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William Felice

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The Copenhagen Summit: A Victory far the World Bank?

William Felice discusses the role of Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and the World Bank at the U.N.’s World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen deals with key issues concerning the future of humanity and the planet. Overcoming obstacles to eradicating poverty worldwide, including compelling key international actors to commit to doing so, was the central focus. The essay draws out the connections between globalization, neoliberalism, and increasing poverty in terms of the World Bank’s promotion of economic growth and the market, the informal economy, and its opposition to improved labor standards. World Bank policies, which tended to dominate the Summit, obstruct structural change and too quickly set aside human rights in the name of economic growth. The NGOs rejected that model and called on the Summit to address the structural causes of poverty, unemployment, social disintegration, and environmental degradation. Certain questions on attaining global humane governance arise: Can NGOs bring about substantial change at the local level without elaborating a universal model, e.g., without exploring alternatives to capitalism as a global system? Can the system be transformed, or must it be replaced? Can and should “globalization-from-below” counter capital’s “globalization-from-above”? What is the best forum for discussing structural questions? A related academic conference identified the global social disintegration plaguing developed and developing nations and called on the world community to address the impact of globalization, the decline in social cohesion, and the social costs of modernization. In this light, the ways in which the economic forces of globalization are destructive to civil society were analyzed, as were the roles of the market and nation-states.

economic development; economy, global; international conferences; nongovernmental organizations (NGO); poverty; World Bank

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 24: 1 (1997): 107-119