UNESCAP, the United Nations Economic Commission on the Asia–Pacific region, has been working on a regional trade agreement focusing on electronic commerce. The agreement, once made, could affe.
Publish Date: 10/11/2013 3:15
In Paragraph 2.21.1 of the Handbook of Procedures, Volume 1, 2004-09, the name of the Agreement “Bangkok Agreement” stands replaced by the word “Asia–Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA)” 3. In Paragraph 2.21.1(d) of the …
Publish Date: 11/21/2006 0:00
President Sebastian Piñera started his tour through Asia with an official visit in Thailand, where he and the local Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) this friday morning. … which will permit to improve the welfare and quality of life of both populations,” declared Sebastian Piñera. After Bangkok the Chilean President will head to Indonesia on Saturday, where he will participate in the Forum of Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Publish Date: 10/04/2013 14:37
The alliance, which consists of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile, is considering a free-trade agreement with Thailand and Asean as it evolves into a common market in South America. Andelfo Garcia, Colombia’s … “Our president visited Thailand on the way to the recent Apec [Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation] Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Thailand is an important … Nari hits all part of Bangkok. The storm Nari hits all part of Bangkok on October 16, blurring visibility.
Publish Date: 10/18/2013 11:00
The Bangkok Agreement, signed on 31st July 1975, was the first important tariff agreement in the Asian region and the only regional trade agreement to link East, South-East and South Asia. It. is an initiative of the Economic and Social …
Publish Date: 09/22/2008 8:33
APTA, Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (Previously known as Bangkok Agreement), Bangladesh, China, Republic of Korea, Laos and Sri Lanka, PTA, Regional, Open only to ESCAP Developing member countries. Goods.
Publish Date: 09/27/2011 22:47
While the Asia–Pacific Trade Agreement has existed in this incarnation for less than a decade, the trade agreement has roots in the earlier Bangkok Agreement, finalized in 1975 as a means of increasing intra-regional trade …
Publish Date: 02/15/2012 5:31
Sri Lanka and South Korea are members of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) formerly known as Bangkok Agreement/which was signed in 1975 with the initiative of the ESCAP for promoting intra-regional trade …
Publish Date: 04/24/2012 11:31
Originally published hereFriday, 25 Jan 2013 01:11 AMWASHINGTON — The United States and Thailand discussed Bangkok’s interest in joining a free-trade agreement in the Asia–Pacific region that negotiators hope to wrap …
Publish Date: 01/30/2013 10:44
Globalization; Challenges to the Equalization of Opportunities to the Disability Movement
Over time, human communities have tended to be gregarious and to live in closely knit societies. but the general assumptions that individuals living among the communities ought to be seen as making meaningful contributions to the general well being of all, as well as contributing productively to the human and social capital building capacity of their communities, has tended to marginalize disabled individuals. Society seems to have greatly compounded this marginalization because of its environmental barrier manipulations. The emergence of globalizing forces has also not spared further marginalization of disabled people. Consequently, disabled people found themselves grossly challenged to gain equal access to services, health, work, and education, as well as to disentangle themselves from the burden of poverty which seems very entrenched among them. To open up opportunities, disabled people have had to self organize themselves to grapple with these challenges. Through their own organizations like the Disabled People International, disabled people have, fortunately, successfully managed to bring their issues onto the public domain, and onto agendas of International forums such as the United Nations Organization, World Heath Organizations, or the European Union. However, as trends seem to show, the global population seems to be on the increase and, evidently, there also will be an increase in the number of disabled people. Wars and the continued exposure of people to disabling elements will also exasperate the situation. Unless the United Nations, national governments, local authorities and communities, and other interested parties, put policies to curtail the effects of globalization, disabled people will continue to be marginalized and may miss opportunities in the globalizing national, regional, and local development spheres.
Human communities worldwide have tended to move gradually to develop closer associations over a long time. However, lately the speed of the movement appears to have considerably accelerated. For instance, the invention of the jet plane, the computer chip, and availability of electronic mail (email), cheap telecommunication services, huge but fast sea vessels, instantaneous financial transactions across national borders, all seem to contribute to the movement to make the globe even more mutually dependent than ever. The production and provision of branded goods and services by transnational corporations (TNCs) such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Dulux Paints, Barclays Bank Gestetner, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chickens, Nandos, Dunlop, and Ford, to name a few, marketed throughout the world, all seem to contribute to make the globe a more symbiotic place. The exchange of information and communication of technological knowledge, along with products and finances, ideas and cultures, now seem to circulate more liberally. And this seems to be the current and future trend.
Globalization, undoubtedly, appears to be one of the most prominent aspects of the present century. Consequently, laws, economies, and social engagements seem to now form at the global level. Professionals, politicians, intellectuals, and journalists seem to treat the global trends as both predictable and generally welcome. And for some of the world‟s population, globalization has increasingly become a catchphrase or buzzword and may mean getting rid of the old ways of life, and hostile livelihoods and cultures (Guinness, 2003).
However, signs of globalization of the past few decades are recent compared to at least four other major phases that appear to have shrunk the world throughout history. Historically, globalization can be viewed as having been signaled by;
- The cross-oceanic European voyages of discovery from 1492 to about 1565 (Guinness, 2003).
- The forced migration and translocation of Africans and Indians into slavery and indentured labour to the plantations in the West Indies.
- The massive human migration of the 1930s from Europe and Asia to the Americas (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995).
- The economic depression of the 1930s (Stiglitz, 2002).
While each of these earlier episodes of globalization saw rapid growth in world economy, Guinness (2003), contends that they tended to exert a heavy human toll, especially on the less economically developed nation states. In addressing the challenges and opportunities of globalization, there currently appears to be increasing global concerns with both the positive and negative impacts of this phenomenon on the local, national, and international levels of developments in all spheres, be they social, political, or economic (Priestley, 2001). Of concern in this essay is the area of disability, and how globalization has impacted on the challenges or opportunities for disabled people.
