A Fairer Global Order
Address by His Excellency President Olusegun Obasanjo,
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of the G-77,
At the South Summit
April 12, 2000, Havana, Cuba
I am honoured and delighted
to welcome you all to the first-ever South Summit taking place at this
unique juncture of human history – a new century and a new millennium.
Let me, on your behalf,
express our deep appreciation to our host, President Fidel Castro, and
through him, to the Government and the great people of Cuba, for the warm
reception and very generous hospitality extended to us since our arrival
and for the excellent facilities placed at our disposal.
Havana, is a place, where
I personally feel the spiritual bond with Cuban people, many of whom I
share common ancestry.
Today we are witnessing
the realization of an important decision taken at the South-South Conference
on Trade and Investment, held in San Jose, Costa Rica in January 1997,
to hold a South Summit in the year 2000. This is to mark the end of the
20th Century and the beginning of the 3rd millennium.
Our presence here represents a major achievement. I am confident that
this Summit will be a milestone in our quest for development and the attainment
of a just and equitable global economic order, which must be based on
peace and an effective arrangement of collective security.
Your Excellencies, this
Summit is an opportune moment for us to engage in deep and sober reflection
on how we have fared, while at the same time charting the way forward.
International order, economically
and politically, has undergone profound transformation since the leaders
of the South met in 1964 to establish the Group of 77. The formation of
this Group was in response to the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment,
poor coordination among developing countries in the face of the general
trend to be excluded from the march of progress as primarily determined
by the more affluent nations of the North, all within an environment devastated
by the Cold War and confrontation between the two Blocs, as they were.
It is a sad reflection indeed that the challenges then remain by and large
the same challenges of today, albeit in an environment without Cold War
but one with proliferation of inter and intra-state conflicts and engulfed
in a globalisation process that is marginalising the South.
Collectively, we saw ourselves
as being in the same boat within the international economic order, and
we resolved to act in unison to tackle common difficulties and promote
mutual interests. We believed that acting in solidarity would accelerate
the socio-economic transformation of our countries. Our hope was that
our coming together would assure our peoples a dignified existence. In
addition, we were, and remain convinced, that the attainment of collective
self-reliance of the countries of the South should be anchored on a durable
self-sustaining economic growth and widespread socio-economic development,
in and among our countries.
There will be those who
will conclude that our Summit is nothing more than another round of talks
about talks. Yet others, with a dose of skepticism, will wonder about
the purpose of a South Summit, after decades of slumber during which the
rest of the world has advanced so much, with most of the South falling
dramatically behind by most indicators. The truth is that we must ask
ourselves a number of critical questions about our recent history. And
only after we have been through such critical self-examination, can we
confidently point out the failures of the industrialised countries who
have reneged on their commitments and promises for official development
assistance, speedy debt remission and a fair international trading regime.
Our Group has demonstrated
dynamism in pursuing our goals as conceived 36 years ago. Permit me, Your
Excellencies, at this point, to pay tribute to the late Mwalimu Julius
Nyerere, a truly great son of Africa and eminent international statesman
who dedicated his retirement to the establishment and management of South-South
Commission, an organisation whose existence contributed immensely to the
focusing of the initiative behind this Summit.
The G-77, as we are now
known, has been an effective negotiating force within the UN system on
resolutions pertaining to trade, finance, economic and social development,
environmental issues, and other items. However, we must acknowledge –
in frustration – that most of the resolutions remain dead letter, that
many important issues have been shifted to negotiating fora outside the
UN system, and that we are confronted in general, with a weakening role
for the UN in vital areas of war and peace and economic and financial
decision-making for world economy.
We still have a long way
to go. It is, indeed, disconcerting to observe that the problems of poverty,
underdevelopment and global inequity not only persist but under the impact
of a fast globalising world economy. We must come to grips with the reality
that out uncertain journey into the new millennium will continue to be
shaped by the profound forces of globalisation and liberalisation unleashed
in the final years of the 20th century. We must devise strategies
to cope with the challenges.
Globalisation has brought
mixed blessings. The prosperity it engenders is unevenly shared among
countries and regions of the world. While the industrialised countries
remain major beneficiaries, the vast majority of members of our Group
have been unable to take advantage of the opportunities. Globalisation
ha failed to spur economic recovery, faster growth, greater employment
opportunities and poverty eradication in developing countries. Rather,
it has exhibited a tendency to accentuate the income and welfare gaps
between the rich and the poor, among and within countries and regions.
Never has the world witnessed such massive disparities in international
economic and social activities. And nowhere is this trend more glaring
than in the countries of the South.
The collective management of future
global economic activities must be guided by the precept of “prosperity
for all and marginalisation for none”, as adopted recently at UNCTAD
But the multi-faceted consequences
and impact of globlisation are not the only issues the Group of 77 should
be concerned about, individually and collectively. Rather we must equally
address the consequences of an inherent and perilous inability of the
international political system. The bi-polarity of the past has not yet
been substituted by a new and stable political and security arrangement.
The resulting instability has a profound impact on the stability and economic
prospects of the countries of the South.
We must strive for a more
stable and predictable global political system and security structure.
Peace, security, development and cooperation are inextricably linked and
cannot be dealt with in isolation. The United Nations must be endowed
and empowered to play an effective role in these areas, as we all too
often have proclaimed. Let us engage the countries of the North to work
together with us in that direction and within the framework which we have
jointly built and carefully nurtured. Multilateralism should never be
sacrificed for short-term and sometimes short-sighted domestic political
Let me return to our quest
for a better management oft he world economy. The increasing importance
of trade in global economic activities and the dominance of the World
Trade Organisation [WTO] in shaping the character of international
economic order demand our special attention. The multilateral rule-based
trading system, anchored on the architecture of the Uruguay Rounds Agreements,
is in serious crisis, as manifested by the failure of the Seattle Ministerial
Conference of the WTO. The enthusiasm and high expectations which motivated
developing countries to sign the Uruguay Rounds Agreements have been shattered
by the inability of WTO to take into consideration the legitimate
interests of the countries of the South, especially Africa.
Given the failure of the
Seattle Ministerial Conference, we should, at this Summit, evolve fresh
approaches for the equitable management of global trade relations that
would be supportive of development and prosperity for all. In this regard,
I strongly recommend that this Summit agree on a common platform of action
for our Trade Ministers to facilitate the attainment of the implementation
of the development dimensions in the various WTO Agreements, when
the stalled Ministerial Conference of the WTO resumes.
Your Excellencies, the recent
financial crisis in South East Asia has brought to light one of the darker
sides of globalisation and its direct and profound impact on practical
stability and developments. The crisis revealed the vulnerable exposure
of even the best performing economies of developing countries to the powerful
forces of globalisation. This Summit should underscore the urgent need
for decisive international actions to reduce the incidence of financial
volatility associated especially with short-term speculative capital flows,
which have grave social and economic consequences for developing countries.
This underscores one specific aspect of a more general and complex challenge.
We must be part of the management to ensure that it is not loaded against
us and that our interests are adequately, suitably and appropriately taken
In this regard, we must
make a decisive contribution to the debate on the reform of the international
financial institutions. The South must participate fully and effectively
in the design and management of a new international financial architecture.
The heavy external debt
burden and large unsustainable debt service obligations constitute a major
obstacle to social and economic development, the fight against poverty,
human security and stable democratic governance. Heavy debts undermine
the capacity of our countries to make positive adjustments. It is clearly
unacceptable that the external debt burden should continue to constrain
our ability to channel public investment into physical and social infrastructures
and human resource development. The debt burden also deters new foreign
The countries of the South
must be enabled to make a fresh start to grapple with the socio-economic
development of their countries. To that end developed countries must agree
to effective and speedy debt remission beyond the onerous and protracted
HIPC conditions. The categorisation of indebtedness into HIPC and others
is itself arbitrary and without relevance to the realities of those who
have to shoulder the burden of debts. In the spirit of shared responsibility
for the debt crisis, developed countries should also consider the possibility
of debt moratorium so as to immediately lift the burden from developing
countries. North and South must also adopt measures to arrest the growing
phenomenon of illegal capital flight and the repatriation of illicit wealth
siphoned abroad by corrupt political leaders and their collaborators back
to their countries of origin.
