BRICS Foreign Ministers meet in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA on 29th September 2015 [Image: MFA, Russia]
BRICS Foreign Ministers meet in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA on 29th September 2015 [Image: MFA, Russia]

BRICS foreign ministers held talks on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York on Tuesday.

The meet, an annual feature, intended to take stock of developments since the BRICS Summit in Russia earlier this summer.

The main focus- for ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa- has been the stalled IMF reforms as well as UNSC expansion, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East.

“The BRICS Ministers reiterated their intention to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, as stated in the Ufa Summit declaration,” said a joint statement.

Following the dueling speeches at the United Nations General Assembly debate on Monday by presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin that reiterated the divergence of views on tackling the Syrian crisis, BRICS ministers agreed that only a “political solution” could bring peace.

“The Ministers stressed the need to continue support to the process of political settlement of the conflict in Syria on the basis of the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012,”  according to the statement issued after the foreign ministers meet.

The BRICS Ministers also reiterated their “deep concern about the situation in Ukraine”.

“They emphasized that there is no military solution to the conflict and that the only way to reconciliation is through inclusive political dialogue. The Ministers called on all parties to comply with all provisions of the Minsk Agreements adopted in February 2015. They urged the parties to observe the achieved ceasefire and make it sustainable,” said the statement.

Speeches of the BRICS leaders at the UNGA debate had a common refrain in criticism directed at the UN Security Council for not taking in new permanent members.

“It is unacceptable and unjustifiable that more than one billion people in the African continent are still excluded as permanent members of the key decision making structure of the United Nations, the UN Security Council. A continent with a smaller population than Africa is represented by three countries on the UN Security Council as permanent members,” said South African President Jacob Zuma in his UNGA address earlier this week.

The BRICS Foreign Ministers on Tuesday also “reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations including its Security Council with a view to making it more representative and efficient”.

Officials from the five countries on Tuesday also took stock of the global economy.

The ministers highlighted the “urgency of unblocking the IMF reform as a measure to reform global economic governance consistent with the interests and needs of the developing countries”.

As the BRICS countries launched new financial institutions like the $100 billion BRICS Bank, the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and a $100 billion BRICS currency reserve fund, the IMF has once again delayed voting reforms to give emerging countries greater say.

“The Ministers stressed the importance of closer economic, financial and trade cooperation, particularly through policy coordination, timely implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, and the full functioning of the New Development Bank and its African Regional Centre,” said the joint statement on Tuesday.

The $100 billion BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) has become fully operational following the inaugural meetings of the BRICS CRA Board of Governors and the Standing Committee in the Turkish capital of Ankara earlier this month.

The CRA is meant to provide an alternative to International Monetary Fund’s emergency lending. In the CRA, emergency loans of up to 30 per cent of a member nation’s contribution will be decided by a simple majority. Bigger loans will require the consent of all CRA members.