G77/China calls for reaffirmation of Accra Accord

During the run-up to UNCTAD XIII, in resisting the moves by the North to weaken UNCTAD, the G77 and China charged the industrialised countries with desiring to see the 'dawn of a new neo-colonialism'.

THE Group of 77 and China has called for a reaffirmation of the UNCTAD XII Accra Accord, saying that the Group had exercised utmost flexibility and had made incredible compromises but that it would not resile on the Accra Accord being reaffirmed.

The Group made clear that despite the tactics of the industrialised-country group, UNCTAD XIII would end with an outcome document (implying that if needed, the group would take it to a vote if no consensus was possible).

The call came in a statement delivered on 13 April by the G77 and China Chair, Ambassador Pisanu Chanvitan of Thailand, to the Preparatory Committee of UNCTAD XIII which was negotiating the draft outcome document for the Doha conference.

Amongst others, the G77 and China statement highlighted the impasse in the negotiations due to the positions of developed countries which, in essence, were seeking to weaken UNCTAD.

The statement stressed the G77 and China's willingness and flexibility in order to achieve a consensual outcome document for UNCTAD XIII, and sought the reaffirmation of the Accra Accord and then building upon it through the 'distilled' text produced by the President of the Preparatory Committee.

In its statement, the G77 and China said: 'While we have always held firmly to our principles, the Group of 77 and China has tried to be as flexible as possible on how we have articulated them in our various negotiations in UNCTAD. Throughout our preparations for the Conference, we have felt that perhaps our constructiveness was viewed as weakness, and our accommodation viewed as capitulation.'

As a result, said Ambassador Chanvitan, 'some of our partners regressed to behaviour perhaps more appropriate for the founding days of UNCTAD, when countries of the North felt they could dictate and marginalise developing countries from informed decision-making. I have to be blunt and single out the handling of the JIU [Joint Inspection Unit] issue by one coordinator as reminiscent of the darkest days of the North-South divide.'

'It is therefore of no comfort that we have seen strong opposition from our partners for one of the central themes running through the work and engagement of our Group: that the global economic and financial crisis marks once and for all the end of the bad old days, and perhaps the dawn of an international regime of global economic governance based on the highest principles and ideals of the United Nations, including sovereignty, equality, and mutual respect. Instead, we see behaviour that seems to indicate a desire for the dawn of a new neo-colonialism. We cannot, we will not, accept this,' said the G77 and China statement.

The Group said it firmly believes that UNCTAD XIII can be a contribution to a new beginning. 'We firmly believe that the theme of development-centred globalisation presents an opportunity to articulate a vision of development based on equality, based on a differentiated approach to development, and based on equal respect for all. We still believe this is possible.'

Unfortunately, the Group stressed, 'despite being the beneficiaries and the demandeurs, we feel increasingly marginalised by our partners especially when they seem to deny us our own priorities. Perhaps this is partly our own fault. Perhaps, in our desire for consensus, we have accommodated too much and this good faith was misunderstood, and abused. Perhaps this should end now.'

'Allow me to close by making one thing clear. Our development partners may have mistakenly thought that the question that confronts us today is whether or not we will have an outcome document. Mr President, let me assure our partners that there WILL be an outcome document. The question is whether our partners will be able to recapture the positive spirit with which we embarked on this endeavour, and hence lead us to the consensus document we all want,' said Ambassador Chanvitan.

The Group expressed hope that 'our partners will resume engaging in a positive spirit and the outcome will be a good consensus we can all be proud of. On the other hand, let us also be comforted by the reality that at least one group will have an outcome document it will be happy with.'

'The Accra Accord must be reaffirmed and then we build upon it. The Group has exercised utmost flexibility and has made incredible compromises - sacrificing issues which are very important to the growth and development of us developing countries. And at this juncture, the minimum the Group can live with is the distilled text by the President and his Friends of the Chair,' the G77 and China concluded.                                                      

Kanaga Raja is the Editor of the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS), from which this article is reproduced (SUNS No. 7351, 17 April 2012).

*Third World Resurgence No. 260, April 2012, p 22