The Collected Documents of the Group of 77 (1995)

The Third World without Superpowers, Special Anniversary Edition

The thirtieth anniversary of the Group of 77 is an event of historic significance. The Group was founded on 15 June 1964 with the adoption of the “Declaration of the Seventy-seven” during the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD I) which met in Geneva. The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1962 to convene that Conference, based on the understanding that international trade is a primary instrument for economic development. During preparatory meetings, economic interests crystallized along geo-political-group lines and the developing countries emerged as a group that was beginning to find its own identity. The distinctive interests of the Third World manifested themselves when 75 representatives of the developing countries formalized a Joint Declaration - the prelude to the establishment of the Group of 77.

UNCTAD I was a new departure: for the first time, the Third World as a whole participated in the elaboration of a comprehensive set of measures. Accordingly, the Joint Declaration of the Seventy-seven presented new themes. UNCTAD I was recognized as a significant step towards “creating a new and just world economic order” which involved “a new international division of labour” and “a new framework of international trade”. The adoption of “a new and dynamic international policy for trade and development” was expected to facilitate the formulation of “new policies by the Governments of both developed and developing countries in the context of a new awareness of the needs of developing countries”. Finally, a “new machinery” was considered necessary to serve as an institutional focal point for the continuation of the work initiated by the Conference.

That machinery was established later that year, when the General Assembly decided to institutionalize UNCTAD as an organ of the General Assembly. UNCTAD remained the main forum for global development discussions and became the focal point of the activities of the Group of 77. However, the Group established itself also in other parts of the United Nations system, especially the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington and the United Nations in New York. Although the Group of 77 was not formally constituted in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its follow-up organization, the World Trade Organization (WTO), its members seek to act in unison during the trade negotiations. In addition, the Group has developed a programme of activities geared towards the promotion of economic cooperation among developing countries.[i]

The substantive concerns of the Group of 77 have evolved since its creation, and important action plans have been formulated. This volume illustrates these developments by presenting the main agreements and achievements by the Group during the past thirty years. This documentation is a reference book. It provides the information required to examine the goals and objectives of the Third World and the progress achieved so far in reaching them.

The presentation of the documentation had to be selective, focusing on the milestones in the history of the Group of 77. These activities are comprehensively covered in the publication series The Collected Documents of the Group of 77, issued by OCEANA Publications and edited by the editors of the Present volume.  The series is dedicated to drawing together the materials issued by the Group of 77 to serve as a reference source for policy-makers, scholars and the interested public. So far, 19 volumes have been issued. The current publication is a special anniversary edition of the series in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Group of 77.

The book starts with an introduction entitled “Thirty Years of the Group of 77”. It is a reprint of a brochure prepared by the South Center as a service to the Group of 77. The introduction is followed by eight chapters:


  • Chapter I presents two declarations that describe the genesis of the Group of 77.
  • The results of the seven ministerial meetings of the Group of 77 in preparation of the UNCTAD conferences -- in Algiers (1967), Lima (1971), Manila (1975), Arusha (1979), Buenos Aires (1983), Havana (1987) and Tehran (1991) -- are contained in chapter II. Together, they present the most comprehensive platform of proposals for economic development prepared by the Third World. Many of those proposals have been reflected in the final conclusions of the UNCTAD conferences, and in many agreements of the United Nations system.
  • Chapter III shows the milestones of the work of the Group of 77 in the United Nations, New York. It includes the proposals for a New International Economic Order and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.
  • Chapter IV presents the work of the Group of 77 in the Conference on International Economic Cooperation which was held in Paris during 1975 to 1977 and in which the Group acted through the Group of 19. The Conference was an effort to negotiate the major North-South issues in a forum of restricted membership outside the United Nations.
  • Chapter V lists the declaration of the 18 annual meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 held between 1977 and 1994.
  • Chapter VI shows the most important effort to facilitate economic cooperation among developing countries. This programme of self-reliance was established through South-South negotiations, which contrast from the North-South negotiations within the system of the United Nations. After recalling the major milestones in the negotiation process, a major achievement of the Group of 77 is presented: the agreement on the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries.
  • In Chapter VII, a number of important documents from other meetings are listed. These include the communique of the inaugural session at the ministerial level of the Group of 24, acting on behalf of the Group of 77 in IMF and World Bank. The Group of 24 meets before the Interim Committees of the Board of Governors of these financial institutions. Other documents listed include the joint communique of Chairmen/Coordinators of the Group of 77, the two declarations approved by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 on the twenty-fifth and thirtieth anniversaries of the Group and the statement on the “Agenda for Development”.
  • Chapter VIII contains agreements of the international community based on initiated of the Group of 77. These include the agreement on the New International Economic Order and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Also reprinted are resolutions establishing the Generalized System of Preferences and the Common Fund for Commodities, adopted by UNCTAD. Finally, the declaration and plan of action on industrialization and international cooperation is shown, adopted by UNIDO in 1980.


Two annexes are included in the book. Annex I contains a chronology of the meetings of the Group of 77 during the thirty years of its existance, together with the meeting of the United Nations system that were of particular importance to the Group. The member States of the Group of 77 are shown in Annex II.

We hope that this publication makes the work of the Group of 77 more easily accessible. The support and assistance given by Mourad Ahmia and Arturo Lozano of the Office of the Chairman of the Group of 77 in New York is gratefully acknowledged. Finally, nothing contained in this volume necessarily represents the views of the institutions with which the editors are affiliated.


Vienna and Geneva, December 1994


Joachim W. Müller, Karl P. Sauvant

[i] For details, see Karl P. Sauvant, The Group of 77: Evolution, Structure, Organization (Dobbs Ferry, New York, OCEANA Publications, 1981).