Kim Il Sung – South-South cooperation and the establishment of a new international economic order

South-South cooperation is a noble way for the developing countries to strengthen their economic independence and achieve complete economic freedom through close economic and technical cooperation. Only when they are economically independent can the developing countries free their peoples from backwardness and poverty, starvation and disease, the consequences of imperialist colonial rule, and consolidate the political independence which they have already won. A nation which is dependent on another country economically is bound to be politically subordinate. Economic dependence inevitably leads to political dependence and economic subordination results in political subordination.

The struggle for economic independence is a second liberation struggle to remove economic backwardness and poverty and achieve complete national sovereignty. The peoples of the developing countries have to take it upon themselves to attain economic independence. The imperialists never present developing countries with economic independence. The non-aligned and developing countries must pave the way for survival by effecting South-South cooperation under the banner of collective self-reliance and build their independent national economies. Today the international economic situation is changing to the disadvantage of developing countries. In these circumstances it is all the more urgent to effect South-South cooperation. When their people are faced with the threat of ever-worsening hunger and disease, the developing countries ought to pool their efforts and support and cooperate with each other. At the moment the leaders of many non-aligned and developing countries are calling for close cooperation among these nations, insisting that they should shape their destiny independently and on their own responsibility. This is quite natural.

If they realize South-South cooperation, the developing countries will be able to build up sufficient strength to countervail and negotiate with the developed countries, and begin a period favourable to establishing a new international economic order. There are many real situations and opportunities for South-South cooperation. The nonaligned and developing countries have vast territories rich in raw materials and have acquired valuable experience and expertise in the course of creating a new life. If they mobilize their manpower and material resources to the full and build up economic cooperation and exchange on the principle of providing for each other’s needs, the developing countries will find solutions to the difficult and complex problems that arise in building a new life without asking for the help of the developed countries. Historical experience shows that even poor and backward countries can achieve great things if they combine efforts. The non-aligned and developing countries must start in those areas where cooperation and exchange are feasible and urgent and extend cooperation and exchange in every way so as to free their peoples from backwardness and poverty, hunger and disease and achieve economic independence.

First, South-South cooperation must be expanded and developed in the sphere of food and agriculture. Solving the problem of food and agriculture is of tremendous significance in pressing ahead with the building of a new society and promoting the people’s welfare. Cooperation and exchange in agriculture must be centered on laying on one’s own production foundations soundly with a view to attaining self-sufficiency in food in a short time. It is a good and necessary thing that the UN and other international organizations are now taking steps to help some famine-stricken nations. If the developing countries are to find a fundamental solution to the food problem, every country must increase grain production substantially by growing good crops. Today many of the non-aligned and developing countries are unable to rid themselves of the hunger and poverty that are a result of imperialist colonial rule. This is not because farm lands are inadequate, but because they cannot raise good crops on account of lack of irrigation and machinery and technology.

We believe that firstly we must increase cooperation in the field of irrigation construction. For the developing countries to prevent damage from drought and ensure a good and regular harvest, it is necessary to establish an irrigation system. Most of the non-aligned and developing countries, including the African countries, have vast water resources and the future for irrigation construction is promising. It will be reasonable to work out together a “ten-year plan for irrigation construction in the developing countries” and a “ten-year plan for irrigation construction in Africa”, to establish an organization which coordinates cooperation in irrigation construction, and also set up irrigation enterprises jointly so as to put cooperation into effect in this field.

The non-aligned and developing countries must also cooperate closely with each other in their efforts to improve the farming method. The most important way to increase grain production in the developing countries is to improve the farming method and grow crops scientifically and technologically. Improving the farming method alone will mean a great increase in agricultural production even though a large investment is not required. The developing countries must create a new farming method that suits the topographical and climatic conditions of every zone and country and must make the good experience gained in this improvement widely known. The non-aligned and developing countries must establish wide cooperation and exchange with each other in the field of seed selection and production. Those countries whose technology and experience are good in this field must supply the technology on seed selection and production to other developing countries and provide progenitors where needed. In order to increase grain production, it is necessary to intensify joint study and mutual cooperation in the field of agricultural science.

