U.N. Conference- on Trade and Development Part 1: Cheating the Poor

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U.N. Conference- on Trade and Development Part 1: Cheating the Poor

May 3, 1984 22 min read Download Report
Juliana Geran
Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies

(Archived document, may contain errors)

348 May 3, 1984 U.N. CONFERENCE ON TRADE DEVELOPMENT PART1 CHEATING THE POOR INTRODUCTION High on the United N.ations agenda for the past decade has been an economic strategy that seeks to enrich the developing nations by transfe rring to them the resources, skills, and out- puts of the world's industrial democracies. Demands for such a redistribution of resources--which would be mandatory and provide little compensation for the industrial states--permeate much of the U.N.'s rheto r ic and resolutions. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD Based in Geneva, with a staff of 448 and a two-year budget of ma $56.5 million (of which $14.1 million is provided by the U.S UNCTAD has been anti-market, anti-free trade, and h ighly suspi- cious of, if not hostile to, private investors and private invest- ment since its founding in.1964 a core of radical Third World countries and encouraged by the Soviet bloc were tt3 have its way 0 the prices of vital raw materials and commodi t ies would be raised and regulated by international bureaus the debts that the developed countries have amassed because of high-priced OPEC oil would be paid for by the developed capi- talist countries 0 multinational corporations would be harassed, shackl e d, and deprived of their proprietary rights through binding codes for the transfer of technology, restrictive business practices, and a revision of international agreements on patents and trademarks Leading this battle is the If the UNCTAD majority, led b y This is the first installment of a five-part series examining UNCTAD. 2 international planners would decide which factories in the developed capitalist countries would stay open, which would be closed, and which would be Iftransferredit to the developing coun- tries schemes for international taxation would be "enacted1 0 the International Monetary Fund (IMF if it survived at all, would become an international "printing press which would issue new Ilresourcesl' to the developing countries in the form of sl i ps of paper called Standard Drawing Rights SDRs U UNCTAD and its bureaucrats would become the central organi zation or "planning commission of the international economy, replacing or subsuming the IMF, the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT and t he World Bank 0 and worst of all, the poor developing nations which UNCTAD is supposed to serve, might be consigned to permanent poverty by the economically suicidal policies advocated by UNCTAD.

Though the ostensible purpose of UNCTAD is to foster develop - ment among Third World nations by increasing revenues from in creased trade, the real goal of UNCTAD's secretariat and the leaders of the Group of 77 (as the bloc of 130 or so developing countries are known) is to extract massive amounts of wealth from t he developed industrial nations. transferred through an increase in trade, all well and good. such resources can be extracted only through rigged commodity prices, international I'taxationll schemes, new codes on patents, trademarks, and copyrights that w i ll deprive multinational corpo- rations of their proprietary rights, and mandatory transfers of technology on concessional terms, no matter. What does matter is that more and more resources are extracted from the "over- developed" nations and redistribute d to the developing nations.

Despite the collectivism, the Orwellian language, the sloppy scholarship, the increasing preoccupation with extraneous political issues, and the unconstitutional trend toward closed meetings, the most serious criticism of UNCTA D is that, if adopted, the program sought by the radical leaders of the G-77 and the secretariat would actually make it more difficult for Third World nations to grow and develop. In short, UNCTAD would cheat the world's poor nations If such resources can be If According to William Loehr and John P. Powelson, two econo- mists who recently published a lengthy analysis of the proposals for a New International Economic Order Economic development historically occurs in an environ- ment of improved technology, d ecreased prices, and in- creased exports. At the same time, a truly developing country diversifies away from primary products and into manufacturing. NIEO is part of a contrary environment in which LDCs [less developed countries] seek protected 3 markets, higher prices, and decreased exports and pay little attention to experimentation and techno1ogy.l Schemes for rigging the prices of commodities above market levels would transfer income from poor people to rich people, encourage nations to remain producer s of primary products, and. misallocate scarce investment resources. Permanent systems of tariff preferences will never substitute for the development of highly efficient industries that compete with the most efficient industries in the developed world. mu l tinational corporations and efforts to confiscate proprietary rights will decrease the amount of capital and sources of tech- nology available to developing nations. World countries are lfcancel1ed,lf the free flow of capital will be further retarded. If S DRs are printed and distributed to Third World countries without an increase in the production of wealth, the new money will become inflationary nations lie within the existing international economic order and within the developing nations themselves. Tho s e nations that have sought development in autarky and statism--the Cubas, the Tanzanias, and the Burmas--have experienced little growth or development. Those nations that have fostered the development of enterprise and markets, both domestically and inter n ationally--the South. Koreas, the Kenyas, the Taiwans--have done much better. The road to growth and development in Third World nations lies in internal reform, the development of indigenous scientific and managerial capabilities, increased productivity, reliance upon the common sense of common people instead of the abstract plans of bureau- crats, and responsiveness to international market opportunities.

