Egypt is retaining its leading role in the international community. The effectiveness of this role is demonstrated through the country’s contribution to forging multi-party relations and its non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council. Egypt is also a signatory to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Building on these successes, Egypt’s chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China at the UN is another achievement of Egyptian diplomacy. On 12 January, Egypt took over the chairmanship of the G77 and China (G77/China) from Ecuador during a handover ceremony at UN headquarters in New York. This indicates the confidence of member countries in Egypt’s capability to lead the group, which Egypt also chaired in 1972-1973 and 1984-1985.
The group was founded by the Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries in 1964 at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD’s) first major North-South conference on development questions. The G77/China thus represents the developing countries within the United Nations system, and its membership has grown to 134 plus China as a participant non-member.
It aims to promote the rights of developing countries to sustainable economic development and a fair multilateral trading system through enhancing their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues and fostering South-South cooperation. Over the years, the G77/China has played a major role in supporting multilateralism and sustainable development.
Egypt is one of the main actors in the Middle East region, and as such it will lead the negotiations of the G77/China in the coming years through fostering the solidarity of the developing countries and integrating economic, social and environmental development. In addition, Egypt has taken steps towards promoting the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. In spite of various economic and political challenges, Egypt has proven its capability to cope with obstacles. It has taken a leading role in settling disputes in the Arab and African regions through mediation and preventive diplomacy.
Egypt and China are two major powers in the group. China is now the second-largest economy in the world and one of the major powers in promoting multilateralism, its diplomacy being based on mediation and reconciliation of conflicts and disputes. In addition to its non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council, Egypt’s membership of the African Union (AU) Security and Peace Council makes it a focal point between the UN and the AU.
Egypt shares a vision of using peaceful means for dispute settlement, promoting multilateralism and supporting the developing countries in attaining sustainable economic development as well as eradicating poverty. Ties between Egypt and China are consolidating economically, politically and socially in alignment with the UN Agenda 2030. Egypt’s presidency of the G77/China will deepen the stance of the developing countries on issues related to climate change mitigation, international trade negotiations, maintaining the security of food, energy and water, alleviating poverty, building the capabilities of youth and sustaining economic development.
In the light of an international economic order that emphasises the multilateral trade system and the multilateralism of the international order, there is a vital necessity to maintain and boost the unity of the developing countries in the years ahead in order to adopt better policies in the international economic field and deepen South-South cooperation, thereby constructing mutually beneficent relationships with the rest of the world. Strengthening such cooperation at all levels is crucial to achieving comprehensive peace and sustainable economic development.
*This article was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly