The 14th BRICS Summit hosted through China’s tenure as Chair wrapped up its business this week amid a commendable list of resolutions, particularly the emphasis on negotiations as a primary diplomatic tool over brinkmanship.
The resolution was ostensibly in relation to the ongoing Ukraine conflict, where very little effort has noticeably been applied by the powerful Western nations aiding Ukraine through weapons, capital, intelligence and military personnel, among a wide-ranging aid package.
Speaking during his opening address of the summit, China’s President Xi Jinping, in his capacity as Chairperson, appealed to BRICS countries to combine their efforts against an increasingly unipolar world.
He called for an outright rejection of a ‘Cold War’ mentality and bloc confrontation, oppose unilateral sanctions and abuse of sanctions and reject small circles built around hegemonism” by forming one big family in a community with a shared future for mankind.
BRICS countries, President Xi said, should actively support each other on issues of their respective core interests, and oppose “hegemony, bullying and division”.
President Xi told the summit that that certain countries – in an apparent attempt to expand military alliances in pursuit of absolute security and ignoring other countries’ rights and interests – “have coerced others to pick sides and created confrontation”. He stopped short of naming the countries that stand accused.
This is a pertinent message by the BRICS bloc to the international community. Peace is better brought about without war, instead of war leading to peace, as history teaches us.
The BRICS bloc, made up of regional powerhouses of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was founded 16 years ago with the main aim of bolstering South-South political and socio-economic relations.
Among the notable results achieved since the establishment of BRICS in heightened cooperation in areas such as the economy, trade, politics, security, technological development, sport, culture, as well as people-to-people exchanges.
BRICS member-states are regarded as emerging markets and major developing countries with the potential to force the reconfiguration of the global landscape through direct influence in geopolitics.
During his opening address to the summit China’s President Xi Jinping also appeared to highlight the power of the unity of purpose for BRICS member-states when he called on them to “act with a sense of responsibility to bring positive, stabilizing and constructive strength to the world”.
President Xi also said that BRICS countries need to speak out for “equity and justice and jointly encourage the international community to practice true multilateralism”.
The 14th BRICS Summit, titled “Fostering High-quality Partnership and Ushering in a New Era of Global Development”, has been precipitated by the sluggish world economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. The Ukraine conflict also featured quite high in the agenda of the summit, more so in the light of the fact that Russia is a member of the bloc.
In a global order that some international relations scholars warn had gone unpleasantly unipolar, BRICS appear as a crucial vehicle in fostering the ethos of multilateralism. “The law of the jungle where the strong prey on the weak and the zero-sum game are rejected and peace, development and win-win cooperation have become the shared aspiration of all peoples,” President Xi told the summit.
The UN, the world’s custodian of multilateralism, has been under a constant barrage of the powerful Western powers who have redefined multilateralism as a “rules-based international order”.
However, “rules-based” is a veiled reference to a unipolar international order based on the ideological standpoint of the powerful nations across the Global North.
Other international organisations where multilateral practices no longer appear to pass include the G7, G20 and World Trade Organisation (WTO) among others. The less said about the UN the better. Among the resolutions adopted at the BRICS Summit 2022 in relation to the UN is the urgent need to the reformation of the global body born after the end of World War 2 in 1945 as a safety net for world peace.
President Cyril Ramaphosa boldly told the delegates: “Decision-making across the entire United Nations system needs to be democratised so that multilateral institutions can effectively address global challenges.”
He was supported by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who went further to call for the reforms of the UN Security Council as well as World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Through the decades, the UN’s credibility has been gradually undermined – nay, eroded – by the selfish geopolitical interests of the powerful nations against the weak.
International financial development institutions, notorious for their tendentious and prejudistic lending conditions and patterns particularly to the emerging economies, have served more sectarian political interests than humanitarian initiatives espoused in international development.
This vexation over politicised global lenders who evidently prioritise the interests of their handlers – the West, over the world’s interests, has given impetus to the much-welcomed birth of the BRICS Development Bank. Combined, the five BRICS countries account for 40% of the world’s population, 23% of global economy, 18% of global trade and attract 25% of global foreign investment. China is the second biggest economy in the world and, within the BRICS family; India ranks the world’s sixth biggest economy. That, in part, is the strategic positioning of BRICS and its potential to impact geopolitics.
President Ramaphosa challenged the summit, saying: “We need to realise the great potential of our economic partnership to strengthen intra-BRICS trade, investment and tourism. Our combined economic strength should be a catalyst for sustainable global economic recovery.”
One of the exciting factors about the BRICS Bank, as it is sometimes called, is that the rapidly- emerging global power bloc is currently concluding debates over extending membership to nations that harbour similar fears and dreams for a reconfigured international order that should be embraced for its true inclusivity.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the summit, hailed “the growing membership of the New Development Bank and the structural changes that have increased the influence of the BRICS institution”.
Over the last number of years, BRICS summits’ attendances had been extended to large numbers of non-members with a view to wooing them to the bloc’s geopolitical strategic plan.
As President Xi observed: “Over the past five years, the ‘BRICS Plus’ approach has set a fine example for emerging markets and developing countries to advance South-South cooperation and gain strength through unity.”
BRICS countries have no interest in forming an exclusive club or “clique”, the Chinese premier said. “They are partners for a win-win cooperation.”
President Xi warned over unipolarity in global affairs: “The world will become even more volatile and unstable if we allow the dangerous trend to continue.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lambasted the West’s use of “financial mechanisms” as a weapon of war. He appealed to BRICS countries to cooperate with Russia in the wake of unprecedented barrage of Western economic sanctions against his country.