Phase 1: The 1950s and 1960s
A number of groupings emerged over the coming decades boosting political, cultural, economic and technical cooperation. Coordination of these countries at a multilateral level was advanced with the establishment of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM)
in 1961 and through the Cairo Conference in 1962
on the Problems of Economic Development which led to the creation of the so-called Group of Seventy Seven (G77)
UNCTAD was the first agency to recognize the need to promote ECDC as part of its regular work programme.
Phase 2: The 1970s and 1980s
The UNCTAD III held in 1972 in Santiago de Chile
, prompted the transformation of the Working Programme on Trade Expansion and Economic Integration among Developing Countries into a Division status. From 1974, much of this work was linked to the efforts to establish a New International Economic Order (NIEO) adopted in the United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/S-6/3201
In 1978, the UN Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) was held in Buenos Aires adopting the Buenos Aires Plan of Action on TCDC a blueprint document boosting south-south technical cooperation. This effort was cut short by the debt crisis of the early 1980s. However, closer regional integration did continue, although in a very uneven fashion, raising new policy challenges for developing countries.
The rapid development of the East Asian region involved particularly strong regional ties which have been extensively examined by UNCTAD. UNCTAD was also called upon to support a number of monetary cooperation schemes drawing lessons from experiences in other regions and prompting a platform for dialogue between delegations of different parties of the developing and developed world.
In 1983 the ECDC Committee re-formulated UNCTAD´s ECDC programme securing that work on this project was approved.
Phase 3: The 1990s and 2000s
Subsequent work on South-South cooperation has continued in UNCTAD albeit on a much more decentralized and ad hoc basis through the work programme of each division.
UNCTAD IX in Midrand, South Africa
lead to a commensurate restructuring of the Secretariat and the abolition of the Division on ECDC. The Conference felt that this cross-sectoral issue could be best addressed by introducing an ECDC emphasis in the work of each of the substantive Division of UNCTAD with an overall coordination role given to the Development Policies Branch of the Division on Globalisation and Development Strategies.
The Accra Accord
of UNCTAD XII
recognized the growing importance of South-South cooperation and the potential role that UNCTAD could play in supporting this trend.
UNCTAD Secretary General Panitchpakdi decided to establish a unit on ECIDC in July 2009 aiming to revitalise its work on this issue. The unit was implemented with posts provided by the development pillar endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/63/260
of December 2008.
More on the history of UNCTAD: