United Nations: Cuba has taken over from Pakistan the leadership of the G77, the group of 134 developing countries that work together on economic issues, while India was hosting a two-day virtual meeting of leaders of developing countries, The Voice of the South Summit.
India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to project itself as the leader of the developing world which can be a bridge to the developed countries as the chair of the G20, the more exclusive group of emerging and industrialised countries.
At least ten heads of state or government and about 120 ministers and other high-ranking officials participated in Modi’s summit.
Inaugurating it, he asserted, “Your voice is India’s voice and your priorities are India’s priorities.”
Cuba’s leadership of the G77, formally known as the “Group of 77 and China”, could limit its effectiveness because of Havana’s radical role in international politics.
Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez did not attend the ceremony and neither did Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and instead both sent pre-recorded messages.
Diaz-Canel set the tone for his country’s leadership saying the “deeply anti-democratic order” is designed to “sustain the wealth of a few at the cost of the impoverishment of the majority and maintain our peoples at an economic and social disadvantage, permanently condemned to underdevelopment, poverty and hunger”.
“We must come together today to build a tomorrow that we yearn for, to fight for the cause of those who are always excluded,” he said.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, who was at the ceremony and formally took over the chair, said that the developing countries should unite to find redress for the “financial plunder of the South”.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres painted a bleak picture of a world marred by the threat of recessions, the ravages of climate change, rising poverty and widening inequality as it grapples with the fallout of the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
“In many cases”, he said, “we can draw a straight line between the hardships suffered by your people and the continued failure of developed countries and global institutions to support developing countries on multiple fronts”.
“And in every case, these are challenges that could actually be solved by standing as one, in solidarity,” he said.
Calling on developing countries to do their part, he said, “In an interconnected global economy, when developing countries win all countries win.”
The main feature of India’s Voice of the South Summit, which distinguishes itself from the G77 – and India’s own strident stances of the past – are the simultaneous specialised breakout sessions for foreign, finance, health, education, commerce and, energy ministers to look for common solutions to problems.
“The need of the hour is to identify simple, scalable and sustainable solutions that can transform our societies and economies,” Modi said at its inauguration.
But he also harked back to the colonial struggle. “We supported each other in the fight against foreign rule and we can do it again in this century to create a new world order that will ensure the welfare of our citizens,” he said.
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