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BRICS meeting calls for equitable international system

By WORKU BELACHEW | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-07-08 22:13


The first BRICS meeting since the bloc's expansion was held in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, where the grouping emphasized the need for a more equitable international system.

During the summit on June 10-11, top diplomats from the BRICS countries reiterated their commitment to multilateralism and upholding international law, and called for improving global governance by promoting a more effective and democratic international system. They also reiterated their commitment to assuring a greater participation of developing and least developed countries, especially those in Africa, in the global decision-making process.

The coming together of BRICS into the multilateral front will further open a window of opportunity for developing and least developed countries to access finance that has no strings attached to it. The New Development Bank (NDB) has started to positively impact development among countries including China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Egypt, and the like. Critical public infrastructure is being expanded in the stated countries, ranging from connectivity and clean energy to water and sanitation.

While reaffirming their commitment to the BRICS spirit featuring mutual respect and understanding, equality, solidarity, openness, inclusiveness and consensus, diplomats in Nizhny Novgorod during the meeting in June also emphasized the central role of the United Nations in the international system. Diplomats participating in the meeting, including Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs Minister Taye Atskesilassie, emphasized the importance of revamping the United Nations, international financial, and security institutions while keeping developing countries' interests in mind.

"The Ministers voiced their support for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more democratic, representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of developing countries in the Council's memberships so that it can adequately respond to prevailing global challenges and support the legitimate aspirations of emerging and developing countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, including BRICS countries, to play a greater role in international affairs," said a joint statement of BRICS foreign ministers released following the meeting.

The prestigious body, the UN, has matured to the age of 79 but has not yet opened its most important organ, the United Nations Security Council, to equal representation. In the UNSC seat where the decision of the organ must be obeyed by all member countries, regions such as Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean have remained onlookers even on their own affairs. The 54 African countries and 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries adhere to the decisions of the UNSC that they have never participated as permanent members.

For a long, leaders of African countries, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed brought the issue to the attention of African leaders. For instance, on May 25, 2023, as the African Union turned digits to 60 years old, the prime minister made his point on the fact that the continent that more than a billion people call it home must secure its permanent seat in the UNSC.

Now that the BRICS sphere of influence is gaining traction across the length and breadth of our world, contributing to a more fair, balanced and democratic global order and bringing peace and security in an increasingly volatile world, the push for reforming the UN system has become inevitable. The bloc, entirely composed of developing countries, understands the true feeling of getting kept at the sidelines on pressing matters that affect millions of lives. For instance, about 36 percent of the UN peacekeeping missions have been mandated in Africa since the 1960s.

It is illogical, to say the least, to stay stubborn at a time when member states of the UN themselves are raising their voices to create a UN system that lives up to the 21st Century demands of the nations. The BRICS expansion, incorporating more members from Africa such as Egypt and Ethiopia, in particular, helps amplify the plea. The countries have already started to speak in unison to create an international system that is fair and balanced, and one which prevails justice for all.

Africa endured centuries of injustices, from the trans-African slave trade 15th C-19th to 19th century colonialism to the current marginalization at the UNSC in the 21st C. The BRICS will usher the continent on the path of equality among peers provided members' commitments continue unabated.

The author is editor-in-chief of The Ethiopian Herald, a national newspaper in Ethiopia. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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