By Santo D. Banerjee
NEW YORK (IDN) - The Group of 77 (G77) and China, the largest coalition of developing countries in the United Nations, is calling upon the international community "to address the challenges and needs faced by developing countries, especially countries in special situations".
These, says Ambassador Horacio Sevilla Borja, Ecuador's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, in a statement on behalf of G77 and China, include "in particular, African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island developing States".
While pointing out that "the overarching objective of eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions remains the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development", statement refers to the "specific challenges that many middle-income countries face", and the needs of "conflict and post-conflict countries and countries and peoples living under foreign and colonial occupation".
Ambassador Borja presented the statement at the two-day high-level dialogue of the UN General Assembly on "building sustainable peace for all: synergies between the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and sustaining peace" on January 24.
The Group of 77 and China reaffirms that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security, and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. It emphasizes that the least developed countries in conflict and post-conflict situations and those experiencing political instability have specific structural challenges and require context-specific approaches.
The Group takes note of the principles set out in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States by the Group of Seven Plus, countries that are or have been, affected by conflict.
"We are encouraged by the recent positive achievements on the efforts on peaceful resolution of complex conflicts in Africa, as well as for the general understanding to adequately resort to preventive diplomacy as a mean to avert conflicts before its outbreak," the statement adds.
The statement underscores the message of SDG16 that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. "Sustainable development is a prerequisite to sustainable peace. Investment in development is the most cost-effective approach to achieving a sustainable peace because socio-economic disparity and grievances are causes of conflict. Sustainable peace is not possible without sustainable development and vice versa."
In this context, Ambassador Borja points to what President Rafael Correa of Ecuador said at the Handover Ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 on January 13: "Peace is not only the absence of war. In the twenty-first century, peace must be above all presence: presence of justice, presence of prosperity. Peace without justice is simply appeasement. The insulting opulence of a few next to intolerable poverty are constant affronts to human dignity."
The Group of 77 and China welcomes the progress made by Member States in their national implementation, but stresses that implementing the 2030 Agenda at all levels requires a revitalized global partnership and the full implementation of SDG 17, which calls for inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local level built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre.
In this context, enhancing support to developing countries is fundamental. Increased support to developing countries, the statement says, must include provision of financial resources for development and transfer of technology on favourable terms including on concessional and preferential terms.
Equally important are "enhanced international support and targeted capacity-building and promoting a just and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system".
While the year 2016 marked the first year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the "Charter of Algiers", the first platform of the G 77 calling for joint efforts by developing countries towards economic and social development, peace and prosperity, says the statement.
The Group was set up in 1964 with a Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. Meanwhile G77 comprises 134 countries, including China.
Ever since, the Group has called for joint efforts of developing countries to advance socio-economic development in tandem with the promotion of peace. "It is fundamental to adopt a holistic approach to sustainable development that is people-centered and inclusive, leaving no one behind," says the statement.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reaffirms all the principles of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
The Group further reaffirms that the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be guided by the principles in accordance with paragraph 74 of the Agenda, which states that follow-up and review processes at all levels will be voluntary and country-led, will take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and will respect policy space and priorities.
As national ownership is key to achieving sustainable development, the outcome from national level processes will be the foundation for reviews at regional and global levels, given that the global review will be primarily based on national official data sources, according to paragraph 74 of the Agenda.
Besides, follow-up and review processes will track progress in implementing the universal Goals and targets, including the means of implementation, in all countries in a manner which respects their universal, integrated and interrelated nature and the three dimensions of sustainable development.
They will maintain a longer-term orientation, identify achievements, challenges, gaps and critical success factors and support countries in making informed policy choices. They will help mobilize the necessary means of implementation and partnerships, support the identification of solutions and best practices and promote coordination and effectiveness of the international development system.
They will be open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people and will support the reporting by all relevant stakeholders. They will be people-centred, gender-sensitive, respect human rights and have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind.
The follow-up and review processes will be rigorous and based on evidence, informed by country-led evaluations and data which is high-quality, accessible, timely, reliable and disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status, disability and geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.
Further, they will benefit from the active support of the UN system and other multilateral institutions, paragraph 74 of the Agenda says.
Ecuadorian President Correa mentioned some of these aspects while assuming the leadership of the Group of 77 and China with a commitment to promote economic and social equality, and defend people’s rights to peace.
Correa accepted the one-year presidency during a ceremony at the G77 at the UN headquarters, stating: “We will continue the positive work of our predecessors in promoting economic and social equality in the world (...) with the aim of ending poverty, inequality and exclusion.”
Ecuador’s work in the G77 will focus on the development of the poorest of nations and on human rights, as well as the fight against the precariousness of the workforce in less competitive countries by Western nations, he said.
He added that social problems would not be resolved until there is an appropriate redistribution of wealth, given that 0.7 percent of the global population owns 45 percent of its wealth.
Correa said that in his capacity of leadership at the G77 he will fight against tax havens, as he considers them among the worst enemies of poorer nations. He added that in Latin America alone, 32 million people could be pulled out of poverty if resources hidden in tax havens were subject to taxation.
UN Secretary-General Guterres said that the G77 was crucial in development, and for creating the necessary conditions to minimize the risk of conflict, instability and war in the world.
He lauded Ecuador for its values of solidarity and concern for inclusive and sustainable development, democracy and human rights, and went on to underline some of the pending challenges for the organization. [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 January 2017]
Photo: Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador on 13 January 2017 at United Nations, New York. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.