Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 38.2023
2023.09.18 — 2023.09.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Media statement following the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations on the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 20 September 2023 (Заявление для СМИ по итогам встречи министров иностранных дел/международных отношений БРИКС на полях 78-й сессии Генеральной Ассамблеи ООН, 20 сентября 2023 г.) / Russia, September, 2023
Keywords: media, mofa, foreign_ministers_meeting

1. The BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations held their annual meeting on the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78) on 20 September 2023, chaired by the Russian Federation in its capacity as the incoming BRICS Chair for 2024.

2. The Ministers exchanged views on major global and regional issues on the United Nations (UN) agenda in the political, security, economic, financial, and sustainable development spheres, as well as on intra-BRICS activities. The Ministers discussed the possibilities for mutual support of their initiatives at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly. They expressed support for continued cooperation of BRICS countries in areas of mutual interest, including through regular exchanges amongst their Permanent Missions to the UN.

3. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to strengthening multilateralism and upholding international law, including the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations (UN) as its indispensable cornerstone, and the central role of the UN in an international system in which sovereign states cooperate to maintain peace and security, advance sustainable development, ensure the promotion and protection of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, and promoting cooperation based on the spirit of solidarity, mutual respect, justice and equality.

4. The Ministers reiterated concern about the use of unilateral coercive measures which are incompatible with the Principles of the UN Charter and produce negative effects notably in the developing world. They reiterated their commitment to enhancing and improving global governance by promoting a more agile, effective, efficient, representative, democratic and accountable international and multilateral system and to facilitate greater and more meaningful participation of developing and least developed countries, especially in Africa, in global decision-making processes and structures and make them better attuned to contemporary realities and serve the interests of the global majority.

5. The Ministers recalled that 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993.

6. The Ministers reiterated the need for all countries to cooperate in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms under the principles of equality and mutual respect. They agreed to continue to treat all human rights including the right to development in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. They agreed to strengthen cooperation on issues of common interests both within BRICS and in multilateral fora including the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council, taking into account the necessity to promote, protect and fulfil human rights in a non-selective, non-politicised and constructive manner and without double standards. They called for the respect of democracy and human rights and underlined that they should be implemented on the level of global governance as well as at national level. They reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the promotion and protection of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all with the aim to build a brighter shared future for the international community based on mutually beneficial cooperation.

7. The Ministers supported a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more democratic, representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of developing countries in the Council's memberships so that it can adequately respond to prevailing global challenges, and supported the legitimate aspirations of emerging and developing countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Brazil, India and South Africa, to play a greater role in international affairs, in particular in the United Nations, including its Security Council.

8. The Ministers called for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner by mobilising the means required to implement the 2030 Agenda. They further reaffirmed the call for donor countries to honour their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments and to facilitate capacity building and the transfer of technology along with additional development resources to developing countries, in line with the national policy objectives of recipients. They welcomed in this regard the Sustainable Development Goals Summit held in New York 18-19 September 2023 and reiterated that the Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024 would also constitute a significant opportunity for renewing international commitments on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Ministers reaffirmed their willingness to support Africa in the areas of industrialization, agriculture and skills development.

9. The Ministers also emphasized the importance of the role of the G20 in the global governance system as premier multilateral forum in the field of economic and financial cooperation that comprises developed countries and emerging markets and developing countries on an equal and mutually beneficial footing where major economies jointly seek solutions to global challenges. In this context, they expressed their firm view that the G20 should continue to function in a productive manner, focusing on the delivery of concrete outcomes, taking decisions by consensus. They commended the successful hosting of the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi under the Indian G20 Presidency and welcomed the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. They noted the opportunities to build sustained momentum for change by India, Brazil and South Africa presiding over the G20 from 2023 to 2025 and expressed support for continuity and collaboration in their G20 presidencies and wished them all success in their endeavours. Therefore, they reiterated their commitment to a balanced approach by continuing to amplify and further integrate the voice of the global South in the G20 agenda as under the Indian Presidency in 2023 and the Brazilian and South African Presidencies in 2024 and 2025.

10. The Ministers reiterated the importance of BRICS countries working together to deal with risks and challenges to the world economy in promoting global recovery, attaining food security, eradicating poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole. They recognised that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. They emphasised the continued implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025, the Implementation Roadmap on Trade and Investment related aspects hereof, BRICS Digital Economy Partnership Framework, the Action Plan 2021-2024 for Agricultural Cooperation of BRICS Countries, as well as the Strategy on Food Security Cooperation of the BRICS Countries. They welcomed the United Nations declaration of 2023 the International Year of Millets.

11. The Ministers reiterated that the objectives, principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, must be honoured. They reaffirmed that the Means of Implementation should be enhanced urgently by developed countries, including through new, additional, predictable, adequate and timely flow of affordable Climate Finance, Technical Cooperation, Capacity Building and Transfer of Technology for climate actions. They reiterated the need for comprehensive financial arrangements to address loss and damage due to climate change, including operationalising the Fund on Loss and Damage as agreed at the UNFCCC COP27 to benefit all developing countries. They agreed to work together for a successful COP28 in Dubai in 2023 and welcomed Brazil's candidacy to host COP30 in 2025.

12. The Ministers reiterated that equal efforts, with the developed countries taking the lead, are required to combat the challenges of biodiversity loss and pollution; guided by the founding pillars of Rio Declaration and including CBDR-RC, more responsibility by the developed countries, and ensuring sustainable patterns of production and consumption. They also underlined the need to urgently accelerate actions to address development and climate challenges, promote lifestyle for sustainable development, and conserve biodiversity.

13. The Ministers welcomed the historic adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-15) in December 2022. They thus undertook to strive towards the implementation of all the global goals and targets of the KMGBF, in accordance with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and national circumstances, priorities and capabilities in order to achieve its mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and vision of living in harmony with nature. They urged developed countries to provide adequate means of implementation, including financial resources, capacity-building, technical and scientific cooperation, and access to and transfer of technology to fully implement the KMGBF. They also acknowledged the potential for cooperation on the sustainable use of biodiversity in business to support local economic development, industrialisation, job creation, and sustainable business opportunities.

14. The Ministers noted the increasing relevance of the interface between sustainable development and global health issues, while recognizing that international health cooperation shall be inclusive, based on equity and result-oriented for the benefit of all people.

15. The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment to intensify efforts towards improving equitable access and the collective capacity for global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, and strengthening the ability to fight back any such pandemics in the future collectively. In this regard, they reiterated the importance of the BRICS Virtual Vaccine Research and Development Center. They highlighted the UN High-Level Meetings on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response on 20 September 2023, on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) on 21 September 2023 and on the Fight against Tuberculosis on 22 September 2023 as critical steps for mobilizing international support.

16. The Ministers expressed their concern about ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world. They reiterated their commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes through dialogue and inclusive consultations in a coordinated and cooperative manner and supported all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises. They reiterated the need for full respect of international humanitarian law and the provision of humanitarian aid in accordance with the basic principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence established in UNGA resolution 46/182.

17. The Ministers commended continued collective efforts of the United Nations, the African Union and sub-regional organisations, including in particular the cooperation between the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, to address regional challenges including maintaining peace and security, promoting peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction and development, and called for continued support by the international community to these endeavours using diplomatic means such as dialogue, negotiations, consultations, mediation, and good offices, to resolve international disputes and conflicts, settle them on the basis of mutual respect, compromise, and the balance of legitimate interests. They reiterated that the principle "African solutions to African problems" should continue to serve as the basis for conflict resolution on the continent.

18. The Ministers recalled their national positions concerning the conflict in and around Ukraine as expressed at the appropriate fora, including the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and noted with appreciation relevant proposals of mediation and good offices aimed at peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

19. The Ministers expressed strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations whenever, wherever and by whomsoever committed. They recognized the threat emanating from terrorism, extremism conducive to terrorism and radicalization. They committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the cross-border movement of terrorists, and terrorism financing networks and safe havens. They reiterated that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. They reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to contribute further to the global efforts of preventing and countering the threat of terrorism on the basis of respect for international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations, and human rights, emphasizing that States have the primary responsibility in combating terrorism with the United Nations continuing to play central and coordinating role in this area. They also stressed the need for a comprehensive and balanced approach of the whole international community to effectively curb the terrorist activities, which pose a serious threat, including in the present-day pandemic environment. They rejected double standards in countering terrorism and extremism conducive to terrorism. They called for an expeditious finalization and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism within the UN framework and for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, at the Conference of Disarmament. They welcomed the activities of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Working Group and its five Subgroups based upon the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan. They looked forward to further deepening counter-terrorism cooperation.

20. The Ministers recalled the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) and the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference and acknowledged the annual UNGA resolution on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism, and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance".

21. The Ministers reasserted their support for ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and of its weaponization, including through negotiations to adopt a relevant legally binding multilateral instrument. They recognized the value of the updated Draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2014. They stressed that practical and non-binding commitments, such as Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs) may also contribute to PAROS.

22. The Ministers called for the strengthening of disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC), recognizing its role in safeguarding and for preserving their integrity and effectiveness to maintain global stability and international peace and security. They underlined the need to comply with and strengthen the BTWC, including by adopting a legally binding Protocol to the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism.

23. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion of an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT-environment, underscored the importance of enhancing common understandings and intensifying cooperation in the use of ICTs and Internet. They supported the leading role of the United Nations in promoting constructive dialogue on ensuring ICT-security, including within the UN Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of ICTs 2021-2025, and developing a universal legal framework in this realm. They called for a comprehensive, balanced, objective approach to the development and security of ICT products and systems. They underscored the importance of establishing legal frameworks of cooperation among BRICS countries on ensuring security in the use of ICTs. They also acknowledged the need to advance practical intra-BRICS cooperation through implementation of the BRICS Roadmap of Practical Cooperation on ensuring security in the use of ICTs and the activities of the BRICS Working Group on security in the use of ICTs. While emphasising the formidable potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for growth and development, they recognised the existing and emerging possibilities they bring for criminal activities and threats, and expressed concern over the increasing level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs. They welcomed the ongoing efforts in the Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperating in the implementation of the mandate adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution 75/282 in a timely manner.

24. The Ministers emphasised the responsible and ethical development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for socio-economic development and inclusive growth of all societies. They supported communication and cooperation on AI technology to promote mutual benefits, called for strengthening AI international governance and encouraged policy exchanges and dialogues on AI, with a view to exploring to establish an effective global governance framework with the aim to protect human rights and spur innovation and economic growth.

25. The Ministers underscored that the participation of BRICS countries in the work of the UN Security Council, including Brazil as an elected member for the period 2022-2023, is a valuable opportunity to further enhance the weight of BRICS dialogue on issue of international peace and security and for continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

26. The Ministers underscored the importance of sustained efforts aimed at making the United Nations more effective and efficient in implementing its mandates. They encouraged further cooperation amongst the BRICS countries on a better resourced UN, on its administration and budget, on preserving the UN's Member State-driven character and ensuring better oversight of and strengthening the Organization.

27. The Ministers recalled the consensus during the XV BRICS Summit on guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures on the BRICS expansion process and the decision on inviting the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS from

1 January 2024. They welcomed the ongoing work by South Africa in its capacity as BRICS Chair in this regard. They will engage actively on the basis of full consultation and consensus to further develop the partner country model and a list of prospective partner countries and will report by the next Summit.

28. The Ministers commended South Africa as Chair of BRICS in 2023 and expressed their warm appreciation of the success of the XV BRICS Summit held from 22 to 24 August 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa, including the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue as a testimony to openness and inclusiveness of the BRICS Partnership.

29. The Ministers recalled paragraph 88 of the Johannesburg II Declaration which tasked the Sherpas to continue discussions on a regular basis on BRICS institutional development, including on consolidation of cooperation.

30. The Ministers were briefed on the preparations for Russia's upcoming BRICS Chairship in 2024. Brazil, India, China and South Africa extended their full support to Russia for its BRICS Chairship in 2024 under the theme "Strengthening of multilateralism for the purposes of just global development and security" and the holding of the XVI BRICS Summit in Kazan, Russia. The Ministers also look forward to the Standalone Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations in Russia in 2024.