These are the-truths about development, but in the halls of UNCTAD, they vet scant hearing from those who would profit from them. For this reason alone, the United States should reassess its role in UNCTAD Ideological histrionics about If the debts of Third The best prospects for growth and development in Third World UNCTADs COLLECTIVE IDEOLOGY Bretton Wo o ds Conference has led to undreamed of trade, wealth, and growth rates for both developed and developing nations. Developing countries, in fact, have grown at rates higher than those of developed countries when the latter were at early stages of developmen t . And those developing countries that have inte- grated and oriented their economies most toward the international economic system have done even better. Koreas Gross National Product (GNP) grew at an average annual rate of 6;9 percent, while socialist In d ia grew at an average The postwar international economic order founded at the 1944 From 1960 to 1978, South Williain Loehr and John P. Powelson, Threat to Development: Pitfalls of the NIEO (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1983 p. 5. 4 rate of 1.4 perce nt.2 percent per year, while Mexico's grew 2.7 percent per year.

Certainly, the postwar experience has not been a utopia free market forces do involve risks in any free economic system, some participants begin with more power than others, and some are able to maintain and build upon existing power bases; and the gains of the free market system have not been distributed equally either between nations or within nations. However, the princi- ples of free trade, nondiscrimination, comparative advantage, and op e n markets have led to greater exchanges of goods and services and a greater creation of wealth than any other system throughout history lack of progress frequently generated by unwise domestic develop- ment programs, Third World ideologues and UNCTAD bure a ucrats view the postwar international order as the cause of the'ir discontents. Its liberal principles are seen by them as ideological shibboleths that are used to maintain an I1unjustlf international division of labor that forces developing countries to c ontinue producing primary products that reap declining.erevenues, while developed countries produce and export more lucrative and highly priced manufactured goods To the proponents of UNCTAD's collectivist schemes, the postwar international economic syste m has allowed the developed capitalist countries to become Robin Hoods in reverse-=that is, the capitalist powers steal from the poor and distribute their gains to their own rich In his report to the first plenary session of UNCTAD I in 1964, Raul Prebisch of Argentina, the organization's first Secre- tary-General, declared that the General Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade had not been "efficaciousll for the developing countries because it "is based upon. the classic concept that the free play of internation a l economic forces by itself leads to the optimum expansion of trade and the most efficient utilization of'the world's productive resources.1fy international welfare state whereby the developing countries In the same period, Brazil's GNP grew 4.9 Not satis f ied with the progress made so. far, or rather a What Prebisch sought, bluntly put, was the creation of an As for "equity the income growth of the poorest 20 percent in Korea grew at a rate of 11 percent per year from 1964 to 1970 while the bottom 20 perce nt in India grew at a rate of 2 percent per year from 1954 to 19

63. Obviously, such statistics are not completely comparable, and the data leave much to be desired; however, it does not follow that in devel oping countries or developed countries, socialis m means equity or equality and capitalism means inequities or inequalities taken from Michael P. Todaro, Economic Development in the Third World New York: Longman, Inc 1981 Chapter 5 Growth, Poverty, and Income Distribution p. 143.

