Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 22.2021
2021.05.31 — 2021.06.06
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Welcome Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the Meeting of BRICS (Приветственное слово министра иностранных дел на встрече БРИКС) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, speech

Dear Colleagues and Friends, With your permission I would like to begin the meeting today. I welcome you all to the BRICS Foreign Ministers' meeting. The Covid-19 pandemic unfortunately prevents me from greeting all of you in person. It also continues to provide the larger context in which we assess the world and our policies. This is a time to reflect on its many implications. I also express my condolences for the lives lost due to this pandemic in all your countries. Dear colleagues, India has assumed the Chairship of the BRICS on its 15th anniversary. We have come a long way from the first time our Foreign Ministers met in New York in 2006. But the principles that guide our grouping remain consistent over the years. We strive for a fair, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multipolar international system. It is one based on international law and the UN Charter, that recognizes the sovereign equality of all States, and respects their territorial integrity while displaying mutual respect for interests and concerns of all. It is only by conducting our policies in accordance with these principles that we can expect to bring about the change we desire. Over the years, BRICS has evolved its own unique model of engagement that is based on consensus. Our collective endeavour is also to ensure that global decision-making reflects contemporary realities. To this end, we have identified four key deliverables for our Chairship - Reform of the Multilateral System, Counter Terrorism Cooperation, Using Digital and Technological Solutions to achieve SDGs, and Enhancing People to People Cooperation. I am very happy to note that we have made substantial progress on each of these areas in the past five months with the continued cooperation and support of our partners. Excellencies, dear colleagues, we have a packed agenda for our discussions today. I propose the agenda be adopted if there is no objection. I now look forward to hearing from each of you. I would like to give the floor first to Minister Wang Yi for his opening remarks. ****
Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations (Встреча министров иностранных дел / международных отношений стран БРИКС) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, off_docs, concluded_agreements

1. The Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations under India's Chairmanship was held on 1 June 2021 in virtual format.

2. The Ministers reviewed progress in intra-BRICS cooperation and collaboration and exchanged views on major international and regional issues in the political, security, economic, trade, financial and sustainable development spheres.

3. Noting that 2021 marks the 15th anniversary of BRICS, they expressed support for strengthening intra-BRICS cooperation in areas of mutual interest in its three pillars - political and security, economy and finance, people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

4. The Ministers expressed grave concern over the continuing public health, societal and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic globally. They expressed condolences for lives lost and pledged solidarity with the affected families. The Ministers emphasised the value of bilateral and multilateral cooperation among States to combat the pandemic and its impacts effectively. They called for better international preparedness to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and other current and future health challenges, including through mobilisation of political support, necessary financial resources, strengthening of local production, transfer of technology, equitable and affordable access to medicines, vaccines, medical products and equipment, diagnostics and therapeutics and strengthening the resolve of citizens. Furthermore, they called for timely establishment and effective operationalisation of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre and stressed the need for further work on the proposal for BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for Preventing Mass Infectious Diseases Risks consistent with International Health Regulations in line with previous Leaders' Declarations. They supported the effort to hold a BRICS Symposium on Vaccine Cooperation.

5. The Ministers noted that the COVID-19 crisis has posed many challenges for economic and financial stability. They further emphasised the importance of delivering economic outcomes that reflect the needs and aspirations of BRICS in particular, and emerging markets and developing economies in general, especially the importance of BRICS in responding to the COVID-19 crisis through policy support and enhancing intra-BRICS and international coordination.

6. The Ministers issued a Joint Statement on Strengthening and Reforming the Multilateral System. The Ministers expressed support for continued cooperation of BRICS countries in areas of mutual interest, including through regular exchanges amongst their Permanent Missions to the United Nations and in other international fora.

7. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental- and reiterated that the Sustainable Development Goals are integrated and indivisible and must be met while leaving no one behind. The Ministers called upon the international community to foster global development partnership to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to accelerate the implementation of 2030 Agenda while giving special attention to the difficulties and needs of the developing countries. The Ministers urged donor countries to honour their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments and to facilitate capacity building and the transfer of technology to developing countries together with additional development resources, in line with national policy objectives of recipients.

8. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to implementation of Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities in the light of different national circumstances. They recognised that peaking of Greenhouse Gas Emissions will take longer for developing countries, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. They stressed the importance of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that addresses the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in a balanced way. They agreed to cooperate closely in the run-up to the 2021 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP26) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Conference (CBD COP15).

9. The Ministers appreciated the work being carried out under the Economy and Finance Pillar of BRICS Cooperation. In this regard, they looked forward to comprehensive implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025 through all means for its effective realisation.

10. The Ministers noted with appreciation the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) in infrastructure and sustainable development financing and the Emergency Assistance Facility to combat the pandemic. They welcomed the establishment of NDB's Eurasian Regional Centre in Russia and looked forward to the opening of NDB's regional office in India in 2021. They also commended the progress made towards the Bank's membership expansion and encouraged the timely admission of new members.

11. The Ministers welcomed NDB's attention on social infrastructure, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on our social infrastructure, notably on healthcare and education systems and called for investments in enhancing capacity for research, innovation and production of vaccine, in line with SDG 3.

12. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for an open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system with WTO at its centre. The Ministers reiterated that it is critical that all WTO Members avoid unilateral and protectionist measures, which run counter to the spirit and rules of the WTO. They expressed their full support to the WTO's new Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her challenging tasks ahead. The Ministers looked forward to a successful MC12 and the early resumption of the normal operation of the Appellate Body.

13. The Ministers recognised the continued need to cooperate on disarmament and non-proliferation matters. They called for strengthening of the international disarmament machinery including the Conference on Disarmament. The Ministers underlined the imperative of dialogue to address increasing international peace and security challenges through political and diplomatic means. The Ministers welcomed, in this regard, the extension of the 2010 Russia-US Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms and acknowledged its important role in maintaining global security and stability. They confirmed the commitment to ensure prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponisation, and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including through the adoption of a relevant multilateral legally binding instrument. The Ministers in this regard noted the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects, proposed and updated by China and the Russian Federation.

14. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC). They underlined the need to comply with and strengthen the BTWC, including by adopting a legally binding Protocol to the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism. They also reaffirmed support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and called upon the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to uphold the Convention and the integrity of the CWC and engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to restoring the spirit of consensus in the OPCW.

15. The Ministers commended the finalisation of the text of the Agreement among BRICS space agencies on Cooperation on BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, which will help address challenges related to research of global climate change, disaster management, environmental protection, prevention of food shortage and water resources scarcity, and sustainable socio-economic development. They highlighted the importance of digital and technological solutions in line with efforts to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in this 'Decade of Action'.

16. The Ministers expressed their concern at continuing conflicts and violence in different parts of the world which impact international and regional peace and security. They reiterated that all conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means in line with international law and the UN Charter. The Ministers recognised that armed conflicts can exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed concern that the Security Council's call for a general and immediate cessation of hostilities was not fully heeded.

17. The Ministers expressed deep concern over the situation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and emphasised that conflicts and crises in the region should be resolved by political and diplomatic means through inclusive dialogue, in accordance with international law, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States. They welcomed developments that mitigated frictions and encouraged constructive engagement. The Ministers endorsed the outcomes of the Meeting of BRICS Deputy Ministers/Special Envoys on 17 May 2021.

18. The Ministers welcomed the announcement of the Gaza ceasefire beginning 21 May 2021 and stressed the urgency of the restoration of calm in full. They mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence and urged the international community's immediate attention to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza. The Ministers reiterated their support for a two-State solution resulting in comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders. They supported the Secretary General's call for the international community to work with the United Nations, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), on developing an integrated, robust package of support for a swift and sustainable reconstruction and recovery.

19. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. They expressed their conviction that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. They also reaffirmed their support to a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in full compliance with UNSC Resolution 2254. They noted in this context the importance of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, launched with the decisive participation of the countries-guarantors of the Astana Process and all states engaged in efforts to address the conflict through political means, and welcomed the efforts of Mr Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria, to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the Committee. They reiterated their conviction that in order to reach general agreement, members of the Constitutional Committee should be guided by the commitment to compromise and cooperate constructively without foreign interference. They emphasised the fundamental importance of allowing unhindered humanitarian aid in accordance with the UN humanitarian principles and the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria that would create conditions for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of permanent residence thus contributing to achieving long-term stability and security in Syria and the region in general.

20. The Ministers expressed grave concern at the ongoing conflict in Yemen which affects the security and stability not only of Yemen, but also of the entire region, and has caused what is being called by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian crisis currently in the world. They called for a complete cessation of hostilities and the establishment of an inclusive, Yemeni-led negotiation process mediated by the UN. They also stressed the importance of providing urgent humanitarian access and assistance to all Yemenis.

21. The Ministers expressed concern over the security situation and continuing armed conflicts in parts of Africa and called for international support for regional and subregional initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable peace and security, as well as development in Africa guided by the principle "African solutions to African problems" as articulated by Africans themselves. They further underscored the importance of an enhanced partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in the area of peace and security.

22. The Ministers stressed that a stable, democratic, inclusive, independent, prosperous, sovereign, peaceful Afghanistan is crucial for the progress of the region. They expressed their deep concern about the continuing high level of violence and the security situation in Afghanistan and emphasised the need to preserve the gains made over the last two decades and to protect the rights of all Afghan citizens, especially women, children and minorities. They reiterated their commitment towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and an important role of the UN in peace-making and peacebuilding in Afghanistan. They welcomed all international efforts aimed at establishing sustainable peace in Afghanistan. They strongly condemned the continuing violence in Afghanistan, especially deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist groups. They called for an immediate, permanent and comprehensive cease-fire. They stressed the urgent necessity of the elimination of the threat of UNSC proscribed terrorist groups to lasting peace in Afghanistan.

23. The Ministers reiterated the need to resolve the Iran nuclear issue through peaceful and diplomatic means in accordance with international law, including the negotiations within the framework of the JCPOA, and the importance of the full implementation of the JCPOA and the UNSCR 2231. They welcomed the extension of the "technical understandings" between Iran and the IAEA that allowed for the continuation of necessary verification and monitoring activities.

24. The Ministers underlined the importance of lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. They expressed their support for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to resolve all issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula, including its complete denuclearisation.

25. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar. They voiced support to the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) initiative and the implementation of its five-point consensus on Myanmar. They called on all sides to refrain from violence.

26. The Ministers expressed strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations whenever, wherever and by whomsoever committed. They recognised the threat emanating from terrorism, extremism conducive to terrorism and radicalisation. They resolved to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border movement of terrorists, terror financing networks and safe havens. They reiterated their resolve to step up joint efforts in building support for the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). Recalling the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by BRICS Leaders in 2020, and the principles on which the BRICS countries' counter terrorism cooperation is based on, they reiterated their commitment to finalise a result-oriented Action Plan by the Counter Terrorism Working Group in 2021.

27. The Ministers expressed deep concern about significant increase in illicit production of and trafficking in all types of drugs worldwide. They reaffirmed their commitment to the goals and objectives of the three international drug control conventions. They emphasised the importance of promoting cooperation in the field of counter-narcotics within the BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group as well as in the international and regional fora.

28. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to promote international anti-corruption cooperation and strengthen BRICS collaboration, subject to domestic legal systems, on issues related to anti-corruption law enforcement, including asset recovery.

29. The Ministers reiterated the need of a comprehensive and balanced approach to ICTs development and security, including technical advancement, business development, of safeguarding the security of States and public interests, and of respecting the right to privacy of individuals. They underscored the leading role of the United Nations in promoting dialogue to forge common understandings on the security of and in the use of ICTs and development of universally agreed norms, rules and principles for responsible behaviour of States in the realm of ICTs, without prejudice to other relevant international fora. They emphasised the importance of international law and principles applicable in this sphere. In this regard, they welcomed the work of the UN Open-Ended Working Group as well as of the Group of Governmental Experts and note progress in the discussions. They also reaffirmed the importance of having a legal framework of cooperation among BRICS countries on ensuring security in the use of ICTs. They reaffirmed the importance of advancing the intra-BRICS cooperation, including through the consideration of relevant initiatives and the implementation of the BRICS Roadmap of Practical Cooperation on Ensuring Security in the Use of ICTs.

30. The Ministers, while emphasising the formidable potential of the ICTs for growth and development, recognised new associated possibilities it brings for criminal activities and threats. The Ministers expressed concern over the rising level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs as well as the absence of an UN-led framework to counter crime in the realm of ICTs. They recognised also that new challenges and threats in this respect require international cooperation and welcomed the launch of the UN Open-Ended Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes.

