Rise of the Global South: Implications for the Global Order

Speakers at a roundtable titled ‘Rise of the Global South: Implications for the Global Order’, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies.Courtesy

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) organised a roundtable on ‘Rise of the Global South: Implications for the Global Order’ on Thursday, 23 May, at The Westin Dhaka, reports a press release.

Distinguished fellow of BIPSS and former advisor at the ministry of foreign affairs, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, academic visitor at the University of Reading, United Kingdom as well as registrar at the American International University Bangladesh, Group Captain (retd) Mohammad Zahidul Islam Khan, and professor at the department of international relations in University of Dhaka, Niloy Ranjan Biswas, were the panels at the discussion.

Moderator of the event, BIPSS president Major General ANM Muniruzzaman (retd), opened up the discussion by stating that in the intricate tapestry of global geopolitics and geoeconomics, the emergence of Global South represents a significant paradigm shift.

“Historically, the group of nations that are marginalised are often overlooked. The nations of the Global South are now asserting themselves in the world stage, reshaping international relations, and challenging the existing structure”, he said while delivering the opening remarks.

He also mentioned the fact that the term ‘Global South’ is not very new and existed before; but now the term is bringing many countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean region under one umbrella. He added that an important aspect of this is the rise of China and India as both the countries are emerging economies and they now vie to represent the Global South. “Both China and India have indicated that they would like to take the leadership of the Global South”, Major General Muniruzzaman affirmed.

He also said that the focus of the countries of the Global South should be on the issues for which they need to collectively fight. “The Willy Brandt Commission of 1980 first laid the notion of North and South,” he further added. He also thinks that instead of North-South cooperation, we should look forward to South-South cooperation.

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury highlighted the definition of the term Global South, the relevancy of the theory of structural dependency to the term and the possibilities of the initiation of conflict between the North and South. He mentioned that the term ‘Global South’ was first introduced during the new left movement of the 1960s. He stated that the dichotomy of ‘rich North’ and ‘poor South’ was first presented by an American capitalist.

He further added that the countries belonging to the south had put efforts to create a “New International Economic Order” which received very moderate success. “Global South is a value-free concept”, he said. He again illustrated that Global South countries are seeking to create a level-playing field in terms of economic relations and developed countries have acquired much in expense of the underdeveloped countries.

Group Captain Mohammad Zahidul Islam Khan said that at present the term ‘Global South’ is being increasingly used because of the assumption that it will have impact on the global order, especially on the economic and security structure. “The discourse of Global South has moved from development and cultural issues to geopolitical domain,” he said. He also raised questions such as what does the idea of global south stand for and is there any solidarity to transform the ideas into effective actions.

Amidst many theoretical frameworks, Zahidul focused on Immanuel Wallerstein’s World System Theory as the system of dividing the countries of the world under the titles core, periphery and semi-periphery has contributed to the idea of global south. According to him, the assessment of the growth of knowledge production around this idea would be possible by looking at the publications and blooming academic scholarships on it.

Niloy Ranjan Biswas stated that principally the term Global South is based on the structural theories of political economy and the idea is also often linked to Marxist understanding which ultimately leads to the conceptualisation of global south mostly based on economic aspects. “We need to understand whether the construction of Global South is an opposing binary of Global North and whether the effort of creating global south is a deconstructing approach of opposing the good or bad of the global north”, he said.

He particularly mentioned some core international relations-based concepts such as the Brundtland Commission Report which he found problematic as it took a very idealistic approach without a proper understanding of the concept. Niloy also talked about the prospects for South-North-South triangular cooperation and mentioned that dangers can be posed by the rising trend of creating minilateral collaboration by two or three countries.

During the interactive session, issues like future of the Rohingya people, western influence on the scholarly works on Global South, the prospects of merging North and South, heterogenous character of both Global North and South, the possible solutions to stabilise the global order etc. were raised and discussed. Journalists, academicians, representatives from different organisations and ambassadors attended the event.

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