There is an increasing decline in multilateral cooperation, accompanied by a negative attitude to dialogue on development in particular. The growing breach between the rich and poor countries has not been met with the response of an equivalent flow of international solidarity.
Trends since the end of the cold war have been towards diminishing international cooperation or relating it to processes of opening up new markets for the products of donor countries or programmes "moored" to the purchase of inputs in the country of origin. In a 1993 study of this matter it was reported that although the richest countries on earth have set a goal of giving 0.7 per cent (less than 1 per cent) of their GNP for Third World development, only four countries have actually done so (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands). The USA, by contrast, is at the bottom of the list, giving less than 0.2 per cent of its GNP to other countries in the form of foreign aid. The targets set at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen have not been met and there has been very little political will to fulfill them in practice. In many countries the cooperation budget has been persistently "cut" over recent years and numerous organizations have disappeared, including foundations that were devoted to development and solidarity with countries of the third world.
Official economic cooperation is inadequate or non-existent between governments in some regions of the South. North-North cooperation in all matters is beset by ideological conflict, and North-South cooperation by economic exploitation. In 1993 the disarray in the management of the largest industrial economies was reflected in the different policy stances of Japan and Germany. With the world economy being pulled in different directions, there was rising concern that the G7 Group, as the main steering committee for the global economy, had become ineffectual and needed radical reshaping to provide a better coordination of policy. The divergence in G7 economic policies was seen as potentially destabilizing.
Major policy divisions emerged concerning Bosnia in 1993, both between the USA and Europe, and amongst European countries. The USA considered that, for good moral reasons, the Bosnian Muslims were the injured party and that everything should be done to help their cause. The Europeans, for equally good practical reasons, felt that the cause of peace could only be served by getting the Bosnian leadership to accept that ethnic separation was inevitable.
Global ecological and economic interdependence requires effective international cooperation for appropriate management. The inadequate cooperation of all countries is responsible for the continuing rivalries and inequities in the global economic and social system.
The very process of international cooperation has been envisaged as a political one rather than an economic or cultural one. It exists in very positive ways in the nonpolitical sphere. Science is international, as is art and business. Service organizations are often international. Religious traditions are either already international or rapidly becoming so. All of this is international cooperation.