Raul Prebisch, Towards a New Trade Policy for Development, report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Develop ment, EICONF. 46/3 (New York, 19641, pp. 6, 28 The data presented are 5 would be freed from market forces and t he impartial monitoring of their own economic mistakes. Prebisch wrote The international community [i. e., the Western, capitalist economies] shohld recog- nize that it has a clear responsibility towards developing coun- tries that have suffered deteriora tion in terms of trade in the same way as governments recognize a.similar responsibility toward their domestic primary producers.

Under Prebisch's leadership and over the almost unanimous opposition of the developed capitalist countries, the majority of de veloping countries enacted a set of resolutions at UNCTAD I in 1964 that would have created a collectivist international economic order. Through its numerous one-sided resolutions and the schemes and studies originating in its secretariat, UNCTAD has been the progenitor of a mindset that is now pervasive in almost all other U.N. institutions--the unquestioned belief that world poverty should be ended by redistributing existing wealth instead of creating new wealth THE POLITICAL FACTOR It is almost a paradi g matic manifestation of all the maladies that have accompanied the increase of authoritarian and totali- tarian regimes within the United Nations--one-sided agendas, selective attention, double standards, Orwellian language, taboos, politicization, and tas k expansion into nongermane areas.

From its first meeting in 1964, UNCTAD has refused to discuss how well different development models have fared in the Third World. The domestic economic policies of the developed capitalist countries are subjected to micr oscopic examination and invective, but questions about the internal policies of the developing coun- tries are not tolerated, for such would amount to "interference" in the latter's internal affairs It seems to matter not that an examination of these poli c ies would alert Third World nations to what works and what fails in economic development. Thus, while the developed countries have an obligation to provide whatever funds the developing countries decide they need for their develop- ment--an obligation imp o sed by the votes of the majority of developing countries--the developing countries have no obligation to account for how such funds are used, for what ends, and with what success. Finally, developed socialist countries are treated not only deferentially b ut gingerly by the G-

77. In the world of UNCTAD, the Soviet bloc is not considered developed. Whenever UNCTAD and G-77 documents criticize, chastise, or make demands on developed1' countries, they are addressing a select audience--the developed capitalist countries UNCTAD is perhaps the United Nations' most politicized organ.

This exclusion of the Soviets and their Eastern European allies from the world of developed countries stems from the G-77 4 Ibid p. 28. 6 acquiescence in two arguments continually pu t forward.by Soviet bloc delegates. The first argument asserts that Third World coun- tries are hindered in their efforts to develop by a capitalist, international economic order of which the socialist countries are not a part. The second argument maintai n s that, since the rich socialist countries never had colonies, they are not responsible for the plight of the developing countries is problematical. What the Third World understands, however, is power and reality. be forthcoming from the Soviet bloc count r ies; therefore, they do not direct their demands for largess to those countries. In the G-77's 71-page Buenos Aires Platform, which was prepared for UNCTAD VI in 1983, the first 64 pages consisted largely of an indictment and sentencing of the developed c ountries; after that, pages 65 and 66 dealt with "Trade relations among countries having different economic and social systems."

Orwellian language pervades UNCTAD resolutions and speeches of the secretariat officials. Inequalities are, i so facto, inequit ies. Remunerative prices, a favorite phrase +G77 o is a euphemism for rigged prices imposed on consumers B la OPEC. The statement that, "every country has the right to freely dispose of its natural resources in the interests of the economic development an d well-being of its people means that Third World countries are free to nationalize private foreign investment on whatever terms the incumbent regimes choose.

The speeches and writing of Gamani Corea of Sri Lanka, the current Secretary-General, are a colla ge of Newspeak. In his first Trade and Development Report, 1981, Corea stated that, "The growth rates experienced by developing countries in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s tended to fall below their aspirations as' well as the targets established by t he international community p. 2 Especially hard hit, the Secretary-General noted, were net oil importing countries whose current accounts deficits was estimated to have risen from $45 billion in 1979 to $78 billion in 1981.

