Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 48.2023
2023.11.27 — 2023.12.03
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Tierra del Fuego: a new dimension to BRICS+ (Огненная Земля: новое измерение БРИКС+) / Russia, December, 2023
Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+

The declarations by the new authorities of Argentina regarding the country's plans not to accept the invitation to join BRICS may have led to consternation across the Global South. But what this BRICS expansion debacle has uncovered is a potential new dimension to the format of BRICS+ that may open new gateways to South-South cooperation. This new venue for BRICS+ was suggested by the authorities of Argentina's Southern-most region – Tierra del Fuego. In particular, Andrés Dachary, the Secretary of the region's external relations, declared that this Argentinian region was willing to become part of the BRICS+ cooperative framework that would bring together the various regions of BRICS+ countries. Such a proposal may deliver an important impulse to the crystallization of the BRICS+ concept in the direction of a multimodal platform that offers optionality to its participants on the possible pathways and formats of economic cooperation.

One issue needs to be clarified right away – Tierra del Fuego is not seeking membership in the BRICS core instead of Argentina (as was misleadingly implied in some of the media sources) – the official statement referred not to BRICS, but rather BRICS+ as the platform of economic cooperation in which this Argentinian region was seeking participation. Indeed, the key rationale provided by the Tierra del Fuego authorities with respect to establishing cooperation links with BRICS+ was the economic expediency of building ties with a "bloc that accounts for 25% of global GDP"[1] (with the recent wave of expansion this share will be somewhat higher). The statement itself is a call to "create a network of regions" as part of the BRICS+ platform, with Tierra del Fuego becoming part of such a cooperative network[2].

The proposal coming from Andrés Dachary is an important contribution to the evolution of the BRICS+ concept that so far is still in great need of greater clarity as well as academic and practical elaboration. In early 2017 when I first advanced the concept of BRICS+, it focused on the possibility of building a platform of cooperation among regional integration blocs, in which BRICS countries were members[3]. More recently, after the widening of the ranks of the BRICS core promulgated at the summit in South Africa in August 2023, BRICS+ started to be occasionally used to refer to the new expanded set of BRICS economies. Mr. Dachary's proposal may hopefully re-focus the evolution of the BRICS+ concept towards building a multimodal platform of economic cooperation not just for countries, but also regions and regional blocs. In fact, there is already a municipal BRICS+ forum that has taken place in Russia in the past several years that brings together representatives of the regional authorities and business circles from the developing world – the latest one took place in St. Petersburg on November 9-10, 2023[4]. In effect, there is already a platform for discussing the future modalities of economic cooperation among the sub-national regions of the BRICS+ world.

There are also several important observations to be made regarding the reaction of the BRICS to the developments in Argentina. First and foremost, the BRICS countries respect the choice of the Argentinian people in the elections and continue to express readiness to develop ties with this important Latin American economy[5]. The Argentinian episode in the BRICS expansion will also raise questions as to whether the expansion of the BRICS core was in fact the optimal path of the group's development compared to the scenario of expanding the BRICS+ cooperation and making this a flexible mechanism for cooperation for a wide variety of economic agents and constituencies across the Global South. An earlier and a more concerted effort to develop the various modalities of the BRICS+ format would have opened more options for sub-national constituencies, supra-national regional blocs and their development institutions to participate in a wide platform of South-South cooperation. In any case, the initiative from Tierra del Fuego should be taken as an opportunity to actively develop the BRICS+ concept into a cooperative economic platform that brings together regional blocs and sub-national regions/municipalities from the Global South.

In the end, there is a degree of symbolism in the declaration of the Tierra del Fuego on the willingness of this region to cooperate with BRICS-plus – it is that the appeal and the inclusiveness of BRICS+ has propagated throughout the expanses of the Global South and has reached its very outer limits. Tierra del Fuego, being the southernmost region in Argentina at the very edge of Latin America is sometimes referred to as "el fin del mundo" – the "edge of the world". It is from these very edges of the Global South that a rejuvenated effort to re-construct and re-imagine BRICS+ cooperation emanates – hopefully a new beginning that will be carried on in other parts of the BRICS+ space. And just like the light from far away quasars (the lighthouses for cosmic navigation) reveals the scale of our Universe, so too the messages from the "Lighthouse at the End of the World" (el Faro del fin del mundo)[6] tell us how great are the expanses of the Global South[7] and the promise of South-South economic cooperation.






[6] "The lighthouse at the end of the world" (Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse) is situated in Tierra del Fuego, not far from Ushuaia. "The Lighthouse at the End of the World" is also an adventure novel by French author Jules Verne – the novel was inspired by a different lighthouse at the Isla de los Estados (also Tierra del Fuego). Jules Verne at the start of the novel states, "the Argentine Republic had displayed a happy initiative in constructing this lighthouse at the end of the world".

[7] The distance between Ushuaia and Beijing is 18,300 km – this is close to the maximum antipodal distance between two points on planet Earth (antipodes) that equals approximately 20,000 km;

                Abstracts from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions at the Primakov Readings International Forum, Moscow, November 27 2023 (Отрывки выступления Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова и ответы на вопросы СМИ на Международном форуме «Примаковские чтения», Москва, 27 ноября 2023 г.) / Russia, November, 2023
                Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                Mr Dynkin,

                Colleagues, Your Excellencies,

                I see many friends in the audience. The tradition endures, and the Primakov Readings are becoming more popular with each passing year. This serves as a tribute to the memory of our teacher, Yevgeny Primakov, and showcases the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO)'s efforts to uphold his legacy and to promote the principles that he championed in international relations that are more pertinent today than ever.

                Collaborative intellectual work is what we need today. Yevgeny Primakov initiated situational analyses, which were vastly popular among scholars and NGOs. These analyses were used to develop numerous proposals that were subsequently applied in practical diplomacy.

                Global events are unfolding dynamically. To say so is an understatement. Many erstwhile "international relations constants," including major trends that are shaping the multipolar order, are being tested for strength and adequacy in the face of new realities. This process is intricate and all-encompassing. It did not begin yesterday and will take some time, even by historical standards. The outlines of a polycentric architecture have already begun to take shape.

                We have frequently discussed the emergence of new global development centres, primarily in Asia and Eurasia, the increasing autonomy and self-awareness of many developing countries, and their refusal to blindly follow former colonial powers, which are gradually, but objectively, losing their power and influence. Everything Yevgeny Primakov wrote and spoke about insightfully many years ago is unfolding before our eyes.

                From a historical perspective, multipolar systems are not new. They have existed in one form or another, such as during the Concert of Europe in the 19th century or between the two World Wars of the 20th century. Clearly, there were not many independent players on the world stage back then compared to today. Therefore, what could be considered the embryonic stages of multipolarity formed in a much narrower circle than the number of sovereign states we have today. After the Great Victory, the founders laid the foundation for multipolarity. The five most powerful nations became permanent members of the UN Security Council, reflecting the global balance of power and interests in 1945. In addition to the special position of the Big Five, the UN Charter embodies the principle of equal rights for all countries regardless of their size or the specifics of their history. Today, this is the cornerstone principle around which universal multipolarity will be built. The UN has fulfilled its primary role by preventing a new global war, but the noble idea of universal cooperation, equality, and prosperity did not come to pass. Cold War logic swiftly pushed the world toward division into opposing camps and ensuing opposition.

