Photo: UN Chief António Guterres (centre) speaks with Mohammad Shtayeh, Chair of the Group of 77 and Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, at the forty-third annual meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77. At left is Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations. At right is Mourad Ahmia, G77 Executive Secretary. 27 September 2019. United Nations, New York. Credit: UN Photo/Kim Haughton - Photo: 2019

Palestine-Led G-77’s Work Pertinent to 80% of the UN Agenda

Viewpoint by Mohammad Shtayyeh

Following are extensive excerpts from statement by Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of The State of Palestine, at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Ministers For Foreign Affairs of the 134-nation Group of 77 in New York on 27 September 2019.

NEW YORK (IDN) – Our Group was created 55 years ago to confront the imbalances in the global economy and inequalities in the trading and financial system, including by enhancing our negotiating capacity within the UN. Since then, it has been a force to be reckoned with. Our unity and solidarity have prevailed over all circumstances and continue to do so.

For those looking at us from the outside, this Group may be an enigma. For us, being together, is self-evident. We are driven by one purpose: Unity in diversity, to advance justice and equality.

Within our Group, there is no strong and weak, no small and big, no majority and minority, there is a sense of common destiny. We stand together not only when our interests and priorities are the same, but also to defend the interests of the different constituencies within our Group and of each of our members.

The rules-based multilateral order may be in crisis. But our Group continues to embody multilateralism at its best every single day. It contributes, through dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation, to advancement of multilateralism within these walls and beyond.

This Group has translated into action the pledge “Leave no one behind”, asserting the rights of developing countries, while helping them assume their responsibilities, in particular African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States as well as middle-income countries, conflict and post-conflict countries and countries and peoples living under foreign occupation.

The work of our Group within the UN spans over five of the six General Assembly main committees and is relevant to over 80% of the UN agenda, signaling the high level of convergence of positions between our countries. And we are glad that, in pursuing the noble purpose for which this Group has been established, our family continues to grow. I will be honoured to welcome on your behalf, in a few moments, a new member to our Group, the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Palestine is proud to belong to this Group since 1976 and is extremely honoured to have been chosen by acclamation a year ago to chair it. The headlines focused on what it meant for Palestine to chair this Group, demonstrating it is a responsible and able actor on the international scene, a State among others, leading the largest group in the United Nations, and speaking on its behalf with partner countries. But maybe they should have also focused on what this choice revealed about our own Group. It was a sign of solidarity and unity, and a testimony of the Group’s commitment to the equal rights of its members.

At a critical time for multilateralism, where basic principles and the fundamental positions adopted at the UN are being questioned, our Group chose an observer State, under occupation, and confronted with Homeric challenges, to represent it. It did not ask for authorization, nor surrendered to objections. It did not worry about consequences, nor accommodated any conditions.

The G77-sponsored resolution to grant Palestine all the rights and privileges required to act as Chair enjoyed overwhelming support from our partners. And even those most opposed to our Chairmanship sat and negotiated with us. This is not only the fruit of Palestine’s own intense endeavors, it is also a reflection of the standing of this august Group and the respect it enjoys.

This year, a dizzying number of summits, high level meetings and conferences were held, all of critical importance for our peoples and our planet.

Our Group stood together to defend the ownership of the global South over South-South cooperation. It stood tall to defend the integrity and integrality of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in furthering its implementation in the most challenging time since its adoption. We placed the means of implementation front and center and financing for development was discussed at the highest level.

We continued working closely with the Secretary-General to implement the ambitious reform of the UN Development System adopted last year and to build, promote, and strengthen the capacity of developing countries in their efforts to address long-term sustainable development at the national level.

Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Representative of The State of Palestine to the UN Observer Mission to the United Nations, speaks about what it means to Chair the G77 comprising 134 nations from around the world, without being a full-fledged member of the UN. He underlines The Palestine State’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to nuclear non-proliferation and global communications.

We continued to manifest, in words and deeds, our strong stance on combating climate change and its adverse impacts, which disproportionately burden developing countries, including in the negotiations on the UNFCCC budget.

Our Group, while continuing to reject politically motivated decisions to withhold contributions to the UN, took a leading role in efforts to address the financial situation of the Organization and in providing a response, notably as regards its peacekeeping budget.

We also rose in defense of troop and police contributing countries, a majority of which are members of our Group, including in trying to ensure they are paid the money they are owed and in rejecting, through a vote in 5th committee, attempts at advancing notions that are detrimental to them.

Our Group also continued advocating equitable geographic representation. We call on the Secretary General to advance a comprehensive strategy to make the Secretariat in the image of the countries composing the UN, notably developing countries, which represent two-thirds of the UN membership. In this regard, the Group will, in the coming weeks, take action to enlarge the ACABQ to enhance its representativity.

Our Group was also actively engaged in the Commissions for Social Development, Status of Women and Population and Development, as well as the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, giving centrality to the objective of combating inequalities within and among countries. We also actively engaged and negotiated an important resolution to the Group on “Strengthening the coordination of Humanitarian Assistance of the UN”.

Our Group continued to be a strong advocate of the need for the UN’s communications to promote a more just and effective world information and communication order that contributes to a more equitable economic order and advances peace and international understanding. The resolution presented by our Group on “Information in the service of humanity and UN Global communications policies and activities” continued to promote these objectives.

Our Group also took a leading role in promoting the preservation of our Ocean, and conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, including through supporting the holding of a 2nd UN Ocean Conference and in being an active player in the BBNJ negotiations.

We are eternally grateful for the trust you placed in us and we will continue sparing no effort to elevate ourselves to the noble task of representing the developing countries. I also wish to thank the Executive Secretary [Mourad Ahmia] and the G77 Secretariat for their precious and continuous support.

Choosing to submit our candidature to chair this Group may have been about Palestine and what it needed to affirm. But every day since assuming the Chairmanship has been about you, members of this Group, and about defending the principles, positions, and interests of this Group. That was our pledge, and it is our policy. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 September 2019]

Photo: UN Chief António Guterres (centre) speaks with Mohammad Shtayeh, Chair of the Group of 77 and Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, at the forty-third annual meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77. At left is Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations. At right is Mourad Ahmia, G77 Executive Secretary. 27 September 2019. United Nations, New York. Credit: UN Photo/Kim Haughton

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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