Global Challenges Require More Innovative Cooperation between Developing Countries, Deputy Secretary-General Tells South-South Conference

1 December 2009

Global Challenges Require More Innovative Cooperation between Developing Countries, Deputy Secretary-General Tells South-South Conference

1 December 2009
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Global Challenges Require More Innovative Cooperation between Developing

Countries, Deputy Secretary-General Tells South-South Conference

Meeting Also Hears Message from President of General Assembly,

Statement by Administrator of United Nations Development Programme

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

NAIROBI, 1 December -- The many challenges now facing the international community called for stronger and more innovative cooperation between developing countries -– particularly neighbouring States -- as well as between them and developed countries, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today as she helped to open the most significant United Nations meeting on the subject in decades, in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Development does not occur in a vacuum,” she said as she conveyed greetings from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the outset of the United Nations High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation.  “It has proved to be most successful when coupled with strategies to increase cross-border trade and investment.”

The three-day Conference (1-3 December) highlights the growing political and economic ties within the developing world as countries of the South assume leading roles in handling global issues ranging from economic recovery to food security and climate change.  It will also review 30 years of progress since the United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1978 (for background information, see Press Release DEV/2777 of 24 November 2009).

Ms. Migiro said that since Buenos Aires, millions of men, women and children had been lifted out of extreme poverty and a number of developing countries had achieved the fastest pace of economic growth in human history.  The international community could only welcome higher South-South investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development, particularly in Africa.

At the same time, she said, South and North alike faced multiple crises, including hunger -- which now afflicted an unprecedented 1 billion people -- as well as unemployment, slumping trade and looming climate change.  Solutions to those and other ills required stronger cooperation, starting with the immediate neighbours of all countries, no matter their economic status.  However, South-South cooperation should not replace North-South cooperation, but instead complement it, she stressed, pledging the Secretary-General’s and her own continued commitment to bringing countries together towards that goal.  “Together we can harness the great endowments of the South and achieve the internationally agreed development goals.”

Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga of Kenya welcomed delegates to the “City in the Sun”, and emphasized that new strategies must be found to face current challenges, including so-called triangular arrangements that bound South-South and North-South cooperation.  Hopefully the Conference would adequately explore that area, with particular regard to technical partnerships.

Delivering a message on behalf of Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the United Nations General Assembly, the representative of Yemen said that the great successes of South-South cooperation had been achieved through the sharing of strategies and experiences, based on solidarity and common objectives and guided by respect for the principle of national ownership and sovereignty.  He stressed that South-South cooperation should be pursued further through multilateral, regional and bilateral mechanisms.

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Secretary-General of the Conference, pointed out that developing countries often had the best access to the knowledge and practices needed to respond to the current global crises.  As today was also World AIDS Day, she reminded the Conference of how important South-South cooperation was in tackling the spread of that disease and ensuring treatment for those suffering from it, as she described her agency’s activities aimed at strengthening South-South cooperation on a range of issues.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, President of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, emphasized that countries of the South were endowed with enormous potential and were steadily shifting from being on the margin of world trade and economic relations to their centre.  The resulting economic relations enhanced solidarity and equity among States, with many accompanying benefits.

As the general debate began today, many speakers voiced hope that the Conference would strengthen, among other things, the existing mechanisms which could improve the access of developing countries to new and clean technologies, and promote fair global trade and further dialogue among developing and developed countries, as well as the engagement of the entire United Nations system and other stakeholders in that venture.

Most speakers agreed that South-South cooperation was a complement to, and not a replacement for, development cooperation with industrialized countries, calling for greater development of triangular exchanges that involved both kinds of countries.  The representatives of the United States and Sweden (on behalf of the European Union) stressed that all development cooperation should follow the efficiency guidelines laid out in the Paris and Accra meetings on the issue.  Cuba’s representative countered that talk of efficiency by donor countries allowed them to avoid recognizing their lack of commitment to give developing countries the resources they required without conditions, which was particularly crucial in the current climate of crisis.

Also this morning, delegates elected as Conference President Kenya’s Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya, who stressed that cooperation must be strengthened both at the country level and at the United Nations, and pledged to work towards that end during the Conference.

In other business, the Conference adopted its agenda, work programme and rules of procedure before electing its Bureau.  Benin, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Nepal, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Morocco and Poland were elected Vice-Presidents from their respective regional groups.  Elected as Rapporteur General was Raymond Landveld of Suriname.  All elections were by acclamation.

Also speaking today were the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement) and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco.  Other speakers were the representatives of Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77), China, Nepal (on behalf of the Group of the Least Developed Countries), Qatar, Mexico, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, Morocco, Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh, Chile, Argentina and Suriname.

The Conference also agreed that the Credentials Committee would consist of Brazil, China, Jamaica, Philippines, Russian Federation, Spain, United Republic of Tanzania, United States and Zambia.

