Should Developing Coutries Embrace Globalisation? Part II

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It is becoming increasingly simple to paint a highly dismal image of the impact of globalisation, and while it is important not to dismiss its possible dangers for LDCs, it is undeniable that benefits come with it, even delivered by TNCs. The potential for the development and promotion of human rights and work related rights (and indeed the presence of work in the LDCs) is great. An example of such potential can be demonstrated by the increasingly popular trend of non-financial reporting for TNCs. Osuji (2011) highlights the possibility for large corporations to positively use their immense power in the globalised world. It is explained that with the increased levels of interdependence and interconnectedness of globalisation, a global social consciousness emerges, with shared values and expectations and thus more conformity with minimal standards by TNCs (Osuji, 2011). In this sense, the greater role TNCs play globally means greater expectations placed upon them. It is emphasised that today, reputation and public relations are of concern to TNCs and as such the importance of appearing socially aware and conscious is vital (Osuji, 2011). With the main focus of international law being aimed solely at nation states, the role that non-financial reports could play goes far in introducing elements of accountability and transparency to the dealings of TNCs internationally. It seems, therefore, that these non-financial reports could present a boon in many aspects of LDC work and social lives, calling for greater optimism for globalisation.

The role of TNCs in promoting human rights definitely has a long way to go, however. Exploitation and abuse of human rights is widespread today, despite the existence of certain legal codes, this fact overshadows the potential for good that TNCs could have. The case of the Bhopal gas disaster, wherein hundreds of workers and civilians perished from the effects of toxic gasses escaping from a plant, shows the dangers posed by TNCs. Around 50,000 were treated in the few days following the incident and campaigners claimed that an additional 20,000 died as a result (BBC News, n.d.). The incident is credited to the cost-cutting methods the responsible corporation, Union Carbide, used to construct the factory (BBC News, n.d.), and to the fact that the safety measures which were supposed to be in place were not used (Greenpeace , 2002). The chairman of the corporation, Warren Anderson, was charged with culpable homicide for the incident, yet the US court refused calls to extradite him, claiming a lack of evidence. The implications for this disaster, and many others similar, are severe. The fact that corporations seek out countries with lax regulations that they are able to exploit is troubling, yet totally pervasive throughout the attitude of TNCs. The emergence of the global financial crisis has intensified this cost cutting attitude due to an increased pressure to remain competitive (Madeley, 1999). It seems that the attitude of exploitation of the people of LDCs would be extraordinarily difficult to shatter. It is demonstrated that practices of low pay, relocation and gender discrimination of workers for example are products of attempting to remain competitive with the global market system (Attanapola, 2014). It is an attitude which may be difficult to eradicate, but not impossible, in particular with greater social consciousness directed to conditions in LDCs and the situation is at the very least, unlikely to worsen.

It is perhaps a common position to take, to consider globalisation a kind of double-edged sword, but it seems that this truly is the case. The current dangers of globalisation for developing countries are colossal. These perils include dangerous and reckless practices of exploitation in areas such as workers’ rights, or worsening the debt of LDCs in order to forward the position and wealth of the highly influential TNCs. Madeley (1999) emphasises the issue of the global market system weeding out any more ‘caring’ elements of corporate practices in order to maintain competitiveness presenting a huge obstacle for the possibility of TNCs ever changing their ethos. Returning to the subject of non-financial reports, Osuji (2011) highlights the possibility of misleading information, or omitting details from the non-financial reports. However, I would argue that the potential for greater monitoring and transparency around such reports presents a great benefit for globalisation and the role of TNCs in the LDCs. Changes such as the emerging trend of non-financial reporting and more NGO pressure to adhere to human rights; with criticism of the international institutions for hollow notions such as ‘good governance,’ and aid LDCs in other ways are significant in increasing globalisation’s benefits for LDCs. The dangers surrounding globalisation for LDCs at present remain considerable and scepticism of the forces of globalisation is understandable. Any possibility of escaping globalisation is impossible, however. Further regulation and drastic change is needed to TNCs in order to offset these severe drawbacks and allow LDCs to truly embrace globalisation.

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