Remarks by Ambassador Gerardo Peñalver Portal, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations and Chair of the Group of 77 at the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation 2023.

New York, 12 September 2023.

H.E. Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly,

H.E. Ms. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations,

Distinguished guests,

I would like to thank the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and its Director, Ms. Dima Al-Khatib, for convening this very timely and important meeting to commemorate the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation.

We are gathered here to commemorate a historic event in South-South cooperation. The United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 30 August to 12 September 1978, was an important milestone in the United Nations' continuing efforts to promote economic and technical cooperation among developing countries. Today is an opportunity to reaffirm the continuing relevance of South-South cooperation in building a more equitable global partnership for development and peace.

This commemoration takes place at a critical juncture for all developing countries, which continue to struggle with the compounded effects of multiple crises, such as the ongoing negative socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing climate emergency, the growing debt burden, the financial and economic crisis, the escalating food insecurity, the technology gap, and an unfair and increasingly unbalanced international economic order that perpetuates inequalities and threatens development gains.

International cooperation and global solidarity have never been more necessary to meet the challenges of these multiple global crises and to put developing countries back on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

South-South cooperation is a fundamental pillar of our international cooperation. Its strengthening and development is a key priority for my delegation, as it contributes to the well-being of the peoples and countries of the South, to our collective independence, and to the achievement of internationally agreed development frameworks.

In the coming days, the leaders of the Group of 77 and China will meet in Havana to discuss how to implement joint development strategies in the fields of science, technology and information through South-South cooperation. The Summit, to which all United Nations agencies have been invited, will adopt a Group Declaration on this important issue for the development of our countries, and will also be an opportunity to pool the knowledge acquired in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of the Global South.

Cuba, which is proud of the concrete and lasting results of cooperation among the nations of the South, will enthusiastically welcome the debate, which will also promote better coordination within the United Nations system on issues of science, technology and innovation, so that developing countries can actively participate in the knowledge-based global economy.

South-South cooperation is a voluntary expression of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South and should continue to be guided by the principles of respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in internal affairs and mutual benefit.

In various fora, the Group has emphasized that South-South cooperation should be based on the following principles:

South-South cooperation and its agenda must be driven by the countries of the South;

South-South cooperation cannot be seen as a substitute for North-South cooperation. Strengthening South-South cooperation must not be a way of coping with the declining interest of developed countries in assisting developing countries;

Cooperation between countries of the South must not be analyzed and evaluated according to the same standards as North-South relations;

Financial contributions from other developing countries should not be seen as official development assistance from these countries to other countries of the South. They are merely expressions of solidarity and cooperation based on shared experiences and sympathies;

South-South cooperation is a development agenda based on premises, conditions and objectives specific to the historical and political context of developing countries and to their needs and expectations.

South-South cooperation is based on strong, genuine and broad-based partnership and solidarity;

South-South cooperation is based on full equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit;

South-South cooperation seeks to strengthen multilateralism by promoting an action-oriented approach to development challenges;

South-South cooperation promotes the exchange of best practices and assistance among developing countries in the common pursuit of their broad development objectives (encompassing all aspects of international relations and not only the traditional economic and technical areas);

South-South cooperation seeks to enable developing countries to play a more active role in international policy and decision-making processes in support of their efforts to achieve sustainable development;

The modalities and mechanisms for promoting South-South cooperation are based on bilateral, subregional, regional and interregional cooperation and integration, as well as multilateral cooperation.

Despite the positive results and encouraging prospects for the future, South-South cooperation faces a number of major constraints. Much more can be achieved, especially if developing countries have the financial and technical support of developed countries and the UN system.

Developed countries must live up to their commitments to North-South cooperation. While recognizing the limited support for South-South cooperation by some developed partners, we believe that there is considerable scope for further action, in particular through the implementation of internationally agreed targets. This is dictated by the principles of equity and solidarity and is in their own long-term interest.

In conclusion, we believe that strong partnerships among countries of the South, supported by developed countries and the UN system, will help unleash the economic potential of developing countries and benefit the entire international community. The forthcoming Third G-77 South Summit, to be held in Kampala, Uganda in January 2024, will certainly contribute to further strengthening South-South cooperation. 

Thank you.

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