The Group 77: What Is Its Relevance Today?

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The Group of 77 (G-77) is a group of developing nations that represents the global South at the UN and acts as a strong voice for the whole region. It promotes the common interests and priorities of developing countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean that account for more than two-thirds of the UN members. Since its inception in 1964, it has been instrumental in establishing the global development agenda and advancing the needs of its member countries. It generally advocates for the issues and challenges associated with economic and social development that the member states face, and has had some notable successes in advancing the interests of developing nations. It has assisted in the formation of major global frameworks, targets, and agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The group’s campaigns have also produced initiatives including debt reduction plans, expanded access to healthcare and education, and the promotion of South-South cooperation. However, some have questioned the G-77’s continued relevance in a contemporary world characterized by shifting alliances, geopolitical transformation, and changing global priorities. The end of the Cold War and the accompanying changes in power relations have undeniably changed the world’s landscape. Additionally, the rise of new actors—such as developing economies and regional blocs—has made international relations more complex. Thus, in the contemporary landscape, questions arise about the relevancy of the coalition.

Understanding the G77–the Platform

The Group of 77 (G-77) is the largest intergovernmental organization in the UN system and the second largest in the world, only after the UN itself. Despite the G-77 now being composed of 134 nations, the original name was kept because of its historical significance. The “Joint Declaration of Seventy-Seven Countries” was signed at the UNCTAD summit on June 15, 1964, and that day it was established. Since then, over the past six decades, the coalition has established the institutional frameworks and structure that has helped to reshape the global South’s agenda in international forums and influence international development agendas. Its primary objective is to support each member country’s economic and social advancement while ensuring their fair participation in international trade and decision-making.

In addition, it also works to collectively boost the role and influence of developing countries on the global stage. As the UN was dominated by the global North, the group was created during the height of the cold war, when leaders of developing countries realized that political independence is meaningless without necessary reforms in the economic links between North and South. In order to address shared challenges and objectives, the group offers a platform for developing nations to interact, exchange ideas, and work together. It aspires to close the gap between the global North and South and amplify the voices of developing countries through collective action. Its capacity to promote harmony and cooperation among developing nations is one of its main strengths. It fosters South-South collaboration and promotes the principles of equality, justice, and self-determination by acknowledging and embracing their mutual experiences, challenges, and aspirations.

The group places a strong emphasis on the value of inclusive and sustainable development as essential elements of the global development agenda in tackling social injustice, inequality, and poverty. Thus, it has a presence worldwide at various UN centers in New York (UN headquarter), Geneva (WHO), Nairobi (UNEP), Paris (UNESCO), Rome (FAO), Vienna, and Washington D.C. (IMF,WB), and is actively involved in ongoing negotiations on a wide range of global issues including climate change, poverty eradication, migration, trade, and the law of the sea.

Advocating for the Developing World

The G77 has been crucial in amplifying the voices of developing nations, boosting South-South collaboration, and advancing fair and sustainable development. Few of its notable impacts and achievements are:

  • South-South Cooperation Initiatives: Through initiatives such as capacity-building programs, technical assistance, and trade agreements, the platform encourages South-South cooperation in order to strengthen cooperation and mutual support. For instance, the China-Africa collaboration Forum and the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum are two examples of how the G77’s efforts to promote South-South collaboration.
  • Climate Change Negotiation: It has been a key player in the global climate change negotiations, advocating for the interest of the developing countries. For example the G77’s efforts have contributed significantly in adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 where the collective voice has ensured that developing countries are recognized and supported in their efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas. Moreover, concepts like common but differentiated responsibilities in terms of climate conservation are also a product of G-77’s advocacy.
  • Adoption of SDG: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) was adopted mostly due to the G-77’s strong involvement in negotiations and lobbying campaigns. Thanks to the involvement of the group, the objectives have been made inclusive and accessible to the needs and interests of developing nations.
  • Trade Negotiation and Advocacy: The G-77 has been instrumental in advocating for the protection of special and differential treatment for developing countries in various trade agreements, including within the World Trade Organization (WTO). For example, the group’s advocacy for special quotas for agricultural products, that developing countries mostly produces, in different rounds of WTO negotiations.
  • Disaster and risk reduction resilience: The G-77’s engagement has contributed to the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a global roadmap for reducing disaster risk and enhancing resilience.
  • Healthcare and Universal Health Coverage: The G-77’s advocacy efforts have contributed to global initiatives such as the World Health Organization’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda. The group’s engagement has helped raise awareness and mobilize support for achieving equitable access to healthcare services for all.
  • Food Security and Agriculture: The Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which acts as a worldwide forum for policy talks on food security and nutrition, is one of the projects to which the G77 has contributed mostly. Due to the group’s involvement, international policies now give developing nations’ needs and issues with food security and sustainable agriculture first priority.
  • Covid-19 Response: the global programs like COVAX and GAVI- a vaccine alliance, which seeks to provide fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations, was made possible in part by the campaigning work of the G-77. The collective voice of the group has contributed to a greater understanding of the value of international solidarity and collaboration in combating the epidemic.

G-77 Today: Relevance in Contemporary World

The G-77 continues to maintain substantial influence and relevance and is still important in the modern world despite changes in global dynamics and politics. It continues to be an important negotiation tool in multilateral diplomacy when it comes to international economic and social concerns. It now stands as the second-largest coalition of mankind. Through international collaboration for development under the framework of the United Nations, it has significantly influenced emerging agendas and established global peace and justice. It supports inclusive growth and addresses global disparities. It guarantees that the concerns and priorities of emerging nations are given adequate consideration in international decision-making processes because they constitute the sizable majority of the world’s population. The elimination of poverty, sustainable development, combating climate change, trade justice, and equitable society are some of the primary causes it promotes. It acts as a unified voice for developing nations and attempts to promote more equitable global policies and solve the unique difficulties encountered by these countries. This has been the thrust of the joint expression of South-South solidarity since the Group’s creation, and its collective voice has spread to every institution and international organization representing the hopes and aspirations of the majority of humanity. It plays a vital role in building partnerships and alliances with other regional and international organizations.

For almost 60 years the G-77 has contributed to the formulation and adoption of numerous UN resolutions, programs, and plans of action, most of which address the core issues of development. Numerous international leaders, diplomats, lawmakers, academics, researchers, the media, and members of civil society have praised its contribution to the creation of a worldwide consensus on development-related issues. The group’s conception, objective, and effort have stood the test of time, and they are still relevant today thanks to their support for mass people’s demands from developing nations, advocacy for South-South cooperation, influence in international forums, partnership-building programs, capacity-building initiatives, and dedication to global solidarity. The fact that the membership has increased, from 77 in 1964 to 134 in 2023, is the clearest indication of its continued relevance.

By representing the diverse voices and interests of developing nations, the G-77 continues to influence global policies and foster partnerships that aim to create a better future for all. It has enormous potential to help create a world that is more just and sustainable by acting as a catalyst for cooperation, solidarity, and advancement. However, in the contemporary time, amidst the complex dynamics of modern interests when the global landscape is evolving rapidly; the G-77 must adapt and find innovative ways to address emerging challenges and seize new opportunities. It can continue to reshape the global agenda, have an impact on decision-making procedures, and help create a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable world by recognizing and harnessing the collective strength of its diverse membership.

– Wahid Uzzaman Sifat is a Research Intern at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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