Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 43rd Annual Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 27 September 2019
United Nations Secretary-General Guterres, Distinguished delegates,
I am pleased to join you, Chairperson, in congratulating Azerbaijan for its admission to this group as well congratulating the State of Palestine on its excellent stewardship of the Group of 77 in its role as Chair of the Group. Under Palestine’s leadership, the Group has been able to present a united challenge by developing countries to thwart attempts by some to undermine multilateralism and a rules-based global order.
We recall that when the Group of 77 met in Geneva at its very first meeting in 1964 members undertook to promote equality in the international economic and social order and promote the interests of the developing world. The Group declared its unity as an instrument to secure “mutually beneficent relationships with the rest of the world”.
Over 50 years later, these sentiments remain relevant. The world remains even more unequal than before and the pushback that we are seeing on multilateralism is affecting the development agenda most severely.
The G77 was created to ensure that development outcomes are fairly and effectively implemented, and that commitments are honoured. Now, more than ever, we must not accept any backtracking by our developed partners, nor attempts to renegotiate or undermine historic multilateral outcomes.
The theme chosen by the President of the General Assembly for UNGA74, which is “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion”, speaks directly to the interests of developing countries and is at the heart of the interests of our Group. It compels us as member states to take action rather than to talk of them. We need to act and implement the goals we have set to extricate our people from poverty and ensure sustainable development for all.
All the outcomes of the high-level meetings that have taken place over the last week, focussing on climate action, universal health care and the implementation of the sustainable development goals stress the call to action. The people of all our countries are increasingly impatient with inadequate responses.
South-South Cooperation is one of the foundational pillars of South Africa’s foreign policy and indeed the Group of 77 provides a critical platform to engage in solidarity with fellow developing countries on an equal footing.
A rules-based, fair and equitable multilateral system is in the interest of developing countries. It also improves the efficient and effective functioning of the United Nations, in particular through adequate resources to deliver on its mandates.
Key to the reform of the global governance system is securing an enhanced voice and representation for developing countries in the decision-making structures of international organisations.
As the Group of 77, we must guard against the concerted efforts to erode the gains and interests of developing countries in the momentous development outcomes adopted in 2015. The focus of our Group should be on ensuring the reversal of this disturbing trend and on renewing our collective commitment to the full implementation of these development outcomes. These outcomes, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on development financing are key for our development. Without their full implementation, all of these remain hollow promises and undermine the credibility of the multilateral system.
The realisation of the global development agenda will only be achieved if the global partnership required focuses on adequate means of implementation. It is imperative that the follow-up and review process for the goals should also focus on whether the means of implementation have been achieved and whether developed countries have kept to their commitments as well as our own governments.
Illicit Financial Flows, including trade misinvoicing, pose a serious challenge to the development trajectory and economic stability of our countries, particularly in Africa as it has a debilitating effects on our efforts of domestic resource mobilisation.
This Group, being a large group within the United Nations system, stands well placed to make a difference to the development trajectory of our people.
It is indeed tragic that, since the establishment of the Group in 1964, we have not been able to achieve a state for the people of Palestine. This should be a strong part of our agenda, and we should device actions that are directed at ensuring that those who continue to suffer oppression are supported by this Group.
Just as the people of Palestine supported many of us, so must we commit to their freedom and democracy in their state which will have a place in the world family of democratic nations.
I wish to conclude by stating that while we as developing countries reiterate that the primary responsibility for our development rests with ourselves. We have to always recall what was said in the outcome of this Group’s first Ministerial meeting, held in Algiers in 1967. It was stated in that meeting that “In a world of increasing interdependence, peace, progress and freedom are common and indivisible. Consequently, the development of developing countries will benefit the developed countries as well.”
This was a call for all of to act on our responsibilities to use this Group not just to talk, but to identify practical ways in which we will collaborate to advance our development. I believe that this remains the mandate of this organization.
I thank you.
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