BRICS plans big moves to reconstruct security cooperation

Deputy Minister in The Presidency Kenny Morolong addresses the BRICS Youth Summit. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Deputy Minister in The Presidency Kenny Morolong addresses the BRICS Youth Summit. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Published Jul 23, 2023


FOR two days from tomorrow, July 24-25, BRICS National Security Advisors (NSA) meets in the country as part of the build-up to the much-anticipated summit of the bloc in KwaZulu-Natal next month.

Ordinarily, such a meeting would pass by without much ado. However, the increasing importance of BRICS in the rapidly-changing geopolitics draws greater attention to the goings-on in this five-member strategic alliance between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The BRICS National Security Advisors meeting was first initiated by the then Chair, Russia, in 2009, and has been held 12 times so far, the last time being in Beijing last year.

China said “BRICS was born in the historical tide of the collective rise of emerging markets and developing countries and represents the direction of the evolution and adjustment of the world pattern and international order”.

Too many unpredictable events, or their implications and effects thereof, are a matter of deep analysis and assessment particularly in terms of impact on global affairs.

The BRICS bloc uses the meeting as an important platform for the alliance partners to exchange views and carry out cooperation in various fields including political security, multilateralism, diplomatic communications, cyber security, energy, biosecurity and bolster the ties that bind them together as an emerging force in global affairs.

The outbreak of the Ukraine conflict nearly 18 months ago which has pitted the US-led NATO and EU against Russia, has paved the way for the certain reconfiguration of the current unipolar international world order.

The hegemony of the US and the west has never been challenged so ferociously. South Africa and most of the African continent, the Arab League, Latin America and the global south have refused to bow down to mounting western pressure to impose sanctions against Russia.

Furthermore, the BRICS countries have resolved to cease using the US dollar as a currency of choice in their trading activities. Some international relations analysts often refer to this move as “de-dollarization”.

Inevitably, the move will adversely affect the global power of the US dollar, which had entrenched the hegemony of US power in international affairs.

The de-dollarization process was accelerated by Russia in the wake of a barrage of unprecedented US-led western sanctions against Moscow in the aftermath of the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict. Russia refused to sell its oil and gas to Europe in any currency other than its currency, the rubble.

Within the BRICS bloc, it was soon decided to drop the use of the US dollar in the BRICS inter-trade. Recently, India and Saudi Arabia also announced ceasing all trade in US dollar in their bilateral relations.

It is against this backdrop that the BRICS National Security Advisors meeting takes place in the coming week. It also happens at a time when the US has decided to up the ante in its floundering bilateral relations with the world’s most developing economy, China, using the autonomous region of China – Taiwan – as a bait to trigger unnecessary hostilities with Beijing.

The rest of the world regards Taiwan as a legitimately integral part of China. Yet the US, irked by China’s expressed close alliance with Moscow, has used the executive powers of the White House to promise sale of arms to Taiwan and increase bilateral ties with the Chinese self-governing territory. Beijing has warned of grave consequences if the US foreign policy crosses China’s red flags.

So important does Beijing regard the coming week’s National Security Advisors meeting that China’s top diplomat, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, has been dispatched to attend the meeting in person.

SA’s security advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Dr Sydney Mufamadi, is expected to lead the local delegation.

Every time a BRICS member-state hosts the summit for the bloc’s heads of state, the host country holds a series of inter-related meetings aimed at deliberating a plethora of pertinent issues the bloc faces.

This year SA, as a host of the 2023 BRICS heads of state summit in August, has followed the traditional trend, hosting several BRICS events. Only a fortnight ago, the National Security Advisors meeting was preceded by the BRICS countries political parties colloquium hosted by the ANC’s National Treasurer Dr Gwen Ramokgopa in Sandton.

At the meeting, the BRICS Business Council announced that more than twenty countries have applied to join the BRICS bloc. Among them were Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, Argentina and Egypt.

A media statement on the invitation of China’s Mr Wang to the coming week’s meeting was also telling, revealing the powers behind the invitation of China’s top diplomat to the coming NSA meeting. It read: “At the invitation of Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni of SA and the governments of Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey”, Mr Wang will attend the meeting.

Speaking at the BRICS colloquium Obed Bapela, the deputy head of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee, explained that a resolution on the expansion – and size – of BRICS will be deliberated upon at the August summit of the heads of state.

All the BRICS heads of state are expected to attend in person, with the exception of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who will be represented by his veteran foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov.

At the last meeting of the BRICS NSA, China called on BRICS member-states to practice true multilateralism, a concern the global south believes arose out of the US-led unilateral practices that undermine international consensus mechanisms such as the UN.

Among other matters to be addressed next week will be how BRICS can effectively address traditional and non-traditional security threats in a coordinated manner, enhance solidarity, and coordinate development for the fundamental benefit of members and the international community.

The two-day meeting is likely to be one of the most important in recent history. BRICS member-states are said to favour thrashing out a close security cooperation mechanism that could mean that a threat or attack on one member state would trigger a response from the rest of the bloc.

If adopted, this could be one of the resolutions that reposition BRICS as a force to reckon with in the constantly confrontational unequal world order led by the wealthier states of the global north.

The one advantage that BRICS possesses is the fact that both China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council and have a veto power to annul any undesirable resolutions against BRICS or related global interests. That on its own is a firm foundation in the reconfiguration of the international world order.