While every year presents a mixed picture of positive and negative features, 1991 in particular has been marked by sharply contrasting developments. It was a year of extraordinary instability in the international scene, with economic shocks, political convulsions and a major armed conflict casting uncertainty over the global economic and policy environment. At the same time, however, it was in many respects a year of positive change. The process of historical transformation in the former centrally planned economies gained momentum, along with international détente and improved collaboration between East and West, peoples' rights to self determination increased. In the developing world, several countries adopted or consolidated democratic regimes; for some, there were signs that their strenuous structural adjustment efforts would be rewarded; regional or subregional integration and cooperative arrangements were strengthened; and significant steps were taken to repeal the cornerstones of apartheid legislation. These developments have radically altered our perception of the current state of affairs from that of only a few years ago. Despite the enormity of the challenges and uncertainties still facing the world, optimistic expectations have strengthened on the basis of a more peaCeful, cooperative and prosperous pattern of international relations.

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