The Brandt Report is the report written by the Independent Commission, first chaired by Willy Brandt (the former German Chancellor) in 1980, to review international development issues. The report called for drastic changes in the global attitude towards development in the Third World.
The Brandt Report: A Summary, STWR, (31 January 2006)
Dimensions of Development
- The Commission argues that although the nature of internal structural reform will vary widely from country to country, economic development will require a profound transformation of the entire international economic system. They emphasize the importance of human dignity, security, justice and equity as equally valid measures of development as financial betterment.
- The extent and consequences of poverty in poorer countries is highlighted; the World Bank estimate that 800 million people in the third world lived in absolute poverty at the time, some 40 % of the South’s population not being able to secure the most basic necessities of life.
A differentiation is made between poverty in the North, where the relatively high levels of wealth could be redistributed more effectively, and the acute poverty of the South, where there is less wealth to redistribute and very little opportunity to acquire more.
- Striving economies of the poorer nations, reliant upon their agricultural exports, are faced with an unfavorable international trade regime and erratic markets, which undermine their ability to promote structural transformation.
- The report also highlights newly industrialized countries, such as those in Latin America and South East Asia, which have been achieving good rates of growth but are still dependent on global economic management strategies.
- Although life expectancy has increased in the third world, the report links a number of crucial issues to a dysfunctional global economy and provides shocking statistics on the lack of access to medical care, clean water and sanitation.
- With populations shifting away from the countryside and into cities, alongside high birth rates and widespread unemployment and poverty, up to two-thirds of all families in some third world cities remain unable to afford basic housing.
- Although there had been consistent progress in the number of children attending school in developing countries, the enrollment of girls was significantly low and levels of illiteracy in 34 countries were at 80%.
- Acknowledging the massive inequality between sexes in the developing world, the commission argue that development depends upon women and criticizes many aspects of modernization which only serve to reinforce the dominant role of men in society. This is especially the case in production oriented societies. An important objective of any developmental project should be to encourage the education and employment of women by freeing them from tasks such as fetching water and firewood from sources which are many miles away. Even the distribution of healthcare is biased against women, especially pregnant women, since decision making processes are almost always in the hands of men. The commission argue that the role of women is fundamental to society and yet statistically their value is not taken into account.
All the above needs
- The Commission considers all the above needs as indivisible and argues that the only way to ensure that they are addressed is by “helping the economies of these countries to grow and industrialize so that they will increasingly be in a position to help themselves”. The Commission argue that this would only be possible with increased collaboration between North and South and changes in the international economic environment.
- The commission set out to prove that the 'principal of mutual interest' can be served, although in order to achieve a true sharing of the world’s power and resources, the true motives must be “human solidarity and a commitment to international social justice”.
- In identifying these mutual interests, the report suggests that there is insufficient public knowledge of the facts. The media often reports on the threat that the South’s growing industries pose to the North’s markets, without mentioning the North’s markets in the South, and how trading with the South accounts for a large share of jobs in the North and keeps prices affordable for consumers.The report underlines the political reasons for working against mutual interest. In order to redress the imbalance, it must be accepted that both sides cannot benefit equally - a fact which often cases prevents successful economic negotiations.
- A convincing argument of how economic growth in the South has a directly positive global effect is put forward. A large scale transfer of funds from the North to the South would have an anti-inflationary effect on the North, would help the world economy out of recession in the short-term and contribute to greater growth in the long-term. Overall this would significantly expand world trade and directly support growth in developing countries, thereby increasing economic prosperity and employment in the North, and stabilizing financial markets.
- The report highlights how protectionism in the North restricts the South’s access to markets. This then has an inflationary impact on the North as consumers pay more for their goods. The result is that the South does not have the funds to buy from the North, fueling recession and unemployment in the North, since the industrialized nations are largely dependent upon selling to the markets in the South. North-South trade is a two way street.
- Short-term protectionist measures of the North need to be replaced with strategies for coping with the reality of international competition. Stabilization of commodity prices, financial and monetary systems as well as issues relating to energy, environment and food are all cited as areas of common interest.
- Overall this chapter details the interconnected nature of the global economy and highlights the fact it is the self-interest of the North which needs to be sacrificed in the short-term if they are to ensure their own survival as well as that of the South. This need for change is presented as a moral imperative which, if not observed, will result in the reciprocal impoverishment of the world at large.
Hunger and Food
- There must be an end to mass hunger and malnutrition. The capacity of food-importing developing countries, particularly low-income countries, to meet their food requirements should be expanded and their mounting food import bill reduced through their own efforts and through expanded financial flows for agricultural development. Special attention should be given to irrigation, agricultural research, storage and increased use of fertilizer and other inputs, and to fisheries development.
- Agrarian reform is of great importance in many countries both to increase agricultural productivity and to put higher incomes into the hands of the poor.
- International food security should be assured through the establishment of an International Grains Agreement, larger international emergency reserves, and the establishment of a food financing facility.
- Food aid should be increased and linked to employment promotion and agricultural programmes and projects without weakening incentives to food production.
- Liberalization of trade in food and other agricultural products within and between North and South would contribute to the stabilization of food supplies.
- Support for international agricultural research institutions should be expanded with greater emphasis given to regional cooperation
- Trafficked children and women are at risk of all manner of ills... for there to be fundamental and lasting change, the extreme levels of inequality and social injustice within Indian society need to be addressed and, as the visionary Brandt Report made clear, the most effective way to do this is through the equitable sharing of resources, knowledge and wealth.
- The Brandt Equation reintroduces the Brandt Commission's vision for a sustainable global economy. It stresses that the fortunes of global society are more encompassing than the fortunes of any individual, group or nation – for debt or solvency, for depression or prosperity, for wars of redistribution or for peace.
- The Brandt commission emphasizes the need for bringing East and West together to meet the global development problems that affect all. For example, it is said to propose, at least for consideration, a new "world development fund" with universal membership and universal taxes. Unlike the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, this fund... would provide loans for general rather than specially targeted use, and would give borrowers and lenders greater equality in reaching decisions.
- The Brandt report and world survival, The Christian Science Monitor (11 February 1980)
- Other proposals expected in the report include means of ensuring: Financing for poorer countries, such as an international tax on trade, ocean minerals, and weapons sales; Aid by richer countries, such as a commitment to live up to the long-gone promise to supply .7 percent of gross national product, rising to one percent by the year 2000; A sufficiency of food, through a program for increased production and improved distribution; A sufficiency of energy, through international agreement on pricing, conservation, production, and other matters serving the needs of both producers and consumers of energy resources; Enhancement of trade, through removing trade barriers and establishing more commodities agreements to stabilize prices.
- The Brandt report and world survival, The Christian Science Monitor (11 February 1980)