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Cosatu warns of war on G8: Developing countries 'may take up arms over globalisation'

Reuters-Sapa-AFP, The Natal Witness, 21 July 2001

COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has told representatives of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Genoa that the current strategy of globalisation needs to be urgently reconsidered.

Speaking ahead of the G8 summit scheduled to start on Friday, Vavi said there is a general distrust of globalisation in the developing world. He warned that developing countries, hurt by the economic injustices of globalisation, might take up arms against the developed world.

If these leaders [the G8] are not brave enough to accept these modest changes, they will have to accept that many will opt out of the world system and some will find other means to challenge globalisation. This may lead to an arms race wherein developing societies aim to protect themselves from the social unrest that will be unleashed by the wrecking ball of globalisation, he said.

Therefore globalisation has to work towards eradicating the ill social side-effects of the process, he said.

Vavi also said the resources made available by governments to battle the HIV/Aids pandemic do not match the scale of the plague, adding that statistics indicate HIV/Aids is the single most potent danger to humanity but governments, affected countries and world leaders are not releasing funds to match the scale of threat.

He and other international trade unionists met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday, ahead of the G8 summit.

The weekend summit will be attended by political leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. It ends late on Sunday morning.

Vavi said discussions to establish a global fund to fight the scourge of HIV/Aids are appreciated, but he hopes the end result is not disappointing.

We await with greatest anticipation for the details and hope that we shall not be disappointed.

Vavi said there has been a comprehensive response from the world that includes affordable treatment, education and poverty eradication for the disease's elimination.

Education and awareness, elimination of poverty, dealing with the challenge of underdevelopment and the cancelling of odious debt all have to be part of the total strategy.

Vavi called for member countries of the G8 to relax restrictions on imports from emerging markets, and urged development aid from stronger countries.

He also called for greater representation of poor countries in the UN, WTO, World Bank and IMF.

Meanwhile, anti-globalisation activists on Friday vowed to scale or topple steel barriers set up to bolster summit security and declared police will have to use violence to stop them.

We have a plan A and a plan B, to climb over them or break them down, said Luca Casarini, a leader of the Tute Bianche, or White Overalls, which numbers some of the most radical activists in the anti-globalisation movement.

We will try to retake every metre of the 'red zone', the four-square kilometre area around the summit venue at Genoa's 13th century Ducal Palace, he said.

The inner city is ringed by four-metre high barriers that block off 240 narrow streets to prevent any repetition of the type of violence that marred a European Union summit in Gothenburg, Sweden last month.

Italy has deployed a 20 000-strong security force to face down demonstrators.