BRICS must learn very quickly that ‘to dare is to do’

Published Apr 21, 2024


IN AN international world order whose multipolarity has been systematically undermined by the rise of Western-led unilateralism, developing states have been held hostage by their wealthier counterparts.

The UN Charter, which was founded on the principle of equality and consensus, has in our contemporary times been substituted by the so-called “rules-based world order”.

For the global south, or majority world, there has been little or no room for ventilation. Although on paper, the global governance system appears perfectly acceptable, beneath the surface, there has been growing discontentment.

Vocal nations such as South Africa, Brazil and others have called for the reformation of the UN system, particularly the UN Security Council, where global unilateralists such as the US, UK and France often exercised their archaic veto power to maintain their stranglehold on the international order.

I paint the above picture in juxtaposition to the rise of the BRICS bloc, which evidently threatens Western hegemony. Premised around the powerful G7 Western nations, the power of the US remains fortified and intact.

The same group of G7 countries has mastered the art of hunting as a pack. They have become a global authority with enormous power, undermining any parallel structure.

Until recently, the emergence of BRICS has come to serve as a promising platform for marginalised states.

The revelation this week by the Russian parliament that so far some 40 countries have applied for membership in the strategic geopolitical bloc, BRICS, has come as no surprise.

The figure is reliable. Russia is the current chair, or president, of the BRICS-Plus bloc. Moscow will also play host to this year’s historic BRICS-Plus Heads of State meeting in October. For the first time, the 10-member BRICS-Plus bloc will converge amid rising geopolitical tensions and challenges.

There are also glaring challenges in BRICS's running and operations. If the bloc should achieve some of its key objectives such as serving as an antithesis to the Western-led unipolar world order, BRICS will have to adapt pretty quickly or risk being cast aside by the global north kingpins, whose idea of the international order is based on their brand of democracy.

When China fought back Western accusations of human rights violations, Beijing argued that it was not a dictatorship and instead practised, like the West, democracy ‒ but a brand that has “Chinese characteristics”.

As I pointed out above, although BRICS can be regarded as a breath of fresh air, there are still mammoth stumbling blocks that threaten the bloc’s very effectiveness.

In the current geopolitical challenges, notably the Ukraine war, Israel’s genocide in Gaza,and the Israel-Iran face-off, the US-led G7 was very willing to take a stand and pronounce publicly its unsurprising condemnation of Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel.

The G7’s influence is also evident in the EU and Nato. The wealth of the group is used strategically to fund courses that are ideologically aligned with “he who pays the piper”.

I said earlier that the G7 has mastered the art and skill of hunting in packs, just like lions. In the UN Security Council, or UN General Assembly, or WTO, World Bank, IMF, International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fifa,, etc, the wishes and impact of the G7 and the entire global North are unmistakable.

These institutions serve as a covert microcosm of global control. Take, for instance, the swift suspension of Russian football from all Fifa activities after Moscow launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Consider the isolation of Russian and Belarussian tennis players on the WTA tours, where the Western media praised opposing players for their refusal to shake hands.

At the imminent Paris Olympics, Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be allowed to carry the flags of their nations, as they have been barred. Israel, on the other hand, has not faced any form of sanction for its genocide in Gaza.

In fact, Israeli football has been allowed by Fifa to cut away from the Middle East and join Europe!

At the UN Security Council a couple of weeks ago, the UK, US and France (veto power holders and G7 members) refused to allow condemnation of Israel’s attack on the embassy of Iran in Syria, an abomination according to the Geneva Convention.

A fortnight later, Iran retaliated by launching drones and missile attacks on Israel. Now, the US has moved very swiftly to impose economic sanctions against Iran, with the G7, the EU, and Nato in tow.

As I’ve argued previously, US foreign policy is cantankerous. Worse still, the foreign policy of the US allies is premised on the notion of “monkey see, monkey do”.