                BRICS and the Dilemmas of Latin America (БРИКС и дилеммы Латинской Америки) / Russia, September, 2023
                Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+, political_issues

                The geographical balance of the new additions to BRICS clearly illustrates this intention. However, just like the original group and the currently expanded BRICS+, they present heterogeneities and asymmetries that will likely pose challenges in the future for consensus-building, Andrés Serbin writes.

                Established in 2009 and expanded with the inclusion of South Africa the following year, the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) became an alternative forum for emerging economies aspiring to promote cooperation and eventually play a more active role in reforming and reshaping global economic governance. As an informal multilateral mechanism that differs from established international financial organizations, other informal forums for consultation, and traditional multilateral mechanisms, from its inception, BRICS aimed to give a voice to emerging economies of the Global South contesting the hegemony of the more industrialized and wealthier nations of the West, including Japan. The XV BRICS Summit constitutes, in this sense, a turning point, as it decisively impacts the configuration of a multipolar international system.

                The return of geopolitics and the confrontation between major powers and emerging blocs following the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia due to the war in Ukraine contributed to revitalizing the group from 2019 onwards and to increasing its politicization in the face of ongoing changes in the international system.

                In this context, the XV BRICS Summit in Johannesburg held in August of this year sparked a wide range of expectations regarding its growing weight in the international system. Some of these expectations were highly critical, questioning its role as a counterweight to existing organizations and its actual ability to become a prominent actor, particularly as it is perceived — especially in Western media — as an "anti-Western alliance led by Beijing and Moscow" that contributes to the construction of a Sino-centric global order.

                Alongside these criticisms, China's predominant role as the most powerful economy in the group and Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine raised a wide range of questions about the group perceived as being organized around the interests of this tandem, and whose potential expansion could threaten Western interests. Others, widely favourable in terms of the emergence of a mechanism capable of balancing or reforming global governance in favour of the Global South and emerging economies, aimed to highlight the role of the bloc as a fundamental and growing actor in a multipolar reconfiguration of the international system that would dilute Western and particularly US primacy.

                Beyond these criticisms and perceptions, before the Summit, a series of questions were raised about whether the group should deepen its institutionalization — in terms of structure, procedures, budget, and permanent location—building on some previous achievements such as the creation of the New Development Bank in 2014 and the Contingent Reserve Arrangements, among others, that had begun to benefit some developing countries that were not yet members of the group, or whether it should proceed to expand — as BRICS+ — to increase its weight, representativeness, and legitimacy in the international system, given a list of more than 23 Global South countries aspiring to join the group.

                However, the Summit's agenda foresaw two prominent issues to address. On one hand, particularly due to movements in favour of using national currencies in trade and financial exchanges among group members and other nations of the Global South, the creation of a common currency to replace the U. S. dollar as the dominant currency appeared as key issues to be addressed. On the other hand, the expansion of the bloc to a broader platform, taking into account the numerous requests for entry from countries in the Global South. Additionally, two topics that were expected to be present were related to the group's projection in Africa and positions regarding the situation in Ukraine and the resolution of the conflict, as China, Brazil and a group of African countries had previously launched initiatives to promote dialogues for peace between Ukraine and Russia.

                After several international organizations pointed out that BRICS had become the largest GDP bloc — in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) — in the world, currently contributing 31.5% of the world's GDP compared to the G7's contribution of 30.7%, and that most members of the bloc largely ignored Western economic sanctions against Russia, the issue of creating a single currency, strongly promoted by Brazil, did not advance as expected at the Summit. Instead, the need to strengthen and resort to exchanges in national currencies before creating a common currency that could replace the dollar was reiterated. Beyond suspicions about a "yuanization" of the dominant currency due to China's significant economic weight, the difficulties faced by China and other economies in liberalizing capital flows discouraged this initiative in the short term.

                However, the second issue — the expansion of the bloc — advanced significantly, and the immediate inclusion of six new members — Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran — was approved, despite the resistance of some members like India, which proposed limiting it to three new members, compared to China's proposals for a larger expansion of the bloc. In fact, both this and other debates highlighted the differences between the positions of China and Russia in their aspiration to make the group an instrument of their global projection; of India and Brazil, more focused on their own development interests; and South Africa, which aspired not only to this but also to strengthen its regional leadership.

                Certainly, this expansion gives more weight to the bloc in the international system, among other reasons, because it assumes the role of spokesperson for the Global South in the face of the Western North and seeks to expand to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Despite the ambiguity of the concept of the Global South—which partially assumes the legacy of terms like "Third World" and "developing countries" — this marks the rise of a group of nations with growing prominence and global influence that aspire to play a more active role in shaping the international system despite their disparities and asymmetries.

                The geographical balance of the new additions to BRICS clearly illustrates this intention. However, just like the original group and the currently expanded BRICS+, they present heterogeneities and asymmetries that will likely pose challenges in the future for consensus-building.

                The Challenges of Latin America

                Beyond the strategic peripherization it experiences in the international system and the great heterogeneity of the region — which makes regional bloc articulation difficult despite the existence of mechanisms such as CELAC — the potential inclusion of Latin American or Caribbean countries in BRICS implies a series of opportunities, but also risks. In terms of opportunities, participation in the bloc expands the range of trade and investment options with other members and access to NDB (New Development Bank) credits. It may also increase the capacity for collective negotiation in organizations like the G20, the IMF, and the World Bank, where some countries have been demanding greater participation for years. Nevertheless, it also faces the risk of alienating its ties with the West and being perceived as associates or allies of countries like China, Russia, and Iran, which are subject to various sanctions by the United States and EU countries as perceived threats to their interests.

                This dilemma between economic benefits and geopolitical risks is clearly illustrated by the case of Argentina.

                With the support of one of its largest trading partners, Brazil, Argentina formally was accepted to join BRICS and will operate as a full member starting from January 1, 2024. Alongside Brazil, China and India are among Argentina's top five trading partners, and its inclusion will likely enhance these relationships and open up the possibility of broader and more diversified international links. However, the economic benefits could be overshadowed by political and geopolitical risks. Firstly, while membership in the RIC (Russia, India, China), BRICS, and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) may have helped ease tensions — until very recently — between India and China, who were embroiled in a territorial dispute and regional leadership rivalry, Argentina and Iran have a pending issue due to terrorist attacks on Argentine soil for which Buenos Aires holds some high-ranking Iranians responsible. This could increase tensions and disparities within the bloc. Additionally, in the context of the upcoming presidential elections in October 2023, two of the leading right-wing presidential candidates have categorically rejected this inclusion and announced that they will leave the bloc if they win the elections.

                In fact, as two Argentine analysts point out, the underlying problem lies in the persistence among Argentine political elites of limited cognitive maps and narratives clinging to outdated schemes that sum up contrasting views between a hyper-Westernism that forces them to align with the United States and the European Union, and a Sinophilia that brings them closer to China on the international stage, a situation not unique to Argentina and Latin America.

                The benefits and risks posed by this combination of economic, political, and geopolitical factors in Argentina, with different nuances and particular characteristics, can be extended to other countries in the region. While Argentina has been incorporated thanks to the mediation of Brazil and the support of China, Russia, and India, it could serve as a spearhead for the inclusion of other South American countries like Uruguay, Bolivia, and Venezuela, as well as Central American and Caribbean countries like Cuba (whose president, Diaz Canel, attended the Summit on behalf of the G77), Honduras, and more recently, Nicaragua. It is evident that a majority of these countries clearly align against the United States and in favour of Russia and China. It is clear that the weight of two emerging economies like Brazil and Argentina (although the latter is going through a serious economic crisis and uncertain political transition) in South America may tempt other South American countries — especially those with significant economic ties to China — to aspire to join BRICS, probably contributing to greater heterogeneity within the group. However, this decision may also be influenced by respective geopolitical alignments. Mexico — among other reasons, due to its close ties with the United States and Canada — has shown ambiguity, if not clear opposition, to the possibility of seeking entry into the group.

                In the context of tensions and disputes in the current transition from a unipolar to a multipolar international order, it seems that the doctrine of active non-alignment promoted by some Latin American analysts and diplomats can help maintain balance in an uncertain and changing international environment and a complex process of global reconfiguration. But, as demonstrated by India's current position at the G20 Summit, it is not an easy balance to maintain.

                              Sergey Lavrov at UN: "Today, humanity is at a crossroads again, as has happened many times in the past. It is entirely up to us what will become of history" (Сергей Лавров в ООН: «Сегодня человечество снова находится на распутье, как это уже много раз случалось в прошлом. Что станет с историей, полностью зависит от нас».) / Russia, September, 2023
                              Keywords: un, sergey_lavrov, speech

                              Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement at the General Debate at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 23, 2023:

                              "Mr President,

                              Ladies and gentlemen,

                              Many previous speakers have expressed the idea that our shared planet is experiencing irreversible change. Right in front of our eyes, there is a new world order being born. Our future is being shaped by a struggle, one between the Global Majority in favour of a fairer distribution of global benefits and civilisational diversity, and the few who wield neocolonial methods of subjugation to maintain their elusive dominance.

                              Rejections of the principle of equality and a total inability to reach agreement has long been the signature of the collective West. Being accustomed to looking down on the rest of the world, Americans and Europeans often make promises, take on commitments, including written and legally binding ones, and then they just do not fulfil them. As President Vladimir Putin pointed out, it is the West that is truly an empire of lies.

                              Russia, like many other countries, knows this firsthand. In 1945, when we, together with Washington and London, were vanquishing our enemy on the front lines of World War II, our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition were already making plans for Operation Unthinkable, a military operation against the Soviet Union. Four years later, in 1949, the Americans drafted Operation Dropshot to deliver massive nuclear strikes on the USSR.

                              These ghastly senseless ideas did remain on paper. The USSR created its own weapon of retaliation. However, it took the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, with the world balancing on the brink of a nuclear war, for the idea of unleashing it and the illusion of winning with it to cease being the underlying basis of US military planning.

                              At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union played a decisive role in reuniting Germany and agreeing on the parameters of a new security architecture in Europe. At the same time, the Soviet, and then the Russian leadership, was given specific political assurances regarding the non-expansion of the NATO military bloc to the east. The relevant records of the negotiations are in our and in Western archives and they are openly accessible. But these assurances of Western leaders turned out to be a hoax as they had no intention whatsoever of upholding them. At the same time, they were never bothered by the fact that by bringing NATO closer to Russia's borders they would be grossly violating their official OSCE commitments made at the highest level not to strengthen their own security to the detriment of the security of others, and not to allow the military or political domination of any country, group of countries, or organisations in Europe.

                              In 2021, our proposals to conclude agreements on mutual security guarantees in Europe without changing Ukraine's non-aligned status were rudely rejected. The West continued its ongoing militarisation of the Russophobic Kiev regime, which had been brought to power as a result of a bloody coup, and to use it to wage a hybrid war against our country.

                              A series of recent joint exercises by the United States and its European NATO allies was something unprecedented following the end of the Cold War, along with the development of scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons on the territory of the Russian Federation. They stated their aim of inflicting a "strategic defeat" on Russia. This obsession has finally blurred the vision of irresponsible politicians who have grown accustomed to impunity and bereft of the basic sense of self-preservation.

                              Washington-led NATO countries are not only building up and modernising their offensive capabilities, but are also shifting the armed confrontation into outer space and the information sphere. An attempt to extend the bloc's area of responsibility to the entire Eastern Hemisphere under the pernicious slogan of "indivisible security of the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific region" has become a new dangerous manifestation of NATO expansionism. To this end, Washington is creating subordinate military-political mini alliances such as AUKUS, the US-Japan-Korea trilateral summit, and the Tokyo-Seoul-Canberra-Wellington Quartet, pushing their members into practical cooperation with NATO, which is bringing its infrastructure into the Pacific theatre. It is obvious that these efforts are targeting Russia and China, as well as the collapse of the inclusive regional architecture of ASEAN, and generate risks for a new hotbed of geopolitical tension on top of the European one, which has already reached its boiling point.

                              One certainly has the impression that the United States and the "Western collective" fully subordinate to it have decided to give the Monroe Doctrine a global dimension. These ideas are both illusory and extreme, but this does not seem to stop the ideologists of the new edition of Pax Americana.

