South south cooperation for child rights
For UNICEF, South-South cooperation is extremely important for accelerating development and improving children’s and women’s rights.
But what is South-South Cooperation? Many countries, especially in Asia and the Pacific, have seen rapid economic and social growth over the last few decades.
But there has been relatively little in the way of countries sharing their experiences, successes, or even failures. Through a sharing process like this, countries experiencing similar growth and striving for better quality of life for their citizens can learn from one another and adapt successful strategies, instead of having to develop policy from scratch.
Instead of relying solely on more traditional North-South development approaches between developed and developing countries, South-South cooperation involves the transfer of knowledge, skills and resources between developing countries.
The recent growth in South-South exchanges reflects the economic progress made by countries such as Brazil, China and India, as well as a growing international awareness that vital additional development gains can be achieved through exchanges among non-industrialized countries, given their recent and often highly-relevant experiences.
Budget allocations for South-South cooperation have increased in recent years, with China and India providing around US$1 billion per year in official development assistance to other developing countries.
While South-South exchanges to date have focused largely on trade and economic development, more governments have, over the past decade, looked to South-South cooperation to help address other common challenges, such as worsening income disparities, air and water pollution, food and energy insecurity, and disasters.
More than 100 participants from 28 Asia-Pacific countries unanimously adopted the 2010 Beijing Declaration, which emphasizes that “policies and legislation to address disparities across MDG indicators are urgently needed, and strategies such as geographic and pro-poor focus must be employed.”
The Beijing Declaration incorporates a regional strategy to strengthen intra- and inter-regional cooperation for children’s rights, which will institutionalize knowledge-sharing around practices that promote achieving the MDGs with equity.
The 28 participating countries agreed to increase cooperation to ensure practical measures for child-friendly and community-based disaster risk reduction are integrated into development planning. They also agreed that building and strengthening national child protection systems was an area in which there was considerable scope to learn from each other.
The Government of India has offered to host the next high-level meeting on South-South cooperation for child rights in 2013.
UNICEF will continue to work with Asia and Pacific governments and other development partners to strengthen South-South cooperation for children’s rights. This will focus on expanding expertise, capacities and cross-referrals in core MDG areas through programmes such as cost-sharing arrangements, joint research and development projects, third-country training programmes, support for South-South centres on social policy, technology cooperation arrangements and participatory ICT and information networks.
UNICEF will also continue to encourage triangular cooperation in which exchanges among non-industrialized countries are bolstered by financial and technical support from industrialized-country partners, multilateral agencies, civil society organizations and the private sector.