31. The Ministers acknowledged that innovation was one of the key driving forces of global sustainable development, playing a fundamental role in promoting economic growth, supporting job creation, entrepreneurship, and structural reform, enhancing productivity and competitiveness, providing better services for the citizens and addressing global challenges. In this regard, they looked forward to the adoption of the Innovation Cooperation Action Plan for 2021-24 this year.

32. The Ministers reiterated the need to promote industrial growth and welcomed further advancement of BRICS trade and investment cooperation, including within the framework of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR). The Ministers welcomed the launch of the BRICS PartNIR Innovation Center in China and looked forward to follow up discussions on the initiative to establish a BRICS Centre for Industrial Competences.

33. The Ministers reiterate the need for all countries to cooperate in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms under the principles of equality and mutual respect. They agreed to continue to treat all human rights, including the right to development, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. They agreed to strengthen cooperation on issues of common interests both within BRICS and in multilateral fora including the United Nations Human Rights Council, taking into account the necessity to promote, protect and fulfill human rights in a non-selective, non-politicised and constructive manner, and without double standards.

34. The Ministers noted with appreciation the ongoing activities and cooperation in the BRICS third pillar, namely people-to-people and cultural cooperation. They welcomed the developments and meetings in both business-to-business (B2B) and people-to-people (P2P) spheres, including those of BRICS Academic Forum, BRICS Think Tank Council, BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, BRICS Women's Business Alliance, BRICS Business Council, BRICS Network University and looked forward to greater cooperation in these areas. They supported China to host Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

35. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa extended their full support to India in hosting the 13th BRICS Summit in September 2021 and committed themselves to work together for its fruitful outcomes.

New Delhi

01 June 2021

Chinese foreign minister puts forward suggestions for BRICS cooperation (Министр иностранных дел Китая выдвинул предложения по сотрудничеству БРИКС) / China, June, 2021
Keywords: wang_yi, foreign_ministers_meeting, speech

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, June 1, 2021. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbin)

GUIYANG, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday put forward suggestions for BRICS countries to promote solidarity across the world, address the problem of governance deficit, and respond to common challenges.

During a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Wang called on the countries to promote global solidarity to fight the pandemic and be the guardians of people's health.

Noting that China has provided more than 350 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the international community, Wang said it is hoped that BRICS will continue to make vaccines global public goods, adhere to the principle of fair and reasonable distribution, support the World Health Organization in accelerating the implementation of COVAX, and support the World Trade Organization in making an early decision on an IPR waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.

Wang said it is necessary to accelerate the construction of the BRICS vaccine research and development center, support domestic vaccine companies to transfer technology to other developing countries, carry out cooperative production, and provide assistance for the global elimination of the "vaccine divide."

China proposes to establish an international forum for vaccine cooperation, with the participation of BRICS countries and companies welcomed, according to Wang.

BRICS countries should practise true multilateralism and be the defenders of the international order, Wang said.

He said that the five countries should make concerted efforts to strengthen the international system with the United Nations as the core and maintain the international order based on international law.

Wang called on the BRICS countries to contribute to the recovery of the world economy. He noted that China supports the formulation of an action plan for BRICS cooperation in science and technology innovation with an aim to form new development momentum with technological innovation and digital transformation.

China has established an innovation base for the BRICS partnership on new industrial revolution in the city of Xiamen, Fujian Province, and looks forward to the active participation of the BRICS countries, Wang said.

The BRICS countries should strengthen cooperation in green industry, green technology, and green financing to jointly build a community of life between man and nature, Wang said, calling for expanding the "BRICS+" cooperation model and the BRICS New Development Bank.

Wang also called on the BRICS countries to resolve regional conflicts and confrontations, and make contributions to the world peace.

The BRICS countries should work to facilitate the political settlement of issues related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Iran nuclear deal, Afghanistan, the disposal of nuclear contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, and terrorism, he said.

The countries should resolve differences through dialogues and consultations, and carry out more preventive actions, Wang added.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar chaired the meeting. South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also attended the meeting.

The ministers called for the strengthening of BRICS anti-epidemic cooperation, and supported for the holding of BRICS vaccine cooperation seminars to make greater contributions to global public health security.

Reaffirming the commitment to multilateralism, the ministers stressed to maintain the international system with the United Nations as the core, give full play to the role of the BRICS cooperation mechanism, and build a more fair, just, inclusive, equal, and more representative multi-polar international system.

The ministers highlighted the important role played by the New Development Bank in infrastructure construction and sustainable development, and welcomed China to established an innovation base for the BRICS partnership on new industrial revolution.

The ministers also made it clear that all conflicts should be resolved through dialogues and negotiations in accordance with international law. Enditem

SUMMARY: BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting (РЕЗЮМЕ: Встреча министров иностранных дел БРИКС) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, expert_opinion

On Tuesday, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar chaired a meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers via videoconference. He was joined by his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa—Carlos Alberto França, Sergey Lavrov, Wang Yi, Naledi Pandor, respectively. Among a wide range of topics, the diplomats discussed the social and economic impact of the pandemic, reforming international institutions, counterterrorism operations, waiving patents on COVID-19 vaccines, and crises across the globe.

Here are some of the major talking points from the meeting:

Joint Statements

Following the meeting, the countries released a joint statement on "strengthening and reforming the multilateral system." In the document, they expressed their "shared values of peace, freedom and rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy as well as a more fair, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multipolar international system, based on international law and the UN Charter, in particular sovereign equality of all States, respect for their territorial integrity and mutual respect for interests and concerns of all."

Furthermore, the statement said that in light of the "immeasurable political, economic, and social damage" wrought by the ongoing pandemic, it has become clear that multilateralism must not only extend to the realms of war and peace, but is also an "essential tool" in public health and sustainability. To this end, the five ministers agreed to work towards "strengthening and reforming the multilateral system to make it more resilient, efficient, effective, transparent, and representative."

They underscored that this "commitment to multilateralism" must be guided by adherence to international law, with the Charter of the United Nations being used as a "cornerstone." The leaders further talked about the importance of respecting "principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of States," of resolving disputes through "peaceful means," and of the "inadmissibility of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any State."

The quintet also put its weight behind the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), saying that it is the only body that should be able to impose sanctions, but noted that the Council itself must be strengthened itself to increase its "effectiveness, responsiveness, and transparency." To this end, they also acknowledged the importance of multilateral institutions as a whole, including the UN General Assembly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Health Organization (WHO), but noted that all of these institutions require 'reinvigoration' and 'reform'.

Keeping this in mind, they recommended that these institutions be made "more inclusive, representative, and participatory," so that developing and least developed countries, particularly in Africa, are more actively involved in "global decision-making processes and structures." They further recommended that the organisations be more "responsive, effective, transparent, democratic, objective, action-oriented, solution-oriented, and credible" in a way that promotes "mutual respect, justice, equality, [and] mutually beneficial cooperation." In addition, they noted that international organisations must be used to strengthen the push for "affordable and equitable access to global public goods for all." Taking note of the changing times, they said that these organisations must also be used to respond to both traditional and new and emerging challenges, including terrorism, money laundering, cyberattacks, infodemics, and fake news.

China and Russia, both permanent members of the UNSC, "reiterated the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India, And South Africa international affairs," and thus called for them to play a "greater role" in the organisation. However, they stopped short of making any formal calls for them to be offered a permanent seat.

On the topic of international peace and security, the ministers emphasised the need to "strengthen the system of arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation treaties and agreements."

Moving on to international financial architecture and keeping with the theme of greater representation, they said the emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) must be involved in "international economic decision-making and norm-setting processes."

Next, on trade and development, the ministers spoke of the importance of a "transparent, rules-based, open, inclusive, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system" that places the WTO's "core values and fundamental principles" at its centre. They also recognised that the WTO's top court, the Appellate Body, must swiftly appoint the requisite number of judges to allow the organisation to serve its purpose as a trade dispute resolution body. Since December 2019, the US has obstructed the appointment of judges to the Appellate Body, with Trump saying that the WTO is biased towards China. Biden has yet to rectify this situation.

On global health, the ministers offered support to India and South Africa's motion at the WTO to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and related products.

The five countries also released a joint media statement that outlined their interest in 'operationalising' the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre and the BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for Preventing Mass Infectious Diseases, as well as holding the BRICS Symposium on Vaccine Cooperation.

Furthermore, they reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Accords using the guiding principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They acknowledged, however, that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will "take longer in developing countries," who have yet to reach peak emissions, as they are still focusing on "eradicating poverty."

Looking to the future, they also outlined the importance of avoiding an arms race in outer space, and thus highlighted Russia and China's joint proposal titled the "Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects." The leaders also stressed on the need to tackle conventional weapons as well, and thus recognised the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC), the Convention, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

The states also expressed their "deep concern" about instability across the Middle East and North Africa. While they welcomed the ceasefire in Gaza, they called on the international community to focus on providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population and working towards a two-state solution. They also reiterated their "strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity" of Syria and noted that "there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict." The leaders thus put their weight behind a "Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process." Next, they spoke of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and called for a "complete cessation of hostilities and the establishment of an inclusive, Yemeni-led negotiation process mediated by the UN." Furthermore, they remarked that the Iran nuclear issue must be resolved through "peaceful and diplomatic means" and that Tehran must allow the IAEA to continue "necessary verification and monitoring activities."

Similarly, they said that international actors must work to ensure a "stable, democratic, inclusive, independent, prosperous, sovereign, [and] peaceful" Afghanistan. The ministers said that the peace process must be "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" but that the UN must play a central role in peace-making and peacebuilding. They further called for an "immediate, permanent, and comprehensive ceasefire" and condemned the "targeting of civilians by terrorist groups," in what could be interpreted as a swipe at the Taliban.

In Asia, they said that Korean Peninsula can only see peace when there is complete denuclearisation. However, the ministers took a more reserved stance on Myanmar, instead reaffirming the country's "sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity," and merely vaguely calling for a cessation of violence from "all sides."


Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Alberto França said, "During the COVID-19 pandemic, BRICS demonstrated its durability and continued its operation in 2020 and 2021 in the spirit of efficient and brotherly cooperation between friends." He added, "BRICS is the backbone of Brazil's foreign policy, which has traditionally advocated the promotion of global peace and development." He further declared: "We must begin serious talks on global governance and increase the role of developing countries."


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began his speech by expressing Russia's "solidarity" with India amid its ongoing battle with the coronavirus, which continues to claim thousands of lives every day.

The Russian minister then took aim at the West, saying that the pandemic has "strengthened negative trends in international relations," and said that some countries have not respected international law or the UN Charter. He said that they had instead made their own rules and engaged in "national egoism, unscrupulousness in the choice of means to win global dominance, ignoring the interests of other countries undermine the foundation of the post-World War II multilateral system, which rests on international law."

Lavrov said that the threats of "terrorism, transnational crime, […] climate change" and income inequality can "only be addressed collectively." To this end, he called for "multilateral, inclusive, universal, and non-discriminatory cooperation." Therefore, Russia put its weight behind the BRICS nations' push for a reform of the multilateral system.

Following the meeting, at a press conference, Lavrov played down tensions between members, saying, "There is no dispute among BRICS members. All BRICS member states stressed the need to strengthen the multilateral system, not in a narrow format, but exclusively in the universal format based on the UN Charter."


Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar opened the meeting by saying: "We strive for a fair, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multi-polar international system. It is one based on international law and the UN Charter, that recognizes the sovereign equality of all states and respects their territorial integrity while displaying mutual respect for interests and concerns of all." This has been interpreted as a thinly veiled insult of China, with whom India has been embroiled in a border dispute that resulted in multiple deaths on both sides last year.

He then outlined the four pillars of India's vision for multilateralism: "reform of the multilateral system, counterterrorism cooperation, using digital and technological solutions to achieve SDGs, and enhancing people-to-people cooperation."


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China will continue to support India in its fight against COVID-19. Prior to the meeting, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that China would use the meeting to "send out a strong signal that BRICS countries, with solidarity and cooperation, support true multilateralism, promote post epidemic economic recovery and tackle global challenges."

