The New International Economic Order: A Reintroduction

Download PDF Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! —William Wordsworth, 1805 I hear a noise at the door, as of some immense slippery body lumbering against it. —H.P. Lovecraft, 1917 What, exactly, was the New International Economic Order (NIEO)? Promulgated as a United Nations declaration in 1974 (reprinted as the frontispiece to this special issue of Humanity), the NIEO was the most widely discussed transnational governance reform initiative of the 1970s. Its fundamental objective was to transform Continue reading →

African Socialism and the Limits of Global Familyhood: Tanzania and the New International Economic Order in Sub-Saharan Africa

In November 1963, Julius Nyerere, president of the newly independent East African country of Tanganyika, delivered a stirring speech to open a conference of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome. He began by commending the rise of an “almost world-wide recognition of the common humanity of man, and a growing sense of human brotherhood,” affirming that “the existence of the FAO is indeed one of the expressions of this feeling of involvement in each other’s welfare.” Yet Nyerere’s speech quickly departed Continue reading → Continue reading →

Bookend to Bandung: The New International Economic Order and the Antinomies of the Bandung Era

The opportunity to rethink the historical record of the 1970s from the perspective of the developmentalist aspirations of the global south is welcome. A decade often cast as a historical exception and interruption—wedged between the development orthodoxy of the 1960s and the neoliberal turn of the 1980s—the 1970s now increasingly appear to mark the dawning of a sustained crisis of accumulation in the capitalist world system. Undoubtedly, the 1970s witnessed utopian aspirations for the developing world, as evidenced by the “Third Worldist” tenor of the Continue reading → Continue reading →

Competing for the Last Utopia? The NIEO, Human Rights, and the World Conference for the International Women’s Year, Mexico City, June 1975

In the mid-1970s, the United Nations hosted a dramatic attempt to totally transform the world economy, which appeared to be on the cusp of victory at the Sixth Special Session of the General Assembly in April and May 1974. In a moment that represented the highest tide of southern self-confidence, the Group of 77 (G-77), unleavened by the language of compromise, demanded global redistribution as a matter of right. The manifestos of this revolt of sovereigns were the Declaration on the Establishment of a New Continue reading → Continue reading →

Mossadegh Madness: Oil and Sovereignty in the Anticolonial Community

The emerging literature on the New International Economic Order (NIEO) has the spare conventions of a new topic in contemporary history. The narrative typically begins by identifying its origins as a historical intermingling of national and international, political and economic, and social and cultural factors. A sketch beginning at some point in the twentieth century follows, delving into some combination of these elements, their tensions sometimes fecund but, most likely, ultimately harmful. Then the story flows on in a more or less chronological fashion, finally Continue reading → Continue reading →

From Boumedienomics to Reaganomics: Algeria, OPEC, and the International Struggle for Economic Equality

In the first satellite pictures taken from the Apollo 17 in 1972, Earth was shown as a weightless sphere covered in clouds and unified by the blue oceans. The picture came with an important message, appearing as it did in the same year as the Club of Rome Limits of Growth report: humanity had common interests and these interests lay in the need to preserve the limited natural resources of the planet from the danger of overexploitation and overpopulation. An even more important image of the Earth Continue reading → Continue reading →

“Under the Aegis of Man”: The Right to Development and the Origins of the New International Economic Order

On September 23, 1966, the Senegalese foreign minister Doudou Thiam gave an impassioned speech to fellow delegates assembled in New York for the opening of the 21st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.1 It began as a reflection on the preceding twenty years of UN history. Despite some modest progress that the UN had achieved in meeting its three primary objectives—the maintenance of peace; the liberation of colonized peoples; and the economic and social development of mankind—this period was more notably exemplified by failures and Continue reading → Continue reading →

Socialist Globalization against Capitalist Neocolonialism: The Economic Ideas behind the New International Economic Order

This conference must also establish in plain terms the right of all peoples to unrestricted freedom of trade, and the obligation of all states signatories of the agreement emanating from the conference to refrain from restraining trade in any manner, direct or indirect. —Ernesto Che Guevara, speech delivered March 25, 1964, at the plenary session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development1 Much globalization scholarship assumes that the United States and other advanced industrialized capitalist countries are the primary agents of globalization. Meanwhile, Continue reading → Continue reading →

“In the Interests of Mankind as a Whole”: Mohammed Bedjaoui’s New International Economic Order

International lawyers, it is often said, are exceptionally, even ridiculously, fond of “universality.” And this fondness, bordering at times on the obsessive, manifests itself in a variety of forms, the most nebulous and notorious being the idea of “jus cogensnorms”—general principles from which international lawyers are willing to permit no deviation, even in the form of supposedly iron-clad treaties with directly countervailing provisions. Like principles of nonaggression and sovereign equality, prohibitions of piracy, slavery, and genocide are regularly ascribed jus cogens status, typically as part of an Continue reading → Continue reading →

Legal Aspects of the New International Economic Order

The complaint of the poor nations against the present state is not only that we are poor both in absolute and relative terms and in comparison with the rich nations. It is also that within the existing structures of economic interaction we must remain poor, and get relatively poorer, whatever we do … The demand for a New International Economic Order is a way of saying that the poor nations must be enabled to develop themselves according to their own interests, and to benefit from Continue reading → Continue reading →