Ecological crisis and international inequality

Material Information

Ecological crisis and international inequality
Preble, Alison
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
vi, 77 leaves : ; 29 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political Science
Committee Chair:
Ware, Lucy
Committee Members:
Cummings, Michael


Subjects / Keywords:
Environmental policy -- International cooperation ( lcsh )
Environmental policy -- International cooperation ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
conference publication ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 71-77).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Political Science.
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Alison Preble.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
32480731 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L64 1994m .P74 ( lcc )

Full Text
Alison Preble
B.S., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 1986
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Alison Preble
has been approved for the
Graduate School
[HH L(

Preble, Alison (M.A., Political Science)
Ecological Crisis and International Inequality
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Lucy Ware
This research project is an historical study of environmental
politics in post-World War II international forums. The premise of
this research is that the current international system has changed
little since its inception in 1945 and that development-and-
environment debates between First and Third World leaders today are
not fundamentally different from development debates that began 30
years ago.
This study begins by laying an historical background of
international relations literature and investigating the ways change is
theorized to occur within the world order. The state of human
development, the existence of international inequality, and the
environmental crisis are introduced through a review of international
reports and environmental literature.
To test the premise, the proceedings and results of the 1992
Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are compared to international-
development debates and environmental proceedings occurring in the
last 30 years. Many of the arguments are found to be similar. The

main difference occurs as the world environmental crisis adds
urgency to the development debate when the two issues are linked.
The historical view of the development debate shows that
international forums do not often create fundamental change and that
change tends to occur only when leaders from powerful nations
within those forums find it economically and politically advantageous
to change.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's
thesis. I recommend its publication.

Linkage Between Environment and Development...........2
Factors of Development: Basis of Measurement..........5
Programs for Developement.............................8
Failure of the Liberal International Economic
Order Program........................................10
The Challenge of the New International
Economic Order.......................................12
Environmental Issues.................................16
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE..................................22
Conceptions of the International Order...............23
Theory of Hegemonic Stability....................27
International Regime Literature..................29
Applications to Development Issues...................32
Trade Issues.....................................33
Debt Issues......................................35
Debates in the 1990s.................................39
3. DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT ISSUES........................43
First and Third World Inequality.....................44
Environmental Dimensions.............................48

Possible Alternative Solutions.....................60
4. CONCLUSION..............................................67
WORKS CITED...................................................71

In this chapter we will consider international inequality and
the development debate between the First and Third Worlds. We will
look at what tends to be a First World perspective, which most often
advocates the nurturing of the existing world order. Next, we will
examine the argument most often coming from Third World leaders,
which tends to call for structural change within the existing system.
Lastly, we will consider environmental issues. We will see that
ecological crisis often exemplifies the contrasting development views
and international actions of the First and Third Worlds.
Nearly 50 years after the formation of the United Nations
system, inequality among countries, particularly between the First
and Third-*- Worlds, has continually increased. Aid programs have
-*-This work uses several potentially "loaded" words to indicate
countries of the "Third World". These words are used to indicate
countries that generally have not been members of the Warsaw Pact
or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and that have not
been economic leaders in the existing international order. The author
recognizes that words such as "Third World", "nonindustrial",
"unindustrialized", "industrializing", "developing", "underdeveloped",
"undeveloped", and "less developed" conjure up perceptions of
primitive or backward peoples and cultures. Such language is used
in this research to differentiate between different parts of the world.
I have tried to choose the appropriate words with the least negative
connotation while still attempting to maintain clarity. Use of such
language is in no way intended to imply right or wrong or
superiority or inferiority but is meant to indicate countries that have
met the stipulated requirements of organizational and economic
experience within the current world order.

been active during this period of growing disparity, a fact showing
us that it is time to re-evaluate the international development system
and take a closer look at future development that may not
necessarily protect or imitate the existing order. The current
development system came under attack in the 1960s, when Third
World leaders and groups began to argue for a more equitable world
order. Introduced as the program for a New International Economic
Order (NIEO) in the 1970s, their plan called for increased Third World
development in a more equitable international system. Leaders and
organizations from the industrialized world, however, have
consistently argued that the existing economic order has helped to
bridge the chasm between North and South. Equating modernization
and wealth with progress, First World leaders have assured the rest
of the world that given time, technology and money would spread to
all peoples of the world and reduce the development gap.
Linkage Between Environment and Development
The intention of this study is to show that while the debate
about development and the NIEO quieted in the 1980s, development as
an issue needing a solution has remained. The premise of this
research is that the call for Third World development within the
environmental debate of today is structurally the same developmental
argument made by the NIEO during the 1960s and 1970s, and that

lack of serious attention or action within the system at that time has
resulted in the re-emergence of development concerns presently. We
will see that development issues raised by Third World leaders and a
variety of peoples and environmental organizations at the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992
contain many of the fundamental elements of the development debate
which began 30 years ago. This research will question whether
individuals and organizations operating within the current
international system of development are able or motivated to alter the
existing world order sufficiently to assist the diversity of peoples
and needs throughout the world. The intensity of the development
debate and the current level of international inequality suggests that
changes that may have occurred as a result of discussions in the
1960s or 1970s may not have been appropriate, adequate, or
The global environmental crisis and the linkage by the Third
World of environment and development issues add a new impetus for
change to the existing development argument as well as fundamentally
changing the array of possible solutions. Sandra Postel explains that
"treating the earth's ecological ills as separate from issues of debt,
trade, inequality, and consumption is like trying to treat heart
disease without addressing a patient's obesity and high cholesterol
diet: there is no chance of lasting success" (1992, 5). By looking at

the negative effects of the current system of development on the
global environment, we will see that discussions and plans for
development must look to new ways of "doing business" if we are to
protect and repair the global ecosystem. The worsening global
environmental crisis and its increasingly negative effects on the First
World economy could push development into the realm of issues that
move from mere political debate into the reality of basic change. A
growing awareness of the need for sustainable development may be
the process which focuses First World attention on a new system of
development in the Third World. In contrast to the current order,
environmentally sustainable innovations in the Third World
development system could act as an example to the rest of the world,
instead of a copy of it.
We will see that environmental degradation and international
inequality are directly linked and that protection of the environment
requires that the current international political elites take an active
part in creating changes in the international development system.
Although the argument for development has remained fundamentally
unaltered, the arena in which that debate is occurring has changed,
as members of the international system in general and the elite group
of First World nations in particular, begin to feel the negative effects
of Third World debt and environmental destruction. New industrial
powers and new international concerns have not resulted in the

demise of the development issue. Development, pollution, and extreme
population growth are issues that are again commanding our
attention. The linking of environment and development issues could
result in people everywhere becoming aware of their environment and
their stake in the consequences of the current system of
development. Hence, the legitimacy of that very system is being
called into question.
Factors of Development: Basis of Measurement
In the current international order, a country experiencing low
economic development can mean that the people who live there may
lack the basic elements of food and shelter necessary to sustain life.
The majority of the earth's population lives in the developing world,
yet the concerns and power of Third World peoples have been
consistently undermined by the current international political and
economic order and resulting system of development. Half a century
after the formation of the United Nations, 40 million people still die
each year from hunger and the diseases it causes (Kidron and Segal
1991, 39). As the industrializing nations of the world continued to
develop economically and technologically, Third World countries have
tended over the years to remain comparatively underdeveloped and
unable to compete economically on an equal footing with industrialized
nations within the system.

There has, with time, been an increased recognition of growing
Third World poverty. Despite efforts to alleviate the suffering, the
development gap between the Third and industrialized worlds has
continued to increase significantly. The United Nations Development
Programme has recently reported that "the richest 20% of the world's
population receives 82.7% of the total world income while the poorest
20% receives only 1.4%" (1992, inside front cover). Such bleak
statistics from United Nations organizations and a variety of
nongovernmental organizations describe experiences of inequality and
human suffering that do little to substantiate a future vision of
world peace or equality.
Discussions of a better world for all people have been going on
in international forums since World War I, making highly disparate
statistics of First and Third World development cause for
consideration. There are 34,000 children dying in developing
countries each day and 1.3 billion Third World inhabitants are not
earning enough to meet the most basic requirements of nutrition and
protection from the elements (United Nations Development Programme
1993, 12). These are facts that challenge the current international
system of development aid. The goals and methods of international
organizations that have over the years spoken for international
equality but have failed even to hold economic developmental
inequality in check are necessarily called into question.

