Key takeaways from G77+ China summit

Heads of State and government leaders during the opening of the Third South Summit (G77-China) at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala on January 18, 2024. PHOTOS/ABUBAKER LUBOWA. 

What you need to know:

  • How G77+China works
  • The alliance maintains a secretariat that is housed in the UN building in New York. The secretariat helps the chairing country, in this case Uganda, with convening powers to bring member states together but also to be creative on how to approach things.

Uganda on January 21 assumed the one-year rotational chairmanship of the G77+China alliance with a busy in-tray containing an imposing to-do list detailed in the 156-point Outcome Document that was adopted by leaders gathered at Speke Resort Convention Center on January 22.

President Museveni assumed the chairmanship from Cuban Vice President Salvador Valdés during the Third South-South Summit that closed on Monday as the G77+China alliance marked 60 years of promoting members’ collective economic interests at the UN.

The South-South Cooperation is the apex organ of the G77+ China alliance, which is formally recognised at the UN as a negotiating bloc. The Kampala South-South Summit, the first time it was held in Africa, followed by the second summit in Qatar in June 2005, and the first one in Cuba in April 2000.

The summit
G77+China, established in 1964, brings together 135 countries, making it the largest inter-governmental organisation of the UN. China, the world’s second largest economy, is not fully a member of the alliance but maintains observer status and attends annual meetings hence tag ‘G77+China.

In his address on Sunday during the opening of the summit, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the alliance as “an engine for South-South cooperation and development” that has lifted millions of people out of poverty, and provided a powerful voice for developing countries on the global stage.

“Today, you are the largest grouping of the global South, representing 80 percent of the world’s population. And your solidarity and partnership are essential to building a sustainable, peaceful, and just world for all. A world in which the United Nations Charter, international law and human rights prevail in global relations,” Mr Guterres remarked.

Other African countries that have previously chaired G77+China are Guinea, South Africa, Sudan, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Tunisia, Egypt, and Madagascar.

The Kampala summit
The Kampala summit kicked off with representatives of member states reviewing progress of implementation of outcomes of the last meetings, the Doha Declaration and Plan of Action, and the Declaration and Plan of Action, and underlining new social-development challenges that are roiling majority member states.

After two days of closed-door deliberations, the G77+China member states adopted the 156-point Outcome Document that details the agenda for the next one year with Uganda as the chair.

“This grouping is not as simple as it looks, but if we work together, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” President Museveni said in the summit’s closing remarks on January 22.

The Outcome Document specifically takes stock on the current gloomy outlook of the international order—multilateralism—which is under strain as a result of competing interests of powerful countries, the indivisibility of sustainable development and peace, tensions of the forever shouldering Middle East, from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, among other pressing issues afflicting the global south.

Palestinian question
G77+China member states underscored the “principled and longstanding support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the achievement of justice and their legitimate national aspirations, including for freedom, peace and dignity in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with the relevant UN, the Madrid terms of reference, and the Arab Peace Initiative. 

“We, therefore, stress the urgent need for a credible political horizon to bring an end to the Israeli occupation that began in June 1967 and to address and resolve the root causes of this ongoing injustice, in accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions,” the document reads in part.

In the same vein, member states urged the UN Security Council, the world’s most powerful organ, “to undertake serious efforts to implement its resolutions, imperative for bringing an end to Israel’s impunity, realising justice for the victims, and contributing to a just and peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without delay.”

Israel, with full backing of the US and its European allies, kicked off a vicious campaign last October to “demolish” the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) following its surprise attack on October 7, 2023, on a music festival, south of the country, killing 1,139 people, injuring scores, and taking more than 200 as hostage.

Four months later, Israel continues to disregard calls for a humanitarian pause and ignores international outcry over the mounting tensions. This, as the death toll has risen to 25,000, the Gaza health ministry reported at the weekend, and more than 60,000 Palestinians injured.

President Museveni receives the instruments of power from Cuba vice president Salvador Valdes Mesa as the new chairperson of the Third South Summit (G77+China) summit at Munyonyo Convention Centre in Munyonyo. 

Action-oriented blueprint
“It is an action-oriented outcome document that details pressing issues affecting the global south,” Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, told this newspaper yesterday, adding: “As the chairing country, the document will be our guide.”

The G77+China countries decried the United States’ sustained “unilateral coercive measures”—the sanction regime— against Cuba, the former chair of the alliance, which has for decades rebutted meddling by the successive administrations in Washington.

The Caribbean country is one of the most sanctioned countries, by the US and its European allies, alongside Venezuela, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Myanmar.

“We express deep concern over the widening of the extraterritorial nature of the embargo against Cuba, including the full implementation of Chapter III of the Helms-Burton Act, and reject the reinforcement of the financial measures adopted by the United States,” the G77+China alliance noted.

The alliance further raised red flags about the increase in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “financing gap and recognise the urgency of providing sufficient development finance to developing countries.” The SDGs refer to the 17 inter-linked UN development goals, designed to serve as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for the people and the planet.

The 193-member UN member states in 2015 adopted the SDGs agenda for adoption until 2030, but the absence of a coherent financing mechanism amid competing priorities like wars has set back their implementation. There are proposals to tap into the deep pockets of the private sector but how to bring them into the conversation is a slow motion.

Matters are made worse, the G77+China noted, by the “international financial architecture” that has not kept pace with a changing global landscape and has failed to deliver the financing or stability needed to achieve the SDGs.

The alliance called “for urgent reform of the international financial architecture, including the international financial institutions and their governance structure, to be equitable and responsive to the financing needs of developing countries, to enhance their effectiveness, and to broaden and strengthen the voice, participation, and representation of developing countries in international economic decision-making, norm-setting and global economic governance, including with the aim to accelerate the achievement of sustainable development.”

Relatedly, the alliance underlined the need to chart a course “in which concessional loans and grants can be scaled up” through, especially the essential need to channel unutilised quotas of existing and newly allocated Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from developed countries with strong external positions to the developing countries most in need of liquidity and regional development banks.