The cause of these maladies, acc ording to Corea, has been a deterioration in the terms of trade brought about by "the steady rise in the world prices of manufactures in relation to those of primary products other than oil, and the two major adjustments in the price of oil.11 Thus, the p r ices of manufactures rise, while increases in the price of oil are "adjustrnents.'l Note also the causal chain implied in Corea's syntax--an increase in the price of manufactures hurts primary products other than oil and leads to adjustments in the price o f oil. According to Corea, the world inflation of the 1970s was unrelated to the exploding oil prices imposed by the OPEC monopoly, in that "The unfavorable world economic conditions are the result, to a large extent, of the economic situation of the deve l oped market economy countries P. 3 And what should be done for the net oil importing developin9 countries? Should they lower their development objectives This line of thought,Il Corea asserts has been attacked on the norma- tive grounds that the burden of adjustment should not fall upon How many spokesmen for the G-77 really accept these arguments G-77 delegates know full well that little will 7 the development process p. 2 Translated into plain English, this means that Third World countries should not be a llowed to suffer any deleterious consequences from the steep rise in OPEC oil prices. increases on the oil importing developing countries be remedied? Should a cap be placed on oil prices? Should oil prices be rolled back? the developed capitalist countri e s and one for the oil importing developing countries? Such alternatives are not even mentioned, let alone considered, by UNCTADIs Secretary-General. For him, the plight of oil importing countries stems not from OPEC, but from the failure of the developed c ountries to forgive or declare a moratorium on payments of the mounting debts of oil importing developing countries. Corea also blames the developed countries for trying to minimize the inflationary impact of OPEC and to remedy the trade imbalances that h ave resulted from OPEC's price increases. lengthy UNCTAD report, but they typify the Orwellian world view and language permeating all the writings and reports of the secre- tariat.

Politicization and task expansion into largely irrelevant areas also prevai l at UNCTAD. The Southwest African People's Organization and the Palestine Liberation Organization are in UNCTAD, and when delegates from these groups attend meetings, UNCTAD pays their travel and per diem expenses. oping country which could teach Third W orld countries much about development, is ironically excluded from membership in the G-77 UNCTAD's major foray into extraneous political matters occurred at UNCTAD V, which was held in Manila in 19

79. Resolution 109 pushed strongly by the PLO, requested t he UNCTAD Secretary-General to initiate studies within the "competence of UNCTAD in regard to the peoples of Namibia, Palestine, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Such studies were, in fact, completed after the Conference, and their quality, utility, and releva nce to trade and development were problematical. The 54-page study of South Africa, for example, had virtually nothing to do with trade or development.

Not to be outdone by UNCTAD V, the G-77 moved forward at UNCTAD VI in Belgrade in 19

83. By a vote of 8 4 in favor to 2 against (the United States and Israel) with 20 abstentions, the Conference requested the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to set up a special unit, which would monitor and investigate the policies of Israeli occupation authorities that allegedl y hamper the economic development of occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. By a vote of 84 to 1 against (the United States) and with 19 abstentions, the Conference called upon the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to assist the United Nations Institute for Namibia in drafting a document on economic planning for a post-independence Namibia. Finally, the Secretary-General was asked to aid the Organization of African Unity in the latter's survey of the eco nomic and social conditions of the "oppressed1' pe o ple of South Africa. At the end of UNCTAD VI, radical leaders of the G-77 denounced economic measures that the United States took against the Marxist Nicaraguan government How then should the disastrous impact of OPEC's oil price Should a two-tiered oil p r icing system be adopted-one for These examples are drawn from only a few lines of one Israel, a devel I By a vote of 81 to 18 with 7 a abstentions, the G-77 secured the adoption of a resolution con- demning all "trade restrictions, economic blockades, emb arqoes, and economic sanctionsll taken by developed against developing countries. Embargoes by OPEC, of course, are a different matter.

