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Examining how leading developing countries are increasingly shaping international economic negotiations, this book uses the case studies of India and South Africa to demonstrate the ability of states to exert diplomatic influence through different bargaining strategies and represent the interests of the developing world in global governance.




The role of Southern powers in contemporary global governance has become particularly notable after the emergence of the G-20 Leaders Summit in 2008 as the new forum for managing the post-crisis global economy. Since then global governance has been significantly affected by the willingness and capacity of Southern powers to participate in managing and re-building the existing institutional order. These powers face the challenge of re-shaping existing configurations of power to institutionalise their emerging status and reforming institutions that were originally designed to serve the collective interests of the Western world. For scholars of international relations, the long-term effects of such a process remain unknown. Some believe that the rise of leading developing countries such as China, Brazil, India and South Africa is likely to cause systemic changes that will ultimately lead to a system of great power conflict and the collapse of existing institutional arrangements (Layne, 2012). Other theorists, however, stress that Southern powers appear unwilling to pursue revisionist politics and undermine the very system of global governance that has facilitated their emergence and within which they seek to further ascend (Ikenberry, 2010). The attempt to delineate the possible paths to cooperation and conflict in global governance necessitates understanding the world views, interests and strategies of these Southern states.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos

1. Middle Power Diplomacy in International Relations

The middle power concept has historically been developed as a framework for understanding the foreign policy of certain Western states, and especially Australia, Canada and the Nordic middle powers. Middle power diplomacy has been pursued extensively by industrialised states that have historically been able to “punch above their weight” through the deployment of an advanced diplomatic machinery in terms of knowledge, resources and expertise. The idea of “middlepowermanship” was developed as a foreign policy platform that could justify a special role for these states in international affairs, and it was often modified accordingly to accommodate the foreign policy needs of Western states (Ping, 2005, pp. 3–8). This functional treatment of the middle power concept often led to the misperception that only a limited number of Western states can act as middle powers.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos

2. The Doha Development Agenda, 2000–1

This chapter examines the different types of diplomacy SMPs may pursue in order to promote their preferred vision of reform internationalism. SMPs generally aspire to influence negotiations in order to secure benefits for the global South and ensure the stability of global governance, but this objective can be pursued through different bargaining strategies. A defensive approach to reform will seek the rebalancing of existing commitments between developed and developing countries and prioritise the resolution of existing imbalances before new agendas can be negotiated. A proactive approach will facilitate the consensus-building required for initiating new agendas if it is deemed that only such engagement will secure the stability of global governance. SMPs can mobilise different segments of the global South to promote these different agendas, but they may also interpret the broader climate surrounding each negotiation in different ways. They may fail to recognise the firm structural leadership provided by major powers and the processes of consensus-building that take place beyond their sphere of influence. SMPs that correctly interpret these conditions are better positioned to exert influence that is disproportionate to their limited material capabilities.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos

3. The Middle Power Offensive, 2002–3

The chapter examines the position of SMPs after critical phases of regime formation to demonstrate how these states rapidly adjust their diplomacies to new conventions of global governance. SMPs are inclined to emerge as forerunners of the mission envisioned in new conventions because they pragmatically recognise the need to maximise their influence within existing frameworks rather than pursue revisionist agendas. They will therefore prefer to enhance the developmental objectives of newly formed frameworks and work from within the system, rather than seek the abolition of these frameworks and the establishment of alternative ones. This is not only because of their incapacity at promoting radical restructuring but also because of their unwillingness to upset existing agreements and cause disorder in global governance. In their efforts at benefiting from newly established conventions, SMPs will take advantage of agreed commitments and responsibilities to pursue a more offensive coalition-building approach to secure the developmental provisions that are proposed by new conventions. While SMPs may pursue assertive bargaining tactics, their aim is not to cause deadlock in international institutions since they always retain a fundamental commitment to the stability of global governance.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos

4. A New Leadership, 2004–5

SMPs are status-seeking actors, striving to enhance their international recognition and prestige as good international citizens. While it is important to identify the range of strategies that SMPs deploy to attain such status, it is equally important to examine the approaches that these states adopt after they have attained their desired status. Securing greater status will propel SMPs to adopt a more accommodative stance and cooperate with major powers to resolve differences over the negotiations. Through their enhanced status, SMPs will have an opportunity to directly influence negotiating outcomes and secure the stability of the system that is their fundamental goal. They are therefore unlikely to antagonise major players, especially if the latter are responsive to their preferences. SMPs may experience, however, the reverse situation and fail to strengthen or even retain their status, witnessing an erosion of influence. Loss of status will force SMPs to retreat to a Southern focus in their diplomacy in order to revitalise their primary basis of influence — which is their Southern leadership. Despite differing levels of success, these patterns of status-seeking behaviour reveal that SMPs are not altruistic agents, but they are aware of how prestige comprises their foremost asset in international politics and formulate their strategies with the aim of projecting their good international citizenship.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos

5. The Informal Phase and Crisis Management, 2006–13

SMPs are willing to maximise their status in international institutions, but such efforts require a formalised setting. When negotiations are conducted on an informal level and are limited to the key players, the space for middle power diplomacy shrinks considerably. In contrast to major powers that often favour such forms of brinkmanship and great power politics, SMPs will be unable to resort to their preferred coalitionbuilding or openly display their status as good international citizens. As a result, they may adopt a less conciliatory stance or strive to bring negotiations back to a more open and multilateral process. While excessive informality will undermine middle power agency, a broader sense of crisis will propel SMPs to provide leadership in revitalising institutions that are deadlocked. During periods of crisis in the global economy, SMPs will take diplomatic initiatives to defend institutions and existing agendas and will attempt to initiate new approaches to building consensus. In this respect, SMPs may demonstrate a greater commitment to multilateralism compared to major powers that may seek alternative paths, such as regional and plurilateral deals, to promote their preferences. At critical moments, and when the legitimacy of key institutions is at stake, SMPs will seek to compromise and diffuse crises against the preferences of both major and smaller powers.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos

6. Southern Middle Powers in Comparative Perspective

The Doha round provides important insights into the role of Southern middle powers (SMPs) in global economic governance. This book has demonstrated that the multilateral diplomacy of SMPs in the WTO is determined by three principal factors: the agenda of reform internationalism that informs their foreign policy, the structural leadership provided by major powers and the degree of their followership in the global South. This section provides a detailed examination of these propositions and identifies the key commonalities and differences between the two case studies.

Charalampos Efstathopoulos


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