The G77+China summit kicked off on Friday, September 15th in Havana, Cuba. The two-day summit saw leaders from nations across the Global South representing 80% of the world’s population in attendance including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and 30 heads of state and government from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
At the summit, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel asserted that the Global South needs to “change the rules of the game” in the international arena, following decades of prioritization by wealthy Western countries focused on their own benefits.
Diaz-Canel said, “After all this time that the North has organized the world according to its interests, it is now up to the South to change the rules of the game.”
The summit comes at a time of heightened dissatisfaction with the dominant Western-led global order, magnified by differing perspectives on issues ranging from the Russian-Ukraine war to climate change directives.
Diaz-Canel expressed that developing nations bear the brunt of a “multidimensional crisis” currently impacting the globe, ranging from “abusive unequal trade” to severe climate change consequences.
He urged the group to explore methods to counteract unilateral sanctions directed at some of its members, such as those imposed on his island country by the U.S.
The communist-governed island continues to face U.S. sanctions initially set in 1962.
U.N. Chief’s Call for a Fairer Future for Developing Countries
At the summit, U.N. Secretary-General Guterres accentuated the imperative for a world system that genuinely resonates with the aspirations and necessities of developing economies.
Guterres noted that while member countries of the G77 have made significant progress, elevating millions from poverty, they are still grappling with formidable challenges like persistent hunger, rampant inflation, increasing debt, and the mounting threats posed by climate disasters.
In a poignant remark, he mentioned, “The world is failing developing countries.” He emphasized that the world should “create a fairer future for developing countries.”
Historical Roots and Current Presence of the G77+China Group
The group was founded in 1964 by 77 nations from the Global South “to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity,” as stated on the group’s website. Currently, it boasts 134 members.
Several global leaders were present at the summit, including Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Angolan President Joao Lourenco, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, and China’s top Communist Party official, Li Xi, also marked their presence at this event.
Leaders Address Global Cooperation, Technological Advancement
Xi affirmed China’s unwavering commitment to prioritizing “South-South cooperation” in its external engagements.
He stated that his country is steadfast in its commitment to fostering technological advancements to bridge the digital gap.
Fernandez mentioned that the coronavirus pandemic highlighted a significant shift, revealing the disparities in nations’ vaccine accessibility, and he pointed out that ten countries held 90 percent of the vaccines.
During her speech, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley strongly disapproved of the U.S. blockade on Cuba, terming it “callous and brutal.” She praised Cuba as a shining example for developing countries in scientific and technological innovation, stating, “With little, you have done much.”
Mottley further emphasized that there should be checks and balances while embracing science and technology. She stressed the importance of accountability and transparency to ensure the preservation of democratic values.
Unfair & Unjust International Order
Earlier, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez informed reporters that the conclusion of the summit on Saturday saw the signing of a statement emphasizing “the right to development in an increasingly exclusive, unfair, unjust and plundering international order.”
Rodriguez mentioned the final statement highlighted the numerous challenges confronting developing countries and advocates for the creation of a “new economic world order.”
In recent months, Guterres participated in several multilateral summits, including the G20 assembly of major economies held in India and the BRICS meeting, which counts Russia as a member.
Before the Havana conference, Guterres remarked on the increasing number of summits as an indication of the rising multipolarity in our global landscape.
He cautioned, “multipolarity could be a factor for escalating geostrategic tensions, with tragic consequences.”
Diaz-Canel has also been active on the global stage, hosting this year’s G77+China Summit, as well as appearing at the global financial summit in Paris in June and a meeting with Latin American and Caribbean states under the EU umbrella in July.