Moving from finance-driven to development-centred globalisation at UNCTAD XIII

“Financial markets and institutions have become the masters rather than the servants of the real economy, distorting trade and investment, heightening levels of inequality, and posing a systemic threat to economic stability“ wrote in his report to the upcoming 13th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, UNCTAD Secretary General. The conference, that will take place on 21-26th April 2012 in Qatar, has the ambition to place the focus of globalization away from the financial markets on to inclusive, sustainable development results. Trade union delegation, coordinated by the ITUC, will advocate the establishment of Social Protection Floors, securing states’ policy space for development, Decent Work Agenda as well as macroeconomic policies for jobs creation and targets for green jobs creation.

Under the theme Development-centred globalisation: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development UNCTAD XIII opens the debate about the real outcomes of the current model of international trade and finance. The quadrennial high-level conference will be an opportunity to rethink the paradigm and steer it back into the principles of inclusiveness, environmental sustainability, gender equality and human rights.

Moreover, the Conference takes place in Qatar – an country with an extremely poor record on labour standards. Qatar and other countries in the region need to quickly take steps to allow freedom of association and collective bargaining to workers. The ITUC has taken a clear position for the reformation of the migrant-worker “sponsorship” system in Qatar and other Gulf countries with a view to enabling workers the freedom to choose their job.

Trade unions draw attention to a number of problems resulting from trade liberalisation including widening income inequality, increasing unemployment, esp. among the youth, as well as weakening adherence to labour standards resulting from a ‘race to the bottom’ among countries that compete for investment. All these problems need strong measures, including an appropriate regulatory framework for the financial markets, sufficient policy space for countries to follow more appropriate trade and taxation policies and ensuring social protection floors through efforts at national and international level.

Read more about the ITUC’s perspective on the issues of trade and development in the ITUC statement to UNCTAD XIII.

ITUC events at the UNCTAD XIII Civil Society Forum:
- Wellington Chibebe, ITUC Deputy General Secretary at the General Debate - 23rd April 2012, 17.50-18.00
- Social Protection Floor: A right and an instrument -23rd April 2012, 14.30-16.30
- Rights in trade. Rights for trade. Securing states’ policy space for development - 24th April 2012, 10.30-12.30