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IR - One Definition A Day: AICs - North-South

IR - One Definition A Day: AICs - Advanced Industrial Countries

UN abbreviation for North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australasia. These states are often referred to simply as the North in documents such as the Brandt Report 1980.

The North
The term 'North' is a loose, portmanteau concept used in the advanced industrial countries (AICs). It is particularly popular in political economy and, in terms of developmental models, it may be regarded as being synonymous with the growth of the First World. Systems analysis tends to juxtapose it with the equally amorphous concept of the south. Indeed, the popular title of the first Brandt Report was 'North-South?'

The South
A collective noun used in the context of international political economy to identify a group of state actors. The first Brandt Report referred to the 'South' as broadly synonymous with 'developing' and 'poor' (Brandt, 1980, p. 31). The burden of the Brandt case was that the term was a dialectic antithesis to north and that the 'divide' could and should be bridged by Northern policies of self-interested cooperation. Gill and Law (1988) criticîze 'South' as contestable label but then proceed to use it, thereby selling the pass of conceptual clarity for the sake of convenience. Unlike the term 'Third World',  'South' is not derived from a particular ideological persuasion but it is rather a stipulative term for a typology of state action as the Brandt usage demonstrates.
The case against using the term at all in the analysis of international relations (IR) is that there is so much differentiation within the classification as to render it useless. At the top end of the range are the NICs as the archetype middle income growth-orientated economies. At the bottom end are located the 'famine belt' states of the fourth world. The end of the Cold War era in world politics and the collapse of communism has left the South with an absense of alternatives to the Northern model of market economics. In many parts of the South economic inefficiencies are compounded by political corruption and failure of leadership. Defections from Southern ranks will continue as individual states break out of the vicious cycle of low income-growing population-low growth. This will lead to an increasing fragmentation of Southern solidarity. The nightmare scenario for the rump of the South may be Northern indifference more than anything else.

North South
(à compléter)

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