The Politics of International Development: Approaching New Grand Compromise?
International development is at the core of any overall analysis of global governance. Already in the late 1960s the Pearson Commission (1969) acknowledged that, “The widening gap between the developed and developing countries has become a central issue of our time”. Three decades later, in September 2000, the Declaration adopted by 147 heads of State and Government at the UN Millennium Summit identified the fight against poverty as the international community’s highest priority (Ruggie, 2000). It is easy to understand why so much attention is focused on development: the countries of the North, with 15% of the world’s population, control 80% of global wealth, and nearly three billion people live on less than two dollars a day (World Bank, 2003). The paper is divided into three parts. Section I presents a constructivist approach to the development debate. It argues that this debate can be read as a permanent dialogue —or confrontation— between the political Left and UN agencies on one side, and the political Right and the Bretton Woods institutions on the other. Building on this theoretical framework, Section II describes how the last few years have seen an unprecedented convergence between the UN agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions. Section III then explains the limitations of current changes in the global governance of development. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the results of this study and briefly outlines possible scenarios for the future of North-South politics.