Thedevelopment of multilateral institutions which has accompanied the process ofglobalization over the last two centuries and the current debate on globalgovernance shows that there is not just one possible international order, noris there a single way of dividing responsibilities among global, regional andnational institutions and agencies. Multilateral agencies or corporations are aresult of globalization. Globalizationis seen as a strong force for delivering economic advancement to peoplethroughout the world. It points to the whole effort of making the world intoone global village. Goods that were only found in one country can now be foundacross the globe. Mobile phones and internet have brought people closer. Workcan be outsourced to different parts of the world.Atthe other hand, it is blamed as a source of all contemporary ills.
Multilateralagencies form the fabric of globalization and promise economic growth anddevelopment. With its attendant benefits also comes with its many negativeeffects to both developed and developing countries. What is a Multilateral Agency?Thesecan be described as organizations formed between three or more nations to workon issues that relate to all of the countries in the organization. They can also be seen as internationalorganizations formed by several governments that collectively administer aidprograms. For instance, the United Nations, the World Bank and the AfricanDevelopment Bank are multilateral agencies. Multilateralorganizations are funded by multiple governments and these funds are spent onprojects in various countries. ROLES OF MULTILATERAL AGENCIESMultilateral agencies provideloans and grants for investments and projects that are aligned with theirgoals.
They can provide political riskcover in cases of high political risk-prone projects and countries. Multilateral organizations also function asoperational instruments of the international community. For instance, theyprovide humanitarian aid for the protection of refugees (UNHCR) or food aidthrough the largest humanitarian organization of the world, the World FoodProgramme (WFP)It is opined that someMultilateral Agencies played key roles in creating the architecture of theworld agenda of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) supported by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). This actionresulted to 1990 World Conference on education for all, the OECD DAC report onshaping the 21st century in1996, World forum in Dakar in April 2000and the Millennium Summit of September 2000. The Multilateral Agencies arecredited to playing a major role in the construction of the above constructsand even the Millennium Development Goals that succeeded.
· The United Nations (UN) TheUnited Nations is a voluntary association of around 190 states signatory to theUN Charter (1945), whose primary aim is to: maintain international peace and security,solve economic, social, and political problems through internationalcooperation and promote respect for human rights.· International Monetary Fund (IMF)The IMF provides technicalassistance on fiscal and monetary policy, regulatory procedures, tax policy,and collection of statistics, among other issues. · WorldBank The World Bank group iscomprised of five organizations; the International Bank of Reconstruction andDevelopment (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), theInternational Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment GuaranteeAgency (MIGA), and the International Center for Settlement of InvestmentDisputes (ICSID).The World Bank focuses on areaslike reconstruction and construction of infrastructures, natural disasterrelief, humanitarian emergencies, poverty reduction, infant mortality, genderequality, education, and long-term development issues.
The World Bank alsotries to foster social reforms with the aim of promoting economic development.· WorldTrade Organization (WTO)WTO was established in 1995 andcomprises of 153 member countries. It was formerly known called GeneralAgreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It deals with the rules of trade betweennations; reconciles trade disputes between member nations. The main goals ofWTO are freer trade through negotiation, predictability through binding andtransparency, promotion of fair competition and encouraging development andeconomic reform Some African Multilateral Agencies· AfricanDevelopment BankThe African Development Bank isthe premier financial development institution of Africa. It is focused onfighting poverty, improving the lives of people of the continent and mobilizationof resources towards the economic and social progress of its Member Countries.· AfricanExport-Import Bank (Afreximbank)The African Export-Import Bank(Afreximbank) was established in July 1987 in Egypt, following the resolutionof the Board of Governors on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the AfDB.
The aim of the Bank is to facilitate, promote and expand intra-African andextra-African trade.· EconomicCommunity Of West African States (ECOWAS)ECOWAS is a regional group of 15West African countries, established in 1975. Its purpose is to promote economicintegration in all fields of economic activity of the member countires GLOBALIZATIONGlobalization is a relatively new term and sinceits usage has been defined in numerous ways. It varies in the particulardriving force that is identified. The meaning of the term is itself a topic inglobal discussion; it may refer to “real” processes, ideas that justify them, orto a way of thinking about them.It may be defined as the increasinginteraction of people through the growth of the international flow of money,ideas and culture.
Globalizationis primarily an economic process of integration which has social and culturalaspects as well. It is used to refer to the growing influence exerted at thelocal, national and regional levels by financial, economic, environmental,political, social and cultural processes that are global in scope.Globalizationhas been seen from different perspectives.
A view holds that globalization as aterminology appeared in the late 1980s but the world did not just startcreating linkages during that period. Globalization in the true sense is notreally existent because countries differ in many ways. The word was coined toserve the interests of the northerners by giving the illusion that the world isbecoming integrated in all aspects. However, this is in doubt because it isevident that the only integration that the world is truly experiencing isthrough increase in the flow of capital and not of labour, as can be seen fromthe features below;Features of Globalization· The liberalization of internationaltrade: Free trade between countries; absence of excessivegovernmental control over trade· The expansion of Foreign DirectInvestment· Emergence of massive cross-borderfinancial flows.Therefore,its three broad dimensions are internationaltrade, international investment, andinternational finance.MULTILATERALISM, GLOBALIZATION AND DEVELOPMENTThe rise of globalization is closelyentwined with the rise of multilateral corporations.