The most recent disturbing trend in.UNCTAD, which clearly violates its charter, has been the insistence of the G-77 that the organization fund meetings that would be open only to G-77 nations. pay for meetings that they would not be allowed to attend, the G-77 have insisted that all of the documents and minutes related to such meetings be available only to the G-77 not soo n get the developed states to agree to a New International Economic Order (NIEO decided to find other means through Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries (ECDC). Since such coop 1 eration would involve only the developing countries, the G-77 argu e that the meetings and subsequent documentation should be restricted to them. Thus, in October 1982, the Trade and Devellop- ment Board.of UNCTAD, the body which carries on the work of UNCTAD between its plenary meetings every four years, adopted a resolu t ion that the documents prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat relating to direct negotiations on ECDC "shall be distributed only to those countries participating in the neYotiations.It The vote on this resolution was 63 in favor, 22 against with 9 absten- tio n s. countries, while the nine abstentions were from communist nations tries, which contribute about 80 percent of UNCTAD's budget, would be required to pay for documents they would have no right to see equality of membership, which are cornerstones of the U nited Nations system. But not only were such lltechnicalitiestt ignored by the G-77, the developed countries were also treated to lectures on democracy by some of the world's most authoritarian and totali- tarian dictatorships. The Libyan delegate; for ex a mple, invoked the principles of democracy and argued that a resolution passed by a majority should bind -all members. The Yugoslavian delegate expressed the hope that those voting against the resolution would accept the "democratic challengett and further the efforts of ECDC In addition to demanding that the developed countries This move began when the G-77, concluding that they would The 22 negative votes were'cast by developed capitalist The substance of this resolution is that the developed coun This vi o lates the principles of universality and sovereign THE BUREAUCRATIC CHALLENGE The behavior of some UNCTAD secretariat officials mocks the very concept of a competent and neutral international civil service. The Secretaries General and international civil s ervants of UNCTAD see themselves not as honest brokers, mediators, or neutral civil servants, but as a kind of "vanguardll of the international prole- tariat. Once when his impartiality was challenged, UNCTADIs first Secretary-General, Raul Prebisch, repl i ed that he did have a bias for development that, "one cannot be impartial when he sees a child beaten by an older man and that of UNCTAD as one of I'implementing a new order In fact, The current Secretary-General, Gamani Corea, sees his role 9 Corea seems to have trouble distinguishing between himself and the organization he ostensibly serves. In the introduction to a collection of his speeches published under the title The Need for Chan e, Corea describes the Integrated Program for Commodities d which was developed by his own staff as "the first effort 'by an international organization to respond to the broad concepts A U.S. State Department official, who has attended many meetings of various U.N..agencies, said of the UNCTAD staff: "In other U.N. agencies , secretariat members at least make a pretense of neutrality and impartiality. But at UNCTAD, it's just amazing. Secretariat officials actually sit with G-77 delegates, 'egg them on,' and even tell them what to say at times."

Studies by UNCTADls staff are largely internally qenerated and frequently focus on the alleged abuses of multinational corpo- rations. International pharmaceutical companies, for example, have been the subject of a multitude of UNCTAD studies--studies whi c h are then used as a basis for international conferences of Third World countries at which UNCTAD officials instruct assembled government officials on how to regulate both national and inter- national drug companies operating within their borders. Repre- sentatives of international pharmaceutical corporations are not invited to such conferences, so industry's point of view is not. presented.

