Unit 3: To what extent should internationalism be pursued?


Use of Internationalism to address contemporary global issues



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Use of Internationalism to address contemporary global issues

Internationalism and Poverty

  • In 2006, the World Bank estimated that more than a billion people (out of the 6.65 billion people in the world) lived in absolute poverty.

  • Absolute poverty is a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, such as food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.

  • An example of absolute poverty is in Iraq. 43% of the population lives in absolute poverty. Many basic services are not provided to the people.

  • Poverty will often cause many other problems. Poverty can lead to people going hungry, not having access to clean water which can cause sickness, and in some cases people may even go to war to get what they need to survive.

  • Causes and effects:

  • Lack of education: some children cannot afford to school and they need to go to work with their families to help bring in money. Without a basic education, they cannot find higher paying jobs.

  • Lack of access to resources: millions of farmers do not have access to resources (land, water, credit, and access to markets) that they need to survive. The soil may be of poor quality or there may not be water to help the seeds grow. Seeds may also cost too much.

  • Conflict and war: many people have been forced to leave their homes because of war. As refugees, they have a difficult time finding jobs and earning money.

  • Trade rules: international trade rules such as tariffs (taxes) or bans on certain products can affect farmers, labourers and factory workers. They cannot sell their goods or services if the tariffs are too high or there is a ban on the products they produce.

  • Discrimination: in some countries, those who are part of a minority group sometimes have limited access to jobs, resources, and government help.


Internationalism and Hunger

  • Poverty can lead to hunger, malnutrition, and starvation. As of 2008, 20000 people (including 18000 children) die of hunger every day.

  • The world faces the challenge to try to reduce the number of hungry people by half. This is proving to be difficult and may not be achieve for a long time.

  • There are both short term and long term challenges when it comes to hunger. Some countries may need relief due to a natural disaster that has destroyed their crops. Others need more long term help. For example, soil conservation or irrigation.


Internationalism and Disease

  • Poverty can also lead to disease. Those who do not have healthy food cannot fight disease as well as those who do. They also cannot afford the medicine or the education to learn how to prevent disease.

  • HIV and AIDS are at higher levels in Africa than in developed countries around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 1.6 million people died of AIDS in 2007.

  • An estimated 22.5 million are living with the virus.

  • Few people in Africa can afford the drugs that are needed for AIDS and many countries do not have the resources to deal with it.

  • While there have been programs to help the growing issue of AIDS, it has not been enough. By 2006, only 28% of those who needed treatment were receiving treatment for AIDS.


Internationalism and Debt

  • Many of the worlds poorest countries must spend so much money to pay off their debts that they have little to no money left over to provide health, education, and social services to their people.

  • For example, the Jamaican government borrowed money from the World Bank, IMF, and private banks. They had thought that they could repay the loans as the Jamaican economy grew. If more people were working, then they would be paying more taxes. However, the economy did not grow and people lost their jobs. If they are not working, then they are paying less taxes. The government owed $6.5 billion. More than 10% of their tax revenues go to pay off this debt and the government has less money to spend on services for its people.

  • Odious debt is debt that results from a loan to a government that uses the money to oppress the people of its country or for its own personal use.

  • A debt become odious if:

  • It is acquired without the permission of the people

  • Does not benefit the country’s people

  • The lender of the money was aware of these two conditions

  • A country that has had odious debt is South Africa during its time of apartheid. The government had borrowed approximately $18 billion to enforce its racist laws.

  • Because non-white South Africans were not allowed to vote, they had no say in the governments decision to borrow the money. Also, the money did not benefit them in any way. Lastly, governments who loaned South Africa this money, knew about the apartheid laws and the tactics used by the government.


Internationalism and Climate Change

  • Climate change is an issue that many have begun to focus on in the 21st century.

  • In North America, people burn a lot of fossil fuels to heat their homes, run their cars, airplanes, and industries. The greenhouse gases that are created due to the use of fossil fuels are a major cause of climate change.

  • Another factor is the destruction of the worlds rainforests. These forests are cut down for logging, ranching, farming, and mining. Fewer trees are left to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere to help reduce the effects of climate change.

  • Many governments are starting to work together to reduce CO2 emissions that cause climate change. For example,


Internationalism and Human Rights

  • After the atrocities of the Nazi regime came to light after WWII, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This was supposed to guarantee that everyone in the world would have “the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

  • When a country violates the rights of its own citizens or the citizens of another country, then the UN can take action to stop the abuse. However, because of political alliance and loyalties, this does not always happen.

  • Before the UN can act, all five permanent members (USA, Britain, France, China, and Russia) must agree on it. A Majority of the other Security Council members must also agree. If only one permanent member does not agree, the UN cannot act.

  • And example of this was in the country of Myanmar. In 2007, the people held a peaceful protest against the military rulers of the country. They had wanted to have a say in how their country was run. As a result, the rulers killed the protestors and arrested the Buddhist monks who were the leaders of the protests. The UN Security council was approached and asked to stop the abuses. However, China and Russia said that Myanmar was a sovereign nation and that no other country could force change there. The UN did nothing.

  • In May of 2008, a cyclone killed tens of thousands of people in Myanmar. Survivors were left without food, shelter, or clean water. The military rulers refused to let aid into the country. They were warned that they could be charged with crimes against humanity if they did not allow aid in for the people and by late May 2008, UN agencies and some medical workers were allowed in the country.


Internationalism and Conflict

  • One of the main goals of the UN and other international organizations is to maintain peace and security around the world. It is not easy to achieve this goal because conflicts are complex and difficult to solve.

  • The conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan is an example of how difficult it is to maintain peace.

  • About 60% of Darfuris are farmers and most are black people. The other 40% are nomadic or semi-nomadic, and most are of Arabic background. Nomads move from place to place, looking for food and pasture land.

  • In the past few decades, Darfur has experienced drought and both groups have suffered from it. Because of the drought, both groups are competing for land.

  • In 2003, the competition became violent. Rebel groups attacked government targets. The reason for this was that the government (dominated by Arabs) was helping the Arabs but not the black farmers. Civil war has plagued the region since 2003.

  • The government and militias loyal to the government have been fighting the rebel groups.

  • The UN names Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in 2004 and by 2007, about 200 000 Darfuris had been killed and 2.5 million had fled their homes.

  • The UN and the African Union have been trying to negotiate with the Sudanese government to stop the killing and the International Criminal Courts have been investigating instances of war crimes and genocide. The court even issued warrants for the arrest of some members but the killing continues.





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