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BRICS: The 2012 New Delhi Summit

BRICS: a new-generation forum with a global reach

Sergey Lavrov, minister of foreign affairs, Russian Federation

From "BRICS: The 2012 New Delhi Summit, edited by John Kirton and Marina Larionova with Yoginder K. Alagh,
Published by Newsdesk Media, 2012
Download the PDF (3.5 MB - right-click to download) • Order a printed copy at no charge here

The establishment of BRICS, initiated by Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2006, has been one of the most significant geopolitical events since the beginning of the new century. it has quickly become a powerful influence on world politics and the economy. The evolution of the BRICS group continues the trend toward a multipolar system of international relations and increasing economic interdependence. Such a system requires global governance and network diplomacy.

BRICS influence in the international arena is a result of its members' growing economic power and their important contribution to global demography and the supply of natural resources. in 2011, BRICS countries accounted for 25 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) (based on the purchasing power parity of national currencies), 30 per cent of global land area and 45 per cent of the world's population. Over the past decade, their economies have grown by 4.2 times, compared with 61 per cent growth in the developed countries. "Between 2001 and 2010, the BRIC economies' GDP rose much more sharply than i had thought possible even in the most optimistic scenario," admits Jim O'neill, the economist who coined the term 'BRIC'. The BRICS contribution to global economic growth has now reached 50 per cent, making this group the principal driver of global economic development.

in terms of political influence, Russia and China are permanent members of the United nations Security Council (UNSC), and all BRICS members play a prominent role in leading international organisations: the Un, the G20, the G8, the non-Aligned Movement, the G77. in regional terms, Russia is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community. Russia and China are members of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Brazil is a member of the Union of South American nations and Mercosur. South Africa is a member of the African Union and the South African Development Community. India is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation.

Tipping the global balance

According to Brazilian Carlos Pereira, the BRICS group is "one of the key pieces on the global chessboard". O'Neill concludes that "BRIC's rapid growth tips the global balance".

Long-shared interests bring the BRICS countries together. One is their desire to reform the outdated global financial architecture, which does not reflect the increased economic weight of the BRICS and other emerging economies. The group's commitment to international law and rejection of power politics and infringement on others' sovereignty are equally important. BRICS members face a multitude of common challenges related to economic and social modernisation. Complementarities among many sectors of BRICS economies also contribute to their strategic rapprochement.

For the Russian Federation, cooperation within BRICS is a key long-term foreign policy priority. we welcome the step-by-step transformation of this cooperation into a multilateral strategic partnership embracing far-ranging issues of the global economy and politics. Moreover, Russia supports positioning BRICS as a new model of global relations overriding the old east-west or north-South barriers. An association of states populated by almost three billion people is not likely to limit itself to the role of bridge or mediator between the north and the South, or of operating only within the South-South political space. Such an approach would definitely restrict the opportunities for BRICS to pursue independent policies in international affairs.

As a group, the BRICS members have already gained valuable experience in coordinating their actions on major international issues, especially when all five countries were members of the UNSC simultaneously in 2011. Our countries have taken common or similar positions on issues such as the situations in libya, Côte d'ivoire, Sudan and Somalia.

Maintaining peace and security

There are good prospects for more active engagement to preserve and strengthen the UnSC's role in maintaining peace and security and preventing the Un, especially the Security Council, from being used by the west for disguising attempts to overthrow unwanted regimes or impose unilateral solutions for conflict situations. it is important to continue and develop mutual support for proposals of primary concern to our countries at the Un General Assembly and its agencies including the human Rights Council, the economic and Social Council, UneSCO, the Un industrial development Organization and the Un development Programme.

Russia calls upon its BRICS partners to adopt the following priorities for international security.

First, BRICS must coordinate its position and formulate joint proposals for strategic stability, international and regional security, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as for resolving regional conflicts and maintaining regional stability.

Second, BRICS should engage in joint efforts to strengthen the Un's role in the fight against terrorism, ensuring the implementation of its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and universal anti-terrorism conventions, as well as strict compliance with relevant UnSC resolutions.

Third, BRICS should coordinate its approach to combating illicit drug trafficking and take joint steps in the Un's framework and related regional organisations.

Fourth, BRICS interaction should support international information security, with greater cooperation in combating cyberterrorism and cybercrime.

Fifth, BRICS should enhance its cooperation with stakeholders in fighting maritime piracy, and increase efforts to create an international mechanism for prosecuting and punishing pirates.

Reforming the international monetary and financial system will remain a key long-term priority of BRICS cooperation. BRICS should focus on ensuring strong, sustainable and balanced global economic growth, completing the current reforms of the international Monetary Fund (iMF) according to the deadlines and conditions agreed upon by the G20 and the iMF, and advancing reforms in the international monetary system to build a more representative, stable and predictable system of international reserve currencies.

These tasks can be achieved mainly through the G20. Thus, it is crucial for the BRICS members to enhance their interaction within the G20. Together, we should do everything possible to strengthen the G20's central role in responding to global financial shocks and in reforming the global financial and economic architecture.

Russia attaches great importance to using the established structures of cooperation within BRICS to members' full potential in order to accelerate the modernisation of our economies, ensure food and energy security, and address social issues. it is essential to raise mutual awareness of our cultures and traditions, in order to expand public support for the purposes and policies of the members as a group. A common information space for BRICS members could help to accomplish this objective.

Some conclusions can be drawn from BRICS experience thus far. For the next three or four years, it seems appropriate for the five countries to concentrate on promoting common interests in finance, economy and politics, as well as on the institutional strengthening of BRICS to reach a new level of cooperation.

in Russia's opinion, informal mechanisms should ideally include summits; regular meetings of high Representatives for Security issues; meetings of foreign and finance ministers, central bank governors, and sectoral ministries and agencies; working groups; and a 'virtual' secretariat. Regular sherpa and sous-sherpa meetings should serve as a BRICS coordinating mechanism.

it is important to aim at developing the forum's external relations. we should emphasise a dialogue with major emerging economies and developing countries, the Un and its bodies, as well as with key regional organisations.

The progress that has been achieved by this young group at an early stage, as well as the momentum of its development and its prospects, show that BRICS will become increasingly important in defining the thrust of global development in the 21st century.

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