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These U.S. proposals were centered on the basic principle of maintaining the existing economic system and the provision of development assistance through increased trade liberalization, the transfer of aid and technology though international organizations outside the direct control of the United Nations and the creation of some programs for the stabilization of commodity prices and the creation of some buffer stocks, of a fund to stabilize export earnings of developing countries and of agreements on coffee, cocoa and sugar.

At the UNCTAD IV conference in Nairobi in May 1976, the proposals for the establishment of a New International Economic Order were reworded slightly in some instances, but their essence remain unchanged when they were adopted as resolutions, with only the United States and the Federal republic of Germany voting against them. Most significantly, the conference laid out a time table for the study and implementation of one of the most controversial proposals involving the integrated program for commodities, giving them a bureaucratic life of their own and raising exceptions about their ultimate adoption.

As things turned out, the NIEO never became much more than a rallying cry for the South. This failure stemmed partially from of the South's lack of power in world politics, and partly because disparities within the South created divergent interests among the member States. Also it became apparent that many of the proposed commodity schemes were not simply a proposal for stable prices, but, instead, high prices. As such, the financial costs of implementing these programs were way beyond anything the advanced countries were willing to fund. In the 1980s, the terms of trade further deteriorated for raw material exporters, and the debt problems of many of the nations advocating the NIEO on the defensive in international forums.

Further Reading:

Bhagwati, Jagdish N. ed. (1977) The New International Economic Order: The North South Debate Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Leading authorities discuss various facets of the NIEO.

Rothstein, Robert L. (1979) Global Bargaining: UNCTAD and the Quest for a New International Economic Order Princeton: Princeton University Press. Traces formation of UNCTAD and its role in the NIEO.

Murphy, Craig (1984) Emergence of the NIEO Ideology Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. Shows the manner in which NIEO proposals have shifted over time.

Krasner, Stephen (1985) Structural Conflict Berkeley: University of California Press. Argues that many North-South conflicts are rooted in asymmetries of power.

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