At one such 'Iworkshopll for West African nations held in the Ivory Coast in 1981, ten I'technological (sic) constra ints affect in? the supply of.pharmaceuticals to developing countries,It were llsingled out for detailed examination.11 "the concentration of research and development,11 patents, brand names and trademarks and Itdeveloped countries' domination of the phar m aceutical supply system.lI of .proposals for action at the national and regional levels, the conference, under the tutelage of UNCTADIs bureaucrats, also made three proposals under the rubric of 'linternational cooperation.Il The first began with the asse r tion that !'the system of patents must be revised in the interests of the African countriesi1 and called for 'la fundamental revision of the Paris Convention in the interests of developing countries.It The second recommendation called for "the drafting of a code of conduct for marketing, distribution, trade, and the transfer of technology in the pharma- ceutical sector.Il The third recommendation called for a pro- verbial Ilpharmaceutical fund" that was to be established "without delay At end of the confer e nce, the.Director of UNCTADIs Technology Division announced that, WNCTAD was ready to collabo- rate in implementing the recommendations and proposals [which originated in the UNCTAD secretariat] for action at various levels. Ir5 of a New .International' E c onomic Order p. 8 Heading this list were In addition to making a number A summarv of the proceedings of this conference which was held in Abidian Ivory Coast, may be found in Report and recommendations of the workshop on trade and technology policies in t h e pharmaceutical sector, UNCTAD/TT/4 FITAD studies on the pharmaceutical industry, see Annex VI of this report I 10 In sum, the UNCTAD members frequently initiate studies on their own without the direction, approval, or supervision of the Trade and Develo pment Board. According to one official in the State Department They just seem to feel that they can initiate any study whenever they want as long as they can point to some past resolution no matter how general, that relates to the topic of their study."

At the same time, the quality of some UNCTAD studies has been of very low or dubious quality. When Secretary-General Corea set forth his IPC, a $6 billion scheme to regulate the prices and supplies of the world's major commodities, he asked the developed co u ntries to accept his plan Ifin principle" before he would discuss any details. Only after the developed countries had agreed to provide money to fund the program would the Secre- tariat and the G-77 discuss such details as exactly who would contribute how much, how many stocks would be held, how interest and storage costs would be determined, who would decide when to release the stocks and by what magnitudes, what the governing structures would be, and what voting arrangements would exist posal, the detail s of which were not only sketchy but nonexistent asked, benefit all developing nations equally or would it have an impact similar to OPEC, wherein resources would be transferred from poorer developing countries to richer ones? insistence, an early impact a nalysis undertaken by the secre- tariat was published by UNCTADIs information'bureau. immediately created a stir because it revealed that over 40 developing countries would lose under this plan.

When independent Western analysts examined Corea's proposal, they immediately uncovered technical, empirical, conceptual, and political problems. Why, many wondered, did UNCTADIs secretariat not undertake detailed studies before the proposal was announced? To some, such as the late British economist Harry Johnson, t he' absence of such studies could only be attributed to "the economic illiteracy of the UNCTAD secretariat." Robert Rothstein, a political scientist who has written the most extensive account of the negotiations over the Common Fund makes Johnson's point more charitably: \\ la limited number of qualified staff as well as the absence of staff intimately familiar with specific commodities tended to strain the capacity of the staff to prepare for all likely responses and to generate an approach based on very bro ad principles Western delegates refused to commit their nations to a pro and the impact of which was unclear. Would this scheme, they After much The study WHAT IS TO BE DONE able to question. Its very foundation, Prebisch's theory that Of all the U.N. ins t itutions, UNCTAD probably is most vulner Robert Rothstein, Global Bargaining (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979). 11 terms of trade had irrevocably turned against primary products, is accepted today by no economist of repute In fact, UNCTAD's own body created to verify the validity of Raul Prebisch's theory, the so-called Houthaker Commission, could not document the first Secretary-General's thesis.

The organization's solution to Prebisch's nonexistent problem is a call for collectivi st schemes and vociferous demands that the developed capitalist nations bail out the developing nations through greater aid and the forgiveness of debts In its first 20 years, UNCTAD has done virtually nothing to promote trade or development. new wealth h a ve done so by ignoring UNCTAD's message and by working within the existing international economic system. Those who have done least well are those who have sealed themselves up in various degrees of autarky or socialism or both and have sought to avoid ma rket forces.

