Promotion of South-South cooperation for development: a thirty-year perspective - Report of the Secretary-General (A/64/504)


Sixty-fourth session
Agenda item 58 (b)
Operational activities for development:
South-South cooperation for development


The present report responds to resolutions 62/209 of 19 December 2007 and 63/233 of 19 December 2008, by which the General Assembly decided to convene a High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation. It was decided subsequently to accept the invitation of the Government of Kenya to convene the meeting at the highest possible level in Nairobi, from 1 to 3 December 2009. The Nairobi Conference is to review the promotion of South-South cooperation for development from the United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires in 1978, to the present. This report reviews the implementation of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action in that period by Member States and organizations of the United Nations system. In keeping with the various levels of implementation recommended in the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the report reviews action at the national, regional, interregional and global levels. Against the background of lessons learned in the past 30 years, the report highlights key priorities for South-South cooperation in the years ahead.

I. Introduction

1. In a volatile international environment, the cooperation of developing countries with each other has been a steadying and positive factor in their attainment of impressive but uneven socio-economic gains. Such cooperation began in the 1950s, but it was not until the United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires from 30 August to 12 September 1978, that it was approached in a strategic framework.

2. The Conference was part of a broad effort by developing countries to cooperate in accelerating their economic and social development, and close the gap between themselves and the industrialized countries that had opened up during the colonial period.

3. The present report reviews 30 years of South-South cooperation under the aegis of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries by Member States and United Nations organizations and agencies. The report finds that:

(a) Developing countries as a group now have the entire range of modern technical competencies, with centres of excellence in key areas that have increased their national and collective self-reliance;

(b) Many developing countries also continue to suffer from serious socioeconomic deficits, and some are not on track to achieve the minimum goals set by the Millennium Summit of the General Assembly;

(c) A growing number of developing countries with pivotal roles in South-South cooperation are becoming middle-income economies and the largest of them are gaining a voice in global governance;

(d) Regional integration has fuelled economic progress, leading to further expansion of South-South flows of finance, technology and trade;

(e) The industrial growth of the South poses growing environmental problems;

(f) United Nations agencies and programmes have had a key role in promoting cooperation among developing countries, but stronger mechanisms for coordination, monitoring, funding and reporting are needed to further improve their performance.