Although Lauder, Brown, Dillabough, and Halsey (2006) note that most researchers on globalization have tended to focus on particular aspects, globalization, however, appears to be multi-dimensional (Waters, 1995; Cheng, 2004). Hence, perceptions on the phenomenon tend to be varied and, accordingly, the definitions of the term so far postulated, appear “fuzzy”. And indeed Lauder et al (2006) observe that there is no agreed definition as yet because it appears globalization represents a process that is never-ending and cannot be thought of as either cyclic or evolutionarily progressing from simple to complex.
Indeed, with a new crop of writers such as Brown and Lauder (1996), Schirato and Webb(2003), Stiglitz (2002), Burbules and Torres (2000), and Bottery (2004), to mention a few, it appears a plethora of concepts — which include technological globalization, economic globalization and learning globalization, environmental globalization, demographic globalization, American globalization (Nye, 2002), cultural globalization, political globalization (Bottery, 2004) — emerged, advancing new insights into the meaning of globalization. The list of the kinds of “globalization” appears endless and is on-going, as debate on the phenomenon continues to forge ahead. But according to Bottery (2004), some kinds of globalization are more pressing in their immediate effects than others. This paper examines and defines globalization from a general perspective, and also explores how the globalization process has “pressed” on the creation of challenges and/or opportunities for disabled people worldwide. Other terms such as “disability” that are embedded within the globalization context will be defined as the discussion unfolds.
What is globalization?
While the terms “globe” and “global” appear to have been in English usage for over four centuries, the noun form “globalization” did not seem to be in common use until about 1960 (Guinness, 2003). According to Weekley (1967), in “An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English”, the term “globalization” was first recognized in 1959 but remained dormant until the mid-1980s when its usage increased dramatically in academic language (Guinness, 2003). To some authors, the term seems to refer to the emergence of transnational organizations whose decisions tend to shape and constrain the policy options any particular nation state may wish to take (Burbules and Torres, 2000). To yet others, globalization may mean the “transition from national ‘walled’ and regional economies towards global ‘free’ trade and markets” (Lauder, et. al. 2006; 30). It may also, to yet others, mean the impact of global economic processes that include production of standardized goods and services, consumption patterns, and financial interdependence and “footloose” capital flows (Brown and Lauder, 1996). To still others, globalization means the appearance of new global cultural forms, media, information, and communication technologies, which seem unrestricted by national borders (Held, 1991). It is perhaps, to political skeptics, where globalization can be viewed as a mental construct utilized by the state polity to garner support for or to squash opposition to reform resulting from mightier forces such as global trade competitions instigated by the World Trade Organization (WTO): or responses to structural adjustment programme (SAPs) demands of the Bretton Woods Institutes (the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) (Brown, 1999): or to obligations to fulfill agreements of intergovernmental organizations or regional economic blocs (Held, 1991) such as the European Union, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Committee (SADC), or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD), that leave the nation state with no option but to play along an imposed set of global rules (Burbules and Torres, 2000). Guinness (2003; 3) posits that the nature of certain jobs tends to influence views when thinking of globalization. For instance, to Kofi Annan (the former United Nations Secretary General) globalization may mean “world inclusivity”; to depots and other like-minded dictators, globalization may be perceived as meaning a threat to the national sovereignty of their nation states. While to Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation, globalization may mean connecting the world virtually in cyberspace, by a world wide web. Thus, myriad views on globalization surfaced as the concept ignited across a wide range of intellectual interests, with some views on the one end vilifying the concept, and on the other, praising it (Stiglitz, 2002).
The use and popularity of the term “globalization” may be partly due to its vagueness and ability to assume different dimensions, depending on the user and context. Held and Koenig–Archibugi (2003) and Schirato and Webb (2000; 1) concur,and describe globalization as a word that is often used to designate the global power relations, practices, and technologies that characterize, and help to bring into being, the contemporary world. Robertson (1992) defines globalization as a concept that refers both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole. Waters (2001), in coining his definition, argues that the most appropriate way of defining globalization would be to predict what a totally globalized world would appear to be like in the future. Waters (2001) therefore, visualizes globalization as being characterized by a single global society with a single culture, where there are no territorial boundaries which, in that status quo, seem to exist in principle for organizing social and cultural life, and where there could be high regard for tolerance, diversity, and individual choice. Waters (2001) also views the flow of trade as well as migration of people and ideas across national and political boundaries, as being interlinked and thus, forcing previously homogenous cultures to rationalize each other. Thus, globalization can be perceived as a process that simultaneously differentiates and homogenizes and consequently “pluralizing the world by recognizing the value of cultural niches” (Guinness, 2003; 2). From this vantage, therefore, Waters (2001) defines globalization as;
A process in which the constraints of geography on economic, social, and cultural arrangements recede, in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding, and in which people act accordingly.
To an extent, Waters’ definition of globalization seems to concur with Stiglitz’s (2002; 9) description when he says globalization is fundamentally,
the closer integration of countries and peoples of the world, which hasbrought about the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flow of goods, services, capital, knowledge,
and …people across borders.
Disability as a global concept: Historical background and definition of disability.
Disability is one socio-cultural issue that appeared to have remained in the periphery but has currently been brought to the centre of most global agenda. It is a term sometimes confused with two other terms: impairment and handicap. The terms “disability,” “impairment,” and “handicap” were often used interchangeably, but in an unclear and confusing way; and may have tended to give poor guidance to policy-makers — for political action, as well as for practical use. The terms used to be perceived from a medical and diagnostic angle (Shakespear, 2006).
What is a Disability?
