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General Assembly - 1 maggio 1990


1 Maggio 1990

11th plenary meeting

Declaration on International Economic Co-operation, in particular the Revitalization of Economic Growth and Development of the Developing Countries

The General Assembly

Adopts the Declaration on International Economic Co-operation, in particular the Revitalization of Economic Growth and Development of the Developing Countries, annexed to the present resolution.

ANNEX Declaration

We, the States Members of the United Nations,

Solemnly proclaim our strong commitment to a global consensus to promote urgently international economic co-operation for sustained growth of the world economy and, in particular, to the revitalization of economic growth and development of the developing countries so as to realize the basic right of all human beings to a life free from hunger, poverty, ignorance, disease and fear. To that end, we adopt the present Declaration.

1. This is a time of positive transformation in international relations. The reduction in international political tensions, the increasing integration of the world economy and the broad movement towards economic and political reform will create an opportunity for strengthening international economic co-operation based on the need to provide just and equal opportunities to all peoples to enable them to develop their full potential.

2. We strongly affirm the need to revitalize growth and development in the developing countries and to address together the problems of abject poverty and hunger that continue to afflict far too many people in the world. The international community has a responsibility to give strong support to the efforts of the developing countries to solve their grave economic and social problems through the creation of a favourable international economic environment.

3. In an increasingly interdependent world, the developing countries should play an important role in the growth and expansion of the world economy for the progress and prosperity of all peoples.

4. Each country is responsible for its own economic policies for development, in accordance with its specific situations and conditions, and for the life and well-being of all its citizens. National policies also need to take fully into account the obligations of all countries to international economic co-operation.


5. In the 1980s, progress in developed and developing countr ies has been uneven. The decade was marked by an increasing gap between those groups of countries as well as by relatively slow growth and large global financial and trade imbalances. Developed market-oriented countries have succeeded to a large extent in controlling inflation and in maintaining sustained, though modest, growth. However, many countries, particularly developing ones, have encountered serious difficulties in their attempt to adapt to structural changes, to benefit from the economic growth of the industrialized countries and to promote the well-being of their citizens.

6. External and fiscal imbalances in some of the countries whose economies have the largest impact on the world economy have contributed to international monetary instability and led to higher interest rates. In the late 1980s, such imbalances have started to narrow; none the less they remain large.

7. For many developing countries, the 1980s have been viewed as a decade lost for development. Living conditions in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, and in parts of Asia, have deteriorated, and economic and social infrastructure has eroded, impairing stability and prospects for growth and development. Other developing countries have been able to achieve economic and social progress.

8. The position of developing countries in international trade and finance has substantially weakened, further widening the gap between those countries and the developed ones. External indebtedness emerged as a main factor in the economic stalemate in the developing countries. Their capacity to service debt was seriously weakened as interest rates grew and terms of trade deteriorated.

This problem has contributed to the fall in investment and the cessation of new financial flows. A long-term downward trend in the prices of commodities had devastating effects for commodity-dependent developing countries.

9. As a result, there was a large net transfer of resources from the developing to the developed countries, depriving the former of much needed resources for development. This made the process of adjustment more difficult and complicated the tasks of coping with its social consequences and obtaining the necessary political support for reform.

10. Eastern European countries were not appropriately involved in the world economic system. Their need for comprehensive reform and transformation grew and, in the late 1980s, fundamental political and economic changes began to take place. These countries face problems of adaptation to the scientific, technological and structural changes taking place in the world economy.

11. As the world changes around us, we must respond positively. The 1980s marked the beginning of fundamental rethinking towards the achievement of economic development. A gradual convergence of views on economic policy, including the need for sound macro-economic policies and enhanced competition, is emerging. Flexibility, creativity, innovation and openness must be integral parts of our economic systems.


12. The most important challenge for the 1990s is the revitalization of economic growth and social development in the developing countries, which calls for sustained growth of the world economy and favourable external conditions.

This major challenge has to be addressed in the context of the increasing interdependence and integration in the world economy.

