Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 47.2021
2021.11.22 — 2021.11.28
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Lula willing to establish automatic alignment with EU in possible new term (Лула хочет установить автоматическое выравнивание с ЕС в возможном новом сроке) / Russia, November, 2021
Keywords: political_issuest, expert_opinion
Source: link

Lucas Leiroz, research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has become known around the world as a moderate leftist leader who, internally, pushed social changes in favor of the poor population and, in foreign policy, strengthened Brazil's position as a non-aligned country, close to the BRICS and emerging powers. However, it appears that many of these positions will be reviewed by Lula, who plans to run in presidential elections next year. On a recent visit to Europe, the former Brazilian president met with several European leaders and promised a position of subservience on the part of Brazil, including on extremely sensitive and strategic topics, such as the conservation of the Amazon Forest. It is possible that to return to power Lula is willing to do anything, including maintaining a foreign policy of automatic alignment with the EU - which will bring great social harm to the Brazilian people.

On November 11, Lula started a tour of the European continent, visiting Germany, Belgium, France, and Spain. In these countries, the former Brazilian president met with several politicians and entrepreneurs, fulfilling an extensive diplomatic agenda by establishing strategic dialogues with possible supporters for his candidacy in the 2022 Brazilian presidential elections. The topics debated during the meetings were extremely important and demonstrated a great similarity of opinion between Lula and his European interlocutors.

In Germany, Lula met with Olaf Scholz and extensively discussed strategic issues of great importance, such as the conservation of the Amazon Forest. In a very problematic posture, Lula literally invited Scholz to "protect" the Amazon, which is something quite complicated to understand. Apparently, the former Brazilian president wants the German government to actively participate in a Brazilian environmental policy to protect the Amazon. It remains to be seen what the limits for German action in this possible environmental administration scheme would be. Indeed, this possible environmental policy seems more like an advance to the project of internationalization of the Amazon.

Previously, during the G20 meeting, Jair Bolsonaro had treated Scholz with extreme rudeness. The German politician approached the Brazilian president, but apparently Bolsonaro did not know who Scholz was and did not greet him. The episode did not go unnoticed by the press, which released the news pointing to an even more deteriorated state for Brazil-Germany bilateral relations. In fact, such relations have been getting more complicated since 2019, precisely due to the dismantling of the Brazilian environmental policy, which was strongly condemned by the Merkel Administration. By acting rudely, Bolsonaro further intensified the crisis, while Lula, in turn, acted with political expertise by choosing Scholz as his first partner on the European tour - and by mentioning the Amazon issue during the conversation.

In Belgium, Lula was invited to speak during a conference of the European Parliament. In his communication, the former president pointed out conditions for the long-awaited EU-Mercosur trade agreement and promised to advance in all the agendas defended by the European bloc, focusing on issues such as the environment, social inclusion, job creation and the reconstruction of the post-COVID-19 world. Lula was enthusiastically applauded by politicians present at the conference and his speech was widely publicized in the European media as a form of "hope" for Brazil.

In Paris, Lula met with Macron, by whom he was received with honors of head of state – which is a symbolic and very significant act, since, considering that this ceremony is applied only in meetings with heads of state, Macron practically claimed to recognize Lula as the true president of Brazil. The same issues discussed at the other meetings were talked and both leaders outlined joint strategies to improve bilateral relations. On the occasion, Lula also met with several other French politicians, including the mayor of Paris.

Lula ended the trip after arriving in Spain. The former Brazilian president met with the prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, at the Moncloa Palace, in Madrid. Both strengthened bonds of cordiality by presenting common points of view on the discussed issues, especially on topics such as the environment, strengthening of democracy and social progress. Sánchez openly declared support for Lula's candidacy.

In all the countries he visited, Lula not only met with politicians, but he also spoke with businessmen, journalists, union leaders, activists, and supporters. In all cases, the former president managed to gain support for his candidacy, establish contracts for investments in Brazil and outline conditions for future bilateral partnerships. In fact, Lula's political intelligence is notorious. The choice of Europe as a campaign route, precisely at a time of decline in relations between Europe and Brazil, was of great strategic value. Certainly, his candidacy will have the financial support of European politicians and businessmen, while Bolsonaro is increasingly losing allies in Brazil and abroad.

However, some points need to be criticized. The position that Lula placed Brazil in his negotiations with Europe were extremely subservient. Basically, the former president took a trip to tell the Europeans that, if he wins the elections, Brasília will be willing to accept all the conditions imposed by the EU for economic partnerships to be established. Lula acted against Brazilian interests by inviting the future German chancellor to participate in the administration of the Amazon - which seems absurd, as it seriously violates Brazilian sovereignty. In other words, Lula is doing to Europeans what Bolsonaro did to Washington during the 2018 elections: promising a policy of automatic alignment, in exchange for political and economic support.

Lula, during his previous terms, stood out for a reasonably consistent foreign policy, prioritizing Brazilian strategic interests. He has strengthened ties with the BRICS, negotiated agreements with Iran, met with leaders of non-aligned emerging nations, and mediated the dialogue between north and south of global geopolitics. This could be the same posture at the current time, for example. Lula could try to improve Brazil's relations with China and Russia, which were also harmed by Bolsonaro's alignment with Washington, but instead he chose to substitute the US for Europe, which, unlike Moscow and Beijing, demands abusive conditions to establish partnerships.

In fact, Lula is currently occupying an important role as a "de facto chancellor", establishing dialogues and partnerships in an unofficial way, while the government remains silent, inert, and increasingly isolated on the international arena. But this parallel diplomacy is also acting against Brazilian interests. The most likely scenario is that, if elected, Lula will import all European agendas, including health passport, mandatory vaccines (with a boycott against non-Western vaccines), carbon market, among others, and advance even further in the project to establish a transnational administration of the Amazon. In exchange, Brazil will have "European investments", which will not be able to solve the social problems that affect the country.

Parliament speaker slates travel bans on SA at Brics forum (Спикер парламента объявил о запрете на въезд в ЮАР на форуме БРИКС) / South Africa, November, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, political_issues
South Africa

National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula lashed out on Saturday night against travel restrictions imposed on SA and other African countries after the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant this week.

Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking at the 7th Brics Parliamentary Forum which was held on the sidelines of the 143rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Madrid, Spain.

The Omicron variant identification has created panic around the world, resulting in inbound and outbound travel bans.

Mapisa-Nqakula said Covid-19 was entrenching stereotypes in ways that could never have been imagined.

Travel restrictions, which were not informed by science, were essentially a punishment for world class science and responsible global citizenship as well as transparency and openness, she said.

She told the forum that, as a responsible global citizen, the country was duty-bound to report any new variants of concern to the international community, which has been done without fail due to the country's world-class expertise and monitoring.

She stressed that African women in particular continued to be disproportionately affected by the economic crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic, which included poverty, unemployment and economic exclusion.

"Women's quality of life has depreciated as this pandemic threatens to reverse some of the important advances and gains that we have made as women," she said.

In his input to the same session, EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu cautioned against the agenda of "certain nations" to undermine the unity of Brics nations.

