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Reinventing the Global Order: Mia Mottley Speaking Truth the World? Part Three

Education 03 Aug, 2023 Follow News

Dr Livingston Smith

Mia Mottley - Prime Minister of Barbados

By Dr Livingston Smith, PhD

Professor, Department of the Social Sciences

University College of the Cayman Islands

Mia Mottley- Prime Minister of Barbados

In her comprehensive speech to the World Trade Organization in March 2022, Mottley called for a reinvention of the global order. 

Let us sketch rather briefly, the formation of the current global architecture. World War Two, the greatest war in history in terms of the human and material resources extended and the terrible consequences meted out to humanity, is the immediate context to what some call the ‘New World Order’. The costs of its military operation made it more expensive than all other wars combined. The massive death toll, the holocaust, the Nuremburg Trials, the first use of nuclear weapons in warfare are some of the unique features of this war. It was an important cause of the demise of European domination as seen in the end of its empires, at least for the most part, as colonized peoples moved their countries towards independence. Another consequence was that out of its ashes emerged two superpowers that became the basis of the Cold War.

New global structures were needed and formed to move the world beyond the ravages of the war. The United Nations was formed to secure and maintain international peace and security. The so-called Bretton Woods Institutions, formed after the war, were also the vital institutional structures of the order cemented within the neo-liberal economic vision and framework of free-market and free trade. Designed initially to facilitate reconstruction in post-World War 2 Europe, the World Bank focuses on lending for infrastructural development among others; the International Monetary Fund to stabilize exchange rates by providing short terms loans and the World Trade Organization, to encourage free trade by removing obstacles to trade. Given the severity of global inequality, there was always the view that these institutions, created and controlled by powerful western countries, did not serve the interest of the poor and developing nations well.

This view was the thrust of Motley’s speech to the World Trade Organization where she took the entire architecture to task. It is not working, at least not for the majority of the world’s population who continue to live ‘in conditions of hunger, poverty, indignity, and inequality’, she concluded.

What is the problem with the current order?  It has no real solution to climate degradation and for sustainability; is motivated by greed and profit, not human dignity, and welfare. The current order she explains is ‘the embalming of the old colonial order when these institutions were created’. Its makes peace illusive as its is not grounded in economic justice; it perpetuates global inequality as a few continue to determine the fate of the many and so is unacceptable. For example, the permanent five in the UN Security Council have veto rights but who is guarding the guard and on what basis do they still have this right? Mottley stresses the unfair treatment of refugees linked to where they are coming from; the failure of the international order to respond nimbly to global issues; the concentration of economic power in the digital platforms and so on.

And what are her solutions for the reshaping and the reinvention that she calls for?  Global moral leadership and political will; new long-term financing instruments especially for countries on the from lines of grappling with consequences of the pandemic and global warming while attempting to pursue development even while keeping current with their debt payments. She calls for the voice of labor in the decision-making that goes on in these organizations; for internationalism and an inclusive international trading system. Mottley calls for a new global order that is transparent, fair, and morally legitimate; for democracy to be applied to the leading digital platforms in which the world carries out an increasing proportion of its trade; for special and differentiated treatment for small states especially affected by global warming and other issues to allow more fiscal ability to spend on mitigation, adaptation and resilience in relation to climate change.

The Prime Minister wants even application of anti-money laundering rules; more opportunities for developing countries to be part of the digital revolution to assist them in the delivery of health care, education and so on; an overhaul of global trading mechanisms to eliminate discriminatory, distortionary, and inequitable rules and barriers to the international trading services and more democracy and representation in the WTO and other key globalizing institutions to monitor the impact of international trade to ensure a more equitable trading system.

These are not new ideas and many before her and now have been calling and fighting for change. The ideas are fundamental and urgent. The question is will change happen? What will it take for the system to change?

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