External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, addressing the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, emphasised the significance of the Global South as a dynamic movement dedicated to practical global betterment. Jaishankar highlighted India’s G20 presidency, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi played a pivotal role in securing the African Union’s historic permanent membership.
Nigeria’s active involvement in the G20 and the Voice of the Global South Summit showcased a collaborative approach in shaping global discussions. The address underscored the Global South’s role as not just a geographical concept but a mindset and a commitment to tangible global improvements.
“I’m coming from a G20 presidency that India was proud to chair, where we saw the expansion and the first ever membership admission of the African Union on a permanent basis. And I’m very proud to say that this was an initiative that was personally led by my Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. We were very honored during the G20 to have the participation of Nigeria, not just in the G20, but also in the Voice of the Global South Summit, that both preceded and succeeded the main Summit,” he said.
The minister emphasised the ongoing global conversation focused on the “advancement of the Global South, because without the advancement of the Global South, we are not going to see planetary progress.”
Acknowledging the distractions in this discourse, Jaishankar commended India’s G20 presidency for successfully refocusing attention on critical issues such as sustainable development goals, clean and green growth, woman-led development, health, energy, food security, and digital public infrastructure.
“So one of the big achievements of our G20 presidency was, that after some experience with a very polarised, divided world, which was very much, I would say, focused on one particular region, we were able to bring back the attention of the G20.
Jaishankar delved into the core principles defining the Global South, highlighting non-intervention, non-interference, non-judgmental, and non-alliance as key facets.
“So, I would say Global South, most of all, is a mindset. But it is a mindset which has some core principles. These are principles from our habits, from our political culture, from the way we have practiced international relations over the last 60, 70, 80 years. For example, non-intervention, for example, non-interference or being non-judgmental or non-alliance,” said the EAM.
However, he underscored a positive definition, asserting that the Global South is fundamentally about solidarity, “having a heart, and being willing to share.”
The minister provided a vivid example of India’s commitment to the Global South through its vaccine diplomacy.
“I give them an example from our own experience. I tell people, look, in my country we were still vaccinating people when we started supplying vaccines to 100 countries in the world. And I compare it to Global North where there were countries sitting on vaccines eight times the number of their population and they wouldn’t give it to a small island next to them. That is the difference to me between Global South and Global North,” he added.
While still vaccinating its citizens, India supplied vaccines to 100 countries globally, contrasting with countries in the Global North stockpiling vaccines disproportionately. This, according to Jaishankar, exemplifies the difference between the Global South and Global North.
Addressing the question of how the Global South deals with the Global North and the global agenda, Jaishankar stressed empathy, understanding, respect, and recognition of each country’s sovereignty, culture, and tradition. He emphasized that solutions should be organically owned by the society implementing them, highlighting the importance of considering culture, traditions, and heritage in addition to politics, economics, and technology.
Jaishankar shared practical examples of India’s contributions, including digital public infrastructure, space exploration, and the execution of 600 projects in 78 countries as part of Global South solidarity. He positioned India as a first responder in times of crisis, illustrating the tangible application of Global South commitments.
The External Affairs Minister expressed his hope for continued collaboration and the reinforcement of capabilities within the Global South. He emphasized the need to share experiences, complement capabilities, and work towards common objectives through existing bodies, mechanisms like the G20, the Voice of the Global South Summit, South-South cooperation, and bilateral relationships.
“So to me, Global South is actually a movement whose spirit, whose sentiment, whose commitment needs to be harnessed for the betterment of the world in very, very practical ways,” the EAM said.
Jaishankar concluded by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to share these sentiments and affirmed his commitment to taking practical initiatives forward during his visit to Abuja for discussions with his counterpart through the Joint Commission.