The Conference on South-South Cooperation will resume its general debate at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 2 December.

Opening of Conference

WYCLIFFE OPARANYA, Minister for Planning of Kenya and President of the Conference, assured participants of his total devotion to working on the challenging tasks before them by liaising with all relevant delegations and institutions.  Kenya’s commitment to South-South cooperation was demonstrated by the principles of its coalition Government, which had agreed to host the Conference.  Such cooperation must be strengthened both at the country level and the United Nations, he said, pledging to do just that and expressing confidence that the Conference would adopt concrete measures to strengthen South-South cooperation for many years to come.

RAILA AMOLO ODINGA, Prime Minister of Kenya, welcomed all delegates to the “City in the Sun”, and expressed pride in his country’s hosting of United Nations agencies.  As the Secretary-General’s report stated, through South-South cooperation, developing countries continued to witness increased trade, technological transfer and other gains.  For example, the newly industrialized countries of Asia had utilized many commodities that had come from Africa.  He welcomed the many regional economic organizations that had arisen, noting that, in East Africa, much progress had been made in the institutions promoting cooperation.  He also welcomed interregional mechanisms.

However, despite all those developments, he said, many daunting challenges faced developing countries, and nearly one half of the South population, including 100 million Africans, lived under unacceptable levels of deprivation.  Many countries on the continent and elsewhere in the South would not achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  New strategies must be found to face those challenges, including so-called triangulation, binding South-South and North-South cooperation.  Hopefully the Conference would adequately explore that area, with particular regard to technical partnerships.

Urging developed countries to adopt ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and devote resources to mitigating the disastrous results of climate change in the South, he said Kenya was already going through a severe drought and other adverse climate-related effects.  Failure in Copenhagen was not an option, and cooperation must be greatly increased in the areas of technology and exchanging best practices.  Finally, he emphasized that increased South-South cooperation should not reduce the importance of cooperation with developed countries, explaining that it was for that reason that he was stressing the importance of so-called triangular arrangements.

The Prime Minister then declared the Conference officially open.

ABDULLAH ALSADI (Yemen), co-facilitator of the negotiations on the Conference outcome document, then delivered a message on behalf of Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the United Nations General Assembly, recalling that, in the three decades following the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for promoting and implementing technical cooperation among developing countries, the benefits of South-South cooperation had become ever more evident, especially in exploring new opportunities and promoting viable initiatives to ensure socio-economic development among those nations.  Much of that success had been achieved through the sharing of strategies and experiences among developing countries, based on solidarity and common objectives, and guided by respect for the principle of national ownership and sovereignty.

However, despite such appreciable hard work and achievements, developing countries continued to face enormous challenges, he said, adding that their difficulties had been exacerbated in recent years by an array of global crises, including those related to food, energy, economy and finance, as well as climate change.  The current Conference provided an important opportunity to address those issues with a strong, genuine and broad-based partnership, based on international solidarity.  “This is a time to exploit the full potential of South-South cooperation,” he said, emphasizing that such cooperation was a complement to North-South cooperation.  There was a need to further enhance financial resources so as to promote South-South cooperation through multilateral, regional and bilateral financial and development institutions.

He said the Nairobi Conference should strengthen, among other things, the existing mechanisms that could improve access for developing countries to new and clean technologies, promote equal and fair global trade, dialogue among developing and developed countries, and the engagement of the entire United Nations system and other stakeholders in that venture.  “We need to explore new ways of enhancing and diversifying South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation.  We need to strengthen global partnerships and develop collective strategies to address and overcome challenges.  We need to seize the opportunities that come our way,” he said.  Encouraged by the spirit of compromise and goodwill among Member States during the negotiations on the outcome document, he said he was confident that such solidarity would reinforce the deliberation in Nairobi and assure the success of the important Conference.

ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations, conveyed greetings from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and said the Conference followed in the footsteps of great leaders ranging from India’s Jawaharlal Nehru to Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.  The Buenos Aires Conference had turned South-South cooperation into a grand partnership.  “The Plan of Action it adopted encouraged us to set aside narrow national self-interests in the name of the common good.”

Since Buenos Aires, she said, millions of men, women and children had been lifted out of extreme poverty and a number of developing countries had achieved the fastest pace of economic growth in human history.  The international community could only welcome higher South-South investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development, particularly in Africa.  At the same time, South and North alike faced multiple crises, including hunger -- which now afflicted an unprecedented 1 billion people -- in addition to unemployment, a trade slump and looming catastrophic climate change.  Solutions to those and other ills required stronger cooperation, starting with the immediate neighbours of all countries.

