12 January 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Permanent Mission of Argentina on 2011 Agenda for Group of 77

Climate change, the international financial system and South-South cooperation would be among the most important issues to be addressed by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China in 2011, Jorge Argüello ( Argentina), its incoming Chairman, said at a Headquarters press conference today.

With the budgets for 2012 and 2013 also due to be approved this year, the most important task for the Chairmanship would be forging consensus from a very diverse group, said Mr. Argüello, pointing out that the group now had 131 Member States and included both low- and middle-income countries.  “Our richness is our diversity,” he said while briefing on his country’s taking over the year-long Chairmanship from Yemen.  He stood in for Héctor Marcos Timerman, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, whose flight was cancelled due to inclement weather.

There was no doubt that the Group of 77, comprising most of the United Nations membership and focused on economic issues, had a very important role to play in the Organization, he said.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had already promised “110 per cent support” from the United Nations system to the Argentine Chairmanship, he said, pledging to work as constructively as possible, particularly in the area of the Millennium Development Goals, the aim of which was to reduce extreme poverty and other ills.  However, poverty and hunger still plagued a huge number of people, he said, stressing that the international community must renew efforts to realize the Goals.

He went on to stress that developed countries must follow through on their commitments in that area, in particular, allocating 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to international cooperation.  Pointing out that today marked the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake, he noted that commitments to that country had still not been fulfilled.  The Group of 77 would continue to keep an eye on that situation in particular, he added.

On the international financial architecture, he said the Group’s members had many proposals, but the main point was that they wished to participate in the system.  The Argentine Chairmanship would introduce that idea in all forums in which it would participate, including, most notably, the G-20.  The Chairmanship would thus be a bridge between the two groupings.

Discussing cooperation among developing countries, he said the South Summit, held every five years, would take place in Libya around June, and remarked that South-South cooperation represented a paradigm in which the cooperation priorities of developing countries could come to the fore.  However, it must not replace North-South cooperation, he emphasized.

Turning to climate change, he described it as an “extremely important” topic for the Group of 77, saying he would start to develop positions for the upcoming November meeting in South Africa, in consultation with other members, immediately after today’s handover ceremonies.  He said he had already held meetings with Caribbean and Pacific island leaders in which the topic had been discussed.

Asked whether he was optimistic that change could be achieved in the world economic order, he affirmed that he was due to Argentina’s membership in the Group of Twenty (G-20), which gave the Group of 77 a voice in that forum.  However, the entire international community must apply political will, intelligence and understanding to the situation, he stressed.

In response to a question about democracy-building and Security Council reform, he reiterated that the Group of 77 was focused on economic rather than political issues.

Speaking from a national perspective, he said his country’s permanent position on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was that Argentina claimed sovereignty over the territory.  However, the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 was not a position from which to discuss such national views, he emphasized.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record