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Guterres Seeks G77 Support to Implement UN Agenda

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26 2017 - Speaking at the handover ceremony of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 on Jan 13, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he wants to work closely with the G77 in order to achieve some of the high priorities on the UN agenda, including peace, development, security and UN reforms.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: UN Photo

UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: UN Photo

Describing the G77 as “an important stakeholder”, he said one of his priorities, particularly in the context of peace and security, is prevention. “And there is no better prevention than development”.

“It is with development that conditions are created to minimize the impacts of natural disasters, climate change, and also to minimize risks of conflict, instability and war which have unfortunately created a very dramatic situation at the international level.”

Guterres said the Group is also an important part of the implementation of his vision for the UN, pointing out that leadership and implementation of the Agenda must come from member states.

The role of the UN is a supportive one for member states, creating the conditions to realize ambitious goals in the agenda for the benefit of all citizens of the world.

It is extremely important for leadership to translate objectives into action through the integration of the Agenda into development plans, budgets, the central actions of governments and societies, he added.

The agenda is universal but it is least developed countries or underprivileged countries like small islands or landlocked states, in particular, that can also realize the objectives for their citizens, he noted.

Guterres singled out Ecuador, which took over the chairmanship of the G77 from Thailand on January 13, for special praise.

“Ecuador is a place I know very well, and have cooperated with, when I was UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is a place that represents values of solidarity and concern for inclusive and sustainable development, democracy and human rights. They have always kept their borders open and not only that, Ecuadoreans have always had their houses and hearts open,” he noted.

Guterres said it was not easy to be a foreigner in many places in the world—a lot of foreigners are victims of discrimination, xenophobia, and are marginalized from different development processes.

But in Ecuador, he pointed out, solidarity is not only a symbol for Ecuadoreans but also for foreigners—the country has contributed in a very important way the rules of solidarity at the national and international level.

“I am sure that with the leadership of Ecuador, the G77 will have a decisive role in not only ensuring the fair guidance for the implementation of our common Agenda, but also in assuming a leadership role in necessary system reforms.”

“I want to congratulate Ecuador on their election for this role and to assure the permanent representative of Ecuador that I will always have my door open so that we can discuss everything necessary to uphold an exemplary relationship between the G77 and the Secretary-General”, he declared.

Guterres also congratulated Thailand whose “Presidency has managed to lead the Group in a moment in which the Group has played a central role in two of the most important developments for the future of mankind: first of all, the approval – the development and the approval of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, and second the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

“The Group of 77 together with China played, under the Thai leadership, a very important role in achieving these very relevant success stories in the history of multilateralism. And I want to pay tribute to the Thai Presidency for your work,” he declared.

The President of the General Assembly Ambassador Peter Thomson said President Correa assumes the leadership of the G77 at a critical moment in the work of the United Nations, as the world looks to scale-up implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“As a former G77 Chair, I know first-hand the great responsibility that is being placed by developing countries into Ecuador’s hands today. This mark of trust reflects the Group’s confidence in Ecuador’s commitment to furthering the cause of sustainable development. But this is by no means a lonely job, for Ecuador will have the full membership of the Group at its side. Indeed, Group solidarity is fundamental to our progress,” he said.

He also pointed out that 2017 will be a year in which “we work to strengthen the integration and implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the vital elements of the global development mosaic, such as the New Urban Agenda adopted in Quito last October.”

Additionally, 2017 will also witness the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference in support of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, to be held from 5 to 9 June, here in New York.

Throughout this year, the United Nations will also be called upon to deliver on a number of critical issues for the UN Agenda, including financing for development, taxation, humanitarian assistance, operational activities for development, the implementation of the new QCPR framework, and the adoption of the UN’s biennial budget. In all of these issues, the Group has a central role to play, he added.

In a statement on behalf of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Bolivarian Republic Venezuela said the history of partnership and cooperation between NAM and the Group of 77 goes back in history, as both organizations, apart from sharing most of its members, emerged during the early 1960s, certainly with different focuses but with one common goal: bringing together the countries of the developing world to discuss issues of mutual interest, and to address challenges that were – and still are—common to the Global South.

The NAM, like the Group of 77, attaches great importance to the universal goal of decolonization, a fundamental right and a goal that remains both valid and essential to our groupings. “Hence, we call on the international community to speed up the process of decolonization towards the complete elimination of colonialism, particularly during the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020).”

Speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), Ambassador Ana Silvia Rodriguez Abascal said the G77 and China encompasses more than half the world’s population and two-thirds of the Organization’s member states, thus being one of the major voices of obligatory reference in the current international context.

“No one can ignore our heritage or the force we represent. The only viable alternative to the enormous dangers that beset humanity nowadays is unity and solidarity to defend our common goals and aspirations,” she declared.

Speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group of countries, Ambassador Dr Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, said this past year has witnessed the holding of the first High Level Political Forum following the adoption of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development; the first-ever Financing for Development (FfD) Forum and the multi-stakeholder Forum on Science and Technology and Innovation, in addition to the adoption, by consensus, of the new QCPR resolution, following a long and arduous negotiation process.

“The diplomatic skills of the Thai mission’s team were crucial in leading the G77 to successfully negotiate tens of resolutions in the different committees of the General Assembly this past year,” he noted.

Referring to the new chair, the Ambassador said: “We have full confidence in the leadership that you will be providing, which we all witnessed at full display, during Ecuador’s hosting of the Habitat III conference in Quito last October, on which you personally presided, and ensured its outstanding success,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the African Group states, Ambassador Albert Shingiro of Burundi told delegates that since the creation of the G77 in the 15th of June 1964, through the joint declaration of 77 developing countries in Geneva, the African Group has been very active in the work of the G77 at all levels and at all forms.

“The African Group would like to reiterate the same commitment, or even stronger commitment, to promote along with other countries the collective economic interests of the G77 and to strengthen our capacity for negotiations on all major international economic issues within the United Nations and also to promote South-South and triangular cooperation,” he noted.

Expressing the African Group’s sincere gratitude to the Republic of Ecuador, represented at the highest level for its well-deserved assumption to preside the G77, the Ambassador said: “You are taking over from the Kingdom of Thailand to follow a path that has been well-charted after following the year of the implementation for the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Agenda.”

“You can count on the full support and cooperation of the African region to take up the challenges in store and to ensure its success. There is no doubt that Ambassador Sevilla, our colleague, who has lengthy experience in multilateral diplomacy will be able to put his multiple talents at the service of the G77 to defend the interests of our group.”

The African Group is very grateful for the remarkable efforts of the delegation of Thailand in various multilateral negotiations to defend the economic and social interests of the Group while respecting the principles and goals contained in the Algiers Charter adopted on the 20th of October 1967. It is still that charter, as you know, that continues to guide the G77 and still striving to create a fair, just and solid multilateral system that can meet the basic needs of our people in their daily lives.

Several times, the Thai Presidency had to tackle considerable difficulties in building a global consensus on critical issues related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

“The African Group hails the leadership of the Thai presidency for having maintained the unity of the G77 while respecting its diversity during the process of negotiations in the Second Committee which, as you know, led to the adoption of resolution on the quarter annual review of the operational development activities of the United Nations system,” the Ambassador declared.

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