On September 26, a special division of the United Nations will bring together heads of state, dignitaries, business leaders, and humanitarians from all over the world to celebrate the idea of Black self-reliance.
Dubbed the “South-South Awards” to describe the cooperation between the countries of the southern hemisphere to one another, the evening is perhaps the biggest evidence of the growing power of the developing world.
“We are empowering countries who have often not had sufficient resources or time to build a successful state, to build linkages between one another,” says Alejandro Cujiba, the Secretary-General of the South-South Steering Committee for Sustainable Development. “When people have the opportunity to effect their future in their own lifetime, and not have to leave their country to be successful, it can be very powerful.”
The southern hemisphere consists of countries in Africa, Asia, South America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. For hundreds of years, many of these countries have been oppressed both economically and politically, creating huge disparities to their global neighbors in the north. Not only has the United Nations recognized these states as at the center of many of their sustainable development goals, but as the future of the success of our interconnected world.
“Seventy years ago we had empires, and so many countries were being exploited for just their labor or natural resources,” says Cujiba. “The period from then to now is very short, but access to information is critical and we can no longer disregard the needs of those who are poor or far away.”
As accurately as you can draw a geographical line between the developed north and the more disadvantaged south, history cannot argue that this division could also be represented as a color line, one that separates success and wealth between the lighter and darker peoples of the world. Supporting Black and brown peoples on a global level to transfer their skills and knowledge and growing capabilities with one another, mirrors the efforts African-Americans make on a local level to take care of our own disadvantaged communities.
One does not forego any partnership with the mainstream—or north—but not having to totally rely on those who have historically mistreated you is a critical step in nation building.
“The easiest way to create an enemy is by race,” says Cujiba, who grew up in the mostly all-White society of Moldova. “It’s easy to say someone that looks different is a perpetrator because you don’t have to go into the depths of an issue, to discover if someone shares your values. The UN is committed to reducing hunger, poverty, and child mortality, to empower women, to reduce cases of HIV & AIDS, and malaria, and we believe that the future is not based on race. The future is based on an understanding that we have to work together if we want to survive on this planet.”
The role of politician is an important and very public one. Despite the bad behavior of many of his colleagues, President Obama will likely inspire generations of young people to take on the profession to help progress our society. But, perhaps, the role of the diplomat needs to be more highly considered. Their job is to listen, and build bridges; to negotiate and learn when fighting seems to many like the only option. Those, like Secretary Cujiba, who have devoted their lives to it, do a job based on the belief of the essential similarities and goodness of all people.
“As a diplomat you understand that if you fail, something terrible might happen. Diplomacy is the last thing you have before starting a military action, so you cannot leave the table because you disagree. All over the world there are people suffering from terrible crimes and people committing terrible crimes. There is both good and evil inside of each of us, and our whole lives we have this internal fight, but it is our destiny to work hard and to use our skills,” Cujiba said.
And for those who say progress is not coming quickly enough?
“It took a lot of determination and political will to build linkages between developing states, to bring together the networks of governments and the public and private sectors, all stakeholders committed to the goals of sustainable development, and that’s why celebrating South-South is so important.”
“Sometimes it is not the end of the road, but the road itself,” Cujiba concludes, “and the future belongs to the southern hemisphere…”
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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EXCLUSIVE: U.N. South-South Awards 2015 To Focus On Black Self-Reliance In Developing Nations was originally published on newsone.com