“Development does not occur in a vacuum,” she continued.  “It has proved to be most successful when coupled with strategies to increase cross-border trade and investment.”  By now, development strategies that worked and those that did not work were well known.  Wise investments in knowledge and information, for example, had helped transform some countries into powerhouses.  The ubiquitous mobile phone alone had helped kick-start development among some of the least-served populations, women above all.  Much more was possible, she said, calling for the scaling up of initiatives such as the Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor, the building of world-class biotechnology hubs in Singapore and Rwanda’s efforts to become an information society.

The United Nations could play a catalytic role in promoting all such efforts, as demonstrated by the One Laptop per Child initiative that had brought Uruguay and Rwanda together, she said.  Stronger North-South cooperation was also needed, as South-South cooperation was not a substitute for those partnerships, but rather complementary to them.  She pledged the continued commitment of the Secretary-General and herself to bringing countries together and promoting South-South Cooperation.  “Together we can harness the great endowments of the South and achieve the internationally agreed development goals.”

HELEN CLARK, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Secretary-General of the Conference, said the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, adopted 30 years ago, had provided a blueprint for developing countries to promote solidarity and exchange experience to complement North-South cooperation and promote socio-economic development.  Since Buenos Aires, South-South cooperation had expanded enormously, especially in areas of technical cooperation.  It continued to play a key role in efforts by developing countries to meet their individual development goals and wider agreed objectives, such as the Millennium Development Goals.

Indeed, she said, the rise of the global South and the growing economic weight of many developing countries were now reflected in the increased breadth of South-South cooperation, not just through Government-to-Government initiatives but also in private-sector investment and trade.  At the same time, she warned, the world was facing many development challenges, including ongoing poverty, climate change and the spread of diseases.  Moreover, in light of the current global recession, developing countries needed ready access to most relevant knowledge and best practices in order to devise their own responses.  To that end, UNDP had witnessed that many such countries had begun looking to their neighbours in the South for responses more suitable to addressing the current financial crisis.

She went on to say that South-South cooperation would also help developing countries tackle climate change, especially by identifying and adopting tailored mitigation and adaptation strategies.  It would also help developing countries identify technologies critical to developing low-carbon and clean energy responses.  In the months leading up to the General Assembly’s review of the Millennium Development Goals next September, much world attention would be focused on what had been accomplished towards achieving those targets and where greater efforts were needed.  It was clear that expanding and enhancing partnership among nations of the South, and with their partners in the North, would be crucial to that end.  Such partnerships were especially necessary as the current crises began to erode hard-won gains.

As today was also World AIDS Day, she reminded the Conference how important South-South cooperation was to tackling the spread of that disease and ensuring treatment for those suffering from it.  As Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), she said it would continue to focus on agricultural development for food security, and education and health for tackling climate change.  For its part, UNDP aimed to support and facilitate the exchange of experience across the global South to spur development, she noted, adding that some nations of the South were explicitly seeking the Programme’s support.  Later in the month, UNDP would launch the 2009 Global South-South Expo, which would provide an opportunity to showcase the many successes of South-South cooperation and contribute to further strengthening and building upon the solid framework established three decades ago.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar), President of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, said that South-South cooperation now had enough economic weight to be a major factor in the global economic system.  In addition, there were prospects that the countries of the South could expand, strengthen and enhance the scope of their joint endeavours if they had the necessary resolve and support.

Describing the results of the 2005 Second South Summit, hosted by his country in Doha, he underscored the importance of the establishment of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership and other regional cooperation mechanisms, especially the strengthening of the global regime of preferential trade among countries of the South.  They were endowed with enormous potential in international relations and were steadily shifting from being on the margins of world trade and economic relations to the centre.  Those relations also enhanced solidarity and equity among States, with many accompanying benefits.  Hopefully the Conference would foster the political impetus needed to help implement the draft Nairobi Declaration and build on all the achievements made so far in South-South cooperation.


ALTIGANI SALIH FIDAIL, Minister for International Cooperation of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Nairobi Conference provided an opportunity to reaffirm the continued relevance of South-South cooperation in building a more equitable global partnership for development and peace.  All were aware that it was an expression of solidarity that had driven rapid economic growth among countries of the South.  “It is a rising and dynamic phenomenon, an important process that is vital to confront the challenges faced by developing countries, making an increasingly important contribution to their development.”  Intensifying such cooperation had become a major development strategy and a means to ensure that developing countries participated more fully in global economic relations.

It was also clear that South-South cooperation could not, and should not, replace North-South cooperation, he continued.  Indeed, developed countries had an obligation that was both in their own national interests and in the interest of global harmony and equity, to fulfil their agreed development commitments.  The conditions, premises and expectations of North-South cooperation were different.  The rapid economic growth of some of the larger developing countries had dramatically improved the development prospects of the Southern neighbours, deepening and expanding South-South trade and investment.  That new dynamic had not only enhanced the confidence of successful countries, it had raised aspirations and set the stage for similar advances in all developing countries.  “It is important to note that South-South cooperation is not aid; it is an expression of South-South solidarity and promotion of two-way learning and cooperation based on true partnership for mutual development.”

