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Beyond Trade: Broadening the Globalisation Governance Agenda

Pierre Marc Johnson1
with Karel Mayrand

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VI. Conclusion: Calling on an Accountable Virage

It is paradoxical that Seattle's failure highlighted the deficiencies of WTO governance while it opened a new window of opportunity for developing innovative strategies of global governance. Global governance has become more complex and the need to integrate various agendas of globalisation into a coherent structure is more apparent than ever. As stated in the Human Development Report: "The challenge of globalisation in the new century is not to stop the expansion of global markets. The challenge is to find the rules and institutions for stronger governance local, national, regional and global to preserve the advantages of global markets and competition, but to provide enough space for human, community and environmental resources to ensure that globalisation works for people not just for profits".65

The values behind such an approach rest on broadly shared concerns in western democracies as to their ability as societies to provide domestically as adequately as possible for the needs of the larger number, and the projection of this approach outward to the global community. The rationale at a global level is embedded in the systematic effort to achieve the most widely based stakeholding by countries in the trade liberalisation process. In order to secure a commitment from reticent developing countries that will allow the trade agenda to go forward, it is imperative to craft understandable and clear priorities that encompass the wider globalisation agenda. Addressing developing countries' needs, advancing environmental protection, and conserving threatened natural resources are core elements to integrate in this new global agenda. Opening up the decision processes of global governance systems and allowing systematic innovations by hybrid creatures such as the G20 are also part of the meeting of minds and interests that is needed to reconcile developed and developing countries.

This exercise requires an uncommon resilience in giving the multiple non-trade agendas their place in foreign policy efforts by adopting integrated rather than fragmented approaches. The multilateral structures and fora required to make renewed North-South bargains a reality constitute a worthy ideal for Canadian foreign policy and for that of its G7/8 partners. Canada's ability to articulate interests in multilateral fora and to develop consensual policies would serve this approach well. Canada can also put its credibility to good use by playing a mediatory role between the North and South, helping restore confidence and forging basic bargains. Moreover, Canadian foreign policy has had a long practice with the integration of civil society and can thus work very comfortably in the open, transparent processes that it has itself been promoting for years. Canada has a seat in the G20, the UN Security Council, and the Summit of the Americas, and is also member of the G7/8, la Francophonie, the Commonwealth, and the trade ministers Quadrilateral, positions that give it considerable influence. It can also make substantive contributions in the UN Commission for Sustainable Development as trade liberalisation talks regain momentum.

To do so efficiently and make a meaningful contribution that gives a direction to these changes, foreign policy, international financial, and trade talks, as well as summitry mechanics, must all participate in defining this new coherence and consistency. There are considerable obstacles on the way to efficiently integrating such complex issues.

Increased trade is unrealistic outside a peaceful and secure setting. Population growth, natural resources depletion, and poverty-related social instability in an increased number of countries all bear on the meaning of peace and security. To face this evolving paradigm responsibly, the links between social and environmental realities with the international trade and the peace and security agendas must be clearly recognised, addressed, and acted upon.

As in all such virages, the obstacles to change cannot be removed without meaningful leadership at the highest level of foreign policy, international finance, international trade, and the security apparatus. The steering of globalisation forward in a direction that is more humanistic ultimately rests not on administrative personnel and international bureaucracies, but on the heads of governments and their ministers, and their capacity to elaborate and implement such a vision.

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