(Check Against Delivery)
Statement by H.E. Motohide Yoshikawa
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
General Assembly High-level Event on the
“Contribution of North-South, South-South, Triangular Cooperation, and ICT for Development to the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda”
21 May 2014
I would like to thank you and your office for selecting such an important issue for a General Assembly High-level Event.
Let me speak today on the South-South cooperation and the role of triangular cooperation which supports South-South cooperation.
I will start by telling you my personal involvement with South-South cooperation.
When the first United Nations Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) was held in Buenos Aires in 1978, I was the youngest member of the delegation of Japan. The conference adopted the “Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA),” which defined TCDC as a means of promoting wider and more effective cooperation among developing countries.
The importance of cooperation among developing countries has been increasingly recognized as a means to supplement, but not to substitute, the traditional modality of cooperation between developed and developing countries.
The concept of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries has later evolved into what we now call “South-South cooperation.” For example, in 2003, the United Nations Special Unit for TCDC changed its name to the “Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.”
Now let me turn to the role of triangular cooperation, which supports this South-South Cooperation.
Buenos Aires Plan of Action of 1978 recommended to developed countries to financially support TCDC. This support to the TCDC or “South-South cooperation” is what is later called “triangular cooperation.” The basic concept of triangular cooperation was, therefore, recognized as early as in 1978.
In fact, Japan had already recognized the potential of triangular cooperation, and started conducting this kind of cooperation in Asia, Latin America and Africa in 1974, four years before Buenos Aires Plan of Action was adopted. We are proud that Japan was one of the pioneers in this field.
To date, total of around 60,000 people from over 60 developing countries have attended triangular cooperation training programmes conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), our government’s implementing agency of the Official Developing Assistance (ODA).
In our view, triangular cooperation enabled developing countries to take advantage of the knowledge and experiences of other countries with similar geographical, linguistic, cultural, and/or developmental conditions.
For example, the TICAD process (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) has been instrumental in enhancing the level of cooperation between many Asian and African countries and has enabled the Asian development experience to be shared with Africa. Since its inception in 1993, TICAD has effectively promoted and supported South-South and triangular cooperation, including intra-Africa cooperation, as distinctive forms of partnership.
Let me elaborate by presenting a few concrete examples of our experiences in triangular cooperation projects.
First example is Thailand.
People with disabilities from 37 countries in Asia and the Pacific region have been trained in Thailand at its Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability. Japan provides necessary financial support. The trainees acquired knowledge to strengthen their organizations and implement community-based rehabilitation activities related to disability in their own countries.
Second is Sri Lanka.
In 2007, Japan, in collaboration with Sri Lanka, launched the “Better Hospital Service Program” in 15 countries in Africa. Tanzania, one of the participating countries in this programme, has significantly reduced overstocked inventory, and also reduced waiting times for patient consultations down to one third.
Third is Brazil.
In several countries in Latin America, the idea of “Koban”, or direct community policing, which had originated in Japan, has been achieving impressive results. In the State of São Paulo in Brazil, 70% decrease in the homicide rate has been achieved in 12 years (from 1999 to 2011). With Japanese financial support, Brazil has hosted a number of seminars and training courses for police officials from 5 Central American countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) to introduce “Koban” policing.
From Japanese experience, we can conclude that triangular cooperation creates many benefits to developing countries beyond the transfer of useful skill and knowledge.
Not only can triangular cooperation solve challenges in beneficiary countries, but also help developing countries accumulate their own implementation experiences in the field of development cooperation and build their capacities as development partners. In addition, activities with new partners have also deepened mutual understanding between developing countries and Japan. We believe that, if more countries engage in effective development cooperation, the quality and quantity of global development assistance may further increase in the future.
In recognition of our endeavours of more than 40 years in this field, JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency was honoured by the United Nations South-South Cooperation Award in 2012.
Finally, let me make a few personal remarks to the notion of the “North” and the “South.”
Japan started its ODA programme in 1954, exactly 60 years ago, when it joined a regional technical cooperation organization called the “Colombo Plan” not as a recipient but as a donor. And in 1961, Japan was admitted to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD, thus recognized as a donor country.
And a little more than 30 years later, in 1993, Japan became the largest donor of the world surpassing the United States of America. From these achievements, you may conclude that Japan has been a country of the “North” since 1954.
However, there is another side of the same coin.
After the Second World War, Japan has been a recipient of foreign assistance for many years. From 1946 to 1951, United States assistance by its programmes called “Government Appropriation for Relief in Occupied Area Fund (GARIOA)” and “Economic Rehabilitation in Occupied Areas (EROA)” played a significant role in our post-war reconstruction phase. Then came the World Bank loan, which started in 1953 and continued to 1966.
In early 1960’s, Japan was the second largest recipient of loans from the World Bank only after India. We completed our repayment to the World Bank in 1990. From these experiences, you may conclude that Japan was in fact a country of the “South.”
But as you can recall, already in 1961, Japan was a member of the OECD/DAC and an important ODA donor.
What I can say from our own history is that the concept of the “North” and the “South” are very relative. You may be one day a country of the “South” but may later be a country of the “North.”
My conclusion is that we should not spend too much time discussing who is “North” and who is “South.” There are much more important things than separating the world into two groups and disputing their respective responsibilities. In order to tackle the Post-2015 Development Agenda, all Member States should work together and create synergy towards the common goal of development.
I thank you, Mr. President.