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.
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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.