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SOUTHNEWS

 
No. 55, 18 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 Declaration a worthy marking of 50th anniversary
 

Big poster of the G77 Summit at the opening ceremony
The G77 & China Extraordinary Summit adopted a lengthy Declaration to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Group of 77.  This is the first part of a report on the Declaration.
 
By Martin Khor in Santa Cruz, 16 June 2014
The Declaration adopted on 15 June in Santa Cruz by the Group of 77 Summit is a valuable and quite remarkable document which encompasses the political state of thinking of leaders of the South as they commemorated the 50th anniversary of the founding of this umbrella grouping of developing countries.  It is a document worthy of marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the G77.
 
As can be expected, the Declaration summarises the position of the Group on key issues of current international affairs, which can be expected in a declaration of the G77 and China since the Group’s main activity is to negotiate as the largest bloc of countries in multilateral and North-South settings in the United Nations.
 
This section on the international issues sets out the developing countries’ latest views on current negotiating themes such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, as well as the global economic crisis, ODA, debt, trade, reforming the international financial system, the UN’s role, and increasing the South’s voice in global governance. 
 
But the Declaration also breaks new ground with a lengthy section on “development in the national context”, in which the political leaders pledge to improve the performance of their governments in economic and social affairs at the national level.
 
The Declaration indicates that the leaders and other senior officials of developing countries have internalised the sustainable development framework, as it incorporates the economic issues (economic growth, industrialisation, infrastructure, agriculture) with social and environmental dimensions;  it has a strong social inclusion or social protection element (particularly stressing the importance of the state ensuring basic services for all citizens);  it stressed also the environmental aspects especially the need to respect Mother Earth;  as well as the need for the state to claim control and ensure the sovereignty of natural resources so that benefits can properly accrue to the national economy and society.  It also has a section on improving the practice of democracy.
 
The Declaration, which is mainly a product of 90 hours of negotiations by the Missions of G77 and China countries in New York, was presented to the Summit plenary session on 15 June first by Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, and then by Bolivian President Evo Morales.  (Bolivia holds the current Chairmanship of the Group).  Both gave a summary and explanation of the Declaration, before the adoption.
 
 The Summit was attended by several Presidents, Prime Ministers, Vice Presidents and Ministers as well as Ambassadors, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, UN General Assembly President John Ashe, and the heads of several UN agencies, including DESA, UNESCO, and CEPAL.


President Evo Morales chairing the G77 Summit plenary


In the Declaration’s Part I on Overall Context, the political leaders said they commemorate the formation of the Group on 15 June 1964 and recall the ideals and principles contained in the historic Joint Declaration. The first ever G77 statement pledged to promote equality in the international economic and social order and promote the interests of the developing world, declared their unity under a common interest and defined the Group as “an instrument for enlarging the area of cooperative endeavour in the international field and for securing mutually beneficent relationships with the rest of the world”.
 
They also recall the first Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 in Algiers in October 1964 which adopted the Charter of Algiers, which established the principles of unity, complementarity, cooperation and solidarity of the developing countries and their determination to strive for economic and social development, individually or collectively. 
 
The Group has since provided the means for the countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective social and economic interests and enhanced their joint negotiating capacity within the United Nations system.
 
They also recalled the first and second G77 South Summits in Havana in 2000 and Doha in 2005, at which the status of the Group of 77 and China was elevated to the level of Heads of State and Government and whose declarations have guided the Group and constituted the fundamental basis for the construction of a new world order and an agenda owned by the countries of the South. 
 
They pledged to continue the tradition of their countries on building national development and uniting at the international level, towards the establishment of a just international order in the world economy that supports developing countries achieve their objectives of sustained economic growth, full employment, social equity, provision of basic goods and services to our people, protection of the environment and living in harmony with nature. 
 