Disability is a phenomenon that exists in all societies and tends to affect predictable proportions of each population (Metts, 2004). Although there are a number of definitions in use to describe disability, disability largely depends upon context. And apparently, universally, it appeared there was no agreed definition of disability until 1980. Historically, disability was on the one hand viewed as a medical condition, with a medical problem located within the individual. Hence, some definitions tended to reflect this understanding that disability was an individual pathology; i.e. a condition grounded in the physiological, biological, and intellectual impairment of an individual (Shakespear,2006). The medical definitions gave rise to the idea that people were “objects” to be “treated”, “changed”, or “improved”, and made more “normal” (Wolfensburger, 1972). The medical definitions tended to perceive the disabled person as having to “fit in” rather than about how society itself should transform. They did not seem to adequately explain the relationship between societal conditions or expectations and the unique circumstances of an individual. (A diagrammatic representation of the medical model is shown in the figure below).
The Medical Model of Disability
Illustration taken from the University of Salford Self-Direction Community Project (2000-2002)
Disability can be viewed as a highly varied and complex condition with a range of implications for social identity and behaviour (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995). Therefore, a growing realization to articulate a definition of disability, which was in conformity with human rights values, principles, and practices was needed. Whilst some disabled people may have medical conditions which impede them, and which may or may not require medical treatment, current knowledge, technology and collective resources are already such that their physical or mental impairments need not prevent them from participating in community lives. According to Rieser and Mason (1990), it is society’s unwillingness to employ these means to altering itself that causes disabilities. But, it seems at the centre of society, lies the values that respect the variation in human cultures and the appreciation that people are different on several considerations such as gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability (Lauder, et al, 2006; 29).
On the other hand, while the medical model seemed to be in vogue, it was challenged by disability activists who reconstructed disability as a social phenomenon (Shakespear, 2006). The social model of disability seems to draw a clear distinction between impairments, handicaps, and disability, because society tends to ignore the imperfections and deficiencies of the surrounding environment, which in turn tends to disable people by its failure to recognize and accommodate differences. And also, through the attitudinal and institutional barriers it erects towards people. Disability thus seems to arise from a complex interaction between health conditions, the social context in which they exist, and the individual. To some, disability is a relative term, with certain impairments becoming more or less disabling in different contexts. The figure below of the social model of disability serves to illustrate the disabling forces at work where the ‘social model’ is applied.
The Social Model of Disability
Illustration taken from the University of Salford Self-Direction Community Project (2000-2002)
In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the terms disabilities, impairments, and handicaps, and suggested a universal, more precise, and at the same time realistic, approach to their definitions and use (Metts, 2004;3). The World Health Organization made a clear distinction between “impairment”, “disability”, and “handicap”. However, there were concerns that the definition of the terms “impairment” and “handicap” may still be considered too medical and too centred on the individual, and may not adequately clarify the interaction between societal conditions or expectations, and the abilities of the individual. Hence, the need to separate and clarify the meanings of these terms. By description, the term “disability” tends to summarize different functional limitations occurring in individuals anywhere in the world. People may be disabled by physical, intellectual, or sensory limitations, medical conditions, or mental illness. Such limitations or illnesses may be permanent or temporary (UnitedNations, 1993).
The term “handicap” tends to mean the loss or limitation of opportunities to participate in the life of the community on an equal level with others (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995). It may describe the encounter between the disabled person and their environment. The term emphasizes the focus on the shortcomings in socially organized environmental activities; such as, access to information, communication technology, health services and to education, which prevent disabled persons from participating on equal terms with everybody else (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995). Although the term continues in use, its technical use was, according to Stone (1997), discarded by the United Nations in 1993. During the 1970s there had been a strong rejection among representatives of organizations of disabled persons and professionals in the field of disability of the term at the time (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995). The term “impairment” can be defined to mean “any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function” (WHO, 1980). The distinction and clarification of the terms “disability” and “impairment” and “handicap” seemed to perch the views on the medical and social models of disability in opposition to each other. This seemed to pave the way for a new and seemingly acceptable disability model framed along Human Rights. In the light of modern society values, it was a model, appealing to both advocates of equal rights and the United Nations (Shakespear, 2006).
In 1975 the United Nations General Assembly made its first Declaration on the Rights of the Disabled Persons (Priestley, 2001). After the declaration, the United Nations proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of the Disabled Persons, and commenced on the development of World Programmes of Action that led to the adoption of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1994 (United Nations, 1993). As a result of the experiences gained during the 1983-1992 Decade of Disabled Persons, in the implementation of the World Programmes of Action and of the general discussions that took place, there was a deepening of knowledge and understanding concerning disability issues and the terminology used. At the same time disability was more clearly defined (Priestley, 2001; Ingstad and Whyte, 1995). (Although multi-culturally, there still seemed to be problems in defining disability in a global context – for instance, how could imperfections of the body and of the mind be understood in different societies? Or how could a person’s culturally defined identity be affected by one’s disability? (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995). Hence, according to Haddad (2001), President of the Canadian Medical Association, the term disability tends to have various meanings, depending on the context in which the term is used. However, for the purpose of this essay, the World Health Organization (WHO) functional definition of disability shall be used. The World Health Organization definition of disability is framed on the model of the International Classification of Diseases and “because it attempts to categorize the consequence of disease, it includes a consideration of social contexts” and at the same time captures aspects of Human Rights (Ingstad and Whyte, 1995; 5). According to this classification, disability is defined as “any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being” (Mett, 2004; 3).
However, many governments and organizations appear to have adapted this definition and developed legislation to suit their own social and economic situations, as evidenced by the definitions from the following country examples. The Israeli Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law of 1998 notes a person with a disability;
as meaning “a person with a physical, emotional or mental disability, including a cognitive disability, permanent or temporary, as a resultof which that person’s functioning is substantially limited in one or more the major spheres of life. (Wolfgang, Preiser & Ostroff, 2003).