Theeconomic essentials of globalization are evident in the acclaim of multilateralagencies with respect to the developing world. Globalization pushes forth theagenda of the rich nations like the United States and the United Kingdomthrough multilateral corporations. The Multilaterals tend to hold the strongestopinions on various issues and these opinions are made to be seen as thestandard.
For instance, According to the World Bank, globalization is good foreconomic growth and growth is good for the poor. This is a strong fact andcannot be dispelled by other arguments to the contrary and such examples as forthe example where globalization works for the benefit of the poor (World Bank; 2000:14). Inthis regard it has been argued that:1. Globalizationhas eased trade, attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and internationalaid to the Third World. It augurs the advent of multinational enterprises(MNEs) who bring modern up-to-date technology in less developed countries.
Notonly MNCs bring with them modern technology but also it brings investmentfunds, organizational structure, managerial culture, distribution network, etc.All these create income and employment in developing countries; improve thedevelopment and standard of living of the citizens.2. Globalizationis expected to promote efficiency, productivity and, hence, higher economicgrowth rate.3. Governments are able to betterwork together towards common goals now that there is an advantage incooperation, an improved ability to interact and coordinate, and a globalawareness of issues.
4. Developing countries are able toreap the benefits of current technology without undergoing many of the growingpains associated with development of these technologies.5. Forconsumers, quality goods at the right price will be delivered. This helps tobring down prices as domestic companies have to fight foreign competition, theyare compelled to raise their standards and customer satisfaction levels inorder to survive in the market. Quality improvement and price reduction willthen be enjoyed. Onthe other hand, there have been protests against the harmful effects of globalization on the vast multitude ofpeople all over the world, particularly in developing countries.
Protest marches,demonstrations and meetings have been organized in different countries. Theseprotests have taken militant forms in the past. They chargethat these UN-based organizations have been the agents of globalization andthat they have been used by developed countries as their instruments to exploitand dominate developing countries. These protest groups-environmental groups,human rights groups, women’s groups, farmers’ groups and peace groups haveinterlocked themselves at the global level.Theseagitations come on the platform that globalization is; 1.
Anagenda of the Rich States and their Multinational Corporations (MNCs): The critics of globalizationcriticize it as a corporate agenda—(the agenda of the big business) and theideology of the developed countries to dominate and control the internationaleconomic system in a bigger, deeper and intensive manner.2. Gainsof Globalization for Rich at the Cost of the Poor: Under the process of globalization,big businesses have done well despite the slow productivity growth. Globalizationhas helped the corporate elites to be more and more rich and wealthy to thedetriment of the poor. The poor form themajority of the labor force who work tirelessly to enrich the rich few, inreturn for meager wages.3. The Erosion Of Sovereignty According to Oyejide (1998) in thepolitical sphere, globalization has caused erosion of sovereignty, especiallyon economic and financial matters, as a result of the imposition of models,strategies and policies of development on African countries by theInternational Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
4. Globalizationhas been seen as a replacement of imperialism. Economicfactors are usually the essence of imperialism. Globalization also iscapital-driven.
The developed countries that pursue the agenda of globalizationstill use the same tactics of imperialism. This is achieved through dominationand continuous exploitation of the factors of production of developingcountries through multinational corporations.5. BrainDrainGlobalizationhas freed labour across the world and facilitated brain drain. It facilitated”brain drain” in developing countries; it promotes the migration of the bestminds and expert professionals in different fields of interest, thus reducingfurther their human capacity. 6. Erosion and loss of identity of theSouth.
The valuesand norms of developed countries are gradually rooted in developing countries.This leads to the growth of a monoculture – the culture of the north (developedcountries) being imposed on the South (developing countries). This involves theerosion and loss of the identity and the cultures of developing countries.Globalization is thus a one-way traffic: it flows from the North to the South.7. Fluctuation in prices and stiflingof local productionDueto increase in competition between locally produced goods and foreign goods,developed countries are forced to lower down their prices for their products.
Thisis because countries like China can produce goods at a lower cost that makestheir goods cheaper than the ones produced in developed countries. Globalizationalso stunts the development of local competition because resources in thesecountries are scant, and companies that operate on a global scale can sustaingreater losses than local firms. Cheap imports flood markets and make locallyproduced goods less viable and consequently these firms fizzle away. 8. PovertytrapGlobalizationplayed a role in poverty reduction in some fast developing countries likeChina, India and Vietnam.
However, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa registeredan opposite trend and are trapped in a vicious circle of interlocking handicapsincluding poverty and illiteracy, civil strife, geographical disadvantages,poor governance and inflexible economies largely dependent on a singlecommodity. 9. Burdenof External Debt on LDCsMany LDCs are also burdened byhigh external debt and hard hit by the continuing decline in the price ofprimary commodities. These problems have been compounded by continuingagricultural protectionism in the industrialized countries. This restricts marketaccess to most LDCs while subsidized imports undermine local agriculturalproducers. CONCLUSIONIt is evident that globalization benefits those whohave the capacity to harness it but can be very detrimental to those whom itfinds not prepared. Most African States are not prepared, especially in termsof having the requisite capacity.
Hopefully,the global actors will realize that it is not beneficial to them or to anyoneelse to play globalization-game without the poor. For globalization toultimately be beneficial to everyone-the north and the south-all must havecertain levels of capacity that permit them to effectively participate in thegame.