Leaders of Global South show strong presence at UNCTAD’s 60th anniversary

12 June 2024

The Global Leaders Forum marking the organization's six decades featured speeches from the presidents and prime ministers of Barbados, Brazil, China, Comoros, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Timor-Leste.

Global leaders at the 60th anniversary of UN Trade and Development
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© UN Trade and Development | Heads of state and international organizations at UNCTAD's 60th anniversary Global Leaders Forum.

The Global Leaders Forum marking the 60th anniversary of UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) opened on 12 June at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, with strong participation from leaders of the Global South.

The event, running through 14 June, featured speeches from the presidents and prime ministers of Barbados, Brazil, China, Comoros, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Timor-Leste.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin of Switzerland, the host country, also spoke at the opening ceremony.

The forum has brought together heads of state, trade and foreign affairs ministers, as well as renowned economists, business leaders and civil society representatives to chart a new development course in a rapidly changing world.

Barbados: Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley



Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados praised UN Trade and Development for its 60 years of service to developing countries, highlighting its contributions to global trade, growth, and development. She commended the organization’s inaugural UN Global Supply Chain Forum and its new strategy for small island developing states.

Ms. Mottley emphasized UN Trade and Development’s crucial role in strengthening the multilateral trading system, transforming global financial structures and developing strategies that maximize trade opportunities while aligning them with climate action and economic diversification.

Brazil: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva



President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil expressed pride in the country's involvement with UN Trade and Development, highlighting its role in advocating for a fairer international financial system.

He emphasized his confidence in UN Trade and Development's ability to foster a more prosperous, just, and inclusive future.

China: President Xi Jinping



President Xi Jinping of China acknowledged UN Trade and Development’s role in promoting South-South cooperation and advocating for North-South dialogue. He reiterated the country's commitment to the Global South and the developing world, aiming to facilitate global modernization and achieve common prosperity.

To support UN Trade and Development's implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Chinese president announced a $20 million contribution from China over the next five years.

Comoros: President Azali Assoumani



President Azali Assoumani of Comoros commended UN Trade and Development for its contributions to helping countries of the South integrate into the global economy.

He emphasized Comoros's commitment to the organization’s goals and highlighted the country’s desire to deepen its partnership with UN Trade and Development.

Cuba: President Miguel Díaz-Canel



President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba highlighted the regression on most SDGs, noting the COVID-19 pandemic's exposure of the disparity between those in extreme poverty and the richest 1%.

He pointed out that while 40% of people live in heavily indebted countries, the wealthiest nations struggle to commit 0.7% of their wealth to supporting developing countries. Mr. Díaz-Canel emphasized that UN Trade and Development provides the ideal platform to spotlight these inequalities.

Dominican Republic: President Luis Abinader



President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic recognized UN Trade and Development’s contributions to finding solutions, fostering global and regional cooperation and developing international standards for fairer trade.

Mr. Abinader reinforced the Dominican Republic’s commitment to supporting the organization’s work on making trade and investment more inclusive and reforming the international financial architecture.

Madagascar: President Andry Nirina Rajoelina



President Andry Nirina Rajoelina of Madagascar praised UN Trade and Development's valuable commitment and technical assistance.

Mr. Rajoelina said the country’s “one district, one factory” plan aims to provide fair economic opportunities and support food production with innovative industrial processing. Strengthening exports, including vanilla, are key goals. He thanked UN Trade and Development for its support.

Timor-Leste: Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão



Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste highlighted UN Trade and Development's long-standing campaign for a fairer economic system, noting its role in identifying global economic flaws before the 2007 crisis. 

He emphasized the need for independent thought in addressing new challenges and saw the 60th anniversary as an opportunity to do so. Gusmão pointed out that Timor-Leste is one of the few countries classified as both a least developed country and a small island developing state, praising UN Trade and Development's support and urging for more resources to aid fragile nations.