International Meeting on Cooperation and Development

On October 22-23, 1981, government leaders from eight developed nations and fourteen developing nations, along with the Secretary General of the United Nations, convened at a tranquil beach resort in Cancun, Mexico. They discussed the economic divisions between developed and developing nations.

The meeting, proposed by the Brandt Commission in North-South: A Program for Survival, was organized by Mexican President López Portillo and Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky. President Portillo and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of Canada were co-chairmen of the conference.


Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

Seated, from left: President Ronald Reagan of the United States; Siméon Aké, Foreign Minister of Ivory Coast; Abdus Sattar, President of Bangladesh; Chadli Benjedid, President of Algeria; Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Deputy Chancellor of West Germany; Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; Jóse López Portillo, President of Mexico; Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia; Willibald Pahr, Foreign Minister of Austria; Ramior Saraiva Guerreiro, Foreign Minister of Brazil; Zhao Ziyang, Prime Minister of China, and Ferdinand E. Marcos, President of the Philippines. Standing, from left: Sergej Kraigher, President of Yugoslavia; Julius K. Nyerere, President of Tanzania; Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Britain; Zenko Suzuki, Prime Minister of Japan; Fobes Burnham, President of Guyana; François Mitterrand, President of France; Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India; Shehu Shagari, President of Nigeria; Thorbjorn Falldin, Prime Minister of Sweden; Luis Herrera Campíns, President of Venezuela; Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations.

Excerpts from the "Summary of the International Meeting on Cooperation and Development"

(Summary prepared by Co-Chairmen Portillo of Mexico and Trudeau of Canada.)

After general observations on the spirit of cooperation in the meeting, the recognition of the importance of interdependence, the need to strengthen cooperation between developing countries and the common ground the participants had discovered, the Summary referred to the major issues which had been discussed.


• Persistent and widespread manifestations of hunger are entirely incompatible with the level of development attained by the world economy and, in particular, with existing food production capacity. Within as brief a period as possible, hunger must be eradicated. This objective is clearly an obligation of the international community and constitutes a first priority both at the national level and in the field of international cooperation.

• Sustained and long-term internal effort on the part of the developing countries to attain increasing self-sufficiency in food production is the basic element in obtaining a real answer to the problem of hunger.

• …developing countries should define and put into operation, with the aid of ample and effective international support, national food strategies covering the entire cycle of food production, productivity, distribution and consumption.

• Food aid should be seen as a temporary tool in emergency situations. Such situations could well continue to exist – perhaps unfortunately at an even higher scale – over the next years; but food aid should not be used as a permanent replacement for the necessary development of the required food production in developing countries themselves.

• A long-term program geared to the eradication of hunger by the year 2000 should be prepared, including elements of both internal effort and international cooperation.

• A number of steps could be taken to improve the effectiveness of food security mechanisms. Among these are the negotiation of a new international grains agreement; coordination of national food reserves; expansion of the International Emergency Food Reserve; increasing the predictability and continuity of contributions to it; establishment of reserves sufficient to cover the food security needs of developing countries, especially the least developed.

• Task forces could be sent from developed to developing countries, in order to assist the latter in developing and implementing agricultural programs and effectively disseminating high-productivity agricultural techniques.


Participants agreed on the need to complete procedures for bringing the Common Fund into operation.

• The need to improve the Generalized System of Preferences for developing countries was recognized, as well as the need for continued efforts on the part of governments to resist protectionist pressures.

• Several participants noted the contribution … to addressing trade problems in of developing countries, including barriers to trade in agriculture and obstacles to the further processing of their raw material exports.


In order to ensure an orderly transition from the era of hydro-carbons to the era of diversified energy sources, the proposal for a World Energy Plan as a framework providing an overall approach covering this complex process was recalled and interest express in it.

• It was also recognizes that energy conservation must be pursued by major oil-consuming countries. Development of new and renewable sources of energy also required emphasis.

• The need for increased energy investment, from both private and official sources, in developing countries was stressed. Support was expressed by many participants for expanded energy lending in developing countries by the World Bank and, in this respect, the establishment of an Energy Affiliate was advocated.


Participants discussed conditions of access by developing countries to the various sources of financing and the role of the relevant multilateral institutions, in particular the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in the light of the current economic and financial problems facing developing countries.

• Points raised by some participants in the discussion included the impact of high interest rates, the creation and distribution of liquidity and role of the SDR as a main reserve asset and in financing development, IMF conditionality, the decision-making process in the international financial institutions, access to capital markets and the respective role of private and official sources of external capital in development financing.

• Several suggestions were noted for improved international financial cooperation.

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About the Brandt Commission
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Members of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues (ICIDI)
Willy Brandt (Chair)
Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad (Kuwait)
Rodrigo Botero Montoya (Columbia)
Antoine Kipsa Dakouré (Upper Volta)
Eduardo Frei Montalva (Chile)
Katherine Graham (USA)
Edward Heath (UK)
Amir H. Jamal (Tanzania)
Lakshmi Kant Jha (India)
Khatijah Ahmad (Malaysia)
Adam Malik (Indonesia)
Haruki Mori (Japan)
Joe Morris (Canada)
Olof Palme (Sweden)
Peter G. Peterson (USA)
Edgard Pisani (France)
Shridath Ramphal (Guyana)
Layachi Yaker (Algeria)

Ex officio Members
Jan Pronk
Goran Ohlin
Dragoslav Avramovic

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