Jamaica to Chair Group of 77 in Geneva in 2016

08 January 2016

Jamaica takes over the Geneva chapter of the Group of 77 and China, which represents the interests of 134 developing countries in United Nations negotiations, in the year when UNCTAD holds its next ministerial-level meeting, UNCTAD XIV

As United Nations diplomats prepare for the fourteenth quadrennial United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV) in Kenya in July 2016, the chair of the Geneva chapter of the Group of 77 and China has passed from the Philippines to Jamaica.

The group provides the means for 134 countries of the global south to articulate and promote collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on major international economic issues.

Cecilia B. Rebong (Philippines) handing over to Wayne McCook (Jamaica)

Cecilia B. Rebong, Ambassador of the Philippines to the UN and other organizations in Geneva, handed over to Wayne McCook, her counterpart representing Jamaica, at a ceremony at the Palais des Nations.

Ms. Rebong said: "The developing world still needs UNCTAD because even 51 years after its founding, the conditions that existed then, such as the lack of an enabling environment, the imbalances, the vulnerabilities, the lack of resilience, the external shocks, still to this day threaten all of us."

She added: "I am proud that my country was entrusted with the great honour and responsibility of shepherding the Group [of 77 and China] at a crucial time in its history. At the same time, I am confident in the year ahead, specifically in the leadership of [Mr.] McCook…as we move toward the even more difficult task of [negotiating] a meaningful outcome document [at UNCTAD XIV] that will chart the course of UNCTAD in the next four years."

Mr. McCook said: "We must as a group, and equally as members of UNCTAD, ensure that UNCTAD XIV is a success - success, measured not by the length of our Declaration, but by its substance and its value in shaping a progressive agenda."

He added: "The Group of 77 and China has played and will continue to play a crucial role as the standard bearer for the interests of all developing countries. Its role in UNCTAD from conceptualization through its over five decades of unparalleled work on trade and development issues has stood the test of time. Let us build on this foundation to deliver meaningful trade and development outcomes for those on whose behalf we work - the people of our countries."

Mr. Taffere Tesfachew, Director of the UNCTAD Division for Africa and Least Developed Countries, said on behalf of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD: "It is important that the UNCTAD XIV outcome document recognizes that 'prosperity for all' is not just a slogan but a core pillar of the new development agenda. The overall theme for UNCTAD XIV that you have agreed on, that is, 'From Decisions to Actions: Moving towards an Inclusive and Equitable Global Economic Environment for Trade and Development', gives the UNCTAD membership the opportunity to translate the commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into concrete outcomes - leading to the development of a fair and balanced global economic system, in the spirit of the founding ideals of UNCTAD."

He added: "The Group of 77 and China can continue to count on us, just as we continue to count on you. Let us work together to strengthen UNCTAD and make it an effective development organization and a key instrument for advancing our collective vision of creating a just world and prosperity for all."

Also speaking at the event was Vicente Paolo Yu of the South Centre on behalf its executive director Martin Khor, coordinators of regional groups and a diplomatic representative of China.

The Group of 77 and China is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the UN. Established in June 1964 by 77 developing countries that signed a joint declaration issued at the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, the Group of 77 has subsequently developed a permanent institutional structure leading to the creation of chapters in Geneva (UNCTAD), Nairobi (United Nations Environment Programme), Paris (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Rome (Food and Agriculture Organization / International Fund for Agricultural Development), Vienna (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), and the Group of 24 (G-24) in Washington, D.C. (the International Monetary Fund and World Bank). Although the membership of the Group of 77 has increased to 134 countries, the original name was kept for its historic significance.