Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) in the series of dialogues called “At Eye Level”: “Shaping Globalization – Implementing Global Governance”

03.05.2011 - Speech

- translation of advanced text -

When I was a student, the Federal Republic of Germany’s foreign-policy situation was completely different from today. Berlin, Germany, and Europe were divided. Today we live in freedom and prosperity in a united country in a reunited Europe.

All over the world, people’s desire for freedom remains unbroken. Hundreds of thousands of people in the Arab world are calling for civil rights, freedom, and citizen participation. The idea that there are regions or cultures in which people do not desire democracy is being exposed right now as an enormous misconception.

This process makes clear that stability is created not by those who oppress freedom, but by those who guarantee civil rights. We should never confuse stability with stagnation.

Right now we are seeing a globalization of values. Some people have renamed globalization “globalism”, as if globalization were an economic ideology. In truth, globalization has become social reality. Globalization is a social networking process that is making us into members of a global society a little more every day.

Globalization means: distances shrink. Far-away, distant regions are a thing of the past. Today, information and ideas, goods and services are exchanged globally more quickly than ever. New technologies and political openness have made that possible. Biographies are becoming more global too; people today network around the globe. You can see that daily, especially here at the Viadrina.

Things that happen far away can directly influence our everyday lives. Companies and locations are subject to global competition. People and markets are coming closer together, but the process can bring dangers closer, too.

But above all, globalization brings enormous opportunities. For that reason, German foreign policy is above all an advocate for openness. Whoever thinks that he can avoid all risks by isolating himself, is only robbing himself of all opportunities.

Globalization benefits Germany especially. No industrialized country has done better in emerging from the economic crisis. One reason for this is the exporting strength of our small and medium-sized enterprises. If one country profits from globalization, it is not at the expense of others. Trade is not a zero-sum game. Thus, thanks to the closer integration of many threshold and developing countries into the global economy, the number of poor people has fallen. Between 1990 and 2005 it fell by 400 million worldwide despite global population growth.

Today there are just over 6.9 billion people living on our planet. That is about 80 million more than a year ago. To put it another way: every year the world’s population grows by roughly the population of Germany. In mid-2011 the global population will pass the seven billion mark.

There are almost 1.4 billion people in China and around 1.2 billion in India, and the trend is rising. Both countries have the ambition of giving their people greater prosperity.

The question of what we Germans are going to live on in ten, twenty, or thirty years’ time has long ceased to be one that we can answer on our own.

In the long term, nothing is as decisive for the rise and fall of a nation as its educational system. Knowledge is the key resource in today’s world. Luckily, it is no longer mineral resources – the result of geographical good fortune – that determine a nation’s prosperity, but the competition of ideas. That is why the German Government is investing an additional 12 billion euro in education and research.

Education is more than just a means to an end. For you, your university education is the best investment in your future. You will look beyond the boundaries of specific subjects and acquire a compass for the rest of your life. All over the world, education is the key to a tolerant society. Education counters prejudice; education is potent against discrimination; education promotes equality and respect.

Education is not only a question of money and institutions. It is also a question of attitude. Take modern technologies, investment in infrastructure, or the chance to host major events. Can you imagine that debates about these topics would proceed along the same lines in Brazil as in Germany? Every society should preserve the ability to take a critical look at its fitness for the future.

Globalization makes demands on us in two ways: on the national level, we must create the foundations for Germany’s future ability to successfully capitalize on the opportunities presented by globalization. On the international level, we must help shape globalization.

Globalization creates more mutual interdependence between countries. From the stability of financial markets to internal security to environmental policy, no country can meet the challenges of our time on its own.

In a world soon to be inhabited by seven billion people, topics such as energy and raw materials, climate protection, food prices, and protection from epidemics push to the fore as new global challenges. We are on our way to more and more “global governance”.

With the economic rise of newly industrialized countries such as China, India, and Brazil, a shift is taking place. Rightly, these countries are setting forth a claim to more influence. We want to work with these newly influential powers to shape a globalization that benefits everyone.