The United Kingdom Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 notes that “a person has a disability… if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” (Department for International Development 2000).
In the Zimbabwe Disabled Persons Act of 1992, which was enacted after the war of political liberation, a “disabled person” means
a person with a physical, mental or sensory disability, including a visual, hearing or speech functional disability, which gives rise to physical, cultural or social barriers inhibiting him from participating at an equal level with other members of society in activities, undertakings or fields of employment that are open to other members of society (Government of Zimbabwe, 1992).
Evidently, the few illustrations serve to show that the definition of disability seems to be framed along the individual circumstances and social contexts of particular nation states, but also seems to imply an empowerment of disabled people through recognizing them along equality of rights.
The global extent of disability
To measure national, regional, and local disability populations — let alone the global population — is, according to Metts (2004), almost impossible. There is therefore a wide variation in the estimated disability rates reported by the developed and developing countries (Thomas, 2005). Most United Nations agencies use estimates developed by the Rehabilitation International in the 1970s, and by the United Nations Development Programme (1997), that approximately ten percent of any given population are born with a disability, or acquire one during their lifetime (Disability World, 2003). This, however, appears to have changed over time, because in the United States of America, as Stone (1997; 4) observed, the prevalence of disability is about twenty percent of the population. In developing nations and elsewhere, especially in Africa, the percentage appears to be a lot lower than ten percent. The Zimbabwe Inter-Censal Demographic Survey of 1997 conducted by the Central Statistical Office established that out of a population of about twelve million, 218 421 persons were disabled (Government of Zimbabwe 1997). This figure is less than 2% of the population, but in the developed countries, the percentages are higher. The SINTEF table below seems to give a synopsis of the situation. This seems to be the trend globally. This is an irony, but not surprising, if the causes of disabilities were to be discussed. (Unfortunately this paper will not discuss these because it would be a detour from topic). However, at the global level, the United Nations note that the primary causes of disability are disease (51.2%); malnutrition (20%); accidents, war and trauma 15.6%; and other causes and aging 13.2%. (Metts, 2004).
Apparently the variation in numbers in the different countries can also depend, to a large extent, on the definitions of disability used, which either expand or diminish the disability groups, and also the difficulties in the data collection procedures and the different assessment systems used in the different countries. This may be a probable reason most data gathered by national governments of the developing states are perceived by organizations working in disability as underestimating and down-playing the extent of disability in their countries. However, to me, it appears the research data may be representation of the real situation on the ground, despite popular ‘western’ wisdom that the contrary may be true. The census figures gathered by The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF) shown in the diagram overleaf seem to vindicate this representative scenario. The SINTEF report most probably reflects the correct perspectives in the light that the world seems to be experiencing a demographic evolution; and also that the more sophisticated urban environments become, the more they tend to be disabling because they tend to erect barriers that limit or diminish human functioning; thus in a sense ‘creating‘ disabled people (Harwood, Sayer andHirschfield, 2004). (For instance, a mentally challenged person in the unsophisticated agricultural farms of Africa is capable of productive activities in terms of demonstrating agricultural skills; whereas if the same person were brought to an urbanized environment, would become useless because the means of production in that situation differ, and may present challenges to the individual.)
Another research by The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF) done in Zimbabwe seems to reinforce this assertion, as it found higher disability rates in urban than in rural areas, suggesting that ‘complex societies in a sense produce disability’ (Arne, Nhiwathiwa, Muderedzi, and Loeb, 2003).
In the developed countries there also appears to be an increased life expectancy because of improved medical technology and health care, meaning that more people will reach old age and experience age related disabilities (Harwood et al, 2004). Today, demographic statistics indicate that there are approximately more than half a billion people with disabilities globally. The World Health Organization predicts a huge increase in the global population, which is set to rise dramatically between 2000 and 2050; and consequently, a proportionate increase in the global number of people with disabilities (Harwood et al, 2004). It is forecast that over the period, the Indian Sub-continent could have an increase in population of approximately 120%; China, 70%; the Sub-Saharan Africa, 257%; and Burkina Faso, Congo, Liberia, Niger, Somalia, Palestine, Uganda, could have a combined increase of over 400%. (Harwood et al, 2004).
Disability in the Global Context
There is growing evidence that disability as an issue seems to have shifted significantly over the past few years from the periphery to the centre of the international human rights agenda (Mett, 2004;1), and also of numerous literature that disability policy agenda has risen to be a global policy issue (Barton & Oliver, 1987; Priestley 2001); and also that it has become a challenge to policy planners who map out development oriented policies and strategies for social and economic programmes for disabled people. The processes of globalization seem to be shifting not only the populations of persons with disabilities, but also their experience of disability. People with disabilities globally seem to be empowering themselves to assert greater involvement and equality in global challenges affecting them. Such claims are not only about control over individuals’ lives, but also about greater influence over the societies and economies within which they live (Swain, Finklestein, French and Oliver, 1993). Thus, the observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons (IDDP) declared in 1982 and commemorated on 3 December tends to focus on the active involvement of disabled persons in the planning of strategies and policies that affect their lives. The annual observance of the day, with the slogan “Nothing about Us without Us,” seems to offer an opportunity to foster changes in attitudes towards disabled persons to eliminate barriers to their full participation in all aspects of life (Stone, 1997; Rowland, 2001; Swain, et al 1993).
The declaration of 1981 as the International Year of the Disabled Person (IYDP) further elevated disability onto the international human rights agenda (Priestley 2001). A major outcome of the International Year of the Disabled Persons was the formation of the World Programmes of Action concerning Disabled Persons, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted at its 37th regular session in 1982, by its resolution 37/52 (United Nations, 1982). Subsequent International Years were supposed to bring focus to a particular area and create new links and opportunities (Swain, et al. 1993).
