UN Secretary General throws support behind G77 and global multipolarity

Oct 23, 2023
New York, USA. 18th Sep, 2023. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres waits for visiting leaders at the UN headquarters. Image: Alamy/ Enrique Shore/Alamy Live News

The meeting of the Group of 77 developing countries (G77) plus China, held last month, 15-16 September in Havana, Cuba, passed with little note from our mainstream media, despite being attended by more than 100 countries, with thirty-one heads of state and 12 vice presidents present. That such should pass largely unnoticed by them however, hardly surprises.

The G77, established in 1964 under the auspices of the United Nations, has grown to more than 130 participating nations representing a major forum for emerging economies.

For Cuba, the location of the meeting represented a vindication of the path it has chosen, while also serving as stark criticism of the U.S., who have sanctioned Cuba since 1962.

Among world leaders in attendance was United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, who at the opening of the meeting called for a world, ‘more representative and responsive to the needs of developing economies’, noting they were currently ‘trapped in a tangle of global crises.’

That the UN Secretary General has also recently attended summits of BRICS and the G20, shows the increasingly multipolar geo-political order, something Guterres confirmed saying, ‘this multiplicity of summits reflects the growing multipolarity of our world,’ before warning that, ‘multipolarity could be a factor for escalating geostrategic tensions, with tragic consequences.’

The meeting comes at a time of growing frustration with the Western-led world order, the host Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canal charging, ‘after all this time that the North has organised the world according to its interests, it is now up to the South to change the rules of the game,’ citing statistics showing 84 million children are at risk of being out of school by 2023 and over 660 million people are without electricity He then added these disparities now include the internet and advances in digital technology.

In opening remarks he was supported by Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez who declared that the coronavirus pandemic marked an epochal change by ‘exposing the inequality’ in countries’ access to vaccines, noting that ’90 percent of vaccines were in the hands of 10 countries.’

Calling out Western hypocrisy, Colombian president, Gustavo Petro asked, ‘What is the difference between the war between Russia and Ukraine, and that between Israel and Palestine?’

That hypocrisy was also raised by Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who called on the G77+China to commit to rejecting coercive measures against member countries.

An important presence was China, represented by Li Xi, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee. Beijing sees value in the G77 as another means of cooperating with nations from the Global South, particularly Latin American countries in the U.S. backyard. Choosing not to become formally a member of the group, China identifies closely with it, with Li committing China to, ‘always make South-South cooperation a priority.’

Held two days ahead of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit the forum necessarily centred on these goals, and how to turn them from ideals to reality.

In a concluding statement, ‘Current Development Challenges: The role of science, technology and innovation,’ the conference declared,’We note with concern that at the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world, particularly the developing countries, are still far off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,’

Much of the discussion catered on science, technology and innovation (STI). ‘We stress the important role of science, technology and innovation as pillars, enablers and catalysts to support sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth.’

It charged however, that these have been used to further divide the world between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’

The SDGs, the gathering noted will, only be achieved through ‘the promotion of new research, the development and transfer of the necessary technologies, and access to the existing ones, including in the areas of food and nutrition, health, water and sanitation, and energy, in order to contribute to the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, and the achievement of sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, human wellbeing and sustainable development.’

Strongly rejecting the use of unilateral sanctions, particularly in the STI field, the gathering charged these, ’severely impede the advancement of science, technology and innovation and the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.’

Also rejected were, ‘technological monopolies and other unfair practices” which hinder technological development in developing countries.’

The document noted also the need to confront, ‘the brain drain of specialised human resources trained in the countries of the South.’

Declaring 16 September to be the ‘Day of Science, Technology and Innovation in the South,’ the group committed itself to optimise and complement development of science and technology in developing countries ‘by strengthening South-South cooperation…’through ‘establishing new platforms for South-South cooperation and exchanges on science, technology and innovation.’

Increasingly the nations of the Global South, identifying common concerns and needs, are networking to overcome the uneven playing field which the West has foisted upon them.

This growing grouping of nations, predominantly from Latin America, Asia and Africa is another sign of that.

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