Development within a country and internationally can be
measured in many different ways: Political freedom, access to medical
care, and literacy rates are a few of many possible indicators used to
track development throughout the world. The United Nations
Development Programme has designed a "human development index
(HDI), which combines indicators of national income, life expectancy
and educational attainment to give a composite measure of human
progress" (1992, 19). Whether one looks at combined indicators such
as the HDI or at single indicators such as infant mortality numbers
or literacy rates, the First and Third Worlds tend to show up at
opposite extremes on most scales. Indigenous lands and cultures are
particularly threatened by dominant world interests which often
means that Fourth World peoples are at the very lowest level of
domestic and international economic scales (Durning 1993, 84).
Within development statistics there are an array of other
socially, politically and culturally complex experiences that further
define the numbers. For example, there are some 200 million fewer
women in the world than statistically expected (Kidron and Segal
1991, 57), as female children are often not valued as highly as males
and hence, in the Third World especially, may be killed or denied the
care needed to survive into adulthood. There are thirteen Third
World countries with a deficit of over one million women, compared to
one First World country (Kidron and Segal 1991, 56-57). This is just

one statistic that points to how First World inexperience with Third
World societal or cultural norms could lead to a lack of
understanding and hence, inappropriate development planning and
implementation. Of the one billion illiterate adults in the Third World,
600 million of them are women (United Nations Development Programme
1992, 14-15). Literacy becomes a compounded issue as "it is not only
a key factor in economic productivity but is a basicthough often
disregardedfactor in the vicious cycle wherein uncontrolled
population growth hastens environmental degradation, leading to still
more intractable poverty" (Brown, Kane, and Ayres 1993, 122). Low
levels of literacy and education correlate directly with an individual's
earning potential and on a more grand scale, a country's birth rate.
The effect on resources and the environment is that kept in poverty
"the poor have little choicewithout assets or incomebut to
overuse and destroy, simply to survive" (United Nations Development
Programme 1992, 16).
Programs for Development
Efforts to confront underdevelopment in the Third World have
taken a variety of forms. Value tends to be placed most heavily on
economic indicators when economists, scholars, and politicians
consider reform measures or track success. There is a tendency to
look to per capita income, GNP, and trade balances when development

is an issue, thus emphasizing the role that the global economy plays
in international politics and hence, Third World development. The
concentration of focus on the role of global economy is at the
foundation of the current international order. In recent years, as
increasing numbers of countries have been moving toward market
economies, the United Nations Development Programme states that
inequalities of participants entering into the global market and the
barriers they come up against once they are in, mean that the
market is not actually free and as a result, global inequality and
environmental degradation are exacerbated (1993, 30).
First World leaders have consistently placed confidence in an
expanding international "liberal political economy" that as defined by
19th century political and economic thought, would through the
operation of the free market deliver to the "good life" the largest
number of the world's population. According to "liberal economic
thought", as the global economy reaches out and more countries
become an active part of it, the results of development and wealth
are expected to touch more people throughout the world. Hence,
human development is correlated with market expansion. However,
the market in reality is rarely left alone and in uncertain or failing
economic times like the present, First World countries in particular,
become more protectionist and hence, tend to increase trade barriers.
The needs of the world's poor tend not to play a significant role and

as a result of protectionist measures, developing countries tend to
enter the global marketplace with an insurmountable disadvantage.
Failure of the Liberal International Economic Order Program
In 1993, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
showed that income by itself is an inadequate indicator of human
development as countries with similar per capita GNP were shown to
have widely different human development index (HDI) ratings, literacy
rates, and life expectancies (14). The UNDP has noted that human
development entails much more than increases in economic activity
and necessarily involves political and social changes and
opportunities as well (United Nations Development Programme 1992,
12). For example, access to basic education and health care are a
part of the UNDP standard of human development. Political and
human needs become particularly important since few Third World
"regimes have a genuine popular mandate, and virtually none has
more than a passing concern for the poor in its own country. Some
abuse human rights in the most direct and repulsive manner, others
are profligate wastrels and scoundrels, most are infected by the
virus of corruption" (Hancock 1989, 64).
Development institutions such as the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have not generated the far-reaching,
long-term economic stabilization or the resulting growth in developing

countries that were originally intended. Broad and Cavanagh explain
that, "Bank officials had equated growth with development. To them,
development did not primarily mean providing adequate food, clean
water, clothing, and housingin short, offering a standard of living
consistent with human dignity" (1991, 404). Economic development
programs in the Third World have tended to be piecemeal and occur
in a global system whose elites, North and South, do not often favor
changes in the existing global power structure.
Third World investment has rarely ended in domestic economic
growth. Instead, a lack of long-term economic and social programs
has resulted in short-term economic spurts and a long-term debt
crisis. Manuel Pastor, Jr., when looking at the performance of the
IMF in Latin America, stated that the 1980s had been "an era marked
by continuing debt tribute coupled with stagnant redistribution. It
is a performance that has hurt the vast majority of Latin Americans
while delivering benefits to a thin strand of elites in North and
South" (1991, 332).
Third World peoples have been saddled with the consequences
of long-term debt burdens as "poor countries paid nearly as much to
rich ones over the last decade as they received in new funds
including public and private loans, grants, and direct.foreign
investment" (Postel 1992, 5). Funding from international official
development assistance (ODA) has tended to be questionably allocated

and points to how aid often fails to touch those with the most need,
as "the richest 40% of the developing world population receives more
than twice as much per capita as the poorest 40%" (United Nations
Development Programme 1992, 44). The choice of development
projects is often politically motivated, and haphazard allocation and
tracking of funding as well as improper planning, help to reveal that
development aid occurs within a complex bureaucracy of political and
social as well as economic arrangements.
The Challenge of the New International Economic Order
The current international economic order took root in the
interim of the two World Wars. In the early 1970s, a group of Third
World representatives came together at the first United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and formed an
association called the Group of 77 (G-77). Dissatisfied with the
distribution of wealth and power within the global economic system,
they introduced a program for a New International Economic Order
(NIEO). The NIEO called for the redistribution of international wealth
and a stronger position for developing countries in international
economic decision making at home and in international economic
regimes. Proponents of the NIEO held that the Third World was
comparatively less developed as a result of First World industrial

development and that the First World had grown rich on the lives
and resources of countries to the South.
Third World leaders argued that the current system was faulty
at its foundation and that leaders from the industrial North had made
no attempts to understand Third World problems of inequality, much
less alleviate or solve them (Krasner 1985, 86). The argument was
made that existing development programs were initiated, maintained,
and controlled by the most powerful of First World countries,
especially the United States, and that these powers were unmotivated
to change something that works so well to protect and financially
enrich the privileged people, states, and systems that already occupy
positions of power within the current system.
The General Assembly of the United Nations works with a one-
person-one-vote system. The actual power centers of the UN,
however, are not equally representative of all members. For example,
Article 23 of the Charter of the United Nations states that: "The
Security Council shall consist of fifteen members of the United
Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the
Security Council" (Morgenthau 1973, 557). The majority of these
members represent the First World and each of them has veto power.
Hence, the Security Council can have a considerable influence on UN

policy and action. In addition, the Group of Seven (G 7), which
consists of France, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy,
Japan, and the United States, has considerable international economic
trade and aid powers. Having significant power within lending
institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World
Bank and in trade organizations such as GATT, "the G 7 is an elite
group, hardly representative of a broad spectrum of political and
economic interests and unlikely to defend the global interest if this
conflicts with its own" (United Nations Development Programme 1992,
The development argument as asserted by Third World leaders
had a fairly large forum and following in the First World during the
1960s and 1970s. Cold War politics in the 1950s and 1960s had the
industrialized world, particularly the superpowers, scrambling for
Third World alliances. The amount of official development assistance
(ODA) began to increase dramatically in the 1960s and donors began
to equate a higher quantity of money spent with quality (Hancock
1989, 187). The NIEO argument of the 1970s also put the image of the
world system and its leaders into a more public arena. Stephen
Krasner points out that the 1970s were a particularly active time for
the Third World within international bodies because "the power of the
United States had begun to decline, but American policy makers were

still committed to international organizations that provided forums for
developing countries" (1985, 30).
Falk, Kim, and Mendlovitz interpret Third World recognition by
international forums in the 1970s as being 'due mainly to a perceived
threat to the United States by the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a possibility of Third World
unification because of the success of OPEC (1991, 6). But the
international power of the NIEO declined significantly in the next
decade, partly because OPEC member states were unable to maintain a
united front in restricting oil production and maintaining high oil
prices. The arguments for the NIEO received less tolerance and
recognition as the 1980s approached. Oil price shocks greatly
increased trade deficits in many Third World countries, and a global
economic downturn focused First World attention on domestic
appeasements. Thus, the NIEO argument was quieted and removed
from the public eye, as was the target of its attention.
The oil price shocks and global market slowdown in the 1980s
left Third World leaders unable to command a wide audience for the
NIEO program within international forums. Third World business and
political leaders therefore tended to use existing finance and trade
organizations and agreements such as the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade (GATT) for efforts at development and debt relief.