                The key difference of the current edition of multipolarity is the chance to acquire genuinely global proportions, relying on the fundamental principle of the UN Charter: the sovereign equality of states. Previously, decisions of global importance were driven by a small group of countries with the predominant voice coming from the Western community, for obvious reasons. Today, new players representing the Global South and Global East have stepped onto the international political stage. Their numbers are growing. We rightfully call them the Global Majority. They are strengthening their sovereignty in addressing pressing issues, demonstrating independence, and prioritising their national interests rather than someone else's whims. To back this up, I will cite my Indian colleague, Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar who said that the world is much more than just Europe. Clearly, this statement means that the world is much more than the West. Russia consistently advocates the democratisation of relations between countries and a fairer distribution of global benefits.

                There are many examples of how the trend towards multipolarity can be seen today, especially in the context of regional crises. This trend is prompting countries in different regions of the world to show solidarity. The current outbreak in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has become a catalyst for this solidarity as can be seen in the united actions of the Arab-Muslim world. Just last week, on November 21, an Arab League and an OIC delegation at the level of foreign ministers visited the capitals of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Moscow. At our meeting, we confirmed the need for an early and fair settlement of this conflict based on the two-state concept. This was the main signal sent by this joint delegation of the Arab League and the OIC to the capitals of the 'Five' and other UN member countries. Overall, the consensus in favour of the regional-solutions-to-regional-problems approach is increasingly gaining ground in the Middle East, Africa, the South Caucasus, Central Asia and Eurasia. The countries in the regions in question expect comprehensive support from outside players, not the imposition of foreign recipes. If a country wants to be helpful it should support the approaches drafted in a given region where those countries know much better how best to overcome various differences.

                I will repeat it – the geopolitical ambitions of the new global players are buttressed by their economic potential. As President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin said at the G20 extraordinary summit on November 22 this year, a "significant portion of global investment, trade and consumer activity is shifting to the Asian, African and Latin American regions, which are home to the majority of the world's population." Since 2014, China has been the world's first economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) for the population. The aggregate GDP of the BRICS countries has exceeded that of the G7, and also in PPP, since last year. When the new members join BRICS and start fully participate in the activities of the association on January 1, 2024, this advantage over the G7 will become much greater.

                In 2022, Russia was ranked fifth in the world in PPP, surpassing Germany despite the sanctions (or probably thanks to them).

                The world is changing, and multilateral diplomacy reflects this. BRICS cooperation is one of the best examples of this. In this framework, countries representing different civilisations, religions and macro-regions are effectively developing ties in the most diverse areas – from politics and security to the economy, finances, healthcare, sports and culture. Proceeding from the principles of equality and mutual respect, they are reaching a balance of interests via consensus. Nobody is imposing anything on anybody, nobody is blackmailing anyone and nobody forces anyone to make the choice: "it's either us or them," "either you're with us or against us." It's no surprise that dozens of states want to get closer to BRICS. The summit in Johannesburg took the first step on this path. The number of BRICS members will actually double. Another 20 states have made similar inquiries or would like to establish special, privileged relations with this association. Next year, Russia will be chairing BRICS which will no longer be the 'Five.' We will do everything we can for BRICS to strengthen its stature in the international arena and to continue playing an increasingly greater role in creating a fair world arrangement.

                The influence of BRICS members and like-minded nations within the G20 is on the rise. Recent G20 summits have reaffirmed the determination of the global majority countries not to let the West turn this forum, aimed at considering global financial and economic issues, into a tool to promote the narrow geopolitical objectives of the United States and its allies, as witnessed during the previous G20 summit, where they tried to focus exclusively on Ukraine. Similar attempts were made at the G20 summit in India, but failed. The summit focused on the core issues pursued by the G20 such as global economic and financial concerns, which dominated the resolutions adopted during the summit.

                The SCO is also contributing to the emergence of a multipolar world. It aims to play a unifying role in shaping the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which is designed to harmonise diverse integration projects on the continent and remain open to all countries and organisations in Eurasia, including the EAEU, ASEAN, and others. This philosophy was put forward by President Vladimir Putin in 2015 at the first Russia-ASEAN summit and is gaining increasing recognition. Many countries wish to either become full members or obtain observer or partner status with the SCO and with BRICS.

                Western politicians, albeit unwillingly, are beginning to acknowledge and absorb the new reality and are becoming aware of the end of unipolarity. Addressing the annual meeting of French ambassadors in late August, President of France Emmanuel Macron stated that the geopolitical balance of power is shifting away from the West. He presented this as a danger. In other words, the expansion of the aggressive NATO bloc is a "good" thing while the expansion of peaceable BRICS is viewed as a "threat." Clearly, this kind of a mindset runs deep, and one cannot rid oneself of these instincts overnight. We see the West making every effort to retain the remnants of its dominance, resorting to overtly neo-colonial methods that are met by the Global Majority with rejection. The goal of the West is simple and at the same time cynical. It is to continue reaping the benefits of global politics, the economy, and trade and live off of other nations' resources. Like the overwhelming majority of other countries, Russia will not accept these plans.

                In chasing their goals, the United States and its European allies employ a versatile geopolitical "engineering" toolset, including the provoking of conflicts (as seen along the entire perimeter of Russia's borders), conducting information and psychological warfare, and initiating trade and economic wars. The actions of the Western powers have led to blocking the activities of the World Trade Organisation, primarily its dispute resolution mechanisms. Fundamental legal foundations of global economic relations, such as free competition and the inviolability of property rights, have been undermined. The dollar has long been used as a weapon, and economic interdependence is being "weaponised" as well.

                The destructive actions of the Western minority have largely beaten their purpose, as they foster multipolar principles in international affairs. There is a growing understanding that no one is immune to the aggressive actions of Washington and Brussels.

                Not just Russia but many other states are consistently reducing their dependence on Western currencies, transitioning to alternative mechanisms for conducting foreign trade transactions and working towards building new international transport corridors and value chains.

                The unbalanced and unfair model of globalisation, where the golden billion enjoyed most of the benefits, is becoming a thing of the past. The participants in the Forum of the Opponents of Modern Neo-Colonial Practices will discuss concrete goals for democratising the global economic order. The forum, hosted by the United Russia party, is scheduled for early 2024.

                This is just one of the many initiatives our country will promote to advance the principles of the Foreign Policy Concept, which was substantively revised in March to reflect the new geopolitical reality. The emerging polycentric architecture should be inclusive and cooperative, rather than confrontational and should serve as a safeguard against dangerous conflicts between global powers.

                The idea of creating a global concept based on universally recognised principles and norms of international law, as well as respect for the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world and the right of nations to determine their own development paths, is shared by all countries.

                This work does not need to start from scratch. The foundation for a just and sustainable world already exists − the UN Charter. Its provisions should be fully and comprehensively adhered to, rather than selectively chosen, as some of our Western colleagues do when they pick and choose Charter principles to suit their immediate agendas. Undoubtedly, the United Nations should be carefully adapted to modern realities, with the reform of the Security Council being a top priority. It is important to address historical injustices that have arisen after the completion of the decolonisation process and the emergence of numerous young and modern states. These realities should be reflected in the membership of the UN Security Council. New members should come from developing regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They should hold authority in their respective parts of the world and in global organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement, or the Group of 77.

