Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 24.2021
2021.06.14 — 2021.06.20
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS Summit Planned for this Fall: Russian Envoy (Саммит БРИКС намечен на осень: российский посланник) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: summit, quotation

The Russian envoy to India Nikolay Kudashev has said that the annual summit has been planned for this fall. India is the current chair of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) grouping.

Kudashev, speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL), said, "in the framework of multilateral efforts to address existing challenges and threats, BRICS remains a major factor in international politics and economics".

"Annual BRICS summit is planned for this fall. At the previous BRICS summit, our leaders have reaffirmed the importance of BRICS people-to-people contact in enhancing friendship between our relations, especially the younger generation."

On June 1, India hosted the BRICS foreign ministers' meet virtually. With India as the chair of the grouping, nearly 50 events have been held and many more are scheduled during the rest of the year. It is the third time India is holding the BRICS chairship after 2012 and 2016.

Kudashev highlighted that both countries remain committed to "further expand our financial cooperation and extend the use of national currency in bilateral and international trade", pointing out that Russia is the "only foreign country so deeply involved in Indian nuclear power sector contributing to the national energy security".

Russia has been involved in Kudankulam nuclear power plant. He said, "we would be very encouraged with regard to the decision of the Indian government on the second site for construction of more nuclear reactors of Russian design".

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries supported each other. Kudashev said, "in the hour of need, India helped Russia with the supplies of anti-virus medicines. Russia on its part provided a huge part of humanitarian assistance to India".

Russia supplied 20 tonnes of life-saving equipment and medicines to India earlier this year to deal with the crisis. These are included oxygen production unit, lunge ventilating machines and Remdesivir.

On coronavirus vaccines, India will be manufacturing the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. Sputnik V, along with Covishield and Covaxin are the only three vaccines authorized in India.

Chairman of the Confederation of Young Leaders, Suwan, speaking at the event extended his gratitude to Russia for the outreach amid the pandemic and said, "right from oxygen concentrators to Sputnik vaccine such efforts to extend India a lifeline underscores the need to strengthen popular support for the long-term development in of the Russia-India relations."

Negotiations for Sputnik, Sinovac vaccines at advanced stage (Переговоры по вакцинам Спутник и Синовак на продвинутой стадии) / South Africa, June, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, covid-19
South Africa

Deputy President David Mabuza says negotiations with the manufacturers of Sputnik V and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines are at an advanced stage.

The Deputy President said this when he responded to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

"Further interventions being implemented to save lives are ongoing. Negotiations with vaccine manufacturers such as the Gamaleya Institute for the Sputnik V and manufacturers of Sinovac are at an advanced stage.

"The opportunity of receiving additional doses through the COVAX Facility is being actively pursued."

Addressing NCOP delegates, the Deputy President said the major response area in saving lives and achieving population health is the ongoing mass vaccination programme under the coordination of the Inter-Ministerial Committee of COVID-19 Vaccines.

"Initially, there was slow uptake of vaccination due to the limited supply of vaccines as a result of global demand for vaccines, as well as pessimism towards their use.

"This has been addressed by concluding negotiations with manufacturers and upscaling government risk communication.

"We experienced regulatory issues with regard to AstraZeneca and later Johnson and Johnson, which cumulatively has impacted the scale and pace of the vaccination programme."

The Deputy President said notwithstanding these challenges, government is forging ahead with the vaccine acquisition, and distribution to provinces has also improved, evidenced by the rise in the numbers of those vaccinated.

"We are also enhancing local manufacturing capability through collaborations with other partners within BRICS, which will enable us to overcome the current pandemic and respond to future health emergencies.

"As government, we will continue to ensure that every citizen enjoys the right to life, equality and human dignity, as outlined in the Bill of Rights.

"With the recent surge of new cases, we appeal to all of us to continue observing COVID-19 protocols to curb further infections, while working on achieving population immunity through vaccines," Mabuza said.

Further measures to save lives

The National Department of Health developed a plan of action to mitigate and respond to the COVID-19 resurgence in South Africa prior to the second wave of infections.

