Deputy Secretary-General Says South-South Cooperation Grand Partnership That Has Encouraged Countries to Work for ‘the Common Good’

1 December 2009

Deputy Secretary-General Says South-South Cooperation Grand Partnership That Has Encouraged Countries to Work for ‘the Common Good’

1 December 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Says South-South Cooperation Grand Partnership


That Has Encouraged Countries to Work for ‘the Common Good’


Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the South-South Cooperation Conference in Nairobi, 1 December:

Mr. Prime Minister, allow me to first express our deep gratitude to the Government and the people of Kenya for graciously hosting this historic meeting and putting excellent facilities at our disposal.  Furthermore we thank the Government for the material and logistical support extended to us.

It is a pleasure to join you.  I bring you warm greetings from Secretary-General Ban [Ki-moon], who attaches great importance to South-South Cooperation and wishes you all the best in your important deliberations.

Our journey to this conference follows in the footsteps of leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Indonesia’s Ahmed Sukarno, U Nu of Myanmar, China’s Zhou En-lai and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.

We are all familiar with the great Nkrumah’s visit to the Asia-Africa Conference in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia, where he urged the peoples of the developing world to unite for the socioeconomic transformation of the global South.

The 1978 Buenos Aires Conference being commemorated here in Nairobi 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.

One of the most important successes we celebrate today is the lifting of millions of women, men and children out of extreme poverty.  This has happened across the South.  We have also seen a number of developing countries achieve the fastest pace of economic growth in human history.

New southern poles of growth now exist in trade, finance and technology, signalling the emergence of a new community of countries with formidable economic strength and tremendous potential to advance their well-being further still.  The international community can only welcome higher South-South investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development, particularly here in Africa.

South and North alike face multiple crises.  Hunger afflicts one billion people -- an unprecedented number.  Unemployment is up and trade is down as a result of the economic crisis.  Catastrophic climate change looms.  Solutions to these and other ills require stronger cooperation, starting with one’s immediate neighbours.

Development does not occur in a vacuum.  It has proved to be most successful when coupled with strategies to increase cross-border trade and investment.  We know from the days of the Marshall Plan that cooperation in the creation of vibrant regional neighbourhoods pays handsome dividends, including jobs, increased productivity and better living standards.  Our challenge is to heed what history teaches us about what works in development, and what doesn’t.  This Conference is an opportunity to focus our energies.

Science and technology have played a critical role in the development of the South.  Over the past thirty years, we have seen countries transformed into powerhouses thanks to wise investments in knowledge and information technology in particular.

One of the most ubiquitous pieces of technology today is the mobile phone, which has kick-started development among some of the least-served populations, women above all.  Through Southern innovators such as Mohammed Yunus, we have seen millions of women enter the marketplace using mobile phones to create jobs and opportunities for their families.  This is just one example of what the South and North can do together to improve the human condition.

Much more is possible.  We should, for example, scale up 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 can play a catalytic role in promoting South-South cooperation -- not only in general, but also between countries that might not otherwise think to work together.  For example, Uruguay is working with Rwanda on the “One Laptop per Child” initiative, sharing practical information and experience.  These two countries came together because they share the experience of being pilot countries of the Delivering as One initiative.

The demands of our deeply interconnected world call for practical solutions, reinforced by stronger South-South and North-South partnerships.  Indeed, South-South cooperation is not a substitute for North-South cooperation, but complementary to it.

The Secretary-General and I will continue to do our part to bring countries together and to promote South-South cooperation.  Together, we can harness the great endowments of the South and achieve the internationally agreed development goals, and in particular the Millennium Development Goals.

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