The global economy has not significantly rebounded in the 1990s, and
global development has tended to occur in much the same way as in
previous years. Generally, inequality within the existing development
system leaves many Third World peoples to scrape out an existence
within a development system which has not changed fundamentally
since its inception. The early 1990s have shown, however, that
environmental concerns are to play a larger role at least in
international discourse.
Environmental Issues
Long ignored, the effects of industrialization and population
growth, such as resource depletion and a polluted environment, are
beginning to have increasing economic and human costs on both sides
of the equator. Toxic air, water, and soil coupled with a decreasing
ozone layer have outpaced technology's ability to stop them and
hence, environmental issues may prove to be one of humankinds most
urgent and demanding challenges in the years to come. For example:
The environmentally destructive activities of recent decades are
now showing up in reduced productivity of croplands, forests,
grasslands, and fisheries; in the mounting cleanup costs of
toxic waste sites; in rising health care costs for cancer, birth
defects, allergies, emphysema, asthma, and other respiratory
diseases; and in the spread of hunger (Brown 1993, 4-5).
The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED), or Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, resulted in a

large gathering of government and nongovernment representatives
from around the world. First World leaders entered the Summit
intending to focus on international environmental concerns and to
plan for global environmental protection and clean-up. Leaders from
the South, conversely, viewed UNCED as a way to focus on specific
development issues within the Third World. Thus, the development
argument was rekindled in the 1990s.
In the months preceding the Conference, a familiar argument
began to be heard as Third World leaders noted their inability to
change the course of environmental destruction without fundamental
changes in the current international system of development. Third
World leaders claimed that destruction of the environment is the
result of First World loan and development schemes that view
ecological destruction as an often necessary and acceptable cost of
economic advancement. As a result, the Third World is left
underdeveloped, indebted, and polluted. According to this argument,
developing countries remain financially and technologically incapable
of massive environmental protection, and paying to reverse the trend
will require not only First World funding and assistance, but Third
World development. Richer countries tend to have higher levels of
domestic environmental protection. In developing countries, "there
simply is no choice between economic growth and environmental

protection. Growth is not an optionit is an imperative" (United
Nations Development Programme 1992, 2).
When we compare the development issues of the 1960s and
1970s with those coming out of the Third World today, we will find
that the arguments are very similar. Third World leaders at the
Earth Summit again pointed out the First World's unwillingness to try
to understand or address Third World needs. As the First World
focused in on global environmental problems such as ozone depletion
and marine protection, environmental concerns to peoples of the
Third World were related to poverty itself, such as contaminated
drinking water or the dangerous long-term effects of indoor cooking
The results of the Earth Summit show that the United States
remains, despite economic decline, a nation of significant power
internationally. Representatives of the United States at the
Conference were unwavering in their support of the existing economic
order and their staunch stance helped to result in general
conclusions that lacked deep international policy change. For
example, Agenda 21, which stressed the need for industrialized
countries to bear the major costs of relieving global environmental
damage, faced strong opposition from the United States and was
passed as a vague declaration without a target date for funding. As
one observer wrote going into the Summit: "In the end, UNCED's

greatest achievement may be its success in accelerating bottom-up
processes that are already under way, by creating or strengthening
information networks" (Nitze 1992, 36).
Popular arguments about development from industrialized
countries and international organizations tend to conclude with
support of the current economic order and with a prescription for all
countries to develop similarly. Christopher Lasch points out that
such a philosophy spells certain environmental disaster and that in
reality "advanced countries no longer have the will or the resources
to undertake such a monumental program of development. They
cannot even solve the problems of poverty within their own borders"
(1991, 169). Yet we have seen that allowing the system of
development to continue as it has results in growing levels of human
suffering and environmental destruction throughout the world.
Dealing realistically with these issues will require new ways of
addressing global inequality.
The poor environmental record of the United States, other
nations, and a host of international aid organizations, shows that
those who sit at the top of the existing order may not be well suited
to direct international environmental or developmental policy. The
United States' economy is one in which corporations often exert great
power and spend huge funds "lobbying tooth and nail against new
environmental legislation and telling the public that such laws will

cost jobs and add to the price of consumer goods" (Flavin and Young
1993, 193). Similarly, Third World elites, who often live in an
environment lavishly protected from the struggles of the people they
supposedly represent, also appear ill qualified to lead the struggle
for a better future for the population of the planet.
Flavin and Young point out that in the long run "countries
that fail to develop a green industrial policy are likely to lose out
economically as well as environmentally" (1993, 199). In the end, it
may be the people of the world and the organizations they form, not
their country's leaders, committees, or corporations who can pull
humanity from what appears to be a dark future develop mentally and
hence, environmentally. For example, the current use by companies
in the industrialized world of centuries-old indigenous knowledge
involving methods of conservation and techniques and ingredients for
healing shows that answers to some of the world's most urgent
problems need not always come from the industrialized worlds
"advanced" technology and thought processes. One researcher
studying intellectual property rights and the uncompensated flight of
indigenous knowledge to the North, explains that "indigenous people
have in effect been engaged in a massive program of foreign aid to
the urban populations of the industrialized North" (Kloppenburg, Jr.
1991, 14). Necessary facts and skills needed to redeem humanity's
future may well reside in the experience and knowledge of the people

who are currently most at risk to perish under the current
development system.

This chapter considers the history of the development debate.
By examining early debates about the nature of man in society and
the role of international institutions, we will see the early views that
helped to shape modern expressions regarding development. We will
see in this chapter how the international economy itself has grown,
but how Third World countries have consistently been kept at the
bottom of the international hierarchy. The chapter concludes by
looking at the development debate of the 1990s, which has been
rekindled by international concerns of environmental destruction.
The current debates link environment and development directly and
add a new urgency and group of ideas to the development debate.
The development debate goes back historically to different
views regarding the nature of humanity, the amount of importance
given international institutions, the role of international
organizations, and ultimately, how progress is expected to be
measured in the future. The literature will show us that while
perspectives about the international order may differ, research tends
to find, in varying degrees, an unequal system that has not
experienced any large change because of the call for a New
International Economic Order (NIEO). The NIEO argument quieted, as
we have seen, because of a downturn in the global economy which

left all countries reacting to global economic changes and trying to
quell the concerns of domestic populations. However, the fact
remains that no structural changes in the development system like
those asked for by the NIEO have occurred; hence, as the inequality
between the First and Third Worlds has grown significantly in the
meantime, the elements of the NIEO argument have been reasserted
by the Third World leaders almost 20 years later.
Conceptions of the International Order
The concept of an international order as it is discussed today
goes back to the inter-war period, particularly the planning and
inception of the League of Nations following World War I. The League
of Nations was formed at a time when political idealism was at its
height. In 1939, Edward Carr argued that such idealismalso called
utopian political thoughtwas structured to fill the ideological and
authoritative gap left by the decline and end of the medieval system
Political idealism placed confidence in human beings, their
societies, and an international system. Having just come out of a
global war of an entirely new dimension replete with new horrors of
technological advancement, leaders of the countries that had been

victorious in that war were poised to begin a new political and
economic way of life. Political idealists generally saw promise in
humanity and its future, and the League of Nations was formed with
the belief that humanity was now prepared to live beyond war in a
system of international solidarity and advancement. Complimenting
political idealism, 19th century "liberal economic thought" heralded
the coming of an international economy and envisioned the growth of
a laissez-faire market, whereby the role of government was expected
only to protect property rights because it was believed that a market
left alone would naturally bring humankind ever closer to
international harmony. The concept of placing the duty of human
advancement on a free market puts capital at the foundation of the
current world order.
Actual support and nurturing of liberal economic thought came
from those nations that had capital and hence, the most to gain from
investing in a free market, in particular: the United States, France,
and Englandthe powerful nations that had "won" the First World
War. However, in contradiction to stated laissez-fair policy, First
World domestic economies were not functioning without protectionism
and manipulation. For example, in the United States, Franklin
Roosevelt had been introducing New Deal programs which employed
Keynesian practices of market manipulation and spending on social
programs in an effort particularly to control high levels of

unemployment and inflation brought on by the Depression. In the
end, the United States Senate did not support the League of Nations
or the United States' membership in it. As political tensions
increased and economies around the world began to show serious
signs of an international failure, the world stood on the brink of
another world war. The idea of the League of Nations collapsed
before it really got off the ground, a collapse often blamed on the
United States' failure to become a member.
In reality, humankind had not advanced beyond war, and a new
school of realist thought was introduced to explain the international
discord. Edward Hallett Carr employed the Machiavellian and
Hobbesian recognition that power is at the foundation of society.
Carr believed that "political realism" was a logical reaction to its
idealist predecessor, which he thought irrelevant to the actual world,
its politics, and its actions (1939, 63-64). By focusing less on morals
and economics and more on the central role of states and the need of
states to gain and retain power, realism offered an explanation of
continued international conflict. Accordingly, in 1948, Hans
Morgenthau explained that "all politics, domestic and international,
reveals three basic patterns; that is, all political phenomena can be
reduced to one of three basic types. A political policy seeks either

