BRICS Nations Aim to Reshape Global Geopolitics

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In a significant move that could redefine global geopolitics, leaders of BRICS, the powerful bloc of emerging economies that represents nearly a quarter of the world’s wealth, are set to convene in Johannesburg this week. Hosted by South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, the annual three-day summit will see participation from key global figures, including China’s President Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant, will join the conference remotely.

This meeting of the titans, representing billions across three continents, comes at a time when the world order is increasingly seen as skewed towards the interests of affluent Western powers. The BRICS economies, each experiencing varying growth trajectories, share a common dissatisfaction with this imbalance and are positioning themselves as a robust force in championing international justice. The summit, which has piqued the interest of over 40 nations expressing a desire to join the bloc, is anticipated to be a critical turning point in the current global political landscape.


BRICS Leaders Aim to Expand Influence at Johannesburg Summit

BRICS leaders, who together account for approximately 25% of the world’s wealth, are set to meet in Johannesburg this week. The aim of the summit is to extend the bloc’s influence and advocate for a shift in global geopolitics. Their shared commonality lies in their mutual disdain for a world order they believe predominantly serves the interests of wealthy Western powers.

Reshaping the World Order

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to host the three-day summit starting Tuesday, with leaders including China’s President Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate remotely due to an International Criminal Court arrest warrant that South Africa would be theoretically obliged to enforce should he enter the country. Instead, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will represent Russia in Johannesburg.

Collectively, the BRICS economies represent billions of people across three continents and are undergoing varying degrees of growth. Chen Xiaodong, the Chinese ambassador to Pretoria, stated that the traditional global governing system is "dysfunctional, deficient and missing in action," and that BRICS are increasingly becoming a powerful force in defending international justice.

A Growing Interest in the Bloc

Interest in the BRICS bloc is on the rise with at least 40 countries having expressed interest in joining, and 23 of those have formally submitted applications to become BRICS members. Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s ambassador-at-large for Asia and the BRICS, attributes this interest to the polarized world we live in, particularly in light of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. He believes countries in the South, strong enough to assert their positions, are seeking an alternative to current hegemony in world affairs.

This year’s summit, themed "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development, and inclusive multilateralism," will be held at a convention center in Johannesburg’s Sandton, historically referred to as the richest square-mile on the continent. A decision on expanding the BRICS membership is expected at the end of the summit.

Skepticism Around the Summit’s Outcome

Despite the enthusiasm of the BRICS leaders, experts are skeptical about the summit’s potential outcomes. Steven Gruzd of the Africa-Russia Africa project at the South African Institute of International Affairs, commented, "I don’t think this summit will yield those dramatic results because the power is still with Western countries. China is rising, but is not the dominant power yet."

Takeaways

The BRICS, launched in 2009, now account for 23% of the global GDP and 42% of the world’s population. The combined bloc represents more than 16% of the world’s trade. While the bloc’s influence is undoubtedly growing, it remains to be seen whether it can usher in the shift in global geopolitics it seeks. The world will be watching the outcomes of this summit keenly. The expansion of BRICS membership could signal a significant shift in the global economic landscape and the balance of power.

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