Mbeki: South-South cooperation essential

Developing countries must continue to cooperate to push the United Nations (UN) and rich countries into helping them to develop, said President Thabo Mbeki in Cuba on Friday.

”The central task facing all of us is to strengthen South-South co-operation, especially with regard to maintaining the relevance of the organisations and groupings of the South,” said Mbeki in a speech prepared for delivery at the opening plenary of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Havana, Cuba, on Friday and released by the Office of the Presidency.

Mbeki addressed the gathering in his capacity as chairperson of the Group of 77 and China.

He said the South-South organisations needed to battle poverty, underdevelopment, unfair trade and political and socio-economic exclusion and marginalisation.

”One of these important issues that unite our people and which is central to the deliberations of this summit … is the question whether, as a collective, our efforts are sufficient to accelerate the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits — outcomes that are critical to the development of the lives of billions of people we represent.”

Mbeki said developing countries were struggling to meet the Millenium Development Goals because of the failure of the rich countries to transfer enough resources to the needy countries of the South. Collective action was needed.

”The strengthening of South-South co-operation has helped create a stronger voice for the developing countries in multilateral forums.”

He said the ”unilateral actions of big power interventions without regard to the sovereignty and integrity of weaker states” affected all nations”.

”As a result, the people of the South, organised under the NAM as well as its sister organisation, the G77 and China, have expressed strong support for a UN reform process whose outcome would be a stronger and a more effective UN.”

He said such a reform would improve the UN’s capacity to respond better to the needs of member states. Such a UN would able to give enough attention to development priorities, and the defence of the sovereignty and integrity of South countries.

Mbeki said the G77 and China were committed to a close working relationship with the NAM, including coordinating action at various United Nations centres, ”especially with regard to the on-going process of fundamental reforms of the UN system as well as the Bretton Woods Institutions”.

Mbeki was accompanied by Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. They arrived in Cuba from the India-Brazil-SA heads of government meeting in Brazil.

On Sunday they travel to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. – Sapa

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