South-North Cooperation is 'Next Logical Step' in International Development

As the “traditional” aid model — characterized by a vertical donor-recipient approach to aid giving — has been increasingly challenged, south-south cooperation has been revitalized in recent years as an important approach in international development with its emphasis on horizontality and mutuality.

But such categories are already outmoded, and it is time for the international community to increase its support for south-north cooperation, Jonathan Glennie of The Guardian argues.

According to Glennie, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development should even set up a new south-north cooperation unit. All countries, he says, will benefit from the “horizontalization” of international cooperation.

Southern experiences, too, could help in addressing many problems in Europe and other western countries — from social conflict to drugs to conservation.

“As other countries find their feet and demonstrate more confidence,” Glennie says, the “deep arrogance of the west, a product of centuries of wealth” will be gradually eroded.

Glennie notes south-south cooperation — estimated to be worth between $10 billion and $15 billion a year — is almost entirely accounted for by only five or six emerging powers, including China, Venezuela, Turkey and India. There are also other well-established non-OECD donors such as Saudi Arabia, which is estimated to give more than $5 billion a year.

But China’s relationship with Zambia “looks more like traditional vertical pairings,” Glennie observes.

“The current habit of splitting aid into two categories — traditional OECD aid and horizontal south-south co-operation — is probably no longer useful,” Glennie notes. “It may be time to introduce a third category to describe emerging, non-DAC countries whose aid cannot seriously be described as horizontal.”

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About the author

  • Che

    Che de los Reyes

    As a senior staff writer, Che focuses on international development breaking news coverage as well as interviews and features. Prior to joining Devex, Che handled communications for local and international development NGOs and government institutions in the Philippines.