BRICS: The Vehicle of Inclusive Development, Tranquillity and Multipolar World

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By Allawi Ssemanda

The 15th BRICS Summit is ongoing in South Africa’s city of Johannesburg under the theme BRICS and Africa- Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth. The summit comes at a time when the world being tested by challenges such as geopolitical competition, the climate crisis, unilateralism, block confrontation with some countries in blocks promoting own security at the expense of others which critical analysts blame for the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.

This year’s summit theme, gives hope African dream momentum. Almost all the leaders of the grouping which today accounts for 40% of global population and slightly more than 30% of world’s GDP are united and see African allies as equal partners. Also, the group’s success is making many countries court them with hopes of joining and benefiting from inevitable benefits that comes with being a member. More than 40 countries including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Iran and United Arab Emirates have expressed interest to join the group. However, BRICS leaders must ensure that the group’s expansion is driven by real reasons and purposeful inclusion by admitting members that align with their “ideal” view of the multipolar world the group wants to build. This means their expansion must be strategic; candidates’ animosity towards the west should never be used as qualification for one to become a member.

This is not to say that the group should not expand. There are more reasons for the BRICS to expand now than ever before. As Chinese ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong recently observed, “the traditional global governing system has become dysfunctional, deficient and missing in action” while BRICS grouping has stood the test of the time as fierce defenders of international justice.

Also, having countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia as members of BRICS will help amplify African countries voice calling for reforms in the UN more audible. For long, African countries have called for reforms at the UN especially in the formation of the United Nations Security Council UNSC permanent members which African countries view as heavily biased against them.

It should be recalled that in 1945 when it was founded, only four African countries were members. Today, all the 54 African countries are full members of the UN. However, of the 193 member states, only United States of America (USA), United Kingdom, France, Russia and China commonly referred to as the 5P are the permanent members of the UNSC – the organisation’s highest decision-making body. This gives the five countries more powers (veto) when it comes to voting on important issues in the council.

The irony of this is that, Africa whose membership at the UN is close to 28% of the body’s total membership has no major role despite always being the centre of discussion during the council’s work. In 2018 for example, more than 50% of UNSC’s meetings, 60% of their official documents and about 70% of their resolutions contained chapter VII mandates all focused on Africa. This means that without Africa, the UN as a body is arguably incomplete. This is not to say that I don’t recognise the fact that in the UNSC Africa is represented by the so-called A3, a block of three elected African states. It is important to observe that, the A3 countries have no big say at the security council because, none has veto power as opposed to the other five states with permanent membership.

The good news is that all the BRICS founding members c, non is opposed to Africa having a representative at the UNSC with equal powers as it is with the 5P. They are all involved in calling for reforms at the UN including reforming the current financial systems dominated by the Bretton woods institutions which many analysts argue work on whims of the U.S and allies.

Critical analysis of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who while defending closer ties with Africa noted that “Brazil is back on the continent it should never have left. Africa offers vast opportunities and enormous potential for growth,” to China and Russia who have been strong advocates of African interests, it is clear that African countries’ interests have strong backing among all the founding members of the BRICS  in their call for reforms in the so-called traditional global governing system.

The current rhetoric among BRICS leaders, there is no doubt that BRICS offers more benefits to Africa than any other grouping today including the G7 which has always promised and when it comes to implementation nothing comes as was the case with their promise during the 2021 G7 summit in Cornwall, England where they promised infrastructure support to African countries under what U.S ruler Joe Biden called “build back better for the world” (B3W) that never materialised before they changed it to another white elephant announced during the 2023 G7 summit in Japan’s city of Hiroshima.

On the eve of the ongoing BRICS summit, Chinese president Xi Jinping published an article in south African major dailies entitled “Sailing the Giant Ship of China-South Africa

Friendship and Cooperation Toward Greater Success” President Xi explained that; “China is ready to work with fellow BRICS partners to act on the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, build consensus on important issues, carry forward our tradition of independent diplomacy, and resolutely uphold international equity and justice. We will urge the international community to refocus on development issues, promote a greater role by the BRICS cooperation mechanism in global governance, and make the voice of BRICS stronger.”

Whether as a group or individual, BRICS countries have in many ways shown their resolve to work with African countries supporting, their social economic development. As President Xi observed in his ‘Sailing the Giant Ship of China-South Africa Friendship and Cooperation Toward Greater Success,’ “I will work with African leaders to bring more active, effective and sustainable development initiatives to Africa, expand cooperation in agriculture, manufacturing, new energy and digital economy, and facilitate Africa’s economic integration, industrialisation and agricultural modernisation. China will continue to work for substantive progress in African Union’s joining of the G20 this year, and looks forward to a greater role by African countries and the AU in international and regional affairs.”

In conclusion, in all aspects, the BRICS has great potential to grow while helping the entire global south to develop. With their continued push for a multipolar world and calling for reforms in the current global system, the question at the centre is whether the group is willing to overtly challenge the current global system which has arguably given them the platform and more importantly lessons to learn from, or if they will take a step back and fight covertly and and stay fighting within while pushing for the ideal world they dream of. The challenge with the latter is that with this option, they risk to lose their sight through socialisation and thereby abandoning the zeal of building their ideal world.

That said, the future of BRICS and by extension of Africa is bright. With win-win cooperation which BRICS countries support, working together in sincerity will see the alliance growing stronger as the grouping and Africa work together in building of a world with a shared future in the new era for mankind.

Allawi Ssemanda is a senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre



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