Our answer to the question of global governance is rules-based globalization. Germany supports the strengthening of international law. Values and interests go hand in hand. Common norms, cooperation, and multilateralism are the best basis for peace, development, security, and prosperity. It is in our interest to have effective, legitimate international institutions.

The G20 is a part of that. Everyone is dependent on stable global financial markets, but neither the US, nor Europe, nor China, nor the G7 alone can guarantee them. The G20 is not a world government deciding the fate of others. But such a format does of course have some symbolic value. For that reason as well, Germany worked to promote the G20, the voting rights reforms of the IMF and the World Bank, as it had previously worked for better integration of further partners in the G8 process.

However, having more say entails having more responsibility for contributing to solutions and to adhering to common rules. That is true for a large number of economic and trade questions as well as for the support of international institutions that promote good governance or for contributions to protecting the climate and to security.

Integrating all countries in multilateral regimes is mutually beneficial. I am pleased that there is now quick progress in the process of Russia’s accession to the WTO. The WTO is an example of the kind of rules-based system required in a networked world.

It is plain to see why this is necessary. Think, for example of rare earths. The alternative to common rules would be a competition for mineral resources, for preferential treatment. We want to hold up the strength of the law as opposed to the law of the strong.

The United Nations is at the heart of a global politics dedicated to cooperation. It has universal legitimacy, a global reach, and can enact binding international law. We are also committed to seeing that the work of the G20 is more closely aligned with that of the United Nations.

Our election to the Security Council for 2011/2012 was proof of the trust placed in us by others – a trust we will strive to honour. We are using our responsibility in the service of a comprehensive peace policy. Conflict prevention, nuclear non-proliferation, and the protection of children in armed conflicts are as much our concern as a better future for crisis-torn regions from Afghanistan to the Sudan to Côte d’Ivoire.

The structure of the Security Council must be changed to fit reality. It is not reflective of the contemporary world that Asia is underrepresented and both Africa and Latin America are not permanently represented in the Security Council.

Respecting human rights is the best peace policy in the world. The universality of human rights is beyond doubt. We do not wag our fingers when we talk about human rights. We do not try to impose our way of life on others when we talk about good governance. Moreover, our commitment to values results from confronting the darkest chapters of our own history.

Politics is not just about government action. The upheavals in the Arab world are evidence of the importance of civil society. A strong civil society is essential for democracy. Civil society actors who manage to get their demands for human rights and democracy heard in their own countries are allies of our foreign policy. On the other hand we welcome the global commitment of German organizations, political foundations, and churches to development, humanitarian work, and human rights. We support their work.

Or take the voluntary actions of global companies in what we call corporate responsibility. Climate-protection measures to reduce emissions or social standards in the workplace can be tackled internationally in this way before a global contract comes into existence.

Global governance also means taking on topics together more often, the concept of networked security for Afghanistan, for example, which is based on the recognition that development is not possible without security, but security is also not possible without development. Or take development assistance as such. Here the German Government tries to increase the participation of exporting industries. Humanitarian aid is unselfish. Both sides can and should profit from economic cooperation.

A policy of raw materials partnerships that benefit both countries can open doors and certifying raw materials that often play a role in conflict regions and are extracted under inhumane conditions is a contribution to good governance and human rights. “The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative” and the certification of raw diamonds are examples of how the pieces of the global governance puzzle can be put together.

Our most important answer to globalization is Europe. Europe prepares us for globalization internally. And with Europe we can help shape globalization in our multipolar world. Europe is in our interest and Europe can be a force for good in the world.

Europe demonstrates what we need in an increasingly networked world: cooperation and common rules for common challenges. Europe can be a model for governance for other regions. And Europe itself is a building block for global governance. We need more, not less, Europe in globalization.

In this country, Europe is often discussed in the context of crisis management. But the attraction of the European Union remains unbroken. Just that has made the EU a stabilizing factor in the past even beyond its own borders, whether in Eastern Europe or the Balkans and it will continue to do so in the future.

Europe is not Western Europe. Europe’s East is a part of Europe. In its daily work, the European University Viadrina makes very valuable contributions, especially for these relations.

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