Highlighting the outcome of the thirty-third annual meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and member States of the Group of 77, held in New York in September, he recalled that participating delegations had stressed, among other things, that South-South cooperation should be driven by the countries of the South, strive for strengthened multilateralism in the promotion of an action-oriented approach to development challenges and seek to enable developing countries to play a more active role in international policy- and decision-making processes in support of their efforts to achieve sustainable development.  He went on to stress the tremendous potential that could be unleashed through cooperative initiatives for trade, investment and economic cooperation, adding that it was necessary to develop initiatives to enable the private sector, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations to effectively participate in and contribute to development.

While acknowledging that the limited support given to South-South cooperation by some developed partners, he said the Group of 77 believed there was considerable scope for further action, especially through the fulfilment of internationally agreed goals such as developed countries devoting 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to official development assistance (ODA).  Further, expansion of South-South cooperation required adequate funding, and the international community should support initiatives promoted by developing countries in that field.  South-South cooperation must not be seen as a panacea for meeting the challenges facing developing countries.  In order for it to prosper, there was an urgent need for effective and well-equipped financial mechanisms, as well as for strategic capacity-building to support efforts on the national, regional and interregional levels.

ANN DISMORR (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, emphasized the bloc’s support for regional integration and cooperation, noting that the current global crises had enhanced the role that South-South cooperation could play as a complement to North-South cooperation in meeting challenges such as climate change, migration, food security and trade.  Just like North-South cooperation, South-South cooperation had much to gain from building on the principles of aid effectiveness contained in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action.

She said that strengthening national ownership, supporting national development strategies, aligning with host countries’ institutions and systems, ensuring a suitable division of labour between development actors and improving accountability and transparency were examples of those principles.  Besides those general principles, however, there was a need for better understanding of the particularities, potential and impact of South-South cooperation, she said, adding that more data on successful strategies could further guide aid and enable South-South cooperation to become an even more powerful factor in development.  It should be pursued through one comprehensive and transparent approach towards the fulfilment of globally shared goals and commitments.

DENG HONGBO ( China) said that with the array of ongoing and deepening crises, including food insecurity and the financial crisis, South-South cooperation could provide opportunities, even as such developing-country-driven initiatives faced challenges.  At such a critical moment, it was imperative for the Conference to discuss new ideas and measures for international development cooperation.  For developing countries, South-South cooperation not only bolstered solidarity, it also paved the way for enhanced exchanges of experiences and the development of strategic responses that could inject new vigour into South-driven initiatives.  The wider international community must expand its views about North-South, as well as South-South cooperation towards achieving more balanced socio-economic development for all.

Among his proposals to that end, he urged the international community to increase its support for South-South initiatives in order to help deepen economic and technical cooperation.  Developing countries must do their part by increasing Government inputs while mobilizing market forces and the participation of the private sector, business communities and international organizations.  They must also provide policy guidance and bolster broader partnerships to promote comprehensive development cooperation.  He also urged taking full advantage of all the United Nations had to offer, especially the world body’s convening power, as a way to provide a better platform for South-South cooperation.  The work being carried out by UNDP would be vital to that effort.

He went on to stress that enhanced South-South cooperation was a “win-win” for all; such cooperation not only provided opportunities for developing countries, it also reduced systemic risks to the world economy and provided increased space for socio-economic development.  Further, it was important for developed countries to pay more attention to the demands of the developing world and to take actions to fulfil their development commitments.  As the world’s largest developing country, China faced the long-term risks of ensuring its own development.  China would remain an active advocate and supporter of South-South cooperation.

Since 1950, he said, China had, despite its own difficulties, provided assistance to more than 100 developing countries, covering various fields of social and economic development.  Recently, the Government had been actively exploring a new approach to both bilateral and multilateral cooperation with other developing countries.  It had also been strengthening cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.  To that end, the China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) free-trade zone would be established in 2010.  China had also announced eight new cooperation initiatives with African countries that would be carried out over the next three years.  China would always promote South-South cooperation in accordance with the principles of equality and mutual benefit, focused on achieving concrete results, diversified forms and common development.

MOSES WETANG’ULA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, stressed that South-South cooperation was critical to his country and Africa in general.  The topic was particularly timely as Kenya had committed itself to becoming a middle-income country in the near future.  The Conference would help develop a framework that would ensure that South-South cooperation benefited development.

He underlined, in addition, the importance of dealing effectively with climate change.  At the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference, there should be solidarity among developing countries, there must be progress towards predictable assistance for mitigation and adaptation, and any new funding must not be replace already committed ODA.  It must be in the form of grants, rather than loans, and must be free of conditionality.

