Trade & investment

Anti-globalization protesters are modern-day Luddites – ICC President

  • 26 January 2001

As protesters against globalization attempt to penetrate the World Economic Forum, BBC News Online invited ICC President Richard D. McCormick to make the case for the global economy and the positive role of business in the battle against poverty.

Mr McCormick, in Davos for the Forum, said it was time for business to put the record straight in face of “cheap sloganeering and mindless vandalism” of protesters who have staged noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations at major international meetings from Seattle to Prague.

His article was carried in the BBC’S “Head to Head” feature, together with one by Barry Coates of the World Development Movement. The BBC asked whether the protesters were right to target the World Economic Forum.

Mr McCormick said that, without globalization “the developing world and millions in it who live in extreme poverty will lose the best chance they have of improving their lot in life.”

He noted that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be reporting to the assembled government and business leaders on the progress of his Global Compact with business. The ICC President then added: “The UN and business should, and do, work together in promoting the values they share in the areas of human rights, labour standards and environmental protection.

Asserting that multinational companies are a powerful force for good in the world, Mr. McCormick said: “They spread wealth, work, technologies that raise living standards and better ways of doing business. That’s why so many developing countries are competing for investment.”

He described the street protesters who wanted to disrupt the Davos meeting as “modern-day Luddites who want to make the world safe for stagnation” and said that their host ility to business made them the enemy of the world’s poor.”

Barry Coates condemned what he called “the Davos business model” which he said was unregulated, exclusive and beyond the reach of government.