The leaders said they are proud of the legacy and great achievements of the Group of 77 and China in defending and promoting the interest of the developing countries over the past 50 years, and pledged to build on this foundation and continue making progress towards a world order that is just, equitable, stable and peaceful.  They referred to the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order in 1974 and the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986 as among major landmarks that address the needs and interests of developing countries. 
 
Despite five decades of achievements, there are still serious shortfalls in fulfilling the Group’s objectives, and that developing countries now face ongoing and emerging challenges, including the slowdown of the global economy and its effects on them and the lack of adequate systemic action and accountability to address the causes and effects of the global financial and economic crises, thus creating the risk of continuing with the pattern of crisis cycles, said the Declaration.
 
 It also noted the gaps in many developing countries in meeting the needs of employment, food, water, health care, education, housing, physical infrastructure and energy of their people, as well as the looming environmental crisis, including the negative impacts of climate change in developing countries, the increasing shortage of drinking water and the loss of biodiversity. 
 
The leaders stressed that imbalances in the global economy and the inequitable structures and outcomes in the trading, financial, monetary and technological systems led to the establishment of the Group. Nevertheless, these imbalances still prevail today in some ways with even more adverse effects on developing countries. “Therefore, we pledge to continue and intensify our efforts to strive for a fair, just and equitable international order oriented towards the fulfilment of the development needs of developing countries,” said the Declaration.
 
“We emphasize that the rationale for the establishment of our Group 50 years ago remains actual and valid, and indeed more valid, than at that time. We therefore rededicate ourselves and our countries to strengthening and expanding the unwavering efforts of the Group of 77 and China in all fields towards greater achievement and for the betterment of the lives of our people. 
 
“We affirm that the twenty-first century is the time for the countries and the peoples from the South to develop their economies and societies in order to fulfil human needs sustainably, in harmony with nature and respect for Mother Earth and its ecosystems. We agree to build on our traditional values and practices of solidarity and collaboration for mutual benefit and on the strength of our people, to achieve progress in our countries and in South-South cooperation. 
 
“We emphasize that our major priorities are promoting sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, and promoting the integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems that supports, inter alia, economic, social and human development while facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration and restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges,” said the Declaration.
 
The leaders also reaffirmed that the main strength of the Group of 77 has been and will be its unity and solidarity, its vision of fair, just and equitable multilateral relations, the commitment of its member States to the well-being and prosperity of the peoples of the South as well as their commitment to mutually beneficial cooperation.
 
 The Declaration then touched on the issue of “policy space”, a theme that permeates most of the later sections.
 
The leaders emphasized that each country has the sovereign right to decide its own development priorities and strategies and consider that there is no “one size fits all” approach. 
 
“We stress the need for international rules to allow policy space and policy flexibility for developing countries, as they are directly related to the development strategies of national Governments. We further emphasize the need for policy space to enable our countries to formulate development strategies expressing national interests and differing needs which are not always taken into account by international economic policymaking in the process of integration with the global economy.”
 
 The leaders made a strong statement on the state of the global economy and the need to reform the undemocratic state of global governance.
 
“We are concerned about the current state of the global economy and the state of global economic governance and the need for strong recovery. We believe that the world is confronted with the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we are alarmed by the adverse effects this crisis is having especially on developing countries. 
 
“We believe the crisis has highlighted long-standing systemic fragilities and imbalances in the global economy, and further exposed the inadequacy and undemocratic nature of global economic governance. New attempts must now be made to establish proper global economic governance, with the full voice, representation and participation of developing countries in discussions and decision-making.”
 
 The Declaration then focused on social issues, especially the leaders’ commitment to social protection and called for action against the “intolerable” inequalities at global and national levels.
 
It said:  “We recognize the high importance of sustaining social protection and fostering job creation even in times of economic crisis, and take note with satisfaction of the encouraging examples of policies that allow countries to reduce poverty, increase social inclusion and create new and better jobs in recent years. 
 