South Africa

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor stressed the importance of India and South Africa's proposal to the WTO for a temporary waiver on "certain aspects of TRIPS to facilitate wider aspects of technology needed to produce vaccines and treatment and diagnosis." Like South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has done on several occasions, Pandor lamented vaccine hoarding by richer countries, saying, "We have a global dilemma. Millions of people in wealthier nations have been vaccinated while millions of people in poorer countries still ait and [are] vulnerable to infection, disease, and death." She thus declared, "We must address this global gap of vaccine access."
Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations (Virtual Meeting) (Встреча министров иностранных дел / международных отношений БРИКС (Виртуальная встреча)) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, off_docs

External Affairs Minister of the Republic of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar, chaired the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations through video conferencing on 1 June, 2021. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ambassador Carlos Alberto Franco França, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Amb. Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Wang Yi, and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Ms. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, led their respective delegations. The Ministers exchanged views on furthering intra-BRICS cooperation on the three pillars of political and security, economic and finance, and People to people and cultural exchanges. The Ministers also exchanged views on social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministers also discussed the need for reform of the Multilateral System. Ministers also exchanged views on the Global and regional issues of concern, sustainable development, Countering Terrorism besides discussing ways to enhance intra-BRICS cooperation. On this occasion, they adopted and released the 'BRICS Joint Ministerial Statement on Strengthening and Reforming of the Multilateral System' stressing urgent need for comprehensive strengthening and reforming of the entire multilateral architecture, including the United Nations and its principal organs- the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretariat and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); international financial architecture represented by the IMF and the World bank; the multilateral trading system represented by the WTO and UNCTAD and the global health governance system with the WHO at its core. The Ministers called for making global governance more inclusive, representative and participatory to facilitate greater and more meaningful participation of developing and least developed countries in global decision-making processes and structures and make it better attuned to contemporary realities. The Joint Statement can be found at The Ministers also adopted the Media Statement covering various issues of common interest. The Ministers reviewed progress in intra-BRICS cooperation. The Ministers while discussing the Covid-19 pandemic situation called for timely establishment and operationalization of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and in this regard, stressed the importance of financing for development, capacity building and transfer of technology to developing countries. The Ministers also expressed their support for Paris Agreement as adopted under the principles of UNFCCC, including that of CBDR-RC. They also called for the comprehensive implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025 through all means for its effective realization. The Ministers expressed strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whenever, wherever, and by whom-so-ever committed. They expressed their commitment to fully implement BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy, including by way of a result-oriented Action Plan. The Ministers welcomed the developments and meetings in both B2B and P2P formats, and looked forward to greater cooperation in these areas. The Media Statement can be found at . BRICS partners appreciated India's efforts in keeping up the momentum of BRICS cooperation. tions ****
India consolidates anti-China front despite unequal power relationship in QUAD (Индия укрепляет антикитайский фронт, несмотря на неравное соотношение сил в QUAD) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst

A few days ago, the Indian Naval Command submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi a request to build six nuclear submarines. From the Indian military's position, the country needs six new submarines to counter the growing strength of the Chinese fleet that has long housed warships across the Indian Ocean. Currently, India has two nuclear submarines - one leased from Russia and the other domestically built. China has seven nuclear submarines and will soon add 12 more. It is obvious that New Delhi wants to narrow the ever-increasing gap in military power between the two countries.

Also noted is the Indian military base on North Agaléga Island, part of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar. This military base is taking on a so-called defensive role against China's growing power, particularly in Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean. The base was established in 2015 to track Chinese ships passing through the Indian Ocean to the African coast.

Using the base for this purpose against China demonstrates that India is increasingly aligning its international policy with QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), an anti-China U.S.-led organization that also consists of Japan and Australia. New Delhi has traditionally kept its distance from military alliances, and yet, although today QUAD is not an officially institutionalized organization, many believe it will soon become a kind of "Asian NATO." This is an immense shift from India's traditional position as a leading voice of the Non-Aligned Movement.

India also has another foreign policy direction that it can pursue despite being in stark contrast to QUAD - the BRICS group. India, along with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, were attempting to establish a more equitable multipolar world order. These countries showed willingness to work together to help less developed countries whilst simultaneously improving their own global status and image.

Some experts point to this potential, with one saying: "There is also the chance, however remote it may seem at the moment, that India and China enter into a grand rapprochement with one another, which results in them synergizing their economic activities in East Africa. This would naturally be the best-case scenario that could lead to multilaterally beneficial outcomes for all regional stakeholders. India and China could jointly assist Africa's ascent across the 21st century, ideally through trilateral projects instead of competition."

The Indian government can still choose between its traditional pacifist foreign policy or an alliance with a dubious militarism that only benefits the Anglo World. However, all signs are now pointing towards Indian militarism in the face of China's growing power.

The U.S., Japan, Australia and India are expected to collectively aid each other and work together to defeat China in a hypothetical war. From the Indian perspective, they believe that a part of Kashmir is currently occupied by China and Pakistan, which New Delhi fears in the future will launch wars against India to claim even more Kashmiri territory, and in this way, QUAD is meant to serve as a deterrent.

However, the main folly with this idea is that it places a high amount of trust in Australia, Japan and the U.S. to support the Indian war effort against China. From the American, Japanese and Australian perspective, any hypothetical war with China will be at sea between the navies. It is expected that India would send its warships thousands of kilometers away to fight in the South China Sea. But the reality is that any hypothetical war between India and China will be land based on the Himalayan mountains. It is almost inconceivable to imagine that American, Japanese and Australian infantry will be landing in India to fight against the Chinese on mountain ranges thousands of kilometers away.

Therefore, QUAD does not have an equal power relationship among the four members as there is an expectation that Indian servicepeople will travel thousands of kilometers to fight against China without any clear prospect of the other three members sending soldiers to India. India and China have fought several wars and skirmishes, and all of them have been on land and over border disputes.

This must bring to question the function of the North Agaléga Island base. Although it is part of India's own growing power projection across the Indian Ocean, including East Africa and its offshore islands like Mauritius, it is also part of efforts to counter China's growing power and influence. The bulk of the issue between China and India is border demarcations on the Himalayas. By expanding naval military ties with the U.S., Japan and Australia, India is not resolving its issues with China, but is rather expanding problems for the sake of countries who are unlikely to support India in a land war against China.

BRICS with a Capital C: How Covid robbed members of economic advantage (БРИКС с большой буквы К: как COVID лишил членов экономического преимущества) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, political_issues, economic_challenges, expert_opinion

The details of the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting and the breakdown of its outcome by strategic analysts of respective member countries will take time to be out in public. But in the meantime, it appears safe to say that the virtual meeting between the five foreign ministers successfully concluded its agenda in the given circumstances. That the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant catastrophe were top on the agenda was evident.

Held under the Indian presidency, the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting discussed the Covid-19 challenge threadbare. Its endorsement of India and South Africa's proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive patents on Covid-19 vaccines needs to be followed up and taken to its logical conclusion. The waiver on certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement will help developing economies get wider access to technologies that are essential for conducting tests, better and faster diagnosis, and increasing vaccine production for treatment of Covid-19.

South African minister Naledi Pandor summed up the essence of the issue, saying "none of us are safe until all of us are safe." There is an urgent need to "address the global gap in vaccine's access" to realise such an ambitious goal. A WTO-supported TRIPS Covid-19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) waiver will ease the pandemic situation, allow countries to return to normalcy and reset the economic agenda.

BRICS falls short in Covid fight

The US and the WTO were not very enthusiastic but earlier demands by India for such a waiver was strongly supported by a large section of the intellectuals including Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Doubts regarding the waiver being granted persist, as the global pharma lobby is not very supportive of such a move. Again, assuming that a limited waiver is made available, it will be a herculean task to set up state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in a short time and undertake mass production of vaccines.

It is also surprising that two members of the BRICS, China and Russia, are vaccine manufacturers themselves, but never came forward to share the formula with or waive IPR regulations for other BRICS members. So much for the cooperation in the fight against the Covid pandemic!

In this background, the comments by the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi expressing solidarity with India sounds very much like mere lip service. "Let me begin by expressing my sympathy to India over the severe impact of the new wave of COVID-19 infections. In these trying times, China stands in solidarity with India and all BRICS countries," he said. While the world is yet to summon enough courage to confront China on the origins of the coronavirus, China is audacious enough to comment on the 'new wave of Covid-19 infections in India' even as names such as British variant, South African variant and Indian variant are doing the rounds. It is nobody's argument that at a forum like BRICS, there should not be any blame game. But China seems to have had its way and got away unrepentant.

The Chinese foreign minister is also reported to have said that BRICS "now faces the profound and complex ramifications of the pandemic and changes unseen in a century. At the same time, opportunity may arise from the challenge." It is understandable that he is referring to economic opportunities.

China at top, Covid strikes others down

Since the time the term BRIC was coined in 2001 (by Goldman Sachs), there has been a gradual effort towards integrating these four economies. After the first foreign ministers' summit in 2006, BRIC began to look for development partners and found in South Africa a suitable candidate. Thus came BRICS in 2010.

As was envisaged, the BRICS countries not only played a significant role in supporting the global economy but contributed 36.3 per cent of world GDP growth in the first decade of this century and represent one-fourth of the global economy (in purchasing power parity, or PPP). According to one baseline projection, BRICS was likely to have overtaken the US economy by 2018 and account for two-thirds of the global economy by contributing about half of GDP growth.

A quick look at these projections will point to the exponential growth of China in economic terms while the rest of the BRICS members were left behind. To add to the woes of other members, the Covid-19 pandemic has robbed whatever little economic advantage they could have gained in the prevailing situation. Given the present uncertainties arising out of the pandemic, New Delhi needs to think out of the box, look for policy alternatives and rope in a large number of experts outside of the government to tide over the economic downturn and looming unemployment crisis.

In this regard, the reports about the thrust of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make its outreach to international audiences more vibrant and develop a pool of domain experts to communicate India's views to the world are an important move. By the time New Delhi gets ready to host the G20 summit in 2023, the Indian economy should turn a new leaf and become a major economy. Meanwhile, the central government should turn its focus on the Asia Africa Growth Corridor and the BIMSTEC as effective platforms to increase South-South cooperation and build a strong and sustainable economic link between Asia and Africa.

Seshadri Chari is the former editor of 'Organiser'. Views are personal.

Covid pandemic became stress test for BRICS — Brazilian foreign minister (Пандемия Covid-19 стала стресс-тестом для БРИКС - министр иностранных дел Бразилии) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, quotation, covid-19

Brazilian foreign minister BRICS is the backbone of Brazil's foreign policy

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 1. /TASS/. The coronavirus pandemic has become a stress test for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franco Franca said Tuesday.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, BRICS demonstrated its durability and continued its operation in 2020 and 2021 in the spirit of efficient and brotherly cooperation between friends," the diplomat said during the meeting of the association's foreign ministers.

"BRICS is the backbone of Brazil's foreign policy, which has traditionally advocated the promotion of global peace and development," Franca said, noting that other BRICS members share these goals.

The member states agree that the international order, based on multilateral approaches and consideration of all participants, must be reinforced, the top diplomat said.

The adoption of a separate joint statement on reinforcement and reformation of the global governance system will indicate the association's ability to act as a united front on key issues of the international agenda, the top diplomat noted.

"We must begin serious talks on global governance and increase the role of developing countries, Franca underscored.

Russian Foreign Ministry to assist in creation of BRICS arbitration mechanism — diplomat (МИД России окажет содействие в создании арбитражного механизма БРИКС - дипломат) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: mofa, quotation

It is necessary to take into consideration interests of all partners, their realities, internal and external factors, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin said

ST. PETERSBURG, June 4. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry will assist in establishment of the BRICS court of arbitration, which is very important in the current political reality, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin said during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"In the current situation, the establishment of some such instrument, that enjoys trust that has advantages, that is being implemented voluntarily, via a convention or some other method - it is very important. Here, the political dialogue is imposed on the expert and legal dialogue. On our side, the [Russian] Foreign Ministry will assist [this work] in all ways possible," the Deputy Foreign Minister said.

Pankin noted that it is necessary to take interests of all partners, their realities, internal and external factors into consideration during the development of such mechanism. Besides, the diplomat noted that it is necessary to build on trust between partners and trust to the system itself, besides the principle of voluntariness.

"It was said that there are different degrees of trust to the system - both to the internal, national one, and the international one, where despite the apparent correctness of the system its staffing with particular people does not always ensure trust from the standpoint of honesty, fairness, impartiality and integrity," he said.

"It is not a lack of trust to the Anglo-Saxon system, this system is perfected, probably. This is a lack of trust to its implementation in the current conditions. The Russian Foreign Ministry can talk at length here: sanctions, trade restrictions coming out of the blue; it is unclear: grey zones, white patches, be it force-majeure or not. We have gone away from classic trade and investment operations of 50 years ago, even the post-War ones".