                              The global minority is doing its utmost to slow down the natural course of events. In the Vilnius Declaration of the North Atlantic Alliance, the "growing partnership between Russia and China" is described as "a threat to NATO." Speaking recently to his ambassadors abroad, President Emmanuel Macron said he was sincerely concerned about the expansion of BRICS, seeing it as evidence that the situation was getting "more complex" and that this runs the risk of "weakening the West and our Europe in particular." That there was a "our international order where the West has occupied and occupies dominant positions is being revised." He made a few revelations: if someone somewhere is convening without our participation, is becoming closer without us or without our consent, that poses a threat to our dominance. NATO's pushing into the Asia-Pacific region is seen as something good, but the expansion of BRICS is a threat.

                              However, the logic of the historical progress is undeniable, the main trend of which being that states constituting the global majority are strengthening their sovereignty and defending their national interests, traditions, culture, and ways of life. They no longer want to live under anybody's yoke; they want to be friends and trade with each other, but also with the rest of the world – only on an equal footing and for mutual benefit. Associations such as BRICS and the SCO are on the rise, providing the countries of the Global South with opportunities for joint development and defending their rightful role in the multipolar architecture, which is emerging beyond anyone's control.

                              Perhaps for the first time since 1945, when the United Nations was established, there is now a chance for genuine democratisation of global affairs. This inspires optimism in all those who believe in the rule of law internationally and want to see a revival of the UN as the central coordinating body for global politics – a body where decisions are made by consensus, based on an honest balance of interests.

                              For Russia, it is clear that there is no other option. However, the United States and its subordinate "Western collective" continue to spawn conflicts that artificially partition humanity into hostile blocs and hamper the achievement of its common goals. They are doing everything they can to prevent the formation of a truly multipolar and fairer world order. They are trying to force the world to play by their notorious and self-serving "rules."

                              I would like to urge Western politicians and diplomats once again to carefully re-read the UN Charter. The cornerstone of the world order established after World War II is the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states, large and small, irrespective of their form of government, or their domestic political or socioeconomic structure.

                              However, the West still believes that it is superior to everybody else, in the spirit of the notorious statement made by EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell that Europe is a blooming "garden," while everything around is a "jungle." He is not bothered by the fact that in this garden, there is rampant Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance towards the traditional values of most world religions. Burnings of the Quran, desecration of the Torah, persecution of Orthodox clergy and the disdaining of the feelings of believers have all become commonplace in Europe.

                              In gross violation of the principle of sovereign equality of states, the West is using unilateral coercive measures. Countries that are victims of these illegal sanctions (and there are increasing numbers of them) are well aware that these restrictions harm first and foremost the most vulnerable strata of society. They provoke crises in food and energy markets.

                              We continue to insist on an immediate and full cessation of the United States' unprecedented inhumane trade, economic, and financial blockade of Havana and for the lifting of the absurd decision to declare Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism. Washington must, without any preconditions, abandon its policy of the economic suffocation of Venezuela. We call for the lifting of unilateral US and EU sanctions against the Syrian Arab Republic, which openly undermine its right to development. Any coercive measures that circumvent the UN Security Council must be ended, as must be the West's weaponised practice of manipulating the Security Council's sanctions policy to exert pressure on those they find objectionable.

                              The Western minority's obsessive attempts to "Ukrainise" the agenda of every international discussion while pushing onto the backburner a number of unresolved regional crises, of which many have been in place for years and decades now, have become a blatant manifestation of its self-centered policy.

                              Full-fledged normalisation in the Middle East cannot be achieved without resolving the main issue, which is the settlement of the protracted Palestine-Israel conflict using as its basis UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia. The Palestinians have been waiting for more than 70 years to have their own state, which was solemnly promised to them, but which the Americans, who monopolised the mediation process, are doing everything in their power not to allow this. We call for a pooling of efforts of all responsible countries to create the conditions for a resumption of direct Palestine-Israel negotiations.

                              It is gratifying that the Arab League has got its second wind and is stepping up its role in the region. We welcome the return of Syria to the Arab family, and we welcome the start of the normalisation process between Damascus and Ankara, which we are shoring up with our Iranian colleagues. All these positive developments reinforce the efforts in the Astana format to promote a Syrian settlement based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the restoration of Syria's sovereignty.

                              We do hope that with the assistance of the UN, the Libyans will be able to properly prepare for general elections in their long-suffering country, which for more than ten years has been struggling to get back on its feet after the NATO aggression that destroyed the Libyan state and opened the floodgates to the spread of terrorism to the Sahara-Sahel region and to waves of millions of illegal migrants to Europe and other areas. Analysts note that as soon as Gaddafi abandoned his military nuclear programme, he was immediately eliminated. Thus, the West has created the most dangerous risks for the entire nuclear non-proliferation regime.

                              We are concerned by Washington and its Asian allies who are whipping up military hysteria on the Korean Peninsula, where the US is building up its strategic capabilities. Russian-Chinese initiatives to consider humanitarian and political tasks as priorities have been rejected.

                              The tragic development of the situation in Sudan is nothing less than the result of another failed Western experiment to export its liberal democratic dogma. We support constructive initiatives to expedite the settlement of the Sudan's domestic conflict, primarily by facilitating direct dialogue between the warring parties.

                              When we see the nervous reaction in the West to the latest events in Africa, in particular in Niger and Gabon, it is impossible not to recall how Washington and Brussels reacted to the bloody coup in Ukraine in February 2014 – a day after an agreement was reached on a settlement under EU guarantees, which the opposition simply trampled on. The United States and its allies supported the coup, hailing it as a "manifestation of democracy."

                              We cannot fail to be concerned by the ongoing deteriorating situation in the Serbian province of Kosovo. NATO's supply of arms to the Kosovars and assistance to help them establish an army grossly violates the key Resolution of the UN Security Council 1244. The whole world can see how the sad story of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine is being repeated in the Balkans. There was a stipulation that the republics of Donbass were to have a special status; however, Kiev openly sabotaged this with the support of the West. Such is the case now, when the European Union does not want to force its Kosovo protégés to implement the agreements that were reached between Belgrade and Pristina the 2013 to establish the Community of Serb Municipalities of Kosovo, which would have special rules regarding their language and traditions. In both cases, the EU acted as a guarantor for the agreements, and apparently, they share the same fate. When we see the EU as the sponsor, we can expect the same outcome. Now Brussels is imposing its "mediation services" on Azerbaijan and Armenia, along with Washington, thus bringing destabilisation to the South Caucasus. Now that the leaders of Yerevan and Baku have actually settled the issue with the mutual recognition of the countries' sovereignty, the time has come for establishing peaceful existence and trust-building. The Russian peacekeeping troops will contribute to this in every possible way.

                              As for other decisions of the international community that remain on paper, we call for the completion of the decolonisation process in accordance with the resolutions of the General Assembly and for an end to all colonial and neo-colonial practices.

                              A vivid illustration of the "rules" by which the West wants us all to live is the fate of its commitments that were made in 2009 to provide developing countries with $100 billion annually to finance climate change mitigation programmes. If you compare what happened to these unkept promises with the amounts that the US, NATO and the EU have spent on supporting the racist regime in Kiev – an estimated $170 billion over the past year and a half – you will come to realise what the "enlightened Western democracies" with their notorious "values" really think.

                              In general, it is time to reform the existing global governance architecture, which has long been failing to meet the needs of our time. The United States and its allies should abandon their artificial restraints on the redistribution of voting quotas in the IMF and the World Bank and the West must recognise the real economic and financial weight of the countries of the Global South. It is also important to unblock the work of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body without delay.

                              There is an ever-increasing need to expand the composition the Security Council simply by eliminating the underrepresentation of countries from the World Majority – in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It is important that the new members of the Security Council, both permanent and non-permanent, be able to use their authority in their regions, as well as in global organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

                              It is time to look at fairer methods of making up the UN Secretariat. The criteria that have been in place for many years do not reflect the actual influence of states in global affairs and artificially ensure the excessive dominance of citizens of NATO and EU countries. These imbalances are further exacerbated by the system of permanent contracts, which link people to positions in host countries of international organisations' headquarters, the overwhelming majority of them located in capitals that promote Western policies.

                              A new type of association is being called upon to reinforce the reform of the UN, where there would be no leaders or followers, teachers or students, and all issues would be resolved based on consensus and balance of interests. One of those is certainly BRICS, which has significantly increased its authority following its summit in Johannesburg and has gained truly global influence.

                              At the regional level, there has been a clear renaissance of organisations, such as the African Union, CELAC, LAS, GCC, and others. In Eurasia, there is an increasing harmonisation of integration processes as part of the SCO, ASEAN, CSTO, EAEU, CIS, and China's Belt and Road project. A natural formation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership is underway as well, and it is open to all associations and countries on our shared continent without exception.

                              These positive trends, unfortunately, are being undermined by the increasingly aggressive attempts by the West to maintain their dominance in world politics, economics, and finance. It is in the common interest to avoid fragmentation of the world into isolated trade blocs and macro-regions. But if the United States and its allies do not want to negotiate on making the globalisation processes fair and equitable, those remaining will have to draw their own conclusions and think about steps that will help them make their socioeconomic and technological development not dependent on the neocolonial instincts of their former colonial powers.

                              The main problem lies with the West because developing countries are prepared to negotiate, including in the G20, as the recent G20 summit in India showed. The main conclusion in its report is that the G20 can and should be free of any political agenda and given the opportunity to do what it was created for: to work out generally acceptable methods for governing the global economy and finance. We have opportunities for dialogue and agreements. We must not miss this opportunity.

                              All these trends should be fully taken into account by the UN Secretariat as its statutory mission is to seek consent from all member states within the UN and not somewhere on the side.

                              The UN was established at the end of World War II and any attempts to revise this would undermine the foundations of the UN. As a representative of a country that made a decisive contribution to the defeat of fascism and the Japanese militarism, I would like to draw attention to a glaring trend to rehabilitate Nazis and their collaborators in a number of European countries, primarily in Ukraine and the Baltic States. A particularly alarming fact is that last year, Germany, Italy, and Japan for the first time voted against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. This regrettable fact calls into question the true repentance of these states for the mass crimes they committed against humanity during World War II and runs counter to the conditions under which they were accepted into the UN as fully-fledged members. We strongly urge you to pay special attention to this "metamorphosis" that runs counter to the approaches of the global majority and to the principles of the UN Charter.

                              Mr President,

                              Today, humanity is at a crossroads again, as has happened many times in the past. It is entirely up to us what will become of history. It is in our shared interest to prevent a downward spiral towards a large-scale war and avoid the final collapse of the mechanisms for international cooperation that were put in place by generations of our predecessors. The Secretary-General has put forward an initiative to hold a Summit of the Future next year. This can only be successful if a fair and equitable balance of interests of all member states is ensured and with due respect for the intergovernmental character of the organisation. At our meeting on September 21, the members of the Group of Friends in Defence of the UN Charter agreed to actively contribute to achieving this.

                              As Antonio Guterres said at a news conference shortly before this session, "if we want a future of peace and prosperity based on equity and solidarity, leaders have a special responsibility to achieve compromise in designing our common future for our common good." This is an excellent response to those who divide the world into "democracies" and "autocracies" and dictate their neo-colonial "rules" to others."

                                            BRICS member countries fully support Russia's upcoming presidency of grouping in 2024 (Страны-члены БРИКС полностью поддерживают предстоящее председательство России в группировке в 2024 году.) / Russia, September, 2023
                                            Keywords: chairmanship

                                            "The Ministers were briefed on the preparations for Russia's upcoming BRICS Chairship in 2024," according to a media statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website

                                            MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. The BRICS foreign ministers expressed their full support to Russia for its coming presidency of the grouping starting from January 1, 2024 at a meeting on the sidelines of the 78h session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), according to a media statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.

                                            "The Ministers were briefed on the preparations for Russia's upcoming BRICS Chairship in 2024. Brazil, India, China and South Africa extended their full support to Russia for its BRICS Chairship in 2024 under the theme `Strengthening of multilateralism for the purposes of just global development and security' and the holding of the XVI BRICS Summit in Kazan," the document reads.

                                            The top diplomats of BRICS member countries also said they look forward to their standalone meeting in Russia next year.

                                            This year, the BRICS summit, hosted by one-year chairman South Africa, took place in Johannesburg on August 22-24, marking the largest gathering of Global South heads of state and government in recent years. Its guests included the leaders of 54 African countries. The current BRICS members approved the membership bids of Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia which will become full-fledged members of the bloc on January 1, 2024. An updated list of candidate countries for BRICS membership will be prepared for consideration at the group's next annual summit, which will take place in Kazan.