Following the second wave, the Incident Management Team, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, reviewed the successes and failures with regards to interventions previously implemented during the second wave.

From this, the department identified what could have been done to improve the response, including planning for the third wave, which has been officially declared by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

Mabuza said the department engaged with provincial Departments of Health, and provided support in the development of the province-specific resurgence plans, which detailed activities to be implemented to improve the health system response going into subsequent resurgences.

"There are two major components of the resurgence plans. The first component is surveillance, where key resurgence monitoring indicators are described, and thresholds are defined to enable the close tracking of COVID-19 trends.

"The second component of the plan is the so-called intervention toolkit, which stipulates action for 10 intervention areas, which include governance and leadership, medical supplies, epidemiology and response, risk communication and community engagement, among others.

"In essence, these measures are focused on ensuring that we continue to save lives through close surveillance of key resurgence indicators, and the deployment of rapid response teams to targeted areas." –

India set to organise two day summit on Green Hydrogen Initiatives involving BRICS nations (Индия намерена организовать двухдневный саммит по экологическим водородным инициативам с участием стран БРИКС) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: ecology, top_level_meeting

India is all set to host a two day summit on Green Hydrogen initiatives on 22nd June, 2021 involving the BRICS nations. The prestigious event offers a platform to share their respective Green Hydrogen initiatives and views on how to take it to the next level in their own countries. The online event will be held via a video conference and will conclude on 23rd June.

The event will be anchored by India's largest power producer and one of the global energy majors, NTPC Ltd , a Maharatna CPSU under Ministry of Power.The virtual summit will bring the best brains, policy makers and major stakeholders from the BRICS nations deliberating and discussing at length the future of Hydrogen in the energy mix.

On Day 1, the representatives from each country would be sharing respective initiatives undertaken by their countries on utilization of hydrogen and their future plans. The speakers will also share the relevance of different technologies developed on hydrogen and its priorities for their country.

Day 2 will witness panel discussions on ideas integrating hydrogen in overall energy policy framework by different countries. The discussions to entail financing options for the emerging green hydrogen technologies and the institutional support needed to create the requisite ecosystem for the technology to flourish.

As the world rapidly moves to decarbonise the entire energy system, hydrogen is poised to play a vital role and build on the rapid scale-up of renewable resources across the world. Hydrogen when produced by electrolysis using renewable energy is known as Green Hydrogen which has no carbon footprint. This gives Hydrogen the edge over other fuels to unlock various avenues of green usage. However, challenges lie in terms of technology, efficiency, financial viability and scaling up which the summit will aim to address.

Green hydrogen has innumerable applications. Green Chemicals like ammonia and methanol can directly be utilized in existing applications like fertilizers, mobility, power, chemicals, shipping etc. Green Hydrogen blending up to 10% may be adopted in CGD networks to gain widespread acceptance. Further scaling up with greening of hard to abate sectors (like steel and cement) through hydrogen is to be explored. Many countries have brought out their strategies and defined targets and roadmaps based on their resources and strengths.
Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the 36th Meeting of the Foreign Ministry's Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, June 15, 2021 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова на XXXVI заседании Совета глав субъектов Российской Федерации при МИД России, Москва, 15 июня 2021 года) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, mofa, speech


Today we are holding the first in-person meeting in a long time. It's good that life is returning to normal.

I would like to welcome all participants of a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry's Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation.

Last time we discussed a package of issues related to the youth dimension of interregional cooperation. A number of the recommendations we adopted have formed the basis of programmes to implement the state youth policies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, specifically in the Novosibirsk, Ulyanovsk, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod and Leningrad regions and in the Republic of Karelia. I hope that further energetic actions will be taken towards this goal.

Today we will be discussing the involvement of the Russian regions in the activities of international organisations. Our clear priority is to work in multilateral Eurasian associations. We have achieved certain results in this sphere. For example, interregional cooperation is developing within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with Russia's leading role: a Programme for the Development of Interregional Cooperation and the Regulations of the SCO Member States' Heads of Regions Forum have been drafted and adopted. The first Forum was held successfully under the chairmanship of the Chelyabinsk Region in October 2020. We are now preparing for a second meeting.

