UN chief hails ‘historic’ moment as Palestine takes over reins of G77

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the “historic leadership” of Palestine which assumed the chairmanship of G77, the global body’s largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries including India.

Egypt was the previous Chair of the Group of 77 (G77), a coalition of 134 members, along with China which aligns itself with the bloc.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin Tuesday wished Palestine success, saying “India is privileged to stand up for the global South’s quest for greater equity and justice”.

The decision to elect Palestine as the 2019 Chair of the G77 was taken in September 2018 by the foreign ministers of the Groups’ member states.

A month later, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution that enabled Palestine – a non-member Observer State at the world body – additional privileges and rights, such as participating in international conferences held under its auspices, for the duration of its role as G77 Chair. “You are well-placed to take up the chairmanship of this important group of countries,” Guterres said.

As multilateralism continues to come under “intense pressure from many sides”, the UN chief underscored the importance of the G77 and China’s continued support. “The Group of 77 and China have demonstrated strong leadership throughout 2018 and proved once again to be a central force in demonstrating that multilateralism is the only way to address our shared challenges,” Guterres said.

G-77, established in 1964 by 77 developing countries in Geneva, claims to provide the means for the countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues within the UN system and promote South-South cooperation for development

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Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released its 2018 edition of the yearly report on the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

There are nine countries which have nuclear warheads. They include Russia, the US, the UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

China continues to modernize its nuclear weapon delivery systems and is slowly increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal. The country now has an estimated 280 nuclear warheads. In 2017 report, the number was 270.

The US and Russia still constitute a major share of approximately 14,465 nuclear weapons that exist in the world. Both together account for nearly 92% of all nuclear weapons despite reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

Despite the overall decrease in global nuclear weapons year-on-year, India and Pakistan have increased their stockpiles. India, which had an estimated 120-130 nuclear warheads as per 2017 report, now has 130-140 warheads. Similarly, Pakistan, which had 130-140 warheads now has increased to 140-150 warheads. Both countries are also developing new land, sea and air-based missile delivery systems.

Nuclear warheads in other countries: UK (215 warheads), France (300 warheads), Israel (80 warheads) and North Korea (10-20 warheads). The figures for North Korea are uncertain.

Nuclear weapons remain uniquely dangerous because they are uniquely destructive. The renewed focus on the strategic importance of nuclear deterrence and capacity is a very worrying trend. The world needs a clear commitment from the nuclear weapon states to an effective, legally binding process towards nuclear disarmament.

 

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