More important, UNCTAD's basic philosophy of fosterinq development by redistributing existing wealth and capital is almost certain to retard growth in the long run. Resources alone, as is the lesson from the OPEC experience, will not insure ri gged prices for commodities would stimulate overproduction, foster investment in uneconomic areas, and encouraqe developing nations to continue as producers of primary commodities. tive codes on corporations would discourage rather than encourage supplies of capital To 'Itransfer'l industries from the developed to the developing countries without the necessary infrastructures would be folly. And debt forgiveness would not solve the long-run problems of the developing countries. The irony of UNCTAD is that, while the aims of the G-77 are shared by all, the proposals generated by the UNCTAD secretariat to attain them will not do so. If all the demands of the G-77 were in fact implemented, economic development in the Third World would suffer rather than prospe r.

In fact, UNCTAD produces little but paper and words--which, when translated into six languages cost 8,000 per page. It would be hard to find anyone on this planet who is learning more, eating better, enjoying better health, or living longer because of U NCTAD. The results of UNCTAD so far--such as the one-sided General System of Tariff Preferences (GSP the World Trade Center, the code on restrictive business practices, the problematical common fund, and the abundant studies--probably will not return to t he developed nations the money they have already invested in numerous meetings in Geneva, New Delhi, Santiago, Nairobi, Manila, and Belgrade.

The term Ildiscussion" dignifies the dialogue of the deaf typical of UNCTAD meetings, where the West is hopelessly outnumbered by a majority that espouses an alien ideology in uncompromising terms. The political analog of UNCTAD is not that of a healthy parlia- mentary democracy One State Department official queried, "At best there is an exchange of views at UNCTAD. T here is certainly no learning and no new ideas. Is it helpful to have a forum that leads nowhere Those nations that have performed well and produced either growth or development in developing nations. Moreover, I1 Restric The staff and politics of UNCTAD a re biased against the West. 12 CONCLUSION alike--all agree that UNCTAD VI, which was held in Belgrade in 1983, accomplished nothing. In fact, it is uncertain whether, when, and where UNCTAD VI1 will take place. UNCTAD, then is at a turning point So, too, should be American policy toward UNCTAD.

Ironically, the United States is both powerful and powerless in regard'to UNCTAD. None of the G-77's collectivist schemes can be implemented without U.S. agreement and support. Consequently, the U.S. and other devel oped countries have been able to block open-ended schemes for compensatory financing, the encroachment on existing institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a binding code for the transfer of tech nology, or the implementation of any kind of mandatory targets imposed by a tyranny of the majority. Those UNCTAD programs that have been adopted are hollow shells of the original proposals of the G-77 or the secretariat.

But the U.S. has virtually no powe r at all in the area of institutional and political issues--the transformation of the secretariat into an international equivalent of l1Nader's raiders the one-sided agencies, the politicization of issues, the legiti- mation of national liberation movemen t s, the production of paper. The U.S. has few levers of influence that it can use to affect, let alone control, the agendas of UNCTAD meetings, the resolutions adopted there, or the budget of the organization. In fact, even though it provides 25 percent of UNCTAD's budget, the United States has no financial leverage with which to influence UNCTAD. Because UNCTAD is a creature of the General Assembly, the United States is automatically assessed its share of the UNCTAD budget through its assessment for the ge n eral United Nations budget. Consequently, even if the United States were to withdraw from UNCTAD, it would still be obligated technically to provide one- quarter of the orqanization's budget--although the U.S. could consider withholding the share that goe s to UNCTAD views and principles. Because of this, compromise proposals offered by the United States are unlikely to satisfy the leaders of the G-77 for long. What the United States believes is most likely to foster development--hard work, producing, takin g ad- vantage of market opportunities, and providing opportunities for private investment-the Third World majority rejects as inadequate Going into opposition" is not a viable new strategy that the United States can pursue in UNCTAD--it is, in fact, the st rategy that the United States has followed in UNCTAD for the past 20 years and to no avail.

The only question for American policymakers in regard to UNCTAD is whether the United States should continue to dignify, by its presence, an organization that not o nly is anti-West, but is inimical to the economic development of poor nations Press accounts--Western, developing countries, and communist UNCTAD's problems stem from fundamental differences of world Prepared for The Heritage Foundation by Stanley J. Mich alak, Professor of Government, Franklin and Marshall College


Juliana Geran

Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies