Global South

The Global South is a term that has been emerging in transnational and postcolonial studies to refer to what used to be called the "Third World" (i.e., countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America), "developing countries," "less developed countries," and "less developed regions".[1] It can also include poorer "southern" regions of wealthy "northern" countries.[2] The first recorded use of the term was in 1996.[3] It appeared in less than two dozen publications in 2004, but in hundreds of publications by 2013.[3] The emergence of the term is the result of a complex historical and social process, "which illustrates how the term has been charged with various shades of meanings."[4] Scholars generally agree that the term is not without its faults, nevertheless it is often looked at more favorably than its predecessors: "Third World" or "Developing countries."[4] Furthermore, "the urge to come up with a new term highlights not only the uncomfortable reality of previous terms, but also the political connotations of the Global South concept."[4] Leigh Anne Duck, the coeditor of the journal Global South, has argued that the term is better suited to resist hegemonic forces that threaten the autonomy and development of these countries.[4] Other critics and scholars have applauded the empowering aspect of the term, "the unprecedented upward trajectory of its usage," and its ability to encourage a reconsideration of "developed countries' relationship to the Global South.[4] Finally the growth in popularity of the term "marks a shift from a central focus on development and cultural difference" within these areas and instead recognizes the importance of their geopolitical relations.[5]

The term is not without its critics, who argue that such "huge blanket terms" should be eliminated.[6] Some critics of the term have even stated that the term Global South, its usage, and its subsequent consequences and implications benefit those mainly from the upper classes of countries within the Global South who stand "to profit from the political and economic reality – through expanding south-south relations, for example."[4] For the vast majority of inhabitants of the Global South, the terminology and its consequential benefits may not have a huge impact in their day to day lives. Nevertheless, the term South–South cooperation has emerged in tandem with the term Global South to refer to developing countries mostly in the southern hemisphere that work in collaboration on political, economic, social, environmental, cultural, and technical issues. South–South cooperation is guided by the principles of "respect for national sovereignty, national ownership, and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in domestic affairs, and mutual benefit."[7] Countries within this model of South–South cooperation see the cooperation as mutually beneficially relationship that spreads "knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to address their development challenges such as high population pressure, poverty, hunger, disease, environmental deterioration, conflict and natural disasters."[7] Furthermore, these countries also work together to deal with "cross border issues such as environmental protection and HIV/AIDS."[7]


Instead of the term connoting an image of the world divided by the equator separating richer countries from their poorer counterparts, the geography of the Global South should be more readily understood in the wider context of globalization or global capitalism.[4] Conceiving of the Global South in economic terms is not wholly impractical however, though following this logic would reveal that "most people in the so-called Global south actually live in the Northern Hemisphere."[4]

The geographical boundaries of the Global South continues to be a source of ongoing debate, with many critics and scholars agreeing that the term is not a static concept.[4] Some scholars like Rodolfo Magallanes have argued against the feasibility of grouping a large number of countries and regions into one category because it tends to obscure the specific and historical developments of individual countries, their relationships with each other, and the power imbalances within these relationships.[4] Furthermore, "it may obscure wealth differences within countries – and, therefore, similarities between the wealthy in the Global South and Global North, as well as the dire situation the poor may face all around the world."[4]

South-South Cooperation

The Global South is more than the extension of a metaphor for underdeveloped countries. In general, it refers to these countries' interconnected histories of colonialism, neo-imperialism, and differential economic and social change through which large inequalities in "living standards, life expectancy, and access to resources are maintained."[5]

As Global South Leaders have become more assertive in world politics, however, "South-South cooperation" has increased to challenge the political and economic dominance of the "North". South-South Cooperation (SSC) is a political and economical term that refers to the long term goal or practice of pursuing world economic changes that mutually benefit all countries in the Global South and lead to greater solidarity among the disadvantaged in the world system.[8][9] The political use of the term conveys the hope that the countries within the Global South will assist each other in social, political, and economical development, radically altering the world system to reflect their interests and not just the interests of the Global North in the process.

The formation of SSC can be traced to the Asian-African Conference that took place in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955, also known as the Bandung Conference. The conference has been largely regarded as a milestone for SSC cooperation. Indonesia's president at that time, Sukarno, referred to it as "the first intercontinental conference of coloured peoples in the history of mankind."[10] Despite Sukarno's opening address about the conference, there had been gatherings similar to the Bandung conference in the past. Nevertheless the Bandung Conference was distinctive and facilitated the formation of SSC because it was the first time that the countries in attendance were no longer colonies. President Sukarno also famously remarked at the conference that "Now we are free, sovereign, and independent. We are again masters in our own house. We do not need to go to other continents to confer."[10] The conference was sponsored by India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, and Indonesia and was attended by these 29 independent countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gold Coast, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the State of Vietnam, and the Kingdom of Yemen.[10] Each country supported the continuation of decolonization efforts happening in both Africa and Asia at the time. Although many countries disagreed on some issues, the Bandung Conference "provided the first major instance of the post-colonial countries' collective resistance to Western Dominance in International relations."[10]

SSC has become a popular political and economic concept today because of the recent geographical shifts in manufacturing and production from the Global North to the Global South and the recent key diplomatic achievements of several countries in the Global South. These contemporary economic trends have "enhanced the historical potential of economic growth and industrialization in the Global South," which has allowed for renewed targeted SSC efforts that "loosen the strictures imposed during the colonial era and transcend the boundaries of postwar political and economic geography."[8]

See also


  1. Mitlin, Diana; Satterthwaite, David (2013). Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature. Routledge. p. 13. ISBN 9780415624664.
  2. Braveboy-Wagner, Jacqueline Anne (2003). The Foreign Policies of the Global South: Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 9781588261755.
  3. 1 2 Pagel, Heikie; Ranke, Karen; Hempel, Fabian; Köhler, Jonas (11 July 2014). "The Use of the Concept 'Global South' in Social Science & Humanities". Humboldt University of Berlin. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Introduction: Concepts of the Global South | GSSC". Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  5. 1 2 dados, nour; connell, raewyn (2012-01-01). "the global south". Contexts. 11 (1): 12–13.
  6. Eriksen, Thomas Hylland (January 2015). "What´s wrong with the Global North and the Global South?". Global South Studies Center. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  7. 1 2 3 Nations, United. "United Nations: South South Cooperation" (PDF). External link in |website= (help)
  8. 1 2 Gray, Kevin; Gills, Barry K. (2016-04-02). "South–South cooperation and the rise of the Global South". Third World Quarterly. 37 (4): 557–574. doi:10.1080/01436597.2015.1128817. ISSN 0143-6597.
  9. South-south cooperation. (2013). Appropriate Technology, 40(1), 45-48. Retrieved from
  10. 1 2 3 4 Acharya, Amitav (2016-07-03). "Studying the Bandung conference from a Global IR perspective". Australian Journal of International Affairs. 70 (4): 342–357. doi:10.1080/10357718.2016.1168359. ISSN 1035-7718.
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