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Developing South-South cooperation

By Ioan Voicu - posted Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) annually reviews South-South cooperation. Unfortunately, the theme of this cooperation continues to be absent from the mainstream media agenda. No attention was paid to statements by Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, who stressed that "more than ever we need solidarity, hope, political will and cooperation .... The principles of South-South cooperation of solidarity and empathy are more than ever necessary for an effective response and recovery from the pandemic ".

A significant report

According to the UN Secretariat, the best example of solidarity between countries is offered by South-South cooperation.


The most recent official document on this cooperation is the Report of the High-Level Committee for South-South Cooperation, Twentieth Session (June 1-4, 2021), which was released on August 20. This session brought together many countries, including: Australia, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Timor- Leste.

This report has 34 pages. We will limit our analysis in this article to highlighting the main findings, considerations and proposals that are specifically linked to the value of solidarity mentioned 16 times,due to its fundamental role in promoting cooperation at the regional, interregional and global levels.

In Decision 20/1 entitled South-South Cooperation, the High-Level Committee referred first to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which reaffirms the resolute political will to face the funding challenges and to create , at all levels, an environment conducive to sustainable development, in a spirit of global partnership and solidarity.

Solidarity news

In this context, it is logically reaffirmed in the preamble of the decision that South-South cooperation is an important element of international cooperation for development. This cooperation complements North-South cooperation, but is not a substitute for it.

The High-Level Committee is aware of the importance of this cooperation, its historical differences and its particularities, that it should be considered as a manifestation of solidarity between the peoples and countries of the South, based on their common experiences and goals. It should continue to be governed by the principles of national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, freedom from conditions, non-interference in internal affairs and mutual interest.


An important conclusion of the meeting was that the increased global interdependence resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic urgently calls for enhanced international solidarity and cooperation, including through South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation with the North represented by developed countries.

A common idea was summarized in the report as follows: "South-South cooperation was more important than ever, as the need for regional solidarity, multilateralism, partnerships and cooperation was greater in the face of devastating global crises such as the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) and climate change ".

This idea was further explored by many delegations who felt that the principle of solidarity that underpinned South-South cooperation had brought many benefits to developing countries during the pandemic. One delegation recalled that the existing forms of North-South cooperation had left developing countries to themselves, which had prompted its country to help, in a spirit of solidarity, 150 other developing countries by donating medicines, medical equipment and related supplies. His government had distributed vaccines to the most vulnerable countries in the spirit of South-South cooperation.

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About the Author

Dr Ioan Voicu is a Visiting Professor at Assumption University in Bangkok

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