Delegates at South-South Conference Assert Readiness of Emerging Economies to Take Lead in Designing, Implementing Long-Term Development Plans
Delegates at South-South Conference Assert Readiness of Emerging Economies to Take Lead in Designing, Implementing Long-Term Development Plans
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Delegates at South-South Conference Assert Readiness of Emerging Economies
to Take Lead in Designing, Implementing Long-Term Development Plans
Speakers Hail Developing World’s ‘Coming of Age’,
While Cautioning against Overlooking Persistent Traditional Challenges
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
NAIROBI, 2 December ‑‑ Officials from dynamic emerging economies asserted today that their Governments were ready to improve socio-economic conditions at home and help raise development prospects across the global South, proof that many developing countries were now capable of taking the lead in designing and implementing their own long-term development plans.
“Today we celebrate the South’s coming of age,” Indonesia’s representative told delegates gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for the United Nations High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation. He urged robust support for ever more vibrant economic and financial links within the developing world, describing major developing economies as vital “locomotives” facilitating worldwide progress in areas such as human resource training, while also exchanging ideas and advances in science and technology with their smaller Southern partners.
Yet, amid such dynamic progress and innovation, he said, developing countries still faced traditional challenges, especially the need for greater and more sustainable international support, as well as the lack of available models and mechanisms capable of fostering even broader South-South development cooperation activities. That was where the United Nations could play a pivotal role, he said, calling on the world body, with its specialized programmes and regional commissions, to engage actively in and promote South-South-driven activities.
The Conference, which wrapped up its general debate this afternoon and is expected to close tomorrow with the adoption of a forward-looking outcome text, spotlights the growing political and economic ties within the developing world as countries of the global South assume leading roles on the world stage, taking greater part in decision-making on issues ranging from economic recovery to food security and climate change. It also reviews 30 years of progress since the United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires in 1978 (for background, see press releases DEV/2777 of 24 November and DEV/2778 of 1 December).
Brazil’s representative said that since the Buenos Aires Conference, the rapid expansion of South-South cooperation demonstrated that developing countries were ready to determine their own long-term goals and mobilize the available means to achieve them. That was why the Government of Brazil rejected the notion held by some that, as South-South cooperation deepened, it should adhere to the same mechanisms designed to guide, monitor and evaluate traditional international development assistance programmes.
“The fact that North-South cooperation [existed before] South-South cooperation does not mean that performance standards observed by the former must automatically apply to the latter,” she said, adding that South-driven development programmes must not be seen as “training” for developing countries to become donors. Moreover, reproducing the practices of North-South cooperation in South-South programmes would negate the differences that had spurred the need for and success of South-driven development initiatives. Indeed, South-South cooperation did not lack adequate monitoring, accountability and management mechanisms, she added.
The Director-General for Development Cooperation at Austria’s Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs said it was very important to reach a consensus on how South-South and North-South cooperation fit together, and to listen to ideas from developing countries on that question. However, from a technical point of view there was no reason to evaluate North-South and South-South cooperation by different standards as they used the same tools and aimed for the same goals.
South Africa’s representative, while agreeing that developing countries should set their own development agendas, declared that they were not beholden to any particular system or player. Indeed, Governments of the South were “held accountable by our people through their active engagement and normal democratic processes prevalent in our countries”. Yet, he did support the notion that developing countries must account for the use of funds or other support received from donors and partners. Like other speakers, he stressed that South-South cooperation was a sign that developing countries were increasingly working together as partners to overcome shared challenges, such as poverty and under-development.
Expanding on that point, Preneet Kaur, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, said that, while cooperation between developing countries was not a substitute for more traditional forms of development assistance, including North-South cooperation, it was a much broader and deeper concept. It was more of a partnership between countries of similar experience, but which sought to expand the sharing of their respective experiences, know-how and technology for mutual benefit.
In other business today, the Conference completed the election of its Bureau, choosing its remaining Vice-Presidents from their respective regional groups: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Norway, Pakistan, Slovakia, Sweden, Thailand and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Alongside this afternoon’s plenary, the Conference held the first of its two round table discussions, on “Strengthening the role of the United Nations system in supporting South-South and triangular cooperation”. The final round table, to be held tomorrow morning, will focus on “South-South and triangular cooperation for development: complementarities, specificities, challenges and opportunities”.
Also speaking today were the Deputy Minister for Health and Child Welfare of Zimbabwe and he Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Swaziland also spoke.
