BRICS Foreign Ministers Discuss De-Dollarization and Overcoming Geopolitics

The foreign ministers of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met in Cape Town, South Africa, June 1-2, to prepare the agenda of the heads of state summit in Johannesburg in just under three months. The five ministers were joined on the second day by their counterparts from 15 nations of the Global South, for a meeting of the “BRICS-Plus”. Reflecting the goal of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to promote closer relations between the group and African countries, eight of the 15 were from Africa.

While most of the other top diplomats were hooked up to the meeting virtually, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, and Iran, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, attended in person, and also held bilateral talks on the sidelines. According to South Africa’s Ambassador at Large for BRICS affairs, up to 30 states have submitted official or unofficial applications for BRICS membership, which are under consideration.

Among the main topics discussed, leading up to the Aug. 22-24 summit, are the consolidation of the group as a leadership body that speaks for, and defends the interests of, the nations of the Global South, and the creation of a BRICS currency. On that issue, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor pointed out that there are discussions underway worldwide, and not only among the BRICS nations, about ways to avoid the use of the U.S. dollar, and she stressed the need to strengthen the positions of BRICS currencies in international trade. She proposed that the BRICS partnership “provide global leadership in a world fractured by competition, geopolitical tension, inequality and deteriorating global security”.

At the conclusion of the meeting on June 2, a joint statement was issued, containing a clear refutation of the “rules based order” of the West. It asserts the diplomats’ commitment “to strengthening multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations”.

The ministers deplored the impact on the world economy of “unilateral economic coercive measures, such as sanctions, boycotts, embargoes and blockades”. As for the argument about sacrificing development to save the planet, they “condemned unilateral protectionist measures under the pretext of environmental concerns such as unilateral and discriminatory carbon border adjustment mechanisms, taxes and other measures”. And they underscored the “importance of encouraging the use of local currencies in international trade and financial transactions between BRICS as well as their trading partners”.

Concerning Ukraine, the final statement welcomes the “proposals of mediation and good offices aimed at peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy”. On the issue of human rights and fundamental freedoms, it notes the need to deal with them “in a non-selective, non-politicized and constructive manner and without double standards.”

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