Adopting Nairobi Outcome Document, South-South Conference Encourages Developing Countries to Make Cooperative Efforts Work Better in Tackling Challenges

3 December 2009

Adopting Nairobi Outcome Document, South-South Conference Encourages Developing Countries to Make Cooperative Efforts Work Better in Tackling Challenges

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

Adopting Nairobi Outcome Document, South-South Conference Encourages Developing


Countries to Make Cooperative Efforts Work Better in Tackling Challenges


Three-day Event Ends after Highlighting Growing Links

Among Developing Nations, as South Plays Greater Role in Handling Problems

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

NAIROBI, 3 December ‑‑ As it concluded in Nairobi, Kenya, today, the High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation encouraged developing countries –- with support from developed countries and international organizations –- to take concrete steps to make their cooperative efforts work better in tackling the serious challenges they faced in achieving socio-economic advancement.

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

By adopting the final text of the Conference -- known formally as the Nairobi Outcome Document -- the participants recognized the increasing power of South-South cooperation in the decades since the Buenos Aires meeting due to the record economic growth of some developing countries and the establishment of regional common markets, customs unions, inter-State transport, communications networks and bilateral capacity-building projects involving developing countries as well as middle-income countries or developed countries in “triangular” cooperation.

“The past 30 years have shown us that countries can rise above desperate circumstances to achieve human development, freeing millions from extreme poverty and becoming major players in the world economic system,” said Amat Al-Alim Alsoswa, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who spoke on behalf of Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Conference Secretary-General, in her closing statement this afternoon.

To realize the full potential of South-South collaboration, particularly in the context of multiple world crises, the Nairobi Outcome invites developed countries to expand their participation in triangular arrangements, in particular capacity-building and training, and to follow-through on their official development assistance (ODA) commitments.  Echoing the words of many speakers during the Conference, the document stresses that South-South cooperation is not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North-South cooperation.  It also encourages developing countries to assess the effectiveness of South-South and triangular cooperation and to promote the development of methodologies and statistics to enhance national coordination mechanisms, and to share lessons learned to that end.

The document urges United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies to take concrete measures to support South-South cooperation by acting as catalysts for cooperation and strengthening the capabilities of regional organizations.  Welcoming the ongoing activities of many of the Organization’s units in that regard, it reaffirms the importance of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, hosted by UNDP, particularly in implementing that agency’s latest framework for cooperation.  It encourages Member States to provide support for that effort.

Through the Nairobi Outcome, Conference participants reaffirmed that South-South cooperation differed from ODA as “a partnership among equals, based on solidarity”, and guided by the principles of respect for national sovereignty and ownership, free of any conditionality.

In her statement welcoming the Conference outcome, Ms. Clark said: “The emphasis on equality among Southern partners that pervades South-South cooperation creates the necessary conditions for further engagement, as it emphasizes that all members of the South have a lot to share.”

She said it was clear from the discussions, however, that there was a need for broader, deeper partnerships that included members of the private sector, civil society, other intergovernmental and regional groupings and multilateral organizations.  By identifying complementarities and performing needs-capacity matching, stronger, more innovative and inclusive partnerships could be built.

In his closing statement, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar), President of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, thanked all involved in the Conference, particularly the Government of Kenya, and voiced the hope that the South-South efforts discussed over the past few days could serve as an inspiration for further cross-border initiatives seeking to achieve internationally agreed targets such as the Millennium Development Goals.

Wycliffe Oparanya, Kenya’s Minister for Planning and President of the Conference, also thanked participants as well as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their support and for making the outcome possible.  He reviewed some of the ideas discussed during the meeting, welcoming in particular the fact that the Outcome Document addressed environmental and energy issues.

Prior to the adoption of the Nairobi Outcome, Kalonzo Musyoka, Vice-President of Kenya, congratulated the Conference organizers and participants for the successful proceedings, and welcomed the unanimous resolution to drive the South-South agenda forward and to further encourage cross-border initiatives that could help Africa and the rest of the global South to claim its place in the twenty-first century.

He acknowledged that continuing poverty and other problems were monumental challenges and urged countries of the South to make their voices heard in international forums such as the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.  He also expressed thanks to the developed countries participating in triangular arrangements and otherwise supporting cooperation.

The Conference also featured two round table discussions, respectively on “Strengthening the role of the United Nations system in supporting South-South and triangular cooperation”, and “South-South and triangular cooperation for development: complementarities, specificities, challenges and opportunities”.

