Johannesburg, South Africa, 12 May 2018 – The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), in collaboration with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the Islamic Development Bank and the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations successfully hosted a two-day meeting on “South-South Cooperation in the Context of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda: an African Dialogue on the APRM Experience.” The Dialogue forms part of Africa’s preparations for the High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation to mark the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA), which will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 20 – 22 March 2019.
The overall objective of the Dialogue was to provide inputs to Africa’s consultation processes to develop a Common African Position aiming to ensure the outcome of 2019 United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, also known as BAPA+40, reflects the Continent’s interests and development frameworks. The Dialogue considered the subject of South-South Cooperation in the Context of the 2030 Agenda by asking Africa’s Stakes at BAPA+40, which was further enriched with country level experience.
The dialogue brought together representatives of African governments, African continental institutions, experts from the United Nations, Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), academics and members of the African diaspora to share their thoughts and experiences on intergovernmental cooperation among African Countries; between Africa and other regions of the South, as well as other examples of South-South cooperation.
As H.E. Mr. Baso Sangqu, South Africa’s Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels said in his opening remarks, “it is important that Africa’s voice is coordinated and that it speaks as one Africa”. For that, Africa needs to engage in an inclusive dialogue so that its voice is reflective of the voice of all African people. This Dialogue was only the first of many consultative forums to be organized in Africa’s process of forging a common position for BAPA+40.
The Dialogue considered the special role of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as a form of institutionalised South-South cooperation among African countries that was introduced by African leaders to address African problems. As Hon. Brigitte Mabandla, Chairperson of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, observed in her opening remarks, the APRM is “an inspired and most inspiring initiative”, an initiative through which African heads of state and government come together periodically “to look at one another’s performance in terms of governance, understand what is going on in their respective jurisdictions, exchange experiences, praise what is praiseworthy, identify what is not working and requires rectifying, and propose ideas, often on the basis of their own experiences, to bring about improvements in those areas.”
While not perfect by any means, the APRM has registered a number of worthy accomplishments, thereby winning the trust and the confidence of the AU Assembly, which recently decided to expand the APRM mandate so it oversees “monitoring and evaluation in key governance areas on the continent”. It is this successful and highly promising initiative that the Dialogue considered closely with a view to sharing its experience with our Southern partners beyond the continent.
Apart from the APRM, the experiences of other examples of South-South cooperation were also shared and debated at the Dialogue, including the Nigerian Technical Aid Corps (TAC) Scheme, the BRICS grouping, the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Facility, and importantly the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group of States.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a number of worthy ideas were identified as potential inputs for closer consideration in the preparation of the African Common Position. These include the following:
- The South has won the existential and rhetorical battle on the need for a South-South Cooperation institutional mechanism; the only outstanding question is how best to do it;
- All the evidence suggests that Africa wins when it does its own homework, develops a common position through a well-structured, consultative and inclusive process and speaks in one voice;
- In that spirit, and as part of its preparations for BAPA+40, Africa needs to conduct an in-depth assessment of the impact of the original BAPA on its development agenda over the past 40 years;
- A proposal to develop a purely technical or discussion paper as a follow-up to this meeting prepared by the APRM Secretariat and the UNOSSC to ensure the ideas exchanged at this meeting are captured and adequately developed, elaborated and shared with the decisionmakers;
- The need for Africa to ensure the right to development sits at the core of the BAPA+40 outcome document was underlined;
- The wealth of experience in SSC in a variety of sectors, from peace and security, to health, agriculture, energy, capacity development, trade and technology, and the need to properly document and share it among all members of the South was emphasised;
- The theme of the meeting, which focuses on the APRM experience, was welcomed as a timely and appropriate choice as the APRM represents a significant innovation in South-South Cooperation whose model needs to be shared with all members of the South;
- Considering the clear need for an institutionalised mechanism for gathering and analysing data on South-South and triangular cooperation, which is key for the assessment of their impact and contributions to sustainable development, suggestions were made to consider the APRM as a possible model for a monitoring and reporting body on South-South Cooperation at the global level;
- The development of a mechanism for gathering and analysing data on South-South and triangular cooperation is key for the assessment of their impact and contribution to sustainable development, with the view to improve their quality in results-oriented manner.
- The need to establish an easily accessible and up-to-date database SSC projects and experiences was also underlined and the UNOSSC was encouraged to make whatever data it has on the subject available to all SSC countries, building on its existing portal;
- Also emphasised was the need for some form of analytical framework with which to link the supply and demand aspects of South-South Cooperation, which is one area where academia and the diaspora can make a special contribution;
- The critical role of South-South Cooperation as an important element of international cooperation for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals in the African Continent was underlined;
- The strong commitment of Africa to South-South and triangular cooperation in the effort to fully implement the African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda on the basis of the principles of solidarity and ownership and other South-South Cooperation principles as spelled out in the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (BAPA) and the Nairobi outcome document of 2009 was reiterated;
- There is a need to enhance the effectiveness, accountability, transparency and coordination of South-South Cooperation, as a modality of cooperation different from Official Development Assistance, and in accordance with national development strategies and priorities of the countries of the South.
- The role of South-South Cooperation as an important catalyst for the consolidation of regional cooperation and integration within the African continent, as well with other regions of the South through interregional cooperation was also recognised;
- It was acknowledged that South-South Cooperation goes beyond technical cooperation and encompasses economic cooperation, including in the areas of trade, investment, infrastructure, technology transfer and climate change mitigation efforts, among others;
- The need to enhance the institutional capacities of African countries to manage South-South and triangular cooperation and harness its potential for sustainable development was recognised;
- The importance of an inclusive and multi-stakeholder approach in South-South and triangular partnerships involving all actors, including the private sector, civil society, academia, and think thanks was acknowledged;
- In this respect, the need for designation of national bodies or agencies dedicated to orchestrate SCC efforts and to scale up knowledge exchange was a recognised;
- The strengthening of the global institutional framework of South-South Cooperation is key to effectively scale up its potential and impact in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
- The role of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation as the focal point for promoting, coordinating and facilitating South-South and triangular cooperation for development on a global and United Nations system-wide.
- Triangular cooperation should play an increasing role for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the AU Agenda 2063, and Northern development partners are invited to step up their efforts to support South-South Partnerships.
- The UNOSSC should continue its efforts to support African institutions in their process of formulating their own strategies towards the BAPA+40 Conference.
As Mr Jorge Chediek, Director of UNOSSC, observed at the closing session, the APRM model is one that needs to be disseminated to other parts of the South and recommended that an inter-regional workshop dedicated to sharing and exploring the APRM Model among all Southern partners may need to be considered.