Besides, according to the diplomat, BRICS member states must not only agree on the future arbitration instrument, but also receive full feedback from partners.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's video address to the Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era, Moscow, June 1, 2021 (Видеообращение Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова к участникам 6-й Международной конференции «Россия и Китай: сотрудничество в новую эпоху», Москва, 1 июня 2021 года) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech, cooperation

Mr Wang Yi,

Mr Ivanov,

Colleagues, friends,

The further development of strategic partnership with China is one of our top priorities. It is stipulated in the Foreign Policy Concept, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved in November 2016. We are grateful to our colleagues from the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) for organising a regular, sixth joint conference. We regard it as an opportunity to review the current state and development outlook of our bilateral cooperation and its increasing influence on global developments.

This is a special year for us: 20 years ago on July 16, 2001, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Jiang Zemin met in Moscow to sign the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation. By turning this new page in their relations, the parties demonstrated their resolve to pass their friendship down through the generations. The treaty formalised the previously applied political definition of bilateral relations as "a partnership of (…) equality and trust and strategic collaboration." In other words, this truly historical international document has put on record the development of a new model of our interstate relations and their progress to a fundamentally new stage.

I would like to note that the Treaty is based on the universally recognised norms of international law, first of all the goals and principles of the UN Charter. It seals the parties' agreement on mutual support in the defence of the national unity and territorial integrity, as well as their commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other and not to target strategic nuclear missiles on each other. The document also formulated the principle of "respecting each other's choice of the course of political, economic, social and cultural development." The parties pledged to immediately contact and consult each other in the event of the threat of aggression and not to allow their territory to be used by third countries to the detriment of the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party. In this way, Russia and China provided a legal framework for the closest possible collaboration on strategic matters bearing on their fundamental interests without creating a formal military-political alliance. In fact, a comprehensive Russian-Chinese partnership is more than just a classical military-political union.

Another vital provision mentions the absence of any territorial claims to each other and the parties' resolve "to make the border between them into one where everlasting peace and friendship prevail from generation to generation." The incorporation of this principle promoted the final settlement of the so-called border dispute and greatly strengthened mutual trust.


The Treaty played a huge role in boosting mutual trade and economic interaction. We can report positive results to the public. During the past 20 years, our mutual trade increased more than thirteen times, from $8 billion to $104 billion in 2020. Work is underway within the framework of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation on 70 projects worth in total more than $120 billion.

Our energy partnership has acquired a strategic dimension. A Russian-Chinese oil pipeline has been functioning for nearly 10 years now, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline was launched in late 2019. China is taking part in large-scale LNG projects in the Russian Arctic zone. Just a few days ago, on May 19, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping launched the construction of four new Russian-designed power units for the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power stations in China.

Our industrial and agricultural cooperation is developing constantly. Our interaction in science and innovation is especially important in light of the continued Western attempts to contain our countries' technological progress. It is for this reason that we are holding the Years of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2020-2021 as part of the successful practice of themed cross-years.

The Treaty also has a great role to play in promoting cultural and humanitarian ties. These activities are helping to maintain the relations of good-neighbourliness and reinforce the social basis of strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impaired contacts between our citizens. I am sure that, as the epidemiological situation becomes normalised, we will be able to quickly restore and expand them. In our opinion, efforts to promote Russian language studies in China and Chinese language studies in Russia should become an unconditional priority. The same concerns dialogue with young people, who will soon carry on efforts to develop and expand the traditions of Russian-Chinese friendship.

The Treaty, which is ahead of its time in some respects, is not limited to bilateral ties. Its provisions help expand our foreign policy cooperation. Bilateral dialogue is becoming particularly important on the international scene today, when some Western states are trying to demolish the UN-centric system of international law and to replace it with their own rules-based order. Moscow and Beijing consistently advocate the creation of a more equitable, democratic and therefore stable polycentric international order. This system should reflect the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world and the natural striving of nations to independently determine their development path. The very fact of the Russian-Chinese accord on this issue serves to stabilise and balance the entire system of international relations. It opens up broad opportunities for truly equitable and free cooperation between large and small countries jointly shaping their historical destiny.

I am satisfied to note the coinciding or largely similar approaches of Moscow and Beijing towards an absolute majority of challenges facing the world today, including efforts to maintain global strategic stability, arms control and counterterrorism operations. We cooperate successfully and fruitfully at such multilateral venues as the UN, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, the G20, APEC and the EAS. We coordinate our steps during the Syrian and Afghan peace processes, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and on the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia and China advocate the peaceful development of the Asia Pacific region and the creation of reliable regional mechanisms for ensuring equal and indivisible security there based on non-bloc approaches.

Today, the Eurasian region is implementing a number of innovative integration projects, including the Eurasian Economic Union and China's Belt and Road Initiative. Work to combine their potentials has good prospects. Notably, it lays a solid foundation for establishing a new geo-strategic contour of peace, stability and economic prosperity based on principles of international law and transparency on our shared continent from Lisbon to Jakarta. This contour would be open for all countries, including members of the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, ASEAN and, in the future, the EU. The initiative of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership aims to accomplish this truly historic task. We highly value cooperation with our Chinese friends on its well-coordinated implementation together with the Belt and Road Initiative.


The Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, whose 20th anniversary we are going to mark in July 2021, is an unshakeable foundation of Russian-Chinese relations. We are convinced that it remains a living and working document that makes it possible to expand, finetune and adjust our strategic cooperation in line with the changing realities of the new epoch. This epoch demands that all of us, including experts, diplomats and politicians, always pay attention to new challenges and opportunities, trends and forecasts. Your conference is a good platform for a calm, detailed and professional exchange of opinions and ideas, without which is it is hard to chart the road forward and to determine a joint algorithm of subsequent actions.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to wish you fruitful discussions and intellectual insights and revelations for the benefit of strengthening neighbourly relations and friendship between Russia and China.

Thank you.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following the BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting via videoconference, Moscow, June 1, 2021 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова в ходе пресс-конференции по итогам СМИД БРИКС в формате видеоконференции, Москва, 1 июня 2021 года) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, sergey_lavrov, speech

Good afternoon, friends.

The meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations via videoconference is over. For the time being, the epidemiological situation has prevented us from resuming in-person contacts. I am sure we will soon overcome this problem.

We exchanged views on all urgent issues related to maintaining international peace and security, and discussed the impact of the coronavirus crisis on international relations. We focused on strengthening the BRICS strategic partnership in three key areas: the political, economic and humanitarian ones.

Our detailed and sincere conversation demonstrated our identical or similar positions on many regional and global issues. We paid special attention to the situation in hot spots. We reaffirmed the commitment of the BRICS countries to the settlement of disputes by political and diplomatic means with reliance on international law and the UN's central role. This is reflected in a joint communique we agreed upon following the meeting. This detailed document is already being published, so you will have an opportunity to read it.

We spoke about joint efforts to counter the terrorist threat. BRICS is actively working in this area. BRICS set forth its priorities in the counter-terrorism strategy adopted last year. We are helping build up the potential of the established Counter-Terrorism Working Group and its thematic subgroups.

We emphasised the need to promote cooperation in ensuring international information security (IIS) and countering cybercrime. At present, this issue is becoming increasingly urgent because of the growing conflict intensity in cyberspace and its more active exploitation by criminal groups. All BRICS countries favour the drafting of a universal document to regulate the efforts to ensure IIS. We are convinced that security in this area can only be ensured by collective efforts based on respect for each other's interests. In turn, we thanked our partners for supporting the relevant Russian resolutions at the UN General Assembly.

I would like to make special mention of the unanimous statement by the foreign ministers of the BRICS nations in favour of strengthening and reforming the multilateral system. All of them agree on the need to make the leading international institutions, including the UN, WHO, UNCTAD and WTO, more effective.

In the context of the current epidemiological situation, all BRICS countries expressed their solidarity with India and its people. Russia is willing to continue helping our Indian friends counter this dangerous virus. Our partners emphasised their readiness to step up efforts on the Russian initiative to establish a BRICS comprehensive early warning system for the risks of widespread infectious diseases.

We had a useful discussion on a number of other issues pertaining to the expansion of BRICS cooperation in innovative and humanitarian fields, and the prospects for the New Development Bank. Amid the coronavirus-caused crisis, we give priority to invigorating business, trade, economic and investment ties inside BRICS. In this context, we consider it important to implement the BRICS economic partnership strategy endorsed by the leaders at a summit in 2020. We support the initiatives of the chairmanship. Thus, we reaffirmed our willingness to cooperate in drafting plans of action in agriculture and innovations.

We wish our Indian friends success in preparing and conducting the 13th BRICS summit. It is bound to be productive and promote our strategic partnership. We will do everything to make this happen.

Question: Yesterday you said the Russian Government and the Central Bank were preparing to respond to Russia's likely disconnection from SWIFT. Is the possibility of creating an alternative payment system being discussed in BRICS?

It was earlier reported that the parties to JCPOA on Iran's nuclear programme would conclude their negotiations in early June. Can we be hopeful that an agreement is reached before the presidential election takes place in Iran scheduled for June 18?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the matter concerning SWIFT, I answered the question I was asked in connection with the calls to disconnect Russia from SWIFT that are being heard in some of the European countries. These are the most radical representatives of the Western world, who are driven exclusively by Russophobic sentiments and are trying, with reason or, even more often, for no reason at all, to intensify, in every way, the sanctions against our country.

We are not interested in destroying the mechanisms underlying the functioning of the international currency system and, generally, the international economic system. We believe that this will harm all parties to multilateral communication, without exception. However, since threats like this are being made, we have to draw some conclusions. I believe that the relevant agencies in our Government will continue to take all the necessary measures to safeguard Russia's and our partners' interests, regardless of how the situation evolves.

In BRICS and in the Eurasian Economic Union alike, we are working hard to promote payments in national currencies. Under any circumstances, this will only make our relations more reliable.

As for JCPOA on Iran's nuclear programme, negotiations continue and they are progressing well, however, no final decision has been taken so far. Some issues that are yet to be finalised require political decisions to be taken in the capitals of the most involved countries, primarily the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We and other parties to JCPOA are trying to create as favourable conditions as possible for securing the final solutions. It seems to me to be counterproductive to start guessing if this is going to happen within the next few days or in a couple of weeks. Negotiators in Vienna are working to achieve a result as soon as possible.

Question (retranslated from English): My first question concerns the results of the past BRICS Foreign Ministers Council meeting. Have you discussed the differences of opinion in different nations' approaches to sovereignty and territorial integrity?

When will India receive the promised S-400 missiles? What is the situation with making the Sputnik V vaccine available to India?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already mentioned the final documents of the BRICS ministerial meeting. They include a detailed communiqué and a declaration in support of strengthening multilateral principles in international cooperation, primarily with an emphasis on reaffirming inviolability of the UN Charter principles, which, of course, include respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation states, sovereign equality of all UN members, settling disputes by peaceful means and, of course, figuratively speaking, respecting the right of each nation to determine its own future. We did not have any differences when discussing this important document.

As for the second document on strengthening multilateralism, it is also of key importance, because all BRICS countries stressed the need to strengthen multilateralism and to do so not in an abstract or narrow format, but exclusively in a universal format based on the UN Charter. In general, the UN embodies multilateralism as nothing else in this world. We will uphold this approach, especially in the face of our Western colleagues' attempts to promote an alternative concept, which they call a "rules-based world order." Almost all manifestations of this concept show that it is not universal. It is designed to impose Western ideas and values that are not shared by many other countries on everyone else as an absolutely indispensable criterion.

We can see this in several initiatives. Now, they are talking about convening a Democracy Summit, which will determine the future of the world, although the list of its participants will not be universal. Our European partners are talking about a new concept of effective multilateralism. France and Germany are pushing forward this initiative. To our question whether their desire to strengthen multilateralism includes all countries on the planet, we got an evasive answer. From the explanations we hear, it turns out that our European partners consider the European Union to be a case of effective multilateralism which comes up with numerous initiatives, and then all other countries are encouraged to support them.

This agenda divides countries instead of uniting them. So, the statement by the BRICS foreign ministers in support of multilateralism in its absolutely universal understanding is playing a fundamental role at this point and is of great importance.

As for our cooperation with India, we are making progress in the economy, politics, culture and the military-technical sphere, as well as in healthcare in full accordance with the agreements that are being reached at the highest level. I would like to note the implementation of the contracts for the supply of S-400 systems to India. We see no changes here, and the Indian leadership has reaffirmed its commitment to these agreements.

