15 December 2003


NEW YORK, 12 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation in Marrakesh, 16 December:

I send my greetings and best wishes to all who have met in Marrakesh for the High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation.  You meet twenty-five years after the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries -- a plan which highlighted the need to build “bridges across the South”.

A quarter of a century later, the need to build those bridges is more urgent than ever.  The countries you represent -- the countries of the South -- make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s people.  They also form the majority of the Member States of the United Nations.  It is in your countries that the most important challenges of our time are most acute.  It is in them that the goals that have emerged from United Nations Conferences and Summits -- including the Millennium Development Goals -- matter most.

These goals cannot be met without forging a truly global partnership for development -- one in which the North takes greater steps to assist the South on aid, trade and debt relief.  But deeper South-South cooperation is also vital too.

This conference is a heartening sign that the countries of the South are doing more to intensify that cooperation.  The same determination was evident at the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun in December, and in the subsequent Bretton Woods institutions meeting in Doha and at the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In these fora, several large countries of the South cooperated more closely, including by playing a leading role in the formation of the Group of 21.  I strongly encourage these efforts.  Regardless of the actual number of countries in the group at any given time, their strong mutual support in negotiations is extremely significant. This spirit of solidarity in global trade and finance negotiations must be sustained.  It must also be translated into more general South-South development cooperation.

The large countries of the South, some of whose economies are likely to surpass many developed world economies in decades to come, must lead in these efforts.  If they do, they can serve as key pivotal countries in driving new models of cooperation within the South, including by expanding their own cooperation and aid programmes, and by providing expertise and resources.  In this way, they can serve as the pillars of the “bridges across the South” which the Buenos Aires Plan of Action sought to build, with their efforts complemented by the other countries of the South, for the benefit of developing nations large and small.

I therefore encourage all States in the South to pool their resources and combine their efforts to build greater South-South cooperation.  In these efforts, the United Nations will be your partner.

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