Mapisa-Nqakula was also accompanied to the meeting by house chairperson for international relations Madala Ntombela and ANC parliamentarian Judith Tshabalala.

On Sunday SA Medical Association chair Dr Angelique Coetzee said the Omicron variant had not shown severe symptoms.

The Brics Parliamentary Forum is constituted by the parliaments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA.

It was founded, among other things, to strengthen and promote contacts at the leadership level of chambers, committees and groups of parliamentarians; perform inter-parliamentary exchanges and hold regular expert consultations; and create and develop new inter-parliamentary co-operation mechanisms.

Putin, Indian PM to discuss privileged strategic partnership on Dec 6 — Kremlin (6 декабря Путин и премьер-министр Индии обсудят привилегированное стратегическое партнерство - Кремль) / Russia, November, 2021
Keywords: vladimir_putin, cooperation, top_level_meeting

The leaders will also exchange views on pressing global issues

MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit India on December 6, the Kremlin press service said in a statement on Friday.

"The agenda of talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to include issues related to the future development of the privileged strategic partnership between the two countries. The leaders will also exchange views on pressing global issues, including cooperation within the G20 group, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization," the statement reads.

Indian Ambassador to Russia Bala Venkatesh Varma said earlier in an interview with TASS that a meeting between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was planned for December 2021, the two countries were expected to make a number of agreements at the summit, including defense ones.

Joint Communique of the 18th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China (Совместное коммюнике 18-го совещания министров иностранных дел Российской Федерации, Республики Индии и Китайской Народной Республики) / India, November, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, concluded_agreements

1. The 18th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China was held in the digital video-conference format on 26 November 2021. The meeting took place in the backdrop of negative impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic, on-going economic recovery as well as continuing threats of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, trans-national organized crime, natural and man-made disasters, food security and climate change.

2. The Ministers exchanged views on further strengthening the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral cooperation and also discussed various regional and international issues of importance. The Ministers recalled their last meeting in Moscow in September 2020 as well as the RIC Leaders' Informal Summit in Osaka (Japan) in June 2019 and noted the need for regular high level meetings to foster closer cooperation among the RIC countries.

3. Expressing their solidarity with those who were negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministers underlined the importance of a timely, transparent, effective and non-discriminatory international response to global health challenges including pandemics, with equitable and affordable access to medicines, vaccines and critical health supplies. They reiterated the need for continued cooperation in this fight inter-alia through sharing of vaccine doses, transfer of technology, development of local production capacities, promotion of supply chains for medical products. In this context, they noted the ongoing discussions in the WTO on COVID-19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights waiver and the use of flexibilities of the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.

4. Emphasizing the need for collective cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministers noted the measures being taken by the World Health Organization (WHO), governments, non-profit organisations, academia, business and industry in combating the pandemic. In this context, the Ministers called for strengthening the policy responses of WHO in the fight against Covid-19 and other global health challenges. They also called for making Covid-19 vaccination a global public good.

5. The Ministers agreed that cooperation among the RIC countries will contribute not only to their own growth but also to global peace, security, stability and development. The Ministers underlined the importance of strengthening of an open, transparent, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multi-polar international system based on respect for international law and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and central coordinating role of the United Nations in the international system.

6. The Ministers reiterated that a multi-polar and rebalanced world based on sovereign equality of nations and respect for international law and reflecting contemporary realities requires strengthening and reforming of the multilateral system. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The Ministers acknowledged that the current interconnected international challenges should be addressed through reinvigorated and reformed multilateral system, especially of the UN and its principal organs, and other multilateral institutions such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO), with a view to enhancing its capacity to effectively address the diverse challenges of our time and to adapt them to 21st century realities. The Ministers recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and reaffirmed the need for comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. Foreign Ministers of China and Russia reiterated the importance they attached to the status of India in international affairs and supported its aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations.Foreign Ministers of Russia and China congratulated India for its successful Presidency of the UNSC in August 2021.

7. Underlining the significance they attach to the intra-BRICS cooperation, the Ministers welcomed the outcomes of the 13th BRICS Summit held under India's chairmanship on 9 September 2021. They agreed to work actively to implement the decisions of the successive BRICS Summits, deepen BRICS strategic partnership, strengthen cooperation in its three pillars namely political and security cooperation; economic and finance; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Russia and India extend full support to China for its BRICS Chairship in 2022 and hosting the XIV BRICS Summit.

8. In the year of the 20th Anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) the Ministers underlined that the SCO as an influential and responsible member of the modern system of international relations plays a constructive role in securing peace and sustainable development, advancing regional cooperation and consolidating ties of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust. In this context, they emphasized the importance of further strengthening the Organization's multifaceted potential with a view to promote multilateral political, security, economic and people-to-people exchanges cooperation. The Ministers intend to pay special attention to ensuring stability in the SCO space, including to step up efforts in jointly countering terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and trans-border organized crime under the framework of SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. They appreciated the Ministerial meeting in the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan format held on 14th July 2021 in Dushanbe.

9. The Ministers supported the G-20's leading role in global economic governance and international economic cooperation. They expressed their readiness to enhance communication and cooperation including through G-20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting and other means, through consultations and mutual support in areas of respective interest.

10. The Ministers stand for maintaining and strengthening of ASEAN Centrality and the role of ASEAN-led mechanisms in the evolving regional architecture, including through fostering ties between ASEAN and other regional organizations such as the SCO, IORA, BIMSTEC. The Ministers reiterated the importance of the need for closer cooperation and consultations in various regional fora and organizations, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), to jointly contribute to regional peace, security and stability.

11. The Ministers consider it important to utilize the potential of the countries of the region, international organizations and multilateral associations in order to create a space in Eurasia for broad, open, mutually beneficial and equal interaction in accordance with international law and taking into account national interests. In that regard, they noted the idea of establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership involving the SCO countries, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other interested States and multilateral associations.

12. The Ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Ministers reaffirmed that terrorism must be comprehensively countered to achieve a world free of terrorism. They called on the international community to strengthen UN-led global counter-terrorism cooperation by fully implementing the relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In this context, they called for early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. The Ministers stressed that those committing, orchestrating, inciting or supporting, financing terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the FATF standards, international treaties, including on the basis of the principle "extradite or prosecute" and relevant international and bilateral obligations and in compliance with applicable domestic legislation.

13. The Ministers emphasized the importance of the three international drug control conventions and other relevant legal instruments which form the edifice of the drug control system. They reiterated their firm resolve to address the world drug problem, on a basis of common and shared responsibility. The Ministers expressed their determination to counter the spread of illicit drug trafficking in opiates and methamphetamine from Afghanistan and beyond, which poses a serious threat to regional security and stability and provides funding for terrorist organizations.

