The Trouble With “the Global South”
The Trouble With “the Global South”
Op-Ed / Global 1 minute

The Trouble With “the Global South”

What the West Gets Wrong About the Rest

Not so long ago, policymakers in Washington and other Western capitals gave little apparent thought to the possibility that the rest of the world might hold opinions distinct from their own. There were some exceptions: governments that the West deemed “good partners”—in other words, those willing to advance U.S. and Western security or economic interests—continued to benefit from Western support even if they did not govern themselves in accordance with Western values. But after the Cold War ended, most Western policymakers seemed to expect that developing countries would, over time, embrace the Western approach to democracy and globalization. Few Western leaders seemed to worry that non-Western states might bridle at their norms or perceive the international distribution of power as an unjust remnant of the colonial past. Leaders who voiced such views, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, were dismissed as eccentrics, their ideas behind the times.

Today, by contrast, many Western policy discussions treat it as an established fact that a global South exists with its own distinct outlook. The phrase has become a nearly unavoidable shorthand—my colleagues and I use it ourselves at the International Crisis Group, the organization I lead. And, indeed, non-Western leaders including Narendra Modi of India and Mia Mottley of Barbados have begun to articulate the priorities of a collective—if still rather amorphous—global South on issues such as climate financing and the role of international institutions. Disappointed by many developing countries’ refusal to take serious steps to penalize Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, U.S. and European officials have started to pay new lip service to concerns of this group of states. 

Read the full article on the Foreign Affairs website.

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