In Southern African countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, the motto has been “Disability is Not Inability” (Salmonsson, 2006). This slogan and motto tend to rely on the principle of participation, and has been used by disabled people’s organizations throughout the years as part of the global disability movement, to achieve the full participation and equalization of opportunities for, by, and with disabled persons (Watermeyer, Swartz, Lorenzo, Schneider & Priestley (2006). Therefore, to disentangle the lived experience of disability from the social context of disabling societies at the local, national, and global levels appears impossible.
Thus, the recognition of disabled people to improve their lives has been demonstrated by the United Nations, as is implied in the active involvement of disabled persons in the on-going elaboration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations, 2006), and in the Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (UNESCO, 1993). These conventions seem to have proved to be excellent examples of how the principle of full participation can be put into practice, and how disabled people can contribute to the development of truly inclusive communities to shape a better future for all.
The United Nations’ establishment of the World Programmes of Action led to the UNESCO Framework for Action of the World Conferences on Education for All held in 1990 in Jomtien (Thailand), The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Special Needs Education (UNESCO, 1994), and the Dakar Framework on Education for All (UNESCO, 2002). To demonstrate the importance of placing disability on the global level, more than one hundred and fifty-five countries from all over the world were represented by leaders of government, international agencies, non-governmental organizations, and professional bodies who committed themselves to recognizing the education of all disabled individuals, attended the Jomtiem conference (Ndawi, 1997).The Dakar World Education Forum conference, in April 2000, attracted more than 1,100 participants from one hundred and sixty four countries (UNESCO, 2002). Participants ranged from teachers to prime ministers, academics to policymakers, non-governmental bodies to the heads of major international organizations. They adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All (UNESCO, 2002). The Dakar Conference was complemented by earlier conferences which all addressed issues related to the challenges and empowerment of disabled people. These were, namely, the Sub-Saharan Conferenceon Education for All held in South Africa in 1999; Asia and Pacific Conference on Education For All held in Bangkok in 2000; The Arab Regional Conference on Education for All held in Cairo; The Third Inter-Ministerial Review Meeting on the E-9 Countries held in Recife, Brazil; Conference on Education for All in Europe and North America held in Warsaw, Poland in 2000; and The Regional Education for All Conference in the Americas held in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2000 (UNESCO, 2002).
GLOBAL DISABILITY CHALLENGES TO THE EQUALIZATION OF OPPORTUNITIES
It appears disabled people are most challenged in four fronts; namely, by poverty, wars, access to education, and work.
With the disability policy agenda having reached the highest levels of global recognition, globalization seems to have constructed a universe that offers endless opportunities and new life patterns to all; for instance, easy access to education, information, and technology, health and social amenities, and etcetera. But, according to Ghai (2001), the paradox is that on the one hand, globalization places emphasis on economic power to improve the livelihood of mankind; but on the other, methodically marginalizes certain groups of people, in particular disabled people, by its use of modern technology and its removal of these people from participating to contributing to the gross national product of individual nation states. And in this way, globalization seems to have created challenges to the equalization of opportunities to disabled people. More so, the apparent disparity in economic, social, and technological developments between the different nation states has led globalization to seem to have a different meaning for disabled people, and to challenge them differently in the different communities (Ghai, 2001); with some communities wealthier than others. Poverty seems to be afflicting the half a billion disabled people or so in the world today. According to Ghai (2001), more disabled peoples eem to be suffering on every continent, perhaps more than ever before. Most of them are on the lowest end of the socio-economic scale (Beresford, 1996; Frieden, 2002).
Consequently, disabled people have tended to be more vulnerable to their incapability to combat poverty, exclusion, stigma, and lack of access to basic education and services. Disabled people seem to experience poverty more intensely, but have fewer opportunities to escape from it. A former President of the World Bank observed this and asserted that “unless disabled people are brought into the development mainstream, it will be impossible to cut poverty by half by 2015…” (Richler, 2005, 37). Hence, according to Beresford 1996), combating global poverty is a key issue in the disability movement.
Wars and political upheavals
Another aspect that appears to challenge the equalization of opportunities for disabled people is war and its associated political upheavals (Priestley, 2001). As Driedger (1987)observed, war and political upheaval have had adverse effects on disabled peoples’ lives and their rights seem grossly violated in war times anywhere in the world; effectively excluding them from participating in the social and capital capacity building of affected nations. Priestley (1987) also notes that wars have resulted in millions of disabled refugees and displaced persons in and around war tone zones. Supposedly, in Central Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan and in Central America, war is perceived as a major cause of disability. War landmines have also massively contributed to causing disability of various sorts, and thus the achievement of peace has become a global disability issue. The European Union’s commitment to eradicate landmines on a globalscale seems illustrative, but the role of the United Nations in this matter appears “invisible”.
In a speech to the European Union parliament, the European Union’s Commissioner for External Affairs noted that one hundred and forty four countries have so far ratified the Mines Ban Treaty (Waldner, 2005). Numerous other summits have been held to discuss the reduction of the number of people either killed or maimed by landmines. Waldner conceded that the annual number of landmine victims has dropped from 26 000 to below 15 000 (Waldner, 2005). The Disabled Peoples International (DPI, 1998) took issue with this matter at their World Assembly in 1998 in Mexico City; and a subsequent visit by the DPI World Council to Hiroshima, the site of the Second World War atomic bomb, resulted in the International Peace Declaration by the global disability organizations.
However, war and political upheaval have ironically also had a positive impact on the lives of disabled people. In countries where there were revolutions, such as Vietnam, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Nicaragua, Ingstad and Whyte (1995) and Montero (1998), observe that disabled people in the process were venerated and “practically considered national heroes and were given all the opportunities possible to develop and strengthen their organizations”, and to access funding, education, jobs, and other services. War veterans seemed to experience disability in positively very different ways as compared to those disabled before the revolutions.
