South Summit Concludes in Havana
People's Daily, China reports (4/15/00):

The first South Summit concluded on April 14 (local time)in Havana with Third World leaders vowing to unite as one in fighting poverty, demanding debt relief and a greater say in world political and economic affairs, and joining developed countries in technical revolution.

Chairman of the Group of 77 (G-77), Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, formally declared the conclusion of the summit, which opened on Wednesday following two days of preparatory meetings attended by senior officials and foreign ministers of G-77 members.

The South Summit, the largest gathering of heads of state and government of the G-77, adopted two final documents + the Final declaration and the Program of Action + before the closing of the three-day historic event.

Some 60 heads of state and government and delegations from 122 G-77 countries all have one objective: to strengthen South-South cooperation for common development in developing countries in face of globalization.

They discussed the broad themes of globalization, knowledge and technology, South-South cooperation and North-South relations.

Speaking at the closing session at the Havana International Conference Center, Cuban President Fidel Castro said the participating representatives, after several days of extensive discussions, reached consensus on the necessity to reform the existing international economic and financial regime. He said he was grateful to the representatives for the consensus.

Obasanjo said: "We are time-limited and time-conscious to the drive to carry out the Program of Action."

"From now, we are about to shift the system to be more just, fair, equitable and mutual beneficial to our collective interests, " he said.

The Summit was held at the turn of century when many developing countries are being marginalized in the tide of globalization, which is characterized by rapid expansion of trade, investment, capital flows and advancements in information technology.

"Globalization has increased the vulnerability of those countries of the South, which are in the process of being integrated into the world economy," said the Program of Action.

Therefore, the summit demands the establishment of a just and fair new international political and economic order, and a greater say of developing countries in multilateral lending institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, as well as in the United Nations.

Poverty reduction is high on the agenda of the summit.

"Our peoples have run out of patience," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told a meeting of G-77 foreign ministers on Tuesday. "For decades they have suffered broken promises and are today living in an economic and social situation that is increasingly serious and unsustainable."

Belize's Prime Minister Said Musa said: "Nothing we say or do will have any true meaning for our people unless we can significantly and quickly reduce the shameful number of those who live in poverty, even as more people than ever become millionaires. "

"One day, humankind will be called to account: How come you never made no connection between growing poverty for the many and booming wealth for a few?" he said.

Among the leaders joining Said are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, South African President Thabo Mbeki who is chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, Vietnamese President Tran Duc Long, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing, who headed a Chinese government delegation, describing the summit as "a grand, pioneering meeting."

"In the interests of safeguarding world peace and promoting development, let us look back over the past and forward into the future and work together in a cooperative spirit to map out a strategy for common development in the new century."

"The new century will present us both hope and difficulties," he said. "We people of developing countries have never been in want of the courage to surmount difficulties or an undaunted enterprising spirit."

"We are convinced that as long as developing countries unite as one and make tireless efforts, there will firmly stand a peaceful, stable and prosperous South."

G-77, set up by 77 developing countries in Geneva in 1964, saw its membership growing to 133 countries, but the original name was retained because of its historic significance.

As the largest Third World coalition in the United Nations and the largest grouping in the South, G-77 provides the means for the developing world to articulate and promote its collective economic interests and enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues in the United Nations system, and promote economic and technical cooperation among developing countries.