Africa has served the world as an "Indispensable resource base and a supplier of cheap labor and raw materials".n1However, Africa has not benefited from such contributions. Part of the reason why Africa has been exploited is because existing international law norms do not obligate states and global actors to promote the right to development globally n2 and, in particular, Africa.
A report prepared for the U.N commission on Human Rights in 2000 describes the World Trade Organization as a "venerable nightmare for certain sectors of humanity, notably, developing countries and women". n3 Globalization allows the rich nations and corporations the opportunity to amass more wealth, while the poor nation become weaker and subservient. This occurs as a result of their superior capital structure which gives the richer nations the power to enforce trade agreements that favor their interests. Giving birth to a new international order from which many countries in Sub Saharan Africa are excluded because they cannot compete effectively. All of this is allowed to take place due to the absence of fair and just international laws.
Globalization is essentially the growth of international capitalism- driven by market forces- and capitalism is the belief that the strong, based on selfishness and exploitation of third world resources, perpetuating forced servitude across the world.N4 According to Winston Churchill " The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings."
Globalization makes international law less relevant to a world where categories like the state and the society of states no longer capture the full extent of global politics. Human Rights had been conceived in terms of protection against national political forces.n5 Now, power is shifting from states to globalized, economic forces, with many abuses of human rights from multinational companies, in terms of their employment practices.N6
Interdependence caused by globalization gives rise to numerous problems for the international community to deal with. Environmental, degradation, international terrorism, and international crime, are the fruits of interdependence.n7 Globalization has lead to many environmental problems. Global warming, an example of one of the many problems, can be described as negative interdependence which impacts negatively on ecosystems, livelihood, human health and food security. The impoverished third world countries bear most of the burden of globalization even though the industrialized countries greatly contribute to this problem due to greenhouse gas emissions.n8 These altered climate conditions aggravate problems already faced by arid and semi arid zones of Africa, thus increasing the threat of desertification. Globalization has also made it difficult for impoverished countries, greatly affected by environmental hazards to seek justice. Western corporations "continue to enjoy defacto impunity and immunity from their criminal negligence and are able to lower intra and international regulations, due to their financial strength." n9 These conditions continue to give rise to child labor, low safety standards, low wages and debt issue. Since most developing countries in Africa depend heavily on agriculture, the effects of global warming on productive farmlands are likely to threaten both the welfare of the population and the economic development of the countries. "Tropical countries In Africa are particularly vulnerable to potential damage from environmental changes because the poor soils that cover large areas of these regions have already made much of the land unusable for agriculture." n10
Structural adjustment programs (SAP) designed by the IMF through Globalization together with discriminatory aid practices have also helped to make Africa subservient and poor.n11 SAP's have been responsible for creating avoidable hardships on African citizens, many of whom were already working for the equivalent of slave labor wages. Saskia Sassen reveals how the IMF is asking certain countries, mostly in Africa to pay 20-25% of their export earnings toward debt service."n12 However, in 1953 the allies cancelled 80% of Germany's war debt and only insisted that 3-5% of export earnings be used for debt service. These were also the same terms asked of Central Europe after communism. n13 This is unfair but the worlds laws allows such exploitation. How can one take from those who barely have and demand less from those that have? It evident that the world powers, together with international monetary programs, have no intentions of making Africa's burden any lighter. For these reason I consider globalization a scourge to African independence. Furthermore, the recent terrorist attacks which were made possible by globalization, has deepened the global economic slow down, leading to weaker exports and lower commodity prices for many developing nations.
Evening the playing field of International trade & Globalization More trade, less aid: Aid is good, and countries must be commended for their assistance to others. However, Aid has also to increase Africa's indebtedness. Aid cannot and will not solve Africa's problems. Donors who give aid try to dictate the trade policies of the country to seek their own interests. In other words, there is no such thing as charity. "Aid by itself is very political, some mistake it for charity but it is not." N14 I
Instead, their should be negations of the laws governing market access so as to benefit both developing and developed countries. " In fact, the renegotiations should favor the developing countries, on the principle of affirmative action to address past injustices."n15 Industrialized countries should open up their markets to Africa, as Africa has done to them. If this is done, African countries can increase their exports and earn much more income than what has been coming to them by way of aid. This indeed would change the lives of impoverished Africans. These improved trade policies will reduce dependence on overseas development assistance, while increasing infrastructural development, as a result of increased economic activity. Africa should fight for the removal of trade barriers in international trade. Furthermore, Africa could establish trade relationships with the Caribbean and south America. This would also bring revenue to the continent and develop independence from industrialized nations that seek to exploit Africa.
