Competition among nations to establish relative geopolitical power threatens to undermine the logic of global economic cooperation and potentially the entire international rule-based system, the World Economic Forum has indicated in its Global Risks report of 2015.
According to the Global Risks report, much of the interplay between economic and geopolitical interests plays out not in the trade arena but in the Bretton Woods institutions. Countries’ inability to agree on an institutionalised, closer coordination of macroeconomic policies to reduce global imbalances provides an interesting example. Some observers see the failure to mitigate these imbalances, combined with the return of strategic competition in an era defined by an erosion of trust, as raising a tail-risk possibility of undermining the Bretton Woods institutions themselves and the international rule-based system more generally.
These developments are reflected in the recent alternative structures being established by selected countries. Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2014 set up the New Development Bank, the so-called BRICs Bank, which is intended to lend up to $34 billion globally, particularly for infrastructure projects.
In the same year, together with 20 other countries, China created the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for the Asia-Pacific region. “Much as a retreat from global multilateralism is worrisome, stronger regional multilateralism is not necessarily a bad thing, as regional solutions to regional problems can be consistent with global governance structures; although economic integration is not often explicitly targeted, it binds nations more closely together politically.
While increased interdependencies have brought the world closer together, the Global Risks report, emphasises the flip side of the effects of this situation, as people’s lives become more complex and more difficult to manage while businesses, governments and individuals alike are forced to decide upon courses of action in an environment clouded by multiple layers of uncertainty; self interest stands to erode the rule based system and cooperation.
Faced with competing strategic needs and governments’ growing tendency to look inwards and prioritise their domestic producers and economies, and with an increased reliance on economic levers as a means to gain geopolitical influence, ‘the coming years could see competitive relationships between the major powers develop into trade and currency wars, requiring economic diplomacy.’
“While regional institutions and alternative structures have a role, global institutions must respond to pressure to better reflect the rising wealth and power of emerging economies. They remain the most promising means for competing powers to build strategic trust, which could minimize the detrimental effects of geo-economic competition on growth and prosperity,” says the report.
“The interconnections between geopolitics and economics are intensifying because states are making greater use of economic tools, from regional integration and trade treaties to protectionist policies and cross-border investments, to establish relative geopolitical power. This threatens to undermine the logic of global economic cooperation and potentially the entire international rule-based system,”
The fragility of societies is of increasing concern, fuelled by underlying economic, societal and environmental developments. A major driver of social fragility is rising socio-economic inequality within countries, although it is diminishing between countries. Among the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average income of the richest 10 percent has now grown to about nine times that of the poorest 10 percent. In other countries, the ratio Is even higher: for example, more than 25 times in Mexico.
According to the Global Risk Report, Geopolitical risks are back, as evidenced by the central node of the failure of national governance in the interconnections maps, and the strong linkages to interstate conflict and profound social instability, among others. With economies tied together on an unprecedented scale by financial and trade flows, analysts who contributed to the views in the Report, are concerned about the resurgence of the trend towards the interplay between geopolitics and economics.
While national governments in the past also made use of economic tools to increase their relative power, today’s strong economic ties arguably make this interplay more complex and therefore more difficult to navigate. This resurgence could have profound implications for the effectiveness of global governance mechanisms in other areas, from combating climate change to reaching an international solution for Internet governance. Even as nation states step up their efforts to maintain or expand power, urbanization is slowly but surely rebalancing the locus of power from national to city governments.
The data gathered for this report suggest that urbanization is a critical driver of profound social instability, failure of critical infrastructure, water crises, and the spread of infectious diseases. This will only be further exacerbated by an unprecedented transition from rural to urban areas: by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population – an estimated 6.3 billion people – will live in cities, with 80 percent in less developed regions. Rapid and unplanned urbanization in these regions has the potential to drive many risks. How effectively the world addresses global risks.
When confronted with political and economic volatility at home, countries often revert to protectionism under the guise of policies to reduce risk as evidenced by a recent OECD report showing that despite their professed commitment to free trade, G20 economies have increasingly reverted to protective measures since growth slowed in 2012 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Protectionism can take different forms. It can be related, for example, to the protection of strategic sectors, local content requirements in the case of external investment, or state bailout.
The 10 most likely global risks, the WEF says, are; interstate risks; extreme weather events; failure of national governance; state collapse or crisis; unemployment or underemployment; natural catastrophes; failure of climate change adaptation; water crises; data fraud or theft; and cyber-attacks.
Meanwhile, the risks that will have the biggest impacts are: water crises; the spread of infectious diseases; weapons of mass destruction; interstate conflict; failure of climate-change adaptation; energy price shocks; a breakdown in critical information infrastructure; fiscal crises; unemployment or underemployment; and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.