“We view with concern the increased concentration and the asymmetric distribution of wealth and income in the world, which have created wide inequality between developed and developing countries. This level of inequality is unjustifiable and cannot be tolerated in a world where poverty is still prevalent, resources are being depleted and environmental degradation is increasing. We call for global actions to reduce inequalities at all levels. We also pledge to address inequality in our own countries.”
 
 The leaders also expressed concern with the power of large corporations, especially TNCs and asked for competition policies to curb their influence as well as actions on their environmental and social effects.
 
“We note with concern the influence of large corporations, mainly from developed countries, on the global economy, and its negative effects on the social, economic and environmental development of some developing countries, particularly regarding the barriers this may pose for the entry of new enterprises in the global market.
 
 â€œWe call for concrete measures from the international community to address these negative effects and to promote international competition and increased market access for developing countries, including policies that foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries, the removal of trade barriers that inhibit value addition in origin countries, such as tariff peaks and tariff escalation, as well as capacity-building on competition law, tax policy regulations and social corporate responsibility.
 
 â€œWe emphasize that transnational corporations have a responsibility to respect all human rights and should refrain from causing environmental disasters and affecting the well-being of peoples.”
 
On the sustainable development agenda, the Declaration recognized the progress achieved and reaffirmed the importance of supporting developing countries “to eradicate poverty by empowering the poor and people in vulnerable situations, promoting developing sustainable agriculture as well as full and productive employment and decent work for all, complemented by effective social policies, including social protection floors.”
 
The leaders said they fully respect the UN Charter and international law, particularly as they relate to equality among States, respect for the independence of States, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
 
The Declaration stressed the continuing dependence of the South and pledged to strive for economic independence.
 
It said:  “We are deeply aware that decades after political independence, some developing countries are still in the grip of economic dependence on the structures and vagaries of the global economy and on the developed countries and their economic entities. Such dependence…limits the extent of our real political independence as well. Therefore, we pledge to unite our efforts to continue striving for economic independence and to gather under the umbrella of the G77 and China as well as other organizations of the South to make progress on this.”
 
The leaders recalled the decisions taken at the second South Summit in Doha (2005) to work to ensure that programmes and policies designed in the context of globalization fully respect the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international law, particularly as they relate to equality among States, and national sovereignty, and stressed that those principles and purposes inspire their full commitment to multilateralism and the search for a more just and equitable international economic system.
 
They recalled the decision taken at the G77 and China Summit in Doha (2005) to work towards the realization of the right to self-determination of peoples living under colonial or other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation and to call on the international community to take all necessary measures to bring an end to the continuation of foreign occupation.
 
They reaffirmed that indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State. In this regard, “we emphasize the need to respect and safeguard indigenous cultural identities, knowledge and traditions in our countries”.


The G77 Summit plenary taking place


In Part II on Development in the national context, the Declaration first commented on approaches for sustainable development.
 
It stressed the need to further mainstream sustainable development at all levels, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects and recognizing their interlinkages, so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.
 
It reaffirmed that there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country to achieve sustainable development and in some countries there is an approach of “living well” as holistic development aimed at achieving the material, cultural and spiritual needs of societies in a context of harmony with nature.
 
It acknowledged that the Earth and its ecosystems are our home and it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth. It also recognized that “Mother Earth” is a common expression for planet Earth, which reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit.
 
It reaffirmed the Declaration on the Right to Development, which is a major landmark document that establishes the right of developing countries to act to achieve development and the right of people to participate in and benefit from development, and that “the right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”
 
On improving the practice of democracy, the Declaration considered that democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
 
The leaders reaffirmed that while all democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region, and further reaffirmed the necessity of due respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and the right to self-determination, and the rejection of any attempt to break down constitutional and democratic order legitimately established by the peoples.
 
“We call for an end to the use of media in any way that might disseminate distorted information against States members of the Group of 77 in complete disregard of the principle of international law,” added the Declaration.
 