                                                          Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers' meeting in New York on September 20 — MFA (Лавров примет участие в встрече министров иностранных дел БРИКС 20 сентября в Нью-Йорке — МИД) / Russia, September, 2023
                                                          Keywords: sergey_lavrov, foreign_ministers_meeting

                                                          According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the parties will discuss interaction within the BRICS framework, as well as the implementation of the decisions taken at the summit in South Africa

                                                          MOSCOW, September 18. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York on September 20, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.

                                                          It was reported earlier that on September 19-26, Lavrov plans to hold about 20 bilateral meetings, as well as talks with representatives of international organizations, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.

                                                          "On September 20, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in a BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. The participants of the meeting will exchange views on current international issues, including issues on the agenda of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly," the statement said.

                                                          The ministry emphasized that the parties will discuss interaction within the BRICS framework, as well as the implementation of the decisions taken at the summit in South Africa. "Lavrov will inform his colleagues about plans for the upcoming Russian chairmanship in the association in 2024," the Russian diplomats added.
                                                                        Saving the Hegemony: French Perspective on the Changing World Order (Спасение гегемонии: французский взгляд на меняющийся мировой порядок) / Russia, September, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance

                                                                        Late in August this year, President Emmanuel Macron delivered his annual address to French ambassadors, thus traditionally opening a new political season for the Fifth Republic's diplomacy. In terms of content, it generally reaffirmed commitment to the same course that the host of Elysée Palace has pursued in recent years, including a primary focus on strengthening the EU's strategic autonomy and enhanced creativity in a number of other regional areas. This time, however, a remarkable keynote ran through his speech—recognition of the breakdown of the previous world order and a clearly articulated intention to put this process on hold. Bolstered by several recent initiatives, such reasoning can be interpreted as a signal of Paris's leadership ambitions in building a dialogue between the global North and South on behalf of the former. Yet, amid another debacle suffered by French diplomacy on the African continent, these sentiments seemed more like an attempt to save the blushes by presenting the erstwhile neocolonialism clothed in a more alluring mantle.

                                                                        Setting the French leader's speech in a broader context, it is appropriate to recall that reflecting on the desired structure of the international system is not something new either to the foreign policy of the Fifth Republic or to Mr. Macron himself. On the contrary, this can be traced back as one of the main themes in French diplomacy during all of the recent decades, giving it a certain scope and elan that was largely lost in other European capitals after World War II. Thus, even during the years of bipolar confrontation, France, although still politically part of the Western camp, used to embrace the "overcoming Yalta [1]" slogan, perceiving the system based on the unambiguous leadership of the U.S. and the USSR as unfavorable for preserving its own great-power status and, accordingly, advocating the ideas of détente and multipolarity. Already in those days, the Elysée Palace raised the issue of organizing a multilateral North-South dialogue, supporting the signing of some cooperation agreements between the European Communities and ACP countries, as well as pushing the Bretton Woods financial system towards a crisis. Subsequently, in the 1990s-2000s, Paris, unlike many of its partners, found itself among the critics of the "American-style world", this opposition seemingly peaking in 2003, when Jacques Chirac and Gerhardt Schroeder condemned the invasion of Iraq. It was the French president who was one of the first Western leaders to draw attention to the imbalances of globalization [2], neglect of socio-economic inequality and climate protection. Moreover, even during the mandates of Nicola Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, when the French policy demonstrated a distinctly "Atlanticist" bias (a return to NATO military structures, the operation in Libya, etc.), there were also attempts to formulate a special position when discussing the global agenda. Obvious examples are the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015: by organizing its execution the French side hoped to put environmental issues at the center of the entire international agenda, or take the calls to rethink the IMF's functionality in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. While remaining a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the Fifth Republic did not ignore the issue of reforming it, having proposed in 2013, among other things, a voluntary non-use of the veto in case of large-scale war crimes.

                                                                        Characteristically enough, in all of the cases described above, both idealistic and realistic considerations were intertwined in Paris's desire to influence, one way or another, the evolution of the world order and its institutions. On the one hand, a kind of republican messianism, dating back to the ideals of the Revolution of 1789, made itself felt. Proud of being the birthplace of human rights and values of humanism, France continued to spread them in the outside world in the hope to make the global order more democratic and just (according to its own understanding of those categories [3]). The aspiration for national greatness, expressed in the 1960s by de Gaulle and consisting in the idea that France can be a significant power only if it is "standing on top everything" and participates, at least declaratively, in solving key world problems, was also related to this ambition. On the other hand, the pragmatic calculus was far from splitting the West from within but making it only stronger instead through flexibility and diversity of approaches. As a result of all the adjustments proposed by France, the "Western family" and the Fifth Republic itself would still have to retain the most comfortable place in the international system, the right to define the rules of the game for all, retaining the appearance of solidarity with the global South. In this regard, multipolarity, as French analysts explain, is usually understood by Paris not as the existence of several roughly equal centers of power, but as a joint solution to global problems with the unconditional priority of Western interests.

                                                                        To paraphrase what was said above, it is acceptable to note that where, for example, the U.S. embarked on a hardcore unilateral approach, France has been accustomed to offering soft leadership of the collective West, which differed in form, but not in its ultimate goal. This pattern largely explains Macron's foreign policy activity during his first years in power, which coincided with the presidency of Donald Trump overseas, because just in 2017-2020, the French leader formulated a whole series of initiatives addressing the issues of global governance. In particular, since 2018, the Paris Peace Forum has been held on an annual basis—a platform for discussing all pressing issues of global affairs with an emphasis on project interaction between actors of different types (governments, businesses, NGOs). Due to the universal thematic orientation of this forum, experts rightly pointed out that it was actually an attempt to duplicate the UN in a simplified form, without an extensive network of institutions, rules and procedures. The same logic underpinned the 2019 launch of The Alliance for Multilateralism—an informal coalition of countries led by France and Germany, ready to promote the concepts of "effective multilateralism" and "rules-based order" in various international institutions. The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace (2018), the Christchurch Call to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online (2019), One Planet Summit for addressing environmental issues (since 2017), the Joint Finance development bank meetings (since 2020), and many others continued this thrust. In a similar way, the French side tried to mediate in settling the conflict in the Sahel, where, starting in 2020, the plan called for all steps to be integrated into an umbrella structure, namely the Sahel Coalition. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recapped, the essence of all such formats was reduced to "agreeing in a narrow friendly circle on recipes to be subsequently imposed on everyone else" and bypassing the existing negotiating platforms, where there is a chance of encountering alternative points of view. A common feature in those initiatives was the use of a multi-stakeholder approach combined with a selective choice of participating countries that usually included roughly the same representatives of the West, in addition to a group of friendly states in Latin America and/or Africa.

                                                                        It is noteworthy that with the arrival of the Biden administration, Paris initially slowed down a bit, preferring, more often than not, to join the new steps of its American colleagues (Summit for Democracy) and switching from the global to the regional level (the European Political Community project which unites all the countries of continental Europe except Russia and Belarus). Nevertheless, during 2023, a number of factors made the French president return to the topic of the changing world order, as this subject was the cornerstone of his speech to the ambassadors. First, there was the ongoing confrontation with Russia: the "geopolitical defeat" of Moscow, so much desired by the French leader, never came to pass, while any attempt to change Russia's posture through sanctions, respective appeals to China or by using other methods eventually failed. Secondly, alternative to Western formats of international cooperation, BRICS in the first place, aimed at accelerating the de-dollarization of the global financial architecture, have been gaining pace—starting in 2024, this group will have expanded to include six new nations. Thirdly, the demand of African states for independent development and diversification of partnerships without neo-colonial oppression from former metropoles is getting louder,—particularly, at the second Russia-Africa Forum. Assessing these trends, the French leader did not fail to sound an alarmist tone, having admitted that the current international context increases the risk of "weakening the West, and especially our Europe."

                                                                        Elaborating on the latter tenet, the French leader took the liberty to make some frank remarks, rather rare to hear nowadays from representatives of the Western establishment. Thus, he stated the "objective dissolution" of the West in the international system—in terms of certain parameters such as population, share in the world economy and trade. In the French leader's opinion, this dissolution is a consequence of various crises that have successively followed one another since 2008, as well as the rise of other players that effectively compete with the U.S. and Europe in a number of areas. According to his logic, there is a "progressive revision of our international order, its principles and various organizational forms," overlapped with the "resentment politics", anti-colonialist attitudes and anti-Westernism in the global South. Such sentiments, Macron recognized, are spreading in response to the double standards "that we have sometimes encouraged," adapting the international law to the narrow interests of the West and forgetting the sovereignty of other peoples on the planet. Numerous platforms of global regulation, designed along Western lines, be it the IMF or the World Bank, are increasingly losing their legitimacy as reflections of a bygone geopolitical reality and, consequently, are no longer able to impose the Western rules. According to the French leader's observation, there is indeed a demand for an alternative order in the world, the strengthening of the BRICS being one of its symptoms. The world economy is also evolving in an unpredictable direction, with an apparent trend for "new protectionism", which has taken shape amid the US-China rivalry. In its turn, Europeans have to face a "fait accompli policy", pursued by more vibrant actors challenging Europe. According to the French president, this is the case, for example, with the Gulf monarchies, which increasingly perceive Europe as an "old continent" that has fallen into decline, but still "pesters" them with its norms and principles. This makes China and India much more convenient partners.

                                                                        It is not difficult to see that this diagnosis is in sharp contrast to the rosy picture of the world that was once built by the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, where the EU still remains a privileged player, a "blooming garden" surrounded by a "jungle". Nevertheless, the most important thing is the inference immediately drawn by Mr. Macron from his speculations. Building upon the above-mentioned trends, the president was far from being amenable to the final collapse of the obsolete world order or, even less so, from hinting at any hypothetical drift of France toward truly multipolar formats (his idea of visiting the BRICS summit expectedly turned out to be stillborn). On the contrary, from his point of view, Western nations simply need to change their strategy—not to waste their energies trying to rein the unfolding changes, but should only turn the latter in a favorable direction for themselves. Among many areas, this view should be applied to the reform of international institutions: to prevent the "marginalization of our own system" of global governance, several developing countries should be involved in decision-making on the governing boards of the IMF and the World Bank, without questioning the very role of these structures in the overall global architecture. Macron identified India, Brazil and South Africa as the most interesting partners in this regard, with the ultimate objective of causing a split in the BRICS by drawing some of its members closer to the West easily discernible behind these moves. In addition to Brazil, the prospect of building relations with other Latin American countries is emphasized: Paris expects to get closer to them by leveraging the climate agenda—the protection of the Amazon rainforest—inasmuch as the Fifth Republic is geographically present in this region through Guiana, claiming accession to the Amazon Pact of 1978. Incidentally, according to French logic, climate should become the hottest topic for Western diplomacy in principle, for this is where the West could be proactive, gathering new coalitions under its banners and claiming the ability to define common standards for all. The consistent work with the powers of the Indo-Pacific region—Indonesia, Vietnam and others, to whom France offers a kind of third way between Washington and Beijing, which, in fact, runs closer to the U.S. anyway (under the "neither submission nor equidistance" slogan)—ought to be subordinated to the common plan of preserving the Western leadership. Finally, we are talking about creating a broad diplomatic front in support of Ukraine: replicating across the world the proposition that it is Russia's actions, not the West's, that create a negative effect on a global scale; struggling to reduce the number of votes favoring Moscow in the UN General Assembly, etc.

                                                                        To put it simply, the logic presented by Mr. Macron boils down to a predictable conclusion: the development of any non-Western alternatives indicates an unwanted "fragmentation of the world", while supposedly only the proactivity and persistence of Western states, primarily France itself, can make the global order more stable. It is worth saying that in addition to the above-mentioned directions, this view is rather conspicuous in Paris's current African policy as well. Speaking about the spread of anti-colonialism, the French leader emphasized that he considers this phenomenon largely "contrived" and does not understand how modern Pan-Africanists enter into a "bizarre alliance" with "neo-imperialist" forces replacing the old metropolises on the African continent. The Fifth Republic, according to the Elysée Palace's host, has played a positive role in the war on terrorism in the Sahel (without it, the states there would simply "not exist"), and is now optimizing its military presence "in accordance with the demands" of the Africans themselves. Commenting on the military coup d'état in Niger, Macron emphasized that France would support Mohamed Bazoum, the "democratically elected" president—not directly, though, but through the ECOWAS. This said, it is proposed to shift the main focus of the continental strategy from toxic security issues to a win-win agenda of international development—support for African youth, entrepreneurship and civil society, educational and cultural-humanitarian cooperation in the support of Francophonie. For all that, the question of abandoning the residual attributes of France's own neo-colonial influence, be it the complete closure of all military bases, the abolition of the CFA franc or the voluntary renunciation of preferential access to African resources, is not even raised. The way of restructuring the media presence in Africa, proposed by Macron, is quite symptomatic—bringing in a private component only because the state ownership of some French media outlets serves as a convenient pretext for criticism from competition.

