South-South Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific A - ESCAP

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South-South Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific A - ESCAP

Transcript Of South-South Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific A - ESCAP

South-South Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific – A brief overview

Disclaimer: This is an informal working document highlighting some important issues regarding SouthSouth and triangular cooperation in Asia and the Pacific in a non-exhaustive manner. It has been issued without formal editing, and the designations employed and material presented do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Contact: Strategy and Programme Management Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Building, Rajadamnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok 10200, Thailand Email: [email protected]

1. Introduction......................................................................................................................4 2. South-South and triangular cooperation: A brief history and evolution.............................4 3. The South-South cooperation in Asia and the Pacific.........................................................8 4. The role of the United Nations in the South-South and triangular cooperation ............... 14 5. Conclusions ..................................................................................................................... 15 6. Issues for consideration .................................................................................................. 16

1. Introduction
The importance of South-South and triangular cooperation in international development cooperation has grown significantly. South-South cooperation has undergone major transformation over the past sixty years since the Bandung Conference in 1955. The emergence of the middle-income developing countries as the new donors and technical assistance providers in the beginning of this millennium has reshaped the landscape of the international development cooperation. Complementary to North-South cooperation, South-South and triangular cooperation have increasingly become important modalities for fostering development cooperation among developing countries in Asia and the Pacific. South-South and triangular cooperation have been identified as key modalities for delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Against this backdrop, through the UN General Assembly resolutions 71/318 and 71/2441 Member States decided to hold the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (also called as BAPA+40) in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 20 to 22 March 2019. The resolution also encourages Member States to draw upon the outcomes of regional, sub-regional and sectoral United Nations meetings prior to this conference. To this end, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), and the Royal Thai Government are jointly organizing the Regional Consultation on SouthSouth Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific “Towards the Buenos Aires Plan of Action 40th Anniversary”, held on 27-29 June 2018 in Bangkok. In conjunction with this regional consultation, an inaugural roundtable of the Asia-Pacific Forum on South-South and Triangular Cooperation is also taking place, bringing together the heads of the development cooperation/South-South cooperation agencies of the developing countries in the region (DG Forum).
In the preparation for the Regional Consultation, jointly with UNOSCC, ESCAP conducted a survey to map existing South-South and triangular cooperation modalities, institutions, policies, priorities and channeling in the countries of the region. The countries that responded to the survey included Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Thailand and Vietnam. The survey responses were supplemented by information on South-South cooperation initiatives from other countries in the region, such as China, India and Turkey, collected from secondary sources.
The paper comprises three parts. The first part provides a brief overview of the history and evolution of South-South cooperation in the region. It also seeks find a common understanding of South-South cooperation. The second part key trends and modalities of South-South cooperation in the region. The last part covers the role of the United Nations and ESCAP and the conclusions and recommendations. The paper is intended to inform the DG Forum and stimulate discussion and further thinking in this regard.
2. South-South and triangular cooperation: A brief history and evolution
(i) South-South cooperation: From past to present
South-South cooperation has undergone major transformation over the past sixty years, and this journey is marked by several milestones. The first one was the Bandung Conference, held in 1955, where countries in Asia and Africa met without their colonial powers and expressed a call for independence and promotion of mutual interest and economic and cultural cooperation. This initial phase of SouthSouth cooperation focused on development cooperation which would help these countries in achieving economic and political independence. It was also marked by the establishment of the new international organizations, namely the United Nations, the World Bank (at the time the International Bank for
1 A/RES/71/318 and A/RES/71/244

