COVID-19 reveals bottlenecks faced by developing countries
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President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali
President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

— President Ali: G77 and China committed to coordinated, comprehensive multilateral response

By Navendra Seoraj
THE novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has undermined many of the development gains of past decades and has revealed the development bottlenecks faced by developing countries around the world, said President Dr Irfaan Ali.

The President was delivering his inaugural address to the United Nations (UN) on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on Monday.
Globally, more than 31 million persons have been infected and over 962,000 persons have lost their lives to the dreaded disease. But the health implications are only one aspect of the pandemic as there have been economic and social adversities caused by the necessary proliferation of measures to curb the spread of the disease.
“This pandemic has brought to the forefront the development bottlenecks faced by developing countries ranging from insufficient financing; inadequate market access for goods and services; the expanding digital divide;  restrictions in accessing needed pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and reductions in revenue from tourism and exports, among others,” said President Ali.

The President affirmed that the group values and welcomes the support provided by the United Nations’ system in response to the pandemic and in the efforts to pursue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We must seek to strengthen solidarity to address the pandemic, commit to take forward the 2030 ‘Agenda’ and intensify our global partnerships. We also reaffirm that the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries is an impediment to economic and social development and to dialogue and understanding among countries.

“We must do everything we can to fulfil our obligations to the peoples of this world in this Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development. All of our actions must, at all times, ensure democratic rule and adherence to the constitution and the rule of law,” said President Ali.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted five years ago and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a blueprint and compass to address these challenges.

The 2030 ‘Agenda’ as outlined by President Ali, reflects the major poverty-environmental challenges facing the world’s population: depleted natural capital; climate vulnerability; gender inequality; rural-urban migration and growing resource demands – all of which disproportionately harm the livelihoods and well-being of the poor.
He believes that these and other realities should motivate leaders to take greater action on behalf of all the peoples of this planet.
The UN is a platform where every member state has an equal stake in the decision-making process influencing the direction that the organisation takes on a variety of issues. It is a platform where every member has a seat at the table and a voice in the search for solutions to the many problems, including those presented or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Group of 77 and China called for more resources and action to be mobilised in a timely manner to accelerate implementation of the 2030 ‘Agenda.’
“We are committed to taking the actions needed for coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response to the development challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including initiatives on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and beyond, aimed at producing a menu of policy options necessary to resolve the crisis and to ensure resilience,” said President Ali.

The President further said: “We must send a strong and positive signal to the peoples of the world of our commitment to multilateralism and our resolve to strive for peace, justice and development. Our fragile planet must be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.”

President Ali reminded world leaders that as they reflect on the state of the world, 75 years after the bold step to establish the United Nations, they must note that millions of the world’s people are still living in poverty. Eradicating this scourge remains the greatest global challenge and the first priority for the G77 and China.
He reminded members that poverty entails more than a lack of income or productive resources for sustainable livelihoods. It affects many aspects of life and it impedes the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are at an important juncture of our organisation’s existence and it is appropriate for us to reflect on the distance we have travelled and the common aspirations that keep us together. Moreover, it is imperative that we recommit to those ideals to ensure that the dignity and worth of every person is respected, and to foster the attainment of social progress and better standards of living for all,” said the President.

In his national capacity, President Ali said the government and people of Guyana salute the UN on the observance of its 75th anniversary.
Founded in the aftermath of two devastating world wars, the UN was dedicated to the simple but profound conception that by working in concert, the nations of the world can avoid the worst expressions of inhumanity and promote a progressively more peaceful, equal and prosperous world.
“Today, Guyana is satisfied that the existence of the United Nations has been a distinctive and unrivalled force for good in our world. Its peacekeepers have stood in harm’s way to shield the most vulnerable.

“It has inspired agendas for development that have transformed the lives and livelihoods of countless people around the world. Its embrace of values and rights of every human being has conferred dignity on the distressed and downtrodden,” said President Ali.

The UN’s promotion of respect for international law has been a compelling disincentive to unnecessary and unmitigated conflict that has nurtured the peaceful coexistence of states, including through respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.

To this end, President Ali commended the UN for the impact it has made over its 75 years of existence.
“We look forward to the UN continuing to address the challenges and needs of our time in order to live up to its own lofty ideals and promise. Global challenges of our day such as climate change and the impacts of COVID-19 must be successfully countered,” he said.

President Ali advised member states to take urgent action to equip the global body to implement its many decisions and resolutions.

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