On the Fiftieth Anniversary of G-77

I was in my early forties when the Group of 77 was established. Together with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), it was a symbol of the aspiration of developing countries for emancipation, economic and political independence, and development. It was a collective means and undertaking to help attain these interrelated objectives, and to give a role in the world arena and international affairs to the newly emerged nations and the states on the world periphery. Today, fifty years later, I am in my early nineties, and I am happy to witness the fact that the original, underlying rationale and objectives which led to the formation of the Group of 77, retain their validity and continued relevance.

I see the Group of 77 as a symbol of the quest for and an essential element of the democratization of international relations, of the United Nations and of the UN system. It is a vehicle to give a voice and influence to developing countries, the overwhelming majority of which remain marginal on the world scene and do not have individually the power or importance to be heard and paid attention to, and even less to have an impact on what happens in world affairs. For them, in a world system where hegemony and exercise of raw power continue to prevail, the only way to transcend to a degree their peripheral and dependent position, to matter and be counted is through group action and South-South cooperation.

This is why the cardinal importance of the Group of 77, and indeed of NAM, in world affairs, and for democratization of international relations.

Towards the end of my mandate as the United Nations Secretary-General, we issued an Agenda for Democratization, an important document which, given the evolution of geopolitics at that time, was largely overlooked and did not receive the policy attention it deserved.

Possibly it was a wrong moment and period for such a document to be crafted and to be made public. But, the issue of democratization of international relations and overcoming the great power hegemony is topical and critical as ever, and should be one of the principal, strategic objectives of the Group of 77 and of the struggle of the Global South which needs to be continued with renewed determination.

It is therefore important for the Group of 77 to revisit and update its own rationale, the key objectives that unite all developing countries, and how to use the power inherent in their unity and solidarity superimposed on their diversity. In this context, I endorse the proposal to establish a new South Commission, which would analyze, study, and recommend to the countries of the South how to confront shared challenges and how to influence and shape the world order under changing, contemporary conditions.

I end my brief message by wishing the Group of 77 well on its fiftieth birthday, its continued and strengthened activity in the years and decades to come, and it assuming a forceful and central leadership role—as a voice of the 4/5 of the humankind that its member states account for—in attaining the objectives inscribed in the United Nations Charter and in evolving a positive and cooperative world of the future.