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Fred Wills Address at UNGA Sept 8 1975

Fred Wills Address at UNGA Sept 8 1975

Call for New International Economic Order 


Mr. President,

   One year ago in this very forum there were articulated the Declaration on the Establishment of the New International Economic Order and a Programme of Action to implement it. These were adopted at the Sixth Special Session and were followed by the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties promulgated at the 29th regular session of the United Nations. Thus was provided a compendious mandate for the dismantling of the old structures that have proved inadequate and the construction of an entirely new system more responsive to the needs and hopes of the poor and disadvantaged.

   The allegedly sterile debate as to whether or not a new international economic order is required has already resulted in the presentation of far-reaching proposals which it would be our clear duty to evaluate in our efforts to arrive at a global consensus.

   It is, therefore, with great pleasure, Mr. President, that my delegation views your election as President of this session. Your long standing and unswerving commitment to the solution of the problems which confront us is well-known and rightly admired.


   Mr. President, in four days time we conclude our deliberations and negotiations. So far we have been encouraged by the absence of confrontation and the minimal resort to declamation and diatribe. But we must face squarely the danger of stalemate. We must not let the mantle of progress descend on extravagant ideas aimed at refurbishing tired and worn out institutions. On the other hand we must not allow the absence of novelty to be the central thrust of our objection and the focus of our criticism.

   The hour is critical. The expectations are that we will agree on concrete steps that will represent a real advance towards the new order on which the majority of mankind insists.

   The imperatives for change are clear. Thirty years ago the Bretton-Woods system, reinforced by the Marshall Plan, introduced a new era in the post-war world which promised a redress of economic disequilibrium in the developed world. Predictably, this system failed to satisfy the aspirations of the developing nations and it is this failure in especial that introduces the note

of urgency in our debate. It is imperative that we should fashion new structures and new institutions to arrest the widening gap between the developed market economies and the producers of raw materials and semi-manufactures.

     But there are other imperatives. The victory of the people in Indo-China, the relentless march of decolonization in Southern Africa both point to the erosion of the traditional structures of power. There are some who take comfort in the theory that the global order of colonial power has disappeared. But retreat from political domination is not ipso facto a retreat from colonialism. The structure of economic power built upon the foundations of the old colonial order persists with remarkable tenacity and endurance.

   In addition to these factors making for change there has been the emergence of issues which are global in their range and in their import and are only susceptible to a management which derives its authority from a global consensus. I speak here of such matters as the orderly utilisation of the resources of the sea, the preservation of our environment and the depletion of non-renewable resources.

   There can be no turning back and this is why Guyana welcomes in particular, the recognition in the statement delivered by the distinguished Ambassador of the United States of America, ‘Change is inherent in what we do and what we seek.’

   It is clear, Mr. President, that any attempt to give new vitality to obsolescent institutions is wholly unacceptable. In the face of such attempts the solidarity of the developing countries is the best guarantee that the processes of change will lead to the establishment of the new international economic order.

   Those of us who embrace Non-alignment will not lose a moment’s sleep over deliberate attempts at misrepresentation. We are not a bloc. Unbound by pacts, eschewing centralised military force, refusing the dictation of hegemonic power, we are aligned with peace, independence, equality, justice and the importance of the single human being. Our solidarity is based neither on the preservation of nor on the quest for power. It is rooted in common perception and shared ideals. The universality of the principles of Non-Alignment has long been vindicated. Those who only recently have come round to the acknowledgement of its validity must now seek to understand it properly.


   Mr. President, the international community must move forward and in our way forward we must be guided by three fundamental approaches to the problems of development and international economic co-operation. From these approaches my delegation feels we deviate only at our peril. 

    First, we must subject all proposals to the test of their likelihood of advancing the arrival of the New International Economic Order along the path charted by the Group of 77.

   Secondly, decision making on these vital issues must remain firmly within this Organisation.

   Thirdly, the solidarity of the developing countries must be given new depth and content, especially through programmes of collective self-reliance.

   Mr. President, I should like to dwell briefly on these three points.

    One group of proposals has come from an initiative taken by my Prime Minister, Comrade Forbes Burnham, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Kingston, Jamaica, earlier this year. In keeping with this initiative a Group of Experts drawn from both developed and developing Commonwealth countries was established. In their Interim Report they endorsed the need for fundamental change but also identified a number of concrete steps which can assist our international dialogue. In addressing the conference of Commonwealth Finance Ministers at their meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, a few weeks ago my Prime Minister suggested that this report was an acceptable minimum approach towards the first phase of the implementation of the new economic order. Without necessarily committing their Governments to every aspect of the Interim Report, the Commonwealth Finance Ministers gave it their general endorsement. They called the attention of the Group of Experts to the need, in the Final Report, for an examination in depth of a number of issues not fully covered by their Interim Report and requested that they take into account the work carried out in other bodies.

