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What Is South-South Cooperation?

South-South cooperation is a broad framework for collaboration among countries of the South in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains. Involving two or more developing countries, it can take place on a bilateral, regional, subregional or interregional basis. Developing countries share knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to meet their development goals through concerted efforts. Recent developments in South-South cooperation have taken the form of increased volume of South-South trade, South-South flows of foreign direct investment, movements towards regional integration, technology transfers, sharing of solutions and experts, and other forms of exchanges.

Collaboration in which traditional donor countries and multilateral organizations facilitate South-South initiatives through the provision of funding, training, and management and technological systems as well as other forms of support is referred to as triangular cooperation.

Basic Elements of South-South Cooperation

South-South cooperation is initiated, organized and managed by developing countries themselves; often, Governments play a lead role, with active participation from public- and private-sector institutions, non-governmental organizations and individuals. It involves different and evolving forms, including  the sharing of knowledge and experience, training, technology transfer, financial and monetary cooperation and in-kind contributions. South-South cooperation can include different sectors and be bilateral, multilateral, subregional, regional or interregional in nature.

Guiding Principles of South-South Cooperation

South-South cooperation is a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes to their national well-being, their national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. The South-South cooperation agenda and South-South cooperation initiatives must be determined by the countries of the South, guided by the principles of respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in domestic affairs and mutual benefit.

Objectives of South-South Cooperation

The basic objectives of South-South cooperation are interdependent and mutually supportive and contribute to the broader objectives of international development cooperation. These objectives are to:

  • foster the self-reliance of developing countries by enhancing their creative capacity to find solutions to their development problems in keeping with their own aspirations, values and special needs;
  • promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among developing countries through the exchange of experiences; the pooling, sharing and use of their technical and other resources; and the development of their complementary capacities;
  • strengthen the capacity of developing countries to identify and analyse together their main development issues and formulate the requisite strategies to address them;
  • increase the quantity and enhance the quality of international development cooperation through the pooling of capacities to improve the effectiveness of the resources devoted to such cooperation;
  • create and strengthen existing technological capacities in the developing countries in order to improve the effectiveness with which such capacities are used and to improve the capacity of developing countries to absorb and adapt technology and skills to meet their specific developmental needs;
  • increase and improve communications among developing countries, leading to a greater awareness of common problems and wider access to available knowledge and experience as well as the creation of new knowledge in tackling development problems;
  • recognize and respond to the problems and requirements of the least developed countries, land-locked developing countries, small island developing States and the countries most seriously affected by, for example, natural disasters and other crises; and
  • enable developing countries to achieve a greater degree of participation in international economic activities and to expand international cooperation for development.
Benefits of South-South Cooperation

Benefits of South-South cooperation include:

  • strengthening of the voice and bargaining power of developing countries in multilateral negotiations;
  • use of experience and capacity that already exists and the development of new capacities in developing countries;
  • opening of additional channels of communication among developing countries;
  • promotion and strengthening of economic integration among developing countries on as wide a geographic basis as possible;
  • enhancement of the multiplier effect of technical cooperation;
  • fostering of economic, scientific and technological self-reliance;
  • increased knowledge of and confidence in the capacities available in developing countries;
  • coordination of policies on development issues relevant to a number of developing countries;
  • development of indigenous technology and the introduction of techniques better adapted to local needs, particularly in traditional subsistence sectors such as agriculture;
  • promotion of:
    • national science and technology plans;
    • economic and social planning;
    • linkage of research and development with economic growth;
    • project planning and evaluation;
    • use of human and natural-resource potential;
    • modern management and administration;
    • technical, scientific and administrative manpower; and
    • accelerated professional training at different levels.
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