In the spirit of commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations and the end of World War II, the Russian capital city of Ufa of the Republic of Bashkortoshtan, witnessed the unfolding of twin summits of two major non-western multilateral forums. For July 8-10th, marked the parallel dynamics of the Seventh Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) Summit and the Fifteenth Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, both presided under the chairmanship of Russia. In this view, the simultaneous processing of the two multilateral networks under a common roof- thereby makes it unique and significant in many ways. Most importantly, signifies the emergence of a new world order presided by Asia, Africa and Europe.
The context to the 2015 BRICS/SCO Summits can be traced in the changing dynamics of the global geopolitics as caused by- declining western world order, rampant rise of terrorism, euro zone crisis and so on. Under this geopolitical syndrome, the key landmark of the twin international summits is the Ufa Declaration, which emphasized on the “need for comprehensive, transparent, and efficient multilateral approaches” to address global challenges by conforming to the UN Charter. Therefore, the key takeaways that signify the 2015 BRICS/SCO Summits are premised on the strategy of development of BRICS and SCO until 2025.
In the Seventh BRICS Summit themed under “BRICS Partnership- a Powerful Factor for Global Development” represents the common interest of the emerging economies in creating a strong alternative to the west dominated economic order functioned by International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and also to challenge the monopoly of the US Dollar. With finance and infrastructure high on agenda, the key breakthroughs reached in this Summit is the ratification of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA)- which were formalized at the VI BRICS Summit held in Fortaleza- Brazil in 2014. The NDB, as headquartered in Shanghai and presided by India, will start functioning by the first quarter of 2016 and with a current reserve of $50 billion aims to invest in infrastructure buildup and other development projects in BRICS and other developing countries. While the CRA, with a revamped $100 billion contingency reserves aims to forestall economic volatility pressures as created by the Bretton Woods Institutions.
Apart from these two key achievements, the VII BRICS Summit also focused on strengthening of intra-BRICS ties by adopting BRICS Economic Partnership- to foster trade, investment and economic cooperation; emphasized on the reform of the UN Security Council equated with China and Russia’s support for Brazil, India and South Africa’s in the UNSC; called for US ratification of the IMF 2010 reform package. While in addition, the BRICS members also emphasized on creation of: BRICS Working Group on Anti-Corruption Cooperation, Joint BRICS Website, BRICS Working Group on ICT Cooperation and BRICS Ministers of Labour and Employment.
While, the Fifteenth SCO Summit between the member states- China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and five “observer” states- Afghanistan, Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan and other dialogue partners also reached significant outcomes. One of the primary outcomes was the expansion of SCO in South Asia- as India and Pakistan- two non-Central Asian countries were upgraded from observer states to full members. This grant of membership is symbolic in terms of maintaining balance in the clashing interests of Russia and China in their allegiance towards India and Pakistan respectively. In addition, SCO Summit witnessed further expansion in terms of- as exemplified in Iran’s formal application for accession to full membership while other countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Sri Lanka, Syria, Ukraine, Maldives, Cambodia, Egypt also asked for observer or a partner status in SCO- reflective of SCO’s growing importance as an influential multilateral forum in international politics. While the other focus areas of the 2015 SCO Summit, centered on cooperation on border issues and fighting against terrorism, separatism and extremism for the next three-year period (2016-2018).
Though not specific to the 2015 BRICS/SCO Summit but an important highlight is the bilateral talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at the sidelines of SCO Summit- outlawing Kashmir and centered on terrorism, the talks provided an impetus to the downgrading India-Pakistan relations.
In an overall analysis, it can be stated that the 2015 BRICS/SCO Summit did pave the way of a new kind of world order which outrightly challenges the US dominated global order. As BRICS and SCO both exhibit greater inclusivity in their working mechanism as well as greater flexibility. It is representative of a stronger South-South Cooperation. Therefore, BRICS and SCO though nascent at their development stage but hold significant potential in becoming a gigantic power house both literally and figuratively in the coming years.
(by Amrita Jash, a Doctoral Candidate in Chinese Studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University)