Over the years, Global South countries have requested several reforms to the existing multilateral system, to no avail. South-South platforms have therefore developed and strengthened. However, our globalized world such as ours, Southern challenges are in fact global and shared. How can we build a more inclusive architecture and update and strengthen the North-South dialogue and partnership?
Date : 12 November 2019
Paris, France – Grande Halle de La Villette, Agora 1
Watch the full debate
- Moderator: Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chairman, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
- Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon
- Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia
- Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)
- SEM Hossam Zaki, Deputy Secretary General, League of Arab states
- Mohan Kumar, Chairman, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)
Key takeaways from the discussion
- Reacting to Mo Ibrahim’s call to “raise a red card” to indicate that “we are not represented,” President Paul Biya recalled that the way the current international architecture works was obsolete and that the bipolarity resulting from the conflicts of the 20th century had to stop and be replaced by concrete actions to rebalance forces in international negotiations and institutions such as the United Nations Security Council or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The President appealed to countries of the Global North to take into account the new reality of today’s world. Changes must be made in depth and not just superficially.
- Mohan Kumar strongly supported the creation of multilateral cooperative initiatives that offer a substantial role to the Global South, as was the case with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) launched by France and India at COP21. He pointed out that South-South cooperation has great potential and that if the current international institutions do not adapt to the South, other institutions from the South will replace them, with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank created by China being a recent example. In his view, Global South countries should not “allow bad politics to trump good economics. What they need is good, solid economics and good governance,” which are the necessary foundations for development.
- Hor Namhong urged Global South countries to better promote their common economic and political interests together to strengthen their negotiating capacity, particularly within the framework of the Group of 77 or the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He predicted that in 15 years’ time, many Global South countries would no longer be emerging countries and would therefore legitimately claim a more important place in the international landscape. Everyone therefore agrees that the rules must be changed, but it remains to be determined how.
- Louise Mushikiwabo stated that injustice and imbalance of representation should not be an excuse for the Global South not to act and that Global South countries should take advantage of all the opportunities already available to them to improve their situation and that of the planet. “We must not wait for seats to be offered to us before we sit at the table. We must maximize all the opportunities we have,” she said. The resolution of South-South conflicts must not wait for the North to change the rules of the game, which will take time, but must involve increased South-South cooperation. The Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) is a concrete result of North-South cooperation, the founders of which are largely leaders of the Global South. She also explained that, in order not to be at a disadvantage, the Global South countries needed to better prepare the management and strategy of their relations with China, which identifies ideologically with the Global South, and which has become a key player on the international stage.
- Hossam Zaki stressed the need for Global South countries to move beyond political and security disputes to highlight common socio-economic interests and launch positive multilateral cooperation initiatives, as was recently the case in the Middle East with the creation of the Arab common market for electricity. The Global South has demonstrated that it can form an internationally recognized force, although there is still considerable room for improvement. China and India are therefore two giant actors that are indispensable in the new world order, particularly with regard to climate issues. According to him, the key question is whether the Global South countries would be better served by concentrating their efforts in existing global structures or by creating smaller ones themselves that respond more specifically to their challenges.
Discover the article by Mo Ibrahim on the Medium blog of the Paris Peace Forum.