Today, we are sending another batch of the Sputnik V vaccine to our Indian friends in addition to the steps that have already been taken in the challenging situation India is facing in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

Question: Recently, the United States and Britain have been urging the World Health Organisation (WHO) specialists to go to China again in search of the source of the coronavirus. The Americans believe that the first trip made by a WHO delegation to China failed to fulfil its mission, so that now it is necessary to conduct transparent and timely research. What do you think about this? Will this help counter the pandemic or is it an attempt to politicise this global problem?

Sergey Lavrov: All of us, at least all the BRICS members, support the WHO's central role in this field of international cooperation. At China's invitation, the WHO established a group of experts that visited China some time ago. They went to Wuhan, visited the relevant laboratory and spoke with specialists. They made their own assessments that were then circulated. This information is available to the public. If someone has additional questions, it is necessary to discuss them with all the other countries in the WHO.

The attempts to politicise the current situation are certainly being made. They amount to what President of France Emmanuel Macron called "the war of vaccines." But, to our great regret, and contrary to facts, he declared that Russia and China are the main initiators of this so-called new "world war." Meanwhile, the facts that all the interested experts have, show that the Western media themselves primarily describe problems with Western vaccines. Russian journalists just report to the public the assessment of various vaccines in the West, whether they are described as dangerous, safe or effective. Nowadays, politicians should not try to score points and enhance their appeal by using the coronavirus infection and the situation with different vaccines that undergo registration at the WHO.

We are confident about the need to pool efforts and to focus not on searching for those guilty ones but on countering the disaster that is truly global and affects all countries. Now the main task is to coordinate the distribution and certification of vaccines, to regulate the movements of people and to coordinate the documents that will be issued to vaccinated people. Probably, the European Union has the right to create its own rules in this field. But if these rules discriminate against non-EU participants of international communication, there is an opportunity for additional efforts to ensure global security. Nobody can save itself from such threats. We always favour the broadest possible cooperation.

Let me recall that when President of Russia Vladimir Putin announced the development of the world's first vaccine against the coronaviurus in Russia in August 2020 (Sputnik-V), he emphasised our interest in developing the broadest possible open international cooperation in developing and improving medication that can help us counter this pandemic. Since that time, we have unequivocally supported greater openness and consideration of interests of all countries, not only wealthy countries but also states that cannot develop or buy vaccines themselves. President Putin instantly supported the idea to suspend the license protection of the developed vaccines. This idea does not yet enjoy support in the West but both the Russian Federation and the PRC believe that the entire international community must unanimously make this important decision in the interests of the developing, poor nations.

Question: You said that the EU and even NATO politicians sometimes use Cold War-era terms in their relations with Russia. The United States has embarked on a course of indirect confrontation and is increasing NATO's military presence near Russia's borders and conducting many military exercises in the region. What does Moscow expect from Washington in the future in terms of ensuring favourable conditions for holding the Vladimir Putin-Joseph Biden summit? How important is it for ensuring strategic balance that NATO puts an end to its expansion to Russia's borders?

Sergey Lavrov: When, in response to our Western colleagues' numerous hostile actions over many years, the Russian Federation introduced the term "unfriendly states" into circulation and President Putin issued an executive order in which the United States and the Czech Republic were referred to as unfriendly nations, the West started showing some unwholesome interest. We were accused of aggravating relations and whipping up our rhetoric. In recent years, the West has been doing nothing but coming up with new descriptions of the Russian Federation. In 2019, my good friend Josep Borrell, who is now at the helm of the EU foreign policy, stated on his own behalf but as an EU official: "Russia, our old enemy, is once again saying, 'here I am' and has returned as a threat." In terms of doctrinal documents - take the US Concept of National Security or the Concept of Nuclear Deterrence and see for yourself how Russia and China are portrayed there. The US law has us officially pegged as an "adversary." The EU is promoting concepts with regard to Russia which put rebuffing Russia in the first place.

Only an enemy gets a rebuff. When we consider this kind of behaviour unfriendly, we are absolutely not bending the truth. If someone calls us an "adversary" or a country that spreads "malicious influence all over the world," is that a friendly approach? Of course, not.

I would encourage our Western partners not to get carried away with rhetoric, which they have been fomenting with regard to our country for a very long time now, but to look at the situation as it is and to what extent their actions meet the fundamental national interests of the European countries and the United States as well for that matter.

As for the upcoming summit between President Putin and President Biden in Geneva on June 16, we have already commented on the forthcoming talks. We do not have any illusions, and we are not trying to create an impression that it will result in any breakthroughs or historic and fateful decisions. But the very fact of a conversation between the two leading nuclear powers at the level of top officials is important. It must be promoted in every possible way. The presidents will exchange views on what threats each of the sides is seeing in the vicinity of their countries and in the global arena in general. In this sense, military exercises, the number of which has dramatically increased in quantity and quality and in the number of engaged heavy equipment and the number of participating countries and, most importantly, in their geographical proximity to our borders, by no account contribute to a normal dialogue or coordination of efforts to tackle real, not fictional, issues that are common for all.

For many past years, we encouraged NATO to coordinate concrete, practical de-escalation measures. First of all, this concerns the distance our and the bloc's aircraft and warships should keep from each other. This was our first proposal. Second, we proposed coordinating a distance from the contact line beyond which NATO and Russia will not hold their military exercises, so they will not have hysterics over Russia's military drills in its own national territory while NATO holds wargames called Defender Europe, when 30,000 troops and a huge number of military equipment, including deployed from across the ocean, are amassed directly on our border. This equipment was delivered from the countries that do not have a common border with the Russian Federation. The use of this strategy and tactic is extremely confrontational and hazardous because it is provocative.

Our initiative is on the table. If anyone discerns any far-reaching, dangerous plans in Russia's position, we are ready to discuss this. Regrettably, NATO is not willing to do this. Then we are invited to meet with our NATO colleagues and to resume the functioning of the Russia-NATO Council, we say we are ready for this. Let our militaries discuss the situation on the ground, including with due regard for NATO's serious violations of the agreements reached in the late 1990s, when NATO pledged not to deploy considerable armed forces in the territory of new member states. This decision has long been forgotten and buried. NATO troops have been permanently deployed in the Baltics and Norway. They say it is rotational deployment, but this rotation is becoming permanent.

We are open and will always be open to an honest conversation. When we are invited to the Russia-NATO Council to discuss Ukraine, we know that we will not hear anything new, that such discussions will not bring any additional value. Everything we have heard during meetings in such formats is nothing more than a repetition of the public statements our NATO colleagues make almost daily. Going to Brussels only to listen to unsubstantiated accusations of non-implementation of the Minsk Agreements again, to hear how our NATO colleagues protect the Ukrainian leadership's policy of "purging" the country of the Russian language, education and media outlets, and, in general, of any opposition forces (they tell us that Ukraine is "a beacon of democracy" and they need to protect Kiev's policy in every possible way)? This is not a subject we are ready to discuss with NATO countries.

I would like to point out once again that we are always ready to discuss military de-escalation on the contact line and the revival of the principles which NATO countries and Russia adopted at the top level. As I have already mentioned, our concrete proposals are on the table in Brussels. We hope two years was a sufficient period of time to see their essence. Our proposals are quite simple, but an agreement to implement them would lead to practical de-escalation, even if on a small scale.

I have already said that stopping the advance towards Russia's borders was one of the pledges NATO made. We have become accustomed to the fact that our Western colleagues are disregarding many of the positive commitments they signed in the 1990s. When we urge them to reaffirm their pledges, such as the principle of indivisible security, according to which no country in the Euro-Atlantic region can strengthen their security to the detriment of others' security, they shy away from this principle, afraid of doing this. The conclusion is very simple: this is because they have malicious intentions regarding Russia. I wish I were wrong. To make sure that our Western colleagues really do want to restore normal relations with Russia, we want to see practical action. Our concrete proposals are on the table. But we have not seen any answers yet.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks at a stand-alone meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations, Moscow, June 1, 2021 (Вступительное слово Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова на заседании СМИД БРИКС, Москва, 1 июня 2021 года) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, sergey_lavrov, speech

Good afternoon, friends.

It is always a pleasure to meet with friends and like-minded people.

Regrettably, the coronavirus infection has prevented us from holding an in-person meeting. I would like to once again express our solidarity with India and the Indian people. We are ready to continue providing assistance in the fight against the pandemic and to promote cooperation in this sphere. It is only through joint efforts that we will overcome the current crisis to the benefit of our nations.

The burden has increased not only on the national healthcare systems. The pandemic has strengthened negative trends in international relations, increasing the conflict potential and the risk of collapse of the strategic stability architecture. National egoism, a desire to ensure one's domination at all costs and disregard for the interests of other countries are eroding the foundations of the multilateral system created after WWII. The cornerstone of this system is respect for international law, that is, the UN Charter, and not the so-called "rules" invented by our Western colleagues.

The number and complexity of the challenges to the international community and sustainable global development are growing. These are the threats of terrorism, transnational crime, including in the digital sphere, climate change and an expanding rift between the rich and the poor. These problems can only be addressed collectively.

Today we will have an opportunity to hold an in-depth discussion of all the items on our agenda in the BRICS spirit of mutual respect and commitment to results. Our group is playing a leading role in the efforts to deal with current global problems and is an example of truly multilateral, inclusive, universal and non-discriminatory cooperation.

In this context, we would like to support our Indian friends' initiative for the BRICS foreign ministers to coordinate a strong joint signal to the world in favour of strengthening and reforming the multilateral system of international relations on the solid foundation of international law, with the central role of the UN as the most universal and inclusive organisation in the world. It is now more important than ever for BRICS to speak out as one voice.

Beijing Criticizes Developed Nations for 'Hoarding' COVID-19 Vaccines, Praises BRICS for Equity (Пекин критикует развитые страны за «накопление» вакцин против COVID-19, хвалит БРИКС за справедливость) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, social_issues, cooperation

World health officials have urged that until COVID-19 is eradicated everywhere, it remains a global danger and will continue to affect all nations, even when just the poorest ones remain unvaccinated. While popular pressure toward vaccine equity has increased in recent months, the majority of vaccinations have been in the few richest nations.

During a Tuesday virtual meeting of foreign ministers from the BRICS countries intended to promote multilateralism, China hailed the bloc's efforts to share vaccines, but blasted wealthier nations for focusing on vaccinating their own populations before taking care of the rest of the globe.

"The coronavirus pandemic has seen cases growing in the global south and declining in the north - the hoarding of vaccines and control of exports from some developed countries is not unrelated to this," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa on Tuesday. Wang noted that "China has provided more than 350 million doses of vaccines to the international community. This is in sharp contrast with developed countries that have adopted a 'domestic first' approach."

According to the Chinese National Health Commission, as of June 1, nearly 682 million vaccine shots had been administered. The data did not differentiate between fully and partially vaccinated people, but shows that as many as 20 million shots are being administered each day. China has roughly 1.4 billion people.

As of mid-March, the United States had already paid for 750 million complete SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations, or three times the US adult population. As of Wednesday, the US has fully vaccinated 41% of its population and given 50.8% at least one shot, from one of the three approved vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson. By comparison, the US has pledged to send just 80 million of those excess shots to other nations by the end of June, although on Wednesday afternoon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Biden administration would soon reveal a plan to distribute another 80 million vaccine doses.

In the UK, where seven vaccines have been approved, 40% of the adult population had been vaccinated as of June 1, and London has secured 340 million vaccines for its population of 65.5 million. While the UK has put 500 million pounds into vaccine giant Gavi, the Boris Johnson government has said it will only donate surplus vaccines. Israel, with a population of just nine million, has bought enough vaccines for 30 million people and has already vaccinated 81% of its population. However, while Israel has donated some of its excess, it has refused to give more than a pittance to the Palestinian Authority, and has even considered destroying some of the extra vaccines.

BRICS Pushes Vaccine Equity

Wang contrasted the behavior of these nations with those of the BRICS, which have focused on ensuring vaccine access to the world's poorest nations.

"We hope that BRICS countries will continue to make vaccines a global public good, and adhere to the principle of fair and reasonable distribution," Wang said. "[We] support our vaccine makers to transfer their technology to other developing countries to co-produce vaccines." In addition to Chinese vaccine exports, Russia has pledged 300 million shots to Africa alone and has signed multiple deals to produce Gamaleya's Sputnik V vaccine locally.

However, Wang isn't just preaching to the choir: he carried this message to a meeting of the United Nations Security Council last month, where he told the US, UK and other leading world powers that they needed to "help Africa bridge the pandemic divide."

