This chapter discusses the nature of the social policies required ‘to make globalization work for human development’ (UNDP, 1999, p. 9) and to secure a sustainable global future. Running through the discussion is a fundamental issue — the inherently political and contested nature of social policy. In a world sharply divided by differences in levels of economic development and so in interests between AICs and IDCs, social policy cannot be seen simply as a neutral instrument of rational actors concerned solely with the general good. It has to be seen as a site and instrument of conflict in the historic struggle between haves, have nots and have not yets. Social policy can be an instrument for the general promotion of human welfare. But it can also be used by those in positions of power to bolster their own position and maintain an inequitable status quo. The WTO, for example, is dominated by the world’s richest nations. Only 34 of the 134 members are from the world’s poorest countries and around half of them have no representatives in Geneva to defend their interests. In contrast, the USA has around 250 negotiators based there permanently.
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