How does BRICS challenge the prevailing international order?
BRICS as a grouping of emerging economies that represent more than 40% of the world’s population by its very existence challenges economic and political governance systems led by Western nations. As the existing order lacks diverse representation, BRICS serves as an alternative economic and governance platform that seeks to create momentum toward a more equitable multipolar order.
Yet, this powerful political symbolism has not translated into achievements commensurate with the group’s ambitions. Though establishing a multilateral development financial institution (namely the New Development Bank (NDB)), coalescing the emerging world into a distinct political identity, and looking to develop alternative ways of economic cooperation are certainly laudable results.
As the battle lines between the US, its allies and partners, and the PRC/Russia have hardened as a result of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine, there has been increasing interest from outsiders wanting to join the PRC-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS. When more than 40 countries express interest in joining a forum like BRICS, the world needs to take notice. Worryingly, however, in these forums, due to Russia’s current pariah status, the PRC’s clout has grown. Yet internal dissonance, especially due to the PRC’s clear aim of expanding its geopolitical influence in the non-Western world and India’s rejection of a PRC-dominated BRICS, will make expansion difficult – especially the indiscriminate kind.
Nonetheless, the proposed expansion of BRICS will not lose its shine just yet. Firstly, this is because the geo-economic might of a well-thought-out expansion would be significant, even as plans to create a fairer monetary system may not be feasible right now. Secondly, the political implications of BRICS as a multipolar, better-represented, consensus-based forum cannot be cast aside easily.
This expert’s take on BRICS is published in a special compendium at the Council on Geostrategy, London.
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