United Nations technical assistance in Libya with special reference to the Food and Agriculture Organization
Rubin-Pelt, Andrée L
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The formation of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies was an action motivated primarily by a sincere desire on the part of the world to minimize all situations leading to war. These can stem from any number of factors, but it is reasonable to assume that economic and social conditions rank among the most important. Thus, we find in the United Nations an instrument to improve the economic and social conditions of the world. This thesis explains and defines the efforts of the Technical Assistance Programme and Specialized Agencies by analysing their programmes in Libya and by drawing from these analyses conclusions concerning the efficacy of Technical Assistance as a method of alleviating socio-economic underdevelopment. The focus is on the Food and Agriculture Organization for two reasons: a detailed dissertation of the technical assistance projects by all the Specialized Agencies, even in a single country, would be repetitive, extending the thesis beyond the limits necessary to its purpose; as Libya is primarily an agricultural country, all projects initiated there are fundamentally to increase agricultural productivity. The plans formulated during World War II to establish an international agency concerned with feeding the world were based on the ideas of agriculturists, nutritionists and statesmen of the nineteen-twenties and thirties, though their theories did not materialize into efficient organizational implementation because of greater univeral submergence in political matters and a general lack of international conscience. The war forcefully brought the realization that economic, population and food problems must be ameliorated through international action; the result was the establishment in 1944 of the Food and Agriculture Organization, whose fundamental aim is to raise world productivity primarily as a co-ordinator and initiator in those fields where national attempts proved insufficient. To achieve integrated programmes with other Specialized Agencies, agreements have been signed providing for close cooperation and regular consultation in matters of common concern. The Expanded Technical Assistance Programme of the United Nations, the co-ordinator which integrates and directs those efforts involving more than one specialized agency, was established in 1949 and has been the major directive force in the implementation of multilateral technical assistance. The best method of evaluating UNTAA is by comprehensively studying an area whose socio-economic conditions necessitate assistance programmes in all fields. Libya, historically under constant colonial domination, was guaranteed independence by 1952 through a General Assembly resolution passed in 1949. The Assembly also appointed a Commissioner for the two intervening years to aid the country in its monumental task. An underdeveloped country with a marginal agricultural economy, Libya was basically handicapped by inadequate rainfall and infertile soil. The indigenous population was untrained in the proper utilization and irrigation of land and the conservation of water, and was further hampered by the lack of material resources and technical knowledge. Because of the complete lack of factual and statistical area information, the first step on the part of UNTAA was a survey of local conditions and their compilation in two major documents. The first points out that the key to development lay in basic and technical education and the use of pilot projects; the second enumerates the particular problems inherent to Libya and proposes an extensive set of short and long-term programmes. Because of the latent skills of the people was the only major resource, the first task consisted of raising the country-s productivity by teaching the people to do better what they were already doing. Because of the limited available budget, it seemed most profitable to develop those fields of agriculture and animal husbandry already significant in foreign and domestic trade, rather than initiate new areas of expansion. Therefore, projects were proposed to establish an administrative and financial framework designed to direct and implement plans for the increase and improvement of products and marketing. The highest priority was given to projects dealing with experimental, educational and demonstrational work such as seed research and multiplication, breeding experiments, credit extension and small tool development, thus providing incentive toward increased agricultural productivity. Exportation of sheep-products and citrus fruits was greatly increased through improved curing, tanning, processing and packing. ILO established a Centre for training young Libyans in clerical work and industrial and mechanical skills, thereby broadening and stabilizing the supply of competent public servants, and UNESCO initiated two teacher training centres and numerous rural adult education projects in cooperation with FAO. WHO and UNESCO set up maternal and child health centres and disease prevention programmes. The assistance furnished under United States bilateral aid is mainly concerned with projects requiring large amounts of capital. On the whole, however, there are continuous attempts made to integrate the two programmes so as to gain the highest possible level of cooperation and efficacy. Valuable conclusions can be drawn from an analysis of Technical Assistance in Libya. It has been shown that the choice of Libya as a working example was a happy one, for this is a country that enjoys a unique relationship to the United Nations; it will always be considered a special responsibility or the Organization. Because the country was virtually without economic assets and required development in every field, an analysis of the Technical Assistance Programme employed there indicates the complexity of the methods and techniques directed toward providing a flexible, realistic blue-print on which to plan stable, continuous economic development. In spite of numerous difficulties faced by the drafters the final plans were well-established, malleable and particularly suited to Libya's specific conditions. The most serious obstacle was insufficient funds, a problem which was largely alleviated through bilateral aid. It is not to be assumed that bilateral aid is preferable to multilateral assistance. United States financial support provided for a specified number of years in return for certain military privileges is a two-edged sword. On the one hand Libya is assured financial security for at least as long as military installations are necessary; on the other she is dependent upon the bounty of another country, a psychological consideration that a newly independent nation may find difficult to accept. United Nations Technical Assistance by its very neutrality negates any such psychological stigma. In practice the two systems have shown to complement each other well, the one supplying that which the other cannot give. It may be superfluous at this point to question the desirability of technical assistance for the purpose of improving the conditions of underdeveloped countries, as, apart from humanitarian considerations, our interests require a world wherein the seeds of unrest and dissatisfaction are deracinated to prevent them from bursting into conflict. The responsibility for this lies with the Member Nations of the United Nations, those in whose hands rests the power to give aid toward improving the economic and social conditions of underdeveloped countries, thereby minimizing the causes of future dissention.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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