The Third World Challenge: Another Chance for the North?

Courtesy Reuters

If one thing more than any other was made abundantly clear by the whole series of international negotiations in the 1970s, it is that the industrialized democracies-which, with Australia and New Zealand as appendages, and with the Soviet bloc, make up "the North"-have no strategy and no vision when it comes to their dealings with the three-quarters of the human race that lives in the developing "South." For over a decade, the North has been discussing with the South the problem of their long-term economic relations-the so-called New International Economic Order. But wherever the focus has been-the five meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the various special sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, the fumbling and finally negative two-year talks of the Commission for International Economic Cooperation (the ironic name given to a series of North-South consultations in Paris), the fiasco of the latest conference called by UNIDO (the U.N. Industrial Development Organization), or the virtually nonexistent outcome of the so-called Economic Summit of Western leaders in Venice-wherever the place, whatever the context, whoever the parties, the outcome has been virtually the same. In short, it has been nothing.

There are tiny exceptions: the ludicrously inadequate amounts promised to underpin more stable world commodity prices; the guarantees limited to one group of developing states under the Lomé Convention negotiated by the European Community; the £1.2 billion pledged by the wheat producers (in wheat and long-term low-interest loans) for food relief. But these minor and unrelated acts only throw into clear perspective the utter lack of strategy on a worldwide and sufficient scale.

This is the difficult and discouraging background to the publication early this year of the Report of the Brandt Commission entitled North-South: a Program for Survival.1 The Commission, with West Germany's former Chancellor, Willy Brandt, as Chairman, was composed of distinguished citizens drawn from North and South and from the widest spectrum of interest-former prime ministers, finance ministers, bankers, publishers, the oil

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