14. The Ministers reiterated the need for a holistic approach to development and security of ICTs, including technical progress, business development, safeguarding the security of States and public interests, and respecting the right to privacy of individuals. The Ministers noted that technology should be used responsibly in a human-centric manner. They underscored the leading role of the United Nations in promoting a 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 area of ICTs and recognized the importance of strengthening its international cooperation. The Ministers recalled that the development of ICT capabilities for military purposes and the malicious use of ICTs by State and non-State actors including terrorists and criminal groups is a disturbing trend. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to principles of preventing conflicts stemming from the use of ICTs, as well as ensuring use of these technologies for peaceful purposes. In this context, they welcomed the work of recently concluded UN-mandated groups namely Open Ended Working Group on the developments in the fields of Information and Telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) and the Sixth United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE) on Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security and their consensual final reports. The Ministers supported the OEWG on the security of and in the use of ICTs 2021-2025.

15. The Ministers, while emphasizing the important role of the ICTs for growth and development, acknowledged the potential misuse of ICTs for criminal activities and threats. The Ministers expressed concern over the increasing level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs as well as the absence of a UN-led framework to counter the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. Noting that new challenges and threats in this respect require international cooperation, the Ministers appreciated the launch of the UN Open-Ended Ad-Hoc Intergovernmental Committee of Experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes under the auspices of the United Nations, pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 74/247.

16. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to broadening and strengthening the participation of emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) in the international economic decision-making and norm-setting processes, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this regard, they emphasized the importance of constant efforts to reform the international financial architecture. They expressed concern that enhancing the voice and participation of EMDCs in the Bretton Woods institutions remains far from realization.

17. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for a transparent, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core. In this context, they reiterated their support for the necessary reform which would preserve the centrality, core values and fundamental principles of the WTO while taking into account the interests of all members, especially developing countries and Least Developing Countries (LDCs). They emphasized the primary importance of ensuring the restoration and preservation of the normal functioning of a two-stage WTO Dispute Settlement system, including the expeditious appointment of all Appellate Body members. The post-pandemic world requires diversified global value chains that are based on resilience and reliability.

18. The Ministers agreed that the imposition of unilateral sanctions beyond those adopted by the UNSC as well as "long-arm jurisdiction" were inconsistent with the principles of international law, have reduced the effectiveness and legitimacy of the UNSC sanction regime, and had a negative impact on third States and international economic and trade relations. They called for a further consolidation and strengthening of the working methods of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to ensure their effectiveness, responsiveness and transparency.

19. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions- economic, social and environmental in a balanced and integrated manner - and reiterated that the Sustainable Development Goals are integrated and indivisible and must be achieved 'leaving no one behind'. The Ministers called upon the international community to foster a more equitable and balanced 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 developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments, including the commitment to achieve the target of 0.7 percent of gross national income for official development assistance (ODA/GNI) to developing countries 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 the recipients.

20. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to Climate action by 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 Equity, Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, the criticality of adequate finance and technology flows, judicious use of resources and the need for sustainable lifestyles. They recognized 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 welcomed the outcomes of the 26th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-26) and the 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-15).

21. The Ministers underlined the imperative of dialogue to strengthen international peace and security through political and diplomatic means. The Ministers confirmed their commitment to ensure prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponization, through the adoption of a relevant multilateral legally binding instrument. In this regard, they noted the relevance of the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects. They emphasized that the Conference on Disarmament, as the single multilateral negotiating forum on this subject, has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement, or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects. They expressed concern over the possibility of outer space turning into an arena of military confrontation. They stressed that practical transparency and confidence building measures, such as the No First Placement initiative may also contribute towards the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for enhancing international cooperation in outer space in accordance with international law, based on the Outer Space Treaty. They recognized, in that regard, the leading role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). They agreed to stand together for enhancing the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and safety of space operations through deliberations under UNCOPUOS.

22. The Ministers reiterated 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) as a key pillar of the global disarmament and security architecture. They highlighted the need for BTWC States Parties to comply with BTWC, and actively consult one another on addressing issues through cooperation in relation to the implementation of the Convention and strengthening it, including by negotiating a legally binding Protocol for the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism. The BTWC functions should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. They also reaffirmed support for the Organization 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.

23. The Ministers showed deep concern about the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of terrorist groups, including the use of chemicals and biological agents for terrorist purposes. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, they emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament. They urged all States to take and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

24. The Ministers noted rising concerns regarding dramatic change of the situation in Afghanistan. They reaffirmed their support for basic principle of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and called for formation of a truly inclusive government that represents all the major ethnic and political groups of the country. The Ministers advocated a peaceful, secure, united, sovereign, stable and prosperous inclusive Afghanistan that exists in harmony with its neighbors. They called on the Taliban to take actions in accordance with the results of all the recently held international and regional formats of interaction on Afghanistan, including the UN Resolutions on Afghanistan. Expressing concern over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Ministers called for immediate and unhindered humanitarian assistance to be provided to Afghanistan. The Ministers also emphasized on the central role of UN in Afghanistan.

25. They stressed the necessity of urgent elimination of UNSC proscribed terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIL and others for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region. The Ministers acknowledged the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for lasting peace. They reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any other country, and that no Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any other country.

26. The Ministers reiterated the importance of full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UNSC Resolution 2231 and expressed their support to the relevant efforts to ensure the earliest reinvigoration of the JCPOA which is a landmark achievement for multilateral diplomacy and the nuclear non-proliferation.

27. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar. They expressed support to the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) aimed at implementation of its Five-Point Consensus in cooperation with Myanmar. They called on all sides to refrain from violence.

28. 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.

29. The Ministers welcomed the announcement of the Gaza ceasefire beginning 21 May 2021 and stressed the importance of the restoration of general stabilization. They recognized the efforts made by the UN and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating. They mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence, called for the full respect of international humanitarian law and urged the international community's immediate attention to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza. They supported in this regard 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 as well as for appropriate use of such aid. The Ministers reiterated their support for a two-State solution guided by the international legal framework previously in place, resulting in creating an independent and viable Palestinian State and based on the vision of a region where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.

30. 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 welcomed 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 other states engaged in efforts to address the conflict through political means, and expressed their support to the efforts of Mr. Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria, to ensure the sustainable and effective work of the Committee. They reiterated their conviction that in order to reach general agreement, members of the Constitutional Committee should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines. They emphasized the fundamental importance of allowing unhindered humanitarian aid to all Syrians in accordance with the UN humanitarian principles and the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria that would contribute to the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin thus paving the way to achieving long-term stability and security in Syria and the region in general.

31. The Ministers expressed grave concern over 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.

32. The Ministers welcomed the formation of the new transitional Presidency Council and Government of National Unity in Libya as a positive development and hoped that it would promote reconciliation among all political parties and Libyan society, work towards restoration of peace and stability and conduct elections on 24 December 2021 to hand over power to the new government as per the wishes of the Libyan people. They also noted the important role of UN in this regard.

33. The Ministers noted that some of the planned activities under the RIC format could not take place in the physical format due to the global Covid-19 pandemic situation. They welcomed the outcomes of the 18th RIC Trilateral Academic Conference organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi (ICWA) in the video-conference format on 22-23 April 2021. In this context, they also commended the contribution of the Institute of Chinese Studies (New Delhi), Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) and China Institute of International Studies (Beijing) in establishing the RIC Academic Conference as the premier annual analytical forum for deepening RIC cooperation in diverse fields.

