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International development or global development is a broad concept denoting the idea that societies and countries have differing levels of "development" on an international scale. It is the basis for international classifications such as developed country, developing country and least developed country, and for a field of practice and research that in various ways engages with international development processes. There are, however, many schools of thought and conventions regarding which are the exact features constituting the "development" of a country.

Historically, development has often been largely synonymous with economic development. More recently, writers and practitioners have begun to discuss development in the more holistic and multi-disciplinary sense of human development. Other related concepts are, for instance, competitiveness, quality of life or subjective well-being.[1]

"International development" is different from the simple concept of "development". Whereas the latter, at its most basic, denotes simply the idea of change through time, international development has come to refer to a distinct field of practice, industry, and research; the subject of university courses and professional categorisations. It remains closely related to the set of institutions—especially the Bretton Woods Institutions—that arose after the Second World War with a focus on economic growth, alleviating poverty, and improving living conditions in previously colonised countries.[2] The international community has codified development aims in, for instance, the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

History

Although international relations and international trade have existed for thousands of years, it is only in the past century that international development theory emerged as a separate body of ideas.[3] More specifically, i

Historically, development has often been largely synonymous with economic development. More recently, writers and practitioners have begun to discuss development in the more holistic and multi-disciplinary sense of human development. Other related concepts are, for instance, competitiveness, quality of life or subjective well-being.[1]

"International development" is different from the simple concept of "development". Whereas the latter, at its most basic, denotes simply the idea of change through time, international development has come to refer to a distinct field of practice, industry, and research; the subject of university courses and professional categorisations. It remains closely related to the set of institutions—especially the Bretton Woods Institutions—that arose after the Second World War with a focus on economic growth, alleviating poverty, and improving living conditions in previously colonised countries.[2] The international community has codified development aims in, for instance, the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

Although international relations and international trade have existed for thousands of years, it is only in the past century that international development theory emerged as a separate body of ideas.[3] More specifically, it has been suggested that 'the theory and practice of development is inherently technocratic, and remains rooted in the high modernist period of political thought that existed in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War'.[4] Throughout the 20th century, before the concept of international development became a common word, four aspects were used to describe the idea:

  • political and economic liberalism, and the significance of "free markets"
  • social evolution in extremely hierarchical environment
  • Marxist critiques of class and imperialism
  • anti-colonial take on cultural differences and national self-determination[2]

After World War 2

The second half of the 20th century has been called the 'era of development'.[5] The origins of this era have been attributed to

International Development in its very meaning is geared towards colonies that gained independence. The governance of the newly independent states should be constructed so that the inhabitants enjoy freedom from poverty, hunger, and insecurity.[8]

It has been argued that this era was launched on January 20, 1949, when Harry S. Truman made these remarks in his inaugural address[9]

We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. The old imperialism—exploitation for foreign profit—has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concept of democratic fair dealing.

— Harry S. Truman, 1949

Before this date, however, the United States had already taken a leading role in the creation of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now part of the World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), both established in 1944, and in the United Nations in 1945.

The launch of the Marshall Plan was another important step in setting the agenda for international development, combining humanitarian goals with the creation of a political and economic bloc in Europe that was allied to the U.S. This agenda was given conceptual support during the 1950s in the form of modernization theory espoused by Walt Rostow and other American economists.[citation needed] The changes in the 'developed' world's approach to international development were further necessitated by the gradual collapse of Western Europe's empires over the next decades; now independent ex-colonies no longer received support in return for their subordinate role.

By the late 1960s, dependency theory arose analysing the evolving relationship between the West and the Third World.[The second half of the 20th century has been called the 'era of development'.[5] The origins of this era have been attributed to

  • the need for reconstruction in the immediate aftermath of World War II[6]
  • the evolution of colonialism or "colonization" into globalization and the establishment of new free trade policies between so-called 'developed' and 'underdeveloped' nations[[8]

    It has been argued that this era was launched on January 20, 1949, when Harry S. Truman made these remarks in his inaugural address[9]

    We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. The old imperialism—exploitation for foreign profit—has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concept of democratic fair dealing.

    — Harry S. Truman, 1949

    Before this date, however, the United States had already taken a leading role in the creation of the Harry S. Truman made these remarks in his inaugural address[9]

    We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. The old imperialism—exploitation for foreign profit—has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concept of democratic fair dealing.

    — Harry S. Truman, 1949

Before this date, however, the United States had already taken a leading role in the creation of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now part of the World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), both established in 1944, and in the United Nations in 1945.

The launch of the Marshall Plan was

The launch of the Marshall Plan was another important step in setting the agenda for international development, combining humanitarian goals with the creation of a political and economic bloc in Europe that was allied to the U.S. This agenda was given conceptual support during the 1950s in the form of modernization theory espoused by Walt Rostow and other American economists.[citation needed] The changes in the 'developed' world's approach to international development were further necessitated by the gradual collapse of Western Europe's empires over the next decades; now independent ex-colonies no longer received support in return for their subordinate role.

By the late 1960s, dependency theory arose analysing the evolving relationship between the West and the Third World.[citation needed] In the 1970s and early 1980s, the modernists at the World Bank and IMF adopted the neoliberal ideas of economists such as Milton Friedman or Béla Balassa, which were implemented in the form of structural adjustment programs,[10] while their opponents were promoting various 'bottom-up' approaches, ranging from civil disobedience and critical consciousness to appropriate technology and Rapid Rural Appraisal.[citation needed]

In response, various parts of the UN system led a counter movement, which in the long run has proved to be successful.[citation needed] They were led initially by the International Labour Organization (ILO), influenced by Paul Streeten, then by United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).[11] Then United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), even though headed by a conservative U.S. republican, put forward the concept of Human Development, thanks to Mahboub ul Haq and Amartya Sen, thus changing the nature of the development dialogue to focus on human needs and capabilities.[citation needed]

By the 1990s, there were some writers for whom development theory had reached an impasse[12] and some academics were "imagining a postdevelopment era."[13][14] The Cold War had ended, capitalism had become the dominant mode of social organization, and UN statistics showed that living standards around the world had improved over the past 40 years.[15] Nevertheless, a large portion of the world's population were still living in poverty, their governments were crippled by debt and concerns about the environmental impact of globalization were rising.

In response to the impasse, the rhetoric of development is now focusing on the issue of poverty, with the metanarrative of modernization being replaced by shorter-term vision embodied by the Millennium Development Goals and the Human Development approach.[16] At the same time, some development agencies are exploring opportunities for public-private partnerships and promoting the idea of Corporate social responsibility with the apparent aim of integrating international development with the process of economic globalization.[17]

The critics have suggested that this integration has always been part of the underlying agenda of development.[18] They argue that poverty can be equated with powerlessness and that the way to overcome poverty is through emancipatory social movements and civil society, not paternalistic aid programmes or corporate charity.[19]

While some critics have been debating the end of development others have predicted a development revival as part of the War on Terrorism. To date, however, there is limited evidence to support the notion that aid budgets are being used to counter Islamic fundamentalism in the same way that they were used 40 years ago to counter communism.[20]

There are a number of theories about how desirable change in society is best achieved. Such theories draw on a variety of social scientific disciplines and approaches, and include historical theories such as:

Global Goals

Millennium Development Goals