development of multilateral institutions which has accompanied the process of
globalization over the last two centuries and the current debate on global
governance shows that there is not just one possible international order, nor
is there a single way of dividing responsibilities among global, regional and
national institutions and agencies. Multilateral agencies or corporations are a
result of globalization.
is seen as a strong force for delivering economic advancement to people
throughout the world. It points to the whole effort of making the world into
one global village. Goods that were only found in one country can now be found
across the globe. Mobile phones and internet have brought people closer. Work
can be outsourced to different parts of the world.
the other hand, it is blamed as a source of all contemporary ills.
agencies form the fabric of globalization and promise economic growth and
development. With its attendant benefits also comes with its many negative
effects to both developed and developing countries.
What is a Multilateral Agency?
can be described as organizations formed between three or more nations to work
on issues that relate to all of the countries in the organization.
They can also be seen as international
organizations formed by several governments that collectively administer aid
programs. For instance, the United Nations, the World Bank and the African
Development Bank are multilateral agencies.
organizations are funded by multiple governments and these funds are spent on
projects in various countries.
ROLES OF MULTILATERAL AGENCIES
Multilateral agencies provide
loans and grants for investments and projects that are aligned with their
They can provide political risk
cover in cases of high political risk-prone projects and countries.
Multilateral organizations also function as
operational instruments of the international community. For instance, they
provide humanitarian aid for the protection of refugees (UNHCR) or food aid
through the largest humanitarian organization of the world, the World Food
It is opined that some
Multilateral Agencies played key roles in creating the architecture of the
world agenda of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) supported by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). This action
resulted to 1990 World Conference on education for all, the OECD DAC report on
shaping the 21st century in1996, World forum in Dakar in April 2000
and the Millennium Summit of September 2000. The Multilateral Agencies are
credited to playing a major role in the construction of the above constructs
and even the Millennium Development Goals that succeeded.
The United Nations (UN)
United Nations is a voluntary association of around 190 states signatory to the
UN Charter (1945), whose primary aim is to: maintain international peace and security,
solve economic, social, and political problems through international
cooperation and promote respect for human rights.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The IMF provides technical
assistance on fiscal and monetary policy, regulatory procedures, tax policy,
and collection of statistics, among other issues.
The World Bank group is
comprised of five organizations; the International Bank of Reconstruction and
Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee
Agency (MIGA), and the International Center for Settlement of Investment
The World Bank focuses on areas
like reconstruction and construction of infrastructures, natural disaster
relief, humanitarian emergencies, poverty reduction, infant mortality, gender
equality, education, and long-term development issues. The World Bank also
tries to foster social reforms with the aim of promoting economic development.
Trade Organization (WTO)
WTO was established in 1995 and
comprises of 153 member countries. It was formerly known called General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It deals with the rules of trade between
nations; reconciles trade disputes between member nations. The main goals of
WTO are freer trade through negotiation, predictability through binding and
transparency, promotion of fair competition and encouraging development and
Some African Multilateral Agencies
The African Development Bank is
the premier financial development institution of Africa. It is focused on
fighting poverty, improving the lives of people of the continent and mobilization
of resources towards the economic and social progress of its Member Countries.
Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)
The African Export-Import Bank
(Afreximbank) was established in July 1987 in Egypt, following the resolution
of 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 and
Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
ECOWAS is a regional group of 15
West African countries, established in 1975. Its purpose is to promote economic
integration in all fields of economic activity of the member countires
Globalization is a relatively new term and since
its usage has been defined in numerous ways. It varies in the particular
driving force that is identified. The meaning of the term is itself a topic in
global discussion; it may refer to “real” processes, ideas that justify them, or
to a way of thinking about them.
It may be defined as the increasing
interaction of people through the growth of the international flow of money,
ideas and culture.
is primarily an economic process of integration which has social and cultural
aspects as well. It is used to refer to the growing influence exerted at the
local, national and regional levels by financial, economic, environmental,
political, social and cultural processes that are global in scope.
has been seen from different perspectives. A view holds that globalization as a
terminology appeared in the late 1980s but the world did not just start
creating linkages during that period. Globalization in the true sense is not
really existent because countries differ in many ways. The word was coined to
serve the interests of the northerners by giving the illusion that the world is
becoming integrated in all aspects. However, this is in doubt because it is
evident that the only integration that the world is truly experiencing is
through increase in the flow of capital and not of labour, as can be seen from
the features below;
Features of Globalization
The liberalization of international
trade: Free trade between countries; absence of excessive
governmental control over trade
The expansion of Foreign Direct
Emergence of massive cross-border
its three broad dimensions are international
trade, international investment, and
MULTILATERALISM, GLOBALIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT
The rise of globalization is closely
entwined with the rise of multilateral corporations.
