(Geneva, 6 February 2012)

Secretary General and Your Deputy,
Executive Director of the South Centre,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I offer warm greetings and wishes of success during this year which, according to the Chinese people, is the year of the Dragon.

May I also take this opportunity to welcome H. E. Amb and Perm Representative Pisanu Chanvitan of the Kingdom of Thailand. You are warmly welcome aboard Your Excellency. You are parachuting into the thick of things as will very soon discover. Great things are already happening on the UNCTAD XIII front.

It will be recalled that G77 + China membership, on the recommendation of the African Group, (my constituency), had honoured and granted Lesotho the privilege of leading this august body after an excellent term of service by Cuba at its helm ended. I still feel obliged to congratulate Cuba, through His Excellency Ambassador Radolfo Reyes Rodriquez and his team, for the work well done.

I was later re-assigned again by my constituencies, the African Group and a broader one, G77+China, in that order, as the President of UNCTAD TDB. It was well before the end of the term of services as President of G77 + China. I dutifully accepted the new challenge with all humility. The President's role vacancy in G77 + China was filled by Zimbabwe, by my brother H. E. Ambassador James Manzou. You will agree that he and his able team, particularly Mr. Garikai Kashitiku among the team, performed exceptionally well. Given that type of quality performance extending sincere and profound congratulations to Zimbabwe is in order.

During the short time at the helm of G77 & China, I did try to fulfill the promises that I had made in my inaugural speech:

1. Troika: I still believe that the troika system in running the affairs of G77 & China would enhance the effectiveness of the Group. It would ensure continuity and enable shared responsibility. The idea was to share co-ordinatorship among the outgoing, the incumbent as well as the incoming or successor co-ordinator. It was not easy to implement. It became clear that the outgoing President could encounter challenges of waning capacity to co-shoulder such responsibilities in G77 & China. It proved not easy to zero down accurately on the possible successor President a year in advance, that is unless we change the manner in which select successors. The troika system is still worth pursuing. A working formula can still be found. I recommend that it be pursued further.

2. Co-ordination among G77 & China Chapters: An attempt was made to effect the approach of forging some liaison, networking and co-ordination, among various Chapters of G77 & China in the UN system. This was to replace the current silo approach of Chapters working in a disjointed manner. A number of attempts were made to engage with G77 & China (New York) in Geneva during ECOSOC as well as in New York. regrettably that did not work as expected. It became clear to us that the enthusiasm for chapters to work in a co-ordinated manner was apparently not shared by the entire leadership of other chapters at the time. This too is still worth continuing to pursue in my humble opinion. That remains work in progress to the Group through our co-ordinator.

3. Retreat for the Ambassadors: It has been obvious, even to the visually impaired, that gradually participation of the Permanent Representatives in TDB and in G77 & China has been declining. In TDB attendance from all groups has moved from the Permanent Representatives level to the middle cadres and now has moved further down to First Secretaries and interns. I say this without at all devaluing the hard and highly appreciated work of First Secretaries and interns. It was the intention of the co-ordinator to organize a retreat for G77 & China at the Ambassadors' level so as to contribute towards their enhanced direct or personal engagement and participation, especially in the context of preparations for UNCTAD XIII. Why not still pursue the matter? It is still worthwhile! UNCTAD XIII negotiations are just getting into high gear!

There is dire need to raise the profile of UNCTAD to its former high level. It is a member driven organization. It is the membership that can drive the organization towards this goal. G77 & China forms the majority of the membership of UNCTAD. It should take the lead.

The outreach facet of UNCTAD endeavours direly needs to be nurtured and enriched. G77 + China should lend a helping hand.

There is the challenge of accelerating UNCTAD XIII negotiations and steering them towards their logical conclusion on a timely basis for Doha, Qatar, where our host anxiously await our arrival to put a seal of approval on a successful and meaningful conclusion.

Focus should be kept on the UNCTAD XIII negotiations. Members should not be distracted by considerations that are best directed to, and addressed by, the TDB and its subsidiary bodies. UNCTAD membership is well advised to be vigilant in this regard!

Allow me to wish every success to the successor co-ordinator, His Excellency Ambassador Dian Trianayah Djani of Indonesia, an experienced and skillful hand in UNCTAD matters and elsewhere. G77 & China is once again fortunate to be having someone such as your-good-self at its helm, Your Excellency. We look forward to your gentle yet firm stewardship with a clear vision and sense of purpose. We have full confidence in you. We celebrate your succession.

A word of gratitude must go to UNCTAD Liaison Unit in the Secretariat, particularly to the ever so supportive Miguel, Zoraa, Rima and Yvette. Their efforts are noticed and fully appreciated.