Palestinian President Yasser Arafat arrived back in Gaza from the G-77 summit in Havana Friday, saying he was delighted by the support received there for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"During the summit we received massive backing for the Palestinian state, when it is established," he told journalists in his Gaza office.
Arafat recently announced the Palestinian state will be established in the year 2000, whether or not the Palestinians and Israelis have success in reaching agreement on the final status of the Palestinian territories as they have undertaken to do by September.
Arafat also condemned continuing Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the Gaza strip.
"The settlements are a threat to the peace process throughout the region," he said.
On Friday, Cuban President Fidel Castro and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo closed the Group of 77 summit in Havana with round speeches calling for united front in dealing with the industrialized countries of the North.
In his short final presentation Castro gave a bleak portrayal of the Third World, talking about "hundreds of millions of hungry, malnourished, illiterate, unemployed ... obliged to work at hard and miserable jobs."
"These are the permanent human rights that are reserved for us," he said.
The Cuban leader described the situation as a "new apartheid" that condemns four billion people to poverty.
"This summit means that we are obliged to struggle for our dignity, our culture, our right to be treated as equals" when facing the northern countries, Castro added.
In his final speech, Obasanjom -- who is also the G-77 president -- proclaimed that the 35 year-old organization has come of age.
"It is indeed time to recover our fighting spirit," the Nigerian leader said, describing the summit as a defining moment in our movement's history."
"No doubt that from here we go forward, determined to make a difference," he said.
Summit participants also approved a 14-page declaration devoted to enhancing South-South cooperation and improving trade and economic relations with northern hemisphere countries.
FINAL STATEMENT TONED-DOWN
The leaders of the world's poorest nations approved a document calling for a New Global Human Order.
The 14-page document -- a considerably toned-down version of the draft circulated before the summit -- only mildly criticizes rich countries for failing to help Third World nations to overcome poverty.
Following are excerpts of the document:
The Group of 77 "stress(es) the need for a New Global Human Order aimed at reversing the growing disparities between rich and poor, both among and within countries."
"In order to realize the goal of universal peace and prosperity, we will need to promote international cooperation that is just and equitable ... which can only be achieved by working together, both among ourselves and with the developed countries."
The group reaffirms that it is "guided by all the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter."
"We emphasize that the process of globalization and interdependence must not be used to weaken or re-interpret the above mentioned principles."
While the group's highest priority is to "overcome underdevelopment," it urges "the international community to adopt urgent and resolute actions" to assist, and "establish international economic relations based on justice and equity."
"It is imperative to promote a North-South dialogue based on the spirit of partnership, mutual benefit and genuine interdependence."
An increasingly globalized economy has accentuated the gap between the world's richest and poorest countries over the past years.
"Globalization will provide no lasting solutions to the essential problems of developing countries ... ëunlessû urgent measures are undertaken in order to adress the needs for the large majorities of the population, who are forced to live in extreme poverty."
"We stress the universality of the World Trade Organization (WTO) through acceleration of the accession process without political conditionalities. We urge all WTO members to refrain from placing excessive demands on applications from developing countries."
The G-77 "subscrib(es) to the values" of issues such as environmental protection, labor standards and the protection of human rights. However "we reject all attempts to use these issues as conditionalities and pretexts for restricting market access or aid and technology flows to developing countries."
"We insist on the need" for wealthy countries to "fully and immediately implement the provision for special and differential treatment for the products and sevices exported by the developing countries, and ëto strengthenû the system of trade preferences."
A "vicious cycle of debt and underdevelopment" has become entrenched in the South. "We are alarmed ... that debt servicing has grown at a much greater rate than the debt itself, and that the burden of debt payments has become heavier in many countries of the South."
The document calls for addressing "the structural causes of indebtedness," as well as "debt reduction arrangements" for middle-income developing countries and debt cancellation for the world's poorest countries.
"South-South cooperation ... is imperative in the context of globalization and ... should be pursued with determination and political will."
Science and Technology
"We believe that the prevailing modes of production and consumption in the industrialized countries are unsustainable and should be changed, for they threaten the very survival of the planet."
"We call on the developed countries to fulfill their commitment to provide developing countries with financial resources and environmentlly sound technologies on a preferential basis."
Strengthening the United Nations
"The insufficient level of resources for development at the disposal of the United Nations ... hinder(s) its capacity to fulfill its main economic and social objectives."
"We reiterate that the United Nations has a central role to play in world economic matters."
"We demand the States responsible for laying the mines outside of their territories to assume responsibility for the landmines, to cooperate with the affected countries to get rid of them and to contribute towards the defayal of the costs of clearance," as well as "provide compensation for any ensuing losses."
The declaration also condemns the use of children as soldiers, and calls for sanctions to be dropped against Libya, debt forgiveness for flood-stricken Mozambique, and peace in the Middle East – (AFP)— Photo AFP.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)