General Debate


by H.E. Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.,

Secretary of Foreign Affairs


Mister Chair,


The Philippine commitment to the Group of 77’s ideals predates the founding of the Group itself.

Under negotiations of the U.N. Charter in 1945, General Carlos P. Romulo championed the enshrinement of the right to independence in the teeth of outraged opposition from colonial powers. That established the respectability of the liberation struggles that created the colorful mosaic of ex-victims of Western Imperialism. It was made part and parcel of – indeed integral to – the overriding aim and global scope of the United Nations, whose Charter preamble begins, “We, the peoples of the United Nations.”

Yes, “We the peoples,” not “We, the white colonial states,” and that, it bears repeated emphasis - the post-colonial states and the people their governments oppressed. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. We are the gander. As the General recounts, the famous war correspondent Pierre J. Huss said, “Thanks to him, the United Nations has ‘independence’ in its charter. One of the most important contributions to the evolution of humanity to dignity and freedom.”We stand proud of that.Not even fully independent then, we already knew that we were in San Francisco to be “the voice of the voiceless millions” – the peoples of what we now call the developing South, with which we have always had a historical affinity. We would be adopting the likes of Nehru and Sukarno, Lumumba and Mandela, among other giants of the common struggle, as our own.

Post colonization, we the global South realized that true independence requires not only imperative and uncompromising freedom from foreign masters but freedom too from their native substitutes – being beaten or shot by a native hand does not add a wit of dignity to the pain and death. It also means sovereign freedom from the danger of a returning colonialism, be it from the West or the East. It also means freedom from want. And so we formed the G77, to articulate and promote our collective interests, to make our voices heard; the struggle continues to this day, even against the fallen angels of our native nature.

The pandemic has worsened the vulnerabilities that plague us. Our recoveries depend on overcoming these and on making sure we are not re-colonized with pharmaceutical weapons against COVID but rather saved by them without humiliating conditions. In this respect, we are effused and encouraged by the non-political, purely humanitarian impulse behind the deployment of vaccines by the advanced states.

We are also engaged in another fight against the bigger challenge. From that challenge, no one is safe. Not rich or poor, not strong or weak country. This is the challenge of confronting climate change.

Hence, our call for “Transforming Multilateralism.” The Philippines is honored to be the group’s focal point on Transforming Multilateralism for the negotiations on the Bridgetown Covenant.

Our call for transformation is not about revising the current rules-based international order – although history and experience have shown that who makes the rules, rules. This is about correcting inequities and enhancing our participation in global governance. It is also about restoring UNCTAD to its rightful place as the widest and most inclusive forum for meaningful consensus-building and decision-making. We need to drown out the narrative that our group and UNCTAD have lost their relevance, swallowed up by the dark purposes to which we sometimes subscribe.

Our Group’s cohesion and solidarity anchor us deeply in our collective pursuits going forward:

First, we need to recall that our Group was founded as a platform by, of, and for developing countries. Our Group exists to improve our peoples’ lives, and promote this agenda independent of the strategic or political special agenda of big powers or of our own kind. For some of us do not make good neighbors. The G77 belongs to the members of the G77, and to no one else. It also belongs more meaningfully to the peoples of the G77.

Second, we need to be inclusive, and take into account the diversity of our Group’s membership. For the Philippines, inclusiveness means taking into account the interests of middle-income countries; never forgetting the most vulnerable and the marginalized sectors of our societies, especially women who are frequently are in most places maltreated, the youth who are enslaved for their labor, the elderly who are thrown away when their utility is exhausted, migrants who are strangers in a strange land and all the more entitled to our protection, and persons with disabilities to whom we owe the most sacred obligations of  human fraternity.

In closing, let me paraphrase my President, “We, the peoples of the global South will win or lose, but together.”

Thank you.