Reporting on the discussion on the role of the United Nations, panel Chairperson Gunnar Pálsson (Iceland) said participants from UNDP, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other key agencies of the Organization had stressed, among other things, the significance of country offices in transferring knowledge and technology in areas of vital concern to developing countries.  They had also highlighted the significance of the private sector and the need for the United Nations to engage with such actors.  He said participants had also discussed the great need for South-South cooperation to address the situation of workers in developing countries, and stressed the need for United Nations bodies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) to step up their efforts to that end.

Abdullah Alsaidi (Yemen), Chairperson of the round table on triangular cooperation, said the discussions had been “most fascinating”.  Among other presentations, he said that Japan’s representative had noted that his country had been active in triangular cooperation long before the creation of that term.  Other speakers had stressed that, while South-South cooperation had been successful, policy coordination with the North was necessary in order to effectively elaborate strategies on vital issues such as climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The Conference took note of the reports on the round tables, as well as the report of its Credentials Committee.  Delegations also adopted a procedural resolution by which it would transmit the Conference Outcome Document to the United Nations General Assembly for that 192-member body’s endorsement during its sixty-fourth session.

Following their presentations, Ambassadors Pálsson and Alsaidi introduced the Nairobi Outcome Document to delegations and expressed similar hopes that the text, which had undergone intensive negotiations, would guide the international community’s work on South–South cooperation in the future.

Rapporteur General of the Conference, Raymond Landveld (Suriname) introduced the meeting’s draft report (document A/CONF.215/L.3) and announced some technical amendments to the text.  As the document was still being finalized, he told delegations that they would have until 12 December 2009 to submit any corrections or additional information to be included in the official text.

Also addressing the Conference was Achim Steiner, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, who said that issues at the core of South-South development cooperation were “imbued in our DNA, part of our daily lives”.  Indeed, he pointed out, in and around the world body’s Nairobi headquarters were everyday examples of what delegations had agreed upon in the Outcome Document.

He urged delegations to keep in mind the discussions on the new and vital role being played by developing countries, especially as tough decisions would need to be made in the near future regarding cooperative efforts to tackle climate change, as well as how to strengthen global relations towards achieving agreed development goals.

Pakistan’s representative, speaking on behalf of all participants, thanked the people and Government of Kenya for their hospitality during the High-Level Conference.

Welcoming the Outcome Document were the representatives of Sudan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Sweden (on behalf of the European Union) and India (on behalf of the Asian Group).

Round-Up of Conference

The High-Level Conference, which opened on 1 December, heard presentations by 45 delegations and spotlighted the ascent of developing countries to positions of greater influence on the world stage over the past two decades.  It also served as a wake-up call to traditional donors from the North that many of their Southern counterparts were willing and able to enter into innovative development cooperation arrangements to help lift their own populations out of poverty and promote sustained economic growth.

In her opening address, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said: “Development […] has proved to be most successful when coupled with strategies to increase cross-border trade and investment.”  As millions of people were now living better lives, and a number of developing countries were achieving near-record levels of economic growth, the international community “could only welcome higher South-South investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development, particularly here in Africa,” she added.

At the same time, she noted, South and North alike faced multiple crises, including hunger, which now afflicted an unprecedented 1 billion people, as well as 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, no matter their economic status.  “South-South cooperation should not replace North-South cooperation, but instead complement it,” she stressed.

That refrain was echoed throughout the Conference’s energetic two-day general debate, as most participants agreed that industrialized nations and traditional donors must live up to their long-agreed, but largely unfulfilled, development commitments, especially the 0.7 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) target for official development assistance (ODA).

Many speakers also emphasized the importance of national ownership, and called for greater development of triangular exchanges involving countries of both the South and the North.  Others voiced hope that the Conference would strengthen, among other things, existing mechanisms that could improve access for developing countries to new and clean technologies, promote fair global trade as well as further dialogue among developing and developed countries.

While speakers from industrialized countries stressed that all development cooperation should follow the efficiency guidelines laid out in the Paris and Accra meetings on the issue, delegates from the developing world countered that talk of efficiency by donors allowed them to avoid recognizing their lack of unconditional commitment to giving developing countries the resources they required, which was particularly crucial to tackling climate change.

Officials from dynamic emerging economies in Asia and Latin America also asserted that their Governments were ready to improve socio-economic conditions at home and help raise development prospects across the global South, with one speaker declaring: “Today we celebrate the South’s coming of age.”  Another official from a large developing country said her Government rejected the notion that South-South cooperation should adhere to the same mechanisms designed to guide, monitor and evaluate traditional development assistance programmes.

A final recurring theme was that developing countries saw South-South development cooperation as a “partnership among equals”.  South-driven initiatives were not only a way to improve their socio-economic situations, but also an opportunity to deepen solidarity and expand the exchange of ideas with their neighbours and regional partners, most speakers agreed.

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