Russian expert Vyacheslav Nikonov discards the rhetoric juxtaposing BRICS and the West in favour of a more conciliatory approach.
The BRICS leaders are going to play a bigger role on the international stage. Photo: ITAR-TASS
Russia’s role in the emergence of BRICS as a global phenomenon is indeed significant. Given the RIC (Russia-India-China) dialogue format, it was only natural to capitalize on Jeff O’Neil’s acronym and widen the scope of the countries discussing global economic issues to include Brazil, and later – South Africa.
Very soon, the agenda was enriched with discussions of global governance problems and the dialogue went beyond summit-level talks about overcoming the global economic crisis and reforming the financial architecture.
Inevitably, this means that there is a need to step up the coordination of the “Big Five’s” efforts to deal both with global issues and problems of inter-BRICS cooperation. Every member country, and not only Russia, is interested in, as Paul Goble puts it, “trying to give the BRIC more political content to gain both leverage and freedom of action on the international stage.”
BRICS is emerging as an alliance of reformers of global governance, both economic and, eventually, political.
However, it would be erroneous to perceive BRICS as a potentially “anti G8” or even “anti-Western” grouping, and to juxtapose one alliance with the other.
Yes, BRICS countries, including Russia, would like to change the rules of the game in international finance and economic matters to make them fairer, as well as to prevent possible damage from a global economic crisis.
In the course of such a crisis it could so happen that the dominant powers would try to solve their own problems at the expense of the developing world/BRICS nation-states, which represent different “civilizational” platforms.
As “universally recognized” principles, international law, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs have too often been challenged by Western countries, and if opposing these tendencies is an “action of outsiders,” then that’s too bad for the “insiders.”
BRICS, in fact, presents a rare historic possibility to create a new, more just and balanced system of international relations, taking the realities of the new information and globalization age into consideration.
So I can agree that “BRICS, at least so far, can and does operate under the radar screen of the currently dominant countries, and is thus likely to serve as an incubator for new ideas and arrangements.”
This is a job that should be done together with the West, resulting in a compromise solution to common global problems. Therefore, the West should not see BRICS as an adversary threatening the basic interests of Western nations, but as a partner and an instrument of bringing the world to a new, sustainable order.
The West should not try to undermine this alliance, but should cooperate with it in order to achieve the harmonious development of mankind.
There have also been attempts to divide BRICS into “Northern” (Russia, China) and Southern (IBSA) wings, or into manufacturing versus raw materials-producing nations – probably aimed at undermining the alliance’s unity.
It is true that the national interests, both political and economic, of the BRICS countries differ. However, their differences are not extensive enough to prevent them from jointly pursuing common interests – and this is what makes BRICS so vital. The Western critics, who are eager to claim that “BRICS is doomed” based on worsening economic indicators, should understand this.
More attention should be paid to this new international phenomenon in order to avoid misunderstanding the true nature and goals of BRICS, and even hostility toward it. Russia is ready to be an active part of this work, being the only BRICS country that participates in the G8 and is a founding member of the UN Security Council at the same time.
The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia Direct or its staff.