Other speakers taking the floor were the representatives of Thailand, Bolivia, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Sri Lanka (on behalf of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), Algeria, Japan, Botswana, Syria, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, Nicaragua, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Colombia, Iran, Zambia and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Also addressing the Conference were the representatives of Argentina, speaking for the Ibero-American Summit; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Partners in Population and Development; Common Fund for Commodities; South Centre; and Social Watch (Kenya Chapter), who delivered a statement on behalf of civil society groups and networks of the global South.
The plenary will reconvene at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 3 December, to close the Conference and adopt the outcome document.
APINAN PHATARATHIYANON (Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, as a middle-income country, Thailand had been active in promoting South-South cooperation since the 1970s, sharing technology, training and other resources under the principles of mutual parity and complementary. The country’s official development assistance (ODA) had expanded greatly to include programmes in public health, agriculture, education and many other areas. In addition, Thailand participated in regional cooperation to reduce the illicit trafficking of people and drugs, working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional mechanisms. It also worked closely with neighbouring countries on industry, trade, energy, tourism and human-resource development.
He went on to state that his country was also active in current ASEAN efforts to enhance connectivity in infrastructure and trade, welcoming associated United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projects. Thailand had also engaged in triangular cooperation with Singapore. Through all those activities, the country had been able to experience first hand the growth of South-South cooperation, particularly in Africa, and to consider the modalities of complementarity between North-South and South-South cooperation. As an emerging economy, Thailand had played a very important role in sharing its experience and expertise, and stood ready to help in the attainment of international development goals, particularly the Millennium Development Goals, in holistic manner so as to ensure sustainable development for all countries.
JAVIER LOAYZA (Bolivia) said that countries of the global South were actively pursuing policies and initiatives that were reflective of and more beneficial to their shared vision of socio-economic growth and development. For their part, South American countries had put in place interregional institutional measures to promote development. Bolivia was channelling its energy towards bolstering local communities. While such actions had enjoyed some success, much remained to be done, especially with just five years left to the target year for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
He said that while Bolivia was concerned about human interaction, it was also concerned about humankind’s interaction with the environment, believing that targeted South-South development cooperation could help harmonize humankind’s relationship with and improve human stewardship of the planet. It was now time for an ethical framework for environmental governance and ecological management. While all nations and regions must “step up” in that regard, developing countries could take the lead by creating South-South initiatives, which could be particularly helpful as neighbouring countries were better able to address shared concerns. Such efforts should be supported by triangular and North-South cooperation. The United Nations system also had a role to play in that regard.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa) said it was heartening to note that the principles underlying South-South cooperation, as determined by the Ministers of the Group of 77 and China, were widely recognized, as evidenced by their inclusion in the Conference outcome document. South Africa most strongly supported the call to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in supporting South-South cooperation, and looked forward to working with the Organization in that regard, after having recently concluded the first-ever joint evaluation with the United Nations evaluation group on the subject.
The current multiple world crises could only be surmounted by collective action through the multilateral system, he said. Within that system, South Africa had focused on South-South cooperation to strengthen interdependence among developing countries through investment, trade, technology transfer and knowledge-sharing to find solutions to development challenges, on the subregional, regional and interregional levels. South Africa’s partnerships with countries of the South were critical to advancing not only its own development needs, but also the African agenda. The country had thus realigned and strengthened its governance structures to further promote partnerships.
Pointing to the India, Brazil and South Africa trilateral initiative and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as successful models for mechanisms that could contribute to South-South cooperation, he fully associated himself with the Conference outcome document, stressing that the envisaged assessment of the contribution made by South-South cooperation could only be done as requested by developing countries and with their full participation and structures, including the Group of 77 and China, and within the parameters set out by its Ministers. In addition, mutual accountability should not be construed to mean that developing countries were accountable to their development partners for the achievement of development objectives. The Governments of developing countries were only accountable to their people. However, they acknowledged their accountability for the resources and funds contributed by their development partners.
BUDI BOWOLEKSONO (Indonesia) said that, given the similar natural and human resources shared among developing countries, South-South cooperation served as a practical and sustainable approach to development. It was also an integral element of the global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets. There was a need to acknowledge that some major developing economies served as “locomotives” for facilitating Southern and global progress in areas such as education and human resource training, while also exchanging ideas and advances in science and technology with their smaller Southern partners.