Reconstruction and Development) and the International Monetary Fund, and creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The role of the international organizations was reflected in the outcome document of the Bandung Conference. Provision of technical assistance among the countries of the South in form of experts, trainees, exchange of know-how and establishment of national and regional training and research institutes was at the core of the Bandung outcomes.2
The second milestone was the establishment of United Nations regional economic commissions, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the emergence of the Group of 77. The Economic Commission for Asia and Far East (today Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) was established in 1947, the Economic Commission for Latin America (today Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) in 1948, and the Economic Commission for Africa was established in 1958. The regional economic commissions emerged as the important intergovernmental platforms for promoting multilateral policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and networks for the countries of the South. The Group of 77, the largest coalition of developing countries representing the South to promote its collective economic interest and joint negotiating position in the United Nations, was established at the first session of UNCTAD in 1964.3
The third milestone was the institutionalization of South-South cooperation by the United Nations at the global level. The UN General Assembly resolution A/3251 in 1974 led to the creation of a special unit to promote technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC), which is the predecessor of today’s UN Office for South-South Cooperation. In 1978, the first United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, dedicated to the global South and held in Argentina, adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).4 BAPA focuses on increasing the economic cooperation capacity through technical cooperation, transfer of technology, and knowledge-sharing among the countries of the South. In 1980, the UN General Assembly established the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation to review and assess the implementation of BAPA every two years. With the adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration5 in 2000, including eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the focus of South-South cooperation was on poverty reduction. While the Millennium Declaration emphasized the needs of developing countries to mobilize resources for their development and, in particular, the needs of the least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, the implementation of MDGs did not fully utilize the potential of South-South cooperation.
The fourth milestone was the emergence of the new development cooperation actors and donors from the global South at the end of the last century, whose role was further emphasized in the aftermath of the global economic crisis in 2008. This period also witnessed the emergence of a number of middleincome countries as providers of technology and knowledge. The establishment of the New Development Bank (formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank) followed by creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has offered alternatives to the existing multilateral development banks, catering to the development needs of the South. South-South cooperation attracted a renewed interest and attention from the international development cooperation
2 Final Communiqué of the Asian-African Conference, Bandung, Indonesia, 24 April 1955, -en-676237bd-72f7-471f-949a-88b6ae513585.html 3 G77 was established by the seventy-seven developing countries by signing the Joint Declaration of the SeventySeven Developing Countries, at the first session of UNCTAD on 15 June 1964 in Geneva. Over the years, it has expanded to 134 countries, however its name was kept because of its historic significance. Since China also participates in G77 but does not consider itself as a member, all official statements in the UN are issues as “the Group of 77 and China”. 4 5

community as the ‘new’ model of international cooperation, combining funding as well as knowledge, expertise and technology transfer between the countries of the South bilaterally or multilaterally.
With the adoption of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, and other major global development frameworks (such as Addis Ababa, Paris and Sendai), South-South cooperation has received a new impetus. In parallel with official development assistance (ODA), it has been recognized as an important element of international development cooperation and one of the key modalities to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its advance is not intended to substitute the North-South cooperation, but rather to complement it. Efforts to implement SDG 17 on revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development should stimulate the exploration of new modalities, arrangements and partnerships for international collaboration, including through South-South and triangular cooperation.
(ii) Defining South-South cooperation
South-South cooperation has been complex and has not lent itself to a single definition. According to the Framework of operational guidelines on United Nations support to South-South and triangular cooperation by UNDP, South-South cooperation is defined as “a process whereby two or more developing countries pursue their individual and/or shared national capacity development objectives through exchanges of knowledge, skills, resources and technical know-how, and through regional and interregional collective actions, including partnerships involving Governments, regional organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector, for their individual and/or mutual benefit within and across regions. South-South cooperation is not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, NorthSouth cooperation”.6 There are other definitions, including a more general one by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.7
In Asia and the Pacific, South-South cooperation is being implemented by the above modalities, by a myriad of actors, including the governments within and outside the framework of the United Nations, thus the UNDP definition, which is more elaborate, reflects better the developments in Asia and the Pacific.
(iii) Triangular cooperation
Triangular cooperation involves two or more developing countries in collaboration with a third party, typically a developed-country government or multilateral organization, contributing to the exchanges with its own knowledge and resources.8
Triangular cooperation, which emerged in the 1960s, has widened the scope of international development cooperation, mainly through joint projects and programmes between developing countries with support from international organizations and developed countries.
6 Framework of operational guidelines on United Nations support to South-South and triangular cooperation SSC/17/3 (2012) Note by the Secretary-General, High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation Seventeenth session New York, May 2012. 7 The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation defines South-South cooperation “as an exchange of knowledge and resources in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental or technical domain between developing countries. It can take place on a bilateral, regional, subregional or interregional basis and can involve two or more developing countries. 8 See

