Statement by Deputy Minister Marius Fransman at the Opening Session of the Leadership Round Table of the Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo), Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, 22 November 2010

Mr. Celso Amorim, Minister of External Relations of Brazil,
Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN Woman Executive Director,
Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO,
Mr. Paul de Lay, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

South Africa recently staged the very successful FIFA World Cup in June 2010. By Fifa’s own admission it was their most successful event. What is of importance is the fact that when we started the initiative in South Africa, there were those in the international media that consistently tried to undermine the fact that South Africa, and indeed Africa, is more than competent to host an event of such magnitude. There were consistent attempts to find a “Plan B” just in case “South Africa would not have been ready”! As we came closer to the June 2010 event, and as the world realised that we were delivering our commitments on infrastructure, culture and the capacity of our host cities to manage the international guests, the negative messages were overtaken by excitement in wanting to be part of it.

South Africa wants to thank today all those nations that believed in South Africa, and in Africa’s, ability to successfully host such a spectacular event. We are also calling on those that had misgivings and that undermined Africa’s ability to discharge it’s responsibility to be the host, to learn from the event and your biggest contribution into the future for Africa will be, to be ambassadors in your respective countries for Africa’s development, in a way that doesn’t patronize but that respect and appreciate the continent’s urge to lead our developmental objectives.  

South Africa places very strong emphasis on the principles underpinning South-South Cooperation, as determined by the Ministers of the G77 and China in September in 2008, and subsequently endorsed by the High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation which was held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2009. We associate ourselves in particular with the call to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in supporting South-South Cooperation.

South-South Cooperation is of vital importance to all developing countries as a vehicle 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 our individual development challenges.

The ongoing challenges facing the global community such as the food crisis, financial and economic crises and climate change exacerbate the inhumane and dehumanizing conditions of the marginalized poor. It is therefore critical that decisive action should be taken to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015. South-South Cooperation is increasingly important in this regard, as is the role of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation. We appreciate the support of the Special Unit and associate ourselves with calls for the further strengthening thereof.

It therefore becomes critical to reflect on the capacity of the UN bodies that support the South-South Cooperation, and a framework and mechanisms should be institute by such bodies to deliver on the mandates.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is the socio-economic programme of the African Union (AU). It is a collective, people-centered development programme in the true spirit of South-South Cooperation. NEPAD has developed concrete programmes and projects in many critical areas to the development of Africa, in agriculture, infrastructure, and information and communication technologies (ICTS), among others, with the invaluable assistance of the other countries of the South. 

In our attempt to strengthen and intensify South-South Cooperation, developing countries have initiated efforts to build on our cooperation for human development and social protection in areas such as health, human resources development, and technology sharing, and consolidate our partnerships at sub-regional and regional levels. 

As developing countries, we are the ones who have the primary responsibility for promoting and implementing South-South cooperation. It is, after all, as the name implies, our own initiative. South African foreign policy seeks to persuade the international community to support the efforts of developing countries to expand South-South Co-operation. Triangular co-operation arrangements such as the India, Brazil, South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) make an important contribution to strengthening South-South cooperation. IBSA is a classic demonstration of the diversity encompassed by South-South Cooperation. We had a vision of an IBSA that would not be limited to an interaction amongst governments only, but an IBSA that would be equally relevant to civil society, to business and to academia. In our humble opinion, the best practices accumulated amongst the IBSA partners, should be shared within the framework of South-South Cooperation.

Our vision also embraces the quest to combat poverty in other developing countries. We believe this is possible through bold and decisive leadership and the ability to act! Critical to this is also the respect for the institutions in the South to discharge such responsibility. IBSA has formulated a Social Development Strategy that was adopted at the last Summit, on 15 April 2010, in Brasilia.  IBSA stakeholders are in the process of formulating a Programme of Action to ensure concrete joint projects and programmes to address pertinent issues raised in the Strategy.

The IBSA Governments were honoured by being awarded the Millennium Development Goal Awards in September this year, in partnership with the UNDP Millennium Campaign and the Office for Partnerships, for, as the citation read, "their leadership and support of the IBSA Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) as a breakthrough model of South-South Technical Cooperation". The Fund has projects in Haiti, Palestine, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Burundi and Cambodia.

I look forward to a meaningful and interactive dialogue with you today.

I thank you.

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