A major theme of this year’s G-7 summit was the stated efforts by the rich, industrialized nations that make up the group to engage with the Global South. But that did not translate to substantive outcomes, as the Global South’s concerns took a back seat to the West’s geopolitical competition with an axis led by China and Russia.
Is Washington’s post-Cold War “unipolar moment” over? Some claim that multipolarity has been with us for some time. Others are not so sure, pointing to the United States’ continued economic and military dominance. But even if the U.S. remains the world’s predominant power, it may still well exist in a multipolar world.
As U.S. officials focus on countering China and Russia, Washington’s policy community is taking a new look at U.S. relations with the Global South. The fact that these conversations are taking place is encouraging, but the questions they focus on also demonstrate how little U.S. leaders understand about the Global South.
In March, the U.S. announced its largest-ever commitment of funding to support foreign labor unions and the right to organize around the world. But while the initiative was framed as novel, the U.S. government has leaned on domestic labor unions as a means of achieving its national security goals since the late 1940s.
The International Committee of the Red Cross launched an initiative this spring to encourage players of first-person shooter video games to follow the rules of war, which serves their wider agenda of strengthening civil society’s commitment to the laws of armed conflict. The approach, though, has not been without controversy.
Around the world, democracies are suffering from voter apathy, political polarization, anti-establishment sentiment and abuses of majoritarian rule that have facilitated the spread of autocracy. Now countries are increasingly experimenting with a new way forward: citizens’ assemblies put together by random selection.
The West Is Finally Listening to the Global South on the War in Ukraine
For the past year, leaders of the Global South have resisted Western pressure to take a tougher position against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by seeking to broaden the discussion to include a global order they see as being built on—and perpetuating—political and economic inequities. It seems that effort may be bearing fruit.
The United Nations’ ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization—to the World Health Organization.
At the annual G-7 summit this week, Western leaders have to decide what vision of global leadership they want to project. Beyond showing unity in opposition to Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s military and economic assertiveness, it’s unclear what the G-7 will say about resolving the issues currently plaguing non-Western states.
Last month, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan gave a speech declaring that the neoliberal “Washington consensus” was officially dead. The Biden administration’s new policy approach is a bold departure from one that allowed far too many decisions to be determined solely by the market, but it has problems of its own.
A growing number of jurisdictions worldwide have recently moved toward some form of cannabis regulation. Moving away from prohibition makes sense, but cannabis legalization has not been without its challenges. One trend in particular gets little attention: the complicity of legal cannabis corporations in the illicit cannabis trade.
Resource extraction continues to be a major source of revenue for both developing countries and wealthier nations alike. But the windfalls don’t come without risks. Meanwhile, the environmental impact of fossil fuels is driving the development of renewable energy sources. But the transition is slow to develop.
The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. But persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change.
Something strange is happening in liberal democracies’ relationship with social media platforms—specifically with TikTok, which is being banned or threatened with bans in democracies around the world. It is commonplace for authoritarian regimes to ban such platforms, but this is relatively new and dangerous territory for democracies.
The China that is reemerging onto the world stage after its multiyear pandemic shutdown is very different than the one that launched the Belt and Road Initiative a decade ago. Beijing seems interested in reshaping its role as an international development partner. The results of those efforts could transform global development itself.