The international community must also seek to stabilize world commodity prices at an equitable level and changes in international division of labor. Stabilize prices and a change in labor division will provide a greater opportunity for industrialization to the less developed countries and a greater share in international trade to their industrial or manufactured products. Participation of African countries in global rule: The international community must demonstrate a genuine commitment towards the integration of all nations into the global economy and political arena. Many African countries don not have representatives at the world trading and financial Institutions, including the processes that lead to the development of international trade laws. Only a few developing country members are able to participate effectively in negotiations and decision -making in the WTO. Equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and income, and the full participation of countries and their peoples in decisions relating to their own development must, among others, form the basic objectives of integral development.n16 Reduction of Foreign Financial dependence: Africa should develop its human rights law in the context of a globalized environment, paying specific attention to rights to development, which is the right of each people to freely choose its economic and social system without outside interference or constraint of any kind, and o determine, with equal freedom, its own model of development. Thus creating independence.n17 Maybe, instead of blacks in the Diaspora lobbying for reparations, we should lobby for all or a substantial amount of Africa's debt be alleviated since they made such contributions to countries like Germany during their reconstruction period after world war 2.
The Organization of African Unity's (OAU) adoption of the Banjul charter in1981 and its subsequent entry into force five years later, in 1986, was and remains the single most important event in the evolution of human rights in Africa. The charter was recognized as the first potentially significant attempt by African leaders at taking human rights seriously. The charter has been described as one of the finest gems, designed by Africa that encourages self awareness creates a new image in the chain of peoples of the world, giving itself a place of choice in the concert of nations, and playing henceforward, a significant role in the management and conduct of world affairs.n18 Since the Banjul charter, some African countries have been freed of some form of exploitation by more advanced industrialized nations. However, a considerable amount of work still has to be done since nations within the vast continent are still deprived of their basic human rights. Throughout the 1990's, and this new millennium their has been few developments where human rights are concerned. This might be due to the fact that Human rights defenders have faced opposition in the form of arbitrary detentions, and some have even been banned from functioning within their own countries.n19
Internal Adjustments: One of the sources of corruption in Africa is the supremacy of the patrimonial state over civil society. Douglas Rimmer says, "patrimonialism drives an expansion of state economic activity. As a result, economic performance deteriorates and the erosion of the public employes pay induces further extortion and embezzlement".n22
African governments must eliminate corruption at all levels of society and especially at the levels of the state, in order to ensure that social policies are carried through. Public institutions need to be strong and effective in order to ensure that exposure to globalization does not allow the state to be captured by private international interest. If this is not done, then the chances of these states becoming more corrupt increases, which invites exploitation.
The Americans have helped to implement policies to help stop internal corruption in Africa. They implemented the inter-American Convention Against corruption on March 29, 1996.n20 Africa is also making progress in this regard as it is currently working towards ridding itself of corruption. "On September 19, 2002, the AU Ministers, at its Conference held in Addis Ababa, agreed on a draft African Convention on preventing and combating corruption".n21 The draft convention seeks to promote and strengthen the development of mechanisms for the prevention, detection, punishment and eradication of corruption and related offenses in the public and private sectors in Africa. It prohibits the use of funds acquired through illicit and corrupt practices to finance political parties. Each state will be monitored carefully. Legislative measures adopted by state parties allows them to seize the proceeds acquired through corruption. Hopefully, the adoption of such measures and policy should help Africa reach one step closer to its goal of economic, political, infrastructural and social development.
Reducing Poverty: In order to reduce poverty, African leaders should grant their citizens access to assets such as land, water, markets, information and technology. Governments must also adjust the structure of rural property rights in order to increase the living standards of the agrarian poor. However, certain basic things must be put in place in order to make land reform possible. First, family scale farms must be provided with secure titles. Second, governments must provide them with adequate credit and technical know how. Third, their market strength must be promoted both internationally and locally. Fourth, Governments must stem migration of population from rural areas by planning towards long-term technological displacement and creating new jobs for those on the land.n21
Conclusion Africa, a land with so much potential, yet it fails to rise out of the bottomless pit it has been placed in as a result of internal Corruption, unfair international trade policies, and globalization. International financial aid institutions have only increased Africa's indebtedness and have therefore created another form of slavery. It is almost as if these countries that claim to offer their assistance contradict themselves by implementing international trade policies that prevent Africa from fully participating in international trade. These are only some of the problems Africa faces, however they are considered by some to be the most important. If Africa's true potential is realized, a phenomenon will take place that no civilization or economy in the world's history would be able to parallel. Africa must now take responsibility for its developmental economic policies. Whatever structures the African leaders put in place must embody the basic principles of inclusion, participation, freedom, justice and equity for all. The world must also support Africa but not in a way to create a situation where Africa is subservient once more. We all go to school to receive an education, it is now time for us to apply our knowledge for the betterment of mankind. The development of Africa is also the responsibility of all people of African decent throughout the Diaspora. As Africa continues to suffer, we as a people suffer, for if we leave the job up to others, their will be always room for injustice to take place and as a result we will be left with nothing to truly call home for they will continue to loot and plunder until Africa is no more.