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Southern Solidarity for Sustainable Peace and Development in Small States meeting

South-South consultation forges a path to peace and development

12 December 2018

Representatives of Commonwealth small states have identified key issues such as climate change, high crime rates, gun violence and the illicit drug trade that should be tackled through a South-South initiative to support sustainable peace and development.

Meeting in London, delegates welcomed the initiative, Southern Solidarity for Sustainable Peace and Development in Small States, which is jointly managed by the Commonwealth and United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.

The initiative seeks to strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation - the exchange of expertise between governments, organisations and individuals in developing countries from the Global South. It builds on the value of solidarity to promote a horizontal exchange of knowledge among small states facing similar socio-political, economic and environmental challenges.

Delegates, including High Commissioners, shared their country-specific needs and challenges while also identifying good practices in the area of peace and development. Case studies include:

  • oversight of the Political Ombudsman which has united political parties on issues such as electoral irregularities and tribalism in Jamaica; and the introduction of a Political Code of Conduct that has been endorsed by both major political parties;
  • an online resource to provide citizens access to national laws and policies in Bahamas;
  • a strategy to close a digital gap that generates exclusion and increases criminality, by providing technology to every student in Barbados;
  • the personalised nature of politics in small states that can encourage consensus-building approaches, dialogue and enhanced citizen participation in political discourse.

These insights will help develop demand-driven responses to tackle issues hindering peace and development such as high debt, politically-influenced violence, the trade of small arms, migration, access to land, misuse of social media and climatic vulnerabilities.

In her opening remarks, Katalaina Sapolu, Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate at the Commonwealth, said: “The principles of South-South collaboration - horizontal exchange, ownership and non-conditionality, and solidarity - have always been hallmarks of the Commonwealth.

“In a time of interesting global innovations and democratic challenges, South-South cooperation is an essential tool to enable more diverse opportunities and models for development, and create spaces for innovative solutions.”

Jamaica’s High Commissioner, Seth George Ramocan, described violent crime as a major impediment to economic growth which he said, “costs Jamaica four per cent of its GDP”.

Most small states are reliant on tourism which is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. Delegates said one major storm can wipe out a country’s entire economy, displacing people, increasing crime and hindering development.  

The Senior Advisor on Peace and Development at the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, Cecilia Milesi, said, “We want to work with small states to understand their peace and development challenges and listen to their priorities for positive change. We can then create a platform which allows them to learn from other countries from the global South and implement better policies for inclusive peace.”

The next consultation will be held in New York on 15 January. The findings of both will feed into the initiative to develop demand-driven solutions to the circumstances of small states. Best practices, shared by delegates, will be published on the Commonwealth Innovation Hub and UNOSSC’s South-South Galaxy.