We live in a world where an estimated 2.3 billion people (30% of the world population) still lack access to basic sanitation services, a condition that negatively affects mortality. In 2015, the number of unemployed people among those at working age reached 197.1 million. Around 170 million children in the world are stunted, putting in jeopardy their brain and body development, educational achievement and earnings later in life. The systemic deprivations of women relative to men also deserve to be highlighted: women are over-represented amongst those in situation of low human development.
At the international level, development cooperation is one of the existing tools trying to address these inequalities. Development cooperation, however, is not exempt from the dynamics of politics.
From 2005 to 2015, developing countries, as diverse as they are, kept coalitions in defence of the exceptionality of the cooperation types developed by them, generally packed under the concept of South-South Cooperation. Developing countries also tried to reconfigure international discourse on development cooperation as a whole, in response to changing power relations. This movement happened at the moment in which taxpayers in the North were vocally raising questions and requesting better reasons to justify the aid spending of traditional agencies.
While upscaling South-South cooperation initiatives between them, developing countries took different paths of interaction with the well-established Aid Effectiveness Agenda of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The majority of Group of 77 (G77) members were predominantly cautious against limiting their political space by endorsing a regime in which formulation they were not substantively involved. Some, however, such as the g7+ of fragile states, seized what they saw as an opportunity to have their voices heard by the main donors, in the interest of trying to change how Official Development Assistance is delivered in practice.
It remains to be seen to what extent those that were emerging were really able to reform the soft-norms of the issue-area; to what extent traditional actors were able to reupholster concepts and resist change; whether the g7+ coalition was able to legitimally make the voice of smaller countries heard; and how, in the end, money spent in development cooperation is being justified for the years ahead.
In a nutshell, this work specifically aims at examining how changes in the broad context of international politics affected by the evolving multilateral language regarding the concepts of effectiveness and south-south cooperation. The concept of ‘development effectiveness’ is mainly dear to the OECD Secretariat. The concept of ‘South-South Cooperation’ is particularly treasured by the G77. Both concepts are important to the narrative embedded with the G7+ coalition.