Welcome to an thrilling new season of the headline-grabbing TV sequence: “Who is afraid of the Global South?”
The suspense-filled thriller, bringing collectively superheroes, nasty villains, and in-between fence-sitters, has been on streaming companies for some time.
But solely true followers and aficionados of the style bothered to tune in. The sequence wasn’t slick, the storylines had been patchy, and people in the starring roles did not at all times align with Hollywood requirements.
Times change. As a riveting new season of the sequence is launched at the United Nations this week, the as soon as little-known saga of geopolitical competitors, confrontation and cooperation is now the solely geopolitical present on the town.
Everyone is watching and everybody has an opinion.
Noblesse oblige, most opinions by Western critics are predictably snarky. No such factor as the “so-called” Global South, they insist. It’s only a disparate, squabbling group of states, with nothing to bind them collectively, no coherent stance, and no long-term future.
But I’d advise a tad extra circumspection after years spent reporting for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review in addition to via numerous journeys, interviews and nonetheless nearly each day frank and trustworthy interactions with policymakers, reporters, researchers and pals in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Forget the doomsayers: There is admittedly no must be grumpy, apprehensive, and fearful of the Global South and, by extension, of life in a multipolar world.
Fear of the unknown, inertia, and a reluctance to get rid of previous prejudices and stereotypes are comprehensible.
One day, you assume Asia is simply too far, too poor, and too large to curiosity anybody, the subsequent most of the continent is a turbo-charged financial powerhouse, a magnet for investments, and a possible “existential menace”.
Africa, as soon as decried as a basket case, liable to famines and coups, is now everybody’s favorite, much-coveted and much-courted and still-elusive “equal companion”.
But all these grudging acknowledgements of the “so-called” Global South additionally smack of envy — the West’s reluctance to surrender the highlight and a as soon as unchallenged main position as hero, benefactor, and self-identified goody two footwear.
It is extra sophisticated.
The unipolar world was easy, well-organised, and orderly, led by the US, with the loyal and pliant EU by its aspect (most of the time) and “third world” states dutifully falling into line with Uncle Sam (most of the time).
But fortunately for the EU, there’s a small circle of forward-looking individuals who, regardless of the cynicism of the majority, have at all times recognized that the world beyond Europe (and the US) is thrilling, vibrant, rising by leaps and bounds and changing into extra self-confident by the day.
Their engagement and connections made with nations “over there” at the moment are paying off. But way more must be executed.
The critics are proper: the Global South, the G20, the BRICS, the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) and different organisations are various and heterogeneous, their members are sometimes in competitors with one another and their targets and aspirations starkly totally different.
Yet, there’s a glue and a commonality that bind. These connections will be refined, invisible, nebulous, and (largely) imperceptible to the Eurocentric-West-centric gaze. But if you understand, you understand.
Partly, the driver is lingering post-colonial anger, frustration, and resentment — a deep wound left by years of exploitation, extraction, and countless unkept guarantees on essential points together with vaccine fairness, debt reduction, and local weather change.
Partly, it is realpolitik and that previous recreation of “hedging” by nations who’ve little interest in getting caught up in new Cold Wars or unbridled US-China competitors.
Mostly, it’s about defending nationwide (or regional) pursuits by avoiding any pointless entanglements in different peoples’ issues.
The Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi which set out an bold imaginative and prescient of Africa’s clear power future is proof that the continent is taking cost of its personal future.
The determination by BRICS members to expand the grouping is pushed each by a want to counter a Western-led multilateral order and an genuine aspiration to accentuate south-south financial hyperlinks together with — sooner or later — by difficult the outsize affect of the US greenback in the world financial system.
Their determination to not fall in step with the Western view on Russia’s war in Ukraine could have put the Global South in the geopolitical highlight, however their calls for for change will not be new.
They have made their case at numerous conferences of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), at conferences on local weather change and only recently at the world finance summit organized by France.
Also, for all their rising clout and justified criticism of the hypocrisy and double requirements of the West, Global South leaders have to put their very own homes so as.
Too many of those that rage in opposition to world inequalities are responsible of divide-and-rule insurance policies at residence via discrimination in opposition to minorities, sidelining of ladies, and clampdowns on democracy activists and human rights defenders.
Their insurance policies run counter to the aspirations of their younger, dynamic, vibrant, and impatient residents who wish to reside and thrive in a extra equal surroundings each at residence and overseas.
As a brand new season of “Who is Afraid of the Global South?” is launched at the UN with a long-awaited summit to overview progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, EU leaders can safe greater than mere walk-on roles.
That means not simply attending conferences and making speeches, but additionally working to turn into related and credible in a multipolar world.