13. It will be essential to stem the increasing marginalization of the least developed countries and to reactivate their growth and development through comprehensive national action and international support measures.

14. Finding an early and durable solution to the international debt problems, meeting the increasing needs for development finance, creating an open and equitable trading system and facilitating the diversification and modernization of the economies of developing countries, particularly those that are commodity-dependent, are conditions for the revitalization of growth and development in the developing countries in the 1990s and require continued concerted efforts.

15. There is a pressing need to improve the international economic environment in order to ensure the success of national policies. Countries can then take advantage of the major advances in science and technology and the globalization of markets and thereby enhance their human capital and modernize their economies.

16. Economic development must be environmentally sound and sustainable. The deterioration of the environment is a cause of grave concern for all countries.

Growing environmental problems, such as pollution, desertification, deforestation and climate change, increasingly pose a serious threat to the future growth of the world economy.

17. Countries have to adapt their national policies to facilitate open exchange and flexible responses to the changing world economy. Effective national policies have a critical role to play in achieving sustained, non-inflationary economic growth in all countries. Such policies should be supportive of investment as well as of efficient allocation and mobilization of resources in order to achieve durable growth.

18. The eradication of poverty and hunger, greater equity in income distribution and the development of human resources remain major challenges everywhere. Economic and social progress requires that growth be broadly based, offering equal opportunities to all people, both women and men, to participate fully in economic, social and political activities.

19. There is a need to integrate the Eastern European countries into the world economy and the international economic system. This should generate positive impulses for world trade and development.

20. The revitalization of economic growth and development of the developing countries will have to be undertaken against the backdrop of these opportunities and challenges. Our collective efforts will be needed to ensure that the rapidly changing realities result in a positive transformation in favour of the economic development of all countries, particularly of the developing countries.


21. Reactivation of economic growth and development in the developing countries will require a concerted and committed effort by all countries. The present opportunity to restore a long-term approach to development and move beyond short-term adjustment must be seized. The Members of the United Nations will endeavour to take all necessary steps to reverse the adverse trends of the 1980s, address the challenges of the 1990s and move into a more productive decade. Such actions should take into account the responsibility of each country for its own development and should be in accordance with its capacity and its impact on the international economy.

22. The major industrialized countries influence world economic growth and the international economic environment profoundly. They should continue their efforts to promote sustained growth and to narrow imbalances in a manner than can benefit other countries. The co-ordination of macro-economic policies should take full account of the interests and concerns of all countries, particularly the developing countries. Efforts should be made to enhance the effectiveness of multilateral surveillance aimed at correcting existing external and fiscal imbalances, promoting non-inflationary sustainable growth, lowering real rates of interest, and making exchange rates more stable and markets more accessible.

23. In accordance with their legislation, development objectives and national priorities, developing countries should continue to work towards keeping control over inflationary tendencies, promoting domestic savings, achieving favourable conditions for domestic and foreign investment, modernizing their economies, and increasing their international competitiveness.

24. However, economic policies should have as their ultimate objective the betterment of the human condition and the enhancement of the contribution of all persons to development. The full utilization of human resources and the recognition of human rights stimulate creativity, innovation and initiative.

25. A primary objective must be to respond to the needs of and maximize the potential of all members of society. Health, nutrition, housing, population policies and other social services are a key to both improving individual welfare and successful development. Education and training, which must be available to all, are essential for improving the quality of human resources and for sustaining economic growth. The international community should support efforts to arrest the current escalation of extreme poverty and hunger. It is essential to reverse the present deterioration of this grave situation.

26. A durable and broad solution of the external debt problems of the developing debtor countries should continue to be given urgent attention, and the serious debt-servicing problems of some other countries should be further addressed with a view to an early solution. Recent initiatives and measures to reduce the stock and service of debt or to provide debt relief for developing countries should be broadly implemented. Relief measures should aim at the resumption of vigorous growth and development in these countries and should address all types of bilateral debt of debtor developing countries. Serious consideration should be given to continuing to work towards a growth-oriented solution of the problems of developing countries with serious debt-servicing problems, including those whose debt is mainly to official creditors or to multilateral institutions.

