|H.E. Manuel Perez-Guerrero|
Manuel Perez-Guerrero’s (1911-1985) long and distinguished career spanned for some 50 years, both as an international civil servant and as a high-level government official in Venezuela. Perez- Guerrero started his international career in the mid-1930s with the League of Nations and held numerous high-level positions in the United Nations system since the mid-1940s. He served as Secretary-General of UNCTAD in the late sixties and early seventies.
In Venezuela, Perez-Guerrero was one of those who laid the foundations for building a modern state. He held four different ministerial posts in a forty year span, namely Finance, Planning, Mines and Hydrocarbons, and International Economic Affairs. Perez-Guerrero played a decisive role in the establishment of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960 and in the nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry in 1975.
As representative of his country, Perez-Guerrero was instrumental in many critical North-South negotiations as one of the leaders of the Group of 77. In 1975-1977 he was Co-Chairman of the Conference on International Economic Cooperation (the so-called North-South Dialogue), held in Paris. The High-level Conference of the Group of 77 on ECDC, held in Caraballeda, Venezuela, in May 1981, was prepared and held in the year in which Manuel Pérez-Guerrero, representing Venezuela, held the post of Chairman of the Group of 77 in New York (1980-1981). Perez-Guerrero played a key role in the elaboration and adoption of the Caracas Programme of Action on ECDC.
It is most gratifying to pay a warm tribute to the memory of Perez-Guerrero, whose close association with and lasting contribution to mobilizing the collective strength of the developing countries earned him a unique place in the annals of North-South and South-South relations.
In hindisght and by virtue of his distinguished career as international civil servant, statesman, and diplomat, it can be said that Manuel Perez-Guerrero was to his credit one of only a precious few men and women in our era who truly helped to advance the cause of international cooperation for development, at a time when the developing countries began to act in concert to exert an increased degree of leverage in the international political and economic scene.
The Group of 77 is particularly indebted to Manuel Perez-Guerrero for the pivotal role that he played in steering a carefully charted course for strengthening South-South economic relations that culminated, in 1981, with the holding of the Caracas High-level Conference on Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries. In addition, the Group of 77 has given him credit for the extraordinary feat of leadership that contributed to the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 1983 to create a Trust Fund for ECDC/TCDC out of a portion of the unspet monies in the UN Emergency Operations Trust Fund which it liquidated at the end of that year.
In recognition of these outstanding achievements and following Perez-Guerrero’s untimely death on 24 October 1985, the High-level Meeting on ECDC, held in Cairo in August 1986, in an unprecedented gesture of appreciation, renamed the Trust Fund for ECDC/TCDC as the Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund for ECDC/TCDC in honour of his memory, a decision that was subsequently ratified by the U.N. General Assembly when it met later that year.
The vision and goals that inspired Perez-Guerrero’s life have left their stamp on the organization and activities of the Group of 77, most notably in the area of South-South relations. The Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund is thus an important instrument for its implementation whose use will open opportunities in every corner of the developing world for greater cooperation and solidarity for many years to come. This is how the Group of 77 has chosen to keep alive the memory of Perez-Guerrero in the hope that it will continue to inspire and will contribute to guide those of us who have succeeded him and those who will come after us.
© The Group of 77
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