The leaders expressed deep indignation and rejection with regard to the withdrawal of overflight and landing permits for the presidential aircraft on which Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Ayma and his party were travelling on 2 July 2013. These facts constitute unfriendly and unjustifiable acts that have also put at serious risk the safety of President Morales. “We make public our greater solidarity and demand clarification of facts,” said the Declaration.
 
On National sovereignty and benefits over natural resources, the Declaration reaffirmed that States have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources and the responsibility to ensure that activities do not cause damage to the environment of other States.  They reaffirmed that “the right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over the natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned.”
 
While emphasizing this sovereignty over natural wealth, the leaders said they are also “aware of our duty to conserve and sustainably manage and use these resources and ensure the conditions for nature and ecosystems to have the capacity to regenerate, for the benefit of present and future generations. We also recognize that the sustainable use of natural resources is an effective way to achieve economic growth while reducing poverty and environmental degradation.”
 
The leaders “respected the decisions of some countries that decided to nationalize or to reclaim control of their natural resources in order to obtain greater benefits for their people, especially the poor, and to invest in the economic diversification, industrialization and social programmes.”
 
On the Eradication of poverty, the Declaration recognized that poverty is an affront to human dignity and stressed that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today.  The leaders attached the highest priority to poverty eradication in the United Nations post-2015 development agenda to be supported by effective and adequate means of implementation and strengthened global partnership for development, and which entails, among other objectives, the promotion of employment and decent work for all, the improvement of access to social services, the eradication of illiteracy and diseases as well as integrated, coordinated and coherent national and regional strategies.
 
They expressed deep concern for the constraints on the fight against poverty arising from the crises, in particular the world financial and economic crisis, the continuing food insecurity, the volatility of capital flows and the extreme volatility of commodity prices, energy accessibility and the challenges posed by climate change to developing countries.
 
They stressed that to enable poverty eradication, developing countries must ensure national ownership of their own development agenda, which entails preserving their own policy space backed by a strong political commitment to reduce poverty in line with their national priorities and circumstances.
 
Developing countries must formulate their own development strategies to assist the poor through policies and actions, including strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth, the generation of employment as a priority, the improvement of the provision of universal and affordable access to basic services, the provision of a well-designed social protection system, the empowerment of individuals to seize economic opportunities, and measures to ensure the protection of the environment.
 
The Declaration also recognized that fighting corruption is a priority and as it is a serious barrier to effective resource mobilization and allocation and diverts resources away from poverty eradication and sustainable development.
 
On reducing inequality, the Declaration emphasized that the problem of inequality is even more acute today than ever because of the prevalence of extreme wealth while poverty and hunger continue to exist and this is aggravated, inter alia, by unsustainable patterns of consumption and production mainly in developed countries.
 
“We affirm that any benefit from economic growth has to be equitably shared and must benefit the people in vulnerable situations in our communities, and we therefore call once again for concerted actions to reduce inequalities at all levels.
 
“We are gravely concerned at the inadequacy of measures to narrow the widening gap between the developed and the developing countries, and within countries, which has contributed to, inter alia, deepening poverty and has adversely affected the full enjoyment of all human rights, in particular in developing countries.
 
“We also note with concern that high levels of inequality within and among countries continue to have a negative impact on all aspects of human development and are especially harmful to people in vulnerable situations who are affected by intersecting inequalities. We therefore urge countries, including through the support of international cooperation, to scale up efforts to provide equal access to opportunities and outcomes to all levels of society in accordance with national policies.
 
“We understand that sustainable development involves a change in the order of priorities from the generation of material wealth to the satisfaction of human needs in harmony with nature. The excessive orientation towards profit neither respects Mother Earth nor takes into account human needs. The continuation of this unequal system will lead to further inequality.”
 
On sustained and inclusive economic growth, the Declaration affirmed that sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth is necessary to eradicate poverty, provide jobs and raise the living standards of our people and generate public revenues to finance social policies.
 