As you are aware, President Vladimir Putin has put forth the idea of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which provides for aligning the potential of all states and integration associations on our common huge continent. We hope that the constituent entities of the Russian Federation will energetically contribute to this project, especially the regions across which major transport and logistics corridors run, namely the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur rail lines, the Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 international transport corridors, the Northern Sea Route, the Europe – Western China Expressway, the North-South route and the Russia-Mongolia-China economic corridor.

The dialogue at the level of regions and municipalities is complementing our diverse interaction within the framework of BRICS. In 2020, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Ulyanovsk and Saransk hosted the events of Russia's BRICS Chairmanship. This coming August Ulyanovsk will be the venue of the first BRICS Youth Camp. The BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Forum, which our Indian colleagues will organise this year, already has a good track record. The activities of the BRICS International Municipal Forum are highly commendable as well. Its third meeting will be held in St Petersburg in November 2021.

We welcome the Russian regions' involvement in the projects and programmes of UN bodies, specifically the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the UN-Habitat.

Our dialogue with UNESCO is developing successfully. It has become an effective tool of humanitarian diplomacy providing an impetus to tourism. I would like to point out an especially energetic participation of Bashkortostan, Altai, Dagestan, Tatarstan, Yugra and Yakutia.

Inspired by the success of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, held at Russia's initiative in 2019, the UN General Assembly has declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages in 2022-2032. A related comprehensive action plan is being drafted by the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs. I have no doubt that the Russian regions, given their considerable experience in the preservation and further development of our cultural, historic and linguistic heritage, should energetically join in these efforts. We will provide the necessary assistance.

International cooperation is developing dynamically in the Far North within the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and the Barents Regional Council, which operates under its aegis. In October, the Nenets Autonomous Area will take over the chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council until 2023. I hope that this will enhance the prestige of Russia's regions within the Barents cooperation system and will help address the large-scale tasks involved in the development of the Russian North. Hopefully this will also contribute to preparations for the Russian chairmanship of the BEAC, which will last from 2023 to 2025.

We attach much importance to strengthening collaboration between regions in the Baltic area, primarily within the formats of the Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation, where this country is represented by the Kaliningrad Region, as well as in the Union of the Baltic Cities, in which St Petersburg participates on behalf of Russia.

We have come up with an initiative to study the possibility of expanding regional collaboration within the Arctic Council, which Russia will chair between 2021 and 2023. Eighty Russia-directed events have been planned, with most of these due to take place in Russia's Arctic regions. There is no doubt that this will promote their socioeconomic development and incentivise foreign partners' interest.

Fruitful cooperation within the Northern Forum, a non-governmental organisation, deserves a positive assessment. This organisation includes all the Arctic regions of the Far North.

Russia's Eastern regions are making a significant contribution to the Association of Northeast Asia Regional Governments. There are possibilities for building up their participation in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

In the latter half of 2022, Russia will assume Chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). We plan to use the infrastructure of the Rostov Region and the Krasnodar Territory to hold a number of multilateral events under the aegis of this organisation.

There is an ongoing effective dialogue through the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. Importantly, the Congress, unlike some other Council of Europe structures, remains a venue with a unifying agenda that avoids excessive politicisation. Successful work by the Russian delegation led by the Governor of the Leningrad Region makes it possible to maintain a constructive, de-politicised dialogue with the heads of regions and cities of European states.

Despite the Brussels-launched sanctions spiral, there is continued collaboration under border cooperation programmes with the EU countries and Norway. The combined budget of these projects has exceeded 300 million euros. Let me mention separately the Association of European Border Regions, whose operations involve Russia's Kursk and Kaliningrad regions and the Republic of Karelia.

We are interested in establishing new regional organisations, including the Bering/Pacific-Arctic Council, which implies the participation of a number of Russian Arctic regions and Alaska. So far, our US partners have been thinking over this proposal. To be sure, we are still open to developing inter-regional cooperation with the United States within the framework of the Russian American Pacific Partnership.