Yet, amid such dynamic progress and innovation, he said, developing countries still faced traditional challenges, especially the need for greater and more sustainable international support, as well as the lack of available models and mechanisms that would foster even broader South-South development cooperation activities. That was where the United Nations could play a pivotal role, he said, stressing that the world body, with its specialized agencies, programmes and regional commissions, must actively engage in and promote South-South-driven activities. With that in mind, he welcomed the work being done by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and urged strengthening that agency’s South-South Unit to ensure that it was a focal point on such matters.
For Indonesia, empowering the South and promoting South-South cooperation had always been a strategic goal, he said, adding that his country’s vision for a stronger and more unified global South was reflected in the 1955 Africa-Asia Bandung Summit. Moreover, with its diverse ethnicity and pluralistic communities, Indonesia saw the value of South-South cooperation in terms of promoting greater understanding, tolerance, prosperity and harmony. Since the 1978 United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries in Buenos Aires, the Government of Indonesia had implemented various education and training programmes, and had also supported tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the areas of agriculture, renewable energies and aquaculture, among others. At the regional level, Indonesia had implemented various activities through the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), especially in disaster risk management and early warning systems. “Today, we celebrate the South’s coming of age. It is a natural evolution of the global economy,” he said, noting that, their differing circumstances notwithstanding, developing countries continued to work together as a growing force in pursuit of common development goals.
VALERY YEGOSHKIN (Russian Federation) said he recognized the importance of South-South cooperation in global development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which were currently imperilled by global crises. The Conference outcome document and the statements by participants showed the continued relevance of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. The Russian Federation shared the opinion that South-South cooperation had a special part to play in global development architecture and that developing countries should play a major role in helping to determine that architecture. However, it was still necessary to analyse trends in cooperation between developing countries and ensure more transparency. There was a need to develop national assessment systems in order to create the preconditions for enhancing triangular activities.
He said the United Nations system could play a greater, more effective role in South-South cooperation, emphasizing that existing mechanisms should contribute in a more active way towards the pooling of experience and seeking new strategies for cooperation, including coordination in investment and the social sphere. The Russian Federation, a believer in equitable triangular cooperation, was a reliable partner of developing countries and was interested in finding new methodologies for implementing it.
MARIA JAQUELINE MENDOZA (Venezuela) said South-South cooperation was an integral part of international cooperation based on solidarity and complementarity. It was vital for all countries to reach agreed sustainable development goals guided and inspired by the principles of State sovereignty and non-interference, by which the international community could enhance and expand its support for South-South cooperation. Venezuela had made great strides in interregional cooperation in areas such as energy and economic growth.
J.P.B. DISSANAYAKE (Sri Lanka), speaking on behalf of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), said the promotion of South-South development cooperation was a priority for his country, and the challenges of the current economic crisis must be turned into an opportunity by expanding regional trade and strengthening the influence of developing-country financial markets. For that to happen, it was important to intensify bilateral, subregional, regional and interregional cooperation among developing countries in all fields. Sri Lanka had earned an impressive record in human development gains through the training of its human resources, and the Government offered technical assistance and skills training to the global South.
Noting the toll that the recently ended fighting in his country had taken, he urged the Conference to support developing countries emerging from conflict. The various modalities of development cooperation should respond to country-specific needs, respecting national sovereignty and allowing all States to decide on their own development policies. He emphasized the importance of timely, collective efforts to ensure food security around the world, as well as the necessity to create an enabling environment that would allow resource-poor developing countries to participate fully in the multilateral trading system.
He said enhanced support and innovative approaches were needed from both the developed North and the developing South to help the least developed countries face their great challenges, within a global framework that went beyond the traditional concept of development assistance. He urged developed countries to take concrete steps to increase financing and reduce or cancel debt, curb trade protectionism and ensure that all commitments made at various conference related to the least developed countries were implemented, among other steps to address their challenges in a meaningful way.
IRENE FREUDENSCHUSS-REICHL, Director-General for Development Cooperation, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria, aligning herself with the European Union, welcomed South-South initiatives while affirming that they were not a substitute for North-South cooperation. It was very important to reach a consensus on how the two fit together and to listen to ideas coming from developing countries on that question. From a technical point of view, however, there was no reason to evaluate them by different standards as they used the same tools and aimed for the same goals.