Across the poorer nations of the Majority World ‒ most of whom are the former colonies of the global north, such as the UK, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Italy, etc ‒ aid is predicated upon the dictates of Western hegemony.

In my book, the only way to turn the tables on Western dominance is through economic self-sufficiency. China has taken the lead in showing how that can be undertaken and achieved.

Russia’s capability to withstand an unprecedented barrage of Western economic sanctions is testimony to the successful indigenisation of the country’s economy, which is insulated from external harm. A strong political system also lies at the heart of the Russian Federation's strength.

This highlights the inherent value of the emerging BRICS-Plus bloc as a possible vehicle to get rid of modern Western neo-colonialism across the global South.

For the uninitiated, the original members of BRICS are: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. At last year’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg, a historic expansion of the bloc saw six more strategic regional powers incorporated.

These were Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Argentina. Shortly thereafter, Argentina held elections and saw a pro-US administration assume power. Immediately, Argentina resigned from BRICS-Plus.

Some of the 40 countries that are lining up to be accepted into the bloc are, among others, Venezuela, Cuba, Indonesia, Kenya, Algeria, Qatar and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

Prior to the expansion of BRICS-Plus, the bloc boasted a combined population of 3.4 billion people, which is over 40% of the world’s population. As things stand, without considering the 40 applicants’ numbers, BRICS-Plus represents a good half of the world’s population. I'll return to this strength later.

Brazilian experts believe that Nigeria’s entry into BRICS would be very important. Nigeria has a population with a high growth projection, which in terms of economic level, market, production and dynamism will be very important for the BRICS bloc, said Eden Pereira Lopes da Silva, a doctoral candidate in comparative history at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

“And also, it’s a country in a region where the BRICS don’t have such a strong presence,” he added.

Another pundit, international relations expert Faustino Henrique, said: “Nigeria manages to combine all these variables, from its strategic position in the Gulf of Guinea to being Africa’s largest economy and a country rich in minerals, oil, gas and even agriculture.”

Let's now revisit the power and strength of BRICS-Plus, a force rarely unleashed in geopolitics.

BRICS-Plus needs to publicly display its strength – through unity of purpose – by pronouncing on geopolitical events as they unfold, particularly where and when the members of the bloc are involved. As they say in Latin: Audere est Facere – “To dare is to do”.

The silence of BRICS is often too deafening, leaving many – friend and foe – to wonder what the standpoint of the bloc is on matters of global importance.

BRICS, sadly, gets to communicate at best during the Heads of State summits, which take place only once a year. In between, many other BRICS-related activities are communicated poorly, if at all.

The West will only take BRICS seriously if the bloc shows that it takes itself seriously. For example, since the Ukraine war just over two years ago, none of the BRICS members have accepted the Western sanctions against Moscow.

India has increased its purchase of Russian oil and military-related goods and services over the past two years. China has supplied Russia with increased volumes of ICT services.

SA and Brazil have played a prominent role in attempting to broker a truce in Ukraine. Commendable indeed. However, the bloc’s lack of public collective pronouncements plays right into the hands of their Western counterparts, whose modus operandi remains global control through public opinion, military power and diplomacy.

Some of the programmes of the bloc are earth-shaking in many respects. The de-dollarisation process is one example where trade between member states is no longer conducted using the US dollar.

The establishment of the BRICS Bank, or Development Bank, is another innovation that could bring about a game change. As a lender with relatively friendlier terms than the IMF and World Bank, the BRICS Bank could become a lender of choice for the majority world.

The cumulative effect of shared wealth within the bloc is astronomical. The oil-producing nations within BRICS account for the majority of the global total.

Had this been an advantage in the possession of the West, the rest of the world would be left in no doubt about whose tune everyone must dance to. That’s the lesson BRICS needs to learn, and fast.

Not to oppress anyone, but to teach everyone that shared growth breeds a shared future. And we must accept that we’re different, yet in that diversity,we can co-exist peacefully and happily as equals before international law.

* Abbey Makoe is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief: Global South Media Network