BRICS And The Global South: Legitimacy In Exchange For Recognition – OpEd


BRICS, which started as a symbol of emerging economies fifteen years ago, has evolved into a symbol of resistance against global monopoly and a shelter for the countries of the global South.

These countries have been ignored by the Western-oriented liberal democratic order that denied them a fair share of the world’s resources and opportunities. For these countries, joining BRICS is a chance to pursue their interests in world politics independently and assertively. And for BRICS, welcoming new members is a way to declare the emergence of an alternative order; an order that, unlike the neoliberal order, does not hinder the development of the developing world and does not oppose the process of diversifying the distribution of power at the global level.

The global power distribution has changed rapidly and profoundly in the last fifteen years, transforming the global geopolitics. The countries of the global south have gained an undeniable role in producing and securing two global public goods. However, the West – led by the United States of America – has failed to adapt to these developments and has continued to disregard the rise of these powers. The US attempt to split the world into two camps of democracies versus autocracies and impose this model on the global south is evidence of this claim. Meanwhile, the countries of the global South have alternative options at their disposal. The most important of these options is the BRICS bloc led by the People’s Republic of China; a bloc that follows Beijing’s policies of believing in the common destiny of humanity and seeks to shape a fair international order.

BRICS and its founders also see the countries of the global south as an opportunity. They have realized that their desired goals cannot be achieved within the current hierarchical and exclusive system after fifteen years of efforts, and BRICS must adopt a revisionist and replacement strategy to succeed. This strategy requires the support of a strong network of regional powers. The countries of the global south are important for BRICS in this framework and this new direction. Many of these countries are pivotal in their regions and have advantageous geopolitical positions and abundant and rich resources. Their joining BRICS provides powerful economic and geopolitical leverage to this bloc. Even for India (as one of the five BRICS founding countries), which is not known as an anti-Western and revisionist country, being a member of BRICS and welcoming new members in this bloc means creating a shield against the (potential) coercive policy of the US against Delhi in the near and distant future and preserving its alternative pressure tools.

The BRICS summit in South Africa was a milestone and a clear indication of the BRICS and the global south’s aspiration to link their destiny together. Before this summit, nearly 40 countries expressed their interest in joining BRICS and more than 20 countries submitted their official request to join this bloc. Among them, the requests of important countries such as Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were accepted. This expansion puts the BRICS bloc and the global south at the forefront of global politics and amplifies their voice of appeal and demand for justice more than ever. The president of South Africa, as the host of this meeting, talked about the further expansion of this bloc in the coming years and BRICS’ ambition to create a fairer world and an order without domination.

The countries of the global south’s inclination to join BRICS is a historic opportunity for this institution, which can create a platform for a non-hierarchical and non-monopoly order by pursuing its desired goals. By inviting new members such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have enormous energy resources, BRICS has opened the door for success and cooperation with regional powers in three continents: Asia, Africa and Latin America.

BRICS claims to be the champion of the developing world and aims to become a rival to the Group of 7 in shaping global policy guidelines. However, this goal requires the recognition of BRICS as an alternative pole in global politics and the legitimization of its actions by the global south. This recognition, in turn, depends on the alignment of the interests of the global south and the responsiveness of BRICS and its founders to their demand for participation. Such a deal (if finalized) poses another challenge to the Western world, led by the United States, which needs the cooperation of the global south more than ever to deal with the threat of Russia.

The countries of the global south have not complied with the US strategy of maximum pressure against Russia, and have developed their relations with China. Moreover, many of them are about to join BRICS, which shows that the Western world has not been able to cope with this challenge. Therefore, the expansion of BRICS implies the emergence of arrangements that replace the current exclusive arrangements of world politics and acknowledge the necessity of the role of the global south in international politics. These two trends make the West more isolated than ever and international institutions more ineffective than before. Even the United Nations and its Security Council are not immune to this, and if they resist the demands of the BRICS members and the global south to increase the number of permanent members of the Security Council (and their veto power), this organization will lose its legitimacy. This legitimacy is already severely weakened.

Capacity building, not demands, is the key to international politics. It enables countries to assert and pursue their interests in the global arena. This is the essence of BRICS, a coalition of emerging powers from the global south that challenges the US-led division of the world into democracies and dictatorships. BRICS represents a legitimate and influential bloc that advocates for the common good of the global community.

Sarah Neumann

Sarah Neumann is a professor of political science and teaches political science courses at Universities in Germany

One thought on “BRICS And The Global South: Legitimacy In Exchange For Recognition – OpEd

  • November 13, 2023 at 6:13 am

    The ongoing geopolitical conflicts have intensified the power dynamics. The Russia-Ukraine conflict the initiator and Hamas-Israel war have served as a booster for the power struggle all over the globe.The US views China as a major challenger to its hegemony.All these events have further given a a boost to the idea of BRICS  seeking to include more member nations into the organisation from South America,Africa to Asia which is highly relevant for China today as it wants to counter US and the West. 
    China in fact is really leading BRICS and it needs to take the members along, if it really wants to be a counter force to the West and it can only happen if China resolves the border issue especially with India also an emerging power,its neighbours and with nations along the South China Sea. 
    BRICS has been provided an opportunity along with other like-minded emerging market nations to increase dialogue and cooperation on geopolitical conflicts which not only threaten peace and also negatively impact the global economy. The ongoing wars are indeed going to make the very idea of BRICS stronger along with poor countries of the Global South .


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