By Adriano José Timossi*
NEW YORK (IDN) – A review of the economic situation with a focus on the recent developments in the world and the economic, social and environmental challenges faced by developing countries in particular was the main topic in the deliberations and declaration adopted at the 41st Ministerial Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 (G77) and China on September 22 at the UN headquarters in New York on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly.
Ministers were deeply concerned about the uneven progress achieved in fulfilling the interrelated internationally agreed commitments made at numerous UN conferences in the economic, social and environmental fields and by the lack of satisfactory progress in this regard.
They cautioned that conflicts, slowing global economic growth, volatile financial markets, high rates of youth unemployment, global health threats, humanitarian emergencies, corruption, the challenges posed by climate change and other related issue, increase the difficulty to advance and impede progress in the fulfilment of the economic, social and environmental objectives.
In the declaration, Ministers recognized that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, remains the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Eradicating poverty was a key issue in the deliberations at the General Debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
Ministers commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77, a historical event that marked the adoption, on October 24, 1967, of the “Charter of Algiers”, the first platform of the G77 which called for joint efforts by developing countries towards economic and social development, peace and prosperity.
The Algiers meeting led to the institutionalization of the Group and the establishment of its chapters in New York, Geneva, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Nairobi. Over the past five decades, the G77 and China chapters became a driving force in promoting coordination among developing countries contributing to advance their positions in UN and global affairs with a more powerful voice.
The “spirit of the Charter of Algiers” established the principles of unity, complementarity, cooperation and solidarity of the developing countries. Their determination to strive for economic and social development, individually or collectively remains valid and relevant to this day, the Ministers stated.
In the section of international tax issues, the Ministers stressed the need for scaling up the level of cooperation to curb illicit financial flows. They urged coordination and cooperation between interested States and the United Nations system, including international financial institutions, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
And this “in accordance with their respective mandates” to work together in identifying commendable practices in effective and coordinated approaches to asset recovery, including those related to illicit financial flows.
They further underscored the increasing recognition of the central role of tax systems in development and reiterated their concern over the negative impacts that illicit financial flows and related trade mispricing, tax avoidance, and evasion, corruption, and money-laundering have on the world economy, in particular for developing countries. This issue has been one of the key priorities under Ecuador’s presidency of the Group in 2017.
An important section of the declaration covered antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Ministers reaffirmed that this is a “universal challenge for all humankind” and requires international cooperation to achieve action at the local, national and regional levels.
AMR has the potential to challenge the international community’s ability to deal with common infections at the global level and therefore seriously impacts global public health as well as overall development gains achieved thus far, the Ministers said. “Failure to address AMR can also hamper efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, in developing countries,” they said.
While welcoming the adoption of the political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance, the Ministers reiterated the importance of enhancing international cooperation in the realm of AMR, including through the fulfilment of international obligations and commitments in development cooperation.
They stressed that, in implementation, addressing AMR must not in any way further hinder affordable and equitable access to existing and new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools, taking into account the needs of all countries, in line with the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR.
The Ministers emphasized the need to support, as a matter of urgency, research and development of antimicrobials, especially new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostic tools and innovation, including in traditional and herbal medicine.
The declaration “recalled with appreciation” the decision of the Human Rights Council, in its resolution 26/9, to establish an Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights, whose mandate is to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate in international human rights law the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, which held its second session in Geneva in October 2016.
In this regard, the Ministers urged all Member States to participate actively and constructively in the Third Session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group that will be held from October 23 to 27, 2017 in Geneva, where the Chairperson Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group should prepare elements for the draft legally binding instrument for substantive negotiations at the commencement of the third session of the Working Group on the subject, taking into consideration the discussions held at its first two sessions.
Concerning South-South Cooperation, an issue of enormous significance for the Group, the Ministers reiterated their position that South-South cooperation is a complement to, rather than a substitute for, North-South cooperation.
The countries of the South must drive South-South cooperation and its agenda, they said, adding that it requires long-term vision and a global institutional arrangement, as envisioned at the Second South Summit (held in Doha, Qatar).
As we prepare for the High Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) which will be held in Buenos Aires in 2019, the Ministers stressed that this conference will present an opportunity to enhance the current institutional arrangements to effectively support South-South cooperation and promote the South-South agenda.
Ministers invited the Member States of the Group of 77 to come forward with an offer of a venue for hosting the thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Follow-up and Coordination Committee on South-South Cooperation (IFCC-XIII) in 2018. The recognition of the value of the IFCC is an important outcome in the way to revitalize this unique forum for developing countries to come together and debate key issues of concern.
The South Centre believes that this forum could for instance serve to coordinate positions of the G77 and China in the upcoming negotiations on the UN South-South Cooperation Conference.
It should be recalled for instance that the last IFCC held in Ghana in 2008 adopted the Yamoussoukro Principles of South-South Cooperation, which provided guidance for cooperation among developing countries over the past decade, building upon the Bandung Principles, adopted in 1955 and which led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement, G77 and China and Group of 24 among other mechanisms of coordination and cooperation among developing countries.
In the coming months, another important part of the work for the group will focus on the work of the second and third committee of the 72nd session of the General Assembly which will resume in October and will go through December. United and coordinated action of the G77 and China will be crucial in this regard.
Finally, the Ministers warmly welcomed the election by acclamation of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China chapter in New York for the year 2018.
*Adriano José Timossi is a Senior Programme Officer of the South Centre’s Global Governance for Development Programme (GGDP). This article first appeared in the South Centre‘s SouthNews on September 25. SouthNews is a service of the South Centre to provide information and news on topical issues from a South perspective. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 September 2017]
Photo: Delegations attending the 41st Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 and China held at the UN headquarters in New York on 22 September 2017.
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