UNCTAD: Soviet politics in the North-South conflict

Schwartz, Charles Anthony, Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia
Fernbach, Alfred P., Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Claude, Inis L., Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This dissertation seeks to further our understanding of the process of international development assistance as it has evolved under the impact of the North-South conflict by examining the Soviet Union's attitudes toward and participation in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The analysis follows essentially a dual approach. From one perspective (system analysis), UNCTAD's functions, potentialities and limitations as a development institution are discussed. From a second. perspective (actor analysis), this study surveys the main issues precipitated by UNCTAD for the USSR '·s trade and aid relations with the developing countries and explores in a more gene=al fashion recent trends in East-South economic cooperation. The dissertation as a whole concern the interaction~ between the Soviet Union and a major United Nations development agency and illustrates the complexity and difficulty of trying to reconcile the interests of a communist superpower with the economic needs of the have not South.

Chapter 1 sketches three important trends in international concern with, and approaches to, the problems of the developing countries which have been reflected in UNCTAD's experience: (a) the mounting recognition of the key role of trade in the development process; (b) the emergence of a North-South political perspective as the poor nations organize to change the status quo of the world trading system; and (c) the growing developmental interest in the progress and prospects of economic cooperation between the Soviet bloc and the developing countries. Chapter II deals with the historical background of the convening of the first UNCTAD Conference in 1964: the failure of the proposed International Trade Organization in the early postwar years; Soviet prodding during the 1950's for a world economic conference that would discuss East-West trade problems; and the metamorphosis which took place in both the sponsorship and aims of the proposed conference with the upsurge of North-South conflict over trade and development issues in the early 1960's.

Chapter III concerns the issue of creating permanent UNCTAD machinery which, dominated the 1964 Conference and develops the argument that the bitter tripartite East-West- South conflict on this matter was essentially a political one. Chapter IV discusses the major economic issues raised but left unresolved at the 1964 Conference and traces what progress has been made on them within UNCTAD's permanent machinery and at the 1968 and 1972 Conferences. Both Chapters IV and V focus on the economic and political factors which have shaped the semi-developed socialist economies' approach to international trade. and development cooperation and survey recent patterns and innovations in East-South economic relations.

The concluding chapter emphasizes the intractability of economic issues which cut at the heart of national. policies and institutional arrangements and practices, and questions whether UNCTAD's global approach to development and the concomitant North-South confrontation formula are suited to reconciling the divergent interests of rich and poor nations. The chapter also dispels the notion of a congruence of superpower interests in the North-South development conflict and distinguished between the USSR’s desire to establish complementary trade and production patterns with developing countries and the West's reliance on granting direct aid rather than substantial trade concessions.

Investigation was conducted along two interrelated lines of inquiry: examination of the documentary record of UNCTAD; and analysis of Soviet sources concerning UNCTAD, world trade and economic development, and related areas. The dissertation's overall contribution to existing knowledge in the field is to expose and analyze the main political and economic issues precipitated by UNCTAD for Soviet relations with the developing countries. The study also provides a comprehensive history of the drive from the late 1940's to convene a world economic conference and assesses UNCTAD's role as a mechanism for aggregating and pressing Southern demands against the rich North.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Economic assistance, Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1991
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