MOHAMED EL ORABI, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said there was a need for more energetic efforts to deepen South-South cooperation, including triangular cooperation, bearing in mind that such initiatives were complementary to, not a replacement for, more traditional forms of development cooperation.  During the Non-Aligned Movement’s most recent Summit, its leadership had underlined the importance of reinforcing certain measures to support developing efforts in countries of the global South, including through the voluntary promotion of trade agreements among developing countries as a tool for strengthening South-South economic cooperation.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said the thirtieth anniversary of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was being commemorated at a time when many developing countries had achieved significant progress in many areas of development, including technological innovation, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), and expanding their volume of international trade.  Nonetheless, the majority of those countries were still struggling to tackle socio-economic difficulties emanating from existing imbalances in the global economic order and the current multiple crises.  Indeed, those crises, including poverty, climate change and the global economic downturn, were already reversing gains und undermining the efforts of developing countries towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other agreed targets.

South-South cooperation was not just a matter for developing countries, he said, adding that it was an issue requiring enhanced cooperation on the part of all nations, as well as international financial institutions, to provide needed technical and financial capacities and support developing countries’ efforts in that regard.  The Non-Aligned Movement called on developed countries to give further priority to triangular cooperation, through the provision of additional resources to enable developing countries to deal with the impact of the current global crises.  Specifically in that regard, he urged developed countries to fulfil their obligations under the 2008 Doha Declaration on development financing, and the outcome of the 2009 United Nations World Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development.  Meanwhile, Egypt would continue its efforts to support and enhance the South-South cooperation framework.  The current Conference provided an opportunity for all stakeholders in that process to assess what had been achieved since Buenos Aires and to plot the course of future action.

GYAN CHANDRA ACHARNYA (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, reaffirmed the commitment of the least developed countries to South-South cooperation as an embodiment of the solidarity of peoples and countries in the developing world, and as a mechanism for realizing development goals through synergistic efforts.  More needed to be done, however, under a comprehensive approach, to intensify South-South flows of finance, trade and development cooperation.  He said the broad framework of South-South cooperation must cover such important activities as the sharing of knowledge and experience, training, technology transfer, in-kind contributions, cost-sharing arrangements, soft loans, credit lines and other innovations.

Existing mechanisms must be expanded through a strong institutional mechanism at the United Nations, he stressed.  Additionally, in order for the least developed countries to overcome the great challenges they faced, there was a need to establish a global framework beyond the traditional concepts of assistance to include fair trading opportunities with special and differential treatment, equitable distribution of the benefits of international trade and easier access to financing and technology.  The international community must ensure that all the commitments made related to least developed countries were implemented in their entirety and at the earliest time, lest peace and stability continue to prove elusive.

ABDULAZIZ BIN MUHAMMED AL-SUWADI ( Qatar) said the concept of technical cooperation between and among nations of the South had been growing constantly since the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.  Given the increasing importance of developing countries on the international scene, South-South cooperation had bolstered their position regarding global economic matters.  Trade among developing countries was one third of global trade, a figure that was growing by 10 per cent every year -- double the rate of other forms of development cooperation.

He said developing countries had attended all the major conference on socio-economic development and had implemented the agreed outcomes to ensure that they benefited from globalization and attained long-term growth.  At the same time, they awaited broader adherence to past agreements, especially since only the developed world seemed to be benefiting from globalization.  The South was no longer on the margins of international trade and was becoming a more equal partner.

With that in mind, international institutions would have to pay more attention to initiatives and actions generated by countries of the global South, he said.  Moreover, the traditional dialogue between the North and South would now have to change.  The time for old perceptions and alignments had passed.  It was clear that as developing countries became more dynamic, they needed a more dynamic array of partners, including from within the private sector.  Partnerships were also vital to enhanced South-South cooperation, especially in efforts towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals.  The United Nations should strengthen the specialized UNDP unit dealing with matters related to South-South cooperation.

LUIS JAVIER CAMPUZANO ( Mexico) said his delegation considered South-South cooperation as a fundamental element of international development cooperation, offering viable opportunities for developing countries to achieve individual and collective sustainable socio-economic growth.  As such, devising a common understanding of the concept of South-South cooperation in the United Nations would be a great step towards strengthening international solidarity for sustainable development for all.  Mexico had historically practised such cooperation with its regional neighbours as a way of bolstering solidarity and sharing experiences and knowledge beyond finance-based initiatives.

In the past year alone, he said, Mexico had carried out 412 relevant projects, mainly through the exchange of experts, in areas such as agriculture, science and technology, tourism and fishing, among others.  Ownership was vital to comprehensive South-South cooperation and, in that regard, relevant projects and programmes should be decided jointly and in accordance with the needs and capabilities of both recipients and donors.  Mexico agreed that developing countries bore the primary responsibility for promoting their own progress, and South-South cooperation was a basic tool to that end.

