One may want to ignore the recent 8th BRICS summit in Goa (India) and retain only the announcement of the launch of an independent rating agency. We can also consider that the battle of Mosul has a much more strategic relevance to the future of the planet than the meeting of five heads of state representing nearly half of the global population and a comparable economic weight when calculated in purchasing power parity of the US and Europe combined. This, of course, would be a mistake, the expression of the ostrich syndrome that characterizes provincialisation countries in a world that switch in favor of the Emerging nations. Should we let China or Russia preempt?
An alternative pole emerges when the anti-Globalization wave fades
What a long way in any case for those countries who were to be only a chimera of the Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs when he struck in 2001 the acronym BRIC to describe the four emerging powers as a counter force of the G7 club of Western powers. Above all, what a long way in only ten years since the first meeting in New York of four foreign ministers who laid the foundations of alternative summits to the G7. Thanks to the prescient intuition that expands the anti-Western BRIC to Africa at the summit in 2011, the BRICS appears year after year as a new voice (and track) in world affairs.
Nothing stops it. All conjectures based on the so-called heterogeneity of the BRICS, with two neo-communist powers and three “democratic” powers, and thus its eventual breakdown, failed. On the contrary, a new alternative Global Forum to the American superpower is consolidating while that of the anti-globalization mass movement has almost disappeared. The BRICS strength can be found in the minimum common denominator approach of what was once called the Third World. It offers a credible alternative to the Bretton Woods post-war institutions, including the IMF and a UN Security Council with a Western majority.
Affirmation of a non-Western diplomatic and economic agenda
How the 8th Summit of Goa is it a success from the standpoint of the BRICS? In geopolitical terms, the final statement contrasts with those of recent G7 summits, but also with that of the last G20 that held in China in October 2016 in Hangzhou. On Syrian affairs first, where the only real enemy targeted is Daesh presented implicitly as an offshoot of the United States and Saudi Arabia. On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, then, the BRICS has once more expressed a strong support for the United Nations resolutions calling for the establishment of two states and the allocation of East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinians.
Finally, one can note the strong insistence to make the UN the only legitimate arbiter of international conflict with a repeated support to India, Brazil and South Africa to get permanent seats on the institution’s Security Council. On the IMF side, there is lastly the now explicit demand that Europeans cede two seats on the Executive Board in favor of emerging countries.
But the real coup of the Summit concern Africa with a strong call for not only a new security architecture but also as a socioeconomic priority in the World agenda. The BRICS has endorsed the claims of the Black continent for its own collective security with just external assistance under United Nations cover.
But be aware that the BRICs are increasingly active in the contingents deployed by the UN in the crisis countries, in particular, India, Brazil and South Africa. Economically, beyond the Hangzhou G20 conclusions strongly marked by the “Chinese Marshall Plan” approach to stimulate the World economy, Africa stands more than ever as a major target in the BRICS agenda with explicit support to the 2063 Agenda recently adopted by the African Union. Beyond that, it is actually the whole developing world that is targeted with a long reminder of the new Millennium Goals adopted at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015.
There is no point to challenge the BRICS, except to engage
True, the world view expressed in the final declaration is not really reassuring. In some 7540 words of the final declaration, there is only one reference to “Democracy, another one to Human rights “and not a single to the concept of civil society or NGOs. The seven references to “the market” are very ambiguous. We may indeed have markets, but not “market economy” with free individuals or companies. Conversely, “terrorism” appears as an obsession with about fifty hits, as well as a “shared control” over the cyberspace or the aerospace.
The “Big Brothers” like China and Russia, and to a lesser extent India and Brazil, just claim a kind of fair sharing of the world with the US hyper power and its Western allies. Basically: No to unilateralism, but a multilateralism of major powers, with the right to paralyze the international institutions in case of disagreement.
Should we, however, be forced to choose between the Washington and the Beijing Consensus too often consider as the backbone of the BRICS? Would it be not better to listen to what the forum says, about the need for a truly multi-polar world and the priorities of the economic, social and environmental development for the majority of the world’s population? That’s less than 15% of the world population continues to behave like a closed and selfish club, propped on its own interests and ideological visions, is not an alternative of course.
The real alternative to the risk of a Big Brothers Club is truly an inclusive vision of diplomatic and economic challenges facing the planet and share the reins of power. That is to give the international community, and therefore the United Nations a central role in world affairs, whether the management of crises and conflicts, but also the priorities and means of economic, social and environmental development.