These are truly major tasks. I want to reaffirm the interest of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the consistent and progressive development of inter-regional ties and the enhancement of the Russian regions' profile at various international venues. Today's meeting enables us to discuss in detail the existing projects and draw up useful recommendations for the future.

I hope we will all work fruitfully. Thank you for your attention.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
St Petersburg University presents a revolutionary BRICS investment arbitration project at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (СПбГУ представил революционный инвестиционный арбитражный проект БРИКС на Петербургском международном экономическом форуме) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: investments, innovations, top_level_meeting

St Petersburg University has presented a project about the institute of arbitration for the BRICS countries at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Its primary role is to handle investment disputes.

The initiative was discussed at the 'Investment Dispute Settlement in BRICS: Prospects for a New Arbitration Institute' session. The people taking part in the discussion included Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Konstantin Chuychenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Pankin, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Pyotr Gorodov, Deputy Director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University Katerina Tikhonova, Dean of the Faculty of Law at St Petersburg University Sergei Belov, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), representative of the Russian Federation at the BRICS Business Council Kirill Dmitriev and CEO of ESN Group Grigory Berezkin. The discussion was moderated by the Rector of St Petersburg University and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nikolay Kropachev.

Launching the discussion, the Rector of St Petersburg University, Nikolay Kropachev, outlined two problems for resolving investment disputes at the international level. The first is the imbalance of interests between investors and states; the second is the limited range of persons involved in resolving investment disputes. The professional community has also criticised the inability of arbitrators on many occasions to find a compromise between the economic rights of investors on the one hand, and the public interest and public obligations of the state on the other. The Rector also pointed out that the pandemic made it necessary to review the mechanisms for protecting the state's investments. Countries now face the challenge of reviving trade, business and investment and revitalising their economies after a year of stagnation.

BRICS is a group composed of five countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
To solve these problems, St Petersburg University has initiated the development of an arbitration institute within BRICS that would allow for the supranational resolution of disputes between representatives of different jurisdictions. The idea was supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who instructed that details of the initiative be analysed and discussed thoroughly.

The Dean of the Faculty of Law at St Petersburg University, Sergei Belov, one of the authors of the university's initiatives, explained that the new arbitration institute would hear investment disputes involving the BRICS countries and any other countries that have joined the scheme. The new arbitration institute will be based on two conventions on mutual protection of investments and the establishment of an arbitration institute. Sergei Belov noted that the principal difference of the new BRICS investment arbitration institute is that it will become delocalised and independent of the national courts at the place where disputes are heard.

The BRICS countries have a variety of legal systems, and the establishment of an arbitration institution on such a platform could facilitate harmonisation and compromise, reconcile different approaches and develop a solution that would be equally acceptable in different legal systems.

Sergei Belov, Dean of the Faculty of Law at St Petersburg University

Experts from St Petersburg University have also proposed that the new arbitration institute should operate remotely. The authors of the initiative propose to move the procedure online and hear disputes offline only in exceptional cases. According to the developers, this will simplify the procedure and make it less costly.

Other proposed innovations for the BRICS investment arbitration institute include a mandatory mediation procedure preceding each dispute, internal appeal mechanisms for each decision and the possibility to enforce the judgements autonomously from national courts.

The BRICS Arbitration is expected to provide a useful mechanism for a scientific and technological agenda. The BRICS countries particularly need to invest in innovative, scientific and technological projects that drive the development of modern economies amidst a pandemic.

The Deputy Director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University Katerina Tikhonova noted that should the proposed international arbitration mechanism be implemented, the scientific and technological sector, in particular breakthrough technologies and SME companies, based on leading scientific schools, could become particularly interesting for the investment and development of innovative economies.

The BRICS countries will be able to develop key breakthrough technologies and supertasks independently, from theoretical foundations to large-scale production, creating a quantum computer for machine learning and artificial intelligence for example.