Underscoring the importance of the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development in that context, she described a recent high-level symposium on “Accountable and Transparent Development Cooperation”, held in Vienna, Austria, on 12-13 November, saying that development cooperation was now probably at a turning point, having become globalized, more complex and more technical. Further efforts on harmonization of efforts and division of labour were required in order to reach the common goal of poverty reduction in partner countries.
ALI BENZERGA (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Conference was an opportunity to increase sustainable technical cooperation between developing countries and to consider the role of the United Nations in South-South cooperation. In the context of the current global crises, however, it was important to note that South-South cooperation did not substitute North-South cooperation and that triangular cooperation must be further developed.
Initiatives taken at the regional level showed the importance of regional mechanisms in South-South cooperation, he said, stressing also that the institutions of the United Nations system should integrate South-South cooperation into all their development programmes. He pledged his country’s continued commitment to the further promotion of South-South cooperation and to the full success of the Conference.
PRENEET KAUR, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said developing countries had a vital stake in the creation and establishment of a more sustainable and equitable global economic system. They believed in the paramount importance of reforming global governance structures, and the need for the Bretton Woods institutions to change their decision-making processes in order to give them adequate voting access, a “real voice” and proper representation.
At the United Nations, she said, the General Assembly must be revitalized so that it could take action on issues of global concern, the Economic and Social Council must take real stock of the issues under its purview and the Security Council must be revamped to reflect contemporary realities. The global development agenda must be inclusive, going beyond the targets set by the Millennium Declaration and the Doha development financing process. To that end, there was a need to implement the outcomes of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, the Almaty Plan of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries and the Mauritius Strategy for Small Island Developing States.
She went on to highlight her country’s links with Africa, saying that the Government of India was committed to partnering on development initiatives. Indeed, the 2008 India-Africa Summit held in New Delhi had been reflective of the friendship between the two. India was happy that, for its business sector, Africa was a natural partner and numerous African countries had large and active ventures that were now contributing to the economies of both regions. Those ventures spanned critical growth areas, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and renewable and non-conventional energy, among others. While stressing that cooperation between developing countries was not a substitute for North-South cooperation, she said South-South cooperation was a much broader and deeper concept; it was more a partnership between countries of similar experience, but which sought to expand the sharing of their respective knowledge, technology and expertise for mutual benefit.
MARIA SAMPAIO FERNANDES (Brazil) said her Government championed innovative cooperation among and between developing countries, as well as interregional South-South development initiatives as platforms to promote the global fight against poverty, ensure food security, and spur broader economic integration through trade and investment. Such initiatives as NEPAD, conceived and implemented by developing countries, entailed the establishment of new cooperation mechanisms more closely connected to the priorities of the countries of the global South.
She went on to say that the rapid expansion of South-South cooperation over the past 30 years had demonstrated that developing countries were ready to determine their own long-term goals and mobilize the available means to achieve them. That was why Brazil rejected the notion held by some that, as South-South cooperation deepened and expanded, it should adhere to the same mechanisms designed to guide, monitor and evaluate traditional international development assistance programmes. “The fact that North-South cooperation [existed before] South-South cooperation does not mean that performance standards observed by the former must automatically apply to the latter,” she said, adding that South-driven development programmes must not be seen as “training” for developing countries to become donors.
Reproducing the practices of North-South cooperation in South-South programmes would negate the differences that had spurred the need for and success of South-driven development initiatives, she continued. Indeed, South-South cooperation did not lack adequate monitoring, accountability and management mechanisms. Further, there was a consensus that development cooperation must be results-oriented and demand-driven, and South-South cooperation had a good record on that. Looking ahead, its proponents must consider how effective current approaches and practices had been in promoting real change in people’s lives, effective capacity-building and sustainable impacts in developing countries. “We will also have to examine ways to strengthen the international cooperation focal points in developing countries, an essential step for the true exercise of ownership and coordination at the local level,” she said.
SHIGEKI SUMI (Japan) noted that his country was a pioneer in South-South and triangular cooperation and had participated in it even while receiving post-war overseas assistance. Japan’s Development Assistance Charter committed the country to technology transfer, the promotion of regional partnerships and capacity-building, including facilitating the provision of third-country experts. In recent years, Japan had sponsored 138 third-country training courses and promoted a partnership programme that helped middle-income countries to assist neighbouring countries. He also described related programmes carried out in concert with the United Nations system and international financial institutions.
As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, Japan had been the first developed country to offer sustained support for South-South cooperation in Africa, he said, describing the partnership forums that the country had organized or co-organized to facilitate dialogue and build capacity. Transparency and policy clarity should be built to improve the effectiveness of all cooperation, he said, affirming Japan’s commitment to further promoting South-South and triangular cooperation, while respecting national ownership of development.
CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said his county continued to benefit from the efforts of a broad range of partners, the majority of whom were neighbours in the South. Indeed, Botswana’s continued socio-economic development had benefited from the support of United Nations agencies and programmes, which had led to improvements in infrastructure and education, among other areas.
The Conference provided an opportunity to consider vital South-South development initiatives, and the outcome document should be comprehensive and forward-looking, he said. Regional cooperation initiatives were vital to development in Botswana and it was to be hoped that the United Nations agencies and programmes dedicated to matters of South-South cooperation would receive more resources and support. Those agencies should continue to enhance their work and specifically pursue initiatives that would provide the most benefit at the least cost.
TURKI MOHAMAD SAQR (Syria), supporting the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said South-South cooperation remained at a modest level despite the work of the past 30 years. More effective tools were needed to increase it and help reduce the extreme inequality in the world, which threatened peace and stability. An equitable and fair distribution of wealth was needed through North-South cooperation. However, with two thirds of the period for reaching the Millennium Development Goals already gone, there was little prospect of commitments made by developed countries coming to fruition.
The same could be said of the Kyoto arrangements to face the challenges of climate change, which would have drastic effects on developing countries, he noted, calling on developed countries to increase their contributions in both areas and to make up for what had happened in the past. He urged the Conference to call on developed countries to lift sanctions or other penalties unjustifiably imposed on some countries of the South, which were counter-productive to development and international cooperation. Syria affirmed its firm commitment to South-South cooperation, having engaged in cooperation with Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey and other countries.
WAHID AL-KHARUSI (Oman) said his country took pride in its many South-South partnerships, believing that regional and international cooperation was a must, especially in capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. Oman also worked very closely with the United Nations and its regional bodies, and encouraged public-private partnerships and cooperation initiatives. Collective South-South action would bolster positive socio-economic trends and help to block negative ones. In addition, South-South cooperation could have a positive impact on road safety, he said, noting that his country had requested the Conference to include the topic in its deliberations, support previous initiatives on the subject and advocate for its inclusion as one of the Millennium Development Goals. Oman reiterated its firm commitment to South-South cooperation.
RAJA NUSHIRWAN ZAINAL ABIDIN (Malaysia) was gratified that the outcome document reaffirmed the basic principles of South-South cooperation, but more work was needed to analyse its dynamics and understand how it could redress global imbalances. With regard to aid effectiveness, he said it was dubious that the principles developed in Accra and Paris could be applied to South-South cooperation. For example, in those documents, the principles of national ownership and control of development were not clearly spelt out in a way that truly recognized sovereignty without conditionality in those areas. He challenged developed countries to embrace those concepts clearly.
He said his country was, however, interested in improving the effectiveness of its cooperation, emphasizing demand rather than supply and results-oriented planning. For its part, Malaysia had created a trust fund with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to facilitate training and other cooperation programmes with other developing countries. Besides the economic benefits of South-South cooperation, developing countries could, by sharing experiences, support each other’s quest to free themselves not only from political and economic colonialism, but also the colonialism of the mind and spirit.
D.T. MOMBESHORA, Deputy Minister for Health and Child Welfare of Zimbabwe, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country had engaged in significant economic and technical cooperation with other developing countries through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It had also initiated successful cooperation on economic development and science and technology with countries in Asia and Latin America.
Stressing that South-South cooperation was not a substitute for North-South cooperation, but rather a complement to it, he urged development partners to cooperate on issues of interest to the people of the South. In that regard, he rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact, and all other coercive measures, including unilateral sanctions, which impeded cooperation and were inconsistent with international law. He also called for full debt cancellation.
He said that, in order to create an enabling environment for South-South cooperation, the current international financial architecture needed to be reformulated to encompass new opportunities, including triangular cooperation, with a greater voice for developing countries. More attention should also be given to addressing disparities in the global trade regime, including by concluding the Doha Development Round. There was also a need for adequate support for United Nations efforts to promote South-South and triangular cooperation. In particular, he urged UNDP to mobilize greater international support for South-South cooperation and for the national capacities needed to participate in it.