For many disabled people, the demand for access to work may be perceived as a major signifier of independent adulthood, and a crucial component to the struggle for equality. Yet, as Priestley (2001; 8) asserts, disabled people globally “continue to be disproportionately unemployed, underemployed and underpaid…” This assertion is reflected, for instance, in the focus of the British Government’s proposal to tackle oppression of disabled people on the work place (Barton and Oliver, 1997). The British Government cut back on the Access to Work scheme and the disabled people’s organizations fought that decision asserting that the right to a job is a fundamental human right (Barton and Oliver, 1997). Such challenges for access to jobs by disabled people appear to have become common in many countries. Hence in 1983, the International Labour Organization adopted a Convention Concerning Vocational, Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) (ILO, 1983) to ensure equality of opportunities and equalization of treatment of disabled people at work and social integration. However, despite much effort at the global level to include disabled people in the work world, at the local level, some would continue to be excluded by their impairments because some tend not to be capable of producing goods or services to contribute to the social and economic capital base. To this, Barton and Oliver (1997;35)comment that this is so “because in any society……..certain products are of value and others are not, regardless of the efforts that go into their production.”
Education occupies a unique position in modern society today because it tends to benefit both society and the individual as it is considered a public good (Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1985). The advances in knowledge and scientific understanding seem to strengthen the optimism that society holds of education (Lauder et al.2006). Education offers optimism to influence the well-being of people and nation states because, according to Lauder et al. (2006), education is perceived by almost all people as the means by which to improve individuals’ lives and an understanding of their place in the world. Typically, therefore, as global market trends and technologies continue to develop in new pathways, education tends to become commodified, and free access to education seems to also become even more important for everyone. However, disabled people seem to continue to be challenged in their quest to access educational opportunities available. In their zeal to acquire knowledge and skills needed in the evolving world of work, Peters (1996) notes that the inequitable access to educational benefits results in the inaccessibility to work; thereby propelling further the creation of an impoverished community. In some societies, for instance the Pakistani, disabled girl children education is not considered important (Shah, 1990). And from a personal viewpoint, it appears this perspective is in existence among some religious communities in Southern Africa. Such barriers to access to education challenge many disabled people, and compel them to be dependant upon their families in many countries (Priestley, 2001). In addressing these matters, the United Nations, through the various protocols such as the Salamanca Statement, the Dakar Framework, the Jomtien Conference, and others, seeks to
Ensure equal educational opportunities at all levels for children, youth and adults with disabilities in integrated settings, taking into full account of individual differences and situations (World Summit on Social Development, Commitment 6, item f, 1995).
Consequently, at the national level, governments the world over have had to formulate legislation and initiatives consistent with the vision of the United Nations.
However, in most African States, these policies and legislation were absent and a concerted effort was made to put them in place through the African Unions’ Continental Plan of Action which is aimed at implementing priority activities on disability during the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (1999-2009) (Secretariat of the African Decade, 2004). In order to create an equitable society in Africa, the Secretariat of the African Decade facilitates the development of highly progressive policies and legislation, which if properly used, can over periods drastically reform the social disadvantages experienced by all disabled persons. For example, Ghana adopted the Free, Compulsory and Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) (Sawyerr 1997) initiative in line with this United Nations vision. In Zimbabwe, the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) was initiated cognizant of the same vision. The USA initially passed Public Law 92-142 (PL 92-142) Education for All Handicapped Persons Act (Gearheart, Weishahn andGearheart, 1982). Then in 1975, the American Congress enacted the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from which initiatives like the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) (Astoria 2007), were born. In the United Kingdom, the “Every Child Matters” Green Paper (The Stationery Office, 2003) is similar in principle to the American IDEA.
Several nations have put in place similar protocols to deal with equalization of educational opportunities to all people in their systems. To emphasize this, the United Nations Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development included specific pledges on equal educational opportunities for disabled children and young people. (World Summiton Social Development 1995).
A PERSONAL THOUGHT
It may be naïve to conclude that globalization alone has caused the challenges experienced by disabled people, or that nothing can be done to improve the equalization of opportunities in their situations. In real essence, it appears the less developed countries have not been able to integrate disabled people within the global economic and social development as quickly as others, partly because of their chosen policies, and partly because of factors outside their control such as imposed economic structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), debt burden caused by the Bretton Wood Institutes, and wars and conflict. In my opinion, however, it appears no nation state, least of all the poorest, can afford to remain isolated from the global social and economic capacity-building initiatives. Every country should seek to provide for the needs — and access to the basic services — of all its citizens in order to reduce challenging situations, and to increase equal opportunity initiatives to ameliorate suffering among its disabled people populations. The self organization of disabled people into groups seems to raise their values and voices, and is also a fundamental right that disabled people should continue to exercise. Through globalization principles, the international community should endeavour to invest in disabled people. On economic grounds, investment in disabled people is justified as long as the consequential capital investment does not exceed the cost of benefits derived.
In conclusion, this essay discussed the concepts of globalization and disability. Descriptions and definitions of both terms were made. Within the globalization concept, disability was discussed. Then a historical framework of disability in the global context was suggested. It seems definitions of disability vary across communities. The challenges that face disabled people in their zeal to achieve full independence in the control of their lives, and to contribute to the social and economic capacity, were also highlighted. However, as globalization progresses, living conditions seem to improve significantly in virtually all countries. But that the economic disparities between developed and less developed countries seem to have grown wider, and wars and political upheaval as well, the incapability of escaping from poverty are matters of concern that seem to affect the majority of disabled people. The number of the world’s citizens who are in poverty seems disturbing – let alone among the population of the disabled people.
