intense international debate regarding intellectual property rights and the affordability of antiretroviral agents. A National Intelligence Council report (NIC, 2000) predicts that over the next 15 years, this international economic divergence will probably continue. Although developed countries and some developing countries will continue to enjoy high rates of economic growth, the rates in most developing countries will be very stunted. The situation will be exacerbated by the fact that infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, will continue to depress economic growth in the hardest-hit countries by as much as one percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) per year; over the course of many years, the impact of this will be huge.
Recent massive changes in international trade law are fueling a great deal of discomfort and unhappiness in the developing world, and poorer countries are already pressing harder to gain access to markets in the developed world. One of the most recent, conspicuous changes in international trade fora is the strengthening voice of developing countries. It is no accident that the current round of multilateral trade negotiations has explicitly been named the “Development Round,” to reflect the growing importance of trade to the developing world. The debate over access to antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV infection suggests that these kinds of issues are likely to become increasingly common points of tension in future trade negotiations.
Moreover, the tremendous advances and expansions in communication that are being made possible by today’s technology have provided many, although not all, parts of the world with unprecedented access to television. People around the world know how everybody else is living. Greater knowledge and a changing perception of the increasing social and economic disparities between rich and poor countries will likely continue to fuel widespread antiglobalist sentiments and frustration. For some, knowing that they are not living to the same standard as others is a source of great discontent.
In many parts of the world, governance is not strong enough to handle the daunting pressure on states’ capacities to adjust to these global shifts in trade, communication, and perception. A relationship with the people, the capacity to be flexible in times of community distress, and the ability to respond to the ongoing resistance posed by the opposition party all require a sophistication and capacity that many of these countries lack. The pressure to respond creates a greater propensity to state failure. From Zimbabwe to Venezuela, this fragility of government in the face of globalization must be kept in mind. State collapse provides the opportunity for an influx of nonstate actors. The regional instability that often ensues increases the risk of armed conflict, which in turn leads to the massive displacement of people and humanitarian and public health crises.