KOH TIN FOOK, Director of Technical Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said globalization and development cooperation “are here to stay”, and all nations shared the common challenge of maximizing its benefits to improve livelihoods and make progress towards broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Singapore was doing its share to bolster cooperation among developing countries through implementation of its Cooperation Programme, created in 1992. Some 63,000 participants from nearly 160 countries had participated in the programme, which focused on capacity-building through education and training.
Aside from South-South cooperation, Singapore also partnered with more than 30 developed countries and international organizations to conduct training programmes, he said, noting that South-South cooperation was a process of mutual learning and mutual benefit. While every country was unique, they could nevertheless learn from each other and share best practices that might suit individual needs. It was important for all nations to bolster South–South cooperation initiatives to help developing countries adopt polices that would improve socio-economic prospects for all people.
VALDRACK L. JAENTSCHKE (Nicaragua) said South-South cooperation was essential for promoting the well-being of developing countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region and elsewhere. Developing countries were in a difficult position because many had chosen to give bread to their neighbours while also dealing with development challenges at home. For example, Cuba had consistently provided doctors and medical services throughout the region while all the time suffering under an unjust economic and commercial blockade.
Other countries in the region had stepped up to help their neighbours recover from hurricanes or other natural disasters, he said. Developing countries wished to advance the welfare for their citizens, but in their own way, beholden to no one. While they waited for the developed world to live up to their commitment to devote the “ever ephemeral” goal of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to ODA, they would continue to work together to surmount shared challenges. At the same time, he urged steps to realign the global economic order, end rampant consumption and promote more equitable development for all.
KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement and the least developed countries, said that while South-South cooperation was changing the international landscape and benefiting the poorest countries, they remained extremely vulnerable to the current global crises. South-South cooperation should be positioned more solidly at the heart of the international development agenda to help address the situation of the poorest countries. Hopefully, the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation would be empowered with the resources necessary to do so. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was strongly committed to South-South cooperation as a crucial tool for development, particularly in the area of capacity-building, in which the country had actively participated. Many of its projects had been accomplished through triangular arrangements with developed countries. She urged the Conference to further strengthen South-South cooperation so as to further increase its beneficial effects.
CLIFFORD MAMBA, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Swaziland, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, said South-South cooperation was a framework for solidarity and a wide range of mutually beneficial activities, in accordance with the principles of national sovereignty and ownership. For that reason, such cooperation should not be evaluated in the same way as ODA provided by developed countries. In order to assist those countries that had not yet benefited from the record economic growth experienced recently by some developing countries, poorer countries must be given access to affordable financing, expertise and technology. In that light, he urged the United Nations to mobilize more funding to support the modalities of South-South cooperation that would benefit those countries that had been left behind in their efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
MARIA VICTORIA DIAZ DE SUAREZ (Colombia) said the Buenos Aires Plan of Action provided a clear road map for developing countries to follow as they sought to enhance and expand South-South development cooperation with the aim of placing people at the centre of development and humanity over profit. “We seek partners rather than donors,” she said, noting that her country was implementing, with other countries of the South, a host of projects in areas such as infrastructure rehabilitation, among others. The international community should pursue, in cooperation with middle-income countries and on behalf of the least developed nations, sustainable development initiatives that integrated the potential of developing countries.
MOHAMMAD ZAREIAN (Iran), noting the growing role and importance of developing countries in the world economy, said some of them were also making strides in international trade. At the same time, such dynamism had been witnessed in only a few emerging economies, making it urgently necessary to ensure an appropriate environment for broader and more equitable socio-economic growth. He went on to highlight some of the measures that could be used to enhance South-South cooperation, including protection and facilitation of investment by Southern organizations in such countries, undertaking efforts to improve trade infrastructures, and increasing cooperation in the field of services.
For its part, Iran was in the course of negotiations to foster trade relations with its Persian Gulf neighbours, he said. Iran had also entered into trade agreements with countries in Africa and the Latin American and Caribbean region. As long as gaps existed in international relations, especially in the field of technology, South-South cooperation must not be seen as a substitute for traditional North-South initiatives.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed gratitude for the convening of the Conference, saying the matters under discussion were very important for the countries of the South. South-South cooperation was complementary to North-South cooperation and not a substitute for it, as both would benefit developed countries in the modern, interconnected world. Zambia therefore hoped that development partners in the North would support the Conference and play their proper role in the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, the Doha Development Round and other international forums.
BEGUM TAJ, Director of Multilateral Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, aligning herself with the Group of 77, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the immediate objective of developing countries, including her own, was to attain the Millennium Development Goals, particularly halving hunger. For that to happen, stronger South-South cooperation was needed.
