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PKU Insights | Greater North-South cooperation essential for global growth and progress
Mar. 25, 2024
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During the past 50 years, many encouraging results were recorded in global development efforts spearheaded by the United Nations and its specialized agencies in areas such as poverty reduction, gender equality, renewable energy, under-5 mortality rate, reduction of school dropouts and the like. Nations committed to these global agendas have played a key role in these successes.

The current global economic and political architecture, dominated by the Western developed nations, is the result of the post-World War II and post-colonization histories of nations and their interactions. After the middle of the 20th century, the newly independent developing countries of the Global South, started to come together to oppose the neocolonialism of the Western dominated global system. The concept of South-South Cooperation emerged and evolved. Having the principles of solidarity, mutual benefit, respect for sovereignty and non-interference as its core values, South-South Cooperation aims to promote the development of the Global South and contribute to the transformation of the world order toward a shared-interest growth at the global level.

The Global North represents economically developed nations, while the Global South includes developing and least developed countries. These terms are not strictly based on geographical location but rather on socioeconomic factors.

Global development efforts cannot bring about the desired results with the current North-South divided architecture.

Even though some positive results have been recorded, questions remain about the inclusiveness and participatory nature of global development endeavors.

It is high time for the Global North and the Global South to work together to maximize the dividend of global development endeavors. Global development that leaves no nation behind will only be materialized through the holistic and ownership-level inclusive engagement of all parts of the world, North and South, West and East.

From the perspective of the Global South, the best thing global development can offer for developing nations is to help and facilitate their growth. Development through homegrown capacity is development that benefits the population today and in the future. South-South Cooperation is in principle, a homegrown initiative of the Global South countries to help each other in their development efforts through win-win cooperation. Encouraging and nurturing South-South Cooperation can potentially leverage global development by complementing the development of the Global North.

Global development has a long road of reform to live up to its name. One opportunity of its reform should be sharing the development aspiration of the growing South-South Cooperation in a global context. South-South Cooperation does not aspire to be an instrument of certain ideologies or the interests of certain groups. With its clear principles of solidarity, mutual benefit, respect for sovereignty and noninterference, which are valued assets of global development, it is up to all the global development stakeholders to correct and shape whatever is against these principles in the overall activities of South-South Cooperation.

Therefore, the development endeavors of the Global South should not be perceived as a competing force by the Global North, but a complementing partner for the common interest of global development. Then efforts under the name of global development will result in true global effects and benefits.

In the current reality, there are many frictions as well as misunderstandings between the Global North and the Global South. For example, some Western media have expressed concern about the geopolitical and economic implications of the recent membership expansion of BRICS, especially in challenging the Western dominance and leadership in global affairs. But the truth is partial dominance in leadership of global affairs has to be challenged empirically to exercise true global development that leaves no one behind.

It is up to both parties to shape this reality toward the basic principles of collaborative global development. Moreover, this needs genuine and persistent efforts by both sides. Persistence is the key word here. Because just as the competition, we observe today between the Global South and the Global North took a long time to grow, the solution of forging a complementary partnership between the two requires consistent and sustained hard work in order to see results.

To sum up, till now, the current global development architecture has delivered what it can with the polarized dominance of the Global North. It is up to us to reform and raise its concepts and practices to a higher level to foster better global development efforts. As the Global North and the Global South work jointly to reform the inclusiveness of global development, it is wise to view South-South Cooperation as an opportunity rather than a threat. The Global North should take it as an opportunity to maximize the equitable and inclusive dividends of global development from which it too will benefit. Ensuring that South-South Cooperation lives up to its promises and principles and is not used as a tool of ideology impositions and group interests should be seen as an integral part of its maturing process and something that needs the engagement of all stakeholders. A culture of open and honest dialogue on the details of South-South Cooperation in global development can help guarantee that global development lives up to that descriptor.

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The author is a Ph.D. student at Peking University, ex-state minister of planning and development of Ethiopia and ex-secretary general of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
China Daily
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