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The UN and Development

From Aid to Cooperation

Olav Stokke

Publication Year: 2009

The UN and Development provides the first comprehensive overview of the development policies and activities of the United Nations system from the late 1940s to the present. With an explicit focus on the history of the ideas that have been generated, institutionalized, and implemented by UN organizations, this book examines changing trends in development paradigms from the concept of technical assistance to underdeveloped countries, as they were called in the late 1940s, to development cooperation in the 21st century. Olav Stokke traces this fascinating story and demonstrates the UN's essential role and its future challenges in aiding the least developed countries and the globe's billion poorest inhabitants.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: United Nations Intellectual History Project Series


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pp. v-vi

List of Boxes and Tables

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xv

Surprisingly, no comprehensive history exists of the United Nations family of organizations. True, in the last few years, histories of the UN Development Programme1 and the World Food Programme2 have been completed, to add to the two histories of UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund) produced in the 1980s and 1990s.3 ...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xx

The promotion of international peace and security and the promotion of social and economic development—traditionally the two main pillars of the United Nations system—are closely interlinked. Emerging in the wake of World War II, the UN’s primary objective was to secure peace and build security. ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xxi-xxiii

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pp. 3-28

International development cooperation became an important public concern in the second half of the twentieth century in response to changes in the political and economic international environment. It emerged at a time when Europe was recovering from more than five years of warfare. ...

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Part 1. The Emergence of International Development Assistance

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pp. 29-32

Toward the end of the 1940s, the idea of providing international assistance to promote economic and social development in “underdeveloped” countries and regions became institutionalized within the UN system.1 Where did this idea come from, what triggered its acceptance within the UN framework, and how was it realized? ...

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1. Pre-Aid Traditions and Ideas and the Institutional Heritage

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pp. 33-42

A variety of traditions—each with a primary purpose of its own, a particular mode of work, and different institutional frameworks—may have inspired the UN and its member governments to take on the new commitment of providing international development assistance. ...

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2. The Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance

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pp. 43-82

In the UN Charter, the founding governments committed themselves to promoting “higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development” and “solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems” (Chapter IX, Article 55). ...

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3. A UN Fund for Economic Development

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pp. 83-114

In the 1950s, the UN system’s efforts in support of economic development in less-developed countries were confined to providing governments with technical assistance and urging the IBRD system to switch a larger part of its development lending from “developed” to “underdeveloped” countries. ...

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4. First Steps Down the Road: What Can the Footprints Tell?

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pp. 115-130

Chapter 1 identified imperialism as one of the five most prominent traditions that might have inspired the idea of international development assistance, especially in the case of the colonial powers. In a transition period, neocolonialism might appear as a strong driving force. ...

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Part 2. The Formative Years

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pp. 131-136

Part 2 covers some of the most important developments during the 1960s and 1970s. The 1970s proved a turbulent decade in North-South relations. Economic stagflation characterized western economies and two oil crises developed. It was also a time where conflicting development ideologies were explored and pursued. ...

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5. The First Development Decade: An Instrument of Persuasion?

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pp. 137-156

In 1949, a U.S. president provided the vision that set the first comprehensive development program under the UN umbrella into operation. Some twelve years later, another U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, delivered a speech that also made its mark in the field of development policy. ...

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6. The Second Development Decade

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pp. 157-185

On 24 October 1970, the General Assembly proclaimed the Second UN Development Decade (DD2) and adopted an international development strategy for the decade.1 The Committee for Development Planning, an eighteen-member group of experts appointed by the Secretary-General in 1966, played an important role in planning the decade, ...

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7. The United Nations Development Programme, 1966–1981

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pp. 186-250

The United Nations Development Programme was established in 1965 and became operative on 1 January 1966, sixteen years after the creation of the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and seven years after the UN Special Fund had begun its work.1 ...

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8. The World Food Programme, 1961–1981: Surplus Food for Development and Relief

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pp. 251-300

When the United Nations was planned and formed in the early and mid-1940s, the primary concern was to establish an organization to secure peace and international stability. This was reflected in the authority given to the Security Council. Yet food security was soon identified as an important task for postwar international cooperation. ...

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9. The 1960s and 1970s: Perspectives on Development

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pp. 301-314

In the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of international development assistance as it was institutionalized in terms of UN norms, aims, and activities entered a mature stage. This chapter concentrates on the main ideas that emerged and were pursued during those decades. What triggered these ideas? ...

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Part 3. The Lost Decade and a New Beginning

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pp. 315-330

By the late 1970s, the bleak prospects for future development had become evident to all. As we have seen, the optimism about development that characterized most of the 1970s influenced the international development strategy for the Third UN Development Decade. ...

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10. Visions and Priorities for the 1990s: The United Nations Strategy for the Fourth Development Decade

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pp. 331-342

The international strategy for the Third Development Decade became history almost before it was adopted. It was overtaken by the economic situation and political climate of the early 1980s. In 1987, however, the UN General Assembly began work on an international development strategy for the Fourth Development Decade (DD4), ...

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11. The Revival of the Social and Human Dimensions of Development

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pp. 343-364

The neoliberal orthodoxy orchestrated by the Bretton Woods institutions since the early 1980s met with growing resistance as the social costs of structural adjustment policies became increasingly apparent. The pendulum was about to swing back again, and the UN system played a crucial role in this process. ...

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12. Evolving Priorities, Patterns, and Trends, 1982–2005

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pp. 365-418

The UNDP’s formative years have been described and analyzed in chapter 7. This chapter will bring forward this descriptive analysis and emphasize changing trends. The analysis will focus on developments within a few policy areas that have been given particular importance by the UNDP and have become part of its identity, namely its roles as: ...

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13. Food Aid: From Development to Humanitarian Relief

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pp. 419-441

The main focus of the World Food Programme was on transforming food in kind into economic and social development through projects geared toward agricultural and rural development and human resource development. However, in the 1970s, a process of change was driven by humanitarian catastrophes ...

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14. The Long Road toward the Millennium Development Goals

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pp. 442-480

In 1996, the OECD Development Assistance Committee brought the conclusions arrived at in several UN global conferences together in a comprehensive, future-oriented policy document called Shaping the 21st Century: The Contribution of Development Co-operation.1 ...

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15. The Contribution of the UN System to International Development Cooperation

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pp. 481-510

In previous chapters we have followed the UN in its role as a generator of ideas and visions concerning development, emphasizing one of the major instruments in this regard—development cooperation. Attention has also been directed to its role as an operator in this field, emphasizing its main instrument: ...

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Appendix: A Bird’s-Eye View of ODA to Developing Countries and Multilateral Institutions

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pp. 511-572

This volume focuses on the UN and its role in generating ideas and providing assistance to promote economic and social development in developing countries. As we have seen, countries all over the world have taken part in these efforts. ...


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pp. 573-688


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pp. 689-721

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About the Author

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pp. 722

Olav Stokke is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, where he served for several years as Research Director, Deputy Director, and head of the Department of Development Studies. ...

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About the United Nations Intellectual History Project

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pp. 723-724

Ideas and concepts are a main driving force in human progress, and they are arguably the most important contribution of the United Nations. Yet there has been little historical study of the origins and evolution of the history of economic and social ideas cultivated within the world organization and their impact on wider thinking and international action. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003324
E-ISBN-10: 0253003326
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353146

Page Count: 752
Illustrations: 25 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: United Nations Intellectual History Project Series