                                                                        The ultimate expression of the French view on global regulation was the Summit For a New Global Financial Pact, which had taken place in Paris two months before Mr. Macron delivered his speech before the ambassadors. The given event encapsulated the characteristic features of all previous French initiatives: a multi-stakeholder approach, the adoption of several more thematic "appeals", participation of the global South representatives (leaders of South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Cuba, etc.) along with the pacesetting Western speakers. Accordingly, as Mr. Macron later explained, the goal of the meeting was also formulated: laying the foundations for a "new consensus" [4] regarding the global financial architecture and sustainable development, trying to formulate a set of "universal" rules, motivated by looking for a balance between the North and the South. And even though these rules, as the Elysée Palace assured, "will not be dictated either in Brussels or Washington," it is the West, represented by France, that arrogates to itself the right to lead the way in further discussions, eventually minding its own interests. Among the principles agreed upon at the summit were: linking economic growth to compliance with environmental standards; prioritizing national sustainable development strategies with the indispensable involvement of international bodies; and regular packages of monetary aid to underperforming countries through development banks and private sources.

                                                                        * * *

                                                                        As has been noted by the Russian researcher Timofey Bordachev, in the lack of new ideas and limited material capabilities, France is faced with the fact that its own and collective Western problems do not come down to "the decline of the international or regional order per se, but to the diminishing power of those who until recently could have had a decisive influence upon it." Having probably arrived at the similar conclusion, Macron is doing his best to delay this process, or to reverse it as his ultimate goal. It is obvious that by inviting its closest allies to take up a speedy repair of the Western-centered world order to preclude its total collapse, Paris hopes to get extra benefits for itself to a certain extent, primarily of a political nature (for example, the status of an informal leader in promoting the climate and digital agenda). Nevertheless, on many points, one can clearly see how France seeks to indulge in wishful thinking. It's plain to see in the case of Africa, where Macron's arguments about Paris's "favorable" role and a new partnership with the global South do not sound very convincing against the backdrop of a series of military coups (from Mali to Gabon), widespread anti-French sentiment, and the protracted persistence of certain vestiges of neocolonial policies. Many nations that should be integrated into the Western-centered world order at the suggestion of Macron—India, Brazil, and others—are unlikely to abandon the policy of building a multipolar world, where relations with Western countries and institutions serve as only one option in achieving their national objectives. In the days of old, the approach promoted by the Fifth Republic could at least be partially interesting for discussing some common topics within the framework of Franco-Russian relations: issues such as strategic stability, regional conflict resolution, and cyber security. However, at the current stage, French attempts to preserve the generally pro-Western world order, even if with some adjustments, come into fundamental collision with Russia's commitment to building a real multipolar world.

                                                                        1. Hoffmann S. La France dans le nouvel ordre européen // Politique étrangère. 1990. Vol. 55, no. 3. p. 503.

                                                                        2. The very term "globalization" in the French political vocabulary is close in meaning to "unification" aka Americanization, while "mundialization" is used as a neutral description of the interconnected world.

                                                                        3. Obichkina E.O. The Foreign Policy of Emmanuel Macron: Looking for Geopolitical Strategy in Deranged World Hierarchy // Relevant Problems. 2021. No. 3. p. 238

                                                                        4. Even during his first term in power, Macron unashamedly proposed to refer to this consensus as the Paris Consensus by analogy with the Washington Consensus. For more detail see: Chikhachev A.Yu. The Concept of Paris Consensus in the Rhetoric of French President Emmanuel Macron in The World after the Pandemic: Global Challenges and Development Prospects. World Development. Issue 23 edited by A.A. Davydov, Z.A. Mamedyarov, M.V. Khorolsky, et al. M.: IMEMO RAS, 2022 p. 93-101.

                                                                                      Investment and Finance
                                                                                      Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                                                      Lula da Silva: "The lack of equality and imbalances in the IMF's and the World Bank's management are unacceptable" (Лула да Силва: «Отсутствие равенства и дисбаланс в руководстве МВФ и Всемирного банка неприемлемы») / Russia, September, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: economic_challenges, quotation

                                                                                      Brazil President Lula calls the UN General Assembly

                                                                                      In his speech at 78th UN General Assembly Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for equitable efforts to tackle climate change and said his country is committed to clean energy. He also highlighted the importance of a global culture of peace and voiced concerns about existing conflicts, including the Palestinian issue, and emerging threats

                                                                                      During his meaningful speech at the 78th UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Lula da Silva highlighted a number of global issues he described as critical. These included climate change, the global wealth gap, gender equality, freedom of the press, the urgent need for sustainable development, and the importance of international cooperation and collective action to address these and other pressing global concerns.

                                                                                      Lula also highlighted the erosion of multilateralism, and the distorted representation of nations in international institutions, and market-driven inequalities, as he emphasized the need for a new model for economic governance.

                                                                                      He said this was one of the reasons for the emergence of BRICS, a grouping of emerging economies that currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The members recently revealed plans to expand the group, and have invited Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt and Argentina to join.

                                                                                      "The BRICS was the result of this paralysis and constitutes a strategic platform to promote cooperation between emerging countries," Lula said.

                                                                                      "The recent expansion of the group at the Johannesburg Summit strengthens the fight for an order which accommodates the economic, geographic and political plurality of the 21st century. The lack of equality and imbalances in the IMF's and the World Bank's management are unacceptable… Amid this inertia there emerged BRICS, which is a strategic platform for promoting cooperation between developing countries," he said.

                                                                                      "We are a force that works toward fairer global trade in the context of a serious crisis in multilateralism. Rich countries' protectionism has gained strength and the World Trade Organization remains paralyzed, especially its dispute-settlement system. Nobody remembers the Doha Development Round anymore."

                                                                                      The Doha Development Round was a WTO negotiation initiative that aimed to reduce trade barriers around the world, with a particular focus on the priorities of less-developed countries. Progress stalled in 2008, and the process now is effectively considered dead.

                                                                                      He underscored his enduring faith in humanity's ultimate capacity to overcome the challenges it faces, such as the climate crisis, the persistence of hunger that affects 735 million people worldwide, and the growing global gap between rich and poor.

                                                                                      Climate change took center stage in his speech, as Lula advocated for equitable climate action and emphasized Brazil's commitment to clean energy, including green hydrogen. He said that 87 percent of Brazil's electrical power now comes from clean and renewable sources.

                                                                                      "It is the vulnerable populations in the Global South who are most affected by the loss and damage caused by climate change," he said.

                                                                                      "The richest 10 percent of the world's population is responsible for almost half of all carbon released into the atmosphere. We, developing countries, do not want to repeat this model."

                                                                                      Lula criticized the unequal distribution of financial and technological resources for climate action and highlighted the fact that an international promise made in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year to help developing countries finance climate action remains unfulfilled.

                                                                                      "Without mobilizing financial and technological resources, there is no way to implement what we decided in the Paris Agreement and the Global Biodiversity Framework," he said.

                                                                                      "The promise to allocate $100 billion annually to developing countries remains just that, a promise. Today, this amount would be insufficient for a demand that already reaches trillions of dollars."

                                                                                      Brazil will take over the presidency of the G20 from India later this year.

                                                                                      "Upon taking over as the chair of the G20 in December, we will spare no effort to place the fight against inequalities, in all its dimensions, at the core of the international agenda," Lula said.

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                                                                                                    SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                                                    The Case for a BRICS+ Academy (Аргументы в пользу Академии БРИКС+) / Russia, September, 2023
                                                                                                    Keywords: social_issues, brics+

                                                                                                    BRICS no longer exists: the time of BRICS+ has come. But to make this informal forum into a structured reality, one capable of withstanding bumps and games, a radical rethinking of its purposes and its current skeleton is needed, writes Emanuel Pietrobon.

                                                                                                    The Johannesburg summit has been a tremendous success, and it will be remembered as the long-awaited watershed event of the BRICS. Not only have external interferences aimed at boycotting Russian participation and sowing discord between India and China failed, but the five countries unanimously agreed on an expansion that has the potential to convert the group into a kind of "strategic natural resources super-cartel", an all-resource OPEC on steroids with the potential to make the 1973 energy crisis look like a joke.

                                                                                                    From 2024 onwards, BRICS+ will account for 44.4% of the world population and for 37.3% of the world's GDP, with its overall natural endowment capable of leading, as anticipated, to a world-challenging super-OPEC: home to 79% of the world's aluminium output and 77% of palladium production, 75% of the world's manganese and 50% of its graphite, approximately 50% of the world's gas reserves, 44.3% of the world's oil reserves and 41% of oil production, more than 50% of global food production, 38.8% of total global industrial production, over 30% of the world's nickel reserves, four-fifths of all rare earth reserves, one-fifth of global lithium production and one-tenth of the world's copper.

                                                                                                    Common energy considerations and long-term geo-economic goals (de-dollarisation) are the main driving reasons for the BRICS' existence and its first enlargement, but (much) more is needed if the aspiring G7 rival hopes to win the battle for the de-Westernisation of the world. The West wasn't built overnight: it is an artificial creation held together by a widespread network of agencies, bodies, NGOs, institutions, schools and programmes — this is the secret recipe for the success of the Western project and it is also the weakness of all the others who, over time, have tried to challenge it.

                                                                                                    For the BRICS+ to become a truly disruptive force, a world-overturning coalition for change, a Western-model system of intergenerational transmission of values is required.

                                                                                                    Learning from the West

                                                                                                    Hollywood is undisputedly the US' strongest machine of soft power projection. It significantly helped the US to spread its values and promote its narratives worldwide, especially in the war-torn Western Europe of the early 1950s. Its role in building a common identity among Western Europeans, the Judeo-Christian, White-populated West, has been enormous. The BRICS+ has nothing like a unified entertainment industry and it never will — too many different cultures, no superpower with hegemonic ambitions over the rest, etc. However, something can still be done: entertainment industries working together to make movies and other products capable of instilling sentiments in the public in favour of the BRICS cause and reducing tensions among members. A sort of BRICS mythology needs to be created, and Hollywood is very instructive in this regard.

                                                                                                    It's fundamental to decolonise the collective imagination of the BRICS peoples, who keeps being traversed by strong pro-Western sentiments that often translate into anti-national xenophilia — one telling example is the obsession with Western brands, the natural association whereby West equals high-quality, the fascination with Western values, and so on. Because the masses mean the electorate, and it is the electorate that decides the fate of political parties and their visions. In other words: tools are needed to give solidity to the BRICS project and transform it into a project that is equally felt by both farsighted leaders and their peoples.

                                                                                                    Some examples of BRICS cooperation extended to edutainment might be Sino-Russian productions on the Korea War or modern-day thrillers on espionage, Russo-Indian blockbusters on the countries' partnership during the Cold War, Russo-Egyptian movies on the Arab-Israeli wars, and so on. It can work. Hollywood, Bollywood and, more recently, Turkey's dizileri have proven that.

                                                                                                    If the edutainment chapter of the BRICS' reconstructive surgery is something that requires both a lot of work and political will, investments in the building of exchange programmes, scholarships and institutions to foster sentiments of unity are a bit easier, at least theoretically.

                                                                                                    The US managed to build a strong and common identity across Western peoples, who had been at war with each other for centuries (this is particularly true for the Europeans) in two ways.

                                                                                                    The first way is Hollywood and the related music industry, which both have been serving the goal of reaching out to the masses and shaping their values and worldviews through high cultural impact productions.

                                                                                                    The second way is the ensemble of institutions set up by the US, from the German Marshall Fund to the Fulbright Program, with the aim of making Atlanticism mainstream. Generations of European leaders have been formed in and/or by the US through exchange programs and scholarships. The Fulbright Program is the US' most important cultural exchange programme and it is easy to understand why: it has operated in more than 155 countries, about 300,000 people have taken part in it since its establishment, and 7,500 people from all over the world receive a scholarship annually.

