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The Social Dimensions of Globalization

The war on terrorism and in Iraq has distracted much of the world's attention from the pressing issue of how globalization should be managed so that it benefits everyone. A new report, issued by the International Labor Organization's Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, reminds us how far the Bush administration is out of line with the global consensus.

The ILO is a tripartite organization with representatives of labor, government, and business. The Commission, chaired by the presidents of Finland and Tanzania, has 24 members (of whom I was one) drawn from different nationalities, interests groups, and intellectual persuasions, including members as diverse as the head of Toshiba and the leader of the AFL-CIO. Yet this very heterogeneous group was able to crystallize the emerging global consensus that globalization, despite its positive potential, has not only failed to live up to that potential, but has actually contributed to social distress.

The fault lies with how globalization has been managed - partly by countries, but most importantly, by the international community, including institutions like the World Bank, World Trade Organization, and the IMF, which are responsible for establishing the "rules of the game." The Commission even reached consensus on a number of concrete measures to help put a "human face" on globalization - or at least mitigate some of its worst effects.

The gap between the emerging consensus on globalization, which this report reflects, and the Bush administration's international economic policies help explain today's widespread hostility towards America's government.