to keep power, to increase power, or to demonstrate power" (1973,
One of the main expectations of this new realist approach was
that power exists to protect, maintain, and encourage support of the
status quo. With this goal in mind, at the end of World War II
another international body, the United Nations was created. The
United Nations was expected to reduce international conflict by
helping to preserve the existing balance of power. Robert Tucker
states that the UN "charter's design of order was made dependent on
the condition that the great powers retain a basic identity of
interests (a design that in itself clearly did not preclude
acknowledgment of great-power spheres of influence)" (1977, 33-34).
As a result, in this post-war order, "the dice were loaded to favor
the status quo created by the big victors. The lacunae in the new
rules could be interpreted as favoring the hegemony of the biggest
of the victorsthe United States" (Haas 1986, 7). The United States
emerged from World War II vastly superior to other nations
economically and militarily. With the Western European nations
becoming recipients of the United States' Marshall Plan aid, a new
world order was constructed.
As "realism" came to dominate modern international-relations
scholarship, the industrialized states of the West, while invoking
Keynesian economic practices, have nonetheless consistently given

vocal support to the transformational abilities of the "liberal economic
system" and to the idea that the "free market" can carry humankind
beyond the ancient struggle to increase state power. These
seemingly conflictual components of the post-war orderan ideology
of "political realism" and support of a "liberal economy" combined
with the practice of market manipulationare centred to
understanding the different arguments of the current development
debate. When the program for a New International Order (NIEO) was
introduced by the UN General Assembly in 1974, questioning the way
in which the world order was set up to favor already rich nations, it
began a debate that has evolved and continues to draw attention
Theory of Hegemonic Stability
One of the most influential analysts of the global political
economy and development debates which were occurring in the 1970s,
was Stephen Krasner, who described the existing international order
and theorized about hegemonic stability. According to the theory of
hegemonic stability, a vastly superior power within the international
system provides stability by simplifying processes, by making the
majority of international decisions, and by providing information
about the international system and its actors to state leaders, thus
keeping the individual members of the international system in line.

The theory of hegemonic stability holds that "if the hegemon's
relative capabilities decline, the regime will collapse" (Krasner 1991c,
16). Krasner viewed the United States' hegemonic decline as a
predecessor to increased international instability. Conclusions such
as this supported the maintenance of the existing international
balance of power.
In 1976, Krasner resolved that within the international trade
regime, power comes to rest not with nonstate actors but with states
and that without extreme international events, a hegemon is
necessary to the smooth functioning of free trade (1991b, 67).
Krasner later reiterated this conclusion and argued that the declining
power of the United States was resulting in a more multipolar
international order in which particularistic interests were on the rise
and the United States was acting more like other First World nations,
instituting protectionist trade barriers and hence weakening the
international system (1987, 360). Taking a similarly systemic view of
the results of declining power within the international order and the
NIEO's call for a more equitable system, Robert Tucker confirmed that
"we may say that a practical consequence of the new egalitarianism is
to lead to a growing disjunction between power and order, and that
though the developed and capitalist states will remain for an
indefinite period the principal holders of power, they will no longer
be the principal creators and guarantors of order" (1977, 93).

International Regime Literature
By the early 1980s, it was clear that time and the continued
decline of the United States' economic power had not brought about
the chaos and end of the world order that Krasner had foreseen in
the 1970s. This fact resulted in a revision of his argument, whereby
regimes, as intervening variables, might take up many of the
coordinating roles left vacant by the decline of the hegemon.
Regimes "are defined as principles, norms, rules, and decision-making
procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given
issue-area" (Krasner 1991c, 1). Accordingly, "within the framework
of this analysis, there need not always be congruity between power
distributions and related behavior and outcomes. A change in power
distributions does not always imply a change in outcomes because
regimes may function as intervening variables" (Krasner 1991a, 357).
Considering the theory of hegemonic stability and questioning
why declining hegemonic power had not led to extensive regime
collapse but to an increase in regime activity, Robert Keohane,
applied rational-choice analysis to look at the foundational or
systemic characteristics that lead to the formation and functioning of
regimes. He concluded that several of the assumptions of strict
"realist" or structural theories were questionable. One point he
found to be particularly questionable was the theory of hegemonic

stability. He concluded that "past patterns of institutionalized
cooperation may be able to compensate, to some extent, for increasing
fragmentation of power" (Keohane 1991, 170).
In 1984, Keohane argued that hegemony is not the only road to
international cooperation and that decisions are being made within
increasingly intertwined and complex human arrangements,
international regimes, multinational corporations, and international
organizations in which cooperation and discord coexist (217). In
regard to change within the international order, Robert Keohane,
together with Joseph Nye, conclude that international organizations
can give developing countries international power that they might not
otherwise have, by facilitating political coalition-building among
countries and leaders, and that "international organizations are
frequently congenial institutions for weak states" (1989, 36). Susan
Strange, on the other hand, argues that the United States' inability
to continue domination within some parts of the international system
has resulted in organizations which now conduct business of a more
symbolic nature, producing a variety of shallow texts that do not
result in change (1991, 342).
An important part of regime theory that concerns the
development debate is specific hypotheses about how regimes change.
Donald Puchala and Raymond Hopkins stipulate that regimes may
involve a learning process and evolutionary change, but argue that

more often than not regime change is revolutionary, whereby
previously alienated members are able to ascend by way of changes
in the power structure (1991, 66). Ernst Haas, on the other hand,
argues that cognitive evolution occurs within the international
system. He accepts the premise that human learning is constant and
thus the international system changes in an evolutionary way, but he
states that such change may not necessarily lead to a more desirable
world or world order (1991, 58-59). Haas' conclusion is particularly
important to the discussion which considers the current system and
the appropriate direction of future international development.
Oran Young defines regime change as being either spontaneous,
negotiated or imposed, yet also argues that the very existence of
regimes is a social phenomenon and that "like other social
institutions, international regimes develop or evolve over time" (1991,
94). John Ruggie argues that there is an "embedded liberalism"
present within the current order, whereby leaders, eager to protect
their legitimacy, designed the post World War II welfare states
around power and legitimate social purpose (1982, 382). As a result,
a declining hegemon will not throw the system into total chaos
because there will be a natural tendency toward normative change.
Therefore, the original purpose behind embedded liberalism "is to
devise a form of multilateralism that is compatible with the
requirements of domestic stability" (Ruggie 1982, 399).

Applications to Development Issues
Perspectives on regime change are integral to understanding
differences of opinion regarding Third World change and roles within
the international system. Different sides of the development debate
of the 1970s and early 1980s tended in general to agree that the
Third World was often at a political and economic disadvantage within
the international system. However, the reasons for that imbalance
and the possible ways to deal with the inequality were generally not
agreed upon. The development debate questioned the need and
hence, possible methods to create a more equitable world system.
Coming from a strictly "realist" perspective, Kenneth Waltz disagreed
with those who would blame Third World poverty on First World
wealth. He argues: "Surely the major reasons for the material well-
being of rich states are found within their own bordersin their use
of technology and in their ability to organize their economies on a
national scale" (Waltz 1979, 33). Ruggie, however, stresses that
embedded liberalism was designed to protect the leaders of the
modern welfare state and concludes that "under embedded liberalism
lending and investment in the peripheral areas has been both
relatively lower and positively correlated with core expansion rather
than counterpoised to it" (1982, 414). As a result, the existing order

tends to keep the Third World from moving forward within the
international system
Trade Issues
A large amount of discourse about Third World development has
to do with Third World debt and with trade, specifically, with the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Designed in 1947 as
a temporary solution to the lack of an established worldwide trade
regime, GATT was intended to quell protectionism, which "leaders in
the United States and many other advanced industrialized countries
believed, on the basis of their experience during the Great
Depression of the 1930s,...contributes to depressions, depressions
magnify political instability, and protectionism therefore leads to war"
(Frieden and Lake 1987, 337). Kindleberger, in 1975, found that
historically, business owners and economists in Europe had been able
to encourage governments to lift trade restrictions because it opened
up opportunities (1991, 87).
Realistically, however, protectionist trade policies still exist in
world trade. Charles Lipson points out that it is Third World
countries that are most negatively affected by trade restrictions on
specific manufactured products such as textiles, by non-tariff
barriers such as quotas, and by trade subsidies which favor domestic
markets (1991, 246-48). The argument of Jock Finlayson and Mark

