For information only - not an official document.
  18 September 2000
 Secretary-General, Addressing Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Group of 77,
Says Group’s Support Indispensable to UN  

NEW YORK, 15 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the 24th annual meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the “Group of 77” developing countries, delivered today: 

Let me begin by adding my voice in congratulating Kamal Kharrazi and Iran on being elected as the next Chairman of the G77, I assure you we will work closely with him. 

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you once again to United Nations Headquarters. I hope you feel as much at home here as I did at the South Summit in Havana. 

That meeting chaired by President Obasanjo was an inspiring occasion, and a milestone in the history of the Group. I felt greatly privileged to be part of it. 

Never before had so many heads of State and government from the developing world come together in one place. That gave the Havana Declaration and Programme of Action, which they adopted, a special historic resonance. 

Particularly important, I think, was the call for increased South-South cooperation, aimed at encouraging flows of investment as well as exchanges of expertise and technology. 

That call did not fall on deaf ears. Already in July, under the auspices of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and with financial support from Japan, 12 countries drawn from all the different developing regions came together to engage in a round of negotiations – the "Sapporo Round" – which produced 22 bilateral investment treaties. 

This is a most encouraging pointer to the future. It shows that developing countries are not waiting passively for help from the industrialized world, but are takingactive steps to help themselves, and each other. 

More broadly, the Havana Declaration enabled your heads of State and government to come to last week's Millennium Summit with a clear and unified message. 

It was a message of pain -- the pain felt by so many of the world's peoples at the injustice of the world we live in, and the needless misery to which so many of our fellow human beings are condemned. 

Many of your heads of State and government said that they understood the potential benefits of globalization, but that their peoples have yet to feel them. 

The gaps in income, both within and between countries, are too wide. The state of public health in many countries is too wretched for anyone to contemplate without profound unease. 

My friends, I believe this cry of anguish did not go unheard. I believe the whole world heard it as a call to action, and indeed a pledge of determination to act, by men and women who have the power to make a difference. 

The fact that so many world leaders come together at the United Nations, and resolve to work together as the United Nations, has given many of us a real sense of hope, and a renewed confidence in this Organization. 

The Declaration adopted by the Summit, just one week ago, reproduces many points from your own Havana Declaration. That is hardly surprising, since your Group with its 133 member States comprises, in itself, a large majority of the United Nations. 

The Declaration identifies clear priorities for attacking poverty, disease, violence, transnational crime and environmental degradation. And it calls for the United Nations to be strengthened, to make it a more effective instrument for pursuing those priorities. 

Those priorities are your priorities. This Organization is your organization. It is in your interest, and the interest of your peoples, to ensure that last week’s Summit does not come to be seen as yet another false dawn, but does indeed mark a new beginning. 

It is in your interest, therefore, to ensure that the United Nations in the new century does indeed become a more effective instrument -- one that will make a real difference to people’s lives. 

But the United Nations will only be effective if the General Assembly, as its chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ, is prepared to take decisions promptly when the will of the great majority of its members is clear. 

As I told the Assembly on Tuesday, consensus is very important, but it must not become a synonym for paralysis. When the broad purpose and principle of a proposed measure clearly has general support, its progress should not be held up by lengthy argument on points of detail. 

We need clear decisions, taken without undue delay, to strengthen our capacity to manage peace operations, so that we can play the role expected of us in helping war-torn countries return to peace, in Africa and elsewhere. Only with your support can we become the kind of efficient, well-managed Organization that will prepare effectively for important meetings such as next year’s crucial one on Financing for Development. 

Only with your support can we become truly persuasive advocates for change. 

Only with your support, for instance, can we persuade industrialized countries to open their markets more boldly to developing-country products. Or to reverse the decline of Official Development Assistance. Or to cancel the debts of poor countries – multilateral as well as bilateral, and to accept a more equitable process for arbitrating or mediating in disputes between creditors and sovereign debtors. 

Only as an efficient, open and flexible organization can the United Nations hope to influence the course of globalization, and help bring new technologies within reach of poor countries and poor people. 

For all these purposes, my friends, the support of your Group and of all its members is indispensable. 

I know that I can count on it, and I look forward to working with you and your representatives throughout the coming year.

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