ECLAC's annual calendar reflects multiple meetings, lectures, educational workshops, conferences, seminars, and training sessions. Nowhere is there found a work initiative, a concerted on-site initiative or focused fund raiser, or any effort of measurable practicality.
According to the ECLAC mandate,
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC):
a) Provides substantive secretariat services and documentation for the Commission and its subsidiary bodies;
b) Undertakes studies, research and other support activities within the terms of reference of the Commission;
Promotes economic and social development through regional and subregional cooperation and integration;
d) Gathers, organizes, interprets and disseminates information and data relating to the economic and social development of the region;
e) Provides advisory services to Governments at their request and plans, organizes and executes programmes of technical cooperation;
f) Formulates and promotes development cooperation activities and projects of regional and subregional scope commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for such projects;
g) Organizes conferences and intergovernmental and expert group meetings and sponsors training workshops, symposia and seminars;
h) Assists in bringing a regional perspective to global problems and forums and introduces global concerns at the regional and subregional levels;
i) Coordinates ECLAC activities with those of the major departments and offices at United Nations Headquarters, specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations with a view to avoiding duplication and ensuring complementarity in the exchange of information.
Clearly, ECLAC meets seven of the mandate's objectives: a, b, d, e, g, h, and I; for a project funded with $90 million from United Nation's coffers - which translates into American tax dollars - this may appear to be a great deal of accomplishment.
Not so. Some of the key initiatives to this program are the remaining mandates: to actively undertake support activities, and "formulate and promote development cooperation activities and projects of regional and subregional scope commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for such projects."
Reasons for Failure
Why are these charter initiatives not being conducted? In a scathing commentary on the failure of Latin American economic reforms, Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel economics laureate and professor at Columbia University cites the "Washington Consensus policies of deregulation, privatization and liberalization of trade and capital flows promoted and pushed by the International Monetary Fund and its economists while often ignoring the roles of the market and the government, even under U.S.-style capitalism" as a primary problem.
Professor Stiglitz goes on to highlight the focused efforts of Raul Prebisch Executive Director of ECLAC from 1950 to 1963. Prebisch was concerned with the plight of Latin America, and to his worries about declining commodity prices several more have to be added, Stiglitz said.
According to Stiglitz, market tyranny, the unconscious perpetuation of poverty, and pro-cyclical reforms all contribute to a need for "those disenfranchised in the past... demanding a voice. The electoral democracies of the past have not improved their plight. That is what they know... [and] these are the failures of the reform process that have to be confronted."
Raul Prebisch and His Vision for ECLAC
Raul Prebisch -- credited with developing the 'dependency' thesis of economic development theory -- argued that Third World countries had not benefited from the "colonial enterprise and international trade" vision espoused by earlier economic theorists.
Forcing a dependent relationship upon underdeveloped countries, Prebisch worked against the 'center-periphery' relationship he saw emerging from the pseudo goodwill of major world powers of his day. According to Prebisch's argument, by encouraging Third World countries to produce the materials...
In this speech to hundreds of ECLAC and UNDP delegates, his UN challenge was one of meeting the initiatives put forth by ECLAC and other such UN-affiliated organizations.
Following are the steps outlined in Mr. Brown's mandate:
First, a disciplined alignment of all development activities in a country behind a well-rooted, broadly owned national development strategy that offers a serious path to achieving the globally agreed Millenium Development Goals (MDGs);
Second, radical simplification of our own programme procedures and cycles to keep up with best donor and national practice;
Third, focusing UN development activities where our comparative advantage lies, in ideas and institutions building;
Fourth, a determined effort to rationalize our country presence, both lightening and integrating it, so that you get the maximum value of UN support, and not see too much of it go to administrative costs; and Fifth, a strengthening of the RC and Country Team system to drive the strategic coherence and outcomes of these reforms.
Scholarship, research, dissertation, and education each have a key position in the process of change. If any existing condition is to be altered or improved, the necessary 'bookwork' must be done to prepare all participants for the looming alterations in the landscape.
Fifty-six years of such activity is - in this author's opinion - fifty-five years too long without accompanying production, reform, aid, on continent example, and appropriate interventions.
Emergent democracies have a challenging time working through inevitable issues such as election process, governmental structuring, corruption, insurgency, and the like. Add the well-meaning, but substance-less offerings of a well-funded and highly visible UN office and program agenda, and the problems merely multiply.
As with so many other UN initiatives, the ECLAC should be spearheaded by action, not rhetoric.
The world would be a much better place in which we can all move about with confidence and measures of freedom.
Altimir, Oscar & Sourrouille, Juan. Measuring Levels of Living in Latin America -- an Overview of Main Problems. The World Bank -- Working Paper no. 3. World Bank. Washington, D.C. 1980. Benson Collection. HC 59.7 a 47, 1980 LAC. (6)
Altimir, Oscar. The Extent of Poverty in Latin America. World Bank Staff Working Papers - Number 522. The World Bank. Washington, D.C. March 1982. (4-6)
Cardoso, Fernando Henrique & Faletto, Enzo. Depend ncia e Desenvolvimento na America Latina. Zahar Editores. Sao Paulo, 1970-73. Benson Collection HC 125 C3413 LAC. (1-3)
Cardoso, Fernando Henrique. Dependency Revisited. Institute of Latin American Studies - the University of Texas at Austin. Austin, 1973. Benson Collection HC 125 C34162 LAC. (1)
Dorner, Peter. Latin American Land Reforms in Theory and Practice. A Retrospective Analysis. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, 1992. (3)
ICCARD -- International Comission for Central American Recovery and Development.
Poverty, Conflict and Hope -- a Turning Point in Central America. Duke University Press. Durhan and London, 1989. Benson Collection. HC 141 I597 1989 LAC. (3-5) www.phrasebase.com http://www.eclac.cl/agenda/default.asp?agno=2004&mes=0&idioma=in
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