The South is organising itself step by step

by Guy Mettan*

Among the countless summits of all kinds that characterise international life and follow each other at a hellish pace, there are some that should attract our attention. The first is the BRICS meeting taking place in South Africa at the end of the month. It will be significant both through the decisions that will be taken there and those that will not, especially in terms of possible enlargement (30 candidate countries!) and the financial system (new clearing and credit currency).
  However, it is very likely that most of our media will be content, as usual, with superficial and pejorative reporting, with many anecdotal remarks about the “defeat” of Putin, who will only attend by video.
  They will be wrong once again. For this summit is by no means an isolated phenomenon, but the tree that covers a dense forest of South-South initiatives that completely escape us. Their proliferation indicates that the North does not set the agenda or the format of international meetings. The two slaps in the face just received by Emmanuel Macron, who would have liked to be invited to Johannesburg and to the recent summit of the Amazon countries (which took place in Belem at the beginning of August in the absence of France, although this country is primarily concerned with Guyana), are very revealing in this respect. Just like his surprising ejection from Niger and the subsequent negotiations between ECOWAS and the military junta that has taken power in Niamey.
  Another important meeting will take place in Beijing in mid-October. This is the third forum of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. 150 countries are expected to attend, except for the Western countries, which are reluctant to participate out of subservience to the US, which is agitating against China. Italy, the only G-7 member that had joined the initiative, has announced its withdrawal. After a three-year absence due to COVID, China wants to return to the top of the international stage. It will be interesting to see who will be present and at what level, especially if the West boycotts the event. Everyone will be able to count their friends.
  But the emancipation of the global South is not just an economic matter. Here and there, political aspirations are beginning to emerge. Two small but symbolic recent initiatives are proof of this. The first is the creation of an African Political Alliance, which held its first ministerial conference in Lomé last May at the initiative of Togo to “better represent Africa’s voice on the international stage” and to escape the all too onerous tutelage of France, the US or China. Ten countries were represented, which is not bad for a start.
  The latest example is the founding of the Association of Friends of the Charter of the United Nations in March this year in New York and Geneva, which has 22 member countries and wants to return to the basics of the Charter, i. e., multilateralism, respect and equality of nation states, rejection of the “rules-based order” that wants to impose Western universalism instead of sovereign internationalism. China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and about 15 other countries, considered by the North as the Bad Boys Club of the international community, now want to coordinate to make their own little music heard against the big orchestra of rich countries.
  Who said international politics and economics were boring?  •

(Translation Current Concerns)

Guy Mettan is a journalist and member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Geneva, which he presided over in 2010. He worked for the “Journal de Genève”, Le Temps stratégique, Bilan, “Le Nouveau Quotidien” and later as director and editor-in-chief of the “Tribune de Genève”. In 1996, he founded the Swiss Presseclub, of which he was president and later director from 1998 to 2019.

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