Aug 9, 1988


MEXICO CITY, AUGUST 5 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- The south can change its current dependency relationships with the north, and achieve true interdependence only through more effective south-south co-operation and increased collective self-reliance, the chairman of the South Commission, Julius Nyerere declared here Friday.

Nyerere was speaking at an inaugural ceremony for the third meeting of the Commission. While the Commission is due to meet at Cocoyoc, some 90 kms south-east of Mexico City, the inaugural ceremony and formal opening of the Commission’s meeting by President Miguel de la Madrid, was held at the auditorium in the Foreign Ministry of Mexico.

Nyerere noted that the establishment of the Commission was the result of four factors.

Firstly, there was the recognition that development programmes of third world countries had not brought the expected results, and victory in the fight against poverty and under-development was still eluding the third world.

Secondly, there was the recognition that third world efforts at development were negated by the workings of the international economic order.

Thirdly, there was the fear that the current severe economic problems were not only resulting in stagnation or regression, but that they were being tackled in ways that would block possibilities of future advance also.

Fourthly, there was also the growing suspicion that the type of solutions pressed upon them by creditors and donors were either inappropriate or downright wrong for the third world countries and peoples and led them deeper into trouble.

Both the north and the south now agreed that the third world was in a state of economic crisis, even when the explanations for the crisis differed as between victims and onlookers.

Whatever the data and indicators of the crisis, the reality was that crisis was the outcome of a much deeper disease underdevelopment.

The Commission therefore saw its primary task as looking at the basic problems of development, and the factors, which inhibited the improvement of human conditions in the third world. The Commission would also suggest how the fight against underdevelopment and poverty, and the vulnerability to disaster that came with it, could be more effectively waged.

There were no easy solutions, Nyerere acknowledged, at the same time the Commission was convinced that the solutions were there to be found, and the south had both the responsibility and capacity to find the solutions.

While thing like balance of payments, budget and monetary problems were important, and brought dangers to national independence of their countries, development could not be defined narrowly as an issue of economics, the chairman of the Commission declared.

"Development involves decisions about national and international political priorities and structures, and includes social questions – matters related to education, and health and human dignity and security both personal and national – and meant adequate food, clothing and shelter for the individual", Nyerere pointed out.

All these were inter-related, and part of the meaning of development itself. And whatever they might do to bop data or budget deficits, the inappropriate policies and actions thrust on the third world were only creating new problems and the sufferings of people, and also "blocking future development".

"Poverty", Nyerere asserted, "had to be attacked directly if it is to be overcome, as well as being attacked indirectly through efforts to increase exports or similar activities".

The Commission, Nyerere noted, had neither the mandate nor the ambition to interfere in or solve the problems of any single nation or region. These problems were inevitably unique to every country or area and must be solved by its own people.

The Commission would hence concentrate its attention on issues that impinged on "use, allocation and creation of resources, which we believe, is most likely to lead to sustainable and people-centered development".

All the Commission’s work, Nyerere added, would be directed at helping the countries of the south to be more effective in development – betterment of the people’s human condition, and their relief from the miseries of poverty.

While the Commission planned to address the issues of south-south cooperation, it would necessarily also consider south-north relations, particularly those reflected in trade, finance, knowledge and technology, and capital transfer transactions.

"The world is one, and the south and north have to work together if there is to be progress towards peace and socio-economic stability in the world. The commission will therefore inevitably call for cooperation from the north ... and it will be addressing itself both to the north west and the north east".

But experience had shown that appeals to the north based on morality and justice had to be backed up by more than well based and logical arguments about mutual interest.

"Such arguments remain valid. But over the last two decades they have failed to result in any fundamental reforms of the international economic order. In this connection the Commission will be doing two things".

"It will try to suggest how the south can achieve greater and more organised solidarity – greater unity in dealing with others – so that it becomes stronger in its negotiations on these fundamental issues".

"And it will try to suggest ways in which south-south cooperation can be made more effective so that third world countries, can, through an increase in collective self-reliance, change their economic dependency relationship with the north into a relationship of true interdependence".

But while the Commission worked, the world was not standing still, and the countries of the south were faced with urgent problems where the governments had to make decisions with long-term implications for their future freedoms of action.

Third world governments in these matters would need to be able to take decisions in a manner, which as far as possible would not further worsen the conditions of their people, or at any rate lay the foundations for a sustainable future improvement in those conditions.

This was the reason why the Commission felt impelled to study and pronounce itself on some of the ongoing processes and problems, Nyerere explained, with reference to the Commission’s Kuala Lumpur statement on third world debt, and the statement on the Uruguay round it is expecting to issue at the end of its deliberations here.

Referring to the guidelines and suggestions for solving the debt problems of different types of third world debtors, outlined in its Kuala Lumpur statement, Nyerere hoped that the affected countries of the south would themselves use those suggestions in their discussions with the IMF, Paris and London Clubs, and in bilateral discussions.

"If the same basic approach is used by many different countries acting both individually and together, it has a better chance of being accepted by the north than if each debtor country has to operate in isolation".

Commending the idea of a debtors forum put forward in the Kuala Lumpur statement, Nyerere added: "creditors are strongly organised in their own interest. They constantly meet for discussions on debt questions, and when confronting individual debtors they work together".

"Debtors are unorganised. They do not even appreciate the nature and depth of each other's problems. Often they do not realise how much they have in common, and the political advantages which creditors are taking of this ignorance. Therefore the Commission is suggesting the establishment of a "debtors forum" at which debtors could clarify and articulate their common interests".