The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation is annually observed on September 12. This Day has been choosen to commemorate the date when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a plan of action in 1978 to promote and implement technical cooperation among developing countries. Originally observed on December 19, the date has been moved to September 12.

In 1978 the UN General Assembly established the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation with two regional centers, one in Asia and one in Africa, to promote, coordinate and support South-South and Triangular Cooperation on a global level.

What is “South-South Cooperation”?

It’s the technical cooperation established among developing countries in the Global South to collaborate and share ideas, knowledge and skills in specific areas such as agricultural development, human rights, urbanization, health, climate change etc.

The North-South one is the most traditional type of cooperation, that take place when a developed country supports economically or with another kind of resources a less wealthy country. However, the Assembly urged all UN organizations and other institutions to enhance their efforts to mainstream the use of South-South cooperation.

The Northest countries, instead, have been involved in the so called Triangular cooperation, that occurs among three actors: two from the South and one from the North. The latter, which can also be an international organization, provides the financial resources so that the countries of the South can exchange technical assistance on a specific topic.

In recent times a silent revolution has taken place among fast-track performers such as Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, South Africa and Thailand.

The objectives of South-South Cooperation:

  • foster and strengthen the self-reliance of developing countries by enhancing their creative capacity to find solutions and technological capacities to their development problems and formulate the requisite strategies to address them
  • promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among developing countries through the exchange of experiences leading to a greater awareness of common problems and wider access to available knowledge
  • recognize and respond to the problems and requirements of the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and the countries most seriously affected by, for example, natural disasters and other crises, and enable them to achieve a greater degree of participation in international economic activities.

Taking into account the current pandemic, these types of collaborations are now more important than ever.