Zacher tends to agree with Lipson's assessment and adds that GATT's
"temporary nature" at its beginning has led to its impotence
regarding specific areas of trade, such as agreements made outside
of GATT. GATT's inability or refusal to value the concerns of
developing countries and markets has led leaders of less developed
countries (LDCs) to call on GATT to fulfill its mandate of trade
liberalization (1991, 284-86). Hilary French points out that
"developing countries lose some $100 billion annually in agricultural
sales as a result of quotas, tariffs, and other trade barriers" (1993,
While Finlay son and Zacher conclude that GATT gives
developing countries some say in the international market that they
might not otherwise have, the authors also point out that GATT may
not be the best place for developing countries to cut deals, as the
industrialized states which sit at the top of GATT have thus far made
only small, rather inconsequential changes to GATT as a result of
Third World concerns (1991, 313, 296). Stephen Krasner makes a
similar argument when he states that the NIEO program was not
seeking a freer market, but in reality was attempting to increase the
number of rules within the current international system. Krasner
argues that the existing gap between the First and Third Worlds is a
part of the foundation of the current system and, therefore, not

likely to change in favor of the Third World without authoritative
action (1985, 267).
Debt Issues
Another aspect of the development debate which is also tied to
trade is the enormous debts of some Third World countries and the
organizations that lend money or are intended to extend debt relief
through long-term credit. The issues of inequality arising around
GATT are much the same concerns that surround the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), and international private lending
institutions. Benjamin Cohen, supporting a Third World or NIEO
stance, argues that although there has been change in the World
Bank and the IMF over time, that change has been governed by
existing norms and has not seen transformation of the regime (1991,
317). Cohen makes the point that from the inception of the
International Monetary Fund, the rich countries of the West have
been able to bend the rules in their own favor, and that to this day,
those same countries sit at the top of decision making in the
organization (1991, 326).
Charles Lipson, looking at payments on private loans, especially
those of the IMF, found that countries tend to pay on those loans
promptly, even revolutionary governments that did not necessarily
rack up the debt, because of the negative effect that failing to keep

up on payments would have on obtaining future loans from this and
other institutions (1987, 320-22). However, a question arises in
regard to exactly what development occurs and whether in the end,
it is worth the cost of the ensuing debt. According to Graham
Hancock, the international aid system caters to elites around the
globe and does more harm than good to the people at the receiving
end of loans and development plans. He explains:
Aid is not bad, however, because it is sometimes misused,
corrupt, or crass; rather, it is inherently bad, bad to the bone,
and utterly beyond reform. As a welfare dole to buy the
repulsive loyalty of whining, idle and malevolent governments,
or as a hidden, inefficient and inadequately regulated subsidy
for Western business, it is possibly the most formidable
obstacle to the productive endeavours of the poor. It is also a
denial of their potential, and a patronising insult to their
unique, unrecognized abilities (Hancock 1989, 183).
Hilary French also focuses on what appears to be an unending
process whereby, the World Bank seems more capable of perpetuating
the debt crisis than of planning and investing in long-term
development that might break that cycle (1994, 177). Broad and
Cavanagh recognize a need for change and note that with the huge
export growth of the newly industrializing countries (NICs) of Brazil,
Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, the World
Bank and IMF have encouraged Third World countries receiving aid
to develop similarly, although the international economy has changed
and the particular market is full (1991, 396). Oran Young points out
that developing countries "are easily drawn into a pattern of

borrowing without realizing the degree to which debt servicing will
later constrain their economic options" (1989, 3).
The effects of corporate interests on the Third World also
enter debates about development. Richard Falk writes from a "world
order" perspective which is normatively committed to urging a just
world order and is described by proponents as analytically taking a
perspective of "world order realism". The world order approach
tends to advocate change which is often structural in nature.
According to Falk, GATT is an American-made organization that, most
of all, was able to make the American corporation into an
international phenomenon by encouraging trade and introducing
American corporations to foreign market sectors (1983, 112-13). Peter
Evans suggests that other possible problems, such as the creation of
inappropriate consumer desires that lead to unrealistic development
strategies, mean that "less developed countries cannot count on
having their welfare maximized by relying on the unseen hand of
economic interchange mediated through the organizational framework
of the multinational corporation" (1970, 341). Barnet and Cavanagh
make a similar point when they stress that although heads of
multinational corporations (MNCs) often think globally about business
issues, they rarely consider the possible negative political or social
impacts of their decisions on given societies and peoples (1994, 18).

The effects of food crops being replaced by cash crops for the
profits of corporate or local elite have been discussed as one of the
Third World's most serious development problems, because importing
huge amounts of food can greatly increase Third World debt. E.G.
Vallianatos pointed out in 1976 that in Africa and Latin America, large
numbers of people went hungry as their countries imported even the
most basic food stuffs, because much of the best water and land
were "put at the disposal of various agribusiness corporations to
produce goods for the markets of the rich countries" (19).
These very kinds of concerns are the focus of the development
debate today. Questions about the appropriateness of international
development plans within a system of perpetual debt and concerns
about who is really being represented by international organizations,
are the kinds of questions that prompted the NIEO and its challenge
to the existing world order. As a result, the issues most central to
the NIEOequal and full participation by developing countries in the
world economic and political order; respect of state sovereignty; and
an "International Development Strategy", all in a world of growing
economic inequality (United Nations 1991, 288-91)can be seen at the
foundation of the existing development argument.

Debates in the 1990s
The difference in the development argument of the 1990s
however, is that it has been attached to a growing international
concern about environmental degradation. Flavin and Young argue
that companies need to make environmentally sound decisions now if
they are to compete in the marketplace of the future (1993, 181).
Third World leaders have argued that environmental protection must
occur in conjuction with or as a result of development. The
proponents of development and of environmental issues often have
similar arguments that attack the same parts and principles within
the international system. By looking at the planning and results of
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED), we will see attempts by the First World once again to let
Third World arguments dissipate. While the setting of the Conference
demonstrates the global inequality of peoples and countries, the
results of arguments between First and Third World leaders reflects
the enormous power of the First World in the current order. We will
see that despite declining U.S. hegemony, its power is still vast and
helps to protect and maintain the current order. Arguments heard at
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED) greatly resemble the ongoing First World economic stance
which supports the status quo and the view of many Third World

leaders which calls for structural change in the system much like
that called for by the statement for a NIEO.
The literature supports that perspectives describing the
international order come most often to rest on a foundation of
economic beliefs and principles which maintain existing structures of
power. Advocates of the environmental debate today tend to support
fundamental change of the international system of development and
agree with Third World leaders that development and environmental
health are directly linked. Hilary French mentions a study which
found that when a country's per capita income reaches approximately
$5,000, sulfur dioxide and particulate pollution levels in cities tend to
decrease as people are able and more open to investing in pollution
reduction methods and devices (1993, 170). The view of
environmentalists often departs from the perspective of Third World
leaders when it comes to how development should occur. Richard
Barnet and John Cavanagh argue that even "the efforts of
authoritarian governments to erect walls against the penetration of
American dreams and the American fun culture actually promoted
their spread" (1994, 36).
Efforts to duplicate the American dream in the developing
world have tended to copy First World methods of industrialization
often with disastrous results. Environmentalists argue that not only
does such development often not have the infrastructure or

technology to support it, but that the First World's style of
development is outdated, wasteful, and destructive to the earth and
its peoples. Nicholas Lenssen stresses that plans which push
developing countries to rely on oil and gas for energy begin with
international institutions and government planners in the First World
and that the current state of the environment requires all countries
to look to alternative sources of energy and ways of doing business
(1993, 111). By looking at current environmental events such as the
UNCED, we will see that the development argument is not yet solved
and that new environmental concerns are drawing attention back to
development issues. There has been with time, little fundamental
change within the structure and methods of the international
development system. The environmental crisis and resulting debates
have again asserted the importance of development issues. While both
the environmental and developmental debates are often quelled in the
current system, we will see that the two issues together draw a
larger audience and lend urgency to finding a solution to growing
global inequality. The results of the UNCED will demonstrate the
power of the United States to protect its significant power within the
existing world order. We will see however, that environmental
degradation ignored has the potential to negatively affect the global
market, which could encourage First World leaders to protect their

own interests by way of increased equality within the international
system as a whole.

This chapter discusses how global developmental inequality
correlates with environmental destruction. This chapter shows how
the 1992 Earth Summit was preceded for decades by a variety of
similar environmental and developmental conferences and meetings.
While the documents coming out of the Rio summit are expansive, they
lack needed detail for immediate implementation. This chapter notes
the necessity of immediate action and concludes with a discussion of
possible alternative ideas to the current system of development.
Literature shows us that while there has, with time, been some
change in the existing international system, that change tends to
have been mostly within the limits of the existing system. The
formations of the GATT, or development and environment
organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) or the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), or
economic institutions such as the World Bank or the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), were intended to stabilize the workings of the
international system. In the case of the IMF, the institution was
designed to act as a temporary safety net, making loans to countries
experiencing difficulties during market fluctuations. These programs
and institutions, however, have done little to protect or enhance the

interests of Third World peoples and have, through increasing debts
and inequality, helped to lead to growing international insecurity.
First and Third World Inequality
The international system is structured to hold paramount the
sovereignty and economic well-being of its individual members. As a
result, "inequalities and rivalries among nations thus complicate any
attempt to replace competitive patterns of behavior by cooperative
ones" (Falk 1992, 718). The growing inequality between the First and
Third Worlds, then, could be viewed not just as a reason for change
but also as a cause of conflict and, thus, as a reason for a lack of
change. John Ruggie points out that the international community,
being made up of many actors "is governed by political, social and
economic structures over which it exercises little control" (1991, 449).
At a time when global concerns about the environment and
development are resurfacing in international forums, in reality "the
processes of global economic integration are stimulating political and
social disintegration.... Like cells, nations are multiplying by
dividing" (Barnet and Cavanagh 1994, 13).
If we look at the developing world from the time after the
formation of the United Nations until the present, we can see not
only the conflicts that exist among national actors throughout the
world, but also a lack of planning and cooperation within and

