Types and Modes of International Cooperation

South-South Cooperation: This type of cooperation is mainly used to create, exchange and develop technical abilities, experiences and knowledge between countries with a similar level of development, based on the concepts of equity, trust and collaborative effort.

South-North Cooperation: This type of cooperation is based on how the knowledge provided by so-called developing countries can be important for developed nations with respect to certain matters of experience, lessons learned and significant practices, among others. [1]

Triangular Cooperation: It is a mixed variant of International Cooperation that combines traditional or vertical cooperation with South-South Cooperation, in order to provide aid to a third developing country. Triangular Cooperation helps supplements existing strengths in developing countries, especially middle income countries and traditional donors, in order to face development challenges and advance towards common interests, using solutions that can be adapted to the contexts and realities of nations. [2]

In the language of the UNDP, it is a type of South-South Cooperation between two or more countries involving a developed nation. [3]

Bilateral Cooperation: It involves the participation of two different countries, or of institutions from said two countries [4]. The sources of bilateral cooperation are the governments of countries that maintain relations based on International Cooperation. These relations are government-to-government in nature, through embassies or agencies that serve as cooperation instances, as well as technical coordination entities. [5]

Multilateral Cooperation: It a type of cooperation discussed and channeled through international, regional and sub-regional organizations, which involves several countries with certain political, regional or sector interests. Cooperation is implemented using their own resources or funds provided by member countries for specific topics. Examples include the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the CAF Development Bank of Latin America. [6]

Decentralized Cooperation: These are all the international cooperation actions carried out or promoted by local and regional governments in a direct manner, without the intermediation of central States or multilateral organizations. [7]

Non-Governmental Cooperation: This type of cooperation is established between non-governmental parties. A non-governmental entity takes actions that are not related to the State but come from a group of people in civil society. It is of a private and generally non-profit nature, for instance in the case of universities, private foundations and NGOs. For the most part, this kind of aid is implemented and directed by non-governmental parties from high income nations towards organizations of the same type in developing countries. [8]

Horizontal Cooperation: Also known as South-South Cooperation, is occurs between countries with a similar level of development or involving countries with lesser degrees of development.

Inter-Institutional Cooperation: Within the particular framework of both private and public institutions, there can be technical exchanges, support and cooperation on an international scale with their peers in other countries. At the academic level, for example, cooperation between private universities throughout the entire world is worth highlighting, by using exchanges, visits, joint research, scholarships and other options. This type of cooperation is not coordinated by APC-Colombia and is therefore carried out directly. [9]

Multi-Bilateral Cooperation: This type of cooperation involves two cooperating countries and a third country or international organism that finances said cooperation.

Vertical Cooperation: Also known as north-south cooperation, it takes place between a developed country and a developing nation or one with a lesser degree of development.

The main types of cooperation are:

Financial Cooperation: This is offered by assigning financial resources with the aim of promoting development projects. It can be classified as refundable (concessional credit terms) or non-refundable. Refundable financial cooperation consists of flexible credit that, nonetheless, involves favorable conditions with respect to time and interest. Non-refundable financial cooperation is offered by allocating resources in cash for the purpose of promoting development projects or activities.

Counterpart: These resources are provided by the beneficiary of cooperation in order to carry out a project [10]. It is usually a $1 to $1 donation made in order to match the funds supplied by another donor. [11]

Technical Cooperation: This assistance is provided by transferring techniques, technologies, knowledge, abilities or experiences for the purpose of supporting the socio-economic development of countries with lesser levels of development in specific areas. With this type of cooperation technological development, human resource training and institutional capacity improvement also benefit.

Food Aid: Direct donation of food, access to concessional credit lines or non-refundable assistance for acquiring food products in case of disaster or conflict. [12]

Humanitarian and Emergency Aid: It is used as a form of prevention and to provide aid during emergencies such as natural disasters, epidemics and situations of human rights violation. [13]

Technological and Scientific Cooperation: It is used to promote the development of countries as a result of strengthening their technological capacity or knowledge creation ability. Primarily, it works through the exchange of researchers, joint projects and investigation networks.

Cultural Cooperation: Provides the proper means or basic training for stimulating cultural development. [14]

Donations: This particular mode of assistance is basically offered by providing equipment and materials, as well as financial resources, for the direct implementation of a given project whose beneficiaries are generally community groups and/or public entities. Generally speaking, this line of action is carried out by certain embassies or cooperation agencies, in order to improve the conditions of the poorest sectors of the population by providing physical or financial resources. [15]

Subsidy: Generally public economic aid used to finance the upkeep of an activity. [16]

Information taken from the following sources (in Spanish):

[1] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional". In: Observatorio de Cooperación Descentralizada América Latina - Europa, Panorama de la cooperación Descentralizada (January 2011)


[3] UNTERM - Triangular Cooperation

[4] Acción Social, La Cooperación Internacional en Colombia, CD-ROM.



[7] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional". (January 2011)

[8] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional". (January 2011)


[10] This information was originally from the official web page for the Universidad de los Andes

[11] UNTERM - Matching Grant

[12] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional" (January 2011)

[13] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional" (January 2011)

[14] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional" (January 2011)

[15] CEPEI. "Contexto de la Cooperación Internacional" (January 2011)

[16] Acción Social, La Cooperación Internacional en Colombia, CD-ROM