Katerina Tikhonova, Deputy Director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University

This could support small and medium-sized businesses as well as scientific schools, providing innovative solutions. Nikolay Kropachev remarked that this is also relevant for St Petersburg University, which is about to launch the construction of the innovative science and technology centre 'The Neva Delta': 'We have signed ten agreements with our partner-companies during the Economic Forum, and we are ready to work for the benefit of investors, Russia and, of course, St Petersburg University.'

All participants supported the initiative of St Petersburg University and stressed its importance in attracting foreign investment in major infrastructure projects, which is essential for the long-term development of the BRICS countries.

Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Konstantin Chuychenko commented on the St Petersburg University project: 'This is a revolutionary and exciting initiative. It is the way forward and it is necessary to take advantage of this opportunity. Russia ought to be ahead of the rest of the world in this field. The Ministry of Justice is ready to join the project and provide full assistance.'

The next stage of discussion on the initiative will be held at the international level, with the participation of business and government representatives from the BRICS countries.

Int'l symposium for BRICS think tanks held in Xiamen (Международный симпозиум аналитических центров БРИКС прошел в Сямыне) / China, June, 2021
Keywords: think_tank_council, cooperation, summit

The International Symposium for BRICS Think Tanks 2021 was held in Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province, on Thursday.

Themed "Working together to develop the innovation center into a model of BRICS cooperation," the symposium attracted over 200 experts, industry and government officials, and representatives of international organizations and business associations both offline and online.

The symposium focused on promoting the development of the BRICS innovation center, boosting investment and trade facilitation, and enhancing financial innovation and cooperation.

Xiamen, the host city of the 9th BRICS Summit, launched BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution innovation center last year.

Guo Yezhou, president of the China Council for BRICS Think Tank Cooperation, said the center should put technology innovation and cooperation in the first place, explore new-generation information technology's potential in AI, big data, blockchain and 5G, and deepen cooperation on intelligent manufacturing, industrial internet, green industry and biomedicine among BRICS countries.

Anil Kishora, vice president and chief risk officer of the New Development Bank, said that with the increasing use of digital technologies, services could flow beyond borders, which can help BRICS collaborate more and build on existing economic ties. Between 2000 and 2020, BRICS' share of global trade increased from 8.3 percent to 17.5 percent.

Victoria Panova, managing director of the Russian National Committee of BRICS Research, said in a pre-recorded video address that BRICS countries have seen closer cooperation on science and technology in the past five years.

She hoped that BRICS can maximize the cooperation framework advantages and continue the cooperation on green energy, internet technology and scientific exchange to bring more results.

World of Work
Tailor-made Training for Representatives of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement and Financial Intelligence Units of BRICS Countries (Индивидуальный тренинг для представителей антикоррупционных правоохранительных органов и подразделений финансовой разведки стран БРИКС) / Austria, June, 2021
Keywords: cooperation

Last week IACA delivered a three-day online tailor-made training for representatives of anti-corruption law enforcement and financial intelligence units of BRICS countries and professionals from compliance, risk management and procurement departments of the New Development Bank (NDB). The training programme was jointly organized by IACA and the NDB to strengthen regional capacities in fighting corruption while focusing on emergency response and economic recovery programmes.

Sessions were delivered by Rebecca Li (anti-corruption, financial crime investigation and corporate governance consultant and Expert Advisor to the Hong Kong Independent Non-Executive Director Association), Neil Smith (OSINT training & research specialist), Pawan Kumar Sinha (Director of Academic Programmes Department at IACA) and Eduard Ivanov (Professor and Senior Researcher at IACA). Thematic areas included tackling corruption in the age of Covid-19, open source investigation techniques, emerging technologies, and combating legalization of proceeds gained from corruption.

Tailor-made trainings are IACA's customized programmes for specific organizations, corporations, or institutions, addressing the unique challenges that each one faces in preventing and fighting corruption. For more information about the Academy's tailor-made training programmes, click here

SA 'Close to Securing Vaccines' from China and Russia (Южная Африка «близка к обеспечению вакцин» из Китая и России) / South Africa, June, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, covid-19
South Africa

SA's vaccine rollout will escalate in July. We'll need all the jabs we can get - and both China and Russia are set to lend us a helping hand.

