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International Organizations diffusion in South-South Cooperation dynamics. Notes on the Uruguayan case in the 21st Century – interview with the authors by Juliana Leal

International cooperation has been profoundly affected by structural changes in global and regional governance. The authors Carla Morasso & Lorena Lamas in their article “International Organizations diffusion in South-South Cooperation dynamics. Notes on the Uruguayan case in the 21st Century” (Vol. 63, n. 2) will explore that the scenario of International Development Cooperation (IDC) has been transformed in the new century by the increase of South-South Cooperation (SSC) and, in response to that, the North has deployed its influence through International Organizations (IO) to moderate and model the agendas and institutions of the South. The authors present Uruguay as a good example of how the IO’s interests and methodologies have influenced cooperation strategies and institutionalisation processes in developing countries through diffusion mechanisms. 

Decades of colonial dependence in Latin America oppressed the economic development of the region. The traditional North-South cooperation models reflected the same subjugation within the framework of “support”. In this sense, what are the main obstacles to south-south cooperation in order to surpass this colonial dependency heritage? 

In the XXI Century, South-South Cooperation has moved once again onto the center stage of world politics and once again the colonial legacy crosses it. The historical obstacles are numerous, but there are two key elements underlying the overcoming of the dependency heritage:  the mutual knowledge of the capacities and strengths of the South and the recognition of the necessity of self-reliance among the development countries.  

Whave to be aware of the disconnection and mutual ignorance among the development countries. As result of centuries of Eurocentrism, Latin American countries know more about the trajectories of Europe and the United States than of their own regional, Asian, and African peers. These is the reason why it is so relevant for South-South cooperation arrangements improve horizontal connections, political dialogue and cultural exchanges.  

We also have to considerer that Latin America usually “imports” from the North development models and recipes that ignore the national and regional particularities and interests. The Official Assistance for Development is one of the many channels through the ideas, norms and values of the North arrive to the South. So, it its extremely relevant for Latin American countries to consider South-South cooperation as a mechanism to stimulate self-reliance among the countries and to reinforce economic and political relationships to achieve autonomous development strategies aligned to national development strategies. Based on the principles of respect for national sovereignty; national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference and mutual benefit South-South cooperation could provide not only highly-adapted and relevant solutions for development problems, but also a political framework for the construction of autonomy in a very asymmetric world system. 

The authors mention that the Development iTransition (DiT) proposes a reformulation of the IDC to encompass the SSC and continue supporting development strategies in recently graduated countries that still have inequalities and concerns in their social and economic structures. In this sense, how do you believe that international cooperation can sustain smooth and successful transitions to recently graduated countries such as Chile and Uruguay?  

We believe that DiT is an important and helpful tool to support development strategies for countries, such as Uruguay and Chile, that despite income and GDP indicators still show inequalities within societies and development challenges. To overcome these challenges, international cooperation is key. However, to stress development principles and transition path is equally relevant, since southern countries face the risk to adopt, once again, northern conceptions based on more quantifiable approaches rather that political ones, questioning structural and asymmetric power.  

To support recently graduated countries’ transition, IDC needs to be focused on the overcome of development traps, as circular self-reinforcing dynamics that limit the capacity of transitioning towards effective development, mainly related to structural conditions of productivity, social vulnerability and institutions.  

Additionally, the support to digital access and infrastructureinnovation development capacities and technology transfer are critical to reduce digital and technological dependence in the present world.  

Finally, to review the cost of international debt together with substantial access to credit and development financing at better rates is crucial for middle-income and recently graduated countries.     

Your article states that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were not universal, since they mirrored the North’s views, imposed to the South. You exemplify this through the strong focus put on extreme poverty, which denoted a paternalist approach, without making reference to inequality or social exclusion. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on the other hand, present a more multidimensional view to global issues. What are, in your opinion, the main challenges for implementing international south-south cooperation agendas for achieving the SDGs?  

2030 Agenda and SDGs incorporates a multidimensional approach of development which is something southern countries have been arguing since the beginning of development categorisation discussions and graduation process. Therefore, we consider the incorporation of this perspective an important step for the understanding of development as a path rather than a destination, evidencing that both North and South have work to do in sustainable development actions. 

SDGs are international challenges represented by 17 goals and 169 targets that governments worldwide agreed to tackle. Despite the key relevance of this agreement, it is important to be aware of international decision-making process on what gets measured to avoid the reproduction of old conceptions. 

Regarding to International and South-South Cooperation, SDG10 for reducing inequalities within and among countries it is truly relevant since the gap between North and South remains wide. Inequality is one of the main social challenges both within and among countries. Thus, to reduce and socioeconomic inequalities is critical in the path to sustainable development worldwide and IDC, SSC and TC have been doing lot of work on this regard, yet challenges on this field are far from be overcome. 

Additionally, SDG17 for strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development is critical for the deepening of international partnership and cooperation together with development financing for the overcoming of development challenges and sustainability. We believe participation of all the stakeholders is important, however governmental leadership on this regard is crucial to put the interest of everyone into cooperation programs and to align them to the national development strategies. 

Finally, we consider that to incorporate sustainable approaches and SDGs into academic curricula could be a good step for next generations to include sustainability and equality into their professional activities and academic reflections.  

The COVID-19 pandemic brings to the international discussion the debate about the absence of borders for invisible enemies and the high importance of international cooperation in order to share experiences, lessons learned and to recover the order. How does COVID-19 affect the prospects for south-south cooperation for Latin America and other developing countries? 

The pandemic has plunged the global economy into deep contraction. The recession in Latin America could lead us to think that it will be made an adjustment in the national budgets of international cooperation. However, the financial restrictions are not synonymous of decline of South-South cooperation. As an example, we could take a look at Cuba, that send health aid abroad to fight coronavirus, or at Mercosur’s approbation (perhaps with a few delay) of an emergency fund for the regional fight against COVID-19 

In the region, South-South cooperation is already part of the foreign policies. Although there are a variety of cooperation models, according to the different strategies of international insertion and national identities, each country has deployed actions and programs of South-South and triangular cooperation in the last fifteen years, which strengthen the regional integration processes. Probably these paths will continue after the pandemic, maybe redirecting regional efforts to health issuesOn this regard, we regret the dissolution of the UNASUR´s Health Council that could be playing a crucial role during the pandemic. This case serves as an example of how political and ideological approaches can perform as both strengths or threatens to regional cooperation depending on national governments’ political preferences. 

The pandemic is a wake-up call for a better and more effective multilateralism and in this framework South-South cooperation, as we pointed before, is essential to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development by including the voices, best practices, lessons learnt and expectations from the Global South. 

Read the article 

Morasso, Carla, & Lamas, Lorena. (2020). International Organizations diffusion in South-South Cooperation dynamics. Notes on the Uruguayan case in the 21st Century. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 63(2), e005. Epub July 22, 2020.https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0034-7329202000205 

About the authors 

Carla Morasso, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Facultad de Ciencia Política y Relaciones Internacionales, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina (carla.morasso@fcpolit.unr.edu.ar) 

Lorena Lamas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Facultad de Ciencia Política y Relaciones Internacionales, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina (lamasur.lorena@gmail.com) 

Juliana Leal, Juliana Leal, master candidate at University of Brasília. 

How to cite this interview 

Cite this article as: Editoria, "International Organizations diffusion in South-South Cooperation dynamics. Notes on the Uruguayan case in the 21st Century – interview with the authors by Juliana Leal," in Revista Mundorama, 31/07/2020, https://mundorama.net/?p=27482.