High Level Advisory Meeting on South Summit: South-South Cooperation Tops Agenda

UNITED NATIONS, July -- The Group of 77 is preparing to mark the dawn of the new millennium with a major conference that will help reassert the solidarity of the world's 132 developing nations.

The proposed South-South summit, scheduled to take place in late 1999 along with a millennium General Assembly, will also be a turning point in the history of the G-77.
The terms of reference of the Summit, including its goals, objectives and proposed agenda, are expected to be discussed at a high-level advisory meeting on the South-South summit in Jakarta, August 10-11.

"It is my conviction that the deliberations of this important meeting would assist the developing countries to come up with a common evaluation of the achievements of the Group of 77, and a coordinated position on the initiative of a millennium General Assembly as proposed by the Secretary-General in his report on UN reforms,'' Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, the chairman of the Group of 77, said.
Ambassador Wibisono said that the participants at the Jakarta meeting will address, inter alia, the key issues of South-South cooperation and financing of development in the light of new and profound challenges unleashed by the process of globalization and liberalization of the world economy.

The initiative to convene a South-South summit was taken at the G-77 meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica in early 1997 which was subsequently endorsed by the annual ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 in September 1997. The conclusions of the Jakarta meeting will be submitted to the ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 in September this year.

Meanwhile, in a background paper on the South-South summit, the Geneva-based South Centre says the summit would have a key political purpose: the reassertion and renewal of the collective presence of the South on the world scene, following a period of ambivalence and lack of foreceful action.

The occasion would be of considerable importance, bearing in mind that it would take place only a few months before the proposed Millennium General Assembly, where it would be essential for the South to make a collective statement.

The central issue to be addressed by the summit concerns what developing nations can do collectively to improve their development opportunities and defend their interests.
The summit would be an opportunity for the developing countries to assert what continues to bind them and their 5.0 billion people together. The South Centre says it will also be an occasion to recall the past 50 years of their collective efforts to democratize international relations and to attain development, economic and political sovereignty, and more importantly, to project this cooperation into the future, and present their vision of a global community for the next century.

The South Centre has proposed four main components for the final summit statement:
• a policy of pronouncement on the contemporary meaning and rationale of the South, after five decades of cooperation, as the 20th century comes to a close;
• an update of the Caracas Programme of Action on South-South Cooperation;
• proposals to improve the framework for collective South action at the global level in its relations with the North; and
• a South statement on the 21st century.

"A summit with potentially 132 heads of government taking part cannot be a negotiating conference," the paper says, "Rather, it should constitute the end of one process -- the endorsement of a carefully prepared collective policy statement on a limited number of central issues-- and the launching of a new process-- the determined pursuit of the announced aims."

Meanwhile, as a follow-up to the Jakarta meeting, Indonesia is also hosting a high-level meeting on Regional/Sub-Regional Cooperation in Bali, December 2-4.

The Bali meeting is expected to explore ways and means to promote direct cooperation among Regional/Sub-Regional groupings such as ASEAN, CARICOM, UMA, MERCOSUR, ECO, SAARC, the GCC and ECOWAS. (IPS)