthen the voices of the poor and helping them to realise their human rights. It means empowering them to take their own decisions, rather than being the passive objects of choices made on their behalf. And it means removing forms of discrimination - in legislation and government policies - that prevent poor people from having control over their own lives and over the policies of governments. Governments must be willing to let people speak, and to develop mechanisms to ensure that they are heard. This is central to what we mean by a rights based approach to development.
71. The voices of the poor can be strengthened by supporting those parts of civil society that help poor people organise to influence decision makers. The new information and communications technologies also have a role in strengthening the voices of poor people. A free press and broadcast media, capable of challenging government policies and their impact on the poor, is crucial. The interests of the poor also require inclusive and fair electoral processes and controls on election spending. And they require parliaments that scrutinise legislation and control the budgeting process, and hold to account the policy of the executive.
72. Development requires the empowerment of women. Huge progress was made in the 20th century, with women enjoying greater freedom and power than ever before. But they still lag behind men in virtually all aspects of life. Up to seventy per cent of the world's poor are women. Gender discrimination is the most widespread form of social exclusion and discrimination. Inequalities are to be found in economic and human development, and in political representation. There can be no equitable globalisation without greater equality and empowerment for women.
73. Action is required to address the needs of children and to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Globalisation has the potential to enhance the welfare of children, but too many children in today's world continue to live in abject poverty. Too many children have their most basic human rights violated on a daily basis - whether through lack of adequate nutrition, limited access to education and healthcare, or through exposure to violence and abuse.
74. A large number of children also suffer from what we might call the 'dark side' of globalisation - the growing pornography industry and the trade in child prostitutes. This has been facilitated by modern communications technology, including the Internet. In some parts of the world, children are press-ganged to serve in armies as child soldiers. And there are millions of child labourers, some of them working in extremely hazardous and dangerous conditions (see box 3).
75. Children born today will be fifteen years of age in 2015. To achieve the 2015 targets it is essential to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage - providing opportunities for today's children that were denied to their parents. We need to ensure that children are educated so that they can take advantage of opportunities, and receive the protection they need from disease and abuse to allow them to build their own and their country's future.
76. The UK Government is committed to working with others to enhance the human rights of poor people. Through our development programmes and our diplomatic efforts we will continue to encourage governments around the world to ratify the UN human rights treaties, to help them abide by the obligations that those treaties place on states, and to put them into practice in national legislation and policy.