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25th Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77

(New York, November 16, 2001)

STATEMENT BY H.E. GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF COLOMBIA

 

Mr. Chairman:

I wish to begin by congratulating you on the effective manner in which the Islamic Republic of Iran has chaired the work of the Group of 77 during the year. Thanks to your hard work and dedication, our Group has maintained an active and fruitful presence during this difficult period.

Mr. Chairman:

This ministerial meeting is taking place at a time of marked deterioration in the world economic situation, four years after the start of the most recent international financial crisis and when it has not yet been possible to repair the damage caused. We are faced with what may be the beginning of a broad recession that is likely to worsen if we fail to adopt policies and measures to correct the trend towards rapid deceleration noted thus far.

At the time of the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the international economy had already been experiencing a serious contraction. The attacks thus shook even further its already weak foundations. We must promote a frank and broad debate on the repercussions of this situation on the economies of the developing countries and promote initiatives aimed at mitigating its impact.

The economic downturn has worsened the structural imbalances in the process of globalization, which has had unfavourable consequences for the most vulnerable sectors of the population. This is why there is also an urgent need for in-depth reflection on globalization, in which the voices of those with legitimate complaints about the imbalances of this process can also be heard.

A reflection in which we should seek to identify the limitations of free competition in addressing the problems in such areas as the environment and economic and social rights, without stifling the creativity, innovation and dynamism that markets can offer to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. A reflection in which the urgent needs of the present can be reconciled with the needs of future generations. In sum, a reflection that would permit us to identify proposals and measures to regulate, order and humanize the process of globalization.

In this challenging situation, the Conference on Financing for Development to be held early next year in Monterrey, Mexico takes on particular importance. The Millennium Summit established ambitious goals in such areas as poverty reduction, education and health. But the developing countries will have difficulty in achieving these objectives, unless the necessary resources are mobilized, in particular the resources of official development aid.

There are vast sums of financial capital in the international economy. However, a large part of these funds are not being used for productive purposes. Increasing the level of official development assistance, correcting the imbalances in foreign investment flows and taking steps to develop a new international financial architecture should be matters of urgent priority.

Global financial integration has provoked volatile and uncontrolled flows of capital that have exposed many developing countries to enormous risks. This financial integration has been promoted without a full understanding of the turbulence caused in weak economies. We need a new architecture to strengthen the role of the multilateral institutions responsible for the stability of the international financial system.

Furthermore, we can achieve true economic interdependence and a genuine multilateralism only if all nations are able to participate on equitable terms in world trade. It is unacceptable that some economies should be legally able to restrict access of products to their markets, even as they continue to demand the free flow of their goods and services. Nor is the new language of protectionism, at times disguised under the seductive banners of international humanitarian, environmental or labour standards, admissible. Trade barriers are not conducive to promoting better labour conditions, protecting the environment and defending human rights. These objectives can be achieved only if we are permitted to increase our exports and thus our rates of economic growth.

We trust that these ideas will inspire the new round of multilateral negotiations agreed upon a few hours ago at the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization held in Doha, Qatar and hope that the momentum generated will enable us to make steady progress towards a multilateral trading system that is genuinely free, transparent and equitable.

Mr. Chairman:

The Summit on Sustainable Development will be held in 2002. Ten years after the Earth Summit, global warming continues to present a serious risk for mankind. Nearly 70 per cent of our oceans are over-exploited. Consumption of fresh water exceeds the increase in population.

There is no doubt that the developing countries will be the ones to suffer most from the consequences of our failure to attain the goals of sustainable development. In Johannesburg, we need to elaborate a positive agenda for a sustainable future and to strengthen a commitment that will permit us to achieve genuine harmony between man, the economy and nature.

The international community has the human and material resources to place our economies on sustainable bases. But the challenges of sustainability are greater than the response being offered. The time left for an orderly transition is shrinking. One of our great challenges will therefore be to promote a pattern of development that is genuinely sustainable, reflected in a genuine commitment and in our daily lives.

Mr. Chairman:

The world has made progress on the road to democracy, in particular in guaranteeing freedoms. Nevertheless, the other values of democracy have been neglected. The price of political and economic freedoms should not be the perpetuation of inequalities. In order for democracy and freedom to be firmly rooted, we must promote a genuine sense of justice and solidarity.

These postulates are equally valid in international relations. Despite some significant progress, democracy worldwide is still far from what it could be. The United Nations was created on the principle of the sovereign equality of all Member States. In practice, however, States are unequal, in size, in wealth and in power. Within the principle of sovereign equality, some see themselves as being more equal than others.

We must insist on greater democratization of international institutions. This must not be limited to making the United Nations Security Council a more open and representative body, or the General Assembly a more participatory organ. It also involves the role of other institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. It is now time for us in the United Nations system to think about the elaboration of an agenda for democracy in the multilateral institutions.

Mr. Chairman:

The world has acquired vast knowledge, ethical values and the scientific resources to move us into a new historical era of justice and humanism. We must face this challenge with wisdom and courage and move within a broader circle of human identity. Looking to the future with a sense of history. Strengthening multilateralism with the United Nations as the center and principal source of strength. Recognizing that in the world of today, there are no longer any islands. That our destinies are indissolubly linked.

Thank you very much.

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