The group of 77 at fifty congratulations!

Author:Galtung, Johan

For one who has worked much on the theory and practice of change from systems of hierarchy to systems of equity 15 June 1964 will never be forgotten. Those at the bottom of the world system of states, fragmented away from each other by colonial and imperial structures, marginalized, exploited, 77 of them came together and formed--not a very revolutionary word--a Group. In 1967 the Group was confirmed by the Charter of Algiers. They used the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as their platform.

Then the follow-up in 1974: the New International Economic Order (NIE0), and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, passed by the United Nations General Assembly.

A trade union of states, or their governments, had been born--today 133 states strong. Not included are almost all states that are members of the Council of Europe (that includes the European Union (EU)), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). A very clear North-South divide: temperate zone against the tropics.

Not only did they organize, they were even proactive. They had done their homework, not only reacting to the country always up front with clever homework, its homework: the United States, usually on behalf of the world Northwest. The shock effect was massive; how do they dare! G-77+China for instance, had more power potential than they probably were aware of if they had been able to act more quickly, using voting and the United Nations General Assembly and the Specialized Agencies, and above all their own South-South cooperation. They could have changed the world.

What went wrong, what might have been done and what can still be done? That will be elaborated below, at this point only once again: G-77 was already a basic change in the 1960s without any economic programme, just by existing as a structural fact, weaving the world system together at the bottom. Imagine the same in the EU today: a G-5 of the five peripheral countries--Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland--could have a shock effect on a German-led EU--a goal of Germany in both the First and Second World Wars.

What went wrong was not the idea of a NIEO, but basing it on terms of trade (well, there was more to it, like compensation for colonialism, which is coming up again). Having worked in Santiago, Chile during the 1960s as a UNESCO professor at FLACSO (Latin America Faculty of Social Sciences), I was familiar...

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