Non-Governmental Actors and South-South Cooperation

Non-Governmental Actors and South-South Cooperation


Melissa Pomeroy (Articulação Sul)

Iara Costa Leite (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)


The role of non-governmental actors, including NGOs, social movements, universities, think tanks, has been increasingly recognized by the development cooperation architecture in a context marked by the proliferation of development players and the need to coordinate international development activities (Kharas, Makino, Jung, 2010), and by the crisis of traditional paradigms (Mawdsley, Savage, Kim, 2013). Non-governmental actors also play an important role in policy transfer (Dolowitz, Marsh, 1996; Stone, 2000, 2004) and Track Two diplomacy (Cooper, Heine, Ramesh, 2013). However there is still a lack of systematic knowledge on how non-governmental actors operate in South-South Cooperation (SSC). The latter, however, cannot be isolated from broader geographic dimensions as in many cases non-governmental actors operate in multi-scale policy arenas beyond national borders, either in triangular and multi-stakeholder development cooperation initiatives (Abdenur, Fonseca, 2013; Ayllón, 2013), or aiming to influence broader policy outcomes and paradigm shifts, through forging transnational advocacy networks (Keck and Sikkink, 1998). Additionally, social movements and NGO’s engage in South-South international solidarity networks and political learning processes (Bringel and Vieira, 2015) or transnational contentious politics around SSC initiatives and agendas, challenging the state-centric focus of SSC interactions. This session welcomes contributions on the purposes, processes and impacts of various types of non-governmental actors in SSC in its multiple development and human rights dimensions.

Questions to be addressed by the papers include:

  • What role do non-governmental actors play in South-South policy transfer? How do they interact with official actors (Southern and Northern governments and international organizations) and transnational networks in policy transfer? What are the drivers and patterns of such interaction?
  • How and to which extent do NGOs, social movements, think tanks and universities play an important role in the design, implementation and evaluation SSC? What are their motivations? What kind of impacts are produced, either on the ground or in Southern donors’ domestic constituencies?
  • Are private sector actors relevant agents in the definition of SSC agendas? What is the role of Southern-based companies, philanthropists, and foundations? Are there certain types of actors that are more active than others?
  • Is the emergence of the agendas of science, technology and innovation and entrepreneurialism in development cooperation being accompanied by more participation of Southern-based technology-based companies, universities, scientists and incubators? What are their strengths and weaknesses as development players?
  • Which theoretical borders must be crossed in order to provide a better understanding of non-governmental actors role in policy transfer through South-South policy transfer?
  • Are there any distinctive characteristics of non-governmental actors participation in South-South cooperation when compared to North-South cooperation? And within southern countries?