At the same time, South-South cooperation should be seen as complementary to traditional North-South cooperation, he said, calling for the overall strengthening of collective efforts that would impact all forms of development cooperation, including building synergies and identifying complementary strategies.  There was a need to give more visibility to South-South cooperation initiatives, which would require monitoring and evaluating existing actions.  The United Nations, with its universal membership and “democratic dynamic” could provide the space to discuss such issues, including matters related to the technical aspects of South-South cooperation and helping to build trust and political will among all States.

LEE HAN-GON ( Republic of Korea) said that since developing countries shared a better understanding of the often similar hardships they faced in achieving sustainable development, South-South cooperation could provide more effective paths for in overcoming difficulties and achieving long-term growth.  Given that interactions between developing countries were increasing, South-South initiatives would boost the potential for more innovative development cooperation and financing.  It would also open the way for the participation of more stakeholders, including donor countries.  To that end, triangular cooperation should be encouraged as a feasible approach to diversifying the possibilities of development cooperation.

Recalling that his country had transformed itself form a beneficiary of international aid to a donor country through rapid economic growth and successful democratization, he said that, with such a unique experience, the Republic of Korea aimed to play an active role in bringing developing and developed countries together to discuss development cooperation, including triangular cooperation and aid effectiveness.

With the Republic of Korea set to become a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2010, it planned to host the next High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011.  Thus, the country would participate actively in global discussions on improving aid effectiveness and the global development assistance architecture.  The Republic of Korea would always respect international norms while sharing its unique experiences and lessons learned, he said, adding that his country would also respect partner countries’ development strategies while focussing on capacity-building.

JAMES A. STEWART ( United States) said his country respected the growing importance of South-South cooperation and its promotion at the United Nations and international financial institutions.  Hopefully their efforts would improve understanding of the nature of South-South cooperation and help strengthen it as a development tool.  Triangular cooperation must also grow to foster an environment of transparency and accountability for all stakeholders, along with respect for national ownership, a commitment to partnership and attention to results.  In that regard, he voiced strong support for the aid effectiveness principles of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda, and recognized the unique characteristics of South-South cooperation, complemented by North-South cooperation, as well as triangular cooperation.

He expressed hope that the Conference, along with the series of forthcoming events on South-South cooperation, would help establish a framework for increased partnership, particularly within the United Nations and among partners in the South, as well as closer collaboration on mutual development goals between all actors.  He pledged his country’s commitment to support and engage with participants in South-South cooperation in order to meet the enormous challenges faced in the quest to eradicate poverty.

ESSA ABDULLA ALBASHA ALNOAIMI ( United Arab Emirates), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted that his country had participated in much cooperation with countries of the South, both as a bilateral donor and through the United Nations.  He expressed appreciation to partners of the United Arab Emirates and voiced hope that the Conference would help to set the context for broadening and deepening South-South cooperation.

BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said the Conference was being held at an auspicious moment as the aftermath of the global and financial crisis continued to be felt.  Even as recovery initiatives started to take hold in many countries, including those of the South, the situation had nevertheless proved that all countries, big and small, rich and poor, must work together for the benefit of humankind.  The fallout from the crisis and the first glimmers of recovery had also proved the resilience of the developing world in the face of a global systemic disruption.

Motivated by similarities in their development circumstances, the challenges they faced and the hopes they shared, developing countries considered that South-South cooperation presented them with opportunities to benefit from “a partnership of equals” in their efforts to achieve agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals.  Special partnership also evinced cooperation that was attentive to the needs of recipient countries.  Yet, in order to be effective, South-South cooperation required mutual accountability, transparency and close consultation among partners.  Relevant initiatives should focus on areas such as financial assistance, infrastructure development and enhancement of human resources.  Increased efforts to those ends, driven by regional or triangular cooperation, would be welcome, as they would meet the most urgent needs of developing countries.

Highlighting successful development initiatives between Viet Nam and African countries, including several that had been supported by partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he said that, overall, such initiatives could only be successful if carried out in accordance with the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference.  There was a need to extend greater and more efficient assistance to and cooperation with countries of the South for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals.  Viet Nam called on members of the “South family” to do more to exchange ideas and share lessons learned to that end.

MOHAMED OUZZINE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said it was true that the 1978 Buenos Aires Plan of Action had marked a turning point in technical cooperation between and among developing countries, which was now a cornerstone of efforts by developing countries to ensure they were better integrated into international decision-making processes and that they could help themselves make solid progress against poverty and other social ills.  At the same time, he noted that, while South-South cooperation had helped many developing countries, some had not benefited, especially those in Africa.

With that in mind, he said, it was not only necessary to bolster assistance to developing-country initiatives, but also to increase the visibility and effectiveness of South-South programmes generated by the United Nations system.  However, such cooperation was not a substitute for North-South cooperation.

