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Research Guides

UN Documentation: Development

Introduction, 1981-1990

UN Photo 319489: Heads of state pose for photo at World Summit for Children, 1990

The Third Development Decade saw slower growth in the UN membership and a re-examination of themes that emerged from earlier conferences. The Declaration on the Right to Development positioned the concept of development within the human rights framework.

The Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development explored some issues arising out of the arms race (A/CONF.130/39, para. 14):

"Security is an overriding priority for all nations. It is also fundamental for both disarmament and development. Security consists of not only military, but also political, economic , social, humanitarian and human rights and ecological aspects. Enhanced security can, on the one hand, create conditions conducive to disarmament and, on the other, provide the environment and confidence for the successful pursuit of development. The development process, by overcoming non-military threats to security and contributing to a more stable and sustainable international system, can enhance security and thereby promote arms reduction and disarmament. Disarmament would enhance security both directly and indirectly. A process of disarmament that provides for undiminished security at progressively lower levels of armaments could allow additional resources to be devoted to addressing non-military challenges to security, and thus result in enhanced overall security."

Key events, documents and resolutions, 1981-1990


  • 1980-1989: [First] Industrial Development Decade for Africa: A/RES/35/66
  • 1980-1990: Second Disarmament Decade: A/RES/34/75 and A/RES/35/46
  • 1981-1990: Third United Nations Development Decade: A/RES/35/56
  • 1981-1990: International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade: A/RES/35/18
  • 1983-1992: United Nations Decade for Disabled Persons: A/RES/37/53
  • 1983-1993: Second Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination: A/RES/38/14
  • 1988-1997: World Decade for Cultural Development: A/RES/41/187


  • International Year for Disabled Persons: A/RES/31/123
  • UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy
  • UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (1st)



  • World Communications Year: A/RES/36/40
    • Belgrade, 6 June-2 July 1983
    • TD/326 Vol. I: Report and Annexes (83.II.D.6)
    • TD/326 Vol. II: Statements and Summary Records (83.II.D.7)
    • TD/326 Vol. III: Basic Documents (83.II.D.8)
  • Second World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance


  • International Conference on Population [4th World Population Conference]
    • Mexico City, 6-14 Aug. 1984
    • E/CONF.76/19 + Corr.1-3 (84.XIII.8)


  • International Youth Year: A/RES/34/151
  • Year of the United Nations: A/RES/39/161 A
  • World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women : Equality, Development and Peace
    • 3rd World Conference on Women
    • Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985
    • Report: A/CONF.116/28/Rev.1 (85.IV.10)
  • Some Reflections on Reform of the United Nations



  • International Year of Shelter for the Homeless: A/RES/36/71, A/RES/37/221
  • International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
  • International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development
    • Geneva, 9 July-3 Aug. 1987
    • TD/352 Vol. I: Report and Annexes (88.II.D.1)
    • TD/352 Vol. II: Statements and Summary records (88.II.D.2)
    • TD/352 Vol. III: Basic documents (88.II.D.3)
  • Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development
    • known as Our Common Future or the Brundtland report
    • UN Library Call number: 577.4 W675


  • International Literacy Year: A/RES/42/104
  • UNESCO Education for All Conference
  • 18th special session of the General Assembly 
    • New York, 23-27 June 1990
    • Topic: Development and international economic cooperation
    • Outcome: A/RES/S-18/3
  • Second UN Conference on Least Developed Countries
  • First Human Development Report issued
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) first assessment report issued
  • World Summit for Children
    • New York, 30 Sept. 1990
    • Adopted the following (see A/45/625)
      • World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children
      • Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s

UN and Development