between organizations designed to represent the international
community. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and
the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are examples of
United Nations programs that often conflict with each other and,
hence, often leave the Third World to choose between environment
and development. For example, the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) has traditionally placed development before
environmental concerns. The United Nations Environment Programme,
however, is not part of the development system and lacks financial
resources, thus giving it "an impossible mandate within the UN
system" (Von Moltke 1992, 620).
The International Monetary Fund was created to make loans for
short periods of time to maintain the balance of payments
internationally. The oil shocks since the 1970s have resulted in the
International Monetary Fund's becoming difficult to distinguish from
the World Bank, which was intended to make loans for long-term
economic development within the Third World (Cohen 1991, 334-35).
Had these organizations been successful with their mandates, they
might have put themselves out of work by now. However, these
organizations have created large international bureaucracies which
not only fail to meet the economic and development needs of Third
World peoples, but after nearly 50 years often perpetuate and
intensify their poverty. Manual Pastor makes the point that as

applied to Latin America, "the IMF may be politically exhausted as a
vehicle for crisis resolution and economic restructuring" (1991, 321).
But to the employees and other beneficiaries, such as Third World
elites and First World business leaders, who depend on these
structures to maintain their own way of life, the business of
development is something to be protected. Often the poorest
countries and the poorest people within those countries pay the price
for failed or misdirected development plans with increased domestic
debt, poverty, and personal suffering (Hancock 1989, 145).
It is the experiences of the Third World within international
organizations which have led to the crisis proclaimed by Third World
leaders today. Different international organizations or different
aspects within the same organization often give conflicting messages
regarding development and environmental protection. At the time of
the formation of the United Nations, environment was not a
consideration of the body or the Charter that mandated it. The
United Nations was formed under the East West division which
resulted after World War II. Only in the last decade has development
been viewed as distinct from the specific political agendas of the
superpowers during the Cold War. While the Cold War was
instrumental in shaping the existing world order, the current
environment and development debate is often viewed by Third World
leaders as being a North South problem in which the concerns of

developed and developing countries are thought to be markedly
different. By looking at the creation and makeup of the United
Nations, we see that the alienation of the Third World within the
international system and, hence, Third World development concerns,
go back to the original makeup and priorities of the United Nations.
The developing world was not a creator of the United Nations or
more generally, the existing world order. The current order was
formed around a foundation of U.S. hegemony and First World goals
and concerns in general. Developing countries since the inception of
the current order have been trying to get adequate and meaningful
representation within the international system.
First and Third World leaders and economic elites often
perceive such different development needs that they have difficulty
reaching even a minimal consensus within their own countries and
between themselves and international organizations at international
conferences, meetings, and summits. As a result, conclusions tend
not to call for any kind of foundational change within parts of the
international system, and resulting proposals are usually not specific
or enforceable. The United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED), in 1992, was the result of a number of
environment and development conferences and meetings that came
before it. The first United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD) was held in 1964. Stephen Krasner points out

that in 1983, UNCTAD VI ended with the United States pulling out
and industrialized nations refusing to commit to additional aid,
making it "one of a long series of frustrating multifunctional
exchanges" (1985, 271).
Environmental Dimensions
David Getches explains that the original idea behind the 1992
Earth Summit "was to join the strands of environmental protection
actions underway in industrialized countries since the 1972 UN
Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, with the growing
realization that environmental problems could never be solved apart
from the problems of economic distress of the third world" (1993, 2).
Having an environmental focus and drawing a large number of
delegates and audience members, the Stockholm Conference greatly
resembled the UNCED of 20 years later.
The Stockholm Conference, like the Earth Summit, recognized
the conflicts that often result when environmental protection is pitted
against economic expansion. Similarly, the Stockholm Conference was
attended by many governmental and nongovernmental representatives
who were recognizing that environmental concerns transcended
national borders. The resulting document of the United Nations
Conference on the Human Environment was called the Stockholm
Declaration. The Stockholm Declaration linked environmental

destruction with development and underdevelopment and called for
such things as better development planning and technology transfers
from the First to the Third World in an effort to promote ecological
cleanup and protection.
Putting ideas into writing so that a variety of world leaders
will sign a declaration is another issue altogether. By the end of the
Stockholm Conference, "the final declaration was a kind of compromise
of irreconcilable positions, often akin to a Picasso painting, in that it
faced both ways at the same time, reflecting a total disagreement on
how to manage the environment. The gulf between nations, whether
on the basis of economic development or ideology, remained as deep
and as wide as before" (Knelman 1991, 446). Once again, "the
compromise necessary to produce this twenty-six principle declaration
was achieved by reasserting the acceptance of stateism and by
separating global pollution, poverty, population, and politics from
their underlying social, political, economic, and cultural causes" (Falk,
Kim, and Mendlovitz 1991, 423-24).
One of the eventual outcomes of the UN Conference on the
Human Environment was the establishment of the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1973. Hilary French points out
that the pitiful UNEP budget reflects its lack of power in the
international system (1992, 170). In 1982the tenth anniversary of
the Stockholm Conferencethe UNEP convened a session to reaffirm

the -elements of the Stockholm Declaration but in reality "the
Stockholm Declaration was more or less relegated to the UN
bureaucratic back burner in the 1980s" (Falk, Kim, and Mendlovitz
1991, 424). In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and
Development created an extensive report called the Brundtland
Commission Report, which recognized a need for sustainable
development internationally and stated clearly that environment and
development are directly linked. In addition, the report, titled "Our
Common Future", recognized the complexity of solving issues relating
to development and environment:
A number of factors affect the connection between
environmental stress, poverty, and security, such as inadequate
development policies, adverse trends in the international
economy, inequities in multi-racial and multi-ethnic societies,
and pressures of population growth. These linkages among
environment, development, and conflict are complex and, in
many cases, poorly understood. But a comprehensive approach
to international and national security must transcend the
traditional emphasis on military power and armed competition.
The real sources of insecurity also encompass unsustainable
development, and its effects can be intertwined with traditional
forms of conflict in a manner that can extend and deepen the
latter (World Commission on Environment and Development 1991,
The report goes into detail about how to achieve sustainable
development and discusses topics from industrial development and
security issues to family planning and ecosystem protection. The
Brundtland "report articulated a vision reconciling the legitimate
need to develop with the accelerating degradation of natural systems"

(Nitze 1992, 32). In their ability to look at and try to solve differing
perspectives regarding development and environment issues, the
authors of "Our Common Future" appear to have been ahead of their
time. Many of the issues covered in 1987 by the Brundtland
Commission were topics at the 1992 Earth Summit.
With the passage of time, environmental issues, through
conventions and conferences, have been taking up more time in the
United Nations system. The United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 received a large
amount of attention not just by those in attendance, but by the
international media and, hence, it received more domestic attention
also. The end of the Cold War was lauded by many as a beginning
of genuine improvement in North South relations. Many felt that
less time and money spent on the issues of superpower relations
would mean that more developing-world concerns could be considered
and financed within the international system. However, Li Peng,
premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, states
that although a good amount of the East West conflict may have
been diffused, "the equilibrium in the world has been disrupted;
conflicts and destabilizing factors have increased; and hegemonism
and power politics still exist" (Li 1992, 11). The events at UNCED
supported his viewpoint.

Much like those at the UN Conference on the Human
Environment in 1972, conclusions at UNCED again reflected
international conflict and lacked the impetus to bring about any
major change within the development system and the understanding
of how environment is affected by that system. Much like previous
conference documents, Agenda 21 includes information regarding the
complexity of environment and development issues:
Commonly used indicators such as the gross national product
(GNP) and measurements of individual resource or pollution
flows do not provide adequate indications of sustainability.
Methods for assessing interactions between different sectoral
environmental, demographic, social and developmental
parameters are not sufficiently developed or applied.
Indicators of sustainable development need to be developed to
provide solid bases for decision-making at all levels and to
contribute to a self-regulating sustainability of integrated
environment and development systems (United Nations 1992b,
However, while the written results of the Earth Summit recognize
global inequality, ecological crisis, and the need for sustainable
development, these documents often lack specifics about funding and
dates when they will go into effect. Often, dates and funding
arguments between participants were solved by removing such details
completely. Initially, the word "development" was not a part of the
Conference title and was added only after Third World
representatives made an issue of it (Nitze 1992, 33). Like the 1972
Stockholm Declaration, differences in opinion at UNCED resulted in
vague documents wherein "the lack of specificity and the absence

even of the force of law for the vast majority of agreed upon
language precludes most opportunities for realistic enforcement"
(Goldman 1992, 3).
Going into the 1992 Earth Summit, "the United States, in
particular, was anxious to make progress on international
environmental issues such as tropical forest protection, biodiversity,
and ocean pollution that did not run afoul of powerful domestic
constituencies" (Nitze 1992, 32). Third World leaders, however,
argued that the Conference needed first to focus on development
concerns. Their position was that environmental protection first
requires a certain level of development as increased levels of
education tend to correlate with lower birth rates, hence, resulting in
less stress on the local environment. Nationally, more prosperous
economies tend to allow leeway for businesses and, hence, political
leaders to try and promote techniques and technologies that help to
protect the environment. Third World leaders claim that the First
World is responsible for much of the Third World pollution through
development schemes that destroy the environment and make survival
dependent on continuing to do so. Third World leaders argue that if
the industrialized world wants protection of the international
environment within the Third World, it will have to help finance such
programs, as developing countries are currently not encouraged or
able to finance environmental protection in the development process.

