The upcoming summit of the G77 group plus China in Havana: A draft declaration goes around the world

G-77 + China Summit in Havana, Sept. 15-16.

As part of the preparations for the Summit of the G77 Group plus China, to be held in Havana from August 15 to 16 this September, a draft declaration has been under discussion for months, to be approved by the heads of delegations attending the forum, and which would constitute the main political message to be projected by that conclave towards the future. Almost two weeks before the meeting, the text was disclosed, which already has the consensus of the representations of the member countries at the United Nations in New York, and which will be known as the declaration on “Current Development Challenges: The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation”.

For many, this could be just another document, another exercise in multilateral diplomacy that has nothing to do with the day-to-day lives of the people who pay tribute to an event that could be a tournament of speeches and memorable photo opportunities. But the reality, as always, is much more complex.

Before referring to some of the ideas contained in the document, it is worth mentioning that it is the synthesis of an extensive negotiation process in which 134 nations, that is, 134 governments and their 134 chancelleries, have summarized those ideas on which they have a consensus.

If we have any doubts about the significance of this achievement, let’s do the exercise of calling together only 3 or 4 friends to write at least one page on any topic of common interest, be it sports, cultural or religious. Immediately differences will arise that cannot be resolved by voting, whereby the majority simply defeats the minority, and the latter does not feel part of the final draft. It is much more complicated when the exercise is carried out by official representatives of States that have their own history, culture, principles, legacy and also political differences within their social fabric.

So let’s return to the point that the announced consensus has been reached among 134 nations, representing 80% of the world’s population.

This fact in itself would indicate the leadership capacity shown by Cuban diplomacy, on behalf of its people and authorities. It also represents a significant vote of confidence from small, medium and large countries that have bet on Cuba’s professionalism, honesty and transparency to lead this exercise.

This consensus also points in the direction of the urgency felt by all to address these issues, because we will act expeditiously in the face of some of them, or there will no longer be time to recover.

Other elements to be taken into account in this analysis are the circumstances in which this result has been achieved and its content. With regard to the former, it must be said that we are living in a circumstance of great uncertainty, in which Humanity is going through a period of transition towards a new international order. This transition has already taken place on several occasions throughout history, but it has always been preceded by a war of major proportions, which on two occasions, both during the twentieth century, has been on a global scale. This fact implies that a good part of those summoned to the Summit would be taking a new look at their environment, their alliances and their external projections.

The content of the announced consensus also deserves to be highlighted and analyzed separately. In this type of document, it is perhaps just as important to record those issues that are expressly mentioned as those that are not stated.

Of the former, one of the most important is the definition made by the G77 plus China of the priority issues of the moment, a sort of collective snapshot of current affairs.

The shutter of this fictitious camera has been fired in the face of an international economic order that is “unfair to developing countries”, which have not yet recovered from the shock of COVID19 , have not been able to overcome all its ravages and fear the occurrence of a similar pandemic in the future, without having healed the wounds of the first one. But the Group believes that all this is exacerbated by:

– geopolitical tensions

– unilateral coercive measures

– economic and financial crises

– the fragility of the global economic outlook

– the increasing pressure on food and energy

– displacement of people

– market volatility

– inflation

– monetary tightening

– growing external debt burden

– increasing extreme poverty

– increasing inequalities within and between countries

– the adverse effects of climate change

– loss of biodiversity

– desertification, sand and dust storms and environmental degradation

– digital divides

These phenomena gravitate on the so-called Global South without a clear roadmap to deal with them in a coherent and effective manner.

Certainly, the North could show some interest in this list, since these are common problems suffered by communities and areas within their own geographies, which are far removed from the standard of living of higher-income segments and far from the opulence of large cities and capital cities.

In the analysis, it is also worth mentioning some of the issues that are not listed in the text in question, but which are at the center of the “concerns” expressed by the associations of the political North, particularly NATO, and which its social communication machinery tries to persuade everyone that they are the most urgent issues.

