Saturday, May 17, 2008



The term “globalisation” has been given a number of meanings .At its broadest it has been used as a term encompassing any form of societal change with transnational dimensions. In general, globalisation is the term used to characterize the processes of growing interconnection and interdependence in today’s world, generated to a large degree by growing international economic, cultural and political cooperation and links, as well as by the need to respond together to global problems which can be solved only on a global scale.

The human rights community has also begun to identify positive and negative impacts of globalisation. Positive aspects that have been noted include:

increasing economic opportunities for countries able to find markets in which their labour forces can effectively compete and for those countries that are able to attract the investment, institutional and technical infrastructure to facilitate this; increasing consumer choice and falling prices for individuals around the world; increasing protection of the rights of vulnerable groups as communications technology facilitates global awareness-raising and global actions by international solidarity and human rights movements; better protection of the right to seek, receive and impart information through new communications tools including cellular phones, satellite television and the Internet, and the right of freedom of association or freedom of assembly since with these new communication tools our physical presence is no longer required to exercise these rights.

A number of processes associated with globalisation have been considered to have had negative impacts on human rights. These include the fact that increasing social and economic insecurity due to factors such as the level and volatility of capital flows can affect a range of economic and social rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living; accelerating changes in trading relations, and the possibility for large corporations to move their operations from one country to another at short notice can affect the right to work, and the competitive global environment can cause limits to be imposed on workers’ rights to bargain collectively or to strike as companies seek to produce at competitive costs or as countries offer companies low-wage labour as an incentive to keep them on their soil.

Globalisation has affected children’s enjoyment of their rights in a number of ways. The enjoyment by a child of the right to survival and development is directly influenced by reductions in parental income and education, and is linked to factors such as availability of food and housing, and children suffer disproportionately where it very difficult to provide social services such as health care and education in an increasingly competitive world. In many countries it has shown that liberalization and the reduced role of the State in these countries have led to increased insecurity, with increases in child labour; decreases in nutritional standards; big falls in school enrolment and attendance levels; and increasing percentages of children living in institutions, a sign of families unable to cope.

Globalisation can play a positive role in facilitating exchange of information on health policies and exchange of health services. Globalisation can also facilitate the realization of human rights such as the rights to information and to education, which in turn are important for the realization of the right to health. Yet globalisation gives rise to very real concerns about the right to health. Increased movement of people seeking employment, changes in behaviour, and increased movement of goods across the world, for instance, have contributed to the more rapid spread of diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. The adverse health effects associated with this are exacerbated by reductions in basic services as well as by increased migration, which often increases exposure to disease whilst causing traditional safety nets to be left behind.

Globalization has had negative implications for Indian women. While globalization has brought jobs to rural, developing areas such as India where there was previously no employment, these jobs seem to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. The work available to women is almost always poorly paid, mentally and physically unhealthy, demeaning, or insecure. “Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, but earn only ten percent of the world’s income, and own less than one percent of the world’s property (Tomlinson)”. Women are suffering two fold. As women in developing countries move into the work force, their domestic responsibilities are not alleviated. Women work two full time jobs…

The effects of globalisation have been both positive and negative both in any region generally but especially among the poor population who arguably have been impacted by globalisation more than any other group. Globalisation presents both challenges and opportunities to us. The key point seems to be that globalisation promotes opportunities for some but by no means all and its negative fallout is disproportionately experienced by other groups. The policy challenge here is daunting if the positive benefits of globalisation are to be maximised and dispersed more widely and its negative impacts reduced.