The political rise of the Global South


In the latter half of the 1990s, the global economic-political framework operated with the Global North as the dominant force shaping and steering the system, dictating decisions, while the “Global South” primarily functioned as the provider of raw materials, intermediary goods, energy and finished products on an international scale, representing the realm of inexpensive production, technology and labor. In this structure, the Global South didn’t contest the orchestrating role of the Global North.

However, this arrangement ushered in a scenario that progressively raised the Global South’s share in global gross domestic product (GDP) and international trade from the early 2000s onward. Coupled with the resulting economic might, the military potency of the Global South has surged. This surge in economic and military influence has also catalyzed the “political ascendancy” of the Global South.

Over the past two decades, the growing reliance of the Global North on the Global South within its global supply chain has significantly bolstered the Global South’s rise on the political stage. This trend has been so pronounced that under the leadership of influential figures from the Global South like China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico, as well as powerful representatives such as Saudi Arabia, we have observed the Global North’s diminishing political influence in key international organizations worldwide. Simultaneously, we’ve witnessed the Global South’s sphere of political engagement expanding.

This shift has led to the Global North losing its capacity to unilaterally shape decisions within international institutions like the United Nations General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNESCO. Instead, a new era has dawned where significant decisions cannot be reached without the approval and participation of the Global South.

In the past 15 years, this process has prompted the Global South to consider establishing and enhancing its own international forums. Prominent examples like BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Organization of Turkic States (OTC) immediately come to mind. While the constituent nations of the Global North may not wholeheartedly embrace these emerging global collaboration platforms crafted by the Global South, it’s evident that the geographical scope of influence of these platforms and organizations is progressively expanding.

Consequently, the Global North’s endeavors to strengthen partnerships with key nations of the Global South such as Brazil, Indonesia, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia also synchronously align with the transformative developments characterizing the last 15 years.

Global North’s ‘strategic blindness’

The global economic-political system can come out of the current turmoil alive and well only by establishing a strong dialogue mechanism between the Global South and the Global North. It is at this very point that the Global North’s “strategic blindness” problem arises.

One of the most important reasons for the strategic blindness problem is smugness. Its essence is that the Global North still thinks that it has full control of the global economic-political system, and therefore does not engage in a real dialogue with the Global South, which would contribute to the solution. Accordingly, the suggestions they put forward as a solution or the steps they take, on the contrary, make the already complex processes even more intractable in a chaotic dimension.

Financing power of the Global South

An additional noteworthy advantage held by the Global South over the Global North lies in its substantial international reserves and economies characterized by foreign trade and current account surpluses. This financial strength has consequently propelled countries in the Global South into the realm of ambitious international investors.

Over the past 15-20 years, corporations from leading economies within the Global South have acquired numerous globally recognized and esteemed companies across various sectors from the Global North. What was once the cornerstone automotive, iron and steel, hotel chains, media and entertainment firms in Western economies now find ownership under companies originating from Global South economies.

This substantial surplus of capital and financial prowess attained by the Global South not only nourishes but also augments the political ascension of these nations. If the Global North seeks to forge more robust channels of communication with the Global South without delay, it would be prudent for influential global actors to acknowledge that Türkiye stands as an indispensable participant and pivotal country within this unfolding dynamic.

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