Deputy President David Mabuza has confirmed that South Africa is now in an advanced stage of negotiations with representatives of both Sinovac and Sputnik V – the vaccines manufactured in China and Russia respectively.


Mabuza told NCOP that there are also irons in the fire to secure more doses from COVAX. An exact timeframe has not been laid down by the senior politician, but with the next phase of SA's vaccine drive set to begin in July, it's obvious that we will need to get our hands on every dose possible to achieve 'containment'.

"Further interventions being implemented to save lives are ongoing. Negotiations with vaccine manufacturers such as the Gamaleya Institute for the Sputnik V and manufacturers of Sinovac are at an advanced stage. The opportunity of receiving additional doses through the COVAX Facility is being actively pursued." | David Mabuza


The positive move forward is likely to see South Africa lean on its cosy relationship with both China and Russia, who form part of our BRICS block. Brazil and India also make up the five-nation union.

Mabuza further stated that 'local manufacturing capabilities' for vaccines would be stepped up and enhanced in the coming weeks, allowing vaccine-production facilities to work at a faster rate. Last night, Ramaphosa revealed that there has been a 90% drop in COVID-related illness amongst healthcare staff, after they received the vaccines first.

These jabs work, and as the deputy president made clear, they are our only route out of this ongoing nightmare:

"We are also enhancing local manufacturing capability through collaborations with other partners within BRICS, which will enable us to overcome the current pandemic and respond to future health emergencies. As a government, we will continue to ensure that every citizen enjoys the right to life, equality, and human dignity, as outlined in the Bill of Rights."

"With the recent surge of new cases, we appeal to all of us to continue observing COVID-19 protocols to curb further infections, while working on achieving population immunity through vaccines."

The South African

BRICS Network Universities Conference Begins at IIT Bombay (Конференция сетевых университетов БРИКС началась в IIT Bombay) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, cooperation

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay is hosting a three-day virtual conference of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) network universities. The conference on the theme of electric mobility is a part of the engagements that India is hosting under the education stream during its chairship of the 13th BRICS Summit this year.

Eighteen experts from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will talk about various aspects of electric mobility like traffic management, hydrogen technology, hybrid vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and linkage between e-mobility and livelihoods in the conference, the Education Ministry said.

Over 100 students, researchers and faculty from the BRICS Network Universities are expected to participate in the conference, it said.

Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, in his address to the conference, highlighted the growing use of biofuels in the transportation sector, and progress in the development low-cost battery technology,

Transformations in the transport sector are good for sustainability and health of the environment, and it is opening up new livelihoods in the country, the minister said.

Mr Nitin Gadkari called upon IITs to take on research in innovative technology, and for greater research cooperation among the BRICS countries.

Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said a meeting of senior education officers of the five countries will take place on July 2, and a meeting of BRICS Education Ministers will be held on July 6.

BRICS Network University is a union of higher education institutions of the five BRICS member countries, formed with the objective of enhancing educational cooperation in general, and for research and innovation. IIT Bombay is the lead institution of India for the BRICS network university.

BRICS Academic Dialogue on international security (Дискуссия научных деятелей по вопросам международной безопасности) / India, June, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation

  1. Dr Felipe Giesteira, Coordinator, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Brazil
  2. Dr Vasily Kashin, Deputy Director, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEIS), HSE University, Russia
  3. Amb Dr. Bhaskar Balakrishnan, Science Diplomacy Fellow, RIS
  4. Shruti Pandalai, Associate Fellow, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, India
  5. Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Chairperson, South Africa BRICS Think Tank (SABTT)

Professor Varun Sahni, Vice Chancellor, Goa University

Keynote Speaker

Amb Vijay Latha Reddy, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation

The world is facing a multitude of complex security challenges ranging from structural power shifts, violent extremists and non-state actors, transnational organised crime, abusive governance to inter and intra-state conflicts that perennially jeopardise international stability. There is a realisation that these challenges cannot be faced by individual nation-states and a need for BRICS countries to come together, as a minilateral entity, to collaborate and find solutions to counter these threats.

