From economy to outer space: Conclusions of the 14th BRICS Summit

From economy to outer space: Conclusions of the 14th BRICS Summit

14th BRICS Summit was the most important one yet.

Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met on June 23 in the context of the BRICS Summit amid major shifts in the geopolitical and economic order following the Russian military operation in Ukraine and the consequential sanctions from the West. The summit was held in a virtual format for the third consecutive year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions that require leaders to be close to home.

As BRICS nations have a combined population of 3.23 billion and a combined GDP of more than $23 trillion, it offers the most powerful bloc to rival and/or challenge the West’s global domination. Such a challenge is of course not in the military field as BRICS is an economic bloc, meaning that the discussions surrounding the war in Ukraine were not about a unified front in support of Moscow, but rather how Western sanctions against Russia necessitate the immediate need to establish an alternative global economic model and order.

“We have discussed the situation in Ukraine and recall our national positions as expressed at the appropriate fora, namely the UNSC [U.N. Security Council] and UNGA [U.N. General Assembly]. We support talks between Russia and Ukraine,” the joint BRICS leaders statement said. “We agree to continue to deepen cooperation on competition amongst BRICS countries and create a fair competition market environment for international economic and trade cooperation.”

Addressing the issue of the UN Security Council, the need for “comprehensive reform […] with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges,” was reaffirmed. 

The permanent members of the UNSC are China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States, and thus excludes any country from Latin America or Africa, as well as India despite being the world’s second most populous country, a bigger economy than France, and a military ranked more powerful than France and the UK. In this way, the UNSC is unbalanced, making reformation all the more important.

The implementation of a sustainable development agenda by 2030 is also present in thetext of the final declaration of the XIV BRICS Summit. Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa emphasized that the international community must attach greater importance to development issues and intensify global partnerships.

The joint statement encourages “financial support and technology transfer to developing countries,” adding that “the breakthroughs in the applications of digital technologies, such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) may play an important role towards sustainable development.” To do so, it is necessary to strengthen the participation of the poorest countries and emerging markets “in global decision-making processes and structures and make it better attuned to contemporary realities.”

Particularly highlighted in this proposed process is Africa as it has some of the fastest growing populations and markets in the world. The UN estimates that over half of the world’s population growth in the next thirty years will be in Africa, followed by Asia with an expected addition of approximately one billion people by 2050. In contrast, fertility rates are currently below the population replacement level in Europe, a fact for several decades now.

The statement also stressed the importance of conventions against biochemical and chemical terrorism. While it does not directly mention US biological laboratories in Ukraine, the document calls for an “expeditious finalization and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism within the UN framework and for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism.”

“We call for strengthening the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC), and for preserving their integrity and effectiveness to maintain global stability and international peace and security,” the statement adds.

In addition to this, BRICS leaders expressed again their commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. In this way, there is a geopolitical element as it also signals to the nuclear armed US, UK and France that BRICS has no intentions of a nuclear war or arms race.

Prevention of an arms race in outer space was also mentioned by BRICS leaders, who stressed “support for ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and of its weaponization, including through negotiations to adopt a relevant legally binding multilateral instrument.”

By emphasizing on points of cooperation, greater representation at the most senior level of global governance, and stressing a nuclear-free world and a weapon-free outer space, the 2022 BRICS Summit was more important than ever considering the context of the Ukraine War. With the geopolitical and economic order rapidly changing, by emphasizing greater global balance, developing countries will be more inclined to a change in the global system if they are better represented and developed compared to the current situation. In this way, the results of this BRICS Summit are perhaps the most important in its history.

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