Wang said they must give "more assistance for Africa in terms of pandemic prevention materials, medicines, technology and funding to ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines." South Africa and India have also led the charge at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to win a patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. The 1995 Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement prevents the production of cheap generic drugs, forcing poorer nations to buy them from First World-based pharmaceutical corporations at First World prices.

As Sputnik has reported, companies like Pfizer have looked to COVID-19 vaccines as their basis for future earnings, and Pfizer has used the TRIPS-created oligopoly to compel Third World nations to offer up their sovereign wealth assets like embassies and military bases as collateral against future legal cases. The World Health Organization has warned of the "shocking imbalance" in vaccination rates between rich and poor nations, with the UN noting that just 2% of Africans have received a COVID-19 vaccine. If this inequality persists, the world's poorest nations may not eradicate COVID-19 until 2024.

Last week, the WHO urged that 20 million second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are needed in Africa in just the next 6 weeks, while another 200 million are needed just to get the continent to the goal of 10% vaccination by September.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
New Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China sign Memorandum of Understanding (Новый банк развития и Экспортно-импортный банк Китая подписали меморандум о взаимопонимании) / China, May, 2021
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements

On 28 May 2021, the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which provides a framework for strategic, technical and operational cooperation between the two institutions. The Memorandum was signed by Mr. Marcos Troyjo, NDB President and Mr. Wu Fulin, the President of China Eximbank, at the head office of China Eximbank in Beijing.

Under the Memorandum, NDB and China Eximbank are encouraged to explore cooperation opportunities through various means, including but not limited to joint participation in financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The cooperation between the two institutions will focus on green finance, renewable energy, trade-enabling infrastructure, social infrastructure, among other areas of mutual interest.

"We, at the New Development Bank, attach great importance and high expectations to the partnership with China Eximbank. Trade and infrastructure represent indispensable pillars for NDB's member countries." said Mr. Marcos Troyjo. "With the signing of this Memorandum, we seek to deepen and broaden our cooperation in order to advance our shared development agenda."

"The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding laid the foundation for the two banks to carry out broader cooperation." echoed Mr. Wu Fulin. "China Eximbank is willing to actively explore feasible cooperation modalities with NDB, promote multilateral and bilateral cooperation with NDB and the BRICS countries, and jointly provide financing support to projects of mutual interest." Mr. Wu Fulin added.

Background information

NDB is a multilateral development bank, established by the Governments of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

China Eximbank is a state-funded and state-owned policy bank directly under the State Council of the People's Republic of China. China Eximbank's mission is to support China's foreign trade, investment and international economic cooperation. It plays a crucial role in promoting China's steady growth and structural adjustment, supporting foreign trade, implementing the "going global" strategy and promoting the sustainable and healthy development of China.

Is the Emerging World Still Emerging? (Развивающийся мир все еще развивается?) / USA, June, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, emerging_market
Author: Jim O'Neill

Two decades on, the BRICs promise lingers

Without COVID-19, GDP growth in the past decade would have been about 3.6 percent—just below the 3.7 percent experienced in 2000–09. Not bad given all the challenges, and contrary to the mood of pre-pandemic times. Indeed, each decade has witnessed stronger economic growth than the 1980s and 1990s, each about 3.3 percent. Hundreds of millions of people have been taken out of absolute poverty as a result, in part because of the growth miracle led by the so-called emerging markets, of which my beloved BRICs were front and center.

The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of my coining the acronym "BRICs" to summarize the likely rising economic relevance of Brazil, Russia, India, and China and the implications of their rise for global governance. As the world looks to the remainder of 2021 and beyond, what can we expect from emerging markets?


BRICs revisited

My primary goal in my first paper, "The World Needs Better Economic BRICs," was to make a case for changing the framework for global economic governance, not necessarily the inevitable future growth of these countries.

In subsequent papers I laid out what the world could look like, in the highly unlikely event that the countries we studied reached their potential. We defined this potential using the standard methodology for macroeconomics, in which real economic growth is determined by two variables: the size of a nation's workforce and the economy's productivity. Because of their population size, the associated size of their workforce, and the scope for productivity catch-up, it was quite easy to show that the potential growth rates of BRICs were higher than those of most advanced economies. What our analysis was not meant to show was that all these countries would persistently grow at their potential. That frankly is not realistic, and not what we intended as our message.

My primary goal was to make a case for changing the framework for global economic governance.
In this context, the second decade of this century has been quite a contrast to the first decade, which for all four countries turned out even better than in the scenarios I outlined in 2001. While India has notably disappointed in recent years, it is broadly developing along the path we envisioned. For both Brazil and Russia, however, 2010–20 economic performance was very disappointing, which has occasionally led me to joke that perhaps I should have called the "BRICs" the "ICs." Brazil and Russia have both suffered from the well-known commodity curse and, as evidence suggests, are far too dependent on the world commodity cycle for their own sustainable development. Each of these countries has considerable differences, but they both need to diversify their economies away from commodities and grow the role of the private sector.

In contrast, the ongoing strength of the Chinese economy suggests that it is fully achieving its potential. China's GDP, in excess of $14 trillion (as of 2019), is more than twice that of the other BRICs in aggregate. The sheer scale of China means that the BRIC economies combined are now larger than that of the European Union and are approaching the size of the United States.

Back to the future

Although China's real GDP growth rate will slow beginning in 2021, given its increasing demographic challenge, that will not stop it from overtaking the United States as the world's biggest economy. For the world to grow faster in aggregate, countries with favorable demographics must boost their productivity.

It will be very hard for the world to get to a real GDP growth rate of 4 percent; even the 3.7 percent of the past two decades could be challenging. Four factors will determine whether we get the growth we need: productivity in developed economies; how quickly China's growth trend slows; the success of India; and, crucially, whether the other highly populated emerging market economies emerge. Can the likes of Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Vietnam, and others get close to their long-term potential? If they do, then real GDP growth for the world could have a better chance of emulating that of the past decade.

Obviously, an immediate strong post–COVID-19 recovery almost exclusively depends on developing and distributing vaccines and treatments to eradicate this pandemic. In my judgment, the multiplier benefits of the required $20–$30 billion from donors are such that it would represent the biggest no-brainer economic stimulus any generation has had the chance to agree to, dwarfing the potential benefits of 2008–09.

The IMF must play an active role in encouraging this stimulus and—in addition to its newfound focus on climate change—must enter the arena of health systems and integrate analysis of health spending in its surveillance work. Aligning with finance ministers to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator—a collaboration between leading global health organizations—is a small beginning, but it needs to be bigger.

Having led the UK government's independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), I know there are other health threats out there equal to COVID-19. AMR could cause as many as 10 million deaths annually by 2050 and, as a result, a cumulative $100 trillion in lost economic opportunity. Some observers find such numbers hard to believe, but as a result of the pandemic, we now know such things are unfortunately a reality. Trying to strengthen the links between economics, finance, and health should be at the center of our emerging ideas.

Bolder and smarter

In the aftermath of COVID-19, emerging market economies, especially the larger ones, must adopt smart fiscal policies—policies that prioritize public investment. We need a different basis for assessing the real economic framework and circumstances of fiscal policy. To be specific, the time has come to truly distinguish between government investment spending and consumption spending; the former is likely to have a positive multiplier effect and should not be treated from an accounting perspective the same as government expenditures on consumption. Tackling climate change and future health threats requires such investments. Emerging market economies' achievement of their growth potential depends on such investment, which is arguably more important for economic growth than financial conditions.

A framework for smarter fiscal policy will almost definitely require stronger domestic financial systems. Continued dependence on a monetary system based on the US dollar makes this difficult. Despite the relatively smooth but ongoing slow relative decline of the share of the US economy in the world, the dollar-based monetary system remains as dominant, broadly speaking, as it was when I started my financial career in 1982. This means that the world must ride the cyclical roller-coaster of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy, its consequence for the United States, and the global financial conditions that follow. As the Fed tightens, by and large, financial conditions for emerging markets tighten—often chaotically. As the Fed eases, the reverse happens.

There is a way out, and one day, this change will take place. The monetary system needs to evolve to be more reflective of the changing dynamics of the world, and until it does, emerging market nations' ability to reach their growth potential will remain challenging, albeit perhaps not quite as challenging as other domestic initiatives such as health and education systems.

Many emerging market nations need to be bolder and smarter about these issues, and the IMF of course will be there to help them.

BRICS more focused on politics, not economics (БРИКС больше ориентирован на политику, а не на экономику) / Republic of Korea, June, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Republic of Korea

Foreign ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) met June 1 for a summit which underlined that, while the bloc was formed originally for its economic potential, it has also seen political cooperation rise to the fore in recent years.

This growing political bent is exemplified by this year's Indian presidency of the club of emerging market powers. The four priorities for New Delhi in 2021 include enhancing intra-BRICS anti-terrorism cooperation and enabling greater people-to-people interaction.

India's other priorities are delivering the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), plus also reform of the multilateral system to deliver on what BRICS says is a common ambition of sovereign equality of all states, and respect for territorial integrity.

These examples underline the hunger of the BRICS to become even bigger political (not just economic) players raising fears in some quarters that the bloc could, ultimately, become a unified anti-Western alliance. This concerns many given that the five nations encompass around 25 percent of the world's land coverage, over 40 percent of the world's population and around 16 percent of world trade.

To be sure, the BRICS (like some in the West) certainly have shared concerns about key elements of the prevailing global order. However, it is unlikely, for the immediate future at least, that this means the BRICS will move decisively beyond an increasingly institutionalized forum for emerging market cooperation.

Part of the reason for this is the heterogeneity of the club with its diverse interests, as showcased by Beijing's periodic tensions with New Delhi, including over border issues, which can adversely impact relations between the two. This has been one driver of the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as Quad, of powers compromising India, the United States, Japan and Australia to act as a regional anchor vis a vis China.

At the same time that BRICS are stepping up their political cooperation, there is growing skepticism of the relevance of the group as an economic club given the diverging long-term economic trajectories of the five nations.

Pre-pandemic, this has seen generally robust economic performance in China and India over the past two decades contrasting with disappointing results in Brazil, Russia and South Africa. However, even Indian growth has been reversed during the pandemic while China continues to power ahead, for now at least.

Yet, with BRICS already accounting for around a quarter of global gross domestic product (GDP), up by over 10 percentage points from around a decade ago, their overall growth is already having a major global impact, despite their diverging fortunes. World Bank research, for instance, has shown that for the first time in some two centuries, overall global income inequality ― one of, but not the only measure of economic inequality ― appears to be declining.

This is being driven by BRICS and other emerging markets. Especially the collective economic growth and very large populations of India and China, in particular, which have lifted a massive amount of people out of poverty, are driving this greater overall global income inequality.

At the same time, however, there is an opposing force: growing income inequality within many countries. It is this factor that has also assumed growing political salience recently, helping fuel populist, nationalist politicians including Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro.

These countervailing pressures, like tectonic plates, are pushing against each other. While the net global trend for the past 200 years has been toward greater overall income inequality, there is growing evidence in the last two decades that the "positive effect" of growing income equality between countries, spurred by BRICS and the development of the Global South, is superseding the "negative effect" from increasing inequality within nations.

Monumental as this could be, however, the picture is not yet clear cut. However, what is certain is that the overall lot of the Global South has improved dramatically.

Especially post-pandemic, it is unclear whether the BRICS and wider development of the Global South have enough momentum to keep driving forward a more equitable world order. The answer will depend, largely, on the same twin issues of whether emerging markets generally continue growing robustly, and also whether the trend toward rising income inequality within countries is sustained.

On the first issue, the trajectory of the global economy will very likely continue to shift toward the South. However, the remarkable wave of emerging market growth of the last generation may now decelerate, and the global transformation it has produced in recent years potentially will not repeat again.

On the latter, it is not set in stone that ever-growing income inequality within countries will continue, especially if there is political will to address it. However, the debate over what long-term reform agenda should be undertaken to tackle this problem is contested by the left and right across much of the world.

While the coherence of the BRICS as a combined club is therefore questioned, they have helped drive what could be the first period of sustained movement towards greater global income equality for two centuries. Yet, the fragile process could yet go into reverse, post-pandemic, especially if growth in China and India flattens significantly as the world recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
Andrew Hammond ( is an associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Deputy Minister Alvin Botes Debate on the Presidency Budget Vote, Parliament, Cape Town, 2 June 2021 (Дебаты заместителя министра Элвина Ботса по голосованию по бюджету президента, Парламент, Кейптаун, 2 июня 2021 г.) / South Africa, June, 2021
Keywords: speech, covid-19, national_security
South Africa

Advancing the African agenda and seeking a Better World

House Chair,
President Ramaphosa,
Deputy President Mabuza,
Honourable Members,

On this 2nd day of Youth month this speech is dedicated to the memory of my former colleague and youthful firebrand, the late Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honourable Bavelile Hlongwa.

