BRICS stands united on Libya, opposes use of force.
India has secured a significant endorsement of its aspirations for a permanent place in the United Nations Security Council or UNSC. India has been lobbying hard in various international forums for some time to gain a permanent seat at the UNSC, on the ground that the UN body should appropriately reflect the shift in power and relative importance in favour of developing countries like itself.
The endorsement came in the form of the Sanya Declaration, adopted after the BRICS Summit held here on Thursday, when leaders of the five countries met and reviewed the global economic and political situation. The Declaration has reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including the Security Council. In addition, it has noted: “China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of India, Brazil and South Africa in international affairs and understand and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.”
Compared to the Declaration adopted in Brasilia, where the leaders of this group met in April 2010, the Sanya Declaration is a step forward, said an Indian government official involved with the talks. At Brasilia, the declaration only understood and supported the aspirations of India and Brazil to play a greater role in the UN. There was no mention of the Security Council, nor was there any categorical support from China and Russia, two permanent members of the UNSC, for the claims of India and Brazil. The inclusion of South Africa in this group has now ensured that when the UNSC makes way for these countries to be part of the most powerful UN body, it would most likely be through an expansion of its membership strength. India, Brazil and South Africa at present are non-permanent members of the UNSC for 2011-12.
The Sanya Declaration is significant also for the stance it has adopted on major international economic issues. It has stepped up the pressure on the developed world to expedite necessary reforms in the international financial and monetary system, so that they can remove the inadequacies and deficiencies brought to light by the financial crisis in 2008. The leaders of BRICS have reiterated the need for a broad-based international reserve currency system and welcomed the discussion about the role of special drawing rights or SDRs in the existing international monetary system, including the composition of SDR’s basket of currencies.
However, it was not clear what this could mean for the role of the Chinese currency, the relative importance of the dollar or whether the Indian government is in favour of such a change in the composition of SDR’s basket of currencies. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Wu Hailong, remained reticent on the issue saying the broad-based international reserve currency system would create a more stable and reliable system. Indian secretary for economic relations, Manbir Singh, said what the Indian government did was to welcome the discussion on this issue.
The Declaration, however, is strangely silent on the need for an open and merit-based selection method, irrespective of nationality, for heading positions of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, although the Brasilia Declaration did refer to such concerns.
The Declaration has also expressed concern over the global economic situation by pointing out that the global economy, though recovering from the financial crisis, still faced “uncertainties”. It, therefore, has sought enhanced co-ordination of macro-economic policies to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth. The leaders have expressed concern over the risks of massive cross-border capital flows now faced by the emerging economies and called for further international financial regulatory oversight and reform in the financial markets and banking systems.
The excessive volatility in commodity prices, particularly those for food and energy, has also drawn the leaders’ attention. The Declaration notes, “The regulation of the derivatives market for commodities should be strengthened to prevent activities capable of destabilising markets...The BRICS will carry out closer co-operation on food security.”
The Sanya Declaration does not shy away from politically sensitive international developments. On the developments in Libya, the leaders have affirmed to continue the BRICS solidarity and co-operation in the UN Security Council, in addition to supporting the African Union High-Level Panel Initiative on Libya. They have shown similar commitment to co-operating on climate change issues, including the need to stay united at the coming Durban conference. It has also endorsed the need to resist all protectionist policies, conclude the Doha round of trade talks under the World Trade Organisation without further delay and strengthen the institution of the Group of 20, already in place as the primary instrument for settling all international economic issues.