It is an honor to address you on behalf of the countries of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), members of the Group of 77; at this handing over ceremony of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China.
We are particularly honored by the presence of the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Mr. Rafael Correa and the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, Mr. Don Pramudwinai and we wish to thank them for attending this ceremony. In like manner, we thank the Secretary General Mr. António Guterres for his participation in this ceremony.
The history of the Group of 77 is intertwined with that of the United Nations since its establishment on 15 June 1964, with the signing of the "Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries" at the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It was an important document in which developing countries proclaimed, for the first time, their determination to work for a new international order.
The aforementioned Joint Declaration of the Group of 77 comprised values enshrined in the United Nations Charter: unity, solidarity, improved standards of living, cooperation and an end to the "division of the world into areas of affluence and areas of intolerable poverty". These values still have unquestionable validity nowadays, as unquestionable is the role played by the Group of 77 and China in the United Nations.
The Group of 77 and China encompasses more than half of the world's population and two-thirds of the Organization's Member States, thus being one of the major voices of obligatory reference in the current international context.
Today, the Group of 77 has 134 members. No one can ignore our heritage or the force we represent. The only viable alternative to the enormous dangers that beset humanity nowadays is unity and solidarity to defend our common goals and aspirations.
The challenges and tasks that the Group shall face in 2017 will be dissimilar and complex; including follow-up and support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development; ECOSOC processes for the consolidation of the High-Level Political Forum and the Forum on Financing for Development Follow-Up. Equally important will be the UN Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the negotiations that will lead to the approval of the organization's budget for next biennium. Those challenges will demand that we, as a group, continue to be even stronger in promoting the interests of developing countries
We would like to take this opportunity to recognize the great work done by Thailand in the exercise of its Chairmanship. The professionalism, rigor, transparency and proven diplomatic skill of the team of the Permanent Mission of Thailand should not be overlooked. We would like to specially acknowledge the proven leadership of its Permanent Representative in New York, Ambassador Virachai Plasai, in defending the Group's interests and his ability to reach consensus in such a diverse group.
We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Ecuador as the incoming chairman. We assure President Correa, who honors us with his presence in this room, that he can count on all our support and commitment in the performance of his duties. We are convinced that his UN Mission, under the leadership of Ambassador Horacio Sevilla Borja, will continue to strengthen the Group's role in promoting and defending the interests of the countries of the South.
We would also like to thank the Secretariat of the Group of 77 and China. The work of this small team of highly committed people has a direct and tangible effect on the results we achieve each year.
Allow me to conclude by reiterating our commitment with the goals and principles that motivated the creation of the Group of 77 and China and with the building of a more just and supportive world where no one is left behind.
Thank you very much.