                International associations of a new type, which address all issues based on a balance of interests and consensus, play a crucial role in creating multipolarity. Along with BRICS, the SCO, and the EAEU, this includes the CSTO, the CIS, as well as ASEAN, the African Union, CELAC, the GCC, the LAS, and the OIC.Unfortunately, I have a pessimistic view regarding the future of alliances led by the United States and their allies – NATO, the EU, the Group of 77, and even the Council of Europe and the OSCE. The latter two were originally created as platforms for an inclusive and respectful pan-European dialogue. However, they are now being forced to serve the European Union and NATO and have become insignificant structures used by the West for self-serving political agendas.

                There is still a slim chance for the OSCE to be saved, but I must admit that the odds are not in its favour. In his remarks at the annual meeting of the Valdai Club on October 5, President Putin outlined several key principles for a more just and democratic order. These principles include openness and connectivity without communication barriers, respect for diversity as a foundation for collaborative development, broad representation in global governance, universal security based on a balance of interests, fair access to the benefits of progress, and equality for all − rejecting the dominance of the rich and powerful. I am confident that these approaches resonate with sensible individuals who have a stake or interest in international issues.

                With this understanding of multipolarity, we will continue to fight for truth and justice. We believe the voice of every country, regardless of its size, political structure, or level of economic development, must be heard. . In essence, we will uphold the values enshrined in the UN Charter in 1945. We will maintain close coordination with our allies and like-minded partners in the Global South and Global East. We will not close the door or window (President Putin made this clear recently) or shut out those in the historical West who are becoming aware of the realities and objective challenges of multipolarity, as articulated by Yevgeny Primakov some time ago.

                In the realm of diplomacy, our focus will be to ensure a consistent interpretation and practical application of all principles outlined in the UN Charter − a crucial aspect of our policy.

                Furthermore, we will continue to work on expanding the membership of the New York-based Group of Friends in Defence of the UN Charter, initiated by Venezuela, which is a promising alliance. This group currently consists of 20 states, and more countries are interested in joining its ranks.

                We will work consistently to strengthen other associations which contribute to the democratisation of international relations. For this, we always remain open to a candid and serious dialogue with anyone who values their national interests and is ready to reciprocate.

                Question: We have been publishing the Russia Today newspaper for about 30 years, and China Today for 15 years. Our group extensively covers the progress in relations between Russia, India, and China, as well as the unprecedented expansion of BRICS. The world centered around America is facing its end before our eyes, but it is still resisting.

                We see the North Atlantic alliance expanding to the east, in the Asia Pacific region (there is even talk about a Pacific NATO). This poses a threat to global security. What will be the response from Russia, China, BRICS, and all organisations that oppose such aggressive behavior?

                Sergey Lavrov: We are witnessing neo-colonial instincts in the West. There is a desire to continue living at the expense of others, as they have been doing for over 500 years. It is clear to everyone that this epoch is coming to an end. They are aware of that. Some people refer to the current Western attempts to preserve its hegemony as the agony of that epoch. This comparison has a right to exist, but the epoch will last long. It is not as if you wake up and see new fair rules in the world economy.

                The USA remains a powerful nation with a huge economy. The European Union has not lost its weight yet, although the process is underway and will accelerate. Due to certain circumstances, Russia has not been deeply involved in the globalisation model advanced and offered for everyone by the Americans, who literally say: "Use it!" Allegedly, all that was not done for them alone, and the dollar is a currency for everyone. Plus, all the other principles: property, presumption of innocence, and international law, which should be universally acceptable and applicable.

                All of that has been trampled upon and dumped instantaneously the moment they decided to "punish" the Russian Federation. The plan is to turn Ukraine into a direct threat to Russia, including the destruction and elimination of anything Russian in that country. The US and the UK planned to build naval bases on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The plan failed, and we responded the way we did. And it didn't happen overnight. We had been warning them for over eight years. We proposed treaties on European security that would provide stability on the continent without any expansion of military-political blocs. We were ready not to expand the CSTO. This has been going on since 2009.

                In December 2021, at Russian President Vladimir Putin's instruction, we handed over new and final proposals to the US, which were rejected. We were told, "What sort of security do you want?" Allegedly, legally guaranteed security can only be provided within NATO. The same answer was repeated when we reminded them that at the OSCE meeting in Astana in 2010, they had put their signature under the principle of indivisible security, according to which no organisation is entitled to dominate. This is exactly what they are doing.We asked why they were unwilling to provide legally binding guarantees to everyone, given that all OSCE members were in favor of it. Some junior diplomats in Brussels and Washington told us that they don't care a dime about what presidents and prime ministers, including their own, decided on indivisible security at OSCE summits – legal security guarantees are only available for NATO members. Therefore, they are trying to make the alliance more appealing and attract new members, despite their earlier promises.

                Russia was not deeply integrated into that model of globalisation. Our trade turnover with the US was insignificant. It was significant with the EU, but this is a story that began back in Soviet times. They tried to obstruct our cooperation, but it prevailed and became the foundation for Europe's prosperity and a solution to its socioeconomic problems at an unprecedented level.

                We worked with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but we were not as deeply involved in those systems as China or India, for example. Now they realise that they need to stand up for their independence. There are no doubts about that. We discuss this topic within BRICS and the SCO. Alternative payment platforms are being introduced, and the transition to national currency is progressing rapidly. However, New Delhi and Beijing are concerned about their interests and they see that their economies would suffer if they leave that system and start building new structures.

                There has been a gradual shift away from dependence on the dollar, payment systems, and supply chains that the West is creating. Nobody knows what will happen with the new US president in five or six years, which agreements he will withdraw from and which new ones he will advocate for. They have abandoned universal trade agreements in Asia and begun creating their own without China.

                India and China have understood this message and are starting to move towards reducing their dependence on the lawlessness of the creators of this model of globalisation, who still play a major role in it. This will not happen quickly and abruptly, as was the case with us. We were forced to act decisively and on a large scale in response to over 11,000 sanctions aimed at suffocating the Russian economy and worsening the living conditions of the people, with the hopes that they would rise up and revolt. They openly say that this is exactly what they want. If we look at the statistics on China's dollar reserves from three years ago and now, the situation speaks for itself. I believe our Indian friends are considering similar approaches. Nobody wants to become another hostage to a geopolitical nervous breakdown.We are not pressuring anyone. There are the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, and other structures. There are relations between the EAEU and the SCO, ASEAN, and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Sustainable forms of cooperation and servicing our economies are being discussed naturally, without being forced, at a grassroots level. The process is ongoing, but it will be a lasting one.

                Question: The possibility of introducing of a common currency within BRICS was extensively discussed at the BRICS summit this year. With Russia presiding over BRICS in 2024, will it raise this issue again? Are there any similar plans within the SCO?

                Sergey Lavrov: It was one of the most discussed issues at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva paid a great deal of attention to it. It did not surprise anyone, because when he became president again, before the summit, he called for working on the creation if not of a common currency, then at least a mechanism where national currencies would play a decisive role. He suggested doing it within CELAC and BRICS.

                As a result of these discussions, the association heads of state adopted a Declaration in Johannesburg, instructing finance ministers and central bank governors to prepare recommendations on alternative payment systems. We anticipate that these recommendations will be presented in 2024, and as Russia assumes the BRICS chairmanship, we will organise its thorough review with a focus on decision-making. In the SCO, there have been discussions on common payment platforms, but concrete instructions have not been developed yet.