In addition to North-South-South triangular cooperation, the “triple-South” triangular cooperation has been advancing well. Some of the important examples include the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) fund to promote South-South cooperation and exchange and the United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund, with a sub-fund dedicated to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, established by China in 2016. The India-UN Development Partnership Fund was established in 2017 in support of Southern-owned and led, demand-driven, and transformational sustainable development projects across the developing world, with a focus on least developed countries and small island developing states. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank are the primary South-led multilateral development banks in this direction. ASEAN Dialogue Partner Fund and ASEAN Fund are the other examples of triangular cooperation between ASEAN countries and their development partners such as Australia, Japan, and European Union.
The Asia-Pacific region offers some good examples where triangular cooperation has been undertaken within and outside the UN platform. One such examples in the The ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness in Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian Countries (Trust Fund), operated by ESCAP (see Box 2).
Box 2. The ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness in Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian Countries
The ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness in Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian Countries (Trust Fund) provides financial and technical support to address unmet needs and gaps in early warning systems in the Asia-Pacific region. It has promoted innovative pilot initiatives, scaled up successful early warning systems and facilitated regional cooperation by leveraging the convening power of ESCAP. Advocating a multi-hazard people-centred approach, the ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund works with key partners of the United Nations system, regional intergovernmental institutions, member States, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions in the area of early warning.
With the generous support of Thailand, a founding donor, and valuable contributions from Bangladesh, Germany, India, Japan, Nepal, the Philippines, Sweden and Turkey, the Trust Fund has and will continue to play its catalytic role in generating enhanced regional cooperation, resources and knowledge sharing of tsunami, disaster and climate risk reduction efforts.
At the national level, the Trust Fund focuses on policy and institutional strengthening in countries facing high risk and low capacity. In projects targeting specific national capacities, the Fund applies South-South approaches to enhance cooperation between countries covered by the Fund and tap into the existing capacities in the region.
Since its establishment in 2005, the ESCAP Multi-donor Trust Fund has supported 26 projects with a total budget of approximately 15.5 million dollars, directly benefitting 19 countries of the South. It provided sustained financial support that contributed to the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES). The former, which became operational in 2011, is a system that brings together 28 member States that now share information and combined technical capacities. The latter is an intergovernmental institution that focuses on generating early warning information, technical support and capacity building, and providing cost-effective solutions for high-risk low-capacity countries.
Source: ESCAP, Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division
The 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Paris Agreement recognize that international development cooperation in general, including explicitly triangular cooperation, must play a major role in fostering collective action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Triangular cooperation may be especially well positioned to stimulate such arrangements in the area of science, technology and innovation, where it can contribute to reducing global imbalances between the North and the South and foster more equitable international relations across many fronts.

3. The South-South cooperation in Asia and the Pacific
South-South cooperation is one of the important drivers of the regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific and has resulted in increased volumes of South-South trade, foreign direct investment flows and technology transfer. Over the decades, countries of the South have accumulated considerable expertise, experience, lessons and capabilities in their own development processes, which have been shared with other developing countries in the form of technical assistance. Middle-income developing countries, as emerging donors and technical cooperation providers, have significantly influenced the landscape of the South-South cooperation in this region and beyond.
The Asia-Pacific has a mix of international development cooperation players. The region includes China and India, the region’s economic powerhouses; high income nations and ODA providers, such as Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand; and middle-income countries, such as Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, among others. Japan is also a leader in triangular cooperation. On the other hand, the region also has a large number of least-developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). The diversity in levels of development across the region provides unique opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between countries and learning from each other’s development experience. This has been particularly evident in ASEAN, where countries rely on the intra-regional sharing of knowledge and experience.
(i) South-South cooperation strategies and institutional mechanisms
ESCAP’s survey and other sources reveal that while many countries have a development cooperation strategy covering South-South cooperation to a certain extent, only a few appear to have stand-alone strategies dedicated to South-South cooperation. China’s blue print for international development cooperation is its Second White Paper on Foreign Aid (adopted in 2014), specifically referring to training programmes, experience-sharing and trilateral programmes as part of its South-South development support. Establishing a ‘single window’ policy for international development cooperation, Indonesia’s development cooperation strategy focuses on South-South cooperation putting forward priority sectors and countries and aid management. Similarly, South-South cooperation in Thailand is part of its development cooperation strategy, covering some 150 countries world-wide. Thailand’s South-South projects utilize its domestic expertise and are tailored to the users’ needs. Bangladesh, which has also recently emerged as a strong champion of South-South cooperation, has finalized a National Policy on Development Cooperation. Its objective is to facilitate a coherent and integrated institutional and policy approach to foreign assistance coming in different forms and modalities to ensure that it is need-based and result-oriented.
The institutional mechanisms for South-South cooperation vary from country to country. Thailand and Turkey have dedicated agencies for international development cooperation. These are also responsible for implementing the South-South cooperation programmes and have recently added on the aspect of triangular cooperation. Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) was established as a focal agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his headed by a Director-General. Box 1 contains information about TICA’s institutional model for international development cooperation, including South-South cooperation. Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is a government department under the office of the Prime Minister of Turkey.
China and Kazakhstan recently announced their intention to establish similar dedicated agencies. In China, South-South cooperation is being handled by several agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, and other agencies. In 2016, China established the Institute of SouthSouth Cooperation and Development, a training and knowledge-sharing platform based on the successful development experience of China. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for overall development cooperation, including among the countries of the South, while in Bangladesh, the Ministry of Finance coordinates South-South cooperation. The newly established China South-South Cooperation Fund is the latest addition to China’s institutional South-South cooperation landscape,

