At its 25th session, in 1970, the General Assembly adopted a resolution outlining an international development strategy for the second UN Development Decade—the 1970s. The main objectives of the plan were to promote sustained economic growth, particularly in the developing countries; ensure a higher standard of living, and facilitate the process of narrowing the gap between the developed and developing countries. The General Assembly declared that the developing countries bore primary responsibility for their development but that their efforts would be insufficient without increased financial assistance and more favorable economic and commercial policies on the part of the developed countries.
Under the goals and objectives of the second decade, the General Assembly stated that the average annual rate of growth in the gross product of the developing countries as a whole should be at least 6%, with the possibility of attaining a higher rate in the second half of the decade. Such a rate of growth would imply an average annual expansion of 4% in agricultural output and 8% in manufacturing output.
The General Assembly also stated that it was essential to bring about a more equitable distribution of income and wealth in order to promote social justice and efficiency of production; to raise the level of employment substantially; to achieve a greater degree of income security; to expand and improve facilities for education, health, nutrition, housing, and social welfare; and to safeguard the environment. Thus, qualitative and structural changes in society should go hand in hand with rapid economic growth, and existing disparities—regional, sectoral, and social—should be substantially reduced. The General Assembly believed that developing countries must bear the main responsibility for financing their development. To this end, they were asked to pursue sound fiscal and monetary policies and to remove institutional obstacles through the adoption of appropriate legislative and administrative reforms. At the same time, each economically advanced country was called upon to endeavor to provide annually to developing countries financial resource transfers of a minimum net amount of 1% of its gross national product (GNP). A major part of financial resource transfers to the developing countries should be provided in the form of official development assistance.
Progress achieved during the first half of the decade was reviewed by the General Assembly in 1975. It noted that the gap between the developed and the developing countries had increased alarmingly during the first half of the decade, but it found the generally gloomy picture lightened by one element—the developing countries had emerged "as a more powerful factor, as a necessary consequence of the new and growing perception of the reality of interdependence." The General Assembly also found that some of the aggregate targets set in the strategy for the decade had been met or exceeded, "owing mainly to the developing countries' own efforts and, to a certain extent, to external factors such as the commodity boom" (a short-lived rise in commodity prices between 1972 and 1974). Those aggregates, however, did not reflect the variation in achievement among developing countries, for many countries did much worse than the average. A major area of shortfall was in agriculture, where less than half the target rate of 4% annual growth was realized by the developing countries as a whole.
The General Assembly further noted that the net flow of financial resources from developed countries in the form of official development assistance had decreased in real terms and as a percentage of GNP. At the same time, the burden of debt-service payments of developing countries had continued to increase in relation to their export earnings.