THE SOUTH SHAPING THE GLOBAL FUTURE - Six Decades of the South-North Development Struggle in the UN
This monograph(1) is based on the graduate seminar I held for doctoral candidates at the Law School, Xiamen University, Fujian Province, People’s Republic of China, where I was a visiting professor during the autumn semester of 2007, at the kind invitation from Professor Zeng Huaqun, Director of the International Economic Law Institute, and Professor An Chen, Chairman of the Chinese Society of International Economic Law.
The scope and objectives of the seminar were described in the syllabus as follows:
The developing countries had placed their trust in and relied upon the United Nations, as the institutional platform at the global level:
- to seek a development-supportive international economic environment, and
- to promote equity and democratization of the global power structures and relationships that together constitute the world system (or order).
These two objectives were and continue to be of critical importance for these countries’ national efforts to develop and maintain political independence and achieve economic independence. This collective struggle of the South had its early beginnings soon after the founding of the United Nations.
The aim of the seminar is to trace, in broad outlines, the different phases of this struggle by focusing on the so-called North-South dialogue centred on development issues.
An attempt will be made to present an integrated picture, indeed a bird’s eye view of this complex and controversial subject matter, which plays a central role in and infuses all aspects of global affairs.
The purpose is to familiarize students who are new to the subject matter with the underlying issues and provide them with elements of a conceptual, policy and analytical framework that will help them grasp the nature of global challenges. It is hoped that this introductory foray will be useful to them for a further study, ordering and understanding of empirical data, including everyday information, current and future events and processes, and linking them with the big picture.(2)
In preparing and holding the seminar, I drew also on my own experiences and first-hand familiarity with the issues, going back to the early stages of the continuing drama in which I took part as an academic studying and observing international organizations, as a UN staff member, first in UNCTAD, next UNEP and ECLAC, then on secondment to the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), to the South Commission and finally the South Centre.
I should state that my “bias” for and commitment to the United Nations and the values, objectives and hopes that it embodies have influenced my perception, understanding and evaluation of the issues under consideration and, thus, the depiction of the issues covered in this monograph. The same goes for my empathy for the developing countries’ aspirations, their struggle for development and collective efforts in the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Group of 77; my revolt against the hegemonies and inequities built into the existing world system; and my wholehearted support for the emancipation and liberation of all those suffering worldwide from structural violence, exploitation and oppression characteristic of this system.
This monograph is a kind of a road map, a panorama of an epoch in what has been a continuing process. It offers an insight into the global dimensions of development problems seen from a perspective widely shared in the South. The objective is also to contribute to the institutional memory and rescuing from “history rewrite” and oblivion important aspects of the past work and struggles of the countries of the South in the United Nations, and leave on record a testimony to an era which started full of hope and optimism. These hopes and objectives are now largely forgotten or depicted as out of date, misguided and irrelevant mostly by the North’s analysts and opinion makers, who dominate the scene, and also by their many followers in the South, including in governments. Yet, most of the issues and objectives that inspired this struggle remain valid and need to be pursued in a positive and constructive manner so as to attain the promise of a better future for humankind.
The new, coming generations in the South, including the future leaders, should be aware of the background and nature of the continuing challenges facing the developing countries and their peoples, who have experienced the burdens of colonialism and imperialism in their history and today continue to face these in their new forms and manifestations. This has prompted me to revisit the 2008 manuscript, brush it up and, with the greatly appreciated editing by my sister Svetlana, prepare it for publication in English by Transcend University Press in 2014, the year of the 50th anniversary of the Group of 77 and of UNCTAD.
(1) The first version of this monograph, entitled Six Decades of North-South Development Cooperation/Conflict in the United Nations – an Introductory Overview of Developing Countries’ Collective Struggle for a New International Economic Order, was published in English and Chinese translation in Journal of International Economic Law, 15, 3 (2008), pp. 18-145, Peking University Press.
(2) The following were used as the principal references at the Xiamen University seminar: The Challenge to the South, the Report of the South Commission, Oxford University Press 1990; The 1964 Final Act of UNCTAD I, adopted by the Conference on 15 June 1964; and Towards a New Trade Policy for Development, the Report by the Secretary-General of the 1964 UN Geneva Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).