This argument supports the Third World assertion that international
inequality is institutionalized and that reversing the trend will
require fundamental change in the system.
The results of the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development reflect the fact that the contradictory views
between certain members of the First and Third Worlds were not
successfully worked out during the Conference, and as a result, the
conclusions of the Summit tended to be neither profound nor direct
about goals and implementation and generally called for more of the
same. For example, Agenda 21 reads:
In general, the financing for the implementation of Agenda 21
will come from a country's own public and private sectors. For
developing countries, particularly the least developed countries,
ODA is the main source of external funding, and substantial
new and additional funding for sustainable development and
implementation of Agenda 21 will be required. Developed
countries reaffirm their commitments to reach the accepted
United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for ODA and, to
the extent that they have not yet achieved that target, agree
to augment their aid programmes in order to reach that target
as soon as possible... (United Nations 1992b, 33.13).
The differences between First and Third World opinion are reflected
in the biodiversity convention, which faced strong opposition
throughout its development, particularly from the United States. One
of the main focal points of the biodiversity convention was to
inventory the world's biological resources and to set up a fund paid
for by those who benefit from the use of these resources and
knowledge in the First World, thereby compensating developing

countries and peoples for such information and ingredients. The
biodiversity convention came up against strong U.S. opposition
particularly, as it "binds not merely governments but businesses as
well" (Panjabi 1992, 190). The biodiversity convention was signed by
150 countries at the UNCED. The convention "had some flaws, but
perhaps the most serious one was the missing U.S. signature" (Brown
1993, 3). The final "consensus at Rio was highly critical of both the
American President and of his commitment to economic priorities over
the cause of environmental protection" (Panjabi 1992, 191). The
results of the biodiversity convention show how difficult it can be
for Third World issues and peoples to get even minimal recognition
from international bodies or powerful First World members who wield
enormous power within those bodies. The importance of the United
States' failure to sign the convention shows that U.S. power in the
existing international system is still significant and that those in
power support continuance of the current order.
The Earth Summit made clear the enormity of the United States'
power within the existing international system. We have already seen
that Agenda 21, which focused specifically on development and First
World responsibility, was also significantly affected by the United
States' opposition and that while in the end it did get approval from
the United States, its final language and deadlines were vague.
M.P.A. Kindall explains that "until the G-77 countries cease to view

the environment as an issue that is being imposed on them, and the
developed countries cease to view development as an issue of primary
relevance only for the G 77, real dialogue on these issues will be
impossible" (1993, 73). The climate convention also passed with a
signature of the United States. However, the United States' failure
to commit itself to a reduction of its own carbon emissionswhich are
the highest in the worldbecause of alleged overriding national
economic concerns, once again resulted in a much watered down
version of the original treaty drafts. In reality, the climate
convention ended up being a recognition that global warming is an
important issue and that carbon emissions need to be watched
carefully (Brown 1993, 3). For example, national priorities are
accounted for by the wording of the documents:
Recognizing also the need for developed countries to take
immediate action in a flexible manner on the basis of clear
priorities, as a first step towards comprehensive response
strategies at the global, national and, where agreed, regional
levels that take into account all greenhouse gases with due
consideration of their relative contributions to the enhancement
of the greenhouse effect (United Nations 1992a).
First World economic concerns again appeared to override and de-
emphasize global cooperation and the issues of the developing world
and its peoples.
Other issues of particular concern to the developing world
during the UNCED involved the transfer of environmentally friendly
technology from the First World and funding to help provide for

sustainable development. Regarding the Third World's need for
financial assistance, William Nitze points out that "with biodiversity,
the immediate constraint is not a lack of money but a dearth of well-
designed projects and an unwillingness to make the policy reforms
necessary to make those projects cost-effective" (1992, 35).
Technology transfer is expected to be primarily initiated through the
Global Environment Facility (GEF), which was set up in 1991 to fund
protection of the global environment with development plans. As a
joint venture of the World Bank, the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP), the GEF is described as a separate entity, but in reality, the
Bank has a large influence on what projects the GEF funds (French
1994, 158-59). Third World leaders did not generally support the use
of the GEF for funding the implementation of Earth Summit programs
as "decision-making at the World Bank is controlled by industrialized
donor nations to the exclusion of recipient developing nations"
(Goldman 1992, 7). Hence, First World influence within the GEF means
that while the institution may be fairly new, the global politics that
control its actions are not.
The Earth Summit ended in compromise and conflict resulting
from the variety of interests represented. In 1948, Hans Morgenthau
argued that "a world community must antedate a world state" (1973,
495). An unrepresentative international power structure, the sanctity

of sovereignty within the international system, economic inequality,
and the current emergence of new national movements all result in
keeping the idea of a world community constantly out of reach. John
Ruggie, however, argues that even though the international system
often remains fragmented and based on particularistic interests,
compromise is sometimes made and the system as a whole, therefore,
moves closer to community (1991, 457).
The immediacy of some environmental concerns may not allow
for the gradual and often superficial change within the international
system that we have witnessed over the last 50 years. Technological
answers have developed more slowly than ecologically destructive
practices, and consequently, sustainable development will not result
"if population and environment conferences are the only forums in
which it is addressed" (Postel 1994, 21). Arthur Stein states that
international actors come together in decision making in self-interest
through situations of common interest or common aversion (1991, 127).
Environmental concerns have not historically resulted, in fundamental
organizational or regime change because they are not often judged
substantial enough to warrant action by world leaders. Richard Falk
warns that waiting until the last minute to protect or heal
environmental systems can result in the total collapse of such
systems (1992, 712). Agenda 21 reads: "The cost of inaction could
outweigh the financial costs of implementing Agenda 21. Inaction will

narrow the choices of future generations" (United Nations 1992b,
By looking at the make-up and procedures of the international
system, we have seen that as international organizations may operate
by using international processes that are destructive to people or
the environment, executing change within the international system is
often quelled by more individual domestic interests. Hence, the
prescription for future development often becomes "more of the
same." F.H. Knelman points out that ecology and sovereignty are at
odds and that the "problem is exacerbated by the enormous
maldistribution of powereconomic, political, technological, and
exploitiveamong the nations of the world" (1991, 436-37). Moreover,
the leader in the current order, the United States, may have "too
much rather than too little freedom in the short run, and may fail to
take the lead on the economic and ecological problems that will be
increasingly important" (Keohane and Nye 1989, 242).
Illustrative of the point that special interests and national
actors can greatly affect international policy choices was the 1974
Cocoyoc Declaration, which resulted from a meeting of UNCTAD and
UNEP and called for global economic restructuring. Following the
meeting, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a
report which linked environment and development. First and Third
World leaders opposed these results and the proposed structural

economic changes. Opposition by Third World leaders to proposed
changes reflects how elites in the Third World, like those in the
First, have much to gain from protection of the status quo. The
United States cut funding to the UNEP while the Cocoyoc issue was
placed under review and argued that UNEP activities "should be more
representative of diverse views" (Ruggie 1991, 463). At the other
end of the spectrum, the 1987 Montreal Protocol to restrict the
manufacturing of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) happened fairly quickly,
and with verbal and economic support of the United States (French
1992, 160-61). Although the problem was found to be much more
serious than initially thought, and restrictions had to be
strengthened almost immediately, the Montreal Protocol shows that
when powerful First World leaders take the initiative, global decisions
and programs can be enacted in a more timely manner than is most
often the case.
Possible Alternative Solutions
Possible alternative solutions to the development and
environment issues involve ideas ranging from education to total
global restructuring. One of the more common ideas expressed by
those who see a need for change is the need for economic
diversification in the developing world. Instead of a policy urging
all countries to develop similarly, it may be "time to realize that

diversification is needed for ecological reasons as well as economic
ones" (French 1993, 165). Rising rates of violent crime and other
signs of social malaise in the First World also give reasons to
question how countries might choose to develop and whether they
should seek to mimic the industrialized states of the North. Apart
from social reasons for new ways of development, the earth itself is
breaking down and showing signs that "business as usual" must not
and cannot continue. It is now clear that "the earth's environmental
assets are now insufficient to sustain both our present patterns of
economic activity and the life-support systems we depend on" (Postel
1994, 4). Not only is the planet earth endangered, but so are its
human inhabitants. A polluted environment and the destruction of
the earth's ozone layer threaten the health of all humans. Decreased
productivity of the land and increased population mean that "the
world's farmers can no longer be counted on to feed the projected
additions to our numbers" (Brown 1994, 178). Christopher Lasch
points out that the ecological crisis is the last blow to the idea that
all countries should wish progress which makes them look like the
developed world, because the natural limits of the earth obviously
cannot survive such behavior (1991, 529-30).
Human survival, according to Sandra Postel, will not just
require a new way of development in the Third World, but should
involve global changes such as population stabilization, redistribution

