Press Releases

    14 January 2002


    NEW YORK, 11 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the ceremony marking the turnover of chairmanship of the Group of 77 from Iran to Venezuela:

    It gives me great pleasure to join you today for this ceremony marking the turnover of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Venezuela.

    I am especially pleased that President Chavez and Foreign Minister Kharrazi are here with us today, demonstrating the great importance they attach to the Group of 77 and its work.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran presided during a tumultuous year. Quite apart from the tragic events of 11 September and their aftermath, major developments took place in the economic and social realms.

    The Brussels conference adopted a plan of action aimed at arresting the marginalization of the world’s least developed countries. The Doha meeting of the World Trade Organization successfully launched a new round of talks. African leaders proclaimed and adopted a New Partnership for Africa’s Development. And the Economic and Social Council launched an innovative public and private task force aimed at harnessing the power of information technologies.

    Throughout the year, the Iranian team, under the leadership of Ambassador Asadi, showed great skill and determination as well as a strong commitment to international cooperation. I know you share my gratitude for their efforts. I know you also join me in wishing Venezuela well as it assumes the formidable responsibility of guiding the Group of 77 through another challenging period.

    Indeed, the outlook for the global economy has deteriorated further in recent months. Since 11 September, the global slowdown has accelerated, accompanied by a sharp decline in economic confidence across the globe.

    The United Nations expects a turnaround in growth early in the first half of this year, but the recovery is likely to be modest. The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2002 report, which has just been issued by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, forecasts a growth rate of 1-1/2 per cent for 2002, a negligible improvement over 2001. The world economy is expected to gather momentum only in the second half of this year, and the recovery in many developing countries is likely to lag behind that of the developed word. As usual, developing countries and vulnerable men, women and children are being hit the hardest.

    In such a climate, the Millennium Goal of halving the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015 has become even more difficult to reach than before. That makes it all the more important to seize the opportunities offered by the conferences to be held in the year ahead.

    The International Conference on Financing for Development is just weeks away. Preparations have demonstrated the willingness of the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, WTO and an array of other actors, including ministers of finance, trade, development and foreign affairs, to work together. Moreover, the event in Monterrey is just the kind of conference the Group of 77 has sought for a long time.

    One key to the success of the conference will be how effectively the Group of 77 articulates its views. If you create a realistic platform for negotiations, tangible results can be obtained. Your counterpart in Washington, the Group of 24, can be very helpful in this. I encourage you to reach out, settle on achievable goals, and build consensus around them. This moment must not be squandered.

    In conclusion, let me again say thank you to the Islamic Republic of Iran for its contributions during the past year, and wish Venezuela every success in the year to come. I look forward to continuing to work very closely with the Group of 77 in the global quest for peace and development.

    Thank you very much.

    * *** *