Opening Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms
Sue van der Merwe on the Occasion of the Planning Seminar to prepare for the South
African Chairship of the Group of 77 in 2006, Pretoria, 11 December 2005
Excellency Ambassador Neil
Your Excellency Ambassador Al-Nasser
It is an honour for me to open this workshop, which aims to carry
out some of the groundwork, as we prepare for the responsibility of chairing the
Group of 77 and China (G77) in 2006.
As is the normal practice, Minister
Dlamini Zuma, who unfortunately cannot be with us today, requested that we convene
this meeting to prepare a national strategy for our role as chair of the G-77
and China in 2006.
In this engagement, we will hear from those that have
held the role of Chair before us. We will learn about the challenges they have
encountered; and their accounts of these experiences will help to give us the
institutional memory that we need so as to make our own contribution to this important
We salute the outgoing chair, Jamaica, for the
solid contribution that this country has made during its tenure. We shall continue
from where you have left off, armed with this rich legacy and thus be fully prepared
to take on the challenges of the new year.
It is indeed a huge responsibility.
We are privileged as a young democracy to be bestowed with such a mammoth task
in leading an organization that has played such a significant role in matters
of global governance for over four decades and still remains an active champion
of the aspirations of the South and all its peoples.
Yet it offers us challenges
that we are willing to accept and take upon our own shoulders, since South Africa
in the first decade of democracy has and still favours a multilateral approach
to international affairs and to the problems besetting the world. Multilateralism
for us is both a theory and a practice, which we take very seriously.
a world of rapid and rampant globalization where the economic gap between the
rich and the poor of the world has widened in recent years and continues to do
so, we believe that we have no option but to defend the agenda of developing nations
and to ensure that all our voices are heard and taken seriously - amid the hustle
and bustle of global business asserting itself through new technologies to the
far reaches of the world - and at the mere press of a button.
As the developing
world, in this uncertain and ever-changing reality, the time has come for us to
assert what we stand for and how, we believe, the world should work, how its politics
and economics should be run. We should use every opportunity to assert our views
and to build a more inclusive world.
The priority of bringing an end to
poverty and of attaining sustained development on a world scale is what we desire
for ourselves and for every other human being.
World progress must also
come to mean human progress and the construction of a more humane and caring world.
world has changed a great deal since the Group of 77 was founded in 1964 under
the aegis of the United Nations. In 1964 the concern was for the establishment
of a new international economic order as the key to transforming the global exercise
I beg your indulgence as I look back at the achievements that
the G77 has made thus far. It is important to reflect, since this gives us as
South Africa a better understanding of where we need to go and what we need to
do to make a success out of our stewardship of this historic structure.
G77, in our view, has made a notable contribution to the effective functioning
of the United Nations and can legitimately claim a large part of the credit for
the UN system moving towards a global governance system in the economic and social
- The G77 has been a bulwark against the tyranny of global
elitism and unilateralism and has promoted an evolving culture of multilateralism
in global governance.
- The international system of states unfortunately
has been characterized by divisions along the lines of North and South. The strength
of the G77 has been to inculcate unity and cohesion within the community of nations
founded on the principle of peaceful interdependence.
- The G77
since its foundation has been guided by the vision of fair and equitable multilateral
relations as well as a commitment by its members to the wellbeing of the marginalized
peoples of the South and their strong belief in mutually beneficial co-operation.
each moment in time, we have, together as a community of nations, realized that
we need each other to survive and that the sustained progress of one nation depends
on the support of others. Mutual interdependence is the only way we can build
a better future for the peoples of the world and a peaceful approach to global
governance is the only way we can safeguard our future.
We have come a long
way since 1964 and I think that we have a lot to show for this. It was only thirty
years later in 1994 that South Africa would hold its first democratic elections
and lay down the foundations for a new non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South
Africa. This victory for Africa and for the anti-apartheid movement all over the
world was one of a number of changes in Africa in the context of the second wave
of democracy to sweep the African continent.
Today on this continent this
growing trend towards democratization and good governance continues apace despite
problems that persist in some places. At present we stand at the threshold of
having the first elected woman President on the African continent, Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf in Liberia.
In the current climate, the South as a whole is also
making rapid progress. Countries of the South, such as China and India, are beginning
to occupy the driving seat in the world economy, achieving unprecedented high
rates of growth that appear to be increasing overall with every passing year.
are significant developments, which cannot be ignored and are forcing a serious
rethink of the long held myth that certain chosen states are destined to be better
than the rest.
