24 October 2001

Introductory remarks by
Ambassaador Bagher Asadi Chairman of the Group of 77
(Islamic Republic of Iran)
at Press Conference at the United Nations Headquarters
New York, 24 October 2001

In the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful

Good Morning,

Today, I have three issues in mind for this press briefing. First of which concerns the upcoming seventh session of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP-7, as it is easier to refer to, will start next Monday, October 29th, in the City of Marrakesh, in Morocco. I am sure everybody remembers fully well the big news back in the Spring and early Summer on the fate of the presumed dead Kyoto Protocol. Well, in late July, in Bonn, Germany, resumed COP-6 of the Climate Change Convention took place and it was a total success.

In the Bonn meeting, an overall political agreement was reached which would make the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol by the year 2002 possible. Once that agreement was reached, negotiations started on various issues for the implementation of the Protocol’s provisions. The next immediate step was to translate the political agreement into solid legal language. Part of the job was done in Bonn, to be completed in Marrakesh.

So, we are going to Marrakesh to do just that. As everybody might guess, some of the issues yet to be agreed upon and finalized may prove to be quite tough and subject to intense negotiations. What is important, though, is for all of us, both developing and developed, to remain faithful to the honourable deal reached in Bonn and preserve the political integrity of the agreement. This is what the developing world, the Group of 77, will be taking to Marrakesh. And we expect all our negotiating partners – EU, the Umbrella Group and others – to do likewise. The international community needs to complete this process in time for the Protocol to go into force by the time the Johannesburg Summit meets in September 2002.

For the second issue I turn to trade and the fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 9-13 November 2001. It should be a relief to everybody that the meeting will take place, as scheduled, in Doha. Recently, as all of you had heard, there were rumours on the possibility of a change of venue. Last Friday, I issued a statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, supporting the State of Qatar for holding the Conference in Doha and I am very happy that the matter is finally resolved.

Trade, as everybody knows, is very important for all countries and economies, and particularly for the developing countries. It is considered the single most important source of foreign exchange for our economies. And that is exactly why we have made a lot of preparations for the Doha meeting. Just two days ago in Geneva, where trade issues are dealt with and where WTO is situated, the Declaration of the Group of 77 and China was adopted. It was formally presented to the President of the WTO General Council yesterday morning. The Declaration contains the political outlook of the developing world – 133 developing states – on WTO and its work; it clearly lays out our positions on various trade and trade-related issues before the Doha Conference. The Declaration spells out the demands and expectations of the collectivity of the developing world. We believe that success of the WTO Ministerial Conference will depend, in the final analysis, on how the legitimate concerns and interests of the developing world are addressed and taken on board. We are, of course, cognizant of the fact that we all live in a highly interdependent world and genuine give and take between the developed and the developing is the name of the game. But, the fourth Ministerial Meeting of WTO should be able to make up for the past shortcomings and imbalances in previous trade rounds.

The International Conference on Financing for Development, scheduled to take place in mid-March 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico, is the last issue I turn to. Last week, we had the third meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Monterrey Conference. In fact, it was the first opportunity for the stakeholders in the process to start serious negotiation on the draft outcome of the International Conference. It was a good beginning and fully reflective of the state of the play and the complications involved in the process. All the stakeholders in the process; representatives of governments, private sector, civil society, UN agencies and Bretton Woods Instittions (BWIs), had the chance to express and present their views on the Facilitator’s paper. Next step would be for the Facilitator to prepare a new text, in light of all the input brought to the table last week, and present it for consideration and negotiation in the fourth meeting of the PrepCom in January 2002.

Let me conclude with a brief word on the significance of the Monterrey Conference. The Financing for Development process is becoming reality after more than two decades of active pursual by the developing world. Its substantive agenda includes all the subjects related to the question of development financing. Given the historical significance of this Conference, the fact that globalization has failed the poor and also the great expectations in the bigger part of the international community, the whole international community should undertake to ensure its success. Let me be very frank about it. In our view, taking everything into account, including recent and on-going events at the international level, the future of multilateralism will depend, to a large measure, on the success or failure of this Conference. The world has changed much and needs a fresh look at the whole set of institutional arrangements in this area. And obviously, the onus is on the developed world. They – all of them, on both sides of the Atlantic – should come to the table with a positive attitude and be well-prepared and disposed to negotiate in good faith.

These were the issues I wanted to raise with you. Now we can proceed with the questions.

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