Astoria W., (2007), “President Bush Discusses No Child Left behind Reauthorization” Paper by the Press Secretary, Office of the White House, New York, September 26th.(ONLINE http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/09/20070926-1.html).
Barton L. and Oliver, M., (1987), Disability Studies; Past, Present and Future, Leeds,The University Press.
Beresford, P. (1998), “Poverty and disabled people; challenging dominant debates and policies”, Disability & Society, Vol. 11, No.4 pp. 553-567.
Bottery, M., (2004), “Education and Globalization: Redefining the Role of the Educational Professional” Paper presented at the Inaugural Professional Lecture, Institute for Learning, University of Hull, March 15th.
Brown, T. (1999), “Challenging globalization as discourse and phenomenon”, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol. 18, No.1, pp.3-17.
Brown, P. and Lauder, H. (1996), “Education, Globalization and Economic Development”, Journal of Educational Policy, Vol. 11, No.1, pp. 1-25.
Burbules, N and Torres, A.C., (2000), Globalization and Education, Routledge, London.
Cheng, Y.C., (2004), “Fostering local knowledge and human development inglobalization of education”, International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 18,No. 1, pp. 7-24.
Department for International Development, (2000), “Disability, Poverty and Development”, Department for International Development, London, (ONLINE-http:www.dfid.gov.uk).
Disabled People International, (1998), “Towards an Inclusive 21st Century Mexico City, Disability Awareness in Action Newsletter 66, November.
Disability World, (200), “UNICEF & Disabled Children and Youths” Bi-Monthly Newsletter of International Disability, News and Views, Issue No. 19 June-August.
Driedger, D., (1987), Disabled People‟s International, Rehabilitation Gazette, 28: pp. 13-14.
Frieden L., (2002), “The Global Disability Community Must Respond to the Critical Challenges of the 21st Century”, Address to Rehabilitation International European Conference in Aachen, Germany, November 11th.
Gearheart, B.R., Weishahn, M.W. and Gearheart, C.J. (1992), The Exceptional Student in the Regular Classroom, New York, Macmillan Publishing Company.
Ghai, A., (2001) “Marginalization and Disability; Experiences from the Third World”, In Priestley M., (ed.), (2001), Disability and The Life Course; Global Perspectives, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp.26-37.
Government of Zimbabwe, (1996), Disabled Persons Act. Harare, Government Printers.
Government of Zimbabwe, (1997), Inter-Censual Demographic Survey, Harare, Government Printers.
Guiness, P., (2003), Globalization, London, Hodder & Stoughton.
Haddad, H., (2001), “Proposals for legislation governing assisted human reproduction”, Paper presentation to the House of Commons Canadian Medical Association StandingCommittee on Health October 23rd.
Harwood, R.H., Sayer, A. A. and Hirschfield, M., (2004), Current and Future Worldwide Prevalence of Dependency, its Relationship to Total population and Dependency Rates Bulletin of WHO, April, 2004, 82. pp. 4.
Held, D., (1996), Political Theory Today, Stanford, Stanford University Press.
Held, D. and Koenig-Archibugi M. (2003), Taming Globalization; Frontiers of Governance, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Ingstad, B. and Whyte, S., (eds), (1995), Disability and Culture, Berkeley Ca., University of California Press.
International Labour Organization, (1983), Convention Concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons), Geneva, ILO, C159, June 20th.
Lauder, H., Brown, P., Dillabough, J. A. and Hasley., (2006), Education, Globalization and Social Change, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Metts, R., (2004), “Disability and Development”, A Background paper prepared for the Disability and Development Research Agenda Meeting Washington D.C. World Bank, November 16th.
Ndawi, O.P., (1997), “Education for all by the year 2000 in some countries in Africa; Can teacher education ensure the quantity, quality and relevance of that Education?” International Journal of Educational Development, Vol. 17. No.2. pp. 121-128.
Nye, J., (2002), The Paradox of American Power, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Priestley, M., (ed), (2001), Disability and the Life Course; Global Perspectives, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Psacharopoulos, G. and Woodhall, M. (1985), Education for development : an analysis of investment choices, New York, Oxford University Press, for the World Bank.
Reiser, R. and Mason M., (1990), Disability Equality in the Classroom; a Human Rights Issue, London, Education Resource Information Centre.
Richler, D., (2005), “Maintaining Disability in Development Programs of African Countries: Promoting Inclusive Education”, International Rehabilitation review, Vol.55, No. 2, December.
Robertson, R, (1992). Globalization, London, Sage.
Rowland, W., (2001), “Nothing about us without us; Some Historical Reflections on Disability Movement in South Africa”, Disability World Issue No. 11, Nov-Dec.
Salmonssnn, A., (2005), “Disability is not Inability”, Baseline Study towards inclusive Education In Blantyre, Balaka and Muchinga Districts in Malawi, Institute of Public Management.
Sawyerr, H., (1997), “Successful African Experiences; A review of Country-Led Aid Coordination in Ghana” Paris, Association for the Development of Education in Africa.
Self Direction Community Project, (2002), The Medical and Social Model of Disability Module, Salford, University of Salford.
Shah, F., (1990), “Disability, Self Help and Social Change”, In Priestley, M., (2001), Disability and the Life Course; Global Perspectives, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Schirato, T. & Webb, J., (2003), Understanding Globalization, London, Sage Publications.
Secretariat of the African Debate, (2004), “A brief Overview of the mandate of the African Decade for Disabled Persons Secretariat”, Addis Ababa, African Union.
Shakespear, T., (2000), Disability: Rights and Wrongs, Oxon, Routledge.
Stiglitz, J., (2003), Globalization and its discontents, London, Penguin.
Stone, K.G., (1997), Awakening to Disability; Nothing About us Without Us, Mother Lode, Ca. Volcano Press.