34. The Ministers expressed their support to China to host Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

35. Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation thanked the External Affairs Minister of India for successful organization of the RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting. External Affairs Minister of India passed on the chairmanship in the RIC format to the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China. The date and venue of the next RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting will be agreed upon through the diplomatic channels.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at a meeting of RIC foreign ministers held via videoconference, Moscow, November 26, 2021 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова на заседании министров иностранных дел России, Индии и Китая (РИК) в формате видеоконференции, Москва, 26 ноября 2021 года) / Russia, November, 2021
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, foreign_ministers_meeting, speech

Colleagues, friends,

I would like to greet you and express my gratitude to the Indian chairmanship for hosting the meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China, which, for objective reasons, is being held via videoconference. Today's exchange of views on the pressing items on the international agenda is critically important amid growing turbulence at the global and regional levels.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the international relations system is faced with major challenges in the economy and social sphere. The virus spurred the global governance crisis and the protectionist and isolationist sentiment, and became a serious test of strength for states and multilateral associations.

RIC remains a crucial part of global and regional politics, especially in matters of ensuring security and strengthening state-to-state relations in the Asia-Pacific region and encouraging broad-based economic integration in Eurasia.

The promotion of interaction within our troika is fundamental to creating a fairer and more democratic multipolar order with the UN at its core, and it contributes to the establishment in the international arena of universal values, such as multilateralism, equality and the rule of law. We are united by opposition to trade protectionism, the illegal imposition of politically motivated unilateral sanctions, and even more so the use of force in international affairs. We work as a team on an extensive UN agenda and within the G20, BRICS and the SCO. We support ASEAN centrality-based cooperation mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region as well.


I am ready and willing to discuss all of the above issues with you today. I hope that our engaged dialogue will help unlock more fully the enormous and truly strategic potential of the RIC format.

G20: led by Russia and China, world's 'emerging powers' look to push unified agenda (G20: развивающиеся державы мира во главе с Россией и Китаем стремятся продвигать единую повестку дня) / South Africa, November, 2021
Keywords: global_governance, expert_opinion
South Africa

One thing the coronavirus pandemic has meant for world leaders is that it has simplified their international calendars somewhat. Take the week ending November 22: Russia hosted the BRICS summit on Tuesday November 17, Malaysia held the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on Friday November 20 and the weekend of November 21 and 22 was booked in for the G20 summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Rather than having to board flights and live out of suitcases, leaders had to attend via video link. So COVID-19 has at least cut down on jetlag and carbon emissions.

For leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the virtual BRICS summit, hosted by Vladimir Putin in Moscow, was an opportunity to rehearse their priorities in the run up to the G20. As you might expect, the summit's priority was the cross-country efforts responding to COVID-19 and how to ensure a swift economic recovery. Also on the agenda were how to coordinate and enhance cooperation in trade, energy, and counter-terrorism.

Covid vaccine: a global race

Leaders at the BRICS summit will have been well aware that the big story of the G20 will be the coronavirus pandemic and efforts around the world to develop effective vaccines. While the recent vaccine breakthroughs in the US and Europe will be of great interest, BRICS countries – notably Russia, India and China – want more of a focus on their own efforts and achievements.

Having assured his BRICS colleagues that Russia's vaccines "work effectively and safely", Putin called for the alliance to join forces for the mass production and use of Sputnik V, which he said had shown in early tests to be 92% effective.

The notion of cooperation through the bloc was enthusiastically taken up. India's prime minister Narendra Modi said that India's vaccine production capacities will be important "for the interests of humanity", and Chinese president Xi Jinping said his country would "actively consider" providing its vaccines to the other BRICS countries. There is already a degree of cooperation: both Brazil and India are conducting trials for Sputnik V.


Multilateralism was also high on the agenda. Media reports, from Chinese and Indian news outlets particularly, reported that BRICS leaders stressed the importance of a multilateral approach to combat what was described as growing nationalism and economic protectionism in the west.

The forum signed the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy to facilitate cooperation in a wide range of areas: economics and trade, anti-terrorism, science, technology and innovation – even the prevention of a space arms race. The bloc has an enormous economic influence with its population of 3.6 billion people (42% of the world total) and 23% of world's GDP and BRICS countries are now a force in the global trading system, able to exert a strong influence in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

New priorities

India takes over the chair of BRICS in 2021 and Modi set out his priorities in his speech. He identified terrorism as the world's biggest problem and stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation in countering this. But, he added, "today the multilateral system is going through a crisis".

He signalled the need for reform of several major global institutions including the UN Security Council, as well as the WHO, World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Putin, in turn, stressed the importance of BRICS countries working together in areas such as science and innovation, as well as continuing to develop cultural ties and a common strategy to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and cyber crime.

Xi warned that the pandemic would increase the clamour for "de-globalisation", "economic decoupling" and "parallel systems". This, he said, would "end up hurting one's own interests and the common interests of all", adding:

The summit provided another chance for Modi and Xi to meet (virtually) face to face amid the two countries' border tensions in the Ladakh region. Both countries have strengthened their ties with Russia in the summit, although their military standoff will continue to cast a shadow over the bloc.

From BRICS to G20

So the five BRICS leaders had a chance to develop a common script to take to the G20 in Riyadh at the weekend. Covering two-thirds of the world's population and representing 75% of global GDP, the G20 group has traditionally been dominated by western powers whose economic might gave them the heft to set the global political economy.

But there are signs this is not as solid as it was. Disastrous coronavirus responses from the US and UK have undermined their leadership status on this, the world's most pressing issue in 2020. This in turn provides an opportunity for emerging powers from BRICS to stand in the front row. The political turmoil surrounding the result of the US election has also muddied the waters and it will be interesting to see what the US president, Donald Trump, says and does during the summit.

If BRICS summit was a rehearsal of the emerging powers' advocacy of their positioning for the new world order, the G20 summit provides a formal occasion for them to exercise their voice more widely.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Lavrov lauds Russia-India-China format's contribution to fostering multipolar world order (Лавров высоко оценивает вклад формата Россия-Индия-Китай в укрепление многополярного мирового порядка) / Russia, November, 2021
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, cooperation

The top diplomat stressed that Russia, India, China are united by the repudiation of trade protectionism and politically motivated unilateral sanctions

MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. The Russia-India-China (RIC) format has contributed to building a multipolar world order and rule of international law, and is a key global and regional policy factor, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reported on Friday at the online meeting of the RIC foreign ministers.

"The RIC format remains one of the key factors of global and regional policy, recognized in ensuring security, improving the architecture of transnational relations in the Asia-Pacific region as well as promoting broad economic integration in the Eurasian space. The development of our 'troika' is an integral part of the process to shape a more just and democratic multipolar world order with UN coordination. In addition, it contributes to establishing such universal values as multilateralism, equality, and the rule of international law on the world arena," the foreign minister explained.

Lavrov stressed that Russia, India, China are united by the repudiation of trade protectionism and politically motivated unilateral sanctions. In addition, they reject the use of force in international affairs. "We have been working together on an extensive agenda on the UN platform within the framework of the G20, BRICS, and the SCO. We support ASEAN-centered cooperation mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region," he added.

