Statement by Ambassador Baso Sangqu, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations and Head of South African Delegation to the High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation held in Nairobi, Kenya from 1 – 3 December 2009.
President of the Conference
Heads of Delegations
High Representatives of Governments
Secretary General of the Conference
Ladies and gentleman
Allow me to thank the Government and the people of Kenya for hosting this Conference on South-South Cooperation. I would also like to thank the Co-Facilitators, the Permanent Representatives of the Iceland and Yemen to the United Nations for successfully steering the intergovernmental consultations held in New York and the flexibility demonstrated by all sides during the negotiations that led to the successful outcome document we now have before us.
Firstly, it is important that we recognize how far we have come in promoting and strengthening South-South Cooperation from the limited focus on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, manifested in the Buenos Aires Plan of Action of 1978, three decades ago. Presently, South-South Cooperation is not only a wide ranging process, covering all aspects of development as recognized in the outcome document, it also embraces a multi-stakeholder approach and is also globally recognized as making a significant contribution to developing countries’ development progress. This contribution is also recognized in the outcome document of this conference.
The outcome document recognizes, among other things, the principles underpinning South-South Cooperation, as determined by the Ministers of the G77 and China in September in 2008. It is heartening to note that these principles are now recognized by developed and developing countries alike as well as throughout the UN system. In this regard, we associate ourselves in particular with the call to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in supporting South-South Cooperation and we are looking forward to working with the different elements of the UN System in promoting South-South Cooperation. In this regard, South Africa has recently concluded a first-ever joint evaluation with the UN Evaluation Group of the contribution of the UN System to South Africa and we believe its valuable and groundbreaking outcomes could be shared with other developing countries.
South-South Cooperation is of vital importance to all developing countries, as there is much we can do amongst ourselves as sovereign equals and partners. We share a common interest in addressing challenges of poverty and underdevelopment as well as the economic and political marginalization of developing countries from the global system. The recent declaration at the World Food Security Summit held in Rome, that the number of hungry people in the world has increased to over one billion people, despite our collective 2000 commitment to half it by 2015, is indeed very alarming and horrifying.
Addressing these challenges individually can be a very daunting task; however, collectively through the multilateral system they are surmountable. This should reinforce our belief in the importance of strong and vibrant multilateralism and in particular the important role of South-South Cooperation and the UN system in promoting it.
The current multiple crises facing the global community such as the food crisis, financial and economic crises, climate change etc, will exacerbate these inhumane and dehumanizing conditions of the poor. It is therefore very urgent that decisive actions are taken in order to reverse the tide and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015
This has made us to firmly focus our attention on the promotion of South-South Cooperation as an important dimension for developing and strengthening interdependence among developing countries through investment, trade, technology transfer and exchanging technical, financial and institutional knowledge in support of finding solutions to our common and individual development challenges.
In our attempt to strengthen and intensify South-South Cooperation, we have initiated efforts to build on our cooperation in areas such as health, human resources development, and technology sharing, and consolidate our partnerships at sub-regional and regional levels.
Our partnerships with countries of the South are critical to advancing not only South Africa’s development needs, but also the African agenda.
South Africa has thus realigned and strengthened its governance systems and structures to further promote cooperative partnerships within the context of South-South Cooperation and encourage the involvement of non-state actors in pursuit of these objectives.
IBSA is a classic demonstration of the diversity encompassed by South-South Cooperation. We dreamt of an IBSA that would not be limited to an interaction amongst governments only, but an IBSA that would spread its relevance to business, academia, and all other organs of civil society. We believe that the best practices accumulated amongst the IBSA partners, should be shared within the framework of South-South Cooperation.
In this regard, the role of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation is critical and we appreciate its support and associate ourselves with the call in the outcome document for further strengthening of the Special Unit.
The African Union has developed NEPAD as its collective people-centered development programme in the true spirit of South-South Cooperation. NEPAD has, over the years, developed concrete programmes and bankable projects in many critical areas to the development of Africa, in agriculture, infrastructure, and information and communication technologies (ICTS), among others, with the assistance of the countries of the South. We believe these could be the anchor and platform for the implementation of South-South Cooperation on the continent. In this regard, we must address the challenges of implementation of these programmes, in particular through resource mobilization and complementary efforts by North-South Cooperation.
Africa’s relations with Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East allow for a bigger platform for the advancement of South-South Cooperation and the African agenda. We have made progress in our relations with these regions inter alia, on economic, political and social fronts as reflected in the New Asia African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), Africa-Arab Cooperation, the Africa-China Cooperation Forum (FOCAC), Africa-India Partnership, Africa-South America Summit, etc.
While South Africa fully associates itself with the outcome document so meticulously and tirelessly negotiated by our experts in New York over the recent weeks, we wish to place on record, that we believe that the envisaged assessment of the contribution made by South-South Cooperation could only be done as requested by developing countries and with full participation of developing countries and its structures, such as the G77 and China. Such an assessment can only be done within the parameters of the principles for South-South Cooperation as set by our Ministers in their Declaration adopted at the Ministerial Meeting of September 2008.
As far as the notion of “mutual accountability” is concerned, it should not be construed as if developing countries are accountable to their development partners for the achievement of their development objectives. As governments of developing countries, we are held accountable by our people through their active engagement with government and the normal democratic processes prevalent in our countries. We could thus not be held accountable by any other system or player. However, we fully support the notion that we have to account to our development partners for the use of resources, funds or other support that we receive from them.
We would thus appeal to the UN system to be engaged in a process to generate a common understanding of this and other undefined concepts that have been included in the outcome document before us.
My country looks forward to working closely with the UN in designing and conducting an assessment of the contribution made by South-South Cooperation. But more importantly, this assessment must be forward looking.
We wish this Conference all the success and look forward to the implementation of the resolutions and outcomes that will be arrived at.
I thank you.
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X152
04 December 2009