In a landmark decision, members of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on Thursday declared expansion of the grouping by welcoming six new countries into the fold. Announcing the decision at the end of the 15th BRICS summit at Johannesburg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said addition of new members would strengthen the outfit and increase confidence in the idea of multipolar world order.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, current Chair of BRICS, presented the Johannesburg Declaration - the outcome document of the summit - and made an indirect reference to the Ukraine conflict saying the grouping’s members had sought “peaceful resolution” of disputes.
“I am pleased that our teams have come to an agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures for expansion. And based on these, today we have agreed to welcome Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and UAE into BRICS,” Mr. Modi said, expressing confidence that together with the new members, BRICS would be able to have new dynamism and energy in its actions. Addition of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is of special significance as the three will represent both flanks of the energy-rich Gulf in the BRICS. Joining the BRICS is also the first time that Iran and Saudi Arabia took a common diplomatic decision months after they normalised relation in April this year.
The decision to expand BRICS was taken 13 years after the organisation was last expanded with the addition of South Africa in 2010. Originally consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, BRICS was envisioned as a global-level outfit of major economies that are playing an increasingly important role in the post-Cold War world order.
Mr. Modi said India enjoys warm relations with the six countries who are set to be the new BRICS members from next January and added, “India is trying to build consensus so that some countries that have expressed desire to join BRICS can work as partner countries.”
Apart from the main BRICS events, PM Modi held bilateral meetings with leaders from Senegal, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Iran and delivered a speech at BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus dialogue session where he invited the participant countries to join International Solar Alliance, One Sun, One World, One Grid; Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure; One Earth, One Health; Big Cat Alliance and Global Centre for Traditional Medicine. After his meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, PM Modi said in a social media message, “I am glad that Iran will be joining BRICS. Discussed ways to deepen trade and cultural cooperation between India and Iran.”
Mr. Ramaphosa announced that the BRICS had adopted the Johannesburg Declaration. “We reiterate our commitment to inclusive multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We are concerned about the ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world. We stress our commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes through dialogue and inclusive consultation,” Mr. Ramaphosa said. He also pointed at the growing disparity in the world which is yet to recover from the ravages of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
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On the Ukraine crisis, the Declaration noted “With appreciation relevant proposals of mediation and goodoffices aimed at peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy, including the African Leaders Peace Mission and the proposed path for peace.” In his remarks at the meeting, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, sought stronger multilateralism adding global multipolarity should be accompanied by “strong and effective multilateral institutions”.
Mr. Ramaphosa announced that Dilma Roussef, president of the New Development Bank established by BRICS, has submitted a report about the scope of the bank and its vision. Mr. Modi thanked everyone at the BRICS for greeting India on the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of the moon. He said the success of India’s Moon mission was an achievement of the scientific community of the world.
Brazil, India, China and South Africa have expressed their “full support to Russia” as it is scheduled to host the BRICS Chairship in 2024 and hold the 16th BRICS summit in Kazan. Following the summit, the BRICS leaders along with representatives of six new member countries and leaders of the ‘Guest Countries’ posed for a photograph which reflected the growing stature of the grouping.