economic essentials of globalization are evident in the acclaim of multilateral
agencies with respect to the developing world. Globalization pushes forth the
agenda of the rich nations like the United States and the United Kingdom
through multilateral corporations. The Multilaterals tend to hold the strongest
opinions on various issues and these opinions are made to be seen as the
standard. For instance, According to the World Bank, globalization is good for
economic growth and growth is good for the poor. This is a strong fact and
cannot be dispelled by other arguments to the contrary and such examples as for
the example where globalization works for the benefit of the poor (World Bank; 2000:14).
this regard it has been argued that:
has eased trade, attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and international
aid to the Third World. It augurs the advent of multinational enterprises
(MNEs) who bring modern up-to-date technology in less developed countries. Not
only MNCs bring with them modern technology but also it brings investment
funds, organizational structure, managerial culture, distribution network, etc.
All these create income and employment in developing countries; improve the
development and standard of living of the citizens.
is expected to promote efficiency, productivity and, hence, higher economic
3. Governments are able to better
work together towards common goals now that there is an advantage in
cooperation, an improved ability to interact and coordinate, and a global
awareness of issues.
4. Developing countries are able to
reap the benefits of current technology without undergoing many of the growing
pains associated with development of these technologies.
consumers, quality goods at the right price will be delivered. This helps to
bring down prices as domestic companies have to fight foreign competition, they
are compelled to raise their standards and customer satisfaction levels in
order to survive in the market. Quality improvement and price reduction will
then be enjoyed.
the other hand, there have been protests against the harmful effects of globalization on the vast multitude of
people all over the world, particularly in developing countries. Protest marches,
demonstrations and meetings have been organized in different countries. These
protests have taken militant forms in the past.
that these UN-based organizations have been the agents of globalization and
that they have been used by developed countries as their instruments to exploit
and dominate developing countries. These protest groups-environmental groups,
human rights groups, women’s groups, farmers’ groups and peace groups have
interlocked themselves at the global level.
agitations come on the platform that globalization is;
agenda of the Rich States and their Multinational Corporations (MNCs):
The critics of globalization
criticize it as a corporate agenda—(the agenda of the big business) and the
ideology of the developed countries to dominate and control the international
economic system in a bigger, deeper and intensive manner.
of Globalization for Rich at the Cost of the Poor:
Under the process of globalization,
big businesses have done well despite the slow productivity growth. Globalization
has helped the corporate elites to be more and more rich and wealthy to the
detriment of the poor. The poor form the
majority of the labor force who work tirelessly to enrich the rich few, in
return for meager wages.
The Erosion Of Sovereignty
According to Oyejide (1998) in the
political sphere, globalization has caused erosion of sovereignty, especially
on economic and financial matters, as a result of the imposition of models,
strategies and policies of development on African countries by the
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
has been seen as a replacement of imperialism.
factors are usually the essence of imperialism. Globalization also is
capital-driven. The developed countries that pursue the agenda of globalization
still use the same tactics of imperialism. This is achieved through domination
and continuous exploitation of the factors of production of developing
countries through multinational corporations.
has freed labour across the world and facilitated brain drain. It facilitated
“brain drain” in developing countries; it promotes the migration of the best
minds and expert professionals in different fields of interest, thus reducing
further their human capacity.
6. Erosion and loss of identity of the
and norms of developed countries are gradually rooted in developing countries.
This leads to the growth of a monoculture – the culture of the north (developed
countries) being imposed on the South (developing countries). This involves the
erosion 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 stifling
of local production
to increase in competition between locally produced goods and foreign goods,
developed countries are forced to lower down their prices for their products. This
is because countries like China can produce goods at a lower cost that makes
their goods cheaper than the ones produced in developed countries. Globalization
also stunts the development of local competition because resources in these
countries are scant, and companies that operate on a global scale can sustain
greater losses than local firms. Cheap imports flood markets and make locally
produced goods less viable and consequently these firms fizzle away.
played a role in poverty reduction in some fast developing countries like
China, India and Vietnam. However, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa registered
an opposite trend and are trapped in a vicious circle of interlocking handicaps
including poverty and illiteracy, civil strife, geographical disadvantages,
poor governance and inflexible economies largely dependent on a single
of External Debt on LDCs
Many LDCs are also burdened by
high external debt and hard hit by the continuing decline in the price of
primary commodities. These problems have been compounded by continuing
agricultural protectionism in the industrialized countries. This restricts market
access to most LDCs while subsidized imports undermine local agricultural
It is evident that globalization benefits those who
have the capacity to harness it but can be very detrimental to those whom it
finds not prepared. Most African States are not prepared, especially in terms
of having the requisite capacity.
the global actors will realize that it is not beneficial to them or to anyone
else to play globalization-game without the poor. For globalization to
ultimately be beneficial to everyone-the north and the south-all must have
certain levels of capacity that permit them to effectively participate in the