DOHA, June (G77/IPS) - The Inter Press Service (IPS) Special Award for 2004 was formally presented to Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, the former chairman of the Group of 77.
The presentation ceremony took place during the South Summit at the Sheraton Hotel in the Qatari capital of Doha.
The IPS Board of Directors unanimously decided last year to bestow the Special Award on the Group of 77 for its longstanding commitment to the cause of developing nations and for its outstanding contributions in advancing the global development agenda for over 40 years.
The committee singled out Ambassador Al-Nasser, currently Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations, for the key role he played in the success of the Group's activities during its 40th anniversary in 2004.
Addressing diplomats, senior U.N. officials and news reporters, IPS Director-General Mario Lubetkin traced the close links between IPS and the G77, which were both born in the same month and same year 41 years ago.
"This award expresses, in the first place, the degree of historical cooperation between the G77 and IPS, both of which coincidentally came into existence in 1964," he said.
Lubetkin said that IPS has been a strong advocate of the economic agenda of the developing world just as much as the G77 has been the collective voice of the global South.
"It is for that reason that our presence in the South is essential, and it is with that aim that our professional journalists provide coverage from more than 150 countries, mostly from the developing world."
He said the three major themes of the news agency have been development, civil society and the globalisation process and its impact on the developing world.
"It is not a coincidence that IPS is the leader in covering these socio-economic issues, as well as the only global agency of the South -- and I would say one of the few news agencies in the world -- that transmits its news in 17 different languages, including English, Spanish, Arabic and Swahili."
He said providing information to the populations of the South in their own native languages is an "extraordinary challenge" that ensures that millions of people are not to be excluded from the global decision-making process.
Speaking at the award ceremony, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Least Developed Countries Anwarul Karim Chowdhury said the South Summit was perhaps the most appropriate occasion for honouring both the G77 and Ambassador Al-Nasser.
"This is a real recognition of the contribution made by Ambassador Al-Nasser as chairman of the Group of 77," he said.
He acknowledged the contribution made by the G77 to some of the most economically vulnerable countries of the world, the 50 least developed countries, described as the poorest of the poor.
During his G77 chairmanship, Ambassador Al-Nasser was a strong supporter of South-South cooperation. "And this summit is a manifestation of that support."
At the same time, Chowdhury said, "it is all the more appropriate that this award is coming from IPS which has been championing the cause of development for many years."
He said there has always been "a wonderful convergence" between the leadership of IPS and the leadership of the G77.
Chowdhury said the perspective of challenges facing developing nations is a "wonderful reflection of the articles in the IPS news service."
"We are very grateful for IPS for championing the cause of development for many years. We feel that IPS is the bridge between the G77 and the rest of the world and the media."
The United Nations, he said, is also very grateful for IPS for bringing out issues of the world body -- that are mostly missed by the mainstream media -- in an effective way.
Ambassador Al-Nasser expressed his thanks and his appreciation for the award. He said it was timely that the award was presented at one of the most important summit meetings in Doha, which precedes the upcoming Millennium Summit in New York in September.
He said the role of the media is very important and the G77 has continued to benefit from the close links it has developed with IPS over the last 41 years.