GO SOUTH 2022
ANNUAL CONVENTION ON THE GLOBAL SOUTH :
Transcending the North – South Divide? : G20 and Multilateralism in Turbulent Global Politics
The growth of emerging economies in the South and a series of financial crises in the North have made possible for Southern major economies like Brazil, China, Indonesia, South Africa, and India to enhance their role to shape key global development agendas. Major multilateral schemes such as G20 and BRICS have become a central arena for the ‘Southern political projects.’ However, a debate remains: can their inclusion overcome the North-South divide? How would the increased influence of the South be a new political bloc for reforming unjust global governance?
Some argue that the inclusion may allow the South and the North to build dialogue and facilitate the convergence of their interests. In this regard, the inclusion is reflective of the Southern countries’ efforts to reconfigure the international order from within. Others are sceptical, nonetheless. Although Southern major economies have acquired greater authority in G20, for example, the forum remains highly exclusionary against the majority of Southern countries and civil society, including the most marginalised ones. Moreover, major Southern economies appear uninterested in challenging the hegemonic approaches to development sponsored by the North and key international financial institutions (IFI). Instead, these countries endorse the key precepts of developmental liberalism: open markets, international competitiveness, and the centrality of IFI in regulating the global markets.
The 2022 Annual Convention on Global South aims at investigating the roles, potentials, and limitations of the G20 and multilateralism in overcoming the North-South divide. More broadly, the convention seeks to identify and evaluate existing strategies to address the North-South divide, with a view to envision more effective approaches in the future. This inquiry is urgent especially in the current polarisation of world politics that lead to, what scholars label as, ‘new cold war’ phenomena. As Southern countries face challenges from pressing problems such as pandemics, digitalisation, and energy transition, failure to devise better strategies would risk entrenching the North-South divide, further impoverishing the South in the process.
Institute of International Studies (IIS), Universitas Gadjah Mada, is developing insights on International Relations studies from the Global South perspective. Initiated from the “Bandung Conference and Beyond” in 2015, IIS has committed to contribute to Global South studies by hosting the series of Annual Convention on the Global South that began in 2019. The upcoming forum will discuss how the Global South deals with the great divide through their participation in G20 and other multilateral schemes in a time of polarised global politics from several issues and perspectives through various thematic panels.
Theorising Global South and Global Governance: Representation, Solidarity, Realpolitik
The Global South has been claimed as a moral force and political bloc due to its normative commitment to solidarity, reform and justice. Such a commitment has been historically manifested in the New International Economic Order (NIEO) initiatives in the 1970s. Currently, the inclusion of emerging economies of the Global South countries in G20 and other multilateral schemes has offered expectations that they could transcend the North-South divide. How has such an expectation been possible in a time where the global issues are increasingly complex while the solidarity-based political bloc of the South is never easy to be crafted and mobilised? The panel seeks to theorise and reevaluate the Global South and global governance in contemporary era.
G20 and the Crisis of Multilateralism: Global South and Regional Intersections
The G20 Presidency of Indonesia offers huge expectations for the restructuring of global development governance. Under the banner of ‘recovery together, recovery stronger’, the current G20 is expected to build on the global solidarity for post-pandemic recovery initiatives. The consecutive presidencies of G20 from the representations of the Global South (Indonesia, followed by India, Brazil, and South Africa) is expected to effectively establish a solid foundation for reforming North-dominated global governance. However, the recent dynamics associated with the Ukraine crisis and US-China tension have not only resulted in the polarisation of global politics but also put the future of multilateral cooperation and governance into question. The panel aims at theorising G20 and the future of multilateralism in an era dubbed as ‘new cold war’ global politics and assessing its impacts on current and future of regional dynamics such as the Indo-Pacific.
Digital Transformation and Digital Justice: Inequality, Development, Security
In the politics of North-South relations, digital transformation has been a contentious issue in IRs and Development Studies. The proponents claim that digital transformation could boost economic growth and foster development agenda in ‘least developed’ countries. It has also been adopted in G20 and other global development institutions as a global agenda for the post-pandemic economic recovery. Meanwhile, the critics maintain that digital transformation and the North’s dominance in technological companies target the South as its market and sustain the given relations of hierarchy and inequality– hence, often accused of digital colonialism. The panel seeks to look further at how digital transformation, which brings promises of development and post-pandemic recovery, have impacted the North-South relations? How have digital transformation shaped the challenges and potentials in security and development and how they influence the dynamics of the Global South?
Global Health Architecture: Contested Governance and the Reconfiguration of Global Politics
The pandemic of Covid-19 has exposed the limitations of global health governance (GHG). International community, however, has been divided on how to manage the failure. Some believe in the importance of consolidating the GHG, including by reinforcing the WHO. Others, however, denounce multilateral initiatives and resort to nationalised responses. These responses are particularly dangerous to the Global South. As the GHG is increasingly fragmented and contested, the Global South can no longer rely on international coordinated responses against international health threats, leaving them more vulnerable to the danger of diseases. How is the Global South affected by the fragmentation of the GHG? What are strategies employed by the Global South to consolidate the GHG? How should the Global South envision the shape of the GHG?
Climate Justice and Energy Transition in the Global South
While climate change has become an international issue and has now been integrated into global development policies, it does not necessarily mean that they will soon resolve the far-reaching impacts of the climate crisis. Major forms of global climate governance have not effectively implemented the agreed commitments. During the last COP26, held in Glasgow in 2021, various social movement groups saw the forum as elitist and dominated by the states and corporations. They demanded systemic, participatory and structural solutions to mitigate the climate crisis impacts. Meanwhile, the discourse and politics of energy transition—which is normatively adopted for climate crisis solution—have been appropriated with diverse interests and orientation especially in the Global South.
In many cases, development agenda around the energy transition discourse is not motivated by the efforts to tackle the climate crisis but a new avenue for the reconsolidation of the elites’ politico-economy interests. Through the newly established global commodity chains, the practices development and energy transition will reproduce the inequal relations of the North and South, where the former is the host for technology and the latter becomes the supplier and placed within the lowest chain. The panel discusses, both theoretically and case study analysis, on the politics of climate change and energy transition from the experiences of the Global South.