The BRIC Summit


Dr. Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra – TRANSCEND Media Service

The third week of April 2010 just aftermath of the international nuclear summit witnessed vigorous activities by the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) members in the Brasilian Itamaraty Palace on 15 April 2010. The leaders as the earlier summit meeting at Russian city Yekaterinburg displayed enthusiasm to raise the multilateral platform to play a crucial in the international affairs by widening the international decision making process with the inclusion of members India and Brazil in the United Nation’s Security Council, by widening the ambit of Bretton Woods Structures with the provision of incorporating the increasing clout of these nations, and also equally importantly by expediting the steps towards an international convention on terrorism and mitigating the effects of climate change. And also importantly, perhaps for the first time, the countries insisted on a time frame to meet these issues.

Some of the international news agencies called the deliberations of the BRIC countries ‘baby steps,’ and they easily pointed out ‘huge differences in national goals and tensions in security and economic policy’ in these countries while pursuing common goals. Furthermore they pointed out that the fixing of time frame by these countries, which comprise about 20 per cent of world GDP with the some of the fastest growing economies within the grouping, is something unexpected as it amounted to tactics of ‘greater pressure.’ These observations might carry some weight, but the international climate has never been as complicated as it is now and undoubtedly these baby steps of the grouping can be starting points towards rapid strides in making world politics fair, multipolar and stable. As to the fixing of the time table, for instance for the remoulding the global financial bodies like World Bank and International Monetary Fund by providing greater say to these countries with more voting rights by the time of G-20 Summit in South Korea in November 2010, and to frame and develop an equitable climate change regime at the forthcoming Cancun Conference in November 2010 following United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Roadmap, it might be discomforting for the statusquoist powers but if at all the world needs to accommodate the aspirations of rising powers, then the widening of the international political and economic framework emerges not only as an adjustment but also an imperative. To add, the BRIC leaders also emphasized the role of G-20 as a global economic body which can lay out the future course of actions which the global financial system will need to take. The joint statement of summit declared, “We advocate the need for the G-20 to be proactive and formulate a coherent strategy for the post-crisis (global financial crisis) period.” The grouping also signed a cooperation agreement among the development banks to jointly fund infrastructure works of the members.

Equally crucially for the first time since its inception as an important multilateral body in 2008, the grouping took the issue of Iran as a focal point for deliberation. It believed dialogue and diplomacy bear more value that the sanctions which the US leadership is keen to impose on Iran to bring it to pressure. The grouping will likely emphasize on the role of the international bodies like International Atomic Energy Agency to tackle the nuclear issue in Iran, rather than imposition of sanctions. This emphasis acquires crucial value as it emerged just aftermath of the nuclear summit in the US. As some of the news agencies report the imposition of sanctions will likely be on the government of Iran not on its people, it becomes difficult to comprehend how the imposition on the government will not affect the people. Rather on the contrary, some would suggest, the imposition will have direct bearing on the people and it is the influential people in the government who can face the sanctions without much problem. However, the BRIC countries emphasize that Iran must cooperate with international bodies like the International Atomic Energy Agency, and all steps need to be taken by the methods of dialogue and diplomacy to prevent Iran to develop nuclear weapons. But at the same time the grouping considered it appropriate to build nuclear reactors for civilian purposes like clean energy.

Though the summit was shifted back by one day as the Chinese leader was to leave due to earthquake in Qinghai in China, and the summit had to be held just after another summit that day itself comprising IBSA nations (India, Brazil and South Africa), which also equally urged for a global order free from domination and discrimination, it is considered the BRIC summit was successful in many ways. Indian Prime Minister observed, “We aspire for rapid growth for ourselves and for an external environment that is conducive to our development goals. BRIC countries have an important role to play in shaping the pace, direction and sustainability of global economic growth.” In the context of imposition of sanctions, the Iran issue will likely figure in the forthcoming days in the United Nations’ Security Council. Brazil is currently a member of United Nations’ Security Council non-permanent member, which assumes significance as it opposes any imposition of sanctions on Iran. Two permanent veto wielding members Russia and China are also opposed to sanctions, and are in favour of dialogue and diplomacy. Interestingly, Lebanon, which is unlikely to support sanctions on Iran, will take the chairmanship of the Security Council in May. In this emerging scenario it will be quite significant and decisive as to how Iran issue is figured in the highest international decision making body, which particularly can not develop a single point of agenda on this issue.

BRIC, in spite of its weakness or differences among members, no doubt will play a significant role in international politics. The coming of the countries together is no mean achievement, and on various issues like Iran, United Nations, Bretton Woods structures, climate change, etc. the grouping has already been vociferous. The clout of BRIC as a significant multilateral body is bound to be reckoned with. However, the grouping will have to develop more coherent and consensual agenda for actions in coming days.


Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra is part of the research faculty at the Centre for Central Eurasian Studies, University of Mumbai, India. He specialises on issues of conflict, peace and development, terrorism and strategic aspects of Central Eurasia.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Apr 2010.

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