Fiji's Minister of Foreign Affairs Passes the G77 Torch to the President of Bolivia
At a ceremonial meeting at the United Nations in New York today, Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, handed over the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China to Bolivia’s Head of State, President Evo Morales Ayma. Bolivia will now Chair the 133-member G77 for the duration of 2014, taking over from a Fiji leadership role that began in January 2013. Joining Minister Kubuabola and President Morales this morning on the podium for the ceremonial meeting were the President of the UN General Assembly, John Ashe, and the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
In his handover address at the ceremonial meeting, Minister Kubuabola reported to the G77 Member States on the activities of the outgoing G77 Chair and thanked them for the great privilege they had given Fiji in leading the Group. Minister Kubuabola said that In taking on that momentous role, “Fiji had committed to honour the great responsibilities you put upon us, with full respect for the duties entailed, holding the Group's interest sacrosanct throughout Fiji's chairmanship.”
The Minister said that Fiji’s chairmanship of the Group of 77 had coincided with a challenging agenda in the United Nations. He said it had been a year when Member States were tasked with implementing the follow-up processes to the Rio+20 conference; a year when the world’s political leaders had reaffirmed their collective commitment to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015; a year that required the membership to deliberate heavily on the creation of Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the post-2015 development agenda; and a year in which a UN Budget for the biennium 2014-15 had to be negotiated in the face of severe financial constraints.
Minister Kubuabola said the magnitude of the challenge was reflected in the G77 Chair's convening of over 400 coordination meetings of the Group's hard-working experts of the UN's various committees during 2013. He reported that the Chair also convened 26 G77 ambassadorial meetings during the year, and prepared and delivered more than 150 statements on behalf of the Group.
Fiji’s Minister said he was confident that as the Group faces the many difficult issues ahead, these will be overcome through the Group's firm unity and solidarity. He said the Group will be required to work together to tackle the diverse and unique challenges faced by its membership on such issues as Climate Change, desertification, the Post-2015 development agenda, South-South cooperation and international institutional reforms. He highlighted the convening of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in Samoa in September 2014, as being an example which will require the Group to work closely together in support of its SIDS membership.
Minister Kubuabola expressed Fiji’s sincere thanks to the President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, and United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon for their presence and their continued support and commitment in advancing the global development agenda. He paid special tribute to Ambassador Peter Thomson and Fiji’s team of diplomats who had carried the burden of the Chairmanship with outstanding professionalism, and to the hard-working team of the G77 Executive Secretariat for their ongoing support to the Chair. In closing, Fiji’s Minister renewed to President Evo Morales the full support of Fiji as Bolivia takes up the high mission of Chairmanship on behalf of the Group.
Thereafter, a series of speakers took the floor at the ceremony, including the President of Bolivia, the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General and the Chairs of the UN regional groups, to praise Fiji for the high standards set in chairing the Group of 77 and China in 2013. Special words of thanks were directed at Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, for the leadership and commitment his Government had provided for the Group of 77 throughout the year.