Amb Vijay Latha Reddy, in her keynote address, referencing the Media Statement of the BRICS Foreign Ministers' meeting, highlighted the urgency that issues of international security have taken, which are made complex by the bilateral relations between some of the BRICS countries. She emphasised the need to find common ground for cooperation.

In this backdrop, Dr Felipe Giesteira, Coordinator, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) emphasised the need for a comprehensive and coordinated 'grand strategy' for BRICS countries to address shared international security challenges, particularly, cyber security. He also mentioned that illicit financial flows, financing of terrorism, and cyber security constitute the 'three pillars' of Brazil's international security approach and cyber security could be the common theme for BRICS member countries to tackle together.

Dr Vasily Kashin, Deputy Director, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEIS), HSE University, highlighted Russia's national security policy and the fact that Russia has remained a strong military power. Dr Kashin mentioned Russia's defence agreements with BRICS nations, most notably with India and China and the desire to come up with solutions related to information security technology and surveillance technology. Russia is looking to diversify and increase investments in surveillance technology to 50 percent of its defence budget by 2030. To contribute to this agenda and manufacture 'quality' weapons surveillance technology, the expertise and coming together of other BRICS nations will be needed.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi, Chairperson, South Africa BRICS Think Tank (SABTT) shared a very interesting view that issues of transnational security are increasingly impacted by the changes in the international finance system, terror financing, and other forms of criminality. As the international financial system has developed, so have the severity and scale of cyber crimes. The uncertainties surrounding crypto currencies and the lack of checks and balances around it has made it easier to finance terrorism. There is a shared concern amongst BRICS countries that technology is becoming an enabler to very complex forms of threats to humanity including physical threats like human trafficking and drug trafficking. Professor Zondi stressed on the need for an intergovernmental agreement for internet governance that is 'inclusive, representative, and equitable' to respond better to security threats.

Amb Dr Bhaskar Balakrishnan, Science Diplomacy Fellow, RIS argued that the security scenario has evolved after the end of the Second World War. Amb Balakrishnan mentioned three changes that have changed the nature of threats in the international system. These include: (i) The emergence of a multipolar world; (ii) increasing prominence of non-state actors; and (iii) advances in technology.

Advances in technology related to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have amplified the need for a solid cyber security infrastructure. BRICS countries should work together on these issues with expert groups. With the exchange of information, sharing of best practices and policies, and capacity building efforts, an increased cooperation at the BRICS can be achieved.

According to Ms Shruti Pandalai, Associate Fellow, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, there is a continued interest in the BRICS forum and its relevance in the 'fractured global order'. There is an opportunity in the current global scenario for BRICS to deliver. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the economies of BRICS countries equally, apart from China that actually grew a record 18.3 percent in the first quarter of 2021. BRICS countries' understanding of security issues should broaden to include areas of health, trade, and job security. Under India's BRICS presidency, a major priority is the reform of key international organisations for a more inclusive global governance. These include reforms at the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the United Nations Security Council. With regard to vaccine diplomacy, while BRICS countries have collaborated to establish the BRICS vaccine research and development centre, with a joint vaccine cooperation effort, a lot more can be achieved by sharing of information and delivery.

Ms Pandalai also brought up the issue of internet sovereignty, highlighting the problems of techno-nationalism, 5G, and global disinformation campaigns. On April 13-14, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted a BRICS webinar for the first time on the misuse of the internet by terrorists. While the conversation regarding cyber security and transnational organised crime has started, there is a need for immediate action. India has prioritised 'knowledge innovation', which is an area of opportunity for BRICS nations to work together on specific areas including health, agriculture, science, and technology.

Professor Varun Sahni concluded the session by asking a pertinent question about the reasons why states continue to make significant diplomatic efforts and invest political capital to come together time and again, despite fundamental issues and issues that are bilateral in nature. He went on to explain that this could be because of three reasons—to aggregate power, to solve problems, or to build community. The answer to this question could lie in the way BRICS countries tackle security issues in the future.
Made on