Integration in the Global South: What role for IBSA Dialogue Forum?


  • Introduction
IBSAWith the globalization process, economy and politics are so intertwined that both cannot be analyzed separately. Economic development, international security, global governance and representation also need to be analyzed from an interdisciplinary perspective in order to understand fully ongoing international political economy. In this paper, the role of India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) will be analyzed from the perspective of global economic system and economic development in the South. Although it was initiated in 2003 with a modest manner, the IBSA has been the engine of the South since then. What are the implications of the IBSA for global economy, development and governance in the North-South agenda in particular is the main question that this paper tries to answer. It is organized in three parts. First, a general but concise analysis of the problems that global economy faces today is introduced, in the context of poverty, globalization and international institutions. Second, the theoretical pinning of the paper, pivotal middle power is elaborated; third, the IBSA is analyzed in the lens of the discussion outlined in the first section by paying special attention to the North-South relations. What follow in the last section is the implications of pivotal middle power activism and the IBSA Dialogue Forum and conclusion.
  • Global Economy, Governance and Globalization

With the advent of globalization, there has been a growing contest in the domain of international economic governance between developed countries and the rest. Trans-nationalization of market forces has brought “disturbing rise in poverty and inequality”,1 while increasing aggregate global economic wealth. From this perspective, international economic institutions have been seen as reflection of the interest of powerful, not poorer, states.2 Given the fact that the global norms and rules that underwrote the institutional architecture of international economy are still driven by “northern agendas”, it spawns southern resentment toward the existing institutions. The ongoing process of political contest and transition with regard to global economy is directly related to global governance and might have far-fetched implications for global governance norms and institutions. As emphasized by Higgott,3 the global governance agenda is still “driven by an understanding of governance as effectiveness and efficiency, not as greater representation, accountability and justice” (emphasis in original). This is not only prone to generate new forms of resistance, but also to search for new alternatives.
The interconnectedness among different regions, as many researchers4 have recognized, is a response to the globalisation. Globalisation as a threat and opportunity needs to be problematized from international economy perspective as well as international global order. First, one needs to address the changing structural configuration of the global economic developments. There is a dramatic growth in the role of the major developing economies. While the G8 economies are currently dominant, major structural change in GDP and global demography are coming about. China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea are in the top of 10 largest economies. In fact, in last 25 years, emerging market economies had growth rates substantially higher than those of G8 members.5 Secondly, the demographic structure of the global economy needs to be taken into account. The most populous and fastest developing countries in the world, China and India, are not member of G8; but they are only part of G8 outreach (so-called G8+5) along with Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. From cultural and civilizational perspective, none of the civilizations, be it Confucianism or Islamic or Hindu, has representation at G8 summits where major decisions regarding the international economy are taken. Furthermore, it is argued that by 2050 global population will increase by fifty percent, from 6 to 9 billion people. Expectedly, threebillion person increase will take place mostly within the developing world and if the current structure continues, international economic system will be excluding an increasingly large proportion of the world’s economy.6
Implications of those abovementioned issues are mainly two. First of all, there is a growing problem of representation in current decision-making process, thus a legitimacy problem exists at the very heart of the institutions. Second, related to first one, the way the governance and multilateralism are understood is not democratic in essence. In fact, the current structure of international political economy can be defined as “institutionalist” in essence, but far from having a “multilateralist” perspective. It operates within and through “multilateral institutions” that are established over theyears, but the injunction to behave multilaterally always applied more to the junior partners in these institutions than to the senior ones. The core question is whether the greater globalization will bring about a greater representation of the “globe” within the global system, or it will serve as a machinery to protect and re-define the hegemony of centre over periphery.

  • Toward a New Concept: Pivotal Middle Powers and Global Politics

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* Published in Journal of Global Analysis Vol. 2 No.1 – 2011

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