Let us send a clear message
from Havana to the industrialised countries:
That their reluctance to change the institutional arrangements, policies
and practices that continue to nurture and sustain the prevailing North-South
disparities constitute a major threat to international peace and security;
And that they must demonstrate, not just in words but also in practice
and in deeds, their commitment to genuine partnership with the countries
of the South.
Your Excellencies, We
must resuscitate constructive dialogue between North and South.
Such a relationship must be based on the principles of mutuality of interest
and benefits, shared responsibilities and genuine partnership. The enhancement
of the role of the developing countries in global economic decision-making
is an important component of world stability.
It is a matter of concern
that the core resources of the United Nations Funds and Programmes that
have traditionally brought meaningful improvement to the lives of our
people have been declining in recent years. We call on developed countries
to halt and reverse this decline. We urge them to fully and faithfully
implement their commitment to provide substantial resources to these Funds
and Programmes. Similarly, the alarming decline of Official Development
Assistance [ODA] as a whole must be arrested.
This is particularly important
as the current pace of globalisation ahs made it extremely difficult for
most developing countries to mobilize and attract other external resources
for development, such as foreign direct investment and foreign portfolio
investment. We note with concern that the flow of FDI to developing
countries has fallen to 28 percent of global FDI flows in 1998.
In any case, FDI flows to the South are strikingly uneven as five
countries have enjoyed 55 percent of the total FDI flows to developing
countries in 1998, while the 48 least developed countries [LDCS]
received less than one percent.
Your Excellencies, This
Summit also provides a unique forum to redouble our individual and collective
efforts in advancing South-South Cooperation. We, the leaders of
the South must come up with practical options and measures to revitalise
all aspects of cooperation among ourselves. I hardly need to remind us
that many industrialised countries owe their present level of prosperity
to successful cooperation, especially in the framework of regional organisations.
We must take a leaf from this experience and rededicate ourselves to make
South-South Cooperation a more dynamic aspect of international
cooperation for development. This requires first of all that we create
more effective and workable regional and sub-regional economic integration
and cooperation arrangements. In our immediate sub-region, ECOWAS
is currently in the middle of a process in this direction. And Nigeria
is fully committed to the rapid economic integration of Africa as a whole.
It is only through such concrete measures, beyond words and declarations,
that South-South Cooperation can become a credible force in the
emerging global economic order.
Our reach and diverse development
experiences and know-how as well as our similar needs and problems offer
a unique window of opportunities for greater bilateral, sub-regional,
regional and inter-regional cooperation among our countries. It is gratifying
to note that the past few years have witnessed growth in some aspects
of South-South cooperation.
I urge this Summit to develop
and agree on a concrete programme of action for South-South cooperation.
This must be based on three pillars:
leading to economic integration on a regional and sub-regional basis,
measures for projects and programmes by both the public and private sectors,
to increase trade and commercial transactions between countries of the
Your Excellencies, We
are experiencing the age of monumental advances in modern technology and
knowledge. Indeed, the notion of global knowledge, society and economy
is becoming a refrain in international discussions. We are witnessing
the emergence of the structure of a “New Economy”, relying heavily
on information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Globalisation
itself would be unmanageable without information technology which has
been and likely to remain the driving force of its evolution.
We owe to our people to
do the following:
allow our citizens to be stakeholders in the development processes,
ensuring national cohesion and consensus;
We must ensure a dignified and humane existence for our
citizens, through combating poverty and ignorance.
At the level of South-South
Cooperation, we must go beyond rhetoric of old and commit ourselves
to specific and practical collaboration and cooperation in the fields
of trade, investment and technology.
Your Excellencies, At
this juncture, I wish to express our gratitude to the Secretary-General
of the United Nations for the support, which the G-77 continues
to receive from the UN Secretariat. I also wish to acknowledge the immense
support of UNCTAD. Since its inception, the organisation has remained
a faithful friend of the G-77 and has assisted us in policy analysis,
the promotion of international cooperation and the development of technical
capacity. I thank UNDP, UNIDO, all other development Agencies and
donor countries, which have supported the G-77 in their efforts
The new world of increasing
interdependence compels us as developing countries to work together to
rekindle our partnership with other members of the world community with
whom we share a common destiny as members of the human family.
I thank you. May South-South
Cooperation grow from strength within a fairer global order.
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