Civil Society Organizations

A number of prestigious NGOs prepared a statement to be presented at the UN High Level Conference on South-South-Cooperation that was held in Nairobi from 1 to 3 December 2009. They urge South-South cooperation to focus on the problems of the people, their rights and their needs, rather than be guided by the large global players such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who they hold largely responsible for the problems caused by the liberalisation of the markets and the ensuing financial crisis with its devastating consequences which especially hit the poorest population segments. 

Statement on South-South Cooperation

Your Excellency, Mr. President of the South-South Cooperation Conference, Heads of Delegations and representatives of Member States, Colleagues and Representatives of the Business Sector and of Parliaments, Dear Civil Society Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We, members of civil society organizations and networks from the Southern countries, would like to issue a statement in view of the current topical and timely discussions of the South-South Cooperation.

We are grateful for this opportunity to present a brief statement of our issues to you today. We urge you to listen and take full account of the voices and key recom- mendations of civil society in your discussions, conclusions and follow-up actions.

Today the world is consumed by urgent crises of finance and climate that not only threaten the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in the South, but also the stability of the world’s economies. The Northern governments and financial system are responsible for the current crises, but the costs and the impacts are paid for by the entire world, and by the poorest countries in particular.

Overcoming these crises requires decisive action and leadership from the global community. To date however, such leadership has been sorely lacking.

The swift and massive response of governments to bail out banks and private financial institutions with more than three trillion US dollars of public guarantees and funds stands in stark contrast to their failure to respond decisively to the unabated crisis of poverty and marginalization that has afflicted the majority of peoples in the world. South-South cooperation therefore must prove its capability by raising the sum necessary to tackle poverty.

We note that South-South Cooperation has catalyzed the debate around aid effectiveness reform as well as reforms in the governance structure of the IMF and the World Bank. In the last 30 years, these institutions have pushed for increased capital flows and market liberalization, resulting in the erosion of national policy space and the violation of national sovereignty. They are among the major institu- tions responsible for the current situation, have no legitimacy and no credibility to play such a role in the reform of the international financial system, let alone to start a self-reform process. It is with this in mind that we call for deepening and strengthening South-South cooperation.

Such cooperation however must meet basic requirements in promotion of hu- man rights, solidarity and equity of the partners, environmental sustainability and development ownership.

We demand that South-South Cooperation promote the development of global economic structures and policies that put peoples´ rights first, that respect and pro- mote human rights, gender equality, as well as social and environmental justice. We demand policies that ensure decent work based on employment opportunities, respect for labor rights, social protection, social dialogue, sustainable livelihoods, provision of essential services such as health, education, housing, water and clean energy, and that take account of the care economy, largely dependent on women. Southern people need to have greater control over resources and the decisions that affect their lives.

Mr President, distinguished delegates, we are convinced that the South-South Cooperation conference is key to reaching enduring solutions to the multiple human crises we have outlined. We call on governments to agree to a strong South-South follow-up process that brings together all institutional stakeholders, not only the governmental and intergovernmental organisations, but also the International Labor Organization (ILO) and civil society.

Mr President, distinguished delegates, the Civil Society would like to raise the following issues on South-South Cooperation:

People-based South-South Cooperation

The cooperation of the peoples of the south is key in supporting the activities and initiatives of the South-South Cooperation. Unfortunately their participation is currently limited due to financial and other capacity problems. We call for an integrated approach to the South-South Cooperation with governments of the South committing resources for facilitating CSO processes. We believe that civil society can play an important role in furthering the objectives of the South-South Cooperation. Governments should encourage and financially support civil society engagement and recognize the key role they play in implementing and monitoring programs and policies. We urge for their structured inclusion in future deliberations and programs of the South-South Cooperation.

On Aid

On the question of aid we contend that South-South Cooperation to further improve the quality of aid in its cooperation through strengthening of democratic ownership, with a greater focus on targeting gender justice and ending tied policy conditions. Such conditions undermine ownership, increase poverty, and stifle the goals of poverty eradication and increased aid effectiveness. 

On Investment 

We are convinced of the need to institute a holistic approach to South-South investment that includes, among others, the social development aspects and sustainable technology transfer. South -South should follow environmentally and socially sustainable production systems and align its operations with national and local economies.

Appropriate regulatory frameworks should be put in place to ensure corporate accountability, including the ILO Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and social policy. Bilateral investment and free trade agreements should be discussed with all relevant stakeholders, notably national parliaments, social partners and civil society, thus ensuring democratic ownership.

On Debt

We call for the total and unconditional cancellation of odious debts as well as decisive actions to stop the re-accumulation of such debt.

South-South Cooperation governments should establish a new debt architecture that is inclusive, participatory and democratically accountable to the peoples it aims to serve. The United Nations should play a key role in its development, and the institutions and mechanisms should be subject to international human rights norms and treaties. Among other needs, the new binding institutional framework should revise the current debt sustainability framework so as to include domestic debt, human development and environmental and climate justice considerations. There is also an urgent need to establish fair and transparent debt work-out mechanisms that are independent from the international financial institutions.

In Conclusion, Mr President, distinguished delegates,
In the face of the multiple crises, we urge governments to take the side of women and men workers, farmers, youth and children of the South to promote environ- mental sustainability by taking an alternative economic path. We, the civil society networks representing millions of people from the South, therefore call for change in Nairobi that puts effective development, poverty eradication, human rights, gender equality, decent work, and environmental sustainability at the forefront of the discourse, the policies, and the search for enduring solutions.
We thank you.

Endorsed by:

African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Reality of Aid Africa Network, IBON, International Reality of Aid Network, International Association for Community Development, Action Aid, Social Watch Network, Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN), South Asian Network for Social and Agricultural Development (SANSAD), India South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), Nepal Voices for Interactive Choice and Empower- ment (VOICE) /Aid Accountability Group, Bangladesh Nepal Policy Institute (NPI), Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, Countryside Security and Sustainable Development Network (CSSD Network), Vietnam Center for Research and Assistance for Children (CENFORCHIL), Vietnam China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO), China International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development (INFID), Indonesia


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