According to him, given the circumstances of the ongoing pandemic, the system of international relations has faced daunting challenges in the field of socio-economic development. "The virus triggered a crisis in global management. A rise in protectionist and isolationist views has become a serious test of strength for countries and multilateral associations," Lavrov pointed out.

"Today's exchange of opinions on the most pressing issues on the international agenda is of great importance amid the increasing turbulence globally and regionally. I hope that our compelling dialogue will contribute to the fuller development of the vast and truly strategic potential that the RIC format has," the top diplomat concluded.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs "International agenda of Russian businesses: Challenges, risks and cooperation strategies with the state," Moscow, November 23, 2021 (Выступление министра иностранных дел Сергея Лаврова на заседании Российского союза промышленников и предпринимателей «Международная повестка российского бизнеса: вызовы, риски и стратегии сотрудничества с государством», Москва, 23 ноября 2021 г.) / Russia, November, 2021
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech, top_level_meeting

Mr Shokhin,

Colleagues and friends,

Thank you for inviting me to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) forum, which is devoted to the most urgent issues on the international agenda in the global economy and international activities of Russian businesses, including the numerous challenges and risks, many of which are objective, and many are manmade.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has always proceeded and continues to proceed from the premise that our work and that of other government structures must be in harmony with the efforts of business associations, the main participants in foreign economic activity. Together this should enhance the competitiveness of Russian companies, expand their opportunities abroad and help protect their lawful interests. This is one of the priority goals of Russian diplomacy. It is set forth in the Concept of Foreign Policy approved by the President of Russia. A new version of this concept is being drafted now, and this goal will be expressed even more prominently.

Obviously, both you and we are working in difficult conditions with challenges and risks. The use of politically motivated unilateral restrictions by the majority of US-led Western countries has become a sign of the times. Sanctions are introduced for everything, both for a reason and without it. A flagrant example is what is being done with Nord Stream 2.

We respond to such unfriendly steps in a balanced and appropriate manner, being guided by the need to maintain the sustainability of the domestic economy and financial system. At the same time, we offer our own positive agenda for ensuring equitable cooperation and a balance of interests in international economic relations without discrimination.

The problems are largely rooted in the system. A system of globalisation built on trade, financial and investment institutions was established after World War II, primarily following the West's templates.

We did not join them immediately, however, such work got underway in 1991. It took tremendous effort to secure our interests when joining the WTO, negotiations were ongoing for 17 years. All of a sudden, the West changed its mind because it began losing in that globalisation system, primarily to China which has been playing by the rules invented by our Western colleagues and began to pull ahead. Issues emerged which the Westerners try to solve artificially. Nowadays they do not speak about international law, they speak of the rules the world order must rest on. One such rule (they don't say it, but it is obvious) was a demand to reform the WTO. Americans have, in fact, disrupted its operation. The Dispute Settlement Body does not work as it simply lacks a quorum. The US single-handedly blocks the appointment of new members so that a quorum can't emerge until a situation evolves which is favourable for Washington. Public statements are made that WTO reform must be done by the US and the EU and not anybody else. The other participants are sidelined on the assumption that when the new rules are presented to them, they will comply with them. Look at the developments in the World Bank, in the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) regarding their projects in the Russian Federation. The banks where we are significant stakeholders are blocking projects not only in the Russian Federation but also in such countries as the Syrian Arab Republic, even though all the standards currently in effect are being fully met. This is outright politicisation. I don't think the West is creating a good reputation for itself through such actions. An increasing number of countries are beginning to realise the need for a safety net: establishing systems that will not make them dependent on the whims, unreliability and intractability of our Western partners.

We are stepping up coordination with like-minded partners. There are many of them – EAEU, CIS, SCO, BRICS. The Russia-India-China troika remains fairly active within BRICS. Relation are being built up via bilateral channels with a broad circle of nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America and with their integration associations. Both (I mean individual countries and their sub-regional structures) show a growing interest in establishing cooperation and moving towards free trade with the EAEU. If we consider these countries, they are home to practically 80 percent of the world's population.

As a UN and WTO member, we oppose the attempts to change the multilateral trading system's rules in such a way that they no longer reflect a balance of interests. We are also interacting at the G20, which is a unique mechanism. On the one hand, it represents an understanding that the G7, in its previous incarnation, is no longer able to address problems in the way it did 15 to 20 years ago. On the other hand, the creation of the G20 also means recognition of the trend towards multipolarity in the modern world, since all BRICS members participate in the G20. A number of G20 countries share the BRICS Five's position concerning the importance of keeping up fair play not in words, but in actions when it comes to global economic development.

I'm convinced of the counterproductive and futile nature of the self-serving policy of our Western partners and its incompatibility with the principles underlying broad-based international cooperation.

We discussed information and communication technology which has become part of all spheres of life. This creates challenges and risks for government authorities, businesses and individuals. In the diplomatic arena, we advocate equality and consideration of the interests of all participants, and oppose major technology companies' attempts to monopolise global digital markets which we observe quite regularly. We try to convince our Western colleagues of the need to establish joint actions to cut short ICT's negative impact on the economy and politics and to make rational use of the vast opportunities in this area that become available as more technology breakthroughs come along.

We also discussed the energy transition, which is picking up momentum, and the related green transformation of the global economy. While these processes are fraught with something I wouldn't call risks, but rather real dangers posed by green protectionism, the development of green technology will strongly stimulate growth around the world. Russia plans to engage in this. It is important to take advantage of this window of opportunity in an expert and timely manner, to rely on our own balanced and science-based position and to steadily consolidate it as an integral part of multilateral discussions.

Thank you for your kind words about the October 2021 meeting of the Foreign Ministry's Business Council where we discussed these issues in the context of preparing for a conference of the participants in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow. I must say that a better part of the concepts and lines of thought enshrined in Glasgow were provided by Russian agencies and ministries. These proposals reflected the approaches practiced by Russian businesses, the elevated consciousness (to use a lofty phrase) of entrepreneurs, their sense of responsibility for the efficiency of their business, the environment and the future of humanity, no matter how high-flown it may sound. In fact, this is life.

Not everyone was happy with the outcomes of the Glasgow summit. We must realise that self-centred approaches are unacceptable. Clearly, the developed Western countries with their post-industrial economies are trying to do their best to make sure the rest of the world stops polluting the environment and growing their economies. The balance between climate protection and environmental protection and the legitimate interests of the socioeconomic development of less developed economies has always been the cornerstone of our position. This line of thinking prevailed in Glasgow, which found its way into the decisions adopted by the summit.

We will continue to work consistently at international platforms in order to promote a balanced and non-discriminatory approach to the energy transition and to insist on taking account of the specifics of all countries without exception. We are promoting the concept for forming universal and transparent climate regulation and low-emission growth rules. We plan to continue to be proactively involved in talks aimed at developing techniques to preserve a friendly environment for human life.

