UNCTAD-III, Santiago

The original resolutions presented by the G77 were on world monetary reform and participation by developing countries in the IMF, but resulted in resolutions on technology transfer and ‘Special Measures for the 25 Least Developed Countries’. There was a heated debate on the terms and conditions of technology transfer being institutionalised in an ‘International Code of Conduct’. Part of the difficulties in negotiations resulted from a divide among the G77 group.

“The G77 bloc of 96 developing countries was divided ideologically between more capitalist-minded pushing for more trade, aid and more open global trade, and the more radically minded who argued that imperialism was the cause of divide between rich and poor.” (Bell, 1973: iii) Salvador Allende, President of Chile, gave the address. 

At the conference, Group B focused the discussion on developing countries providing “adequate incentives” to FDI (foreign direct investment). (Connors, 1973: 16) “Britain argued against a technology bank as ‘non-sense’ and of no use to developing countries. The United States rejected the suggestions of the G77 on considering it unacceptable that the developed countries should provide incentives to their enterprises to facilitate an accelerated transfer of technology to developing countries, either in patented or non-patented technologies and to employ wherever possible local labour and experts.” (Zammit, 1973: 6)

There were discussions regarding the limits to import-substituting industrialisation. The problem was pointed out regarding large foreign firms with “quasi-monopolies” operating in underdeveloped countries, highlighting the conflict between developing countries’ needs for new production technologies and the terms and conditions of which technology is supplied – sometimes resulting in further obstacles for development. (Zammit, 1973: 9)

The Resolution on technology transfer encouraged developing countries to tackle questions like “registration, negotiation and assisting domestic enterprise relevant to the bargaining position of developing countries”, and that developed countries should facilitate the accelerated transfer of technology by participating in the identification of restrictive business practices affecting technology transfer. (Connors, 1973: 17)

Geoffrey Oldham described the negotiations on the International Code of Conduct on Technology Transfer: “There became an impasse in negotiations between the G77 and Group B in part because the G77 wanted an International Code of Conduct on Technology Transfer to be mandatory, while the Group B wanted it voluntary, if it was going to exist at all. The Pugwash movement decided to draft the Code and submitted this to the UNCTAD Secretariat. It was thought that this might break the impasse, but it was rejected by the Group B countries, and an unproductive debate within UNCTAD about an International Technology Code of Conduct dominated discussions for almost a decade.” (Oldham, pers comm.)



Oldham, G. Personal Communication. (Recorded Interview March 2009) 

Zammit, J.A. (1970) ‘UNCTAD III: End of An Illusion’ in Bell, C. (Ed). ‘The Future of UNCTAD’ IDS Bulletin Vol 5, No 1 Jan 1973, pp 3-13.

Connors, A. (1970) ‘The UNCTAD III Resolution on the Transfer of Technology’ in Bell, C. (Ed). ‘The Future of UNCTAD’ IDS Bulletin Vol 5, No 1 Jan 1973, pp. 14-20. 

See also: Patel, S., P. Roffe, and A. Yusuf (eds) (2001) International Technology Transfer: The Origin and Aftermath of the United Nations Negotiations on a Draft Code of Conduct.  Klumer Law International, London. 

Bell, C. (Ed). ‘The Future of UNCTAD’ IDS Bulletin Vol 5, No 1 Jan 1973  DOWNLOAD 

de Kadt, E. (Ed) ‘Transfers, Technicians, and Technology’ IDS Bulletin Vol 3, No. I, October 1970.

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