“We note that historical evidence has shown that no country has ever achieved constant improvements in living standards and human development without sustaining a steady pace of economic growth. We therefore urge the international community and the United Nations to assist developing countries in attaining high and adequate economic growth over a sustained period,” said the Declaration.
 
 â€œWe also realize that high economic growth, although necessary, is not sufficient in itself. It must generate jobs and lift the incomes of peoples especially the poor and the most in need. Economic growth should also be environmentally and socially sound and, to achieve this, developing countries require financial and technological support from developed countries.”
 
On the Creation of employment, the Declaration said the capacity to generate full employment and decent work is fundamentally linked to reviving and enhancing productive development strategies, through adequate finance, investment and trade policies. It reaffirmed the need for significant mobilization of resources from a variety of source and the effective use of financing, in order to give strong support to developing countries in their efforts to promote sustainable development. It stressed the need for coherence between macroeconomic and job creation policies in order to ensure economic growth.
 
The Declaration stressed deep concern about the continuing high levels of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among young people, and affirmed commitment to reducing unemployment through employment-intensive macroeconomic and development policies. “We affirm the need to launch a UN intergovernmental process to include the issue of youth employment and youth concerns in the post-2015 development agenda and the importance of ensuring decent livelihoods for farmers in our countries.”
 
On providing basic services for our people, the leaders said the increasing gap between the world’s rich and poor is due not only to unequal income distribution but also to unequal access to basic resources and services.
 
 â€œWe recognize that the State has an essential role to play to ensure that basic services are accessible to all and to address the unequal and discriminatory distribution of and access to them. We reaffirm our resolve to act to implement the right of our people to access basic services.”
 
The leaders reaffirmed their commitments regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and called on donor countries and international organizations to provide resources to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
 
On Access to public health and medicines, the leaders recognized that universal health coverage means that everyone has access to basic medical services of promotion, prevention, cure and rehabilitation as well as to essential quality, safe, affordable and effective medicines.
 
 It recognized that many developing countries do not have the financial or human resources or the infrastructure to implement the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and called on developed countries to provide the adequate financial resources and technology to complement developing countries’ efforts to have policies and measures that provide universal health coverage and basic health services for all.
 
The leaders noted with great concern that non-communicable diseases have become an epidemic of significant proportions, acknowledged the effectiveness of tobacco control measures for the improvement of health.
 
They reaffirmed the right of member States to protect public health and, in particular, to ensure universal access to medicines and medical diagnostic technologies, if necessary, including through the full use of the flexibilities in the Doha Declaration on the Agreement on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.
 
They recalled paragraph 142 of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, in which Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the right to use, to the fullest extent, the provisions contained in the TRIPS Agreement, the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, the decision of the General Council of the WTO of 30 August 2003 and the amendment to article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement, which provide flexibilities for the protection of public health, and in particular to promote access to medicines for all and encourage the provision of assistance to developing countries in this regard.
 
“We affirm the importance of taking advantage of the use of TRIPS flexibilities in order to promote the people’s health and access to medicines. We call upon developed countries to fully respect the right of developing countries to make full use of TRIPS flexibilities and to refrain from taking actions, including trade measures, to prevent or dissuade developing countries from exercising this right.”
 
The leaders also said they are “concerned about the increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance to existing drugs, including those against tuberculosis and malaria. As a result, increasing numbers of patients, especially in developing countries, face the prospect of dying from preventable and/or treatable diseases. We urge the international health authorities and organizations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), to take urgent action and to work together upon request with developing countries that do not have adequate resources to address this problem.”
 
(A further report on other aspects of the Declaration will be carried in future issues of SouthNews)
 
Author: Martin Khor is the Executive Director of the South Centre. Contact: director@southcentre.int.
To view other articles in SouthNews, please click here.

For more information, please contact Vicente Paolo Yu of the South Centre: Email yu@southcentre.int, or telephone +41 22 791 80 50.
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