                National currencies are increasingly replacing the dollar in our settlements with the People's Republic of China (up to 90 percent of payments are conducted in roubles and yuan). With India, it is either close to or slightly above 50 percent. The same figures hold true for all the other members of these associations.
                              The Possible Outcomes If Indonesia Joins BRICS (Возможные последствия присоединения Индонезии к БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2023
                              Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

                              Before we delve further into the complexity of the possibilities that could occur if Indonesia joins BRICS, it is important to know what BRICS is and the agenda it has. BRICS is an association of 5 countries consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This association was formed on the basis of the economic development of member countries which was considered to be progressing rapidly and could foster optimism towards resistance to the hegemonic power of the United States. Even though there was a lot of skepticism when BRICS was first formed, this association has developed into a government cooperation platform that is considered to have the potential to rival the G7 and will compete with the World Bank.

                              In 2014, BRICS launched 50 billion dollars as capital to form their own bank, in an effort to compete with the World Bank and IMF. This capital distribution also has concessions for member countries called Contingency Reserve Arrangements which help them when experiencing economic difficulties. Seeing this policy, many other countries want to join, including the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. This phenomenon is motivated by their experience with the IMF which is considered to have several structural problems. At the end of 2021, several countries will join the BRICS Bank, namely the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Bangladesh and Egypt.

                              In August 2023, the BRICS Conference will be held in South Africa and one of the agendas is to form a new currency. This step is considered a geopolitical effort to challenge domination by Western countries, especially the United States. Over the last few years, BRICS member countries have tried to reduce their dependence on the dollar currency. With the war between Russia and Ukraine which resulted in many US sanctions against Russia, it made it easier for this effort to be carried out. The increase in interest rates and the crisis of lending platforms against dollars is also one of the motivations for the formation of a new currency by BRICS. The potential future collapse of the dollar has made many other countries interested in plans to create new currencies. For now, BRICS is making efforts to develop plans internationally and stabilize new policies.

                              In 2022, overall, the BRICS had a trade surplus of $387 billion, largely from China's contribution. BRICS also stated that they are ready to provide self-sufficiency assistance in international trade for countries that have avoided other currency unions. Because the BRICS currency union will not be between countries united by a common territorial border, its members will likely be able to produce a wider range of goods than a monetary union. This policy confirms that there will be de-dollarization efforts carried out by BRICS.

                              What if Indonesia joins BRICS?

                              As one of the main players in ASEAN with rapid economic progress, Indonesia has expressed its interest in joining BRICS. Indonesia would likely get bigger platforms in voicing opinions and proposing new policies that could improve its diplomatic and economic conditions. With stronger ties among BRICS member countries, trade relations between related countries will certainly become stronger, so that they can contribute more surplus to the country's income. BRICS is an organization that is not completely dependent on the dollar and the United States economy, so this can open up new opportunities for Indonesia in establishing economic cooperation. Indonesia's interest in joining BRICS was strengthened by the presence of President Joko Widodo at the BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Many people think that if Indonesia joins BRICS, it will be both beneficial and detrimental.

                              As we know, of all the BRICS member countries, China and Russia play an important role and are countries with large economies, as competitors to the United States. With Indonesia's entry into BRICS, it will certainly ease existing obstacles in trade relations between these countries. Not only that, the presence of other member countries will provide wider market opportunities for alternative exports outside China. BRICS member countries are emerging market countries, owning control 30% of total global GDP, so it will provide more opportunities for new cooperation for Indonesia in terms of economic and trade.

                              The Upside

                              Indonesia is currently very focused on the infrastructures sector, with China as the country that dominates investment in many projects. If Indonesia joins BRICS, there is a possibility that the flow of investment will be smoother and will not be dominated only by China, but also other member countries. The high level of incoming investment will open up more job opportunities and can even create economic equality that brings welfare to its people. Cooperation between countries is likely to boost its education system as well, so that it can create many scholarships, research grants, and student exchange programs. Focusing on a broader spectrum, Indonesia is rich in culture which is one of its diplomatic tools, so that Indonesia can have the opportunity to bring its culture to greater exposure. Concerns about rising US interest rates are increasingly motivating Indonesia to join BRICS so that it will reduce their dependence on the hegemonic powers of Western countries.

                              The Downside

                              Indonesia is famous for its non-alignment policy, joining BRICS could bring Indonesia to shift power policy. So far Indonesia has succeeded in balancing its diplomatic relations with superpower countries, namely China and the United States. Inequality in diplomatic conditions might occur if Indonesia joins BRICS. It could be predicted that Indonesia's entry into BRICS will create a ripple effect. Indonesia as one of the key members in ASEAN can also lose the trust of ASEAN member countries, they would likely see Indonesia's movement is drifting away from its goals and principles of ASEAN.

                              Not only that, Indonesia has intensively carried out resource nationalism efforts, as evidenced by several bans on exports of minerals such as nickel and steel. With the strength of political protectionism that Indonesia has been pursuing over the last few years, if this country finally joins BRICS, it will bring a bigger gamble because the share of resources and information will increase rapidly among BRICS member countries. This can only be predicted whether it will benefit or harm Indonesia.

                              So far there is still a lot of speculation circulating about whether Indonesia will join BRICS. This movement is very crucial and must be highly considered about in detail, looking at all aspects of existing policies. BRICS is an organization with many stakeholders, hence there will be a lot of consideration and discussion in every policy and collaboration that will be made. Indonesia needs to weigh the percentage of all possible negative and positive effects that could arise if it joined BRICS. With the upcoming presidential election next year and President Joko Widodo will not seek re-election, there are internal concerns about whether his various policy progress will be continued by his predecessor. This problem itself is quite complicated, let alone consider all the possibilities for Indonesia's cooperation with the BRICS member countries that could change its whole existing partneships with countries involved.

                                            Pakistan's BRICS Aspiration (Стремление Пакистана к БРИКС) / USA, November, 2023
                                            Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

                                            Speculation about Pakistan's interest in joining BRICS has persisted for some time. However, on November 23, the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan officially confirmed that the country has submitted its application. "We believe that by joining BRICS, Pakistan can play an important role in furthering international cooperation and revitalizing inclusive multilateralism," a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in announcing the bid for membership. "We also hope that BRICS will move forward on Pakistan's request in line with its commitment to inclusive multilateralism."

                                            The decision now rests with the existing BRICS members – a grouping that includes India, Pakistan's arch-rival.

                                            Evidently, Pakistan's decision to seek BRICS membership underscores its acknowledgment of the group's escalating influence amid rapidly evolving regional and global geopolitics. This move by Islamabad reflects its keenness to engage more proactively with emerging global power centers. Notably, the timing of Pakistan's BRICS membership request aligns with the group's active efforts to expand its reach and enhance its influence.

                                            BRICS, formed in 2010, initially comprised Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. However, at this year's summit the grouping made the decision to expand, with six new members set to join in 2024: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

                                            India is said to have blocked Pakistan from joining as an observer at a dialogue last year. However, Islamabad is now looking to join BRICS as a full member, with the expectation that forthcoming decisions within the group will prioritize inclusiveness.

                                            The outcome of Pakistan's membership bid will be a focal point at the upcoming 2024 BRICS summit. Unlike the United Nations, within BRICS there is no option for abstention – only a definitive yes or no. While India's response to Pakistan's potential BRICS admission remains a critical consideration, Pakistan is actively engaging with member nations, with a particular emphasis on garnering support from Russia and China.

                                            Pakistan has long had a rock-solid relationship with China, and it is now looking to shore up support from Russia, which will host the next BRICS summit. The level of enthusiasm Pakistan receives from Moscow during Russia's turn as BRICS chair could be crucial to Islamabad's membership bid. In the pursuit of Russia's support, Pakistan's recently appointed ambassador to Russia, Muhammad Khalid Jamali, expressed the nation's aspiration to become a part of this consequential organization.