     In this very Assembly at the beginning of our deliberations important proposals were advanced by the delegation of the United States. These are serious proposals which merit our serious consideration. In this process my delegation considers that a number of questions must be answered. Do the proposals acknowledge the need for fundamental structural change? Are the developing nations to have effective participation in all decisions affecting the global economic system? Are we of the developing countries being asked to believe that institutions which have historically served the best interests of 

the developed world can be modified to promote our development? Must the improvement in the condition of the developing world remain a mere footnote to the prosperity of the developed world? In short, in a situation that demands surgery are we being asked to be satisfied with the dispensation of mere palliatives?

   Nevertheless, Mr. President, I wish to assure you that my delegation will approach these and all other proposals, including those of the EEC, objectively and responsibly, because we are aware that what is at stake is nothing less than the future condition of all mankind.

   Mr. President, I turn now to our second guideline. Guyana has always strongly supported the strengthening of the United Nations system, Therefore, we accept no proposal calculated to diminish the role of the United Nations and to bypass it by having recourse to institutions old and new in which a privileged few control the levers of decision making. To act in such a way would be to frustrate the insistent demand by the developing countries for more effective and equitable participation in decision making on the issues which affect all mankind.

   In this connection we have before us the report of the Committee of Experts on the restructuring of the UN system. In the light of the changes in the international environment and of the imperative need to make the UN system into an effective instrument for the implementation of the new international economic order, we support the proposal to establish an Inter-governmental Committee of the Whole, which would work urgently towards this objective.

     Now, Mr. President, the third guideline – collective self-reliance among developing countries. The Programme of Action for the implementation of the New International Economic Order assigns an important role to collective self-reliance among the developing countries and calls upon the developed world to support such efforts. Forms of horizontal cooperation at the regional, sub-regional and inter-regional levels have already demonstrated their potential as instruments compelling significant change. Such    new horizontal economic structures and arrangements will assist substantially in bringing our marginal situation to an end and could provide an essential thrust for radical alteration in the international economic system. The much maligned produce associations have already proven their worth as a stimulant of International dialogue, catalyst for change and a mechanism for the mobilisation of resources in the developing world.

   At Lima just before we assembled here in New York, the Non-aligned countries took further important decisions – decisions Mr. President, on the establishment of supportive institutions for programmes of collective self-reliance, decisions for the establishment of a Solidarity Fund for Economic and Social Development of Non-aligned countries, a Special Fund for the financing of buffer stocks for raw materials and primary products exported by developing countries and a Council of Associations of developing countries which are producers as well as exporters of raw materials.

   Collective self-reliance is not co-terminous with confrontation. The processes of development which it will generate in the southern part of the world can and will provide gains for the international community as a whole.

   The new economic order must therefore be designed to foster all efforts of self-reliance on the part of the developing countries – efforts both national and collective. True development cannot be imposed ab extra, but must be part of the internal dynamics of growth. The international framework must therefore create the conditions and provide support within which self-reliance can flourish.

   We must not be mesmerised into accepting proposals for producer/consumer cooperation by sanctimonious references to the concept of interdependence. There can be no true interdependence unless it is based on relations of equality. Let us beware lest that concept of interdependence be used as a mask to disguise new forms of dependence and subjection or, indeed, to sustain the old.

   Those, therefore, Mr. President, are the guidelines which we suggest should inform our decisions as we come now to the closing stages of this Special Session. They should be integrated within the blueprint already adopted for the New International Economic Order.

   The future condition of mankind depends on the decisions we take on these issues – decisions that therefore must remain within the United Nations system appropriately restructured to deal with the gravity and range of the problems. Collective self-reliance must be our sword as well as our shield. Global consensus must remain the unalterable objective. Either we open up new possibilities of cooperation or we plunge head-long into confrontation, conflict and chaos. It is these global considerations more than the maintenance of any particular national interest which will produce the required consensus.

    Posterity will surely judge us, Mr. President, by the intensity of our efforts at accommodating the opinions of others in arriving at just and equitable solutions. At the same time compromise by itself is not an objective.

   It may be that we will come to no final agreement despite these efforts. The developing world cannot be expected to sacrifice its legitimate demands on the altar of expediency.

    More hopefully, it may be that we differ only on emphasis and priority rather than on principle and that, together here at this Session, we will take those essential steps to hasten the implementation of the New International Economic Order.

   Mr. President, I have every confidence that the hopes and aspirations of the billions on this planet will not be disappointed. I have every confidence that we, their representatives, will not be caught below the level of events.

   I thank you, Mr. President.

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