Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the High-Level Event on the Fourth United Nations Day For South-South Cooperation
New York, 19 December 2007

I am honoured to join you to celebrate the Fourth United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation.

We gather at a time of increasingly successful South-South cooperation in diverse areas, including investment, trade, technology transfer, macro-economic and financial policy coordination, as well as financial and technical cooperation in development. In the context of globalization, these new dynamics are transforming the international economy and international development cooperation.

The international community generally agrees on the importance of South-South cooperation as a complement to North-South cooperation in supporting efforts in low-income countries to achieve the MDGs and national development goals. While countries of the South stress their ownership of the agenda and priorities of South-South cooperation, the international community recognizes the role for countries of the North and multilateral organizations to support the growth of South-South cooperation through what we call triangular cooperation.

Indeed, the Monterrey Consensus emphasized the need to strengthen South-South cooperation, including triangular cooperation, as a complement to North-South cooperation. The 2004 Sao Paulo Consensus of UNCTAD-XI provided an important boost for enhancing South-South cooperation in the areas of trade and investment.

In the 2005 World Summit Outcome, world leaders recognized “the achievements and great potential of South-South cooperation”. And the General Assembly, in its resolution on the follow-up to the Summit’s development outcome, encouraged “the continued promotion of South-South cooperation as an effective contribution to development and as a means to share best practices and provide enhanced technical cooperation”.

At the same time, there is a divergence of views on the conceptual framework governing South-South cooperation and the appropriate place of South-South cooperation in the international development architecture.

Developed countries underscore that South-South cooperation should not be isolated conceptually from global development cooperation efforts, and should be governed by the same principles and commitments as official development assistance (ODA).

Developing countries maintain that South-South cooperation cannot mirror cooperation with the North, and that financial contributions in South-South cooperation should not be treated as traditional ODA.

Efforts to foster a convergence of views will go a long way towards strengthening internationally coherent support for the growth of South-South cooperation.

To this end, Member States can make use of high-level UN intergovernmental forums to exchange views and build consensus, as well as identify financing mechanisms for South-South cooperation.

Recognizing the need to strengthen South-South cooperation, the Assembly decided to convene a high-level UN Conference on South-South cooperation by the first half of 2009. Several other high-level UN forums will provide opportunities to integrate considerations of South-South cooperation into intensifying global efforts to implement commitments on achieving the MDGs include: UNCTAD-XII in April 2008, the first session of the ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum in mid- 2008, and the Review Conference on Financing for Development in Doha, from 29 November to 2 December 2008. We in the Secretariat stand ready to facilitate and support these intergovernmental processes.

The UN system, for its part, is committed to promoting coherence of efforts at all levels, with a view to providing stronger and more coherent support to advance South-South cooperation.

As Convenor of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, I am pleased that ECESA has adopted South-South cooperation as a cross-cutting theme in its work on the UN development agenda.

Our ECESA agenda and work plan on South-South cooperation seek to provide a variety of support: developing a supportive institutional framework, providing technical assistance and undertaking studies on current trends and emerging issues, strengthening programmes for the promotion of South-South trade and investment, supporting efforts in regional integration, and strengthening South-South and triangular cooperation. We look forward to good results from these joint efforts.

Let us all determine to move forward in a spirit of constructive partnership on our United Nations Day for South-South cooperation.

Thank you.