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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession II: Technology generation and transfer - Transformation alternatives
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentReport on session II
Open this folder and view contentsThe collective self-reliance of developing countries in the fields of science and technology
Open this folder and view contentsScience and technology in Japanese history: university and society
Open this folder and view contentsLegal aspects of the transfer of technology in modern society
Open this folder and view contentsPhilosophy (concepts) of scientific and technological development


Gregory Blue

The dominant motif of this session lay in defining a realistic strategy by which the underdeveloped countries - whose peoples of course comprise the vast majority of the population of the globe - would be able to overcome the present cruelly unequal distribution of power over the material and technological resources of the world. A general theoretical framework for the deliberations of this session was provided by Dr. Stambuk, who maintained in his paper that adequate definitions of "development" and "under development" must necessarily be linked to a critique of existing modes of production as such. Dr. Stambuk went on to consider various strategies for scientific-technological development and concluded that only a form of self-reliance rooted firmly in the capacities and interests of the working people would suffice as a steady foundation for a nation's future.

It was pointed out by Dr. Wallerstein in the discussion, however, that the strategies of the transnational corporations make it much easier to talk about self-reliance than to achieve it. This angle was taken up in Dr. Ristic's key paper on the subject of collective self-reliance among developing countries; Dr. Ristic noted that national and collective self-reliance are necessary complements and should be mutually reinforcing. He argued that concerted action by the developing countries is more and more emerging as a powerful impetus for revolutionizing economic and political relations at the global level, and he maintained that this strategy lends itself to being adapted in several areas crucial to scientific-technological development. One of these areas, namely that of the transfer of technology, was later considered in detail by Dr. Besarovic, who gave a fascinating account of the history of legal mechanisms governing such transfers and then suggested ways in which these mechanisms might be changed to the advantage of the countries of the Third World. Again during the discussion, Dr. Issa accused Dr. Besarovic of having placed unrealistic hopes on the benefits to be gained by a reform of legal institutions, and he stressed the snares inherent in the present system of transfers.

Dr. Despic argued that in building up their scientific and technological capabilities countries of the South must distinguish their own priorities from those which the developed countries might like to see them implement; and Drs. Abdel-Malek and Maraj emphasized the effect of exercise of political sovereignty and the right of self-determination as the top priority to be asserted in the face of the numerous forms of subjugation by which developing countries are threatened.

Emphasis on the historical dimension of scientific-technological development was provided by Dr. Kawano, who reviewed pertinent aspects of Japanese experience since the Meiji Restoration. Dr. Hassan's intervention during the discussion also broadened the historical frame of reference by evoking often overlooked lessons from the history of science and technology in the various non-European civilizations.

Anouar Abdel-Malek, Yves Barel, Alexander Despic, Celso Furtado, Ahmad Yousef Hassan, Hossam Issa, Rasheeduddin Khan, Osama A. El-Kholy, James A. Maraj, Vladimir Stambuk, and Immanuel Wallerstein took part in the discussion.