27. Substantial concessional resources will be called for to enable developing countries, especially the least developed ones, to cope with the challenges of the 1990s. Developed countries should implement the undertakings they have made to attain the agreed international target of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross national product to official development assistance and 0.15 per cent to the least developed countries. Developed countries should enhance the quantity and quality of their aid. Appropriate additional resources for the least developed countries should be considered at the Second United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. The special development problems and needs of the island and land-locked developing countries should also be addressed.

28. Scientific and technological capability is increasingly important in the development of developing countries. Developed countries and international organizations should support the efforts of developing countries to create and develop endogenous capacities in this area.

29. The current threat to the environment is the common concern of all. All countries should take effective actions for the protection and enhancement of the environment in accordance with their respective capacities and responsibilities, and taking into account the specific needs of developing countries. As the major sources of pollution, the developed countries have the main responsibility for taking appropriate measures urgently. The economic growth and development of developing countries are essential in order to address problems of the degradation and protection of the environment. New and additional financial resources will have to be channelled to developing countries. Effective modalities for favourable access to, and transfer of, environmentally sound technologies, in particular to developing countries, including on concessional and preferential terms, should be examined.

30. Multilateral financial institutions should be in a position to respond to the increasing development needs of developing countries in the 1990s. They should be provided with adequate resources to support long-term development, to facilitate structural reform and to finance programmes to alleviate the adverse social consequences of adjustment for poor and vulnerable groups.

31. Countries should seek to reduce expenditures for military purposes, thereby opening up the possibility of enhanced spending on social and economic development for the benefit of all countries, in particular the developing countries. In this context, the feasibility of channelling some of these reductions through financial mechanisms for development should be explored.

32. An open and credible multilateral trading system is essential for the promotion of growth and development. Any present or future trends towards unilateralism, bilateralism and the erosion of the multilateral trading system must be arrested. Protectionism should be resisted everywhere; commitments to standstill and roll-back of protectionism should be honoured. It is vitally important that the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations result in a balanced outcome, preserving and strengthening the multilateral trading system, enabling trade liberalization and increased market access for the exports of developing countries. The principles underlying the multilateral trade system should be reaffirmed, and international organizations in the area of multilateral trade should be strengthened as a part of the process of attaining these objectives.

33. Commodity exports will continue to play a key role in the economies of most developing countries and to make a crucial contribution to export earnings and investment. There is a need for better functioning of commodity markets and more stable and predictable conditions. Diversification helps the developing countries to increase and stabilize their export earnings. All countries and multilateral institutions should undertake measures to support these endeavours.

34. Regional economic integration is important in expanding trade and investment in developing countries. Developing countries should strive to promote economic integration and strengthen economic and technical co-operation among themselves. These efforts should be encouraged and supported by the developed countries, as well as by the international organizations.

35. Eastern European countries should be supported in their efforts to integrate themselves into the international economy, including, as appropriate, their adhesion to international institutions. This will benefit their own people and the rest of the world; it must not detract from the high priority placed on international development co-operation with the developing countries.

Their integration will strengthen the role of Eastern Europe as a dynamic trade partner and as a market and source of technology.

36. The United Nations system has a large role to play in international co-operation for revitalizing development in the 1990s. All its Member States have a responsibility for making it more effective and efficient. The United Nations is a unique forum in which the community of nations can address all issues in an integrated manner. Its many specialized agencies make an indispensable contribution to development. They have a major responsibility in the great task of revitalizing growth and development in the 1990s.

37. Member States agree to work for fruitful results at the forthcoming Second United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, in the elaboration of a new international development strategy, the World Summit for Children, the eighth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 1991, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to be held in Brazil in 1992, and the international meeting on population in 1994.

38. The States Members of the United Nations pledge themselves solemnly to advance the multilateral dialogue, to respond to the challenge and commitments contained in the present Declaration through national policies and enhanced international co-operation and to keep the implementation of the Declaration under political review.

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