Global South meet in Havana makes its argument - GulfToday

Global South meet in Havana makes its argument

A view of the inaugural session of the G77+China Summit at the Convention Palace in Havana. Reuters

A view of the inaugural session of the G77+China Summit at the Convention Palace in Havana. Reuters

The G77, which is  a group of developing countries that was formed in 1964 when the Cold War was raging between the American and then Soviet blocs, has been trying to assert its voice, though never too effectively. The group has now grown into 130 countries, and it represents the Global South.

There is however a twist here. The Havana meet is called G77 + China. That the meeting is happening in communist Cuba does make sense as to why China has been given a privileged place. China was not originally part of the G77 group though by 1964 it was not part of the Soviet bloc either. Then Yugoslavia under Joseph Broz Tito and China under Mao Zedong had walked out of the Soviet camp. While Tito led Yugoslavia into the developing economies group of G77, China stood aloof.

But this year, the Global South has made a comeback to the headlines. At the G20 summit held in New Delhi earlier this month, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the Global South a key part of the G20 agenda, and he opened the membership of G20 to the African Union (AU) to prove his point.

Modi’s intention is to build bridges between the developing economies with the advanced economies of G7 and the emergent economies, and he wanted to settle the balance in favour of the Global South because it forms the larger part of the world though its share in the global economy is less compared to its size. Modi had caught on to the point that the climate change agenda cannot be fulfilled if the Global South is not on board.

The Havana meet on the other hand, going by the assertion of Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, has stated the fact in a more blunt language than Modi did. He said, “After all this time that the North has organised the world according to its interests, it is now up to the South to change the rules of the game.” United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres added his voice to that of Diaz-Canel and other G77 leaders when he said, “The voice of G77 plus China will always be essential at the United Nations. And I count on your group, who have long been champions of multilateralism, to step up, to use your power, and fight – champion a system rooted in equality; champion a system ready to reverse the injustice and neglect of centuries.”

China was represented by the top Communist Party official, Li Xi, who said that China will make “South-South cooperation a priority” in its dealings with the outside world. There is then an interesting development here. India and China are in a way in competition for the Global South. The African and Latin American and other Asian countries are sure to argue that they would like to represent themselves and not depend on India or China.

Even as the domination of the United States and Russia, the former superpowers has declined, India and China are trying to become the top global players and they find that it lies in collaborating with the developing economies and providing them support and indirectly leadership.

India has been rooting for a multilateral global power system. China is keen to step into the power vacuum created by the decline of US and Russia. Meanwhile, the Global South is in an assertive mood than ever before, and the mood at the Havana G77 summit reveals that. The baton of leadership of the Global South may not go to any one country or group of countries. It would be more a collective leadership. It is indeed an interesting moment in the global political scenario.