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Chakwera challenges Global South to leverage natural resource wealth to lobby for better engagement with developed countries

President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has challenged developing countries in the Global South to make use of their ‘sheer numbers’ and leverage the natural resources they command to lobby for better terms of engagement with developed economies in the Global North.

Chakwera made the sentiments at the Second Voice of the Global South Summit (VOGSS), which was virtually hosted by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

He said as they dream of a common future of shared prosperity for the Global South, it is important that developing countries must come to grips with the obstacles that stand in its path, chief among them being the historic attitudes of condescension towards the Global South and the existing global apparatus of systems and structures designed to perpetuate the domination of the Global South by the North.

“To achieve this, we must make use of our sheer numbers and leverage the natural resources we command to lobby for better terms of engagement for our economies. That work of lobbying must be done at fora where the countries who wield control over the global system can listen and contend with our collective position. As a case in point, it is commendable that India presented the concerns of the Global South to the G-20 held in New Delhi, India two months ago, and we must celebrate the fact that it is there that the African Union was approved as a permanent member of the G-20. That approach is the way to go and we need to replicate it in every multilateral platform of note in the ecosystem of global governance,” said Chakwera.

The Malawi leader argued that it is not sufficient for developing countries to advocate for better terms for their participation in the global economy, which adversely affects international prices of food, fuel, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and other critical inputs for the productivity of economies in the Global South.

President Chakwera observed that the disparities in the terms were made painfully plain by the Covic-19 pandemic, which he said exposed the philosophy of segregation and western imperialism at the root of such neo-colonial policies like vaccine procurement and travel bans.

“Even in the recent proxy wars in Eastern Europe and Gaza, we continue to see that philosophy at play. So, the first thing the world needs now to correct this imbalance is for the Global South to be fully and permanently incorporated in the multilateral institutions and fora of global governance at decision-making levels.  One such fora is the CoP28 Summit coming up in two weeks, where we need the Global South to lobby as a bloc for a more efficient, transparent, and diligent system of climate financing than the current is, for it is an injustice that the commitments made at CoP27 on replenishing the Green Climate Fund and operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund are yet to be fulfilled,” he said.

Added Chakwera: “The second thing the world needs to cure the South-North economic disparities is for the debts of the most vulnerable nations to be cancelled. The impacts of Covid-19, climate disasters and global conflicts require resources that are currently being drained by debt service payment obligations that are shrinking the fiscal space, derailing development plans, and postponement the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Developed Goals and the 2031 Doha Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries.”

President Chakwera also reiterated his call for the cancellation of debts and that the resources accrued from the cancellation be ring-fenced to build the capacity of countries in the Global South in the areas of health, education, digitization, energy, trade, industry, and infrastructure.

“These are all enablers of economic growth. In this respect, initiatives like the India-Africa Growth Partnership of 2005, which has facilitated an increase in development, trade and investment cooperation between Africa and India, should be fully supported. Another initiative worthy of revival is the India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme that aimed at sharing development experiences with other developing countries, because there is plenty we can learn from each other without depending on lessons from countries whose developmental trajectory is incomparable to ours. For unlike many countries in the Global North, our nations’ development must be achieved without human rights violations, without colonization, without exploiting the natural resources of other nations, without destroying the environment, and without violating the sovereignty of other nations. And I believe that the only way to achieve it is together,” said the Malawi President.

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