The non-aligned and developing countries must start a joint venture in agriculture. A joint venture in agriculture is one reasonable way for the developing countries, including the African countries, to solve the food problem. If they undertake an extensive agricultural joint venture the developing countries will not only be able to save the people from starvation by a rapid increase in agricultural production but also strengthen the foundations of agricultural production. In this venture, it is important to organize and operate farms under joint management. These farms can be run in such a way that those countries which are backward in agricultural technology provide land and labour and those whose agricultural technology is developed supply farm machinery and fertilizers, agricultural chemicals and other farming implements and technical knowledge. It will be an effective measure for the non-aligned and developing countries to organize joint enterprises for the production of farm machinery and materials in order to satisfy their needs for farm machinery, irrigation facilities, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. For the time being, it will be worthwhile for those developing countries which are relatively backward in expertise to build farm machinery factories with the help of the more experienced countries, to increase the production of cattle-drawn farm machines as well as other medium and small farm machines and implements and then use them.

We will intensify cooperation with the non-aligned and developing countries and the African countries in particular, directing the main effort to ensuring that these countries lay solid foundations for agricultural production and attain self-sufficiency in food.

Secondly, cooperation and exchange must be promoted widely in the field of public health. South-South cooperation in this field must be concentrated on solving the most urgent problems arising in providing health care for the people of every developing country until the year 2000. The one problem which must be solved above all else in saving the peoples of non-aligned and developing countries from disease is to eliminate epidemics and helminthiases. The non-aligned and developing countries must draw on the valuable experience gained so far in health care, at the same time as cooperating actively to find more effective ways and means in this sphere. In the first place, it is essential to develop medical science through a good combination of modern and traditional medicine, of modern treatment and folk remedy and thus strengthen cooperation in this field.

If South-South cooperation in health care is to be substantial, efforts must be channeled into solving the problem of a shortage of medicines. The non-aligned and developing countries must increase cooperation to develop the production of preventive medicines and also improve cooperation for the production of basic medicines. Cooperation to build up medicine-producing bases in particular must be intensified. The establishment of joint venture pharmaceutical enterprises is an important way of cooperating effectively in this matter. If joint venture pharmaceutical enterprises are to be built and developed, it will be advisable to sign agreements on specializing in the production of medicines on a worldwide scale, in consideration of raw material resources, production capacity and the demand for medical supplies in each country. The running of joint venture hospitals will also be an effective means of cooperation in the sphere of public health.

Thirdly, it is necessary to take practical action to expand and develop cooperation and exchange among the non-aligned and developing countries according to the program for economic cooperation which has already been worked out. First of all, in order to settle the problem of finance, a stumbling block in South-South cooperation, and to encourage mutual accommodation, it is necessary to build the Bank of the South and adopt whatever measures are needed to promote trade and cooperation in the field of finance and currency. Establishing a Global System of Trade Preferences between developing countries is of great importance in the improvement of trade among these countries. The non-aligned and developing countries must make joint efforts to introduce this system as early as possible.

It is absolutely necessary to increase political support for South-South cooperation in order to implement the action program for economic cooperation. The non-aligned and developing countries must discuss the matter of South-South cooperation at high-level talks and develop relevant conditions so that practical measures can be adopted. The non-aligned countries must pay due attention to coordinating the economic cooperation program of the non-aligned movement and the economic cooperation program of the Group of 77 and also to adjusting the cooperation items on the economic cooperation program of the non-aligned movement in a rational way. The non-aligned and developing countries must ceaselessly explore and develop positive ways and means of widening South-South cooperation and increasing its effectiveness in line with the demands that arise in practice. They must overcome any difficulties in developing economic and technical cooperation by displaying the spirit of mutual cooperation and solidarity to the highest degree.


One of the important tasks confronting the non-aligned and developing countries today is to do away with the old international economic order and to establish a new fair one based on the principles of independence, equality and mutual benefit. In the past these countries mapped out a joint strategy for the establishment of a new international economic order and have fought to put it into effect. As a result of the energetic efforts made by these countries, many international conferences including a special session of the UN General Assembly have adopted a declaration, and programs of action, for establishing a new international economic order, taken the relevant steps and formed various international organizations. However, owing to the unfair standpoint and attitude of the developed capitalist countries in maintaining the old international economic order, the struggle of the developing countries to establish the new international economic order has not made any real progress.

The developed capitalist countries are reluctant to give up meekly their monopolistic position in international economic relations, nor do they accept the proposal of the developing countries for negotiations to establish a new international economic order. Relying as ever on the old international economic order, the imperialists are plundering the developing countries of their natural resources and paying only a pittance for the results of the peoples’ labour and obstructing the economic development of these countries. Protective trade and the high-interest policy pursued by the developed countries along with the continually worsening terms of trade and the massive increase in foreign debts of the developing countries are having a serious effect on the social and economic development of the non-aligned and developing countries. Because of the unfair international economic order, the economies of the developing countries are growing weaker and becoming stagnant. The economic situation in the African countries in particular is worsening.

