The Principal Recommendations of the Brandt Commission

In a passage that today seems remarkably prescient, the Commission's Report North–South clearly pinpointed what it saw as the principal threats to global order:

If reduced to a simple denominator, this Report deals with peace. War is often thought of in terms of military conflict, or even annihilation. But there is a growing awareness that an equal danger might be chaos as a result of mass hunger, economic disaster, environmental catastrophes, and terrorism. So we should not think only of reducing the traditional threats to peace, but also of the need for change from chaos to order.

If this quotation is read in the light of climate change and global warming, mass starvations, and the realities of global terrorism in the past 20 years, it appears highly prophetic. But despite the enormity of the issues that it was being suggested had to be faced if progress was to be made, from the outset, the measured and optimistic tone of the Report was clearly discernible:

the moral dangers threatening our children and grandchildren can be averted; ywe have the chance whether we are living in the North or South, East orWest if we are determined to do so, to shape the world's future in peace and welfare, in solidarity and dignity.

The main analyses and associated recommendations of the Commission were set out in the 17 chapters that make up North–South. Usefully, a full summary of the Commission's principal recommendations is provided as Annex 1 (pp. 282–292), under each of the main chapter headings. In presenting an outline of the principal recommendations of the Brandt Commission the account provided here follows that included in Annex 1 of North–South.

The Poorest Countries

The Commission called for an action program consisting of emergency and long term measures to assist the leastdeveloped countries, particularly those of Africa and Asia. Such a program would require additional financial assistance in excess of US$4 billion per annum at 1980 prices for the 20 year period from 1980 to 2000, in order to provide loans for regional projects in healthcare, disease eradication, water, soil and afforestation projects, industry, and transport among others.

Hunger and Food

Ending mass huger and malnutrition was identified as a major target. Low income countries should increasingly meet their food requirements, through expanded financial flows for agricultural development, thereby reducing food imports. Special attention should be given to agrarian reform, irrigation, agricultural research, enhanced storage, fertilizers, and fisheries development. International food security needs to be improved via international arrangements.

Population: Growth, Movements, and the Environment

The Commission stated its belief that development policies should include national population programs aiming at a satisfactory balance between population and resources. Family planning should be freely available to all. Migrant workers should be assured fair treatment and the rights of refugees to asylum and legal protection strengthened.

Disarmament and Development

This was a major theme and attention was drawn to the terrible danger to world stability that was posed by the arms race, and of the resources that are thereby diverted from peaceful development. Every effort should be made to secure international agreements to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. A globally respected peacekeeping mechanism is needed to be built up, strengthening the role of the United Nations. The international community should become aware of the consequences of arms transfers and the export of armsproducing facilities and reach agreement to restrain such activities to areas of conflict and tension.

The Task of the South

It was noted that social and economic reforms were also required within developing countries in order to complement the international environment for development, which itself needs to be more favorable. The redistribution of productive resources and incomes was called for where this had not already taken place. It was envisaged that broader changes would include expanded social services for the poor, agrarian reform, and the stimulation of small scale enterprises. The development potential of the informal sector needs to be appreciated and indigenous technological capacity strengthened.

Commodity Trade and Development

The Report stated that the commodity sector should contribute more to economic development through the greater participation of developing nations in the processing, marketing, and distribution of commodities. It was further urged that as a matter of urgency, action should be undertaken to stabilize commodity prices at remunerative levels. Tariff and other trade barriers against developing countries' products should be removed.


A call was made for the orderly transition from high dependence on increasingly scarce nonrenewable energy sources, and it was noted that prices that reflect longterm scarcities will play an important role in this transition. Orderly and predictable price changes are important in facilitating a smooth development of the world economy. Special arrangements including financial assistance should be made to ensure supplies to the poorer developing countries.

Industrialization and World Trade

The industrialization of developing countries was seen as providing increasing opportunities for world trade and should therefore be facilitated as a matter of international policy. It was argued that protectionism threatens the future of the world economy and is inimical to the longterm interests of developing and developed countries alike. Protectionism by industrialized nations against the exports of developing nations needs to be rolled back.

Transnational Corporations, Investment, and the Sharing of Technology

The Brandt Commission called for effective international codes of conduct and national laws to govern the sharing of technology, to control restrictive business practices, and to provide a framework for the activities of transnational corporations. Among other details, the investment regime called for by the Commission required reciprocal obligations on the part of host and home countries, covering foreign investment, transfer of technology, and the repatriation of profits, royalties, and dividends.

The World Monetary Order

It was argued that reform of the international monetary system needed to be undertaken urgently by all interested parties. These should involve improvements in the exchange rate regime, the reserve system, the balance of payments adjustment process, and the overall management of the system, which should permit the participation of the whole international community. Specifically, the participation of developing countries in the staffing, management, and decision making of the International Monetary Fund needs to be advanced.

A New Approach to Development Finance

This was central to the Commission's proposals, arguing that there must be a substantial increase in the transfer of resources to developing countries in order to finance various schemes. An international system of universal revenue mobilization, based on a sliding scale linked to national income, in which all but the poorest countries would participate, was called for. The Commission also stated that timetables should be agreed to increase official development assistance from industrialized countries to the level of 0.7% of gross national product (GNP) by 1985, and to 1.0% before the end of the century. The introduction of automatic revenue transfers through international levies on some of the following was called for: international trade, arms production or exports, international travel, and the global commons, especially seabed minerals. The establishment of a new international financial institution, referred to as the World Development Fund, was mooted. This would have universal membership, and decision making within it would be more evenly shared between lenders and borrowers. Lending policies and practices needed to be diversified.

International Organizations and Negotiations

It was central to the Brandt Commission that policies, agreements, and institutions in the field of international economic, financial, and monetary cooperation should be guided by the principle of universality. It was recommended that the United Nations system needed to be made more efficient and strengthened. Further, it was suggested that the performance of the various multilateral organizations in the field of international development should be monitored regularly, by means of a high level advisory body. Increased attention needed to be paid to educating public opinion and the younger generation, in particular, about the importance of international cooperation in the field of development. It was further suggested that limited occasional summit meetings of world leaders should be held to advance the cause of consensus and change.