Global Policy Forum is a policy watchdog that follows the work of the United Nations. We promote accountability and citizen participation in decisions on peace and security, social justice and international law.

Over many centuries, human societies across the globe have established progressively closer contacts. Recently, the pace of global integration has dramatically increased. Unprecedented changes in communications, transportation, and computer technology have given the process new impetus and made the world more interdependent than ever. Multinational corporations manufacture products in many countries and sell to consumers around the world. Money, technology and raw materials move ever more swiftly across national borders. Along with products and finances, ideas and cultures circulate more freely. As a result, laws, economies, and social movements are forming at the international level.

This site considers not only the Globalization of the Economy but also the Globalization of Politics, of Culture and of Law. The globalized world sweeps away regulation and undermines local and national politics, just as the consolidation of the nation state swept away local economies, dialects, cultures and political forms. Globalization creates new markets and wealth, even as it causes widespread suffering, disorder, and unrest. It is both a source of repression and a catalyst for global movements of social justice and emancipation.  The great financial crisis of 2008-09 has revealed the dangers of an unstable, deregulated, global economy but it has also given rise to important global initiatives for change.

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The term globalization encompasses a range of social, political, and economic changes. Within the section Defining Globalization, we provide an introduction to the key debates. The materials ask what is new, what drives the process, how it changes politics, and how it affects global institutions like the UN.

Globalization expands and accelerates the exchange of ideas and commodities over vast distances. It is common to discuss the phenomenon in highly generalized terms, but globalization’s impacts are often best understood at the local level. Cases of Globalization explore the various manifestations of interconnectedness in the world, noting how globalization affects real people and places.

Tables and Charts on Globalization provide data on the growing global interconnectedness and draw a statistical and graphic picture of Globalization.

Globalization often appears to be a force of nature, a phenomenon without bounds or alternatives. But peoples’ movements have shown that it is neither unalterable nor inevitable. Citizens all over the world—ordinary people from the global North and South—can work together to shape alternate futures, to build a globalization of cooperation, solidarity and respect for our common planetary environment.

Globalization of the Economy

Picture Credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park

Advances in communication and transportation technology, combined with free-market ideology, have given goods, services, and capital unprecedented mobility. Northern countries want to open world markets to their goods and take advantage of abundant, cheap labor in the South, policies often supported by Southern elites. They use international financial institutions and regional trade agreements to compel poor countries to “integrate” by reducing tariffs, privatizing state enterprises, and relaxing environmental and labor standards. The results have enlarged profits for investors but offered pittances to laborers, provoking a strong backlash from civil society. This page analyzes economic globalization, and examines how it might be resisted or regulated in order to promote sustainable development.


General Analysis on Globalization of the Economy

With international trade, financial transfers, and foreign direct investment, the economy is increasingly internationally interconnected. This page analyzes economic globalization, and examines how it might be resisted or regulated in order to promote sustainable development.

International Trade and Development

Trade Agreements, such as the FTAA, NAFTA, and CAFTA facilitate international trade, thereby strongly impacting people at all levels of the economy. They make trade “free” for Northern exports, without prohibiting the rich countries’ protectionist measures that harm Southern competitors. Such agreements tend to slow development in poor countries and pull them deeper into poverty.

Trade Agreements

Trade Agreements, such as the FTAA, NAFTA, and CAFTA facilitate international trade, thereby strongly impacting people at all levels of the economy. Rich countries often manage to prioritize their own interests in such agreements, which tend to harm development of poor countries, pulling them deeper into poverty.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment and Related Initiatives

In May 1995, the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development committed itself to the immediate start of negotiations aimed at reaching a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).

Transnational Corporations

Transnational corporations have become some of the largest economic entities in the world, surpassing many states. Their continuous push for liberalization has driven globalization while challenging environmental, health, and labor standards in many countries.

Export Processing Zones

Export Processing Zones, sometimes known as maquiladoras or Special Economic Development Zones, are usually exempt from national taxes, tariff duties and a wide range of regulations, including those on wages, working conditions, health protection, environmental safety and trade union rights. Governments have set up these zones in the hope of attracting investments and creating jobs. But in so doing, they turn over sovereignty to corporate investors and seriously undermine national tax and regulatory systems.

Foreign Direct Investment

Transnational corporations and private individuals invest more money abroad than ever before; foreign direct investment has increased tenfold over the last 20 years. While many poor countries see foreign capital as a tool for growth, it has often increased instability and inequality as well.

World Trade Organization

This intergovernmental organization sets and enforces the rules of international trade. It has become a target of civil society’s criticism over its opaque, undemocratic operating procedures and neo-liberal ideology.

World Bank

The World Bank’s mission is to erradicate poverty by loaning poor countries money for economic development, but these loans often come with demands of economic liberalization.

International Monetary Fund

The IMF was orginally envisoned as a “lender of last resort” for countries experiencing economic crises. Now, however, the IMF conditions assistance on neo-liberal reforms that exacerbate poverty.

Global Taxes

This page explores the different ways to implement global taxes, the need for democratic oversight and control, the policy shaping effects, the distributive effects, and the possible use of such taxes to fund the UN, its agencies, and other programs for worldwide human security and development.


In many countries, the US dollar has become the national currency. In others, the national currency has been pegged to the US dollar. In still others, major transactions like real estate usually take place using the dollar. Dollarization eliminates the possibility of independent national monetary policy and it exposes countries to policies set in Washington.

Globalization of Politics

Picture Credit: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Traditionally politics has been undertaken within national political systems. National governments have been ultimately responsible for maintaining the security and economic welfare of their citizens, as well as the protection of human rights and the environment within their borders. With global ecological changes, an ever more integrated global economy, and other global trends, political activity increasingly takes place at the global level.

Under globalization, politics can take place above the state through political integration schemes such as the European Union and through intergovernmental organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. Political activity can also transcend national borders through global movements and NGOs. Civil society organizations act globaly by forming alliances with organizations in other countries, using global communications systems, and lobbying international organizations and other actors directly, instead of working through their national governments.

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General Analysis on Globalization of Politics

These articles discuss the theory, function, and creation of global politics and political movements. The page pays special attention to political tools and methods.

Political Integration and National Sovereignty

The European Union stands out as the world’s most ambitious attempt to integrate sovereign states into a united political body, but other regions are also experimenting with political integration. As the EU evolved from a free trade zone into a political union, member states have moved up parts of the decision making process to a supra-national level, eroding national sovereignty. This page looks at the phenomenon of political integration and its implications on national sovereignty.

Global Governance and the Three Sisters

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization wield tremendous power and influence, but exclude the voices of developing countries most adversely affected by financial and trade policies. Money rules at the World Bank and the IMF, and “consensus” at the WTO is often the product of behind-the-scenes “greenroom” bargaining and pressure from trade heavyweights such as the United States.

Movement for Global Justice

Massive citizen protests and alternative summits accompany most gatherings of the G-8, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Universities, NGOs, trade unions, faith-based and peace groups come together to oppose business-driven globalization, war and undemocratic decision making, advocating for global peace, economic and social justice. New international institutions such as the World Social Forum are a step towards global justice and sustainability. Also look at GPF’s pages on the World Social Forum and the World Economic Forum.

Source: Globalization

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