With adoption of the Johannesburg II Declaration, BRICS’ historic 15th summit has concluded in the South African city of Johannesburg. To wrap up the summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a joint declaration in the final day of the summit.
The BRICS, the collective of the world’s largest developing economies, members have committed to strengthening the framework of mutually beneficial BRICS cooperation under the three pillars of political and security, economic and financial, and cultural and people-to-people cooperation. The member states have also committed to enhancing strategic partnership for the benefit of their people through the promotion of peace, a more representative, fairer international order, a reinvigorated and reformed multilateral system, sustainable development, and inclusive growth.
The 94-point document adopted at the three-day summit that began on August 22 focuses mostly to economic issues and cooperation, while Ukraine is mentioned only once.
The emerging collective power has called for maintaining the “open, transparent, fair, predictable, inclusive, equitable, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core.”
BRICS expressed its concerns about unilateral illegal measures affecting trade and proclaimed the need for creating a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system that would help end hunger and achieve food security.
“We call for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions, including for a greater role for emerging markets and developing countries, including in leadership positions in the Bretton Woods institutions, that reflect the role of emerging markets and developing economies (EMDCs) in the world economy,” the declaration said.
The BRICS leaders emphasized the role of the New Development Bank (NDB), formerly BRICS Bank, to facilitate funding infrastructure and other projects in developing countries.
Use Of Local Currencies In International Trade
The BRICS summit stressed the importance of encouraging the use of local currencies in international trade and financial transactions between members of the group as well as their trading partners.
The initiative is significant in the context of the West’s weaponization of major reserve currencies in order to achieve its geopolitical objectives.
“We are concerned that global financial and payment systems are increasingly being used as instruments of geopolitical contestation. Global economic recovery relies on predictable global payment systems and the smooth operation of banking, supply chains, trade, tourism, as well as financial flows,” Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, earlier, also touched upon the idea of a “new reference unit” for BRICS nations, which would shield emerging markets from G7 currencies’ volatility caused by irresponsible monetary measures.
“We stress the importance of encouraging the use of local currencies in international trade and financial transactions between BRICS as well as their trading partners. We also encourage strengthening of correspondent banking networks between the BRICS countries and enabling settlements in the local currencies,” the summit declaration said.
On the final day of the summit, the BRICS leaders announced that Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia would be invited to join BRICS. The new membership will be effective from January 1, 2024. The admission of new members to BRICS is the first phase of the BRICS’ enlargement process. The decision to expand the group was the summit’s main outcome.
The BRICS foreign ministers were instructed to draw up a list of likely partner countries. A report on this issue should be presented at the next summit to be held in Kazan in 2024.
The BRICS leaders reached an agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures for its expansion process.
The summit has agreed that the name of the group will not change after the new members join it. The expansion of BRICS will enable an increase in mutual investments between the member states and deepen further collaboration. It will actually challenge U.S. dollars’ hegemony.
The BRICS document said it encourages greater participation of developing countries in the work of international organizations.
The aggregated gross domestic product of BRICS+ will total 37% of global GDP in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), while the group’s population will account for 46% of global population, as Lula da Silva remarked on the final day of the summit.
The summit reaffirmed commitment to strengthening macroeconomic coordination and deepening economic cooperation. The participants in the association announced plans to enhance cooperation in agriculture to ensure food security. It is noted that the BRICS countries account for a third of the world’s food production.
The summit document said: “Recognizing that BRICS countries produce one third of the world’s food, we reaffirm our commitment to strengthen agricultural cooperation and promote sustainable agriculture and rural development of BRICS countries for enhancing food security both within BRICS and worldwide.”
The BRICS is against trade barriers, including those imposed by a number of developed countries under the pretext of combating climate change.
“We encourage further cooperation among BRICS countries to enhance the interconnectivity of supply chains and payment systems to promote trade and investment flows. We agree to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in trade in services as established in the BRICS Framework for Cooperation on Trade in Services, with the BRICS Business Council and BRICS Women’s Business Alliance (WBA) with the aim to promote implementation of BRICS Trade in Services Cooperation Roadmap and relevant documents including the BRICS Framework for cooperation in Trade in Professional Services,” the declaration said.
Reforming the UN
The UN is seen by the BRICS as a cornerstone of the system of international relations. The BRICS members reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and international law.
The BRICS supports the idea of reforming the UN, including the Security Council, and support wider representation of the developing countries in the Security Council.
“We support a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more democratic, representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of developing countries in the Council’s memberships so that it can adequately respond to prevailing global challenges,” the summit declaration said.
