Annan urges Group of 77 to ensure necessary attention to development not diverted

25 January 2005

In a year in which the agenda for security and socio-economic development should both be able to make decisive progress, the members of the Group of 77 developing countries must make sure to maintain the desired focus on development, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

The Group, which started with 77 members in 1964 and now has 132, needed "not only to remind donor countries of the commitments they have made to increase their official development assistance (ODA), but also to promote urgent consideration of new ideas on how to raise resources for development," he said.

Mr. Annan identified, in particular, the UK-proposed International Finance Facility, designed to expand aid to help developing countries meet the combined Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving extreme poverty by 2015, and Brazil's initiative on Hunger and Poverty, now co-sponsored by France, Chile and Spain.

"This year can be decisive because if we don't take the right steps now all hope of reaching the goals by 2015 will soon vanish," he said.

Mr. Annan was addressing the Group as it handed over its chairmanship to Jamaica from Qatar. He congratulated Qatar in its "wise leadership" in 2004 and wished Jamaica "skill, energy and luck" for 2005.

The Millennium Project Report, launched last week under the title "Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals" showed that, with the needed political will on all sides, the targets could be achieved, he said.

In September a United Nations summit would consider the progress made in meeting the 2000 Millennium Declaration, of which the development goals form a part, and the meeting would also need to prepare to meet new threats and challenges in the realm of peace and security, he said.

"For the truth is that prosperity and security are interdependent – a point made strongly in the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, published last month," Mr. Annan said.

The September summit offered a historic opportunity to make progress in both directions and, Mr. Annan said, he would propose an agenda in his own report in March on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.

"We are at a defining moment in the history of the United Nations. We must seize the occasion to strengthen multilateralism and to take decisive steps towards the vision of a world free from fear and want, [as] articulated in the Millennium Declaration," Mr. Annan said.