He said South-South cooperation was an integral part of his country’s State policy.  Morocco always worked to enhance its cooperation with African and neighbouring countries, including those in the Mediterranean region.  Morocco had launched programmes in such areas as telecommunications, rehabilitation of infrastructure and human-resource capacity development in African countries.  Moroccan banks were operating in countries throughout the region, funding development workshops, among other programmes.  Morocco was also providing expertise in the field of agriculture within the framework of FAO.

AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said South-South cooperation was, most importantly, a manifestation of solidarity and collective self-reliance of developing countries.  In meeting the challenges of the multiple crises that threatened those countries, the diversity of the South, which included both dynamic and distressed economies, opened up new opportunities and complementarities in addition to new challenges.

The United Nations system had a key role to play in strengthening South-South cooperation, he stressed, encouraging the Organizations funds, programmes and specialized agencies to allocate the resources necessary to further streamline cooperation in their operational activities.  However, cooperation between developing countries was not a substitute for North-South cooperation, and the developed North had an obligation to fulfil its commitments in the interest of global harmony, equity and development.  Triangular cooperation was also a useful and cost-effective tool for achieving development goals.

He noted that his country was part of several regional arrangements that sought economic integration and cooperation.  Pakistan had a robust technical assistance programme aimed at other developing countries, with over 1,700 business students from 65 countries benefiting from one training programme and around 1,500 diplomats from another.  Pakistan called on all stakeholders to follow up on current initiatives and to create new ones to strengthen South-South cooperation.

JULIO CESAR GONZALEZ MARCHANTE ( Cuba) said that discussions at last week’s Food Security Summit hosted by FAO in Rome had revealed that the number of hungry people in the world had crept above the 1 billion mark.  That revelation, in addition to other sad current realities, confirmed the sobering prospects for people living in poor countries.  While member States of OECD, which had been responsible for the current economic crisis currently affecting all countries, were spending hundreds of billions of dollars to save their financial institutions, agreements to meet the long-agreed foreign aid goal of 0.7 per cent of GDP were falling by the wayside.  “We believe the moment has come to talk about the efficiency of a world economy dominated by OECD countries, as prospects for alleviating the serious economic, food and ecological crises affecting poor countries are decades away form reality.

He went on to state that it was well worth noting that the current crises had been sparked by serious structural and systemic problems which went far beyond the failure of developed countries to manage their monetary policies and regulate their financial sectors.  Indeed, the multiple crises were the result of failed neo-liberal economic doctrines and the myth of the advantages of relying on markets.  There was a need to develop a new and dynamic system focused on human well-being.  Unless there was political will to solve the problems faced by developing countries, the situation would worsen for the people living in those countries.

Having suffered for half a century under an unjust economic, financial and commercial blockade, he said, Cuba had implemented several South-South cooperation-related programmes in 157 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.  For example, in the current school year, some 30,000 students from 125 countries were studying in Cuba to become technicians and professionals, over 77 per cent of them in medical sciences.  While much had been said about so‑called “donor fatigue”, it was high time to discuss the suffering of millions of people in the developing world.

He said his country was aware of the way in which developed countries had tried to link the main principles underlying the efficiency of development assistance.  Indeed, Cuba rejected such “hackneyed” ideas and speeches by some donors regarding the need to ensure effective use of assistance as the key to solving the problems of the developing world.  For ODA to be effective, OECD countries could no longer put off the decision to eliminate “questionable” aspects of such assistance, including the high cost of technical support provided by experts from OECD countries.  They should generate the political will to “practise what they preach” by implementing required actions in their own countries.

ANGELINA C. WAPAKHABULO, High Commissioner of Uganda to Kenya, said that, while there had been encouraging socio-economic prospects sparked by development cooperation between and among developing countries in the years since the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, many such countries still faced serious challenges which might inhibit attainment of globally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.  Moreover, the current array of worldwide crises –- from the economic downturn to the spread of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and swine flu –- were threatening to erode gains achieved by many developing countries.  The Nairobi Conference provided a welcome opportunity to discuss such challenges, she said, welcoming initiatives by multilateral, regional and bilateral development partners to increase financial resources devoted to promoting South-South cooperation.

She went on to stress the importance of sharing experiencing among regional and subregional economic groups, including the African Union, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among others, as a key way to expand South-South cooperation.  In that regard, the historic 2008 Tripartite Summit had brought together leaders and member States of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which had launched a broad free-trade and regional infrastructure development initiative.  Such arrangements, especially in the areas of trade, investment and technology transfer, needed to be replicated.  South-South cooperation could make a real impact on the energy sectors of developing countries, especially in support of implementation of small-scale renewable energy and rural electrification projects.  Such efforts would facilitate the growth of rural enterprises, improve livelihoods and reduce environmental degradation.

