ER Editor: We give the floor to veteran diplomat, Sergey Lavrov.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Article for South Africa’s Ubuntu Magazine, August 21, 2023
BRICS: Towards a Just World Order
Via the MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
On the eve of the BRICS Summit, I would like to share with our dear readers my thoughts on the prospects for cooperation among the group of five countries in the current geopolitical context.
Tectonic shifts are taking place in the world today. The possibility of dominance by one country or even a small group of States is disappearing. The model of international development built on the exploitation of the resources of the World Majority to maintain the well-being of the “golden billion” is hopelessly out of date. It does not reflect the aspirations of all humankind.
We are witnessing the emergence of a more just multipolar world order. New centers of economic growth and of global decision-making on important political issues in Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are guided primarily by their own interests and assign paramount importance to national sovereignty. And against this background they achieve impressive success in various areas.
Attempts of the “collective West” to reverse this trend with a view to preserving its own hegemony have an exactly opposite effect. The international community is tired of the blackmail and pressure from the Western elites and their colonial and racist manners. That is why, for example, not only Russia but also a number of other countries are consistently reducing their dependence on the US dollar, switching to alternative payment systems and national currency settlements. I recall the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.” And it truly is.
Russia – a civilisation State, the largest Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power – continues to work towards further democratization of international life, building an architecture of inter-State relations that would be based on the values of equal and indivisible security, and cultural and civilisational diversity, and would provide equal opportunities for development for all members of the international community with no one left behind. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin noted in his Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on 21 February 2023: “In today’s world there should be no division into so-called civilised countries and all the rest… There is a need for an honest partnership that rejects any exclusivity, especially an aggressive one.” In our opinion, all this is in line with the Ubuntu philosophy, which advocates interconnectivity between nations and people.
In this context, Russia has consistently stood for strengthening the position of the African continent in a multipolar world order. We will further support our African friends in their aspirations to play an increasingly significant role in resolving the key problems of our time. This also applies in full to the process of reforming the United Nations Security Council, in which framework, in our deep conviction, first and foremost, the legitimate interests of developing countries, including in Africa, must be protected.
Multilateral diplomacy does not stand aside from the global trends. Such a grouping as BRICS is a symbol of true multipolarity and an example of honest inter-State communication. Within its framework, States with different political systems, distinctive value platforms and independent foreign policies effectively cooperate in various spheres. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the five BRICS countries are a kind of cooperation “network” over the traditional North-South and West-East lines.
Indeed, we have something to present to our public. Through joint efforts, BRICS has managed to create a culture of dialogue based on the principles of equality, respect for the choice of one’s own developmental path and consideration of each other’s interests. This helps us find common ground on and solutions even to the most complex issues.
The place and significance of BRICS today and its ability to influence the global agenda are determined by objective factors. The figures speak for themselves. The population of the BRICS countries is over 40 percent and the area of their territories exceeds a quarter of the world’s land. According to experts’ forecasts, in 2023 the five countries will account for about 31.5 percent of global GDP (at purchasing power parity), while the share of the G7 has fallen to 30 percent in this indicator.
Today, the BRICS strategic partnership is gaining momentum. The “Big Five” offers the world creative, forward-looking initiatives aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring food and energy security, healthy growth of the global economy, conflict resolution, and combating climate change, including by means of a just energy transition.
An extensive network of mechanisms has been established to address these challenges. The Strategy for Economic Partnership 2025, which defines the benchmarks of cooperation in the mid-term, is being implemented. The BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform launched at the Russian initiative is operating successfully. The BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center designed to help develop effective responses to challenges to the epidemic well-being of our countries has started its work. Initiatives on Denial of Safe Haven to Corruption, on Trade and Investment for Sustainable Development, and on Enhancing Cooperation on Supply Chains have been approved. The BRICS Strategy on Food Security Cooperation has been adopted.
The unconditional priorities include strengthening the potential of the New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, improving payment mechanisms, and increasing the role of national currencies in mutual settlements. It is planned to focus on these issues at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.
We do not aim to replace existing multilateral mechanisms, much less to become a new “collective hegemon”. On the contrary, the BRICS countries have consistently advocated the creation of conditions for the development of all States, which excludes the bloc logic of the Cold War and zero-sum geopolitical games. BRICS seeks to offer inclusive solutions based on a participatory approach.
Building on that, we are consistently working to develop the BRICS interaction with the countries representing the World Majority. In particular, one of the priorities of the South African Chairship is strengthening cooperation with African countries. We fully share this approach. We are ready to contribute to economic growth on the continent and to strengthening security there, including its food and energy components. A striking example is the outcome of the Second Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg on 27-28 July 2023.
In this context, it is natural that our grouping has many like-minded countries around the world. BRICS is seen as a positive force that can strengthen the solidarity of the Global South and Global East and become one of the pillars of a new, more just polycentric world order.
The five countries stand ready to respond to this request. That is why we launched the expansion process. It is symbolic that it has gained such momentum in the year of South Africa’s Chairmanship, a country that has joined BRICS as a result of a consensus-based political decision.
I am convinced that the XV Summit will be another milestone of BRICS strategic partnership and will determine the key priorities for the coming years. We highly appreciate the efforts of the South African Chairship, including the intensified work to improve the entire constellation of BRICS mechanisms to deepen BRICS dialogue with other countries.
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