The experience of science diplomacy in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland was mentioned here. We don't have one of those, but we do have a sustainable, useful mechanism of cooperation with the scientific community. We have the Business Council at the Foreign Ministry of Russia and we also have the Scientific Council that represents Russia's largest research institutes. We regularly learn from their experience and assessments of what is happening in the world, including on climate issues.

Returning to the problems of the green agenda, I must say that a number of influential countries, including EU members, are trying to politicise it and use it as an instrument of protectionism. The development of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) by Brussels is a source of serious concern for the business community. Its use (the EU is declaring that it intends to do this and is not going to hold talks on this issue) is fraught with the risk of creating new unnecessary barriers that impede international trade and destroy established value chains. This is especially sad considering that many of them are already in a highly vulnerable position due to global supply chain problems caused by measures to counter the coronavirus.

I would like to assure you that we continue this conversation and have submitted relevant proposals. Everything that was now said about the connection between success in countering climate change and the continued policy of unlawful unilateral economic and financial restrictions requires serious consideration.

Speaking about our plans on the climate agenda at the expanded meeting of the Collegium on November 18 of this year, President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Maybe sooner but not later. This will depend upon the extent to which our interests will be taken into account. First, it is important to consider the absorptive capacity of forests, marshlands, seas, and rivers. But success in reaching the goals set forth in Glasgow (this concerns everyone) will also largely depend on the ability of the West to realise the harmful effect of banning many states from using advanced technology, including the one that is required for work on the shelf and at Arctic latitudes.

This is not a question of Russia's relations with the West but of global success or failure to work together to address climate change. I must emphasise that all these problems are real, not invented. They have a source – the attempt of the West to do all it can to preserve its dominant position in the international system that has dramatically changed and is moving towards a multipolar structure. Many argue about what this multipolarity will entail, saying it may be tantamount to chaos. It is in our interests to prevent it from turning into chaos and to root it in a balance of approaches reflecting the development goals of all states. It is a fact that the new centres of power have learned the ropes of the international arena and are growing stronger as centres of economic development and financial might (which is followed by political influence). The task of politicians is to prevent this multipolarity from turning into chaotic competition by illegal means and methods that are not universally accepted. Our initiatives are aimed at harmonising the interests of major players in the world arena. This applies, for one, to the proposal of the President of Russia to hold a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that will review issues we are discussing here as well.

All these alarming trends do not rob us of the will to continue regular contacts with foreign partners and business circles. They are more interested than their rulers are in depoliticising economic ties. This is a big resource for humanity. We support the aspiration to continue pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation. The interest of foreign businesses in the Russian market invariably remains high, as evidenced by the work of such venues as the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Eastern Economic Forum, Russian Energy Week, and the Russia is Calling Forum, to name a few. We will actively support and encourage any constructive plans and undertakings.


The Foreign Ministry is invariably willing to continue to strengthen our close and truly comradely interaction with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in the interest of improving our economic diplomacy. We value your feedback. On-the-ground assessments of a situation or a vision of various ways to resolve emerging issues give us an opportunity to work with our foreign partners in a well-argued manner, to provide specific examples and to come up with concrete proposals. This is a two-way street: the more effectively Russia upholds its positions in the international arena, the better positioned specific Russian businesses will be. We are not only interested in having major domestic businesses make forays into global markets. We want to follow the example of the countries whose small- and medium-sized businesses enjoy a wide and growing presence on international markets. I think if we keep going down that road, we will contribute to the stability of the global economy and create an environment where all kinds of conflicts will become increasingly less necessary for humanity.

Today we are signing an updated cooperation agreement which means that our partnership is not only alive but thriving.


Regarding the vaccines, there are objective things stemming from the rules set by the World Health Organisation. There have never been problems like these before as all vaccines that were used to fight previous pandemics were developed on the basis of well-known platforms. We are also seeing subjective factors obstructing these processes. At the G20 Summit in Rome we suggested that instead of waiting for the completion of all bureaucratic – in a way legalistic – procedures, we should support the trend that has already emerged. It is not about the mutual acceptance of vaccines but rather of vaccination certificates. This works. Hungary has taken this decision – we have reached a corresponding agreement with them and we expect several other countries to follow suit before long. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that 120 million people in Russia and abroad had gotten the Sputnik V jab. Nobody has recorded side effects. We will support this as much as we can.

As for the social responsibility of both businesses and the leaders of the world community, President Putin, speaking at the G20 online summit dedicated to the pandemic, supported the initiative to mutually waive patent protection for [coronavirus] vaccines until this evil has been finally defeated or until the situation stabilises and is brought under control. There was no response whatsoever. Clearly, this has to do with the commercial interests of leading pharmaceutical companies. A company producing the most popular Western vaccine was reported recently to have already earned $30 billion. This is quite a sum. Profit [like this] and the craving for more might weaken the desire to waive patent protection.

Nonetheless, we will support these initiatives. It is encouraging that the association of industrialists abroad – in the West and in Europe – is also offering its support.

World of Work
Fickling: Virus will spawn variants until the world is immune (Девид Фиклинг: вирус будет порождать варианты, пока мир не станет невосприимчивым) / USA, November, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, covid-19, expert_opinion

There's a grim inevitability to the fact that the latest concerning strain of the COVID-19 virus — known as B.1.1.529 and now nicknamed the omicron variant — should have been first identified in South Africa.

So far, SARS-CoV-2's most devastating impacts have been in developed countries. The United States, United Kingdom and European Union have accounted for about a third of deaths, compared to their roughly 10% share of the world's population. However, it's been in the BRICS grouping of fast-growing middle-income nations where an outsized share of new variants of concern have been isolated and analyzed for the first time. From the original strain in China, to the delta lineage picked up in India, the gamma variety isolated in Brazil and the beta and latest omicron strains from South Africa, only the U.K.-related alpha variant has emerged outside these countries.

In part, that's just a reflection of the fact that two out of five people on the planet live in one of the BRICS nations. It's also no coincidence that new variants were first identified in countries with the sophisticated scientific infrastructure needed to spot them. The BRICS are some of the biggest players in the global market for generic drugs, and the likes of India and South Africa have performed a key role in debates over intellectual property waivers to increase access to medicines.

At this point, though, the crucial factor may be the fact that richer countries are now mostly so heavily vaccinated that the opportunities for the virus to cook up new mutations are increasingly limited. The nations with the largest populations of unvaccinated and susceptible citizens are those where the odds are greatest that the coronavirus will find a new way of breaking through the barriers we've placed in its path.

"Escaping from immunity is something that viruses do really well," said Ian Mackay, an associate professor of virology at the University of Queensland. "If there are lots of populations that are still susceptible, we're in the same kind of hamster wheel of this that we've been in before."

It's too early to know much about how the latest variant will affect people. One concerning aspect is the remarkably large number of mutations, particularly to aspects of the genome that affect the virus' ability to transmit itself to others or fight back against the body's immune responses. That raises the prospect that it could, as with delta, spread more rapidly through nonimmune populations, or even break through the protections of those who've already been infected or vaccinated.

At the same time, the sheer diversity of mutations means it will be hard to know for sure whether these changes will amplify or cancel each other out until we've been able to observe the latest variant's progress in humans, said Mackay.

