BRICS Security Cooperation: A Ways to Go
The BRICS cooperation mechanism, which can be traced back to 2006, has become a shining symbol of cooperation among emerging market and developing countries as well as an important force fueling the world economy. Alongside economic cooperation, people-to-people communication and mechanism construction, BRICS countries have also carried out a good deal of security cooperation over the last decade.
BRICS security cooperation is centered on maintaining a unanimous opinion on major international matters. “Declarations” reached by successive BRICS leaders express the bloc’s attitude on major global issues. Internal changes could lead to differences on regional issues, but the bloc’s stance on the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan has remained consistent.
The most solid foundation for security cooperation among BRICS countries is the five countries’ similar stance on global governance and order. They are all committed to a fair and just international order based on the principles of the UN Charter and pushing the international order in a more just and reasonable direction. BRICS promotes economic globalization to be more fair, mutually-beneficial and inclusive. Especially since Donald Trump took office, BRICS countries’ common ground on international trade has becomes more pronounced. All five countries support a rule-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system. They all follow the existing rules and obligations required by the World Trade Organization and oppose trade protectionism. They call for the international community to implement the Paris Agreement in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to fulfill its commitment to the provision of financial and technical support to developing countries to address climate change.
At the same time, BRICS countries have all expressed similar appeal to reform the existing international system. For example, BRICS countries called for comprehensive reform of the United Nations including its Security Council, to make it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase representation of developing countries. They promote the IMF’S reform to strengthen the voices of emerging markets and developing economies. They require developed European economies to fulfill their promise to give up two IMF executive board seats to enhance the voice and representation of the poorest members of sub-saharan Africa. The countries appeal to the international community to make greater efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As for specific security issues, BRICS countries have started cooperation and achieved some progress in fields like the fight against terrorism, space exploration, network security and energy security. In 2016, during India’s presidency of the BRICS Sum-
mit, member countries set up the first cooperation mechanism on counter-terrorism and in September 2016 organized the first meeting of the Working Group on Counter-terrorism in New Delhi. On May 18, 2017, the second meeting of the BRICS Working Group on Counter-terrorism was held in Beijing. BRICS countries found extensive common interests and broad cooperation space in fields including terrorism suppression, and they should make full use of the BRICS anti-terrorism mechanism to gradually expand pragmatic cooperation in anti-terrorism information exchange, law enforcement, capacity building and protection of overseas interests, as well as to strengthen multilateral communication and coordination to make BRICS’ contribution a greater factor in the global fight against terrorism.
In the Ufa and Goa Declarations, BRICS’ cooperation in space exploration received considerable attention. The declarations documented their common position that international law gives all nations the right to peacefully explore outer space and utilize its resources. And no arms or force should ever be used in outer space to ensure the sustainability of outer space activities. To promote space cooperation among BRICS countries, the first meeting of the heads of the BRICS space authorities was held in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, on October 31, 2016. All parties agreed that space cooperation would inject new vitality into BRICS strategic cooperation and confirmed that BRICS countries would jointly build a BRICS sharing mechanism for remote sensing satellite data to help with challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, environmental protection, and the sustainable development of BRICS countries.
In cybersecurity, BRICS countries have plenty of common ground. Based on international law such as the UN Charter and how it outlines political independence, territorial integrity, equal state sovereignty, settlement of disputes by peaceful means, noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and privacy, all BRICS countries have deep interest in developing information and communication technology and advocate an open, unified and secure internet. As for the realm of energy security, in November 2015, the first BRICS energy ministerial meeting was held in Moscow, which laid a framework and foundation for energy cooperation between the five countries. On June 7, 2017, the second BRICS energy ministerial meeting was held in Beijing. Participants of that meeting discussed issues like energy security, energy transformation and a platform for BRICS countries’ energy research cooperation, culminating in the publication of a joint statement.
In general, compared to cooperation in economic and trade sectors, security cooperation among BRICS countries still has many limits. Although BRICS countries can reach consensus on global issues and policies, cooperation in specific areas often requires more work and is expected to experience further growth. BRICS security cooperation has a long way to go. Fortunately, at the Seventh BRICS Security Meeting, all parties recognized that only by continuously strengthening the role of the BRICS Security Meeting mechanism will in-depth development of security cooperation among BRICS countries be promoted.
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