of wealth, and a reduction of excessive consumption (1994, 5). David
Getches points out that "a look at a map of the world's great pools
of genetic resources would show an enormous coincidence with the
homelands of indigenous peoples.... [who] may hold much of the
knowledge we need" (1993, 13). Ways of development which are more
respectful of the needs of Third World peoples and which consider
protection of the global environment exist and, as Michael Renner
points out, tend to be more labor intensive and thus put more people
to work (1992, 138). However, practices that employ alternatives to
environmental destruction are rarely used throughout the world.
Currently, "the global energy industry generates more than $1
trillion worth of revenues each year, but renewables account for less
than 1 percent of the total" (Flavin and Young 1993, 188). Within the
current international development system, development programs
which consider environment to a high degree are virtually unknown.
One suggestion which has been entertained in several international
forums is the idea of environmental or "green" taxes. The thought
behind green taxes is to tax the use of and pollution caused by use
of nonrenewable energy and ecologically destructive practices,
thereby funding cleanup and encouraging the use of renewable or
alternative sources of energy.
Changing the way that the Third World industrializes is
considered by some to be of major import in protecting the global

environment. Nicholas Lenssen points out that availability of energy
has long been considered a precursor to development by aid
organizations and the result has led to an outdated and wasteful
industry which imports expensive equipment and personnel, tends to
increase debt, and thus increases the burden on the poor (1993, 102).
Graham Hancock demonstrates this point by describing a dam project
on the Volta River in Ghana, where inequality within the country was
reinforced by hydroelectric projects. He explains: "One cannot help
but notice how the transmission lines that run from the hydroelectric
plant to the most prosperous districts of the capital simply pass over
the many impoverished villages en route" (1989, 140). The same
pronounced inequality was evident in Rio during the Earth Summit as
"the participants in the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development (UNCED) attended long days of meetings which
opened 'big issues' for discussion, and then, on evening walks, found
families of people in tatters camped on sidewalks in front of
expensive jewelry stores" (Getches 1993, 1). Benjamin A. Goldman
reports that "diplomats sped by in air conditioned limousines under
the watchful eyes of machine gun-toting soldiers guarding the major
transportation arteries" (1992, 1).
When considering the issue of Third World debt, some people
are arguing for debt forgiveness in particularly severe cases. For
example, in several African countries, the United Nations Development

Programme (UNDP) has recognized the fact that some debt
cancellation or rescheduling is necessary because some countries are
so dependent on exports and so indebted, that rescheduling of debts
has in reality resulted in increased debt (1992, 45). Although
perpetual lending to heavily indebted countries may yield short-run
benefits for financial institutions such as the IMF or World Bank, in
the long run, intensifying the debt crisis will lead to greater global
inequality, conflict, and ecological destruction. Dealing with
distribution differences within the existing system means that the
First World must make an effort to understand Third World needs
and make sure that the Third World is adequately represented by
altering existing regimes (Keohane and Nye 1989, 234).
Another possible source of change to the system is
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Unconstrained in many ways
by the international bureaucracy that suppresses so many aid
organizations, "NGOs are now being taken seriously by many key
world governments; this gives them the chance to move out from the
margins of political power into a position where they could influence
policy and government priorities" (Solo 1991, 1). Environmental and
human rights groups in 1985 successfully stopped and redefined the
Polonoroeste project in Brazil, where the World Bank was funding
construction of a highway that was leading to massive human
settlement, ecological destruction, and human rights violations against

the indigenous peoples of the area (Hancock 1989, 132). A large
amount of damage occurred before changes were made, but the
altering of such a massive international project is notable. However,
from an economic standpoint, the UNDP points out that flows from the
North to NGOs in the South in 1990 were at $7.2 billion, which "was
still a small proportion of overall flows from North to South,
equivalent to 13% of net disbursements of official aid, and only 2.5%
of total resource flows to developing countries" (United Nations
Development Programme 1993, 93).
The people with the most experience and knowledge regarding
Third World development and environmental protection are most often
the least recognized by international organizations, leaders, and
workersthe people who live in the developing world. Graham
Hancock has noted that as international aid organizations tend to
meet only with elites or government representatives, aid workers
rarely venture out into the field to meet the people of most need or
to get their thoughts on what they needoften with wasteful,
destructive, or deadly results (1989, 124). Discussing the
bureaucratic backlog of World Bank Projects, Hilary French found
that from an environmental perspective, "the staff as a whole is not
particularly well equipped for the task of promoting sustainable
development. For one, they tend to work at the headquarters, far
removed from on-the-ground realities" (1994, 159). Ill-researched

projects can result in increased spending, environmental destruction,
and loss of human life. Saul Alinsky, a community organizer, places
people at the foundation of strong organizations and the change that
The building of a peoples organization can be done only
by the people themselves. The only way that people can
express themselves is through their leaders. By their leaders
we mean those persons whom the local people define and look
up to as leaders. Native or indigenous leadership is of
fundamental importance in the attempt to build a People's
Organization, for without the support and cooperative efforts of
native leaders any such venture is doomed to failure from the
very beginning (1989, 64).
The ideas of people who have been left out of the existing order are
an integral part of any new development equation. At a basic level,
"the world's dominant cultures cannot sustain the earth's ecological
healtha requisite of human advancementwithout the aid of the
world's endangered cultures. Biological diversity is inextricably
linked to cultural diversity" (Durning 1993, 81). The removal of
people from a development plan that directly affects them and their
environment produces costly mistakes and prevents essential ideas
from being heard and enacted.

We have seen that environment and development issues are not
going to simply disappear from international discourse or solve
themselves and, without international attention and action, will
continue to deepen and multiply. The environment and development
are important concerns to the people who voice them, and the way
issues are dealt with internationally will affect all peoples. We have
also seen that power within the international system is held by a
minority of leaders from industrialized countries with little motivation
at present to change a system that does not yet seriously harm them
financially, politically, or physically. As a result of the current
system's rewards to those who lead it, we have also seen that,
historically, change in that system is most often gradual and
superficial. Although regimes within the system may change with
time or new regimes may form, rarely does the power structure of a
regime change. We have seen that the power base of the current
world order has remained throughout its history and that as leaders
change, the power center of this structure itself does not. Even
more uncommon is a regime's disappearance altogether.
In direct conflict with the history of movement of the
international system, environmentalists argue that environmental and
developmental change must happen quickly and immediately. In

short, research tends to support the idea that quick and fundamental
changes do not generally tend to occur in the existing international
system, a fact which thereby lends support to the idea that the
development debate will not fare any better today than it did 30
years ago. However, the linkage by Third World leaders of
environment and development issues in the 1990s could be an
eventual impetus for fairly significant structural changes in the
international development system. Foundational changes in the
international structure could occur if the connection between the
environment and development is recognized by First World leaders
and if the threat to First World peoples and systems is such that a
more representative world system is necessary to solve the global
environmental crisis. As the majority of the earth's population lives
in the Third World and in a situation of poverty, historical
experiences make it clear that fundamental change initiated by the
First World would not likely be about quality of life in the Third
World or the actual lives of Third World peoples. Instead, if such
changes were deemed necessary by industrial countries it would
probably be to protect or maintain power and profits within the First
World. F.J. Knelman found that Sweden's motives to initiate the
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972 were
based on neither humane nor environmental considerations:

The government of Sweden apparently was motivated more by
the need to stabilize the status quo of the hierarchy of
international economic power than by a pure moral concern for
environmental quality. Sweden had learned the bitter lesson
that the costs of domestic anti-pollution measures lower profits
and decreases one's competitive position in world trade (1991,
The Stockholm Conference, then, was an effort to make certain costly
measures applicable to all of one's competitors. The economic
motivations of First World leaders help explain the often superficial
results of conference diplomacy within international bodies and
While it is not the author's intention to take a deterministic
approach to the future of the international system, it is worth noting
how the system has historically operated. However, alternative ideas
are in progress throughout the world, and an untapped potential of
other ideas remains in the people who most directly feel the effects
of the current system and yet are most alienated from it. The
United Nations has purported to be an international body
representative of peace and equality within the international system.
Although we have seen in this research that the international system
is riddled with inequality and violence, many state leaders assert
that they and the UN are champions of the United Nations Charter
and the human rights and sovereignty it supports. While world
leaders may not act on these words which proclaim global human
rights and equality, Robert Tucker points out: "Even if harshly

criticized by some as hypocrisy, the new political sensibility may yet
prove significant when we recall that on more than one occasion
hypocrisy has been the advance wave of a new truth" (1977, 157).

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