                                                                                                    In Italy, where more than 10,000 people received training under the Italy-US Fulbright Program since 1948, many alumni eventually became influential people later in their life: former prime minister Giuliano Amato, former prime minister and chief diplomat Lamberto Dini, and former minister of economic development Corrado Passera.

                                                                                                    If the BRICS(+) really aspires to exist over time, it needs to establish a Fulbright-like network of institutions devoted to the popularisation of their mission and to the training of tomorrow leaders. Perhaps, the first step might be the foundation of a BRICS Academy for wannabe leaders, economists, journalists, and statesmen. Such an academy should ideally have five headquarters, one in each founding member, and branches in the non-founding members, and it should pursue three goals: to promote university and cultural exchanges among the BRICS+, to provide scholarships also to promising students from the rest of the world, to pass on the group's mission to future generations.

                                                                                                                  BRICS Employment and Labour Ministers meet to deepen collaboration in employment creation and labour market governance (Министры труда и труда стран БРИКС встречаются для углубления сотрудничества в области создания рабочих мест и управления рынком труда) / South Africa, September, 2023
                                                                                                                  Keywords: social_issues
                                                                                                                  South Africa

                                                                                                                  The development of a collaborative effort to boost productivity initiatives and enhance social protection among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Countries will take centre stage when the Employment Working Group (EWG) and the Labour and Employment Ministers' Meeting (LEMM) convene at the Radisson Blu Umhlanga in Durban from 26 -29 September 2023.

                                                                                                                  Under the tutelage of the Department of Employment and Labour, South Africa will host the last in a series of meetings for the labour and employment stream of the BRICS Countries. The allencompassing theme of 'Ensuring Decent Work, Dignity and Respect for All' guides the discussions that are aimed at facilitating collaboration in employment creation and labour market governance among the BRICS Partners.

                                                                                                                  The meetings for the labour and employment stream follow the recent BRICS Leaders' Summit that took place in August 2023. This stream consists of the Employment Working Group (EWG), the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institute and the LEMM. The EWG and the Research Network Forum meetings previously took place in February (Gauteng), May (Port Alfred) and June (Geneva, Switzerland).

                                                                                                                  In preparation for the LEMM, the Fourth EWG and the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institute meetings will be held on 26 – 27 September 2023. At these gatherings, senior officials and technical experts will consider issues such as the Ministerial Declaration, the Report on Social Protection in BRICS Countries, the BRICS Productivity Platform and ways to strengthen collaboration between the BRICS Countries at the multilateral level.

                                                                                                                  The EWG and Network of Labour Research Institute meetings will culminate in a two-day Meeting of Ministers on 28 – 29 September 2023, where they will adopt the eThekwini Declaration.

                                                                                                                  The Ministers are expected to emphasise labour rights, universal access to social protection, skills development and sustainable enterprises to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Moreover, they will seek to deepen collaboration at multilateral forums to shape global labour market policies and agendas. Their efforts align with the call of BRICS leaders to achieve a human-centred recovery and the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

                                                                                                                  In addition to the BRICS Ministers, Minister Thulas Nxesi also invited his counterparts from Cuba, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Representatives of social partners and international organisations, such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Social Security Agency (ISSA) and the African Regional Labour Administration Centre (ARLAC), will also be present. Leaders from the KwaZulu-Natal Province and eThekwini will deliver welcome addresses to international delegates.

                                                                                                                  The ministers of social development and small business development, as well as senior officials and experts, will also be in attendance.

                                                                                                                  The media is invited

                                                                                                                  The Fourth BRICS EWG meeting and BRICS Labour and Employment Minister's Meeting will be held as follows: Date: 26-29 September 2023 (LEMM meeting last two days)

                                                                                                                  Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel, Lagoon Drive – Umhlanga, Durban Time: 09:00 am -16:00 every day 2 For media RSVPs, contacts: Lebogang Moloko at 064 848 7840 Nhlanhla Khumalo at 066 488 0265 Issued by: Teboho Thejane Departmental Spokesperson 082 697 0694
                                                                                                                                Russia's Global Information Security Initiatives (Глобальные инициативы России по информационной безопасности) / Russia, September, 2023
                                                                                                                                Keywords: national_security, digital, expert_opinion

                                                                                                                                September 2023 marks the 25th anniversary of Russia's revolutionary move in 1998, as 25 years ago Russia became the first country to raise the issue of information security at the UN, having timely assessed the risks of the digital future. In those days, widespread digitalization was just gaining momentum and the flywheel of the global Internet spread and development started spinning faster. Nevertheless, it became clear even then that the international community needed clear rules of behavior in the digital space—similar to the internationally acclaimed rules of conduct in the air, space or maritime space.

                                                                                                                                Chaos in the information environment has not yet been overcome, which negatively affects the security of both individuals and entire states. First, cyberattacks on critical information infrastructure (CII) continue – thus, according to the FSB, more than 5,000 hacker attacks on Russia's CII have been recorded since the beginning of 2022 [1]. Second, in parallel with the growth of phishing and ransomware, the problem of personal data leakage is aggravating. During 2022 and 2023, the data of more than 200 million users of the social network Twitter [2] have been leaked, and in 2020 – personal data of more than 267 million users of Facebook (owned by Meta, a company recognized as extremist and banned in Russia) [3]. Third, the world economy greatly suffers from the actions of hackers – the global economic damage is estimated in trillions of dollars. According to Secretary General of Interpol Jürgen Stoсk, this figure will reach $10.5 trillion by 2025 [4]. Fourth, cross-border digital space is increasingly used to incite conflicts and interfere in the internal affairs of states in order to undermine their social and political life through the dissemination of destructive and false information.

                                                                                                                                Of course, this is by no means the entire list of threats in the information space, which also includes cyber espionage, the use of ICTs for terrorist purposes, the widening digital divide between developed and developing nations, etc.

                                                                                                                                In addition, malicious cyberattacks will inevitably be evolving in parallel with technological advances. In particular, with the development and implementation of artificial intelligence technologies, there arises a risk that various systems under AI control could be overridden (or remotely reformatted), which might have dire consequences, up to and including physical destruction of infrastructure as well as inflicting harm upon human health and life. Also, AI technologies can be used to search for vulnerabilities, to analyze the target environment, to obtain data on the structure of networks, to choose a method of penetration into the CII system, etc., which will greatly simplify the execution of cyberattacks [5]. A potential threat is also posed by rapidly developing quantum technologies that can be instrumental, as experts note, in cracking any encryption key of the most secure computer system [6].

                                                                                                                                Deregulation of the ICT environment may also entail another important consequence: the trend to protect digital borders and sovereignty from the actions of other states and transnational hi-tech corporations. Since the late 1990s, China has consistently been developing the Great Firewall of China system to block access to foreign digital platforms [7]. As for Russia, in accordance with the law on the sovereign Internet that was passed in the fall of 2019 to protect the Russian segment of the Internet from external threats, all telecom operators have installed special equipment on their networks, through which Roskomnadzor (federal media watchdog) can manage traffic routing if necessary [8]. The European Union has put forward a whole set of special legislative initiatives, as the Europeans seek to protect the confidential data of users, establish control over the activities of foreign digital platforms and limit their expansion [9]. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2018, the Digital Service Act (DSA) of 2022, and the Digital Market Act (DMA) of 2022 are on the guard of the European digital space. In turn, the United States, which laid the foundations of the Internet, intends to retain control over its development. In particular, the Americans promote their international initiatives to establish technological norms and standards with the intention to involve as many countries as possible. We can mention the Declaration on the Future of the Internet, adopted in April 2022, as well as the Global Forum on Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR), also established in April 2022 [10].

                                                                                                                                On the one hand, the measures taken are aimed at strengthening the information security of individual states or government associations. Meanwhile, this trend is so dangerous because it leads to fragmentation of the global digital space, with different regions introducing their own technological standards, developing their own approaches to data flow control, blocking various information resources, etc. And no reverse movement has been observed thus far: no bridges are built that would allow the Internet to remain global, cohesive and open.

                                                                                                                                Another major problem arising from the lack of a universal cyber code is militarization of the digital space, which poses a serious threat to peace and security. Today, about 100 states have their own cyber armies, conduct regular exercises, develop strategies for warfare in the information space, and carry out cyber operations [11]. For example, the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), which launched its operations in 2010, conducts various types of hostile activity (including covert ones) in the networks of potential adversaries [12].

                                                                                                                                Over the past quarter of a century, Russia has taken several important steps towards the formation of a safe information space. The catalyst for this process was a special message from former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan dated September 23, 1998, where, among other things, he mentioned the need to prevent confrontation in the ICT environment, which is fraught with provoking the next round of the arms race [13]. Later, in December 1998, in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Russia proposed a draft resolution called "Developments in the sphere of information and telecommunications in the context of international security" (A/RES/53/70) [14], which served as a formal trigger for the process of creating a new international legal regime in the information space. Subsequently, the UN started adopting annual resolutions on this agenda, with draft documents substantively updated to take into account the rapid development of new information technologies. One of the most important achievements of Russian cyber diplomacy was the approval by the UN General Assembly of the Russian resolution (A/RES/73/27), which formulated a set of 13 rules and norms of responsible behavior of states in the Internet space (ban on the use of intermediaries to commit cyberattacks, mandatory justification of any accusations of cyberattacks, assistance to states affected by cyberattacks if they request for help, cooperation with the private sector and civil society organizations in implementing the rules of responsible behavior of states in the Internet space). [15] This resolution was supported by 119 nations [16].

                                                                                                                                Various negotiation mechanisms were launched on the UN platform to discuss the problems of international information security (IIS) [17] at the initiative of the Russian side. Thus, in 2004, the UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) began its work, with several final reports released in 2010, 2013 and 2015. These contained recommendations on threat reduction and fixed the norms of behavior for states in the information space [18]. Then, in 2019, concurrently with the UN GGE, also at the initiative of Russia, the UN's Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on the security and use of ICTs was launched, implying the participation of all interested UN member states. At that time, the Russian side believed that the narrow format of the UN OEWG had exhausted its potential, and so it was necessary to rise to a new level, that is, to democratize the negotiation process, making it open and transparent [19]. In 2021, the OEWG format was relaunched. Among the top priorities of this negotiating platform are the rules for responsible behavior of states in the information space, studying the applicability of international law to the ICT environment, as well as discussing confidence-building measures. The group's mandate is valid until 2025.

                                                                                                                                In general, the Russian vision of a peaceful digital space is based on the following principles: prohibition of cyberattacks on critical information infrastructure and concealment by software manufacturers of information about vulnerabilities in their products; use of ICTs exclusively for peaceful purposes; protecting the interests of all states in the information space regardless of their level of technological development; ensuring equal rights for all nations to participate in the Internet governance, etc.

                                                                                                                                In the future, Russian cyber diplomacy intends to push for agreement on the rules of responsible behavior of states in the global information space, which could later serve as a foundation for the UN convention on IIS. It is worth noting that the concept of this convention was submitted by Russia for consideration as an official document at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in May 2023 [20].

                                                                                                                                In addition to developing universal rules and principles of behavior in the information space, the Russian side promotes the idea of creating a comprehensive convention to combat cybercrime, which should raise the quality of international cooperation in this area and serve as an alternative to the Budapest Convention [21]. Thus, back in 2017 Russia submitted a draft convention on Cooperation in Combating Information Crimes, and already in 2019 it initiated the creation of the UN Ad Hoc Committee for the development of the relevant convention (Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes). The plan calls for the work on the draft document to be finalized in 2023 during the 78th session of the UN General Assembly [22].

                                                                                                                                Largely due to the efforts of the Russian side, since the 2000s the IIS topic has been discussed in other international venues – negotiation processes were launched within the SCO, BRICS, CIS, etc. Within the BRICS, Russia and China are the main initiators of discussions on information security and digital sovereignty. Thanks to their efforts, the contours of policy coordination in this area have been outlined [23]. The SCO also supports the discussion of the IIS problem. Thus, in July 2023, the SCO Council of Heads of State adopted a joint New Delhi Declaration, in which some provisions relate to the digital space. In particular, it was stated that the member states will block radical and terrorist materials on the Internet [24]. Consultations of foreign policy departments on the IIS take place within the CIS. The recent one was held on June 22 this year in Moscow under Russia's chairmanship [25].

