Presentation by Cheick Sidi Diarra, United Nations Under-Secretary-General
and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States on the occasion of the observance of the
4th Annual United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation “Innovative Financing for South-South Cooperation” — 19 December 2007, New York
Mr President of the General Assembly,
Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be able to join you all here today for the 4th Annual United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, to celebrate this important asset to development and to raise its profile among the public, policy makers, analysts and development practitioners. It is extremely heartening to witness the continued progress that the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of UNDP has made under the leadership of its distinguished Director Yiping Zhou.
Although this is my first time attending this meeting in my capacity as High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, my office has long been advocating the benefits of South-South cooperation for these vulnerable countries. The three Programmes of Action relating to the most vulnerable groups – the Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs, the Almaty Programme of Action for LLDCs and the Mauritius Strategy for SIDS – all make reference to the potential benefits that these countries can derive from South-South Cooperation.
Many of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States are already practicing what is increasingly becoming a new mantra – Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) and South-South Cooperation, often termed as the new geography in trade. UN-OHRLLS, together with its partner UNDP, organised an important South-South event, a Ministerial Conference, hosted by Turkey in July 2007 on “Making Globalization Work for the LDCs”, which resulted in the establishment of two trust funds by the Government of Turkey for a total of $20 million for the benefit of these three.
As stated at the High-Level Panel on Enhancing South-South and Triangular Cooperation in October, effective integration of Africa, and all LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, into the global system, including increased shares in world trade and investment, is absolutely imperative to development and achieving the MDGs. In examining how to better implement such change it would seem that this year’s focus on ‘Innovative Financing for South-South Cooperation’ is especially pertinent. This is why we are gathered here today to acknowledge the important contributions that have been made with respect to innovative financing of South-South Cooperation by funds such as the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund for Economic and Technical Cooperation and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference of the Poverty Alleviation Fund and last but not least by financing mechanisms developed by the Founder of the Grameen Bank.
At the heart of financing arrangements in South-South cooperation is the emphasis on reciprocity, where both parties benefit, moving away from the traditional relationship of donor-recipient. Whilst there are undoubtedly some more disadvantaged countries facing larger obstacles in trading, such as SIDS and LLDCs, it is perceived that every country has some capability to contribute to collective development. South-South Cooperation provides these most disadvantaged countries with the ability to define and further influence their trade relationships. Of course, those abilities, whilst shared, must also be differentiated and middle income countries must provide support and opportunities to the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, to the best of their ability.
A number of developing countries have already taken steps to grant duty-free and quota-free market access to the products from LDCs, especially by Brazil, China and India following the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December 2005. These same countries, including South Africa (IBSA), have made extensive contributions to enhance South-South Cooperation, such as debt cancellation, improved market access for LDCs, promotion of trade and infrastructure development and the provision of technical and especially financial assistance. India, for example, last year announced support for the 14 small island developing states in the Pacific, wrote off debt owed by African countries under the (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) HIPC Initiative and provided a credit line of US$500 million targeted at West African countries. However, these actions should not be seen as a replacement of ODA and other assistance from major donor countries, who should also continue to play an essential role in the development of the world’s poorest nations. Thus, it is imperative that South-South Cooperation is seen as a positive addition to, and not a replacement of, North-South bilateral and multilateral arrangements.
In addition to governments implementing greater measures for South-South Cooperation, the United Nations continues to be an important player. Over 40 per cent of UNDP’s resources are focused on South-South cooperation, and the activities of UNCTAD also further these objectives.
In light of all this, I should like to reiterate some proposals, many of which echo statements made by my office in previous years, and resound with statements and proposals made by the Special Unit over the past few months. There are six areas that require attention from the entire international community with regards to the situation of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. I call for action to:
• Remove all existing tariff and non-tariff barriers to their markets for the products of LDCs and support LDCs to overcome their supply-side constraints and export capacity;
• Increase foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, particularly for infrastructure;
• Double the present technical assistance as well as training, research and educational facilities and scholarships provided to the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS;
• Foster inclusive partnerships for South-South cooperation, including triangular and public-private partnerships, with a focus on LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS;
• Enhance the coherence of the United Nations system support for South-South cooperation through closer inter-agency collaboration, joint programming and documentation of lessons and good practices; and
• Continue to develop innovative mechanisms to mobilize resources for South-South and triangular initiatives including through contribution to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for South-South Cooperation.
The past few years have already seen a proliferation of South-South cooperation, and new innovative methods of financing that defy traditional hierarchical methods. Many countries have benefited from these initiatives, yet there are still other severely economically handicapped countries that would also profit from such programmes. I ask for greater attention to be shown to the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, in the true nature of South-South Solidarity, for the betterment of all.
Thank you for your attention.