“We call for greater representation of emerging markets and developing countries, in international organizations and multilateral fora in which they play an important role,” the document said.
The BRICS finds the WTO and Bretton Woods financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, should also be reformed.
The BRICS leaders also agreed to “strengthen cooperation on issues of common interests both within BRICS and in multilateral fora including the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council, taking into account the necessity to promote, protect and fulfill human rights in a non-selective, non-politicized and constructive manner and without double standards,” said the document.
The BRICS countries expressed concern about conflicts around the world and advocate their peace resolution through talks.
The BRICS expressed support to diplomatic solutions to conflicts in Niger, Libya and Sudan on the basis of the UN and the African Union.
The BRICS welcomed all efforts to promote a political and negotiated solution to the Syrian crisis.
The BRICS finds the resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue should be peaceful and diplomatic.
The BRICS members noted with appreciation the “mediation proposals” aimed at a peace settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, including an African peacekeeping mission.
The BRICS members favor a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine through dialogue and diplomacy, including the African states’ peace initiative, the declaration said.
The declaration said: “We recall our national positions concerning the conflict in and around Ukraine as expressed at the appropriate fora, including the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] and UNGA [United Nations General Assembly]. We note with appreciation relevant proposals of mediation and good offices aimed at peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy, including the African Leaders Peace Mission and the proposed path for peace.”
The BRICS expressed its commitment to a balanced approach aimed at strengthening and integrating the voice of the Global South into the G20 agenda during the Indian presidency in 2023 and the Brazilian and South African presidencies in 2024 and 2025.
G20 maintains its leading role as a multilateral forum for international economic and financial cooperation, bringing together industrialized states, emerging market economies and developing countries alike, where the leading economies jointly seek solutions to global challenges.
The BRICS finds unbalanced global economic recovery after the pandemic is increasing global inequalities.
The BRICS is committed to intensifying efforts in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. In this regard, the BRICS considers it is important to continue supporting the virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center.
Iranian Nuclear Issue
The BRICS reaffirmed the need to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue by peaceful and diplomatic means.
The summit document said: “We reiterate the need to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through peaceful and diplomatic means in accordance with the international law,” the document read.
The BRICS advocates for the full restoration and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
According to the declaration, the BRICS favors bolstering disarmament and non-proliferation, including in the field of biological and chemical weapons.
The document said: “We call for the strengthening of disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC), recognizing its role in safeguarding and for preserving their integrity and effectiveness to maintain global stability and international peace and security.”
The BRICS finds there is a need to enhance international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows as well as to increase joint counter-terrorism work.
The BRICS called for the early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN members, and the launching of negotiations on an international convention on the prevention of acts of chemical and biological terrorism on the platform of the Conference on Disarmament.
Russia’s Presidency in 2024
The BRICS countries fully supported Russia’s presidency of the group in 2024 and holding the next summit in Kazan in October.
“Brazil, India, China and South Africa extend their full support to Russia for its BRICS Chairship in 2024 and the holding of the XVI BRICS Summit in the city of Kazan, Russia,” the summit document said.
Weaponization Of The Global Financial System
At the summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed concerns about the increasing weaponization of the global financial system and payment mechanisms for geopolitical purposes.
“We are concerned that global financial and payment systems are increasingly being used as instruments of geopolitical contestation. Global economic recovery relies on predictable global payment systems and the smooth operation of banking, supply chains, trade, tourism, as well as financial flows,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also singled out the climate change problem, stressing that the transition to clean energy must be fair and “it must be able to take into account the different circumstances that prevail in all countries.”
The South African leader’s remarks reflected the woes of the continent suffering from energy poverty and negative climate impact of high-polluting wealthy countries.
At last year’s COP27 African leaders argued that they could use their rich gas deposits as a “transition fuel” and called upon industrialized states to fund the creation of gas and electricity infrastructure on the continent. However, at the time US President Joe Biden’s climate czar John Kerry said that the West opposes investments in long-term gas projects in Africa since they contradict the net-zero targets.
“In line with this objective, BRICS nations need to advance the interests of the Global South and call for industrialized countries to honor their commitments to support climate actions by developing economic progress. The commitments of support that have been made – that have not yet been lived up to – need to be followed through,” stated Ramaphosa.
$2 Trillion Spent On Weapons While 735 Million People Starve
While addressing the summit, Brazilian President Lula da Silva raised the red flag about the UN Security Council’s impotence to solve security crises, stressing that while the international body has concentrated on the Ukraine conflict many other pressing issues do not receive due attention.
