The summit-level Group brings together developing nations from across the world for promoting South-South cooperation and North South dialogue.
Origin and Development
The Group of Fifteen (G-15) was set up by fifteen developing countries in 1989 at the ninth NAM Summit in Belgrade as an Action Group with the role of a catalyst for the Third World. The aim was to strengthen cooperation among the world’s leading developing nations and serve as a bridge to the (then) G-7 industrialised nations. The founder-members were Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica and Venezuela from the Americas; Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria and Zimbabwe from Africa; and India, Malaysia and Indonesia from Asia.
The first G-15 summit was held in Malaysia in 1990. In 1996, 11 members of the Group were among the 50 top exporters and importers in the world. Collectively these countries accounted for 10 per cent of the world’s merchandise exports and 10 per cent of the world’s imports. Their population size of a 1.8 billion accounts for almost 30 per cent of global population. Kenya was admitted as the 16th member at the Kuala Lumpur Summit in 1997. Sri Lanka joined in 1999; Iran and Columbia were admitted in 2000. The nomenclature of the Group, however, remains the same.
The main objectives of the G-15 are “to harness the considerable potential for greater and mutually beneficial cooperation among developing countries; hold a review of the impact of the world economic situation and the state of international relations of developing countries; serve as a forum for regular consultations among developing countries with a view to coordinating policies and actions; identify and implement new and concrete schemes for South-South cooperation and mobilize wider support for them; pursue a more positive and productive North-South dialogue; and find new ways of dealing with problems in a cooperative, constructive and mutually supportive manner”.
The highest decision-making body of the G-15 is the annual Summit Meeting of its Head of State and Government (HOS/G) which is chaired by the country hosting the summit. To prepare for the annual summit and to coordinate the work of the Group, the Foreign Ministers of the G-15 countries usually meet twice every year. The daily work of the G-15 is supervised by the personal representatives of the HOS/G. These representatives meet at least four times a week, and are guided in their work by a troika comprising the current, previous and future chairmen of the Group. Ministers of Trade and Economics of the G-15 countries meet as and when deemed necessary. In addition, other ministers of the member-countries may meet when required.
The G-15 is assisted by a Technical Support Facility (TSF) based in Geneva. The TSF works under the guidance of the Chairman for the current year and is responsible for giving substantive and technical secretariat support for the activities of the Group and for promoting its objectives.
Private sector participation in G-15 activities is encouraged and actively promoted. The G-15 has established a Business Investment Forum (BIF) and a Committee on Investment, Trade and Technology (CITT) to facilitate interaction between the private and public sectors, and between the business communities of member-countries.
The G-15 strives to search for a more equitable economic order, and one of its major concerns is to bridge the growing disparities between the North and South. At various international fora, the G-15 has called upon the developed countries to be sensitive to the needs and interests of the developing countries while adopting macro-economic policies. The member-countries have sough the reform of major international financial and trade institutions so as to allow maximum benefits for the less-developed countries and to integrate the developing countries with the world economy. As for South-South cooperation, members have taken steps to increase inter-dependency in areas such as trade, transport, exchange of information and technology, technical expertise and infrastructural development, and, in general, to reduce their dependence on the North. Combating poverty and unemployment is another major area of cooperation for the G-15.
The G-15 has also launched a wide range of economic and technical cooperation projects. Each project is coordinated and funded by the initiating country. Projects have been established in fields such as environment, technology, education, trade and investment. G-15 projects are open to participation by all developing countries. Each of these projects is supported by a network of national focal points (NFPs) and monitored by the TSF.