While foreign minister S Jaishankar could not travel to Havana because of the special parliamentary session beginning Monday, India was represented by Sanjay Verma, secretary (west), ministry of external affairs, who used the occasion to highlight India’s G20 initiative to mainstream Global South issues.
With as many as 134 members, including India, the G77 is the largest inter-governmental group of developing nations that focuses on inequality, sustainable development and poverty eradication. It’s called G77 Plus China because while China works closely with the group, it does not officially consider itself a full member. Beijing was represented by senior Communist Party official Li Xi at the summit that was attended by about 30 heads of state and government from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“G77 should focus on its core mandate and not get distracted by bilateral political conflicts,” said Verma, who also suggested that the group change its name to reflect its numerical strength and empirical weight at the UN. G77 had 77 members when it was founded in 1964. According to reports from Cuba, the summit witnessed calls for “changing the rules of the game” to herald a new global order.
In his remarks at the event, which sought to address developmental challenges through effective deployment of science, technology and innovation, Verma said that the G20 summit in India had shown that when there is a political will, reforming multilateralism is possible.
“Further, we take great pride in our Presidency, as Africa – represented by the African Union – for the very first time now, deservedly sits at the high table of a global body, like the G20. By delivering on his promise to Africa, Prime Minister Modi has confirmed the representation of the developing world, including from the G77, is now at its highest in the G20,” said Verma.
At the summit, India also proposed that the G77 come together to speak in one voice at the UN on economic and developmental challenges, without getting distracted by bilateral issues, and also reinforce the unity and solidarity of the Group.
“Consensus has been our guiding principle and must be honoured. Our working methods and procedures must be credible, open, consultative and transparent, and codified to avoid ambiguities,” said Verma.