“Many other conflicts and crises do not receive due attention, even though they cause vast suffering for their populations. Haitians, Yemenis, Syrians, Libyans, Sudanese, and Palestinians all deserve to live in peace,” Lula said.
He also lambasted the increase in global military spending at the time of the world’s socio-economic problems, arguing it was “unacceptable that global military spending in a single year exceeds two trillion dollars’, while “735 million people go hungry.”
“The search for peace is a collective duty and an imperative for fair and sustainable development,” Lula stressed.
“Today, we represent 41 percent of the population and are responsible for 31 percent of global GDP in purchasing power parity. But we face a more complex scenario than when we first met. In just a few years, we have regressed from a situation of benign multipolarity to one that returns to the obsolete mentality of the Cold War and geopolitical competition. This is folly,” the Brazilian president said.
Putin On BRICS’ International Standing
Russian President Vladimir Putin said: The BRICS “has established itself on the international stage as a respected entity and has been consistently strengthening its standing in international affairs.”
“BRICS has been following a forward-looking strategic course which meets the aspirations of a significant portion of the international community, the so-called global majority. By acting in a coordinated manner and based on the principles of equality, supporting each other as partners and taking each other’s interests into account, we tackle the most urgent issues on the global and regional agendas,” said the Russian president.
Putin noted that the group is successfully implementing its Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025. In particular, BRICS member states are “strengthening five-sided co-operation in such areas as diversification of supply chains, de-dollarization and the transition to national currencies in mutual transactions, digital economy, support for small and medium-sized businesses, and fair technology transfer,” according to the Russian president.
He underscored that BRICS consistently opposes “hegemonies of any kind” as well as “the exceptional status that some countries aspire to,” defining it as a “policy of continued neo-colonialism.”
Putin pointed out that the attempts by some countries to preserve global hegemony paved the way to a deep crisis in Ukraine, in a clear reference to a proxy war against Russia waged by the U.S. and its NATO allies in Eastern Europe.
“Stopping the war unleashed by the West and its satellites in Ukraine against the people of Donbass is the only thing that defines our actions in Ukraine,” Putin said. “We are grateful to our BRICS colleagues who are active in trying to end this situation and achieve a just settlement by peaceful means.”
In June, the Russian president presented the African delegation with the draft of the Istanbul agreement on the Ukraine settlement, signed by the Ukrainian representatives, which stipulated permanent neutrality and security guarantees for the East European country. “After we withdrew the troops from Kiev, as we promised, the Kiev authorities, as their masters usually do, threw it all into the dustbin of history.”
India Supports BRICS Expansion
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced his support for BRICS expansion during his speech on the second day of the historic summit.
“India supports the expansion of BRICS membership and welcomes the consensus in the initiative. In 2016, during India’s chairmanship of BRICS, we defined (BRICS) as building, responsive, inclusive and collective solutions. Seven years later we can say that BRICS will be breaking barriers, revitalising economies, inspiring innovations, creating opportunities and shaping the future. Together with all BRICS partners we will give active support to make this definition meaningful,” Modi said.
BRICS Needs To Close Ranks As Cold War Mentality Haunts World
Chinese President Xi Jinping called upon BRICS nations to step up coordination as the “Cold War mentality is haunting” the global community.
“The Cold War mentality is haunting and geopolitical situations are severe,” said the Chinese leader. “The BRICS countries must adhere to the general direction of peaceful development and consolidate the strategic partnership.”
Xi noted that currently, the momentum of the global economic recovery is not stable, citing projections that the world economy will grow by less than 3% this year. Under these circumstances, “there is a long way to go to achieve the sustainable development goals,” he warned. Xi stressed that the BRICS countries “should be companions on the road of development and revitalization, and oppose decoupling and broken chains and economic coercion.”
“We should support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests, and strengthen coordination on major international and regional issues, actively mediate on hot-spot issues, promote political settlement, and cool down hot-spot issues,” the Chinese leader stated.
On the first day of the forum, Xi’s remarks were delivered by Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China Wang Wentao, who outlined the Chinese President’s vision of a shared future for mankind and global security.
The vision of a community with a shared future for mankind was reflected in Xi’s Global Security Initiative (GSI), advocating a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum. The Chinese chairman’s concept envisages respectful attitude to nations’ sovereignty and legitimate security concerns of all countries while opposing interference in others’ internal affairs, hegemonism and power politics. Thus Xi’s security doctrine strives to build a world of lasting peace and common security.