                                                                                                                                In the meantime, the BRICS, SCO and CIS attach great importance to strengthening cooperation within the UN venues, as the latter are recognized as a key platform for discussing the international information security [26].

                                                                                                                                What's stalling the progress?

                                                                                                                                Over the past 25 years, no progress has been made beyond the development of and agreeing on some norms and rules of conduct in the ICT environment, which are advisory rather than mandatory. The introduction in the foreseeable future of universal, legally binding norms regulating international relations in the digital realm is an elusive task. Progress is stalled because of opposition to the Russian initiatives on the part of Western countries (the United States, in the first place), which have a different vision of the ideal model for regulating relations in the digital space. Let us cite some significant differences as an example:

                                                                                                                                • The difference in approach is reflected in the main emphasis: while the U.S. prefers to focus on highly specialized, technical issues (e.g., measures to protect CII), Russia seeks to steer the international debate toward discussing general rules of conduct in the ICT environment. In particular, the UNGA resolution "Creating a global culture of cybersecurity and taking stock of national efforts to protect critical information infrastructures" (adopted in 2002, 2003 and 2009), promoted by the United States, suggests sharing summary information on measures taken and seeks to build a national cybersecurity culture, including sharing information on CII vulnerabilities and other sensitive data [27]. In addition, Western nations often divert the discussion to topics that are not critical to addressing the problem of IIS (e.g., gender issues).
                                                                                                                                • Russia is in favor of an open and global Internet, where equal opportunities for access are provided to all countries, while pointing to the sovereign right of states to manage the Internet in their national segment. The U.S., on the other hand, proceeds from the logic that technologies are transboundary by their very nature, so there should be no barriers in the information space like national regulation and suchlike.
                                                                                                                                • The Russian side considers the use of ICTs for military and political purposes unacceptable. The United States, on the other hand, while believing in the regulation of cyber means in principle, nevertheless admits the possibility of their military use.
                                                                                                                                • The Russian side promotes the concept of secure operation and development of the Internet, which is based on the transfer of control functions from a private corporation managing domain names and IP addresses (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN), which is based in the United States and acts within the U.S. jurisdiction and legal environment, to international institutions. It is worth noting that the principle of Internet governance internationalization was enshrined in the program of the World Summit on the Information Society, held in Tunisia back in 2005 [28]. In general, the U.S. declaratively supports this principle, which can be seen, for example, from the text of the U.S. resolution A/RES/64/211, while actually ignoring it, with no serious changes in the Internet governance system being observed thus far.
                                                                                                                                • Russia holds to the opinion that it is impossible to accurately identify the source of computer attacks. This proposition is reflected in the concept of the Convention on Ensuring International Information Security [29]. When indicted for a cyberattack, the Russian side insists on the mandatory provision of solid evidence. The United States and other Western nations often practice public attribution, using the "name and shame" tactic [30].
                                                                                                                                • Russia seeks to have a special section in international law dedicated to the information space, as the current norms of international law may not always be applicable to this very special realm. The US and its allies believe that the existing norms of international law are quite sufficient. In this context, Russia favors legally binding norms and rules in the information space, while Western countries believe that they should be advisory in nature.
                                                                                                                                Meanwhile, the problem of searching for consensus on IIS is aggravated not only by different visions of an ideal digital future, but also by geopolitical tensions – all strategic documents adopted in the United States over the past few years have identified Russia as a threat [31], including in the information space.

                                                                                                                                Opposition to Russian approaches causes the fragmentation of the IIS dialogue space into Western and Russian initiatives. Here we can recall the launching of negotiation mechanisms working in parallel (as was the case, for example, in 2019-2021, when the American-style GGE and the OEWG worked simultaneously on the UN platform), as well as the proposal of alternative projects on information security. For example, these include the Program of action to advance responsible State behavior in the use of information and communications technologies in the context of international security, proposed by France, with the United States joining it in 2021.

                                                                                                                                Of course, there have been brief periods of cyber détente in the UN venues. For example, in 2021, a joint U.S.-Russian resolution on negotiations about security in the ICT environment was adopted. Unfortunately, such events were rather short episodes in the long backstory of pungent rivalry between the leading cyber powers. Today, the dialogue on information security issues at the bilateral level between Moscow and Washington is virtually frozen. Moreover, according to Andrey Krutskikh, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation in the Field of Information Security (2014-2023), most recently "Russian authorized negotiators are prevented from performing their diplomatic functions in the UN, their access to the headquarters of this organization being restricted, which undermines the international negotiation process on the IIS as a whole" [32].

                                                                                                                                The political crisis in the Russia-West relationship is reflected not only in the negotiation process within the UN, but is also visible on other international platforms. For example, in 2012, the OSCE launched an informal working group (WG) to develop confidence-building measures (CBMs) that would reduce the risks of conflicts in the ICT environment. As a result, 16 CBMs were agreed upon in 2016 [33]. However, today, in the midst of strained relations between Russia and the West, there is no constructive interaction on this issue, and the work of the WG is actually undermined. A similar situation is taking place within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – a specialized agency of the United Nations. Although ITU deals with purely technical issues, this organization has been crippled by politicization of its efforts and discrimination of the Russian side (refusal to appoint Russian representatives to leadership positions in various investigation commissions and advisory groups, revocation of entry visas, etc.). [34]. Thus, Russian diplomacy faces the problem of discrimination on important international platforms, which narrows the dialogue space and further complicates the search for a solution to the problem of international information security.


                                                                                                                                Industry 4.0 is gaining momentum as more sophisticated technologies are emerging and revolutionary innovations are being introduced. In the meantime, the political process of developing a "universal cyber code" is moving at an extremely slow pace, so issues of regulating the digital space hoard up, while fragmentation and militarization of this space are gathering pace.

                                                                                                                                Undoubtedly, the current geopolitical situation makes it very difficult to promote Russian initiatives – so far, confrontational rhetoric, rather than dialogue, is overruling. Yet, the work of the OEWG on the UN platform continues, and this inspires some optimism. Most countries stoke interest in this negotiation mechanism, thus preserving an important channel of communication on the IIS under turbulent circumstances and preventing the predominance of Western initiatives in this area.

                                                                                                                                First published on the CASТ website.

                                                                                                                                1. The FSB of Russia has reported 5,000 cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure during the past year // RIA Novosti, 13.04.2023,

                                                                                                                                2. Biggest data leaks in 2022 and 2023 signal the rapid spread of phishing and ransomware // SecurityLab, 31.03.2023,

                                                                                                                                3. TOP-10 most sensational cyberattacks of the XXI century // RBC Trends, 20.02.2021,

                                                                                                                                4. Secretary General of Interpol urged people to watch their money amid a rising tide of cybercrime // TASS, 17.10.2022,

                                                                                                                                5. Sebekin S. Threats to International Information Security in the Era of Industry 4.0. Analytical note No. 41, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), M.: NPO RIAC, 2023, 13 pages

                                                                                                                                6. The U.S. Wants to Make Sure China Can't Catch Up on Quantum Computing // FP, 31.03.2023, https//

                                                                                                                                7. Tolstukhina A., Matveenkov K. Big Tech vs Regulators: Long-Term Global Trend, Workbook No. 71, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). M.: NPO RIAC, 2022, 58 pages

                                                                                                                                8. Russia has tested the stability of the Runet against the possibility of its disconnection from without // RBC/, 05.06.2023,

                                                                                                                                9. See Tolstukhina A., Matveenkov K in the work mentioned above

                                                                                                                                10. Ibid.

                                                                                                                                11. Krutskikh A.V. Cyber-Bullying Tactics as an Integral Element of Western Sanctions Policy // International Life, 13.10.2022,

                                                                                                                                12. Web-document:

                                                                                                                                13. International Information Security. Theory and Practice, three volumes, Vol. 2: Document Digest (in Russian) / Edited by A.V. Krutskikh, second edition, add. M.: Aspect Press Publisher, 2021, p. 225

                                                                                                                                14. Web-document:

                                                                                                                                15. Web-document:

                                                                                                                                16. Web page:

                                                                                                                                17. The term "international information security" was also proposed by Russia, which advocates its use in diplomatic discourse and official documents. "The IIS is a state of international relations that excludes the disruption of world stability or creating a threat to the security of states and the world community in the information space," as stated in the "Draft Principles Concerning International Information Security" of May 12, 1999, which was submitted for consideration by the UNGA.

                                                                                                                                18. Digital International Relations, in two volumes, Vol. 1 / edited by E.S. Zinovieva, S.V. Shit'kov, M.: Aspect Press, 2023, p. 213

                                                                                                                                19. Tolstukhina A. Two Cyber Resolutions Are Better Than None // RIAC, 13.02.2019,

                                                                                                                                20. On the Concept of the UN Convention on International Information Security // Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16.05.2023,

                                                                                                                                21. The Russian side explains the need for an alternative to the Budapest Convention by the fact that, firstly, the approaches to the definition, prevention and investigation of cybercrime are remarkably outdated due to the fact that the text of the Convention was developed in the late 1990s, and secondly, paragraph 'b' of Article 32 in this document allows one of the parties to the Convention, without official notification and consent, to gain access to various data stored in the computer networks of the other party, which, according to the Russian authorities, poses a threat to national security and sovereignty.

                                                                                                                                22. On the submission to the UN Special Committee of the Russian draft universal international convention on combating the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes // Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28.07.2021,

                                                                                                                                23. Zinovieva E., Yatsze B. Digital Sovereignty Practice in Russia and China // RIAC /, 29.05.2023,

                                                                                                                                24. SCO member states sign a joint declaration // TASS / 04.06.2023,

                                                                                                                                25. On Inter-MFA Consultations of CIS Member States on International Information Security // Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 24.06.2023,

                                                                                                                                26. Web document:

                                                                                                                                27. Web document:

                                                                                                                                28. Web document:

                                                                                                                                29. Web page:

                                                                                                                                30. Why the US chose to "name and shame" Russia over cyberattacks // DefenseNews, 21.02.2020,

                                                                                                                                31. Web document:; web document:; web document:

                                                                                                                                32. Krutskikh A.V. The work referred to above

                                                                                                                                33. Commentary by the Information and Press Department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the approval by the OSCE Permanent Council of additional confidence-building measures in the area of ICT security // Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 15.03.2016,

                                                                                                                                34. The head of the Russian delegation spoke out against the politicization of the International Telecommunication Union // TASS, 27.10.2022,

                                                                                                                                              Alternative Solutions for Today's Climate Emergency (Альтернативные решения сегодняшней климатической чрезвычайной ситуации) / Russia, September, 2023
                                                                                                                                              Keywords: ecology, expert_opinion

                                                                                                                                              Prior to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative, several attempts, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change have been welcomed by the international community, aiming to avoid the irreversible effects of climate change. Despite the ambitious objectives of the signed agreements and preceding cooperation endeavors, significant improvements to the climate emergency have yet to be made. Nevertheless, BRICS members proposed an alternative solution, consisting of South-South cooperation and a three-dimensional framework of sustainable development. Thus, sustainable development is understood as a range of cooperation strategies based on economic, social and environmental factors, followed by the core concept of "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" (CBDR-RC). Although some authors [1] argue that establishing successful partnerships are impossible due to contrasting political and economic values among BRICS members, this article argues that a multi-faceted and sustainability-oriented cooperation strategy will prevail over discrepancies in state domestic priorities, mainly due to a unique form of people-to-people cooperation in the larger framework of the Global South, in addition to the geopolitical influence of the main actors and their global economic importance.

                                                                                                                                              In the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Environmental Cooperation of 2018, BRICS countries agreed to promote cooperation in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During the 9th BRICS Environment Minister Meeting in June 2023, the MoU agenda was reviewed and a Joint Statement summarizing the main points of cooperation was drafted. Furthermore, during the 15th BRICS Summit, "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Militarism", aims for achieving sustainable development were voiced as part of the Chair's main priorities. One of the highlighted goals for future cooperation, oriented towards a "just transition," directly signified tackling climate change issues, while considering transforming new economies. A similar objective of strengthening socio-economic and post-pandemic recovery strategies for realizing the 2030 Agenda was expressed during the Summit. Consequentially, BRICS members have stressed the importance of placing their economies at the core of sustainable global economic growth. [2] Priorities pertaining to sustainable development were settled in the Johannesburg II Declaration, where a more detailed roadmap for cooperation was drawn. For instance, the need to renew international commitments for the 2030 Agenda was set for future discussion in the SDGs September Summit in New York and the Summit of the Future in 2024. One of main highlights of the Declaration was its emphasis on the role of developed countries, whose commitment as donor countries have yet to be secured: a provision of ensuring adequate support through the Official Development Assistance (ODA) has yet to be reached. Furthermore, related conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were mentioned in light of their future implementation by developed countries. Additionally, the Conference of Parties (COP) was suggested as the main platform for discussing climate change-related issues. Overall, the document supports the holistic inter-BRICS cooperation approach and the CBDR-RC principle.

