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No. 54, 16 June 2014

SOUTHNEWS is a service of the South Centre to provide information and news on topical issues from a South perspective.
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G77 Summit celebrates the Group’s 50th anniversary

By Martin Khor in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 15 June

The Group of 77 was formed on 15 June 1964 during the first UNCTAD Conference. On 14-15 June, the Group celebrated its 50th anniversary at an Extraordinary Summit held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and hosted by President Evo Morales, whose country is currently the Chair of the G77 and China.  Below is an overview of the Summit by Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre.
The Extraordinary Summit of the G77 and China to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Group concluded on the night of 15 June after two days of high-spirited speeches by leaders of the South and discussions on past achievements the present challenges facing developing countries.
The theme of the Summit, “For a New World Order For Living Well”, was elaborated in detail by Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, at his opening speech, and the term “living well” was referred to often by several leaders during the course of the meeting.
President Morales impressed the participants not only with his quiet but  eloquent statements and his immediate responses to the speeches of many leaders, but also by the fact that he personally chaired most of the plenary session on the second day that lasted 13 hours non-stop.
Present at the Summit were Presidents or Prime Ministers from Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, Uruguay, Sri Lanka,  Bangladesh, El Salvador, Gabon, Namibia, Swaziland, Santa Lucia, and Vice Presidents from Iran (who also represented Non Aligned Movement) Algeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Costa Rica.  China was represented by the Vice Chair of the National People’s Congress.
Also present were Ministers of Foreign Affairs or other departments from many countries including  Uganda, Brazil, Malaysia, Nepal, Sudan, Botswana, East Timor, Qatar, Tunisia, Chile, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Laos, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Trinidada and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, Kenya, Dominica, Morocco,  as well as Vice Ministers and Ambassadors of many other countries. 
Also present were the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who spoke at the opening ceremony and stayed for almost the whole day at the Plenary of the following day, as well as UN General Assembly President John Ashe, who also spoke at the Opening and stayed for the plenary.
The Summit adopted a 39-page Declaration with 242 paragraphs, structured into five main parts, with the following themes:  Overall context;  Development in the National Context; South-South Cooperation; Global Challenges; and Particular needs of developing countries in special situations.       
The highlight of the Opening Ceremony, held on 14 June night,  was a well-structured and rousing address by President Evo Morales who traced the political history of the G77 and China and the developing countries, gave details of the current crises facing the world and the developing countries, and presented the positive experience of Bolivian development in recent years.
He then enumerated “several tasks” that needed to be done to “build another world and establish the living-well society.”  These included:
  • Living well in harmony with Mother Earth; 
  • Sovereignty over natural resources and other areas;
  • Well-being for everyone and provision of basic needs as a human right;
  • Emancipation from the existing international financial system and construction of a new financial architecture;
  • Build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among members of the G77 and China;
  • Eradicate hunger from around the world;
  • Strengthen the sovereignty of states from foreign interference, intervention and espionage;
  • Democratic renewal of the states in developing countries;  and
  • A new world rising from the South for the whole of humankind.  
“The time has come for the nations of the South,” he stated in concluding his speech.  “In the past we were colonised and enslaved.  Today with every step we take for our liberation, the empires grow decadent and begin to crumble.  However our liberation is not just the emancipation of the peoples of the South, it is also for the whole humanity.
“Only we can save the source of life and society, Mother Earth.  Our planet is under a death threat…Today another world is not only possible but indispensable.  Today another world is indispensable because otherwise no world will be possible.
“And that world of equality, complementarity and organic coexistence with Mother Earth can only emerge from the thousands of languages, colours and cultures existing in brotherhood among the peoples of the South.”
Morales also proposed establishing a Decolonisation and South-South Cooperation Institute, “charged with the provision of technical assistance to be Southern countries, as well as the further implementation of the proposals made by the G77 and China.”
The institute will also supply technical and capacity building assistance for development and self-determination, and it will help conduct research projects, and he proposed the institute be headquartered in Bolivia.
Mr Ban Ki Moon in his opening speech said the G77 and China had given the South a global voice, and the Group provides an immense contribution to the UN.  He told President Morales that he appreciated his vision of Living Well, as development based on living well is humanity living in harmony with Nature and with each other.
The Secretary General said the SDGs require Global Partnership and the G77 has a key role to ensure its effectiveness.  The Group should press for a fair trade regime, technology transfer and so on.  The G77 and China plays a key role in the UN to formulate a post 2015 Development Agenda.
General Assembly President John Ashe gave his appreciation of the role of the G77 and China, of which he had himself been the Chair some years ago, and stressed the importance of the Group in the UN, and he wished the Group success in the years ahead.
In the plenary session on 15 June, President Morales chaired a discussion by heads of state and governments, which often became an interactive exchange of views that combined remembrances of the formation and development of the Group, the present problems and crises faced by the developing countries in their national striving for development and in the turbulent global economy, and the need for better strategy and implementation of actions collectively by the Group.
One major theme, which was first introduced by Morales, was the need for developing countries to take back control over their mineral and natural resources, and to make use of the increased revenues for the country’s social and economic programmes.     
He recalled the experience of Bolivia in the nationalisation of natural gas and hydrocarbon resources and how this had led to much increased state revenues that could drive social progress.
One head of government, in response, said that this story of Bolivia had been very inspiring, and that he would explore implementing a similar policy on his return to his country.
The Summit participants were also entertained at the Opening and at the presidential dinner with many colourful traditional dance performances and by songs by famous Bolivian singers and bands. 
The plenary and the Summit concluded at 10 p.m. on 15 June after hearing statements of almost a hundred countries, and the adoption of the Declaration.
Author: Martin Khor is the Executive Director of the South Centre. Contact:
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