providing funding for the projects implemented bilaterally or with the third partner, including the UN agencies.
Box 1. Thailand’s institutional model in support of the South-South cooperation
Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) was established in 2004 by Royal Decree to serve the Royal Thai Government as a focal agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand in administering international development cooperation, including North-South and South-South cooperation. TICA is responsible for the implementation of Thailand’s development cooperation programmes in neighbouring countries in particular, and other regions of the world. Development cooperation has various forms, including the development projects, volunteer and expert programmes, fellowships, scholarships and training programmes.
The scope of TICA’s work includes the following:
o Formulation of international cooperation plan, studies and analysis on development (including SouthSouth) cooperation policy including implementation, follow-up and evaluation of technical cooperation projects.
o Administration of development cooperation programmes provided to developing countries according to foreign policy of the Royal Thai Government.
o Cooperation with various development partners including foreign governments and international organizations to formulate, implement, and assess technical cooperation projects/programmes under bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
o Administration of fellowships and scholarships offered to developing countries for human resources development in public and private sectors as well as civil society.
o Coordination of international development cooperation o Dissemination information regarding development cooperation to government agencies concerned
and international organizations.
TICA is headed by Director-General and has two Deputy Director-Generals, and several bureaus, including development cooperation bureau, procurement and privileges bureau and partnerships bureau.
Source: TICA website;
(ii) Modalities and focus of the South-South cooperation
Modalities and geography are the major factors determining the South-South cooperation. The results of the survey indicate a distinction between the providers and the users of South-South cooperation, defined earlier in this report.
Modalities include funding and technical assistance (in-kind assistance) aimed to develop human and institutional capacities such as expertise/knowledge, training, advisory services, study visits and technology transfer. In addition to such technical assistance, China, India, Indonesia and Iran and Thailand provided financial support to their Southern partners, which is channeled either bilaterally or in cooperation with an international agency. Priority areas range from SDGs, environment and climate change, disaster, urban/rural development and agriculture, to connectivity issues (transport, trade and ICT), energy, to social development and gender.
Donors and technical assistance providers of the South tend to focus more on LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. Table 1 provide an overview of the modalities and focus countries of selected countries using SouthSouth cooperation as an international development cooperation tool.
The greatest strength of the South-South cooperation has been its diversity of forms and flows. The core idea is to share best practices and lessons with other partner countries. For this reason, it cannot be a one-size-fits all approach but carefully crafted and tailored to the needs of the user partner countries.

Table 1. Modalities and Priorities for implementing South-South cooperation from selected countries in the region drawn from survey responses and secondary resources

Country name Bangladesh Cambodia
China9 India

Modalities to provide/receive SSC

Priority areas

Experts/knowledge Training Advisory services Study visits Technology transfer
Financial Experts/knowledge Training Technology transfer
Financial Experts/knowledge Training Advisory services Study visits Technology transfer
Financial Experts/knowledge Training Advisory services Study visits Technology transfer

SDGs Environment and climate change Disaster risk reduction Rural development Sustainable agriculture/food security ICT Social development Gender and women's empowerment SDGs Environment and climate change Disaster risk reduction Statistics Urban development Rural development Sustainable agriculture/food security Energy, renewables Water and waste management Trade Transport ICT Social development Gender and women's empowerment Macroeconomic policies Finance SDGs Connectivity Belt and Road Initiative Disaster risk reduction Sustainable agriculture/food security Trade Transport ICT Social development Gender and women's empowerment SDGs Disaster risk reduction Sustainable agriculture/food security Trade Transport ICT Technology transfer Social development

Priority regions/countries
Asia and Pacific Africa LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS
Bhutan, Maldives, Fiji Nepal, Kenya, Cambodia, Uganda, Italy

Total annual contribution (last 5 yrs in US$) n/a

Asia and Pacific LDCs, n/a LLDCs, SIDS
Support received from: n/a



Asia and the Pacific

Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea



Africa and the Pacific

Latin America,

The Caribbean

9 2017 South-South Cooperation Report, Changing Roles of South-South Cooperation in Global Development System towards 2030, Finance Centre for South-South Cooperation, 2017
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