The main policymaking body on South-South cooperation (SSC) in the United Nations system is the High-level Committee (HLC) on South-South Cooperation, a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly that was originally comprised of representatives of all countries participating in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In accordance with recommendation 37 of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC), as endorsed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 33/134 of 19 December 1978, a high-level meeting of representatives of those participating States was convened in Geneva from 26 May to 2 June 1980 to carry out an overall intergovernmental review of TCDC within the United Nations development system.
In its resolution 35/202 of 16 December 1980, the UN General Assembly decided to change the name of the high-level meeting to High-level Committee on the Review of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries and requested the Administrator of UNDP to convene future sessions of the Committee under the same organizational and procedural arrangements as had been made for the high-level meeting. Since 1981, the Committee has met every two years to undertake an overall intergovernmental review of technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC) within the United Nations development system.
In its resolution 58/220 of 19 February 2003, the UN General Assembly decided to change the name of the High-level Committee on TCDC to the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation. The Committee retained its original mandate and the scope of its activities.
Each session of the High-level Committee is presided over by a president and assisted by a bureau that consists of members chosen from each of the regional groups.
UN General Assembly resolution 35/202 of 16 December 1980 established that the functions of the High-level Committee on TCDC would be the same as those outlined in recommendation 37 of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries. The Committee is responsible for:
- reviewing the progress made in implementing the tasks entrusted to the United Nations development system in the Buenos Aires Plan of Action;
- ensuring that efforts to strengthen TCDC are sustained within the United Nations development system;
- supporting new policies and innovative approaches to further the development of TCDC;
- considering the availability of financial resources and their effective use by the United Nations development system, without prejudice to existing programmes; and
- ensuring coordination of the promotional and operational TCDC activities of the United Nations development system.
Bureau of the HLC
The Bureau of the HLC is elected by the Committee during a half-day organizational meeting that is usually held three weeks before the biennial session of the Committee.
Sessions of the HLC
The sessions of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation have followed the format and working methods introduced at the eleventh session of the Committee, held in May 1999, which include the following:
- a half-day organizational meeting to be held not later than three weeks before the biennial session of the Committee. The organizational meeting will elect the Bureau of the Committee and adopt the provisional agenda and programme of work;
- a four-day substantive session comprising:
(a) a general debate on: (i) the review of progress made in implementing the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the new directions strategy for technical cooperation among developing countries and the decisions of the High-level Committee, and (ii) the consideration of reports of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme;
(b) a meeting of the Working Group that discusses the decisions and recommendations of the HLC.
The duration of the general debate is limited to three plenary meetings and concludes at the end of the morning meeting of the second day of the session. More specifically:
- A list of speakers is opened in the UN Office for South-South Cooperation usually one month before the meeting and closed the day before the opening session.
- In accordance with the working methods of the HLC, statements in the general debate are limited to 8 minutes for representatives of Member States and 6 minutes for other participants. To ensure that this limit is respected, the President indicates when the time limit is reached.
- To save time, several States or groups of States sharing common positions may wish to consider presenting joint statements. Delegations wishing to have statements circulated to all participants are requested to provide 300 copies to the secretariat, which arranges for their circulation in the language or languages received.
- To make the debate interactive, the President may request the Director of the UN Office to respond, from time to time as appropriate, to observations and suggestions made by delegations during the debate and subsequently invites comments from the floor, either on the Director’s response or on the issues raised in the statements of respective delegations.
- A recent additional feature of the Committee’s deliberations is a thematic discussion, including presentations by various experts on the selected theme. This format is designed to stimulate interactive exchanges among delegations and between delegations and the secretariat. The recommendations emanating from the thematic discussion will also be incorporated into the report of the Committee and, as appropriate, reflected in its decisions.
- The session is scheduled for a duration of four days prior to the annual session of the Executive Board of UNDP/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
- On the basis of the views and suggestions expressed during the debate, the Working Group meets as of the third working day of the session to elaborate draft decisions and recommendations.
Participants at the HLC include representatives of Member States of the United Nations and observers: United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes; regional commissions; and other subregional, regional and interregional intergovernmental organizations as well as accredited non-governmental organizations.