A.K.M. SHAMSUDDIN, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Kenya, said that while there had been some progress in South–South cooperation since Buenos Aires, it was also true that many countries did not promote the idea or take advantage of the opportunities it offered.  Indeed, many vulnerable countries were in a worse situation than ever before as income disparities were growing, and investment flows remained highly concentrated among a small number of recipients and sectors.  Delegations talking about the benefits of South-South cooperation had attended many conferences and passed one resolution after another.  A few days later, they seemed to forget all about the commitments they had made.  With that in mind, Bangladesh proposed not making promises that were not achievable.

“We want the market-driven approach to development,” he said, stressing that, without agreements on rules and regulations, standards and quality, payment arrangements, dispute settlement mechanisms and enforcement measures, developing countries could not establish strong regional markets.  They must have the capacity to cooperate on the basis of shared interests and socio-economic needs if they were to benefit from global markets.  If the Conference was to have any concrete meaning at all, delegations would have to do more than just reaffirm their commitment to the notion of South-South cooperation.  Rather, Member States must undertake serious steps that would lead to solid improvements in South-South cooperation mandates and structures.  The Conference should also be forward-looking.

While South-South cooperation was not a substitute for North-South development initiatives, developing countries could assist each other in many ways, he said, proposing in that regard a comprehensive study of markets in the South, including the areas of supply and demand, production capacities and resource requirements.  Countries with the ability to do so should offer preferential trade arrangements to those less fortunate, within the parameters of World Trade Organization rules.  “I believe innovation, creativity, competition, competitiveness and, more importantly, connectivity and participation are the engines for growth and prosperity, he said.  Among other things, he noted the huge potential of migration, citing estimates that nearly half the migrants from developing countries resided in other developing countries.  Allowing free movement of service providers, both within the South and between the North and South, made sound economic sense and should be pursued in great earnest.

RODRIGO GAETE (Chile), endorsing the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, as a middle-income country, Chile was presented with a dilemma because of the rising expectations of its contributions to South-South cooperation and the diminishing level of cooperation from countries of the North.  Both should be carried on at the same time.  South-South cooperation was complementary to North-South cooperation, and both had many dimensions.

He said his country had defined modalities of cooperation in relations with various countries, prioritizing technical cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Chile also emphasized triangular cooperation.  The role of the United Nations in promoting all kinds of cooperation was very important, and he called for support to the South-South Unit in UNDP.  He pledged his country’s continued support for strengthening South-South cooperation.

DANIEL CHUBURU ( Argentina) said delegations had gathered to give new impetus to South-South cooperation, which was critical as more traditional forms of aid appeared to be diminishing.  For Argentina, South-South cooperation was also critical in helping countries adapt to current global realities and to the broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  The Buenos Aires Plan of Action had been a far-reaching agreement aimed at bolstering development and technical cooperation in developing countries.  Since its adoption, many United Nations conferences in the social and economic spheres had been held, including on development financing.  Since 2005, however, Argentina had witnessed a drop in development assistance from the OECD countries, as well as in innovative ideas and initiatives to that end.  Attempts to promote broader dialogue on South-South cooperation had also stalled.

As that was the case, the United Nations provided an excellent forum to discuss such matters, as well as other issues, such as aid effectiveness, he said.  Indeed, the Organization was the only forum where discussions among countries of differing levels of development could be held.  Such discussions must now include middle-income countries and least developed countries.  The language of such talks needed to change so as to reflect new global realities, and new partners must be brought in.  Middle-income countries still required development assistance and should not be punished for their successes.  They needed assistance to ensure broader distribution of wealth.

Like many middle-income countries, Argentina was also playing a dual role, trying to boost its own development and helping neighbours to ensure their own long-term growth, he said.  South-South cooperation was a major engine that could push developing countries towards growth and development.  Their efforts must be supported by traditional donors to make them more effective.  To that end, Argentina called for all donors to live up to their ODA commitments.  South-South cooperation, along with traditional and triangular cooperation, could bring wider benefits.  In Argentina’s experience, such triangular alliances had indeed yielded solid benefits.

RAYMOND LANDVELD ( Suriname), Rapporteur General of the Conference, spoke in his national capacity, saying the Government of Suriname attached great importance to South-South cooperation.  Its active participation in that field, within the United Nations and in regional and other organizations had been extensive.  Southern countries such as China, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and others were participating in cooperative initiatives with Suriname, in a host of projects aimed at bolstering technical cooperation, and improving education facilities, tackling climate change and other challenges.  All such projects and programmes were helping improve the lives of the citizens of Suriname.  As for the Conference, he expressed appreciation for the work of the facilitators of the negotiations on the proposed outcome document, adding that he hoped all delegations would agree on a framework that would carry out the work on South-South cooperation for the next 30 years.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.