Following in Argentina’s footsteps, Algeria was elected last September as the 42nd Presiding country of the G77 and China, the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries at the United Nations.
After cordially wishing a happy new year to his audience at the UN press conference this morning, Mourad Medelci, Algeria Minister for Foreign Affairs, dived right into Algeria’s priorities for 2012. “Our imperative this year is the sustainable restructuring of the global financial and monetary system,” Medelci told UN reporters. “The involvement and commitment of all countries, developed and developing alike, is the only way to overcome the global economic crisis.”
The Group of 77 (G77) and China was established in 1964 as a permanent platform for developing countries to advocate for their collective economic interests at the United Nations. Medelci insisted on the major role that the Group has to play within the UN system, as it comprises now 131 out of the 193 UN member countries, and 80 percent of the world’s population.
Apart from economic and financial recovery, three other priorities were identified by Algeria for this coming year: food security, the safeguard of the environment and sustainable development, as well as facilitated access to energy sources.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon insisted on the continuing leadership role that the G77 has to play ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio +20, to be held June 2012 in Brazil. The Conference will require concrete measures for safeguarding the environment, while simultaneously, “Promoting balanced and stable economic growth and ensuring social equity,” insisted the Secretary-General.
Historically, Algeria has a special status within the G77. Twice holding the Presidency, in 1982 and 1994, the nation also hosted the groundbreaking meeting where the cornerstone Charter of Algiers was adopted.
“Algeria has a very rich experience and a remarkable diplomacy, with a long and successful track record in promoting South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue,” Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the General Assembly, expressed during the ceremony. “I am convinced that, under the able leadership of Algeria, the Group will continue to effectively promote the UN’s development agenda and the views of developing countries.”
This special day was an opportunity for Medelci to insist on the significant improvements made by his country in the last decade. “Algeria is catching up with its historical delay,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister. “In ten years, we moved from a 30 percent to a 10 percent unemployment rate. Our GDP exceeds $150 billion and our external debt is of zero.”
As Algeria takes over leadership of the G77 and China, the world is undergoing profound crises. Not only does the global economic and financial system require profound restructuring, but weak social structures, alarming environmental threats, as well as the impending 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, require the effort of the whole international community.
Mourad Medelci holds up a gavel symbolizing Algeria’s succession to the chairmanship of the G77 and China. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe