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, sub-regional 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.
Often, cooperation that exists between countries is supplemented by the participation of civil society, and the public and private sectors. The objectives of South-South cooperation include both strengthening the self-dependence of developing countries, allowing them to find solutions to development issues faced locally, and the fortification of global collaboration in order to advance the objectives identified by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
South-South Cooperation is not a substitute for, but rather a complement to North-South Cooperation, which will remain the primary form of cooperation between countries of the North and South. The principles of South-South Cooperation have been defined in the Nairobi Outcome document of the UN High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation and further elaborated through relevant General Assembly resolutions. South-South and triangular cooperation vary greatly in approaches and modalities, yet their importance have increased manifold since the year 2000 and are set to be beyond 2015 an important auxiliary tool for catalyzing implementation efforts amongst developing countries.
1949 – The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) establishes the first UN technical aid programme.
1955 – Newly independent African and Asian States meet in Bandung, Indonesia, and decide to work together at the UN as the Afro-Asian Group.
1964 – Establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). At the first UNCTAD, Latin American countries join with African and Asian countries to create the Group of 77.
1972 - The UN General Assembly creates a Working Group on technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC).
1974 - The General Assembly, in its resolution A/3251 (XXIX), endorses “the establishment of a special unit within the United Nations Development Programme to promote technical cooperation among developing countries”.
1978 - A conference of the global South on TCDC is held in Buenos Aires, resulting in the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) for Promoting and Implementing TCDC.
1980 - The countries participating in UNDP become established as a High-level Committee of the General Assembly that would meet every two years to monitor the implementation of BAPA.
2001 - The Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held in Brussels in May 2001, emphasize the importance of South-South cooperation in capacity-building and setting best practices, particularly in the areas of health, education, training, environment, science and technology, trade, investment and transit transport cooperation.
2002 – The International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico in March 2002, specifically encourage South-South cooperation, including through triangular cooperation, to facilitate exchange of views on successful strategies, practices and experience and replication of projects.
2002 – The World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002, adopts a Declaration and an Implementation Plan that endorsed South-South cooperation and strong regional and subregional action.
2003 – The UN General Assembly, in its resolution 58/220, decides to declare 19 December as the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation.
2004 – The Special Unit for TCDC has a new name: the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SU/SSC) that reflects the increased importance and expanded focus of cooperation among developing countries.
2005 – The Heads of State and Government that gathered at the World Summit in New York, from 14 to 16 September 2005, recognize the achievements and great potential of South-South cooperation and encourage the promotion of such cooperation. They also encourage the international community, including the international financial institutions, to support the efforts of developing countries, inter alia, through triangular cooperation.
2009 – The High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation is held in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants produce the Nairobi outcome document highlighting the roles that national governments, regional entities and UN agencies are to play in supporting and implementing South-South and triangular cooperation.
2011 – The UN General Assembly decided that, beginning in 2012, the observance of the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation would be changed from 19 December to 12 September, to mark the day in 1978 when the UN Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.
2012 – The High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation holds its seventeenth session at UN headquarters in New York, from 22 to 25 May 2012, to review the progress made in implementing the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the new directions strategy for South-South cooperation and the Nairobi outcome document of the High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation.
2014 – The Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services at its annual session 2014 takes note of and approves the Strategic Framework of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, 2014-2017.