Apr 23, 1987


HAVANA APRIL 21 (IFDA/IPS-CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- Without cooperation "in the interests of development in the South and employment in the North", the world faces the frightening prospect of "international economic apartheid" between the rich and poor nations, the head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has warned.

Addressing the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 (G77) Third World countries which opened here Monday, UNCTAD Secretary General Kenneth Dadzie said if this happened world peace and security would ultimately be threatened.

The meeting has elected Cuba's Foreign Trade Minister Ricardo Cabrisas as President, with Tanzania's Amir Jamal as rapporteur. A Bureau representing the three third world regions which make up the G77 has also been appointed.

Recommendations from the separate meetings of the three regional groupings held in march were received, and a technical committee set up under Egyptian Ambassador Saad Alfarargi to make recommendations for a common unified G77 platform at the Seventh Session of UNCTAD (UNCTAD-VII) July in Geneva.

In addition, the meeting appointed a drafting group under Indian Ambassador Srirang P. Shukla to draw up the "Havana Declaration" that G77 Ministers are expected to adopt at the end of their week-long meeting.

In his speech, Dadzie stressed the common elements binding the group, despite the different problems, needs and interests of its members, and called on the group to use its collective strength to negotiate changes in the structure of the world economy.

The essential foundation for such unity, argued Dadzie, is cooperation in mutual economic development and the recognition that, in their economic relations with the industrialised world, the countries of the Third World are politically interdependent.

"Political fragmentation in the developing world and inadequate mutual trust are a sure recipe for impaired self-confidence and progressive enfeeblement in dealing with the developed world", Dadzie warned.

The G77 was urged to use the Havana meeting not just to prepare for UNCTAD-VII, but as an occasion to "review, renew and reassert its collective 'world view' as a basis for joint action in north-south relations and in south-south cooperation".

The 1980's, Dadzie told the meeting, have become the "lost decade for development", largely because of the restrictive shifts in the economic policies of the major market-economy countries.

These shifts, he said, have led to high rates of unemployment, payments imbalances, recourse to "beggar-my-neighbour" policies and tensions in trade relations.

"Risk, uncertainty and unpredictability" have become increasingly significant factors in international economic relations, seriously undermining national development planning toward longer-term objectives, continued the UNCTAD chief.

Multilateral cooperation, he argued, has been set back because the major market economies have emphasised the benign role of the market and have paid less and less attention to the potential of mutually beneficial inter-governmental cooperation.

According to Dadzie, "adjustment" -- adapting to the world as it is -- has come to prevail over "development" -- promoting change for the ultimate benefit of all.

There has been a tendency to play down the role of the external economic environment in the development process, and to insist on the primacy of domestic policy reform and the superiority of the market approach.

But Dadzie told the meeting the picture is not all gloom. One "heartening sing" is the growing realisation by the major market economies of the inter-relationships between trade, monetary and financial policies, and the gravity of the debt problem.

"Unless this chance is seized to broaden and deepen this realisation so as to incorporate the mutually reinforcing goals of development and employment, there is a serious risk that the world will move toward a sort of international economic 'apartheid'", he warned.

If this occurs, "the rich and powerful, the controllers of finance and technology, will believe that they can maintain their prosperity without heed to that of their poor and weak fellows", ultimately Threatening World Peace and Security.

"We cannot allow this frightening prospect to be realised ... we must continue to put the case for a revival of the world economy in the mutual interest of development in the south and employment in the north", urged Dadzie.

"We must show how investment in development, form domestic and external sources, and growth of developing country markets are indispensable for revitalising the world economy in an effective and equitable way".

At the same time, he said, Third World countries should not give up their own responsibility for development, according to the system and pattern of their choice, nor shrink from policy measures and changes needed to use their scarce resources more effectively.

UNCTAD should be an important link in international economic relationships, continues Dadzie, noting however that as an institution it is under attack in the centres of economic power.

It is therefore imperative that all those convinced of the vital development mission of UNCTAD must work to enhance its effectiveness and responsiveness to current and future problems -- the top defence against criticism and scepticism.

Looking forward to UNCTAD-VII, Dadzie said the best prospects for success in Geneva in july lie in a well-organised G77 bid for a negotiating breakthrough in a few key areas.

The identification of these key areas, which should respond to the interests of all Third World Regions and should take into account the legitimate interests of other parties to the negotiations, is a major task for the Havana meeting, he argued.

If this could be achieved, concluded the UNCTAD chief, the group would have given a new momentum to the development dialogue.