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Past year a challenging one for 'Group of 77' developing countries, Annan says

Past year a challenging one for 'Group of 77' developing countries, Annan says

The past year has been a challenging one for developing States, with the world economy recovering very slowly and the return of growth rates to levels achieved prior to the Asian crisis likely only in 2005, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a meeting of ministers from the Group of 77 countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

"Quite apart from the ruinous effects on individual men, women and children in the countries concerned, these economic doldrums have had global consequences - driving home yet again the message that no nation can consider itself immune from, or insured against, the effects of events and trends taking place thousands of miles away," the Secretary-General said in his remarks to the 133-nation coalition of developing countries.

The Secretary-General underscored the achievements of major economic meetings of the past year - from the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, to the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey, Mexico, and the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa - to address the challenges of development in an interdependent world.

"The conferences of the past year, their antecedents over the past decade, and the Millennium Development Goals have mobilized all stakeholders and partners around a common vision of economic and social progress," Mr. Annan said. "They have also created a common policy framework that now guides the entire United Nations system."

Progress towards implementing the goals of the Millennium Declaration, however, presented a mixed picture, the Secretary-General noted, calling achievements so far toward reducing child and maternal mortality "inadequate."

Mr. Annan told the ministers that he will submit to the Member States next week an agenda to further strengthen the UN, and called on countries to support those measures, many of which are directed towards the economic and social areas of greatest concern to the Group of 77.

"We must focus our energies not on activities that are of marginal utility or programmes that are no longer serving their intended purposes, but on the major challenges of our era and the things that really matter to the peoples of the world," he stressed.