News / Economy

Activists Push for Increased Political Role for BRICS Group

A man walks past a floral display announcing the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, Mar. 25, 2013.A man walks past a floral display announcing the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, Mar. 25, 2013.
x
A man walks past a floral display announcing the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, Mar. 25, 2013.
A man walks past a floral display announcing the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, Mar. 25, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Anita Powell
— At just five-years old, the BRICS economic bloc is defining its role at a summit in South Africa.  Group members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting to lay the foundation for a development bank, but activists are urging them to enter the political realm. 
 
BRICS’ main focus is business, which was obvious Tuesday as businessmen in suits manned booths at the Durban exhibition center, touting everything from wine to diamonds to missiles. 
 
These men are not here just to talk, they said, and neither are the well-suited political leaders who will follow Wednesday.  Those heads of state plan to establish a BRICS development bank that could serve as a counterweight to the powerful, but entrenched lending institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 
 
BRICS

  • The world's five largest emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa
  • Total population of BRICS nations is almost 3 billion people
  • Total BRICS GDP is $14 trillion
  • The fifth annual BRICS summit starts March 26 in Durban, South Africa
BRICS is a relatively recent arrangement, but the economies of the five nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are booming relative to the traditional economic powers.  The group is collectively worth more than a quarter of the world’s GDP. 
 
But humanitarian organizations are calling for the group to use that economic muscle for a political cause.  Activists met Monday in Johannesburg to call for the BRICS nations to speak out against atrocities in Syria.
 
The five nations have previously said they oppose foreign intervention in Syria, and Russia, China and South Africa have voted against resolutions on Syria at the U.N. Security Council. 
 
Aid group Doctors Without Borders said it would like to see BRICS use its weight to press for humanitarian access to Syria.  
 
The aid group’s South Africa director, Daniel Berman, said “We think that it is unacceptable that the issue of Syria is not firmly on the agenda.  And that this group of emerging countries which have considerable global power are not using their might to negotiate some humanitarian aid in Syria.”
 
Analyst Simon Freemantle of South Africa’s Standard Bank says BRICS is likely to say something about Syria, but that it will not be a dramatic statement or influence business. 
 
“I think they will be expressing solidarity for some of the victims of the violence there, they will advocate for the peaceful resolution to continue to be pursued ... I do not perceive the BRICS to start to become a very dramatic interventionist foreign policy mechanism, that is unlikely to happen for some time," he said. 
 
The South Africa-based CEO of the NEPAD Business Foundation, Lynette Chen, says a coordinated stance is not necessarily a bad thing for business and can make a difference as long as the BRICS nations stick to one stance.  NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, works to foster business within Africa.
 
“I think the BRICS grouping will definitely alter the global playing field. So, if you have the BRICS countries sticking together, for example, on issues like Syria, in example, in the U.N. Security Council, for example,I think that you will see more of a concerted effort around interventions in these situations," she said. 
 
The summit continues Wednesday.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.