By Somar Wijayadasa*
Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part article dealing with an issue of immense interest to our readers and a subject that affects all developing countries. Read Part-2 here
NEW YORK. 30 August 2023 (IDN) — On the final day of the historic BRICS Summit held in South Africa from 22 to 24 August 2023, its leaders unanimously adopted a wide-ranging document with 94 points—now widely known as the Johannesburg II Declaration.
Since it is impossible to analyze and report on all the issues and areas covered by this magnificent document, I wish to highlight the salient points without any comments.
In its Preamble, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the BRICS spirit of mutual respect and understanding, sovereign equality, solidarity, democracy, openness, inclusiveness, strengthened collaboration and consensus.
It further states as we build upon 15 years of BRICS Summits, we further commit ourselves to strengthening the framework of mutually beneficial BRICS cooperation under the three pillars of political and security, economic and financial, and cultural and people-to-people cooperation and to enhancing our strategic partnership for the benefit of our people through the promotion of peace, a more representative, fairer international order, a reinvigorated and reformed multilateral system, sustainable development, and inclusive growth.
In its section on “Partnership for Inclusive Multilateralism”, the leaders reiterated their commitment to upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations (UN) as its indispensable cornerstone and the central role of the UN in an international system in which sovereign states cooperate to maintain peace and security.
The members expressed “concern about the use of unilateral coercive measures” —referring to sanctions and other threats—which they said are “incompatible with the principles of the Charter of the UN” as they produce adverse effects, particularly on developing nations.
They call for “promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms under the principles of equality and mutual respect”; support a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, to make it more democratic, representative, effective, and efficient, and to increase the representation of developing countries in the Council’s memberships; and calls for a rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core.
Under the section on “Fostering an Environment of Peace and Development”, the leaders are concerned about ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world —including hostilities in Ukraine, and welcomed mediation proposals aimed at defusing the standoff—and stressed their commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes through dialogue … and for the peaceful settlement of crises.
Commitment to a peaceful solution
Regarding other issues on the international agenda, the document highlighted the commitment of BRICS to the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In addition, members unequivocally condemned terrorism, pledging to fight it in all its forms.
They stressed their commitment to multilateralism and to the central role of the United Nations, which are prerequisites to maintaining peace and security. They also stressed the imperative of refraining from coercive measures not based on international law and the UN Charter.
It emphasizes the importance of contributing to post-conflict countries’ reconstruction and development and calls upon the international community to assist countries in meeting their development goals. They stressed the imperative of refraining from any coercive measures not based on international law and the UN Charter.
At the same time, the document stressed that BRICS supports the “legitimate aspirations of emerging and developing countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America”.
The leaders highlighted the commitment of BRICS to the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In addition, members unequivocally condemned terrorism, pledging to fight it in all its forms.
Mutually accelerated growth
In the section under “Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth”, the leaders expressed their belief that multilateral cooperation is essential to limit the risks stemming from geopolitical and geoeconomic fragmentation and intensify efforts on areas of mutual interest, including but not limited to trade, poverty and hunger reduction, sustainable development, including access to energy, water, and food, fuel, fertilizers, as well as mitigating and adapting to the impact of climate change, education, health as well as pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
They reaffirmed the importance of the G20 to continue playing the premier multilateral forum in international economic and financial cooperation that comprises both developed and emerging markets and developing countries where major economies jointly seek solutions to global challenges.
Also while recognizing that BRICS countries produce one-third of the world’s food, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen agricultural cooperation and promote sustainable agriculture and rural development of BRICS countries for enhancing food security both within BRICS and worldwide.
Partnership for sustainable development
Regarding the Partnership for Sustainable Development, the leaders reaffirmed their call for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions: economic, social, and environmental, in a balanced and integrated manner by mobilizing the means required to implement the 2030 Agenda.
It re-emphasized the importance of implementing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement. It urged the developed countries to honor their commitments, including mobilizing USD 100 billion per annum by 2020 and through 2025 to support climate action in developing countries.
The leaders recognized the fundamental role of primary health care as a key foundation for Universal Health Care and the health system’s resilience, as well as for prevention and response to health emergencies.
The leaders believe that the High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to be held at the UN General Assembly in September 2023 would be a critical step for mobilizing the highest political support for UHC as the cornerstone to achieving SDG 3 (good health and well-being).
In Deepening People-to-People Exchanges, the BRICS leaders reaffirmed the importance of BRICS people-to-people exchanges in enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation.
The leaders recognize that youth is a driving force for accelerating the achievement of sustainable development goals, and also acknowledged the critical role of women in economic development and commended the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance.
In the section on Institutional Development, the leaders reiterated the importance of further enhancing BRICS solidarity and cooperation based on their mutual interests and key priorities to further strengthen their strategic partnership.
Six new members
In conclusion, the Declaration points out that the BRICS leaders decided to invite the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS from 1 January 2024.
The leaders commended South Africa’s BRICS Chairmanship in 2023 and expressed their gratitude to the government and people of South Africa for holding the XV BRICS Summit.
Finally, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa extend their full support to Russia for its BRICS Chairmanship in 2024 and Russia’s decision to hold the XVI BRICS Summit in Kazan, Russia.
Commenting on the joint Declaration, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin admitted that finalizing all the details was “not easy” and praised his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa for his “remarkable diplomatic prowess” in helping to harmonize the agreement.
It is a unique masterpiece that encompasses almost all the burning issues and legitimate grievances of virtually all countries of the Global South – the gross injustices these countries and their people have endured over centuries of colonial domination and exploitation.
I must say that the Johannesburg II Declaration is truly a “declaration of a multipolar world”.
*Somar Wijayadasa, an international lawyer, was a UNESCO delegate to the UN General Assembly from 1980-1995 and was the Director and Representative of UNAIDS at the United Nations from 1995-2000. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping in a family photo with other leaders at the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 24 August. Credit: CGTN.
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