                                                                                                                                              In line with realizing the SDGs, a methodological report was drafted by I. Andronova and A. Sakharov, [3] who proposed a unique Sustainable Development Index, which not only collected data from twenty-two international development rankings, but also considered the specificities of each country. According to the report, SDGs are generally and progressively realized among BRICS members. However, growing malnutrition rates, the decline of biodiversity indicators and degrading water ecosystems are factors that require special treatment and attention from the nation-states. Another research study used the Green Economy Index [4] to identify factors that may be attributed to attaining sustainable development, by considering a three-dimensional framework of economic, social and environmental characteristics. The report similarly acknowledged the general tendency of higher environmental quality ratings despite given disparities in certain states. The Russian Donors Forum found [5] similarities among BRICS-members SDGs patterns, such as the role of having a corporate foundation in social investment practices, the lack of accessible and transparent data and systemic resource shortages, all under a common vision of the SDG agenda becoming a basis for greater communication among various stakeholders.

                                                                                                                                              Thus, consensus along the ideas on sustainable development and the consequent necessity of extensive future cooperation do exist among BRICS members. However, the presence of divergent national priorities and exercised strategies is undeniable.

                                                                                                                                              Country to Country Analysis

                                                                                                                                              The 2030 Agenda requires a holistic government-led policy integration mechanism that intertwines and balances economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development. BRICS countries have been creating state mechanisms to ensure a certain level of compliance set by the 2030 Agenda. In Brazil, an important role is dedicated to the Multi-Year Plan (Plano Pluriannual — PPA), whose aims are consistent with the SDG objectives. Additionally, Brazil established the National Commission for the Sustainable Development Goals (CNODS) responsible for supervising the SDGs realization, further forming the Voluntary National Review (VNR) in 2017. These power changes and internal policy reorientation have led to the Commission's disbandment and further prioritization of national concerns such as economic and social ones. Similarly, research considering the SGD Agenda as the main tool for public policy cohesion, has concluded that "implementing SDGs [in Brazil] has several governance failures associated with a lack of leadership". [6] Notwithstanding a certain absence of institutional coordination, civil society and subnational governmental agencies have taken a significant part in executing the Agenda, for instance by creating the Civil Society Working Group for Agenda 2030, the main functions of which consist of building cooperation among major actors, advocating for efficient strategies in SDG implementation and drafting a critical analysis of the undertaken actions. Importantly, national priorities consist of tackling gender inequality, poverty eradiation and preventing deforestation. According to the UN Spotlight Report [7] (2020), in spite of the heterogeneity of policies and the lack of clear coordination among the stakeholders, sufficient improvements were made regarding SDG 3, "Good health and well-being" (especially targets 3.2, 3.3 and 3.a), and SDG 14, "Life below water" (especially target 14.c). However, in comparison with other BRICS members, domestic concerns of political instability seem to prevail over attaining sustainable policies. Among the recommendations, the necessity of strategy recreation, aimed at renewing a holistic national conversation is notable. Platforms such as the China-CELAC forum, India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) cooperation, and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could be used to strengthen hunger eradication and implement economic improvement strategies. Furthermore, in line with the Johannesburg-II Declaration, more efforts could be designated towards trade and investment initiatives via the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), the New Development Bank (NDB) and Environmental Sound Technology Platform, thus finding solutions for fund shortages in realizing SDGs targets. Finally, Brazil could put more effort into regional cooperation, thereby leading to the representation of its interests on the global arena, especially considering its future presidency in BRICS Summits and the G20 Forum.

                                                                                                                                              The main national challenges of the People's Republic of China (PRC) involve environmental concerns such as water and air pollution, soil contamination and high rate of the carbon emissions. After the spread of Covid-19, the PRC has publicly shifted national discourse towards reaching the 2030 Agenda. Moreover, having a centrally planned economy, their approach to the SDGs similarly has a centralized approach and subsequentially enhances the 14th Five-Year National Plan, the most recent of which is specifically focused on achieving the SDGs, especially SDG 1 "No poverty", SDG 3 "Good health and well-being", SDG 4 "Quality education" and SDG 11 "Sustainable cities and communities". Furthermore, in line with realizing the 2030 Agenda, the PRC has recently published the Voluntary National Review (VNR) of 2021, where a firm political will, effective implementation mechanisms, broad social consensus, and close global partnerships are highlighted as the main factors for successful and sustainable development. With the proposition of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) in 2021 and the emphasis on the Green Silk Road, China may be a leader in achieving the goals. According to the SDGs Knowledge Platform [8], the PRC has eradicated extreme poverty, contributed to the development of the green economy, improved public health governance, built up economic development resilience, spearheaded international cooperation in the sphere of sustainable development all by 2021. Currently, the main remaining concerns are related to national decarbonization, international post-COVID recovery, and intensifying South-South cooperation. However, with the advanced international cooperation and the balance between the inward- and outward- looking policies, the set objectives appear within reach. The only concern is the reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. However, such issues are being tackled with the recently introduced Global Clean Energy Cooperation Partnership and International Forum on Energy Transitions (IRENA).

                                                                                                                                              In the Republic of India, in accordance with the 74th Constitutional Amendment, [9] a special role in exercising India's commitment to the SDGs is attributed to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) as the main sources of self-government. The National Institute for Transforming India (NITI), which was established in 2015 with the aim of providing policy inputs and evaluating and monitoring national data via regular review publications, plays a significant role in this endeavor. Accordingly, its main priorities in the 2030 Agenda are placed on SDG 1 "No poverty", SDG 6 "Clean water and sanitation" and SDG 11 "Sustainable cities and communities". Furthermore, two VNRs have been drafted so far, the most recent of which focused on institutionalizing health coverage, rural sanitation and economic growth empowerment. [10] Despite a commendable and ambitious start, India is largely criticized for being "behind" in realizing the SDGs, which was even more exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, India is ranked 112th in the SDG Index 2023, [11] with the most progress being made in SDG 1 "No poverty" and SDG 12 "Responsible consumption and production". However, with the New Delhi presidency in the G20 Forum and its consequent involvement with various BRICS projects such as the Environmentally Sound Technology (BEST) Platform, Partnership for Urban Environment Sustainability Initiative (PUESI) and MoU on Environmental Cooperation, the paradigm and role of India in sustainable development might shift.

                                                                                                                                              Strong Russia — BRICS cooperation in the sphere of sustainable development was reinforced after the introduction of international sanctions on the Russia following the start of Russia's special military operation. Despite losing several partnerships with the leading "green" economies, Russia has maintained its commitment to the "green" transition. According to the Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, [12] the main principles of the environmental agenda include: supporting non-politicized international efforts, non-interference with state internal affairs, considering global environmental regulations, and rational adaptation to the multi-faceted economic and social challenges that climate change generates. Among the main concerns, decarbonization policies, reliance on national "green" technology production and domestic consensus among the public and private stakeholders pose the greatest challenges. However, Russia has all the necessary resources not only to reach its set sustainable development goals but also to be a leader in the international arena, together with their allies and their corresponding trade capabilities. Like China, Russia aims to be carbon neutral by 2060 and has already implemented testing projects in the Sakhalin Oblast. Furthermore, regarding international standards on sustainable development, Russia is ranked 49th internationally [13] and has reached tremendous progress in SDG 1 "No poverty", SDG 4 "Quality education" and SDG 8 "Decent Work and Economic Growth". Moreover, it has submitted a VNR in 2020, according to which core work was oriented towards improving human capacity, eliminating territorial inequalities, combating global climate change and being an "active donor in the area of sustainable development assistance". [14] Overall, while balancing both national and international interests, Russia has immense potential in reaching the 2030 Agenda.

                                                                                                                                              South Africa has one of the highest income inequality index rankings [15] and ranks 110th in the SDG Index 2023, [16] having faced persistent challenges in achieving the SDGs. Despite the low indices, the government has taken significant steps, such as publishing the VNR in 2019 and its upcoming renewal in 2024, in line with the 2063 African Union's (AU) Agenda vision and National Development Plan (NDP). Accordingly, SDG 1 "No hunger", SDG 10 "Reduced inequalities" and SDG 16 "Peace, justice and strong institutions" are highlighted among South Africa's main priorities. Moreover, the VNR underlines the main challenges met in inequality reduction, violence against women, and decarbonization. In their "Call to Action" [17] in the second VNR of 2024, South African authorities emphasize involving the "whole-of-society", while focusing on SDG 1 "No poverty", SDG 2 "Zero hunger", SDG 13 "Climate action", SDG 16 "Peace, justice and strong institutions" and SDG 17 "Partnerships for the goals". Apart from national resources, the National Business Initiative (NBI) and the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA), together with free trade areas and bilateral corridors among BRICS members, all hint at vast potential for implementing the SDGs. Furthermore, the South African presidency in the 15th BRICS Summit and its promises to further cooperation resembles the country's ambitions for merging national interests with regional and global integration development plans.

                                                                                                                                              Finally, considering the high level of interest shown by Global South countries in becoming BRICS members, the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all been invited to join BRICS on the equal basis from January 1, 2024. Therefore, the inclusion of new members signals a potential for cooperation enlargement on the sustainable development front, where in spite of the absence of clear unified strategies, the enhancement of sustainable regional commitments is within reach, especially due to ideological commonalities and the necessity to balance out national interests and ambitious international objectives.

                                                                                                                                              Differences among BRICS members consist of a range of factors. One of the main characteristics is the nature of stakeholders involved in realizing the 2030 Agenda. For instance, while Russia and China deem the role of the government and enterprises as central, and Brazil considers civil society and subnational governmental agencies as the main actors implementing the SDGs, India and South Africa have taken on the "whole-of-society" approach. Additionally, each member-state has its own primary national interests and policy concerns that must be carefully examined in the framework of future cooperation. Furthermore, BRICS enlargement should be structured in a way that adheres to its main values and priorities. Finally, there are general obstacles in implementing the SDGs that can be summarized in several groupings: a) no "one fits all" strategy due to the broad criteria of the SDG targets and disparities in nation-states priorities; b) lack of supervising bodies with the authoritative enforcement mechanisms; c) obligational paucity in the 2030 Agenda; and d) lack of universal monitoring and evaluation criteria for realizing goals.

                                                                                                                                              Notwithstanding intra-BRICS differences, obstacles to SDGs implementation and the CBDR-RC principle, national peculiarities could become a driving factor in successful interstate cooperation due to the already existing cooperation mechanisms in place. Therefore, an efficient strategy would be to narrow the scope of preferences within the BRICS alliance due to the possibility of a more accurate supervision and standardization apparatus. One proposal could include the creation of a supervision agency that would coordinate national stakeholders under the auspices of BRICS and its understanding of sustainable development, and further transmit the development progress using the universal categories included in SDGs indices. This solution may strengthen cooperation and harmonize efforts taken by member states. Additionally, multi-party cooperation would help find an equilibrium in resource re-distribution and general capability imbalances, thus establishing a win-win strategy.

                                                                                                                                              The South-South cooperation model together with BRICS enlargement could lead to significant improvements in the sphere of sustainability. One key factor is the advancement of multilateral trade cooperation among platforms such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). Furthermore, integrative measures could be undertaken via ASEAN, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Further advancement could be achieved by attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) and urging the realization of official development assistance (ODA) promises. Additionally, the NDB of BRICS and the subsequent regional development banks could re-distribute funds for the efficient fruition of the 2030 Agenda. Finally, emphasizing people-to-people strategies and exchanging human resources would allow work to be completed successfully, guided by the main pillars and values of BRICS. All the above-mentioned strategies would allow for a truly multi-layered and encompassing solution to the objectives clearly laid out in the 2030 Agenda.

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                                                                                                                                              9. The Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992. URL:

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