In the context of the multiple current crises, particularly food security, she called for the sharing of knowledge and technology in addition to other forms of cooperation between developing countries. The United Republic of Tanzania invited other developing countries to invest in its agricultural sector, which was being expanded from small-scale to larger-scale farming under the “Agriculture First” programme and other initiatives. South-South cooperation was already being employed in such areas as education and other public goods. In such cooperation, mutual commitments were needed from the developing countries involved, as well as support from the North on triangular cooperation and other arrangements.
AMAT AL ALIM ALSOSWA, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said the international community stood at a critical juncture as nations considered their relations with each other and sought to ensure sustainable development. Notwithstanding the global economic and financial crisis, many developing countries were in a position to jump-start and sustain their recovery strategies. The existence of the Group of 20 was a testament to the growing importance of developing countries in global affairs. “We must continue to be vigilant in the support we give and the solidarity we show,” she said, noting that the ascendancy of developing countries would require new ways of accessing development cooperation. Indeed, rapidly expanding South-South cooperation meant that developing countries would collaborate more often to solve common problems and learn from each other.
UNDP would help as best it could in that regard, she said, pointing out that the agency had always served as a bridge between countries of the developed world and those of the global South. Further, much of its work focused on South-South cooperation, and it also supported efforts by developing countries to reach common decisions on matters related to sustainable development. UNDP brought together target groups that had much to learn from each other. The changing international environment would require UNDP continually to review how it supported South-South cooperation. She cited the global effort to tackle the impact of climate change as a near-perfect venue in which South-South cooperation could be carried out for the benefit of developing countries and the wider international community.
HARRY S. JOOSEERY, Partners in Population and Development, underlined the need to reposition family planning as a priority in sustainable development, in line with the goals of the landmark United Nations International Conference on Population and Development. The Partners sincerely hoped that international donors as well as developing countries would devote more resources to family planning matters, which was critical to improving maternal and child health.
He urged the Conference, while considering ways to expand South-South cooperation, to consider ways to scale up support for population and development issues, especially in the area of reproductive health. Unless reproductive health and maternal health-care objectives were broadly met, many countries would be in danger of falling short of the Millennium Development Goals. He expressed hope that those concerns would be highlighted in the Conference outcome document.
DANIEL CHUBURU (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Ibero-American Summit, presented the third report of its Conference on Horizontal and Triangular Cooperation, which took stock of cooperation between Latin American and European countries and its effect on poverty reduction and a fairer world economy. The report showed that solidarity and reciprocity were important in South-South cooperation and must touch many sectors. Among other results, it also concluded that South-South cooperation should not replace North-South cooperation but complement it, and that experience, technical expertise and knowledge must be shared and resources used efficiently.
ALI MCHUMO, Common Fund for Commodities, an intergovernmental financial institution within the framework of the United Nations, described its projects, which addressed problems in commodity production, processing, marketing and diversification in a multi-country context. South-South cooperation in the area of commodities benefited from the natural similarities shared by developing countries in respect of climatic, soil and ecological conditions. It could also redress inequalities in the world market place. For that to happen, supply-side constraints, lack of rural investment, imbalances in supply-chain pricing and other factors must be addressed.
VICENTE PAOLO YU, South Centre, said South-South cooperation was an integral element of development cooperation among developing countries, as well as an element essential to relations between developed and developing countries. At the core of South-South cooperation was the principle that developing countries were in charge of their own development paths. It laid the groundwork for effective cooperation among and between the countries of the South, as well as with those of the North. There must be a sharing of experience, common dialogue and active engagement by countries of both North and South to ensure sustainable development. As the international community moved forward into a new era of South-South cooperation, the South Centre stood ready to assist countries of both the North and South.
VITALICE MEJA, Social Watch Kenya Chapter, presented a statement on behalf of civil society organizations and networks from the global South attending the Conference. After highlighting the concerns of non-governmental organizations regarding aid, investment and debt, he said South-South cooperation promoted the development of global economic structures and polices that placed people’s rights first, respected human rights, gender equality as well as social and environmental justice. “We demand policies that ensure decent work based on employment opportunities, respect for labour rights, social protection housing, clean water and energy,” he said. In the face of multiple global crises, civil society urged Governments to take the side of women and men workers, farmers, youths and children of the South so as to promote environmental sustainability by taking an alternative economic path.
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