After a gap of over 20 months, India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) — large democracies from three different continents — will meet at the summit level here on June 6. The sixth summit will also commemorate the tenth anniversary of IBSA founding.
How did the trilateral initiative begin? The Indian Prime Minister and the Presidents of the other two countries felt marginalised at the Evian G-8 summit in 2003. Such was the depth of their anguish that barely four days later, their Foreign Ministers gathered in Brasilia and issued a declaration announcing the setting up of IBSA.
The first summit was held in Brasilia in 2006. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh alone has had the distinction of attending all summits since.
According to a backgrounder put out by the Foreign Office, IBSA cooperates on three fronts — as a forum seeking reforms in global institutions of political and economic governance; trilateral collaboration through working groups and people-to-people forums; and, assisting other developing countries by taking up projects with the IBSA Fund.
The purpose is the opposite of what G-8 does — demonstrate the desirability of South-South cooperation beyond the conventional areas of exchange of experts and training. “IBSA’s success in contributing to discourse on global issues also shows the importance of engaging with the countries of the South,” says the backgrounder.
While the BRICS forum, which includes Russia and China, has not added a military dimension to its cooperation, IBSA held the third edition of joint naval exercises off South Africa late last year.