Swain, J., Finkelstein, V., French, S. and Oliver, M., (eds), (1993), Disabling Barriers – Enabling Environments. London, Sage Publications.
The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research, (2003), “Living Conditionsamong People with Disabilities in Zimbabwe: A Representative Regional Study” SINTEF, Oslo.
The Stationery Office, (2003), The Green Paper; Every Child Matters, Norwich, The Stationery Office.
Thomas, P., (2005), “Mainstreaming Disability in Development: Country level Research India Country Report Disability” Disability Knowledge and Research. Project, DfID (ONLINE; – http://www.disabilitykar.net/index.html). [Perhaps I am wrong, but Disabilitykar.net no longer seems to be related to whatever was originally intended. For that reason, I disabled the link. -GarnetHGB].
United Nations, (1975), Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, General Assembly Resolution 3447, 9, New York, United Nations.
United Nations, (1983), World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, New York, United Nations.
United Nations, (1994), ‘Towards a society for all: Long-term Strategy to Implement the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond’, annex to Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, Report of the Secretary- General, 27 September.
United Nations Development Programme, (1997), Human Development Report, New York, Oxford University Press.
United Nations, (2006), Paper on “Global Disability Network Adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” New York, United Nations.
UNESCO, (1989), Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, UN.
UNESCO, (1993), Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. New York; UN.
UNESCO, (1994), Final Report; World Conference on Special Education; Access And Quality (Salamanca Declaration and Jomtien Framework for Action). Paris, UNESCO.
UNESCO, (1995), “Disability Awareness In Action”, New York, UNESCO.
UNESCO, (2002), “Education for All, Is the World on Track?” EFA Global Monitoring Report.
Waldner, B.F., (2005) “A World Without Landmines” Speech to the European Parliament Strasbourg, July 6th.
Waters, M., (2001), (2nd. Ed.), Globalization, Routledge.
Watermeyer, B, Swartz, L., Lorenzo, T., Schneider, M. & Priestley, M., (2006), Disability and Social Change; A South African Agenda, Human Sciences, Cape Town, Research Council.
Weekley, E., (1967), An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, Dover Dover Publications.
Wolfensburger, W., (1972), The Principle of Normalization in Human Services, Toronto, National Institute of Mental Retardation.
Wolfgang F, Preiser, E & Ostroff, E. (2003), Universal design Handbook. New York McGraw-Hill.
World Health Organization, (2005), “Globalization, Trade and Health, Highlights of Products and activities 2004/2005 “A Working Paper, New York, United Nations.
World Summit on Social Development, (1995), Report of the world summit for social Development”, Copenhagen March, 6th-12th.
About the Author
Partson Musosa Phiri is a candidate for the Ed. D degree in Policy and Values at the University of Hull (UK). He also holds M.Ed. from the same University. Additionally, Partson M. Phiri also holds the following qualifications: B. Ed. (Planning and Policy) (U.Zim); Dip.Ed (Special Education); Cert.Ed. He won scholarships from the following bodies: Canon Collins Education Trust for Southern Africa, Joint Japan World Bank Graduate Scholarship Programme, Wakeham Trust, All Saints Educational Trust.
Lao NEWS on LNTV-Laos & Thailand agree to enhance bilateral cooperation. 21/5/2013
Souphaksone Silaphet Published on 24 May 2013
VO Laos and Thailand agree to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, tourism and agriculture at the second Thai-Lao JCR in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai
INTRO: Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong led a high-level delegation attending a joint Lao-Thai cabinet meeting and the 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on May 19 to 20. According to a senior official from MOFA, Laos and Thailand on May the 19th agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, tourism and agriculture at the second Thai-Lao Joint Cabinet Retreat in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai.
STORY: Laos and Thailand have agreed to boost their cooperation in various sectors with several agreements signed during their second Joint Cabinet Retreat or JCR in Chiang Mai on Sunday. The 3 memorandums of understanding signed during the meeting were on unofficial results of the 2nd JCR, agricultural cooperation, and on ownership, management and maintenance of the 4th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge linking Bokeo province to Chiang Rai in Thailand.
Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra led their respective cabinets to attend the meeting.
During their second Joint Cabinet Retreat, the JCR focused on the progress of many joint projects including transport systems connecting Thailand and Laos and other sub-regional countries such as the 4th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge which is expected to open in mid 2013. Meanwhile, the joint cabinet meeting also touched on cooperation to strengthen border trade, border peacekeeping and anti-drug trafficking.
The two sides also discussed the linkage of a high-speed railway between the two countries and Thailand conveyed its concerns about the delay of the project on the Lao side, which could lead to a setback in the regional plan to build a railroad link.
Official said, Thailand will build four high-speed train lines, one of them from Bangkok to Nong Khai province. This route will link to the railway line in Laos and then travel on to southern China. The Thai side asked Laos to speed up its high-speed train project and offered to organise a meeting with Laos and China to discuss the cooperation of the high-speed train project linking the three countries.
The two countries agreed to work together to tackle drugs, bolster trade and investment on Roads 8 and 12 in Laos, fight human trafficking and speed up border demarcation.
They further agreed that it was also important to suppress the drug trade by setting up more checkpoints and promoting the agriculture sector while suppressing human trafficking and trans-border crime.
Thailand has a long history of good relations and cooperation with Laos particularly in trade, investment and tourism. People of the two countries also have similar languages and culture.
Thailand is Laos’ biggest trading partner. In 2012 the value of trade between the two countries reached US$4.4 billion, up 26.5 percent compared to 2011, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2012, Thailand was the third largest foreign investor in Laos with nine projects worth US$346 million. Leaders of the two countries agreed to encourage more Thai businesses to carry out operations in Laos in the near future.
Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong led a high-level delegation attending a joint Lao-Thai cabinet meeting and the 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on May 19 to 20. His visit is in response to an invitation from Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.