The long-drawn-out world economic crisis and the difficult economic situation in the developing countries for which the unjust economic order is responsible are making the world situation more unstable and threatening justice and peace. In reality, without abolishing the old economic order, the product of the colonial system and the lever of imperialist exploitation and plunder, it will be impossible for the non-aligned and developing countries to free themselves from international exploitation and plunder and then develop. It is only when they reorganize the wide range of unfair and unreasonable economic relations in all branches of trade, finance, currency and so on that the developing countries can eliminate the source of international exploitation and create favourable conditions for their economic development.

The non-aligned and developing countries must fight to establish a new international economic order in accordance with their joint strategy.

First, they must continue to make patient efforts to promote negotiations for the establishment of a new international economic order. An important factor in implementing their strategy for negotiations is for the non-aligned and developing countries to take concerted action. The non-aligned and developing countries must together lay down the strategy for negotiations to suit the international economic situation, explore procedures and ways for negotiations and effectively coordinate the policy and stand of negotiations so as to enhance the position of negotiations still higher. For this purpose, it would be a realistic idea to set up a standing Ministerial Committee of the non-aligned and other developing countries as recommended by the Foreign Ministers’ Conference of the Coordinating Bureau held in New Delhi. The establishment of a new international economic order will be beneficial for the developed countries as well. The developed countries should accept the just proposal of the non-aligned and developing countries for holding negotiations on a worldwide scale to establish a new international economic order.

Secondly, efforts should be directed to establishing a fair and stable international system of finance and currency. The economic difficulties of the developing countries and the world economic crisis have much to do with the unfair international system of finance and currency. This system must be reorganized to meet the needs of today and in favour of economic progress for the developing countries. A new international system of finance and currency must be a fair one capable of facilitating economic cooperation on a worldwide scale and of revitalizing the world economy by eliminating the privileges and arbitrariness of the developed capitalist countries and by guaranteeing the stability of monetary circulation and the financial conditions for international trade. To this end, international financial agencies should adopt such resolutions as to guarantee equality between developing and developed countries, establish a stable and realistic exchange rate system, create international liquidity according to demand and distribute it fairly between the developing and the developed countries.

The foreign debt problem of the developing countries, too, must be solved fairly and completely, thereby ensuring their social and economic development and stability. The non-aligned and developing countries should, at an early date, hold an international conference on finance and currency for development to provide an occasion for setting up a new international system of finance and currency.

Thirdly, an active effort must be made to establish a new system of trade. At present a non-equivalent exchange is being made as ever in trade between the developing countries and the developed countries. The developing countries sell raw materials at low prices and buy manufactured goods at exorbitant prices, and the share that manufactured goods make up in the exports of these countries is decreasing continually. The result is that the trade deficit of the developing countries is increasing all the time and their economic difficulties are becoming more serious. The non-aligned and developing countries should prevent the fluctuations in price of primary products and increase their earnings from exports by remodeling the unfair price system in trade and establishing a fair and profitable price system for primary products. What is important here is to strengthen the existing producers’ associations, while at the same time forming new associations and enhancing their role. The setting up of a common fund for the general plan of primary products will be an important step for the developing countries to stabilize prices and income through exporting primary products. In order to ensure that the common fund is inaugurated as early as possible, the developing countries will have to hasten their approval of an agreement for establishing this common fund.

The developed countries must give up their protectionist policy and make the markets more open to the developing countries. They should also remove the tariff and non-tariff barriers for major products of the developing countries, take measures to stabilize export incomes for these countries and allow them to increase their share of the processing, sale, distribution and transportation of raw materials and products. The preferential treatment that is given to the products of the developing countries must be further improved, and international efforts be made to establish fair trade principles and regulations. The developing countries should not allow the developed countries to use the system of general preferences as a means of putting pressure on them, but fight against any act of encroachment upon their permanent sovereignty over natural resources.

If the non-aligned and developing countries wage a vigorous struggle together to establish a new fair international economic order, the developed countries will have to comply, in the long run, with the demands of the developing countries whether they like it or not.


Kim Il Sung, June 20, 1986.
Selected Works, Vol. 40, pp. 117-144 Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1995.


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