                                            In an era of shifting global dynamics, the BRICS alliance stands as a formidable force in fostering economic collaboration and advancing political influence among its member nations. The BRICS countries function as an organization aiming to strengthen economic cooperation and elevate the economic and political status of their member nations on the global stage. As of 2023, the original five BRICS nations represent 40 percent of the world population, and 31.5 percent of global GDP, surpassing the 30.7 percent of the G-7 nations. Analysts predict that by 2050, BRICS economies could dominate the global economy, and the group's expansion may enhance its influence in the existing global order.

                                            The group shares common objectives that encompass addressing regional challenges, addressing financial and economic issues such as reforms at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and creating the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism. Positioned as a counterforce to the traditional Western-dominated global order, some member states perceive the organization as a means to increase their influence on the global stage. Despite the potential to emerge as a formidable economic bloc, the BRICS nations are not poised to evolve into a political alliance similar to the European Union (EU) or even a formal trading association.

                                            As it seeks to expand its influence in a global order primarily shaped by the United States, the BRICS group confronts several challenges, including a widening developmental and economic gap among its member states. Some nations within the group grapple with issues related to security and political stability. While a prevailing perspective asserts that economic prowess translates into political influence on the global stage, disparities in geopolitical matters constrain the group's unified action on various global issues. Member countries often adopt opposing stances on numerous regional and global matters, meaning BRICS operates more as an informal annual gathering than a cohesive force.

                                            The primary focus remains on fostering economic cooperation, and the recent expansion of the group with the inclusion of six additional nations is poised to enhance its strategic options. Many BRICS nations are also part of the G-20, and the establishment of a parliamentary forum aims to fortify contacts at the leadership level.

                                            The BRICS stands at a critical juncture while navigating the challenges and prospects arising from its expansion. Its effectiveness in reshaping global governance and preserving credibility will be determined by its ability to cultivate consensus within its diverse membership.

                                            The enlarged membership of the group presents a potential dilemma. The inclusion of U.S. allies like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, alongside nations with uncertain or opposing stances toward the United States, may impede efforts to strengthen collaboration among member states. A crucial decision lies ahead for members: Whether BRICS is to function as a coalition of emerging economies advancing their interests in a multipolar world order or take on a more overtly anti-Western orientation, a preference notably endorsed by China and Russia.

                                            In the realm of BRICS, defined by competing national interests, China and Russia navigate their geoeconomic and geostrategic objectives. China aims to advance its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) within the framework of this forum, and will recognize that the timely and efficient completion of this colossal project hinges on Pakistan's inclusion.

                                            In this scenario, the primary hurdle is presented by India, which has already wielded its veto power to obstruct Pakistan's BRICS application. India's likely opposition stands as a significant impediment for China and Russia in their efforts to secure Pakistan's participation.

                                            However, the more formidable impediment for Pakistan in this forum is its economic crisis. BRICS is, first and foremost, a group of emerging economies, and Pakistan's current struggles in that arena might disadvantage its membership bid.

                                            Despite being classified as a developing economy, Pakistan has faced economic setbacks in recent years due to persistent political instability. The country is currently reliant on IMF bailouts, and grappling with an inflation rate exceeding 31 percent. Political instability further exacerbates its challenges. If admitted, Pakistan would potentially be the weakest BRICS member.

                                            BRICS can afford to be selective, as Pakistan is only one of a rising number of nations to have expressed interest in joining the group. According to BRICS, more than 40 countries have signaled their desire to become part of the forum.

                                            On the other hand, Pakistan's inclusion in BRICS could be crucial for the enhancement of its economy, allowing Pakistan to foster a healthy import-export cycle by cultivating trade ties with these nations. Seen in this way, BRICS participation is instrumental for Pakistan's economic revitalization and the collective development of the region.

                                            The approval of Pakistan's membership application in the 2024 summit would undeniably be advantageous for Islamabad. It would unlock a spectrum of opportunities, encompassing trade investments and political backing. The potential inclusion of Pakistan in BRICS also stands to yield positive repercussions for the geopolitical dynamics not only in South Asia but also beyond. It would signify a broader representation of South Asia within the group, augmenting the collective strength and stature of the economic bloc.

                                            However, Pakistan confronts several challenges in joining this forum, given that decisions are made through consensus. The crucial factor to watch is whether India will provide its consent.

                                                          Investment and Finance
                                                          Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                          BRICS countries collaborate to mobilise climate finance at COP28 in UAE (Страны БРИКС сотрудничают в мобилизации климатического финансирования на COP28 в ОАЭ) / India, December, 2023
                                                          Keywords: economic_challenges, ecology

                                                          The BRICS nations are actively collaborating to accelerate sustainable finance within the group and implement joint climate and sustainability projects.

                                                          This effort hinges on harmonising their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) financial infrastructure.

                                                          Harmonisation is crucial for bolstering investor confidence and reducing barriers to capital flow.
                                                          In situations where the global financial system falls short of providing adequate inclusive climate investments for developing nations, the BRICS initiative takes on even greater significance.
                                                          A session addressing this topic will be held at the Russian Pavilion during the now-running COP28 on 6th December titled, "Ahead of Russia's BRICS Presidency: Developing energy cooperation for a just energy transition".

                                                          It will delve into the results of the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform's work in 2023. Focus areas include energy security, training personnel for the energy sector, developing national energy transition models, and charting the course for energy dialogue during Russia's BRICS Presidency in 2024.

                                                          A more comprehensive session will be held on December 12th also at the Russian pavilion titled "Harmonisation of responsible finance infrastructure in BRICS countries: Paving the way to a common sustainable future".

                                                          Speakers will explore joint actions necessary for mobilising climate and sustainable financing. Additionally, participants will discuss opportunities for developing and implementing common recommendations, standards, and requirements in the field of sustainable finance, aligning with BRICS countries' sustainable development priorities.

                                                          The session will also propose key steps towards harmonising ESG finance infrastructure. A panel of distinguished speakers representing BRICS financial institutions, government officials, and leading research institutions will lead the discussion.

                                                          As Russia prepares to assume the BRICS Presidency, it remains committed to engaging in ongoing discussions with its partners to ensure a just energy transition.

                                                          With the UAE's recent official accession to BRICS, the group strengthens its commitment to multilateral action and constructive dialogue. This platform provides a powerful voice for developing and emerging economies on the global stage.
                                                                        Reducing the inherent risks in BRICS currency to the global acceptable level. How BRICS currency can coexists with US dollars (Снижение присущих валюте БРИКС рисков до глобально приемлемого уровня. Как валюта БРИКС может сосуществовать с долларами США) / Canada, November, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: research, economic_challenges


                                                                        The Word BRICS is an acronym of the initials of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. BRICS is formed in the year 2010. Although the name was originally BRIC before the inclusion of South Africa in Dec 2010

                                                                        The BRICS nations encompass about 27% of the world's land surface and 42% of the global population and are considered to be current superpowers, or potential emerging superpowers. All five states are members of the G20, with a combined nominal GDP of US$28 trillion (about 27% of the gross world product), a total GDP (PPP) of around US$57 trillion (33% of global GDP PPP), and an estimated US$4.5 trillion in combined foreign reserves (as of 2018). This is a massive advantage to BRICS nations as their intention is actually to weaken the impact and the strength of US dollars and if they are able to do this successfully, they have successfully reduced US economic power.