We don't need the answer to those questions, however, to know the mistake the rich world is already making in treating COVID-19 as a pathogen that's already been defeated by its own high rates of vaccine coverage. While the likes of China, Japan, France, Italy, South Korea and Canada can boast that three-quarters of their populations are fully immunized, 110 of the 200 countries and territories for which Bloomberg has data are shy of 50% (the U.S., at 59%, has one of the worst records in the developed world). Of that number, 64 haven't even reached 25%, including South Africa itself. India, at 31%, and Russia at 37% aren't doing much better. Of the 37 nations with less than 10% fully protected, 32 are in sub-Saharan Africa.

That yawning gap is being driven by the glacial pace at which pharmaceutical companies in the rich nations where drugs have been developed have been sharing their intellectual property with generics producers in emerging economies. While the U.S. decision in May to waive intellectual property rules around COVID-19 drugs was a major step toward addressing that problem, European opposition and a lack of compulsion from governments have failed to produce the change needed to increase supplies.

"The current vaccine equity gap between wealthier and low resource countries demonstrates a disregard for the lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable," the heads of the World Health Organization and International Organization for Migration and United Nations High Commission for Refugees wrote in an open letter to Group of 20 leaders last month. "Vaccine inequity is costing lives every day, and continues to place everyone at risk."

As natural and vaccine-derived immunity rises, viral evolution will have to get more and more ingenious to evade our defenses. So far, scarcely more than half of the world's population has had a dose of a covid vaccine. That means there's still more than 3.4 billion people out there whose bodies the virus can treat as laboratories in which to develop new mutations. Until we reduce that number further, the odds aren't as strongly in our favor as we'd like to think.

David Fickling is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.
We should stop politicising India's farm sector as its crisis is far more fundamental and deep-rooted (Мы должны прекратить политизировать сельскохозяйственный сектор Индии, поскольку его кризис гораздо более фундаментален и имеет глубокие корни.) / India, November, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, social_issues

More than 4 lakh farmers in India have committed suicide between 1995 and 2018 — one of the major cases of agrarian distress in the world
Agitation has become a fashion and a rewarding career choice, too. In a globalised world, agitation funding and branding are far easier and more fashionable. After one year of the farmers' agitation and 11 rounds of talks between government and farmers failing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now withdrawn the three farm laws. The farmer agitation, however, is likely to continue towards a larger political dividend.

While the ongoing farmers' protest seems more political, the agrarian crisis of India is far more real, fundamental and structurally flawed than that meets the eye. More than 4 lakh farmers in India have committed suicide between 1995 and 2018—one of the major cases of agrarian distress in the world. Most of them are marginal farmers.

Several data sets indicate that there are about 100-150 million farmers living in India—five times the population of Sri Lanka or twice the population of Germany or Great Britain. Nearly 65 percent of them are marginal farmers who bear the brunt of chronic marginalisation.

Unfortunately, however, the real agrarian crisis of India is always pushed under the carpet. We look at the BRICS countries' agriculture structural issues in comparative mode to understand the depth of India's agriculture sector challenges.

BRICS Agrarian Sector

Agriculture sector in India suffers from three fundamental and structural issues that most governments have chronically failed to address. Using land, labour and productivity comparative data among BRICS countries, this article provides a comprehensive view of the depth of India's agrarian crisis.

BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — provide a very diverse geography representing countries spread in four continents of Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.

Second, among the BRICS countries, China, Brazil, Russia and India are structurally land-heavy countries with greater agricultural possibilities.

Third, ever since Jim O' Neil conceptualised the BRICS acronym, the grouping has functioned as a global aspirational region of economic growth and development. Since BRICS countries interact and work in several layers of collaboration, it is beneficial to examine their agriculture sector for possible lessons and policy insights.

Russia, Brazil and China are territorially far larger than India. Ironically however, among the BRICS countries, India roughly has 30 million hectares of more arable land than China and Russia and more than 100 million hectares more arable land than Brazil.

When we convert the arable land into agriculture practice and cultivation, again India is well ahead of all BRICS countries. Rice and wheat cultivation data makes it evident that India cultivates more land than all other BRICS member countries.

Cumulatively, therefore, India is well ahead in terms of arable land and land under cultivation, especially when we examine rice and wheat cultivation. By default, therefore, India should be ideally producing more rice and wheat than the other BRICS nations. Unfortunately, the case is rather opposite.

BRICS Rice Productivity

Back in the 1960s, India and China, being essentially agrarian economies then, nearly produced similar quantities of rice per unit of land under cultivation.

Today, in spite of cultivating more land, India is the fourth largest producer of rice among BRICS countries. China today produces nearly 1.5-times more rice per unit of land than India. Brazil and Russia are also way ahead than India in terms of rice production per unit of land under cultivation. Since the 1970s, rice productivity in India has hit a structural limitation. There is hardly any major government programme or intervention to make our rice fields productive.

Wheat Productivity

Similar under-productivity story also haunts India's wheat cultivation saga. China produces much more wheat per unit of land than other BRICS countries. Russia, Brazil, South Africa and India's wheat productivity are nearly comparable today.

However, since India cultivates more land, it becomes evident that we produce comparatively less.

Labour Market Anomaly

India has a smaller working population among BRICS countries. While nearly 50 percent of China and Russia's population are working, only about 37.85 percent of Indians are in the job market (It has declined from 41 percent earlier). What does it mean? Job creation in India is less and rather in downward turn. Correspondingly, 37.85 percent of the working labour force of India has to feed the remaining 63 percent of population — greater load to earn more per unit of labour employed. In most of the developed economies like G-7, nearly 50 percent of their population is working population which keeps their households wealthier.

Economists have adequately clarified that greater the dependency on agriculture, the poorer the country remains. Countries must industrialise to create jobs.

Sir Arthur Lewis, African-origin Caribbean economist awarded 1979 Nobel Prize for economics for his 'Dual Sector' model, was one of the early pioneers of critical ideas in this sector. Dual-Sector model and several other modernisation theoreticians have argued empirically that, when populous countries lack industrialisation and job creation, their agriculture sector shall experience surplus labour force concentration leading to the phenomena of disguised unemployment.

The surplus labour force from the agriculture sector must be taken off as a labour force towards industrialisation. Both industry and agriculture sector (dual sector), working in tandem, shall rationalise labour distribution. If both sectors function in optimal conditions, they will complement each other for greater wealth creation in the economy. China is the biggest such example.

China, India and most developing countries have adopted the Lewis model with varying degrees of success. Back in the 1950s and 1960s China and India were mostly agrarian. In the absence of industrialisation, nearly 80 percent of their labour force was doing agriculture only. Based on the 'Dual Sector' idea, China has successfully brought down their agri-labour load to 27 percent in about 40 years while simultaneously industrialising heavily. Net result: China's surplus agri-labour is China's strong industrial work force and China emerged as the 'Factory of Asia'.

On the other hand, even today, more than 49 percent of India's labour force is concentrated in agriculture which is a serious structural economic anomaly. In most developed economies or G-7 countries, argi-labour force is around one-two percent only.

