G77+China: Towards a new world order

Lovemore Ranga Mataire
THE search for a new world economic order has been a perennial pursuit of most developing countries seeking to disentangle themselves from the stranglehold of domineering Western nations.The desire to deal with the skewed world economic order gave birth to the Group of 77 developing countries and China, established on June 15, 1964 during the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held in Geneva.

There is no other economic grouping with such an enormous membership outside the United Nations that has bonded countries with the same objectives of bringing a better life for countries in the South than the G77+China. The group’s membership has since expanded to 133.

At its inception, the G77+China’s agenda was to promote equality in the international economic and social order including the promotion of developing countries’ interests. The initiative was viewed as a first step towards the international endorsement of new trade policy for development.

It emphasised unity as fundamental in ensuring that the grouping became an instrument for “enlarging the area of co-operative endeavour in the international field and for securing mutually beneficent relationships to the rest of the world”.

The group, which recently celebrated its 50 anniversary commemorative summit attended by more than 30 heads of state, including President Mugabe in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, called for renewed efforts to transform the unbalanced world economic order for the common good of the people in the South.

In his address, President Mugabe urged the group to stand up for the interests of developing nations against powerful nations that seek to dominate, undermine and divide developing nations.

While acknowledging its achievements and hailing the vision of its pioneers, President Mugabe challenged the group to form an active and operational group that protects and serves the interests of developing nations.

Indeed, the G77 commemorative summit was an opportunity for member-states to take stock of the group’s achievements and challenges in the face of an evolving global system.

President Mugabe bemoaned the continued skewed global financial system which he said was hostage to monopolistic credit institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He said the more stringent monetary rules of the IMF and World Bank only seemed to apply to less industrialised countries.

“That’s why this meeting is held at a decisive time for our peoples, as we are seeking common objectives leading to sustainable growth that co-ordinates globalisation of community well-being,” President Mugabe told the gathering.

While acknowledging the achievements of the group since its formation, President Mugabe urged the G77 to promote policies favouring good ecological practices and global respect for important climate change-related matters and urged Zimbabwe’s detractors to lift the illegal sanctions arbitrarily imposed on the country by Western nations and the United States.

One of the major achievements of the G77+ China since its inception was to work as a lobby group within the United Nations structures and to enunciate certain agreements that have not just created a better understanding among nations but also prioritised development initiatives for the developing countries.

Through successive consultations, the group came up with the Algiers Charter (1967), which sought to harmonise the position of the developing world and the Caracas agreement (1989) in Venezuela which highlighted the need for improved international co-operation for developing nations. The group has also managed to heighten the pro-poor and pro-development agenda within the discourse of United Nations.

In order to concretise its operations, the group established chapters in liaison offices in different United Nations agencies in Geneva under the UNCTAD, Nairobi (UNEP), Paris (UNESCO), Rome (FAO), Vienna (UNIDO) and the Group of 24 in Washington DC, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

One of the unique features of the group is its diversity which gives it more strength in consolidating the position of 133 countries. Although they have been divergent opinions within the group, these have not derailed it from pursuing and executing its mandate of promoting the collective economic interests of the South, which is inextricably bound up with a strong mandate for UNCTAD.

Using its membership, the group can also galvanise resources to ensure that they also set up strong media institutions to counter the one-way flow of information from Western nations.

Through the Rome Chapter, the United Nations had to ensure that food security and agricultural development issues were at the forefront in its discourses and also that the interests of developing countries were protected including the attainment of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the three Rome-based agencies; Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (FAD).

Through inter and intra-group lobbying, the Rome Chapter safeguards the plight of the poor from developing countries and that it is always at the top of the food security agenda. This chapter plays an important intermediary role in supporting the South-South co-operation as it strives to uphold the interests of developing nations and scrutinises the policies on governance and programmes of the three Rome-based agencies in a bid to ensure the poorest of the poor have access to food, knowledge, technologies and resources needed for agricultural production.

The G77+China has been vocal on the need to embrace the current debate on the bio-energy and the resultant escalation of food prices and how the world food and agricultural terrain can be transformed. The successes of the group seem, however, to have been blighted by lack of commitment by some countries of the South in aligning their domestic policies with those of the group for fear of international capital flight and economic reprisals from some powerful nations like the United States and Britain.

It is refreshing to note that while most developing nations are still hesitant to pursue wholesale economic policies to correct historical injustices, Zimbabwe and Bolivia have already taken the initiative through various empowerment laws meant to make citizens owners of their natural resources and in turn increase revenues for social and economic programmes.

Using its membership, the group can also galvanise resources to ensure that they also set up strong media institutions to counter the one-way flow of information from Western nations.

The challenges facing the group were aptly captured by the host President Evo Morales who in his closing remarks reminded the attendees to be always guided by the noble aspirations that led to the formation of the group.

He said it was prudent that members realised that the liberation of the people of the South would consequently lead to the emancipation of humanity through a fair economic world order. President Morales suggested the setting up of a Decolonisation and South-South Co-operation Institute whose mandate would be to provide assistance for development and self-determination initiatives.

It is refreshing to note that while most developing nations are still hesitant to pursue wholesale economic policies to correct historical injustices, Zimbabwe and Bolivia have already taken the initiative through various empowerment laws meant to make citizens owners of their natural resources and in turn increase revenues for social and economic programmes.

Using its membership, the group can also galvanise resources to ensure that they also set up strong media institutions to counter the one-way flow of information from Western nations.

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