Munich Security Conference: Courting the Global South

Charles Michel discusses cooperation, trust, and justice. More cooperation and unity are key. On Friday morning at the Security Conference (Siko), the President of the European Council is participating in one of the opening rounds of discussions. “Recalibrating the compass: South-North cooperation” is the subject. And Michel barely misses an opportunity to use a catchphrase to highlight how important it is for Europeans to engage with the impoverished nations of the Global South today. It is the main takeaway from the three days spent in Munich.

Never before in Siko’s history have the developing nations been so present and so well-represented. Many more senior officials would have attended if the African Union’s General Assembly hadn’t been held this weekend in Ethiopia. Even still, it is remarkable that in Munich, politicians from developing nations are given a platform in prominent locations.

There is no harm in having many friends in the world

The battle in Ukraine marked the start of the West’s new charm offensive in Africa, Asia, and South America. North Americans and Europeans were aware of the extent to which China and Russia have increased their influence in recent years. Since then, the struggle for power has resurfaced because having as many friends as possible is beneficial. The heads of state from Senegal, South Africa, India, Indonesia, and Argentina were invited to the G7 conference at the Bavarian Hotel Schloss Elmau by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz as representatives from their continents.

The topic of compensation for losses and damage caused by extreme weather, which the United States and the European Union had previously vehemently denied, was finally brought up at the international climate summit in Egypt. Charles Michel also stressed on Friday in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof that the EU supports the African Union’s application to join the powerful G20 group. Three of many invitations to friendship Then came Munich.

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On the one hand, the nations that are so charming benefit from the new attention. They do, however, have concrete needs. also a little bit resentful. The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, responds to Michel’s flirtatious attempts: Solidarity is the word he overhears. “We didn’t witness this camaraderie during the Corona pandemic; we Africans were left behind.” It was a major issue since they scarcely had access to immunisations. Akufo-Addo insists that in order to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, political will is what is most important.

It is troubling to see how many nations in the South are faring financially in the wake of the epidemic, as well as inflation, rising energy and food prices, and a worsening of the climate problem. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) states in its annual report for 2022 that “about 60% of low-income developing nations are at high risk of over-indebtedness or are already over-indebted.” These issues have been made worse by the economic shocks brought on by the Ukraine conflict. IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva notes that these economic issues also have an impact on the security issue as she and Bill Gates wrap up the round of negotiations in Munich sponsored by his foundation. Georgieva claims that a world without fairness is dangerous.

The South’s nations demand a reform of the World Bank in addition to aid payments

There are new aid programmes, such as the so-called partnerships for a just energy transition (JETP) with South Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam, which are meant to support the phase-out of coal there, despite the tight budgetary conditions in Europe and North America. The money is pouring, and negotiations with nations like Senegal and India are in progress. This Thursday, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) debt owed by Somalia was taken over by Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Sweden (IFAD). Half of the eight million people living there are dependent on humanitarian help, and the country in East Africa is going through its fifth rainy season without any precipitation. By paying the 9.5 million euros, Ifad, which mostly supports sustainable smallholder agriculture, will be able to support Somalia once more.
Yet, the South Asian nations are no longer content with receiving aid alone. They aim for the post-World War II international financial system, which was built on the basis of many sovereign nations today, including many in Africa. Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo and Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley are urging a thorough overhaul of the IMF or the World Bank to make it easier for developing nations to get access to low-interest loans. For instance, they leave fossil fuels in the ground or safeguard their rainforests when they take actions to preserve the environment or adapt to climate change. As a form of currency reserve, the richer nations should pledge their unique drawing powers as security. This weekend, Mottley is also anticipated in Munich.

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In advance, Avinash Persaud, her special envoy for climate financing, stated: “The climate catastrophe and many other issues are all windows to the same problem—that of poverty and inequality.” One of the factors driving the globe towards 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming is the financial crisis in many nations.

The World Bank’s largest shareholders, the nations with the strongest economies, led by the United States, are likewise open to making concessions in this matter. The World Bank offered a plan for internal reform at the urging of Germany, the United States, and other western nations. President David Malpass, who was chosen by US President Donald Trump and was displeased with vague statements on man-made climate change, revealed last week that he would be resigning early in June. Since the World Bank President is generally chosen by the United States, Malpass’s resignation enables the Biden administration to appoint a leader of the largest development bank who could legitimately downsize the institute for climate protection. This satisfies the South’s expectations for a major increase in the flow of funds.

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