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Global South Unit
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom 


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Welcome to the Global South Unit 

Please click on the FAQs below to find out more about us: 

What is the Global South Unit?

- The Global South Unit is based in the LSE International Relations Department.


- It has the independence, agility and academic weight to set the research agenda, generate innovative ideas and communicate views from the perspective of the Global South. 


- The goal of the GSU is to contribute and lead the debate through our research, analysis and innovative ideas. Our vision is to help create a prosperous Global South which pioneers sustainable approaches to responsible social and economic development and good governance.


Who are the contributors?

- The unit is led by Dr Chris Alden, Reader of the International Relations Department. 


- It draws on the expertise of leading academics, practitioners, policy makers, business leaders and influential actors from the Global South.


- The GSU works closely with LSE’s affiliate universities in the Global South.

What are the outputs?

-The Unit focuses on commissioning, collating and contributing research about the Global South, produced by leading actors from the South and from the global academic community.


-The GSU contributes and shapes the debate through: research, working papers, publications, speaking at events and hosting conferences.


- The GSU’s work output forms part of the LSE’s International Relations Department curriculum, in cooperation with the North-South Workshop.


- With the generous sponsorship of The Development Bank of Latin America, the GSU facilitates a visiting fellowship, an annual conference and a scholarship programme for students from Latin America.


- The GSU hosts events at LSE featuring prominent speakers from the Global South.


What is unique about it?

- The unit’s strength and unique contribution to the debate lies in its circle of learning. It is not based on theory alone; contributing academics have real experience of social and economic development in the Global South and feed these learnings back into their work and to the wider academic community.


- The GSU enables the South to define the world in its own terms and express its own views, learnings and developments.


About the Global South

The Global South has embarked on an unprecedented upward trajectory. Already, the output of the developing world’s three leading economies (Brazil, China and India) is close to equalling the combined output of the longstanding industrial powers of the North – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Even smaller countries like Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia are experiencing rapid economic development. According to the 2013 UNDP Human Development Report, it is estimated that 80% of the world's middle class population will be living in developing countries by 2030.

This surge of the emerging economies is now in process of reconfiguring the political and economic geometry of the international system. New modalities of engagement in international development, from the state-led capitalism of Asian economies to the world-bestriding operations of global market-savvy Southern multinationals, are replacing the once-dominant North-South aid and investment paradigm.

The dynamic global actors driving this process are pressing for a greater voice in the international system, and introducing norms and practices that are reshaping – or that aim to reshape – both the formal and the informal institutions of global governance. The world is being turned on its axis – a redress that promises huge opportunities for potential development, whilst also posing major challenges and indeed dangers. With material progress comes huge responsibility for effective human and social development.

At the heart of this ongoing global transformation is a phenomenon known as ‘South-South cooperation’. Once consigned to the margins, South-South cooperation is coming to occupy an important place in the changing theory and discourse of development. Originally bound up in the response of the developing countries to the destabilising politics of the Cold War, South-South cooperation gave voice to aspirations for a development path untainted by ideological conflict, and to an acknowledgement that relations between developing countries should be a crucial means of achieving these aspirations.

Against the backdrop of continuing growth in Southern economies – in the teeth of the concurrent economic travails afflicting the donor countries of the North – South-South cooperation has finally come to the fore. It has been formally recognized by the OECD-DAC in late 2011, at the Busan High Level Summit on Aid Effectiveness, as a dynamic form of engagement contributing to a rapid transformation of the developing world. Its patterns are far from homogenous, and each emerging economy – be it a potentially great-power BRIC country [Brazil, Russia, India and China] or a smaller CIVETS country [Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa] – functions in a variety of ways. 

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