BRICS Summit 2021: Roundup & Analysis

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By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South African Leaders meet in annual conference: new counter-terrorism and vaccine capabilities determined

The BRICS Summit is a conference on international relations in which the Heads of Government of the five member states, which include Brazil, India, Russia, China, and South Africa, participate. India hosted this year’s event – it will pass to China in 2022.

The theme of this years summit was BRICS @15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation For Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping headed this summit, which was headed by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

Modi discussed the many achievements of BRICS in the past one-and-a-half decades, which has transformed them into an influential voice for emerging economics the world over. He also added about the need to be more productive in the next 15 years. He went on to announce the adoption of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan, which has concentrated on issues related to Afghanistan. Modi’s speech in full can be read here.

Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized the crisis of Afghanistan as a threat to its neighbors and discussed the importance of the BRICS cooperation in dealing with it and related terrorism issues, stating the current global situation to be “quite turbulent”. “Afghanistan should not become a threat to its neighboring countries, a source of terrorism and drug trafficking.” Putin said. His speech in full can be read here.

Xi Jinping also recounted the achievements made by the BRICS summit in the last 15 years. The Chinese President said, “We have made solid progress in various areas of cooperation in the spirit of pragmatism, innovation and win-win cooperation. We have supported multilateralism and taken part in global governance in spirit of equity, justice and mutual assistance.” Xi’s speech is here.

President Ramaphosa meanwhile discussed Covid. He expressed South Africa’s support for the proposal made by India and South Africa at the WTO for the waiver of the TRIPS mechanism, (bypassing IP royalties) to ensure a more rapid expansion of Covid-19 vaccine production. Western nations wish to maintain the payments of royalties for Covid vaccines as part of the R&D cost and normal corporate profitability. Ramaphosa then went on to welcome the decision of the Health Ministers of BRICS nations to operationalize the vaccine development and research center. Ramaphosa’s speech is here.

Brazil’s President Bolsorano praised the India-China-Brazil partnership in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the areas of science, technology, energy, and health. He also called for reform of the World Trade Organization. His presence at the event would have been keenly watched by China bearing in mind he suggested China created Covid-19 to benefits its economy back in May. His BRICS speech can be read here.

BRICS Counter-Intelligence Initiative

The main two items of note in what was a fairly predictable set of speeches were the BRICS move to jointly establish a BRICS Counter-Intelligence Initiative. While China, India and Russia are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO); already share intelligence and provide military assistance under the SCO counter-terrorism structure, Brazil and South Africa are not part of this. South African involvement especially adds an additional layer of counter-intelligence useful to the SCO as it will have access to African intelligence and especially the role of active groups such as Al-Queda and ISIL in Africa.

BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre

The BRICS nations also endorsed the concept of a BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre, also useful as future pandemics are equally as likely to develop from countries such as Brazil and Africa and will be looking to Chinese and Russian vaccine development capabilities along with India’s huge production abilities.  This center can be expected to develop as a global early warning and reaction faculty.

Global Reform

At the end of the summit, the leaders adopted the “Declaration of New Delhi” and committed to being resolved by reinforcing and reforming the multilateral system, including at the United Nations and World Trade Organization, so that global governance is more receptive and effective. The New Delhi Declaration can be viewed here.

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