Emergence of Global South and Nepal
The term ‘Global South’ reverberated through the halls of power during the recent 78th General Assembly, which came to a close just last week. Vibrant voices like those of India and China, who proudly identify themselves as part of this dynamic Global South, championed its cause.
In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Western world engaged in fervent discourse about the stance taken by Global South nations, many of which chose to remain neutral. Western experts now ponder whether the Global South has emerged as a bona fide “geopolitical continent,” considering the absence of widespread condemnation for Russia’s invasion or support for sanctions.
Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, highlighted this in a striking observation made back in August. He wrote in an article: “When the UN General Assembly voted in February 2022 on a resolution demanding Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine, the Global South was split, with more than 60 percent siding with Ukraine and approximately a third abstaining. In common usage, the label amalgamates a remarkably heterogeneous group of 130-dd countries representing perhaps two-third of world’s population.”
Ding Long, a distinguished professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, also contributed his perspective in an article published in The Global Times on August 4. Long stated that "the rise of the Global South, as the most prominent transformational trend in the international system after the Ukraine crisis, will promote the constitution of a just and reasonable international order."
He underscored how the Global South had maintained its diplomatic independence and strategic autonomy during the Ukraine crisis, opting for a middle path to assert itself as a burgeoning force in global politics.
In January of this year, India hosted the Voices of the Global South Summit, a gathering that drew participation from ministers and leaders representing 125 Global South countries. Nepal’s finance minister was among those present. India and China, both towering neighbors, are vying for leadership roles within the Global South, while Brazil, too, is asserting itself as the global leader.
Indian Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar sent a clear message to the world during his address to the 78th UN General Assembly, warning the major powers to prepare for a contest with the Global South.
“But for all the talk, it is still a few nations who shape the agenda and seek to define the norms. This cannot go on indefinitely. Nor will it go unchallenged. A fair, equitable, and democratic order will surely emerge, once we all put our minds to it. And for a start, that means ensuring that rule-makers do not subjugate rule-takers. After all, rules will work only when they apply equally to all,” he said.
China, too, echoed this sentiment at the UN meeting. China’s Vice President Han Zheng declared, “As the largest developing country, China is a natural member of the Global South, it breathes the same breath with other developing countries and shares the same future with them.” China, Han promised, “will remain a member of the big family of developing countries.
Similarly, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva proudly proclaimed: “Brazil is reencountering itself, the region, the world and multilateralism. As I never tire of saying, Brazil is back. Our country is back to give our due contribution to face the world’s primary challenges.”
Former Nepali Ambassador to the UN, Jaya Raj Acharya, acknowledged that Nepal's prominent voice in the Global South had dimmed over the past decade, despite Nepal’s continued advocacy for bridging economic disparities between the North and South. In his address to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal refrained from using the term ‘Global South’.
According to Dinesh Bhattarai, former Nepali ambassador to the UN, the Global South’s growing vocalization stems from an increasing number of countries actively engaging in global issues, such as climate change, with the African Union's participation in the G20 serving as a prime example. “This shift should also be viewed in the context of Asia's rising influence,” he said.
While Nepal's prominence in the Global South discourse has waned, it is still raising critical issues related to cooperation on international platforms. Foreign Minister NP Saud, addressing the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in July, emphasized the need for deeper South-South cooperation and strengthened multilateralism, particularly at the UN.
“We need to foster international cooperation within NAM, deepen south-south cooperation, and strengthen multilateralism at the UN at its center to resolve global problems,” he said. “As the champion of social justice and economic empowerment, NAM must advocate for inclusive and sustainable global growth, in which the Global South receives a fair share to eradicate poverty and give their people a decent life.”
In the ever-evolving landscape of international diplomacy, Nepal's role as a passionate advocate for justice and equity among Global South nations continues to evolve and adapt, guided by the principles of national ownership and leadership and a commitment to global peace and stability.
Bhattarai said Global South is more vocal because many countries are aggressively coming out due to the issues such as climate change and African union being a part of G20 is more enthusiastic.
The United Nations has set up an office for South-South Cooperation whose principal purpose is to enhance South-South and triangular cooperation as a means to accelerate the speed and scale of actions to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGS).
In 1974, the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution, endorsed the establishment of a special unit within the UNDP to promote technical cooperation among developing countries. Its name was then changed to the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in 2012.
In 2019, the then foreign minister, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, addressed the second UN conference on south-south cooperation held in Argentia where he highlighted four important principles of Nepal.
- First, some members in the South, despite having similar development ambitions, are far lagging behind. They need even more understanding, partnership and cooperation. Principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ should be placed at the core.
- Second, our cooperation should have a clear focus on poverty eradication. SDG 1 is the biggest battle we have and perhaps the most cross-cutting, and therefore a sine qua non for making the world a better place to live.
- Third, gender equality, inclusiveness, concrete steps to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change and social justice, among others, should be the guide posts of development perspectives. Women and youths should be assured of better opportunities and more investment must be guaranteed in education and technological innovations.
- Finally, our development experience tells us that all forms of cooperation should respect national ownership and leadership, and focus on country needs and priorities. And global peace and stability is the prerequisite, because the cost of conflicts mainly goes on the shoulders of the Global South.
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