Lala ngoxolo BV, dadewethu!

South Africa continues to execute our foreign policy through the canon of Pan -Africanism, South-South solidarity, South-North cooperation and Multilateralism (global Governance). We do so knowing that our national interest is intertwined, interrelated and integrally infused with the stability, unity and prosperity of Africa.

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, warned that "our world is suffering from a Trust Deficit Disorder, and that trust in global governance is fragile".

Mr President, trust must be earned.

Former Deputy Minister of DIRCO, Dr Aziz Pahad was instructive on the occasion of accepting his honorary doctorate degree from the University of Pretoria in April 2021, when he wrote and I quote "we would do well to remember at times like these that we remain bound together as never before as communities of fate, brought together by our mutual vulnerabilities and an abiding sense of solidarity, compassion, and interdependence".

Mr President, by building back better, we are restoring the trust deficit.

Franz Fanon cautioned us in his seminal works entitled Black Skin, White Masks that without conceptualization and a new way of life, the struggle will rely on the memories of past battles and old formulas and fall back into an unhappy unconsciousness—what is called "Afro-Pessimism and Afro-optimism on the other hand.

We can no longer speak like our forbearers of the Monrovia State, Brazzaville Groups, Casablanca Powers, Anglophone and Francophone. Let us put an end to these terms.

We require a singular African identity, premised on the African Renaissance, Africa Unity and African solidarity.

House Chair,

South Africa assumed the Chairship of the African Union in 2020. The priorities its set when assuming the Chair included:

a) We supported continental integration, economic development, trade and investment in the continent. We are pleased that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into operationalisation and commenced trading on 1 January 2021. The AfCFTA has a dialectical rooting from the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty, and is a potent de-colonial instrument we must use to negate our national grievance of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

b) We steered the implementation of the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative in support of the AfCFTA. Mr President, the AU noted with appreciation the Progress Report you presented as Chair of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee's High-level Sub-Committee on the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI). AUDA-NEPAD must collaborate with the African Development Bank (AfDB) in order to support the Africa Co-guarantee Platform (CGP).

Lastly on the PICI, Mr President, do we contemplate a relationship with China's Belt and Road initiative, given that it is anchored on infrastructure investment?

c) We strengthened cooperation between the African Union and United Nations. South Africa has recently concluded its two-year term as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council, and occupied a particular proximity with other members of the A3, and other elected members in the E10 formation, with an emphasis on states from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

d) We promoted peace and security and advanced efforts to SILENCE THE GUNS on the African continent. The AU Master Lusaka Roadmap of "Silencing of the Guns in Africa", thereby advancing Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063, acknowledge the dialectical relationship between peace and development. Patrice Lumumba reminded us that African unity and solidarity are no longer dreams. They must be expressed in decisions. The AU Assembly congratulated the decision of South Africa, together with Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal for their pledges to financially support the Peace Fund.

House Chair,

Systematic work is being done in South Sudan (unity government); Sudan (peace agreement); Libya (ceasefire agreement) and Burundi (United Nations Security Council removed the matter from its agenda). Unfortunately, there remain significant risks of instability and conflict on the continent. These include developments in Cabo Delgado (Mozambique); North Kivu (DRC); Tigray (Ethiopia); Sahel and the Great Lakes; resurgence of hostilities between Morocco and the people of Western Sahara; and potential tensions arising from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

e) We Deepened Democracy: The last few years has seen an increase in participatory politics across the continent with rising numbers of democratic governments emerging. Over the last year alone, over twenty African countries held elections (Guinea, Mali, Benin, Burundi, Malawi amongst others) and 25 more is destined for a renewal mandate (South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe, amongst other) at either presidential, parliamentary or local level in 2021.

f) Advancing gender equality, the empowerment of women and the combating of violence against women and girls. South Africa has been chosen as the co-leader of Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition of the Generation Equality Forum. This practically mean that South Africa will remain part of the global leaders aimed at accelerating gender equality and the financial inclusion of African women.

Deepening Multilateralism

South Africa continue to participate in many different pluri-lateral platforms such as the G7, G20 and BRICS , and we must be seized with the plight of the highly indebted states, and particular the Less Developed Countries, of which 33 are African states, including our immediate neighbours of Lesotho and Mozambique.

India's Chairship of BRICS coincides of them being subjected to the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and we should as a caring nation err on the side of the vulnerable and mobilise humanitarian assistance to our BRICS ally.

Mr President, I trust South Africa will utilised her humanitarian diplomacy to solidify our bonds of friendship with India and her people.

Mr President, there is high-level support from China and Russia for the operationalisation of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre, as approved by the Johannesburg Declaration of the 10th BRICS Summit in 2018.

Mr President, as AU-COVID-19 champion, how do you conceptualize the leverage between our own quest for vaccine manufacturing and the BRICS' initiative?


South Africa must remain steadfast against the unilateral economic sanctions against Zimbabwe by the US and UK administrations. This economic blockade has severely strain the Zimbabwean economy, especially after Tropical Cyclone Idai that destroyed their economic infrastructure. South Africa, through the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund, pledged R50 million in humanitarian support to Zimbabwe and Minister Pandor on Africa Day, solidified our intent with substantive food security interventions. That is humanitarian diplomacy par excellent and translating our value system of Ubuntu.

Mr President, it may be important to express your attitude on the overarching mandate of your special envoy to realize dialogue between the state and non- state actors in Zimbabwe. In addition, given that you Mr President have been elected by the AU to steer the APRM. Could this mechanism assist to alleviate fears of governance challenges in Zimbabwe; noting that Zimbabwe together with Seychelles is the most recent accessions to the APRM?

South Africa must remain unwavering on the question of the self-determination of Western Sahara. Morocco has suspended all contacts with the German Embassy in Rabat and related German organisations due to "deep misunderstandings" over Western Sahara. We must hail Germany's absolutely correct posture which underpins the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

On Cuba, we must continue to solidify our economic diplomacy, through the Economic Assistance Package Agreement with Cuba, and indicate our unequivocal support for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba". The vote is scheduled for 23 June 2021.

South Africa's freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestine people (Nelson Mandela). The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to launch an open-ended international investigation into violations during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza, and into "systematic" abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and inside Israel. We must heighten our advocacy work for the realisation of the Middle East Peace Process, without pre-conditions.

House Chair,

We are of course highly subjective when we speak about our President's stewardship in Africa, but I thought it prudent to quote what the other 55 African Heads of States said about his leadership. Allow me to quote the 34th ordinary session decisions, as follows:

"The AU Assembly expresses deep appreciation to His Excellency President Ramaphosa for providing exemplary, timely, focused and effective leadership to Africa's response to COVID-19;
Acknowledge the commendable and extraordinary efforts he invested during his chairmanship of the AU in the year 2020;
Expresses and Reiterates its profound gratitude to His Excellency President Ramaphosa, for his vibrant, visionary and sterling leadership of the Union during his term of office"

Meneer die President,

Die digter Jan F.E. Cilliers het gesê en ek haal hom aan "Ek hou van 'n man wat sy man kan staan; Ek hou van 'n arm wat 'n slag kan slaan; 'n oog wat nie wyk, wat 'n bars kan kyk; en 'n wil wat so vas soos 'n klipsteen staan – ".

Mr President,

You have reset the trust button; you have earned your stripes. Ma'm Charlotte Maxeke would have been proud of you and confident about the inclusive Africa we envisaged in Agenda 2063.

Mongameli, usebenza kakuhle. Enkosi

World of Work
Dialogue on the future of multilateralism (Диалог о будущем многосторонности) / India, May, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance

Participants for Theme 1: BRICS and multilateral reform

  • Dr André de Mello e Souza, Senior Research Fellow, The Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Brazil
  • Dr Victoria V. Panova, Director, Oriental Studies Institute, Russia
  • Ms Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), India
  • Dr Shen Yi, Director and Professor, BRICS Research Centre of Fu Dan University, China
  • Dr Philani Mthembu, Executive Director, Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), South Africa
Moderator: Amb H.H.S. Viswanathan, Distinguished Fellow, ORF

In the post-war era, the functions of the global order and world economy came to be largely managed by the Bretton Woods institutions such as General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) (later World Trade Organisation) and the United Nations (UN). The post-Cold War era saw a rise of the multilateral governance system, overlaid by a liberal hegemonic system. However, with the rise of the economy and security of non-western nations such as China, India, and Brazil, the global order has repositioned itself. With growing interdependence, the change in dynamics has shifted the Global South from the peripheral to the centre of the global governance system; emerging economies are now seeking more involvement in international organisations. Amidst the changing geopolitical and geoeconomics landscape, complex questions are arising about the current role of multilateralism and whether the world is transforming into a new form of the post-hegemonic multilateral governance system. Against this backdrop, the panel discussed the future of the existing multilateral institutions and global governance forums. The panel reflected on the need to make multilateral institutions more inclusive and reflective of the needs of nations and the current geoeconomics realities of the world.

It was in this context that André Souza, Senior Research Fellow at the IPEA in Brazil, highlighted the increasing need for multilateral and plurilateral institutions to create global public goods and contingency plans. For instance, plurilateral institutions such as the BRICS have attempted to create global financial governance through the New Development Bank (NDB) and Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a global health and environmental emergency—both of which reflect the increasing need to provide public goods. These global public goods are necessary to address regional fragmentation and the scramble for public resources.

Furthermore, Victoria V. Panova, Director at the Oriental Studies Institute in Russia, emphasised the importance of sharing the best frontline knowledge through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) of cooperation and effective inclusive development by plurilateral institutions like the BRICS. She noted the need for multilateral institutions to offer international law instead of a mere rules-based order, controlled by a handful of developed countries. Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the IGD in South Africa, highlighted that international cooperation is essential for shaping the reform of multilateralism. According to him, cooperation must not be limited to state-state diplomacy, but also must include Track II and Track III cooperation.

BRICS in a new governance paradigm must promote and support multiple narratives and ideas from across the spectrum of the global community in the spirit of inclusivity and oppose the dominance of a single vision and approach. André Souza remarked that there is a need for input and output legitimacy—the new entrants to the system must have a say in the process of decision-making but also must not be impacted by the decisions not made by them. According to Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate at the IDSA in India, it is imperative that multilateral groups reaffirm their commitment to multipolarity so that they can balance the asymmetry of power.

However, HHS Viswanathan, Distinguished Fellow at ORF, observed that albeit multilateralism is beneficial to international communities, the system has become outdated and is out of touch with current geopolitical realities of the world. According to him, there is an urgent need for reforms in the multilateral system where the emphasis is laid on representation and effectiveness. On a similar note, Shen Yi, Director of BRICS Research Centre of FuDan University, China, highlighted that different nations refer to multilateralism in different contexts. He observed that too many stakeholders lower the efficiency of the multilateral system; therefore, it is difficult to find practical models that reflect the 'multilateral spirit'. According to him, BRICS needs a shared, common understanding of multilateralism, wherein nations clearly define multilateralism.

With a rise in global interdependence, global governance through multilateral or plurilateral cooperation in the realms of economics, security, and politics is necessary. It is crucial that global governance is not bound by a binary vision but as a shifting balance between multilateralism and plurilateralism. Either way, it is now clear that in order to build an effective global governance leadership, it is imperative to include emerging economies in the governance groups.

Participants for Theme 2: Specific issues in global governance—trade, technology, and international security

  • Prof Luciana Acioly da Silva, Senior Research Fellow, The Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Brazil
  • Dr Victoria V. Panova, Director, Oriental Studies Institute, Russia
  • Dr Tan Ya, Assistant Professor, University, International Business and Economics, China
  • Dr Anirudh Shingal, Senior Fellow, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), India
  • Dr Philani Mthembu, Executive Director, Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), South Africa
Moderator: Amb. Mohan Kumar, Chairman RIS

Skepticism surrounding the global governance architecture is not new, but has become more persistent in recent times. The fault lines between developed and developing countries have exacerbated as the latter have started to be more assertive of their needs at various international platforms. There is also a growing indication that the multilateral system is not adapting fast enough to the changing needs of the participating member states. This leads us to the questions the panel aimed to address—Is the current multilateral system or plurilateral arrangements sufficient? Is the current system captured by vested interests? Does everyone on the table have a voice in the decision-making process?

