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WEF to discuss rifts of globalisation

The WEF's managing-director, Claude Smadja, says the rifts caused by globalisation could have a destabilising effect


The World Economic Forum (WEF), an exclusive club of the world's top business leaders, says healing the rifts caused by globalisation will be one of the main themes of its annual meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos next week.

Unveiling its programme on Tuesday, the Geneva-based Forum said it was concerned to explore ways of smoothing the inequalities between the "haves" and "have-nots".

The announcement follows criticism from non-governmental organisations about the neo-liberal economic goals pursued by the organisation and the closed nature of its meeting in Davos.

"Globalisation is currently not what it should be," said the Forum's managing-director, Claude Smadja.

He said big gaps had appeared in the fields of education, knowledge, health and access to computer technology, which could have a destabilising effect. He called for a better distribution of the world's resources.

The other main issue at the WEF meeting is how to maintain global economic growth despite the slowdown in the United States economy.

The meeting from January 25 to 30 is being held under unprecedented security, following the refusal of anti-globalisation activists to accept the local authorities' ban on demonstrations.

They plan to travel to Davos, in eastern Switzerland, on January 27 to vent their anger, and have refused to rule out a repeat of the violence which marred last year's event.

On Tuesday, the Swiss army began with the deployment of about 300 troops dispatched to reinforce the police. The canton Graubünden police force said earlier this month the operation would be the biggest it had ever mounted.

Policemen from every force in the country and from neighbouring Liechtenstein are being sent to Davos to help guarantee the safety of the leading business executives, politicians and academics from around the world.

More than 30 top politicians are expected to attend the forum, including the Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

Among those from the business world heading to Davos is the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.

swissinfo with agencies


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