The scandals of 1987 and 1988 which followed the discovery of deals whereby African countries received trivial sums of money from western companies in return for the use of land for the dumping and burial of toxic waste, brought a justifiably violent reaction from some developing countries. It is in that context that the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared that such dumping was a crime against Africa and the African people. The United Nations, following in the footsteps of OAU, adopted a resolution in which it expressed profound concern regarding practices of dumping nuclear and industrial wastes in Africa. The 1989 [Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal] was the result of a compromise between those who favoured a complete ban on transboundary movements of waste and those who wished to define the framework and legal conditions for the transfer of wastes, as though any negotiation was possible in that field.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.