At the same time, colleagues, despite this phenomenal growth,
we cannot ignore the developmental challenges that continue to face us.
the world is beset by acute economic and social challenges, many of them structural
in nature. Moreover, international economic relations continue to be marked by
uncertainty, imbalances and recessions - with the marginalization of developing
countries and the least developed amongst them.
The G77 plus China has
continued to express its deep concern with regard to the tendency by developed
countries to take decisions that affect the world economy outside the multilateral
framework of the United Nations system and without giving full consideration to
the interests of developing countries.
In the face of this growing unilateralism,
the G77 and China will continue to campaign for the strengthening of the multilateral
system within the context of a reformed United Nations.
As South Africa,
like other countries, we looked forward to the Millennium Review Summit with much
anticipation. For us, as with many other marginalized nations, 2005 was meant
to be an extremely important year for reform and the Summit was seen to be a determining
factor in the future of global governance.
Naturally, we were extremely
disappointed at the outcome of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly. Yet
again because of narrow interests, an opportunity to reform the current global
governance system was lost. This loss was in favour of preserving the status quo
at the expense of the needs and aspirations of the peoples of the South.
this setback, we shall continue to harness our collective strength to use every
available opportunity, every international platform, to persuade others to see
our way of thinking, the merits of our viewpoints and the prosperous future this
promises for the world.
Therefore, as South Africa we shall use the opportunity
that members of the G77 and China have given us to make our own contribution to
guide the organization for 2006 and to take forward the vision we share of a more
As we stated in our acceptance speech on the occasion
of South Africa's election to the Chair of the G77 and China, in New York in September
" South Africa is committed to a just and equitable
global economic order as well as the achievement of sustainable development. We
will spare no effort to actively pursue the needs and aspirations of developing
countries to ensure that we harness the opportunities for developing countries
and enhance the momentum arising out of the 2005 High Level Summit.
Africa will continue to reiterate the importance of maintaining a balanced approach
in addressing security and development. The success in taking development forward
will depend not only on political support but also in making certain that there
are adequate and reliable resources for addressing the permanent threat posed
We therefore remain strong in our
conviction that the United Nations is the primary multilateral organ for global
governance and will work together with our partners in this regard.
planning workshop proceeds, it may be useful to look at some of these issues that
I now will mention simply in passing. These are the main areas that I think we
will need to concentrate our energies on as we take over the Chair.
the revitalisation and reform of the United Nations remain the primary objectives
of the G77 and China.
- We therefore welcome the Swedish initiated
follow-up process to finalise and implement the 2005 Millennium Review Summit
- As you are aware, South Africa has been invited to
join a core group of Member States to lead this process, including co-chairing
the informal consultations on the establishment of the Human Rights Council. We
will continue our active and positive engagement in these efforts.
together as peoples of the South in co-operation with the nations of the North
is of critical importance as we seek to achieve a more equitable and just world
- What is needed today is a genuine global partnership. It is only
in this spirit that the challenges of today and those of the years to come can
- As a follow-up to the Millennium Review Summit
of September 2005, 2006 will be a year in which developing countries will need
to act firmly in collective solidarity if we are to succeed in truly and firmly
placing development implementation at the centre of all United Nations activities.
- Our task will be to help to build consensus and to put forward
our position as the G77 and China at meetings to which this structure will need
to send representation. The G8 meeting is one such important gathering.
important matter is how we work together towards reclaiming development during
the current WTO Doha Development Round prior to its planned completion in 2007.
Certainly the forthcoming Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong will help to take further
current areas of concern to the developing world. We believe that an early conclusion
of the current round of the Doha negotiations, consistent with the mandate agreed
in Doha, would deliver the best context for the development outcome.
the important issue of the environment, we will continue to promote the view that
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol
have established multilateral mechanisms, policies and measures critical for the
future of the world. In this regard we will not shy away from taking the responsibility
for effective stewardship of our resources and we shall take a leadership role
to contribute towards the realization of this vision.
together with our North and South partners, our task is also to prepare for the
follow-up to the Monterrey Consensus Meeting that will be held in Doha, Qatar
On the whole, we pledge as South Africa to do the best that
we can to attain our collective goal of a just and inclusive world.
outlined some of the most important issues that we will have to deal with as we
assume the Chair. This workshop will, no doubt, expand on this and other important
matters facing all of us.
Once more, we thank the Excellencies from Jamaica
and Quatar and from the G77 Secretariat for their willingness to share their experiences
and ideas with us.
I wish you well in your deliberations. Let us use this
opportunity to pave the way for a fruitful 2006.
I thank you.