Message on the 50th Anniversary of the Group of 77

The history of the Group of 77 is intertwined with that of the United Nations.  The Group was founded in 1964 at the first session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.  The “Joint declaration of the seventy-seven developing countries” adopted on that occasion is infused with the goals and values found in the United Nations Charter: unity, solidarity, improved living standards, cooperation and an end to the “division of the world into areas of affluence and intolerable poverty”.  Today, the Group of 77 and China encompasses well over half the global population and two-thirds of the Organization’s Member States—including some of the world’s most dynamic economies—and is a major voice in world affairs.

This is a transformative time for the human family—an era of technological innovation, inroads against disease, gains in literacy and life expectancy and unprecedented global connectivity.  But progress has not benefited everyone equally.  Too many people suffer exploitation, lack fundamental freedoms and have their legitimate ambitions frustrated or denied.  We see women marginalized, young people without jobs, a natural resource base in peril, and climate change deepening its impact.  Our shared challenge is to conquer extreme poverty and achieve sustainable development while leaving no one behind.  This is not a “G-77 issue” or a “developing countries’ agenda”; this is a universal imperative on which the Group of 77 and China can continue to play a pivotal role.

Important strands of work are under way with great potential to help us realize these aspirations.  We are pressing to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, building on substantial yet uneven progress across countries and regions.  Member States are engaged in defining a post-2015 development agenda, to be encapsulated by a set of goals that, while global, can be tailored to national contexts and specificities.  We are also striving to adopt a new global agreement on climate change, which threatens to roll back development gains and place future development objectives in jeopardy.  I will convene a Climate Summit in New York on 23 September 2014 to mobilize climate action and solutions.  Given the critical importance of this issue for developing countries in particular, I look forward to the active participation of G-77 leaders.

These are complex yet historic and hugely important tasks for the United Nations and its Member States.  A more inclusive and robust partnership framework will be essential.  South-South and triangular cooperation will play a crucial role.  And new goals will not be accomplished without a visionary method for bringing together all sources of financing, technology, innovation and research.  People also need to be freed of the impacts of armed conflicts, violence and insecurity, which often have roots in social and economic deprivation and inequalities.  Upholding good governance, human rights and the rule of law and freeing people from fear and want are inseparable.  This cannot be done single-handedly; however, we need international solidarity and cooperation, and I count on the political will of the Group of 77 and China.

I was still a college student when the Group of 77 was founded.  My country, the Republic of Korea, was barely a decade removed from a devastating war and was among the founding members of the Group of 77.  I saw for myself how education, hard work and international solidarity as epitomized by the United Nations can help a country recover, rebuild and find the path of lasting peace and development.

As we mark half a century of engagement and achievement, let us recall the words of the Group’s first ministerial meeting, in Algiers in 1967, which still ring true today: “In a world of increasing interdependence, peace, progress and freedom are common and indivisible. Consequently the development of developing countries will benefit the developed countries as well.”  I congratulate the Group of 77 and China on this milestone and on its consistent leadership on many matters of common concern.  I look forward to joining the commemoration in June this year at the Summit in Bolivia, and working closely with you to address the unfinished agenda and build a more peaceful and prosperous world for all.