Responding to the idea that multilateralism as it now stands was failing to address the needs of countries, Prof Luciana da Silva observed that this was true to some extent. It was the inability of the financial governance architecture to respond to the global financial crisis that led to the creation of BRICS's Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) as well as the New Development Bank (NDB). She noted that it was elements of disorder that prompted the creation of these institutions, especially due to the disproportionate representation at the IMF and World Bank level.

Focusing on the international trade aspect of multilateralism, Dr Tan Ya pointed out that countries, by virtue of being part of the WTO, were participating in a common liberalisation agenda. She balanced this opinion, however, by emphasising that the current system was not enough to address emerging needs, especially as concerns about value chain diversification have emerged. Challenges, she noted, also develop due to the rise of emerging trade giants like the BRICS, the proliferation of Mega Regional Trade Agreements (MRTA), and offshoring of hi-technology work to low wage nations. These observations become more relevant when we juxtaposed it to the fact that MRTAs, Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs), Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and any other iteration of a trade agreement, have allowances for them in the GATT. A new question arises of whether the WTOs leniency in the creation of the infamous noodle-bowl of FTAs has been a cause of its own ineffectiveness. However, as Dr Tan Ya noted, PTAs also contribute to the stability of global trade, but it is important that they too become more reflective of an individual country's needs instead of being a one-size- fits-all agreement.

Dr Shingal also observed that multilateral institutions no longer reflect the realities on the ground. As far as international trade is concerned, he maintains that the rise in plurilateralism is due to the WTO getting stuck. While the organisation achieved some success in the mid to late 1990s, the Doha Development Agenda's failure has become a big reason for the stalemate it finds itself at. The Dispute Settlement Body becoming ineffectual is also a matter of concern. Multilateralism itself, he argued, remains relevant for its role in coordinating responses to large scale problems like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Issues within the institutions need to be dealt with from the inside, noted Dr Panova, stating that reform would not be possible without the commitment of all parties. She took the stance that it is the BRICS's responsibility to be devoted to reform and ensure that international forums do not remain talk shops. Dr Mthembu, adding to this stated that highlighting weaknesses within the system is necessary to engendering long-term reform. He also stressed that the organisations should not become beholden to private sector interests but maintain the centrality of the needs of the masses.

Amb Kumar emphasised that plurilateralism must be allowed to flourish to ensure that timely decisions are made on urgent international issues. It is important, he added, to remember the difference between competitive and cohesive plurilateralism. He recommends the idea that there should be a wariness against exclusive groupings and the multilateral agenda becoming unrepresentative of the needs of the diverse countries that make up the multilateral system.

Ministry of AYUSH organises webinar on traditional medicinal products of BRICS nations (Министерство AYUSH организовало вебинар по традиционным лекарственным средствам стран БРИКС) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, cooperation

Ministry of AYUSH recently organised a webinar on Harmonization of Regulation of Standardization of Traditional Medicinal Products of Brics Countries under India's BRICS Chairship of 2021. The event was attended by experts and stakeholders from the field of traditional medicine from India, China, South Africa, Russia and Brazil.

Ministry of AYUSH had proposed to organise the said webinar during the First meeting of BRICS Sherpas held on February 24-26, 2021 as a part of India's Chairship of BRICS 2021 which was agreed by the Member States. Ministry of AYUSH had also hosted the virtual meeting of the BRICS Experts in Traditional Medicines March 25, 2021.

AYUSH regulations and pharmacopoeial standards; Pharmacopoeia of Indian Traditional systems of Medicine - An overview and Standardization and Regulation of AYUSH Healthcare Services were presented by India during the webinar. During the second session of the webinar, discussions were held among the industry stakeholders from the field of Traditional Medicine from BRICS Countries. Comprehensive presentations were made by the representatives of the traditional medicine industry from India and China.

Dr Manoj Nesari, Adviser (AYUSH), Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India chaired the event and delivered opening remarks. While briefing about the webinar, Dr Nesari emphasised India's BRICS 2021 priorities and deliverables in the field of traditional medicine to enhance and strengthen BRICS collaboration. The proposal from India included MoU on BRICS Cooperation in Traditional Medicines and the constitution of the BRICS Forum on Traditional Medicine (BFTM). He underlined the need for harmonisation of regulation of standardisation of traditional medicinal products amongst BRICS countries. Initiatives taken by India for the mitigation of COVID-19 through the AYUSH system of medicine were also highlighted upon.

During the first session of the webinar, country presentations were made by the representative of BRICS countries on drug regulations; service standards and regulations; pharmacopoeia of traditional medicine in their respective countries.

The experts and stakeholders of traditional medicine from the BRICS countries expressed their appreciation and extended cooperation and support for India's efforts and initiatives taken for the promotion of Traditional Medicine globally including for BRICS countries.

Dynamic nexus between technological innovation and buildings Sector's carbon emission in BRICS countries (Динамическая связь между технологическими инновациями и выбросами углерода в строительном секторе в странах БРИКС) / Turkey, June, 2021
Keywords: research, innovations


  • The building industry is one of the most contributing sectors to global carbon emissions
  • The greatest contribution to global carbon emissions comes from BRICS countries.
  • Urban population growth increases carbon emissions in Brazil, China, India and Russia
  • Technological innovation has a negative effect on building sector carbon emission.


The greatest contribution to global CO2 emissions comes from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The building sector in these countries is one of the sectors that increases CO2 emissions significantly. Increasing CO2 emissions in the building sector adversely affects sustainable development. Therefore, measures to mitigate environmental damage become substantially important. Improvements in technological innovation can be among the measures considered to mitigate CO2 emissions.

In this study, the effects of technological innovation on the carbon emissions caused by the building sector are examined by panel data methods for the BRICS countries in the period 1992–2018. It has been observed that there is a long-term relationship between the series. As the results of Dynamic Common Correlated Effects indicated, increased technological innovation reduces carbon emissions. This result is meaningful to encourage investments related to technological innovation.

Should India Join China and Russia's Lunar Research Station? (Следует ли Индии присоединиться к Лунной исследовательской станции Китая и России?) / USA, June, 2021
Keywords: space, expert_opinion

Last week, South Korea signed the Artemis Accords, becoming the tenth country to join. It was the latest sign of the ongoing global efforts to study the Moon and beyond, involving both state-centric programs and multilateral collaborations.

NASA's Artemis Accords and the China-Russia proposal to build a Lunar Research Station are two recent programs that are expected to impact the long-term vision of humans on the Moon. History demonstrates that reaching the Moon is not only about the demonstration of technological dominance as well a the larger geopolitical logic associated behind it. New projects for the Moon also need study regarding any the possible influence of these projects on the future of space security. These projects offer an opportunity to start (or restart) a debate about the need for the development of a rule-based mechanism for the management of planetary resources.

Developing multilateral mechanisms for undertaking major projects in the space domain is not a new idea. In the post-Cold War period, one of the most successful space collaboration initiatives has been the construction of International Space Station. This effort has, so far, managed two decades of continuous human presence in space. NASA's Artemis program is a multilateral mechanism for going to the Moon and beyond; while the China-Russia Lunar Research Station is currently a bilateral mechanism, they are keen to have more partners associated with it.

NASA's Artemis program is about returning humans to the Moon, and going beyond, with commercial and international partners. Apart from the US and South Korea, the member states that have joined the Artemis Accords include Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. (As this article was being prepared for publication, New Zealand announced it had signed the Accords.) The first major step in this program would be to undertake the landing of humans on the Moon as soon as 2024.

The second project involves proposals by China and Russia to build a Lunar Research Station, either on the Moon's surface or in lunar orbit. The idea is to develop this station as a scientific base with the capability for conducting long-term autonomous operations, where lunar-based observations and various scientific experimentations would be undertaken. China and Russia have not yet announced any definitive timeline for this project, which still appears to be at its earliest phases.

Countries like the US, Russia, and China have very successful space programs and have undertaken major investments in the space arena over the years. They have their individual programs for the Moon (and Mars) and have achieved some major successes so far. However, perhaps realizing that vast financial and technological sources are required to undertake such programs—not to mention diplomatic reasons—these states have decided to simultaneously undertake collaborative programs too.

Russia is collaborating with the US on the ISS project and the US was also keen to have them join the Artemis program. However, Russia has decided to work with China for exploring the Moon. The US Congress bans almost all contacts between NASA and China. Hence, it is unlikely that the US and China will cooperate for the foreseeable future.

Some signatories to Artemis Accords are also continuing with their own planetary programs. The UAE is undertaking a Moon mission with the assistance of Japan in 2022. Their Hope orbiter for Mars was launched in July 2020 and successfully entered Martian orbit in February. Japan is also planning for a sample return mission to the moons of Mars.

The Artemis Accords specifically acknowledge and reaffirm their commitment to the Outer Space Treaty (OST). However, the Accords appear to be conveniently using the 1967 OST mechanism, particularly in the context of the management of space resources. It is important to note that the US has the cover of their 2015 Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act and, in future, could engage in unilateral exploitation of celestial bodies or could carry it out under the project Artemis. Two signatories to Artemis Accords, Luxembourg and the UAE, have also established a legal architecture at the national level, which permits their space industry to undertake the extraction of minerals from extra-terrestrial bodies.

At present, the extraction of minerals from extraterrestrial bodies is not an issue of immediate concern for many, owing to the absence of technology to undertake any major planetary mining activity. However, this situation is going to change in the future. China's fifth mission to Moon, Chang'e 5, was a sample-return mission and brought nearly two kilograms of soil and rocks last December. Their next mission to Mars, launching as soon as 2028, would be a sample return mission. Currently, NASA's Perseverance rover is the process of collecting samples of Martian surface, which would be brought back to Earth by two missions launching no earlier than 2026. Also, Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft returned to Earth in December with samples of the asteroid Ryugu.

China and Russia have yet to spell out the details about their specific proposal to build a Lunar Research Station. Possibly, this is the time for other nations to join this project and ensure that the project develops in a manner that ensures that the planetary system continued to be the common heritage of humanity. It is unlikely that China and Russia would allow other partners to dilute their agenda, but that should not stop other agencies from trying.

Today in the space domain there are two competing blocs. One consists of the US and it allies, and the other is Russia and China. They oppose almost each other's every idea in regards to space security. They are just not open to any of ideas from the other side. This is harming any possible creation of rule-based mechanisms for conduct of activities in space.

Hence, there is a need for "sensible" space powers to arbitrate directly or indirectly. For example, as part of an effective engagement strategy, states like India could join the Russian-Chinese proposal for a Lunar Research Station. For many years, Russia and India have been collaborating in the space arena, so Russia should have no objection to India joining this project. It is a reality that India and China are geopolitical adversaries. However, in the domain of space they do have some collaborative efforts in place. There are "framework agreements" signed betweer these nations in the initial years of the 21st century, however this agreement lies dormant for many years. In September 2014, a memorandum of understanding was signed between India and China, enabling them to encourage exchange and cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for research and development of remote sensing, communications, and scientific experiment satellites. Now the Lunar Research Station project offers an opportunity for both nations to bring such paper promises in reality. Actually, it could be in the interest of China to invite India to join their lunar project.

First, such collaboration could itself help somewhat harmonize the differences between them: maybe not on the ground, but at least in the domain of outer space. It would be naive think that both these ASAT powers would suddenly become space buddies, but such collaboration could help build confidence. Second, China and Russia have long been pushing for their draft treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space. However, there are no takers even for discussing their draft. India, though, is open for negotiating this treaty as a legally binding instrument in the Conference on Disarmament.

Third, India is a part of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) multilateral mechanism of emerging economies. This multilateral mechanism has arrangements for satellite data sharing. Now, there is an opportunity for India, Brazil, and South Africa to join the Lunar Research Station. However, there is a possibility that Brazil could join the Artemis Accords in near future. Here, China and India need to be more proactive diplomatically and ensure that space remains as an important agenda item for BRICS. Lastly, it is no secret that the US is keen to use (or using) India to counterbalance Chinese influence on Asia. The Lunar Research Program provides an excellent opportunity for China-India engagement.

Nations like India need to take the initiative to ensure fairness in the arena of distribution of planetary resources. The Artemis Accords and the China-Russia Lunar Research Station program clearly indicate that the US and China are interested in space hegemony and are keen to control the management of planetary resources in the future. Such collaborations are likely to ensure that technologically savvy and wealthier states would dominate the process of future rulemaking in the space domain. Criticizing any such possible attempts by sitting on the fence will not help. It is the duty of independent-thinking states to keep in check any such attempts. One way to beat them in this game is to join the game.

Ajey Lele is a Senior Fellow at MP-IDSA, New Delhi.

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