Lessons for India

No country can achieve economic development without being fundamentally correct. India must urgently embark on real-time structural issues. We have more land and cultivate them too. While the population is constantly increasing, if the agricultural lands of India fail to garner productivity, it will be a case of being poor with all your wealth. And not only India's farm lands are underproductive, India's labour is also equally underproductive.

It's time we look within and respond towards structural corrections rather than the politicisation of issues. India has taken to Keynesian mixed economy experience. Beyond cosmetics, the government must provide irrigation and work structurally to make India's farm lands productive, failing which a million mutinies await India's political space.

BRICS Film Festival 2021: After National Award, Dhanush Wins Best Actor Honour For Asuran Again (Кинофестиваль БРИКС-2021: после Национальной премии Дхануш снова получил награду за лучшую мужскую роль для Асурана) / India, November, 2021
Keywords: movie, rating

South star Dhanush's Asuran just added another feather to his cap. After a massive win at the National Film Awards, the actor's film also bagged him the Best Actor Award at the BRICS Film Festival. The actor is currently celebrating another massive win for the movie and penned it was an absolute honour for him to receive the award.

BRICS Film Festival was held alongside the International Film Festival of India. As the 52nd edition of IFFI reached its closing ceremony on Sunday, November 28, six awards were announced by the authorities of BRICS film on the platform. Dhanush, who recently won a National award for the film, is seemingly delighted to receive the honour. Reportedly, his depiction of a raw and rustic farmer in the emotionally charged film made him win the accolade. Taking to his social media handles, the actor announced the news of his big win. Sharing a poster, he wrote, "An absolute honour." Heartfelt wishes showered on the actor as his fans celebrated his win. While someone called him a "KING FOR A REASON," another one wrote, "U deserve that anna." This was the first time BRICS Film Festival was conducted alongside IFFI. BRICS film festival has film entries from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The 2019 action drama Asuran stars Dhanush in the lead role. The film also cast Manju Warrier, Prakash Raj, Ken Karunas, Aadukalam Naren, and Ammu Abhirami in pivotal roles. The film's plot is highly inspired by the real-life 1968 Kilvenmani massacre. It is about a farmer from an underprivileged caste, whose teenage son kills a rich and upper-caste landlord. The farmer, who is a loving father, tries to save his son and also his entire family. The film was helmed by Vetrimaaran, while Kalaippuli S Thanu bankrolled it. The film won two National Film Awards, including Best Actor and Best Feature Film in Tamil.

Taking to his social media handle, Dhanush expressed his excitement about receiving the National honour. The actor mentioned he was more delighted to receive an award n the same platform where his father-in-law, legendary star, Rajinikanth received his Dada Saheb Phalke Award. Sharing a photo with Rajinikanth, he wrote, "To win a national award for best actor on the same stage where my Thalaivar was winning the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award was just indescribable. Thank you to the National award jury for bestowing me with this honour." "Also Thank you to the press and media for your constant support," he added.

Water dimension of BRICS cooperation: National challenges and joint opportunities (Cотрудничество БРИКС в рамках водного измерения: национальные вызовы и совместные возможности) / Russia, November, 2021
Keywords: cooperation, NDB

This article examines the evolution and potential of the water agenda of BRICS. The members of this international association of major countries of South America, Eurasia, Asia and Africa are rich in water resources and population. The development of water resources extends beyond their borders to projects in other countries through the activities of a major development institution, the New Development Bank of BRICS. Such conditions suggest some anticipation of a global and comprehensive view on the part of BRICS on the issues relating to water resources. However, the hypothesis of this article is opposite: despite the unique potential of the BRICS water strategy, it remains non-specific, focused on the lower common denominators for the member countries such as cleanliness, sanitation and water management. To account for this, the authors take the position that the bureaucratic logic of basic common interest downgrades strategic vision. This is reflected in the growing gap between the multifaceted nature of the issues related to water resources in the world and the narrowly specialized approach of BRICS association which perceives water de facto without its resource and global function. To study this, the authors analyze the water portfolios of the BRICS member countries and compare the national water agendas based on an analysis of policy documents. They BRICS LAW JOURNAL Volume VIII (2021) Issue 2 42 then systematize water initiatives under the auspices of the BRICS and, finally, calculate virtual water flows and their structure between the BRICS countries using agricultural products trade as an example. The conducted analysis allows the authors to identify a wide gap between the current and potential water agenda of the BRICS. The authors then propose a number of initiatives that can create added value for the BRICS as an association both for its member countries and for developing countries facing water resource challenges. The authors assert that such a new approach, based on a profound understanding of the resource function of water as a commodity with global value, has all the potential to be implemented by BRICS.
Innovation center pumps new life into BRICS cooperation (Центр Инноваций вдохнул новую жизнь в сотрудничество БРИКС) / China, November, 2021
Keywords: innovations, economic_challenges

XIAMEN, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) - Enterprises from BRICS countries are strengthening ties and finding more cooperation opportunities despite COVID-19, partly thanks to an innovation center launched last December in the Chinese city of Xiamen.

Benefited from the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution Innovation Center, Xiamen Rockwise Information Service Co., Ltd., a stone trading platform, has attracted around 30,000 stone suppliers, including over 700 dedicated to stone imports from other BRICS countries.

Despite COVID-19, stones worth more than 60 million yuan (about 9.4 million U.S. dollars) were imported from Brazil, India, and South Africa to China in the first ten months of this year through the platform, said Lu Ni, one of the partners at the company.

Lu said the establishment of the innovation center, which focuses on policy coordination, talent cultivation, and project development, has enhanced their confidence to expand the stone business with other BRICS countries.

BRICS is the acronym for an emerging-market bloc that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It is home to over 40 percent of the world's population and about a quarter of the world economy.

The BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution Innovation Center was launched in Xiamen in December last year. At the center's inauguration ceremony in September, 28 projects with a total investment of over 13.4 billion yuan were inked by BRICS enterprises.

It has provided a foothold for companies to use technological innovation and digital transformation brought by the new industrial revolution.

Huanchuang (Xiamen) Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise specializing in the disposal of solid waste and service operations. Its customers are in Russia, India, and South Africa.

"The innovation center provides a new communication channel for BRICS enterprises and helps us expand overseas markets," said Li Xuefeng, deputy general manager of the company. "And the local government offers us more services involving talent and technology support."

Li's company plans to launch more high-tech products and promote their equipment and production lines. They also want to provide integrated solid waste disposal solutions to other BRICS countries.

In early November, the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution Innovation Center held a virtual meeting with Russia's "Silicon Valley" Skolkovo innovation center to seek cooperation opportunities.

Yuri Saprykin, vice president of the Skolkovo Foundation, said the Skolkovo innovation center attaches importance to and looks forward to deepening cooperation with Xiamen's innovation center. The center expects both sides to speed up collaboration and promote the development, operation, and market expansion of Russian and Chinese entrepreneurs in the two places.

Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, distinguished professor of public policy at Tsinghua University, said Xiamen's innovation center is an excellent example of building the industrial revolution partnership between BRICS countries, which was meaningful not only for BRICS but a positive experience for the world.


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