(Philippine statement delivered by Ambassador Teddy Locsin Jr. on January 12, 2018 during the Handover Ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York.)
The Philippines congratulates the Arab Republic of Egypt for its assumption of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 for 2018, and the Republic of Ecuador for its strong leadership over the past year.
The Group of 77 was founded on the recognition of common interests— mostly to do with international trade and development— which no country alone or in small numbers can protect let alone advance. Hence the concern to increase its membership, for while one rod is easy to snap; two, three or more are progressively harder to break. This recognition has given birth to an apparently perdurable unity, which has withstood the test and trials of turbulent times. Its vitality has if anything increased; it’s solidarity remains as tight as ever; and each challenge confronted and overcome has so far tempered the steel of the common resolve: to stand together because it is better than to stand apart, as the President of the General Assembly said this morning; and that we must hang together because the alternative is to hang separately—so that eventually everyone will hang.
But with ever greater numbers which bring ever greater strength, comes the ever greater risk of dissent and disintegration. We must be mindful of that.
As we face new challenges, and proceed with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the teeth of fast moving and unpredictable developments, it is vital that the Group carefully identify what issues it will take up but which must be of prime and primordial importance to the basic principles of the Group as a whole. In that way the unity and complementarity, the mutual support and cooperation of the Group are not wasted on ephemeral or narrow issues which merely sap that strength-in-unity essential to the achievement of the collective purpose. Unity is not an inexhaustible resource.
We express our full confidence in the leadership of Egypt and our enduring commitment to the goals and principles of the Group.
In closing, let me express my country’s thanks to the Permanent Representative of Egypt, Abdellatif Aboulatta who delivered the message of His Excellency Mr. Sameh Hassan Shokry Selim, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt; and Her Excellency, Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador; as well as to His Excellencies, Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and Miroslaw Lajcak, President of the General Assembly, for enlightening us with their trenchant wisdom today; and all four for honoring us with their presence this afternoon. Thank you.