                                                                                      World of Work
                                                                                      SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                                      The significance of the social dimension in BRICS development (Значение социального измерения в развитии БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion

                                                                                      The ESG paradigm that became so prevalent in the corporate sector of the global economy in recent years often prioritized more stringent environmental standards, with the Social and the Governance elements being accorded at times secondary importance. This has also been the case with many emerging markets, where the rush to secure higher ESG ratings was accompanied by a relatively lower emphasis placed on the attainment of higher social responsibility standards. For BRICS economies, however, in view of their socio-economic fundamentals characterized by high income and regional inequalities, the key priorities within the ESG triad need to focus on the social and governance areas.

                                                                                      In terms of the existing ESG rankings across countries (with all the reservations regarding their methodology and the relevance of such rankings at country level) BRICS+ economies do not perform too well – an ESG risk ranking compiled by Global risk profile[1] suggests that most of the BRICS5 economies have a "medium" ESG risk, while for India ESG risks are estimated as "high", mostly on account of the significant environmental concerns. For a wider set of BRICS11/BRICS+ economies some of the ESG ratings are even worse – as is the case with Ethiopia (very high), Egypt (high) and Iran (high). The only BRICS11 economy with a low ESG risk rating is Argentina.

                                                                                      One of the reasons why the social element needs to be prioritized within the ESG strategies of BRICS+ corporates is the high levels of income inequality across the largest BRICS+ economies. As measured by the Gini coefficient income inequality in South Africa and in Brazil are among the highest in the world. Inequality levels in other BRICS are notably higher than in European economies and close to US levels. There is a further dimension to these imbalances in the form of high regional inequalities across BRICS – for example between coastal and inland regions in China or between Moscow/oil-rich regions vs the rest in Russia.

                                                                                      Another socio-economic dimension is the high share of the population across BRICS living in poverty. Focusing on poverty reduction is becoming all the more critical, as the long-term trend of poverty decline observed in the developing world has either slowed down or was reversed[2]. According to the estimates derived from the Poverty and Inequality Platform (PIP) of the World bank the share of poor people living on less than USD 6.85 (2017 PPP) a day increased in 2023 by 0.2 percentage points compared to September 2022 from 46.7% to 46.9%. The absolute figure of people living in poverty reached 3.634 bn, of which more than 42% is accounted for by South Asia (an increase of 24 million people in absolute terms) and nearly 27% by Sub-Saharan Africa.

                                                                                      A further facet to the socio-economic challenges across many emerging markets is the legacy of past episodes of lost savings that affect trust and business confidence at corporate and national economy levels. One example of such legacy issues is the 1990s period in Russia, when the population lost its savings multiple times as a result of the freezing of deposits in the banking sector, bank failures, pyramid schemes, exchange rate devaluations, etc. But despite the socio-economic imbalances and the lingering legacy issues that are yet to be fully addressed in state-owned companies, CEO remuneration is at times either on par or well in excess of Western benchmarks, while ESG is more of a "green fad" that accords at times only token attention to social issues.

                                                                                      In view of the above, a corporate governance agenda that employs the ESG paradigm to address the notable socio-economic imbalances in the BRICS+ space may include the following:

                                                                                      • An ESG strategy for the largest corporates that explicitly prioritizes social development, including higher standards of social security support
                                                                                      • An explicit recognition of the need to cater to the interests of a wider array of stakeholders for BRICS corporates, including employees and local communities
                                                                                      • A cap on CEO and top management remuneration levels, particularly for state-owned companies
                                                                                      At the level of macroeconomic policy, the prioritization of social development will need to target lower poverty levels and improved conditions for "human capital" development – the resulting macroeconomic policy mix will need to include:

                                                                                      • Fiscal policy (taxation): progressive income taxation and a tax burden that provides sufficient revenues to support a stronger social safety net
                                                                                      • Fiscal policy (spending): outlays prioritize education, health care, digital inclusion, financial inclusion
                                                                                      • Monetary policy: a conservative approach that aims at low inflation, a stable exchange rate and lower dollarization
                                                                                      • Active labour market policies, targeting low unemployment
                                                                                      • Greater use of economic policy rules geared towards lowering the scale of volatility in key macroeconomic aggregates
                                                                                      A greater prioritization of economic policies of the BRICS members around these macroeconomic priorities may provide greater scope for economic policy harmonization and coordination across the BRICS/BRICS+ platform. Such policy coordination in turn may improve the possibilities for creating BRICS+ trade and investment alliances along with the centrality of social protection and the provision of high social security standards.

                                                                                      Overall, with Western economies advancing the ESG agenda, developing countries could render such a paradigm more socially focused, with all three elements – environmental, social, governance – geared towards attenuating the sizeable socio-economic imbalances observed across the BRICS+ space. While for Western companies and national economies levels of inequality and poverty are not as extreme and there is a tendency there to focus more on the environmental agenda within the ESG strategies, the socio-economic landscape in BRICS+ argues in favour of according significantly more weight to community development, lowering inequality levels and poverty reduction. If BRICS+ is to project a more balanced and just approach to global governance on the international stage, its credibility would be enhanced by a more socially focused corporate and economic development agenda.
                                                                                                    Institutionalization of BRICS: From Literature Review to Making Reality (Институционализация БРИКС: от обзора литературы к воплощению в жизнь) / Russia, November, 2023
                                                                                                    Keywords: social_issues

                                                                                                    As BRICS becomes more grounded, the question arises as to what kind of institutionalization the
                                                                                                    group needs to make it more effective and to give it more content.

                                                                                                    Suresh P. Singh and Memory Dube

                                                                                                    With the group's expansion, the need for institutionalization and apparatus-creation has seemingly become more visible. For the purposes of the article, institutionalization is defined as "the act or process of establishing a group, movement, program, etc., as a permanent and publicly recognized entity for the promotion of a particular cause". This process of institution-creation is considered crucial for structure provision and result delivery. Therefore, for the group's ambitions to be attained, one has to consider some of the obstacles lying on the way to a successful institutionalization, and further propose its own unique structure. The article goes as follows: it starts off with a literature review, moving on to an analysis of the existent and similar-to-BRICS institutions, to give further consideration of the BRICS specificities as an alliance.

                                                                                                    Prominent scholars made various suggestions regarding the group's institutionalization practices, the main of which refers to the establishment of the NDB and the CRA as "the first successful attempt to institutionalize the group", or "a major step towards the institutionalization of an economic agenda". However, for the clear creation of the institution, one has to be thoughtful of the kind of institution in question. In 2014, in light of the 6th BRICS Academic Forum, the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) shared a brief description of the alliance: "As a group, BRICS has an informal character. There is no charter, it does not work with a fixed secretariat, nor does it have any funds to finance its activities. Ultimately, what sustains the mechanism is the political will of its members. However, BRICS have a degree of institutionalization which is defined as the five countries intensify their interaction." Moreover, with the current BRICS features, the alliance is often compared to the G7, "an informal grouping of advanced democracies that meets annually to coordinate global economic policy and address other transnational issues", and quite similarly lacks any legal or institutional basis. Such a linkage is understandable due to a very similar informal structure, encompassing the following: annual Summits of the Heads of State and Government with a rotating presidency, ministerial meetings, and working groups, among others. Despite frequent comparisons, BRICS representatives underline: "We do not want to be a counterpoint to the G7, G20 or the United States". Furthermore, the group's functionality scope has expanded both in width and depth; the nature of the alliance encompasses a unique feature combination and claims for South-South cooperation; and the group's expansion has become a promising factor for its role in the international arena. Therefore, despite not being a formal intergovernmental organization (IGO), the prerequisites for such a tendency exist. Thus, for the purposes of the article, the BRICS alliance is defined as an informal intergovernmental organization that naturally requires further institutionalization for a higher level of operationalization and functionality.

                                                                                                    "Informal institutionalization, characterized by a preference for informal arrangements premised on convention and mutual understanding rather than formal rules, sets clear limits for potential actorness", said Dr. Jens-Uwe Wunderlich. The author continues: "In contrast, more formalized institutionalization enhances internal cohesion and representation in international affairs." Therefore, the institution-building process impacts international actorness in various ways: "First, it determines issues of representation. Second, it influences internal cohesion through a culture of rules, norms and compliance mechanisms. And third, it defines decision-making processes and the articulation of collective interests." Furthermore, it is crucial to underline the institutional deficiencies identified in the capability-expectations gap (CEG) by Christopher Hill. Commenting on the concept creation, the author indicates the "gap between capabilities and expectations [was] seen as the significant difference which had come about between the myriad hopes and demands of the EU as an international actor, and its relatively limited ability to deliver". Drawing comparison with the BRICS development over time, it could be argued that the CEG, comprised of resources, instruments and cohesiveness on the one hand, and internal and external expectations on the other, has been narrowing due to the growing range of capabilities and a proportionate expectation level. Despite some authors arguing that informal organizations provide for a degree of flexibility and adjustment and are therefore more appealing to some actors, all these arguments attest to the importance of institutionalization.

                                                                                                    An article argues for the three main features to be predominant in institution identification, namely: a) deliberation system, "institutional spaces where the states carry out the negotiation process in order to establish an agreement or consensus", b) informational system, "the set of rules and regulations aimed to solve and regulate the information flows that are institutionally produced", and c) institutional incentive system, "the set of norms and rules that regulate the behavior of the actors in order to induce certain behaviors and discourage others". Regarding BRICS, institutional practices are comprised of deliberation spaces such as annual executive summits, ministerial meetings, mainly in the areas of finance, foreign affairs, or health, technical-bureaucratic meetings, either autonomous or delegated, and people-to-people contacts. Further, the paper notes the importance of Declarations as the main outcome within the informational system domain. Finally, institutional incentives are provided, among which the economic and financial ones are largely represented by the NDB and CRA establishment. The author concludes that intergovernmentalism to predominates the members' relations, underlining they "[...] have not waived sovereignty of any kind before BRICS' organizations, but have sought to establish common norms and rules that allow them to achieve the necessary consensus without having to resign sovereign competence on the way." Indeed, the most common view regarding BRICS institutionalization suggests that the processes have already started with the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). Another study considers the degree of the group's institutionalization within the framework of its outreach, or "collaborative interaction among the BRICS actors [...] and other actors within and outside the BRICS area". The study suggests that "the institutionalization of the BRICS outreach is a function of the cohesion of the BRICS outreach strategy, which in turn is linked to the overall political cohesion of BRICS", and concludes that distrust, divergence, and the group's relatively immature nature are the main consolidation obstacles. Significantly, the NDB "presents a stronger degree of outreach institutionalization and [...] political cohesion within the thematic domain of infrastructure financing". On a contrary, a report by the National Committee for BRICS Research argues for the alliance to be "a consolidating core of rising civilizations and powers". Further, the paper assumes: "This involves the institutionalization of the BRICS as a full-featured intercivilizational union with the General Secretariat, with the interaction between the executive, legislative and sectoral bodies, scientific, educational and informational base, relying on a system of interstate agreements."

                                                                                                    A research paper proposed four possible forms of the group's institutionalization:

                                                                                                    1. conservative — development of institutionalization processes along the traditional path of cooperation expansion,
                                                                                                    2. more active development of bilateral relations and the use of the best bilateral practices to create new multilateral interaction mechanisms within the BRICS framework,
                                                                                                    3. more active interaction of individual BRICS participants within the framework of other international organizations to which they are part of, and the subsequent implementation of such mechanisms within the BRICS alliance, and
                                                                                                    4. creation of new institutions that would have a multiplier effect on the group's development (i.e. the NDB).
                                                                                                    This article suggests all the aforementioned forms of institutionalization processes can be present and interwoven within the BRICS alliance. Commenting on the institutionalization perspectives, another article proposes a mainstream horizontal integration model in which no rigid subordination or integration interdependence exists, therefore corresponding to the main principles of multipolarity creation. Gleb Toropchin mentions the lack of official institutionalization, further highlighting: "Nonetheless, in practice, principles of the existence of BRICS have already been defined de facto, entreching them is the next step in this direction."

                                                                                                    Indeed, there is a substantial degree of existing operationalization mechanisms that could become the group's institutional basis. The BRICS Parliamentary Forum's mission "is to intensify concerted efforts to address mutual concerns and to persistently strengthen the inter-parliamentary relations of BRICS Member States, underscoring the fact that robust parliamentary cooperation is fundamental to the essence of BRICS cooperation". Indeed, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation published a note after the XV BRICS Summit, where it stressed its support for "further efforts towards a more inclusive BRICS, institutionalization of its parliamentary dimension, and expansion of people-to-people contacts". Ministerial and High Representatives meetings become a more recurrent feature within this intergovernmental organization, allowing the actors to exchange views on major global and regional issues. Furthermore, a complex nature of cooperation already exists in separate spheres and can be traced in the content of the group's annual declarations. In the security sphere, the nations recall their determination for peace and development under the "African solutions to African problems" principles, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the promotion of a lasting settlement to the Syrian crisis, and many others. In the same sphere, the call for strengthening disarmament and non-proliferation is often made. Furthermore, counter-terrorism measures remain of high significance. On the economic frontier, one could recall the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025, the Strategy on Food Security Cooperation of the BRICS countries, the BRICS Digital Economy Working Group, the BRICS Partnership on the New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), and many others. Numerous documents were signed in the spheres of finances, trade and innovation, such as the BRICS Understanding on Investment Facilitation, the Memorandum of BRICS DFIs Principles for Responsible Financing, and the Memorandum of Understanding Among BRICS Trade and Investment Promotion Agencies (TIPAs)/Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs), among others. Furthermore, special attention is given to sustainable development, in which the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) is reaffirmed. Finally, the BRICS Academic Forum, the BRICS Think Tank Council, and the general work of the BRICS Working Group on Culture are some of the examples in the cultural sphere of "people-to-people" cooperation. Thus, the working scope of the alliance is broad and requires a more coordinated operationalization mechanism, especially in light of the group's expansion. Below, theoretical and practical criteria are combined to propose a BRICS institutional structure.

                                                                                                    Considering theoretical framework, IGOs are created through multilateral treaties "that act like a constitution in that the states parties are consenting to be bound by the treaty that sets up the agencies, functions, and purposes of the organization". Further, an IGO requires a legislative body that will create legal acts and thus bind its members under international law, an executive body that will facilitate its operationalization, and a dispute resolution mechanism. The general structure consists of "a small executive council, a plenary assembly in which all members are represented [...], a secretariat that performs the day-to-day administrative activities of the organization, and subsidiary organs that perform special functions".

