By an IPS Correspondent
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 1 2017 (IPS/G77)
The 134 members of the Group of 77 expressed gratitude to Thailand for chairing the group in 2016, at a ceremony in the UN Trusteeship Council chamber on Friday 13 January.
Addressing the meeting Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand said that as Chair of the Group Thailand strived to build solidarity between the group’s diverse members:
“Thailand is honoured to have been entrusted by all of you to serve as Chair over the past year.”
“We committed ourselves to strengthening group solidarity. This meant reaching out to each and every member of the group. It meant truly listening to their concerns. It meant putting the group’s interests ahead of national interests. And it meant recognising that the real strength of the group comes from all of its member states.”
Pramudwinai said that some of the big issues the group had addressed in 2016 included: implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the selection process for the new Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as antimicrobial resistance.
“These opportunities were possible in large part due to the willingness and flexibility of all group members,” he added.
“A key challenge for the group in 2016 was laying down the groundwork for the full implementation and realisation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” said Pramudwinai.
“Thailand recognised that in moving forward on this ambitious agenda not a single country could go alone and no one or no country should be left behind.”
He also noted that Thailand had shared its own approach to sustainable development with the other members of the group:
“It’s hopeful that when the group looks back on the Thai chairmanship you will remember that we shared with you our homegrown approach to sustainable development in a globalised world and that is the sufficiency economy philosophy,” he said.
Thailand led the group during a difficult year for Thailand after King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on 13 October 2016.
Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, which will chair the Group in 2017, expressed Ecuador’s solidarity with Thailand over the death of His Majesty the King.
“We received from the King of Thailand the great responsibility of chairing the Group of 77 for this year,” said Correa.
“We particularly acknowledge the legacy of the King in the implementation of policies inspired by the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy,” said Correa.
Correa noted that Ecuador has a similar philosophy called “Living Well” “that we’ve inherited from our ancestral people and that has become a constitutional principle.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also addressed the meeting, as did representatives from the following groups: the Non-Aligned Movement, the Latin America and Caribbean Group, the Africa Group, the Asia-Pacific Group, Landlocked Developing Countries, Small Island States and Least Developed Countries.
China, which is not a member of the G77 but often joins G77 statements, also spoke as did, the state of Palestine.