The term "global apartheid" describes the current international system of minority rule that keeps Africa poor. Global apartheid is a system of inequality that dictates access to wealth, power and basic human rights based on race and place. The elites in the rich and powerful countries control the major global decision-making bodies - such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) - and preserve this system, which works in their favor. They ensure that the privileged citizens of rich countries have more resources and access to human rights than people in poor countries.
Like apartheid in South Africa, global apartheid entrenches great disparities in wealth, living conditions, life expectancy and access to government institutions with effective power. It relies on the assumption that it is "natural" for different population groups to have different expectations of life.
Global patterns of poverty and HIV/AIDS, disproportionately concentrated among Black people, reveal the deadly impact of global apartheid. Africa's people are denied wealth, power, health and security. As a result, Africa is left with the largest share of poverty and suffering in the world. These patterns of inequality are nearly 500 years old - created through slavery, colonialism and corporate greed for Africa's wealth. Today, this inequality is increasing the global gap between rich and poor, along racial and geographical lines.
The devastating spread of HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related diseases is the direct consequence of global apartheid. Africa is home to just over 10% of the world's population, but more than two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS globally. The glacial pace of the international response to AIDS reflects an entrenched double standard that was characteristic of the apartheid system. As Dr. Peter Piot of UNAIDS has remarked on the matter of AIDS in Africa and the western world's response, "If this had happened with white people, the reaction would have been different."
Global apartheid is more than a metaphor. The concept captures fundamental characteristics of the current world order. It reveals them to be the result of historic injustices and current international policies that perpetuate global inequality. The fight against global apartheid is a matter of life and death for much of humankind and for the very concept of our common humanity.
Just as apartheid was defeated in South Africa, we must now that action to END GLOBAL APARTHEID!