In the consensus draft that has been disclosed there are no references to: Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine, the technological aggressiveness of the Asian tigers (not only China), the political changes taking place in Africa and removing pro-European rulers from power, the decrease in the relative weight of the dollar in international transactions, the increase of progressive and socialist proposals in Latin America.

The draft declaration to be reviewed in Havana does not mention the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution by name either, beyond the increase of the so-called digital divide, but there is a significant reference to “ensuring ethical, reliable and more equitable development, access and use of artificial intelligence”. There is not even a similar approach in this regard in collective documents of the G-7, or the European Union. On the contrary, the interests of the large transnationals that venture into such developments are protected.

There is another fundamental element in this proposal and it has to do with the way in which these 134 nations intend to advance their actions. The nine pages of common points are full of references to “acting together”, “global solidarity”, “international cooperation”, “benefit for all”, “community of shared future”, in addition to calls for “sustainable livelihoods” and “open science/knowledge at all levels”, “inclusive information society”.

There is no single idea that implies the preponderance of one of the members of the group over the rest, there is no hegemon, there is no single country that is considered as the paradigm, or the example to be imitated by the others.

As a novelty we should also mention the collective understanding, perhaps as never before, that Science, Technology and Innovation have a role to play for the development of all those who have been left behind, which is why new meetings and collective exercises are proposed to achieve such purposes. In other words, it is understood that not everything can be expressed at once, so it is intended to take subsequent steps in that direction.

Among the issues not mentioned in the document, and which should be the focus of attention in future meetings, should be the training of human resources in universities and research centers within the group itself. Those that do not exist today will have to be created. At least in the field of the social sciences, it is a contradiction to think that the magnitude of the changes that must take place can be led by leaders who are trained, and incidentally molded, in the educational institutions of those countries of the North that have been the protagonists of dispossession, marginalization and exclusion against the rest of humanity. There will always be exceptions, but there is also a need for doctors, engineers, experts, researchers, entrepreneurs, who put collective fulfillment ahead of individual fulfillment, who have the benefit of their communities above personal goals in their horizons. Buildings will have to be constructed on new pillars.

As is well known, the G77, unlike the Aligned Movement, rotates its presidency, but does not convene summit meetings on a cyclical basis. Therefore, each G77 summit is historic in itself and this one will be even more so because of the juncture in which it takes place.

Every Cuban should ask himself what is the significance of the fact that 133 other nations have now trusted our quality as hosts, in spite of the enormous material limitations the country suffers from. The choice of Cuba to temporarily coordinate this collective is not only a sign of the failure of the U.S. policy of isolation against our country. It is much more. It is a shout to 133 voices saying that Cuba is a respected country within the international community, which is recognized for its leadership and weight. Havana has hosted two summits of the Non-Aligned Movement (1979, 2006), ministerial meetings associated with the previous ones and a South Summit (2000, also of the G77), although it did not hold the pro tempore presidency at that time. It is worth adding to this list the multiplicity of events of CELAC, CARICOM, ACS, ALBA-TCP and many other regional bodies.

In the middle of the 1960s, when more than 100 bands of the so-called “alzados” were operating in Cuba, financed and organized from U.S. territory, causing 600 victims among the civilian population, when we were just beginning to suffer the effects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, Havana was again and again the meeting point for the political forces that finally convened the first Tricontinental Conference, which in January 1966 created the Organization of Solidarity for Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL). It is considered that this moment meant an extension of the Non-Aligned Movement to the latter region.

In Havana, once again, we convene and welcome, we discuss and agree, we offer and receive solidarity, we listen and propose on an equal footing, we respect and defend sovereignty. Only in this way will we be able to dream and build a better future.

José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez is Director of the International Policy Research Center (CIPI) in Havana, Cuba and former Cuban Ambassador to the U.S.

to follow the G-77 + China live go to:

Canales de YouTube G77:

✅ @CubaG77_Español

✅ @CubaG77_English

Translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English

Join the Struggle-La Lucha Telegram channel