                                                                                                    Considering practical implications, one could draw comparisons with intergovernmental organizations that have undergone institutionalization. Alice D. Ba explores ASEAN institutionalization practices and argues for a more unconventional understanding, in which "some of the most durable ("institutionalized") practices are not products of such legal or centrally enforced structures at all, but rather the discipling norms and social conventions of a given community". The author further underlines the importance of the non-interference principle reflected in the nature of cooperation, not "necessarily harmonized in the sense of standardization or homogenization". Further, Alice D. Ba comments: "Consensus decision-making contrasts with majority-rules decision-making, where minority states must subordinate their own concerns to those of the majority. Consensus is about respect for national self-determination and mutual accommodation towards an outcome that all can support." The lack of binding mechanisms and subsequent non-compliance are named among the deficiencies of such an organizational structure. Alice D. Ba responds that "they nevertheless exert strong regulatory pressures on the kinds of cooperation states are able to pursue" in the region and have to be considered not under the legal and contractual forms of cooperation but in light of institutionalization as "the process by which practices are made more dependable". Anticipating potential criticism for the group's heterogeneity and present bilateral disputes and drawing a comparison with the ASEAN countries, keeping bilateral conflicts off the organization's agenda, or referring to other international organizations for settling disputes is not contrary to its norms and practices. All the aforementioned features could be considered for BRICS institution-building.

                                                                                                    The proposals made below assume that the group will decide to deepen its integration processes and become a formal alliance, while at the same time respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state, thus not imposing any obligatory decisions but rather strengthening already existing institutionalization premises and securing its role in the international arena. Thus, a parallel comparison could be drawn with the ASEAN or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), rather than the EU due to the deep integration processes inferring the principle of non-interference strongly present in the latter. The ASEAN Charter, for instance, directly states "respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all ASEAN Member States" and "non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN Member States". Importantly, Article 5.2 mentions "the enactment of appropriate domestic legislation, to effectively implement the provisions of this Charter and to comply with all obligations of membership". Thus, Charter creation would be seen as the first step towards institutionalization and would allow the organization to obtain a legal personality, enhance institutional accountability and compliance, and reinforce the role of the BRICS as a serious international actor. Then, the processes could take on various modalities. In terms of structural integration, the main decision-making organ could comprise all the member states on an equal footing in the form of the Head Commission and thus enshrine the consensus principle. Drawing parallels with the GCC Supreme Council, it "shall be formed of heads of member states", and "its presidency shall be rotatory based on the alphabetical order of the names of the member states", clearly resembling the BRICS Summits organizational structure. Similarly, the functions of the ASEAN Summit (Article 7 of the Charter), such as policy guidance provision, ministerial instructions, and emergency situations addressed, among others, could be enshrined in the functionality width of a similar BRICS Summit organ. The potential legislative branch could be represented in the form of the BRICS Parliament and Ministerial Council. Again referring to the GCC Charter, the functions of such an organ would consist of, but not be limited to, the following: "Propose policies, prepare recommendations, studies and projects aimed at developing cooperation and coordination between member states in various fields and adopt the resolutions or recommendations required in this regard." For the betterment of administrative coordination, the BRICS Secretariat, constructed of independent national secretariats, could be appointed. Finally, the Commission for Dispute Settlement is to be established for the provision of intra-conflict dispute resolution mechanisms.

                                                                                                    In terms of horizontal institution-building, special attention should be given to determining sectoral sub-organs. The main areas of cooperation could be traced through the group's declarations and summits' orientation. Thus, from this standpoint, one could consider potential organs that could be established. To name the most visible ones, the division could be done along the main three spheres: a) political-security, b) financial-economic, and c) socio-cultural — all in accordance with the core BRICS values and principles of sustainable development. These main organs should each have an organizational structure with agreed-upon full consensus principles and guidelines. To avoid the creation of just another organization, more proactive and substantive measures could be taken in each field. For instance, the establishment of a counterterrorism working group in a region prone to high levels of terrorist acts, merging efforts with the African Union and Caribbean Community (Caricom) for the establishment of a reparation fund, or easing visa requirements and procedures among the allied countries. In addition to the main sub-organs, a special body coordinating regional efforts could be put in place. An important role in the XV BRICS Summit was dedicated to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Importantly, BRICS member states encompass a large network of regional organizations such as the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), African Union (AU), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), thus creating some sort of BRICS Plus or BRICS Outreach alliance, which also should be coordinated for the betterment of its efficiency. Importantly, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should undergo strict scrutiny at every level of operations to avoid mismanagement due to the large working scope of the organization and its organs. "There is a need for target-driven and time-bound deliverables accompanied by appropriate measures and mechanisms for delivery and implementation that are tied to adequate monitoring systems", noted Suresh P. Singh and Memory Dube on the "definite way of cementing the institutionalization of BRICS".

                                                                                                    Special attention should be drawn once again to the purposes of such an alliance. To ensure a truly multipolar world, the countries of the Global North should be invited to engage with the group in various fields and be a part of the decision-making power, but with a careful consideration of all parties' interests at stake. Among other recommendations, some authors draw attention to peer learning promotion, grassroots civil society dimension expansion, and R&D expenditure.

                                                                                                    There is no agreement regarding the definition of the group. The article determined that the alliance at its current stage represents an informal intergovernmental organization, and thus can become formal with further institutionalization processes. A wide range of considerations were given to the theoretical framework of institutionalization. Briefly, the literature review was proposed to consider various views on the BRICS placement, both in its institution-building processes and general South-South cooperation structure. Further, the article considered existing cooperation mechanisms that could serve as the basis for institutionalization, such as the BRICS Parliamentary Forum or the BRICS Digital Economy Working Group. The ASEAN transition to a formal international body was considered a potential model, mainly due to its similarities with the BRICS features, such as consensus decision-making processes or a rigid non-interference position. Some relevant input was made when compared to the GCC. Finally, a unique institutional structure was proposed. Other scholars could contribute to the analysis by considering an alternative functional institutional cooperation on a case-by-case basis, or drawing comparisons with other organizations that have undergone institutionalization

                                                                                                                  Moscow hosting first international BRICS+ Fashion Summit — city cultural office (В Москве пройдет первый международный саммит моды БРИКС+ — управление культуры города) / Russia, November, 2023
                                                                                                                  Keywords: social_issues

                                                                                                                  The summit will bring together prominent fashion industry professionals, young designers, bloggers and experts from diverse countries

                                                                                                                  MOSCOW, November 28. /TASS/. The first BRICS+ Fashion Summit has opened in Moscow, the press service of the City of Moscow Department of Culture says.

                                                                                                                  "The first BRICS+ Fashion Summit international forum has opened in Moscow. The event will be of an even larger scale than anticipated earlier; the number of participating countries has increased twofold. Over 60 delegations from countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the CIS will visit the Russian capital during the days of the Summit, [which runs] from November 28 through December 2," the press service said.

                                                                                                                  The summit will bring together prominent fashion industry professionals, young designers, bloggers and experts from diverse countries. More than 200 speakers, including the heads of industry associations, brand founders, apparel manufacturers, wholesale buyers and other industry professionals, will take part in the business program, the Culture Department said. Participants will discuss promising areas for international cooperation, as well as the development of entrepreneurship, the application of modern technologies and the preservation of cultural heritage in the fashion space.

                                                                                                                  "The widespread interest in the forum is evidenced by the readiness of BRICS+ countries to build up mutually beneficial cooperation and share successful practices. Plans call for paying special attention as part of the business program to support for and promotion of local brands," Moscow Deputy Mayor Natalya Sergunina said, as quoted by the press service.
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