BRICS Summit under Russia’s Chairmanship

25.11.2020

MOSCOW, NOVEMBER 25, 2020. PIR-PRESS. “In this transitional period, further strengthening of the dialogue with external partners, in particular BRICS-Plus, is of paramount importance. The absence of the states of the Middle East and Southeast Asia in the “club” at present limits the potential for the formation of a BRICS partner network. Whereas the “club” has a generally strong membership, so far, none of the states of the Islamic world participates in BRICS. This creates a certain imbalance, even though the Muslim population makes up a significant share in two of the five BRICS countries (India and Russia)”, ‒ PIR Center's report on the prospects of BRICS enlargement from the point of view of international security and Russia's interests.

The main stage of the Russian BRICS chairmanship has come to an end; on November 17, a summit of the Heads of BRICS states was held, which means that we can summarize the preliminary results of the Russian BRICS chairmanship and try to look into the future of the organization. On this occasion, PIR Center has prepared a report “The Sixth Letter of BRICS: International Security and Russia's Interests”. The report examines the possible implications of BRICS enlargement for the role of the organization in addressing international security issues.

Since PIR Center focuses on issues of WMD non-proliferation, the use of atomic energy and outer space for peaceful purposes, international information security, and new technologies, the main emphasis is placed on the role of BRICS in addressing these issues. At the same time, we understand that political and security issues are only one of the three pillars of the organization. We regard the report as a trial balloon designed to launch a discussion of BRICS enlargement.

Key points:

On the one hand, the current position “Let the club settle in its current composition” appears to be quite reasonable. On the other hand, the dynamics and global attractiveness of BRICS will be lost without its enlargement.
 
A review of the priorities of potential candidate countries in the field of security policy shows that the greatest benefits for BRICS as an organization would come from expanding the range of partners in countering new cross-border challenges (terrorism, organized crime, cyber threats, and drug trafficking).
 
The prospects of the “sixth letter of BRICS” in the peaceful use of outer space and nuclear energy appear less clear. Although these areas could certainly gain relevance in the future, for now, it is advisable to continue cooperation with the current member states.
 
In the future, when BRICS members decide not only on specific working formats in these areas but also give them substance, it will be inappropriate to dwell on a specific candidate. The interests of BRICS cooperation on atomic energy and outer space issues will be more in line with such formats as BRICS-Plus and outreach.
 
Indonesia appears to be the most suitable candidate in the medium term. The country has adopted a balanced, thoughtful approach to key international security issues. At the same time, it enjoys authority among the states of the Islamic world and the Non-Aligned Movement. Both political and economic factors speak in favor of the "Indonesian option".
 
The authors point out that the expansion of BRICS to include Indonesia and the transformation of this organization from BRICS to BRICSI will maintain the necessary dynamics of BRICS development without undermining its consensual mechanisms, and will even more clearly project the influence of this organization on world affairs, including financial, economic, and global strategic issues.

For questions regarding the "BRICS Potential for Global Peace and Security" project, please contact "Nuclear Nonproliferation & Russia" Program Coordinator Sergey Semenov by phone +7 (495) 987 19 15 or via e-mail [email protected].

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