The 15th BRICS Summit, in Johannesburg from 22-24 August 2023, is an important event for the world, especially for the global South. Why is it so important? The reason is simple. The birth and strengthening of the BRICS+ is a step towards limiting the dominance of the West, which has become increasingly aggressive and overconfident since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is a positive change, writes Aicha El Alaoui, economist, professor at University Sultan My Slimane-Béni Mellal, Morocco.
However, the countries of the underdeveloped South (most African countries) must be particularly vigilant, because nothing particularly shows that the BRICS+, once structured and organized, would not opt for an imperialist economic tendency or an authoritarian political system. One must not forget that human rights and democracy are universal values. Justice is requested by all citizens of the world regardless of their geographical position. The South needs a new era of freedom and justice.
The people of the global South continue to suffer from the persistence of colonialism in its contemporary form (neocolonialism), whose proponents are the Bretton Woods institutions and their so-called development partners. The BRICS+ will thus be an opportunity for the countries of the global South to strengthen their national and international sovereignties. In other words, it will be an opportunity to free themselves from the control and hegemony of the North. The official statements at the 15th BRICS summit constantly stressed the importance of the grouping for sustainable and equitable development for each country, especially those from Africa, which has long suffered from the domination of the North. Still, the five countries were very vigilant in selecting the countries invited to join the group.
The permanent and provocative crises of recent decades have shown that certain countries of the global South cannot decide sovereignly and independently on their economic and political development without “soft” or “hard” interventions from the United States and its allies. Even Europe is subjugated by the US and it is now flailing under its crumbling democratic, economic, and social system due to this. No country should trust the US. Therefore, in a world infested by permanent crises (political crises, economic crises, financial crises, health crises, terrorism), bringing the South and the North together is a necessity.
Faced against this unipolar system, unified by its ideology and formal organization, the new bloc is taking its first steps towards formal structuring. Can it succeed? Economically, BRICS+ can compete with the North, but politically it will be too difficult since BRICS+ involves a great deal of heterogeneity: some countries have very deep political, religious, and cultural conflicts.
Inviting Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Ethiopia, Argentina, and Egypt is a clever consent of the BRICS to progressively establish a new system of de-dollarization and create cracks in old global institutions such as OPEC, the World Bank, and the IMF.
However, will it succeed in uniting its members to serve democracy and social justice in the global South? The answer is “No”, as some countries of the BRICS+ have authoritarian systems. The Global South must collaborate with certain countries of the North to serve the democratic and social restructuring of their societies. ‘Win-win’ collaboration between all countries is a necessity for a better and just world. Therefore, global institutions and organizations must be restructured by respecting the sovereignty of each country.
The last question is, will the BRICS+ be an opportunity to create a just multipolar system? While it is nigh impossible in the short term, in the long term it depends on whether the poor and underdeveloped countries can manage to find a good negotiating position. They ought to show their independence without truly cutting ties with the North so that they can negotiate comfortably their interests with the BRICS+.
The “new” Global Order speaks the same economic language as the United States and its allies: “more profit.”
We must not believe that the first of January 2024 is a date for the freedom and independence of the Global South, but that it is the coming of a new economic power that wants to conquer new markets, especially in Africa.
Let’s be vigilant because freedom and democracy are defended by the people, Aicha El Alaoui stresses.
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