Smaller nations stress support for multilateralism, sovereign equality

A group of 30 small and medium-sized countries have stressed their unequivocal backing for an inclusive, rules-based multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core.

They also underscored the principles of sovereign equality and the peaceful settlement of disputes - spelt out in the UN Charter - and emphasised the need for resilient supply chains and an open, fair trading system.

The Global Governance Group (3G) made these points in a media statement after its 15th ministerial meeting on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The 3G was formed in 2009 to influence the Group of 20 (G-20) countries to take into account the interests of smaller countries. Members include convenor Singapore, as well as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The meeting saw the previous, present and incoming presidents of the G-20 - Italy, Indonesia and India - join 3G foreign ministers to discuss strengthening multilateralism and global cooperation.

Indonesia updated the ministers on progress made at key G-20 meetings this year, and deliverables for the G-20 summit in Bali on Nov 15 and 16.

The ministers commended Indonesia's leadership in spearheading the G-20 response to challenges such as food and energy insecurity, climate change, rising inflation and supply chain disruption.

They also encouraged India to continue the G-20's strong engagement of the 3G and other regional and international organisations.

The Covid-19 pandemic was discussed, and ministers expressed concern about how recovery will continue to be affected by global supply chain disruptions and rising protectionist tendencies.

"They stressed the need to ensure the resilience and sustainability of supply chain and emphasised the continued importance of promoting and abiding by an open, predictable, rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system," said the statement.

Such a system must be underpinned by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to ensure unimpeded cross-border flows of essential goods, including food, energy, vaccines and medicines.

The ministers called for vaccine production to be expanded globally, through appropriate dissemination of technology and know-how in accordance with WTO rules.

The other 3G members are: Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Finland, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Hariz Baharudin

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2022, with the headline Smaller nations stress support for multilateralism, sovereign equality. Subscribe