Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the 44th Annual Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Member States of the Group of 77, 12 November 2020

Programme Director,
HE Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and,
Chairperson of Member States of the Group of 77,
Honourable Hugh Hilton Todd, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana,
Your Excellency, Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation,
Your Excellency, Mr Volkan Bozkir, President of the United Nations General Assembly and,
Distinguished delegates,

South Africa expresses its congratulations to the delegation of Guyana as Chair of the Group.

Chairperson, our meeting this year takes place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most serious challenges of our time.

The pandemic has set-back the implementation of our agenda of development and cooperation as the Group of 77.  We have all been compelled, but it is important to turn our attention to our collective development priorities.

One of the outcomes of this crisis has been an increase in international collaboration exemplified by support to vulnerable populations and science partnerships.

As Co-Chair of the High-level Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), alongside Norway, South Africa calls upon G77 Member States to continue to support the work of the World Health Organisation, and the ACT-Accelerator.  Solutions to this pandemic must be developed through collaboration and genuine global co-operation.

Chairperson,

In dealing with the health crisis and its aftermath, most African and developing countries simply do not have the fiscal space to provide fiscal stimulus responses to the crisis in the manner that many developed countries have done.

This is particularly the case for debt-distressed economies. It is vital that the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative be adopted as broadly as possible to include middle-income countries that have not been spared the brunt of COVID-19.

Alongside these challenges many G77 countries are confronted by the increasingly acute climate change and global environmental crisis, new, additional and at-scale support is urgently required in the form of grants, rather than the current trend of loans with ever-increasing conditionality and co-financing requirements, which either exclude developing countries from accessing support, or exacerbate the debt trap.

South-South Cooperation remains an important pillar of South Africa’s foreign policy, and the Group of 77 is an ideal and critical platform where this finds expression. Now, more than ever, we must not accept any backtracking by our developed partners, nor attempts to renegotiate, dilute or otherwise undermine historic multilateral outcomes.

Chairperson,

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations this year, a rules-based, fair and equitable multilateral system is absolutely necessary for the interests of developing countries– and indeed, all of humanity.

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.

Chairperson,

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 to ensure the reversal of this disturbing trend and to renew our collective commitment to the full implementation of these development outcomes.

Chairperson,

We are of the view that the UN should establish an inter-governmental body based at the United Nations Headquarters that will have a universal political mandate, which will, inter alia, serve as an instrument to meaningfully speed up asset return as well as combat and curb the illicit financial flows, which pose a serious challenge for the stability of developing countries.

Chairperson,

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, we as the G77 must reaffirm our commitment to the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable development.

Chairperson,

As I conclude let me emphasis that it is critical that the G77 continue to defend the hard-won gains made thus far by ensuring that the COVID-19 threat is effectively addressed, but not at the expense of the developing countries.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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