Steering BRICS onto a New Path
BRICS should evolve from a sort of a discussion club for the five member-states into a full-scale mechanism of cooperation.
A long-term objective of the Russian Federation in BRICS and, accordingly, a consistent goal of the presidency of the association, is its gradual transformation from a dialogue forum and tool for coordinating positions on a limited range of issues into a full-scale mechanism for strategic and day-to-day cooperation on key issues of world politics and the global economy.
For that, both substantial and institutional changes are needed.
Substantial changes include developing new intra-BRICS areas of cooperation and making cooperation broader, deeper, and more diverse in existing areas. The main areas of BRICS cooperation include changing the world financial architecture, global governance system, trade, and investment cooperation within BRICS, joining efforts in solving social issues, providing added value in preserving peace and security, and defending international law, dialogue of cultures, and civilizations. Creation of mechanisms to set and systematically monitor the implementation of the targets within these areas is needed.
There are several models of international and regional organizations, from rigid military-political unions with intra-block discipline (NATO) to loose groupings and dialogue formats. BRICS’ current status is somewhere in between.
What is the place of BRICS, and how it should position itself? There is a widespread opinion, even in BRICS countries, that further institutionalization of BRICS is a premature idea and that it should not be a centralized process (OECD-type), but rather a spontaneous area-specific process3.
I believe that BRICS should move in the direction of first becoming a para-organization (to which it is close now), and then a more structurized organization with a coordinating center.
These institutions can work out a BRICS long-term action plan (till 2030) that may include the following goals and develop roadmaps for reaching them.
In political and institutional interaction, they are to:
- Have a fully functional virtual secretariat by 2016;
- Develop a regular foreign policy consultative mechanism between foreign ministries;
- Elaborate and sign a BRICS declaration on global peace and cooperation;
- Work toward the conclusion of a non-aggression pact/penta-lateral cooperation, friendship, and peaceful coexistence treaty;
- Reform the UN to ensure it a central role in solving international conflicts and enforcing its decisions, including reform of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC), to provide balanced representations of BRICS countries and coordinate activities within its framework based on the modalities of the above-mentioned treaty;
- Create a multilateral inter-governmental commission on economic and technical cooperation headed by vice prime minister-level officials;
- Create sub-commissions and permanent working groups on different issues;
- Create special BRICS departments in the governments, affiliated with foreign ministries, but reporting directly to heads of state;
- Based on that, to establish a permanent international BRICS secretariat within next five years.
In the sphere of financial architecture and global governance, they are to:
- Ensure finalization of the current reform of the IMF and work on further revision of quotas for the benefit of the developing countries;
- Ensure election of developing countries’ representatives (BRICS leading the way) to leadership in international financial institutions;
- Expand cooperation within the WTO and conduct study of the possible harmful effects of conflicting/competing projects of trans-regional integration;
- Raise the profile of the BRICS-created financial institutions, their integration into the global governance system;
- Reorganize global internet governance (e.g. creating an international body in place of ICAN).
In economy and trade, they are to:
- Strive for economic growth which is advanced in respect to global average in order to raise BRICS’ share in global GDP up to one-third in 2020;
- Increase GDP per capita at least by 50% in 2020 and all BRICS countries joining the high-income group countries;
- Increase the share of ‘green energy’ (alternative sources and renewables: wind, solar (photovoltaic), biogas and biomass, tidal and hydro energy, geothermal) to 20% (in all BRICS);
- Promote BRICS cooperation in new technologies (Internet use to achieve at least 60% of population by 2025; Internet security-completion and follow-up on fiber-optic cable connection; peaceful space use, International Space Station, navigational system (GLONASS etc.);
- Increase mutual trade and investments cooperation (mutual investments at least to 10% of overall volume from the current 2.5%; mutual trade by another 1,000% – at least $500 billion in 2020);
- Increase BRICS’ share in e-commerce globally to at least 40% in 2025 and 50% in 2034 (from current 30%) as well as regard easing of mutual interactions;
- Use newly created NDB for infrastructure projects in BRICS countries;
- Set and jointly pursue specific targets on the amount of roads, railroads, ports, and supporting facilities to be built; elaborate specific projects (in the framework of the China-initiated Silk Road Belt, for example); support growth of regional centers in BRICS countries around transport hubs; modernize and expand network of pipelines; etc.
In the social and humanitarian sphere, they are to:
- Eradicate poverty (measured by national standards) by 2034;
- Soften income disparities with a gradual decrease of the GINI index (currently 54.7 in Brazil, 42.1 in China, 33.9 in India, 40.1 in Russia, and 63.1 in South Africa Parenthesis);
- Promote the BRICS as leaders of the educational space (full enrollment in high schools in all BRICS countries; a higher education rate of over 40% in each country; functional BRICS Network University on specializations of mutual interest; at least one university from each of BRICS countries being ranked among the top 10 universities in the world);
- Promote national languages of BRICS countries – modify programs and learn outcomes accordingly;
- Increase humanitarian and cultural exchanges (holding the Cultural Festival of BRICS annually; translating and publishing at least one bestselling opus from each of the BRICS countries per year; promoting feature and documentary films exchange and joint film-production, etc.);
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all of the most relevant concerns for BRICS (end epidemics of communicable diseases; prevention and relevant treatment for NCD; prevention and treatment of substance abuse; decreasing number of deaths and accidents from road traffic accidents; achieve universal coverage and high-quality health care systems, etc.).