11th plenary meeting
1 May 1990
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.
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
ASSESSMENT OF THE 1980s
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
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.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE 1990s
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
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
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
COMMITMENTS AND POLICIES FOR INTERNATIONAL
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
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
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
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
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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