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BRICS expansion Harmonious chorus or discordant note in geopolitics?

By Shahid Hussain

The recent evolution of the BRICS bloc is a defining moment in global geopolitics. The inclusion of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran, and Ethiopia, all of which have formally become members since January 1, 2024, marks a transformative shift, signaling a march toward a more inclusive and diverse global order. While some perceive this expansion as mere noise, it’s vital to recognize the harmonious ensemble it represents – a convergence of voices from the Global South resonating on the grand stage of world affairs.

BRICS emerged over a decade ago, coalescing around shared aspirations for a multipolar world. Originating with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later South Africa, its founding intent was to give voice to emerging markets which historically are not heard because of the dominance of Western powers. Now, with the addition of five more nations, the collective grows, amplifying the representation of diverse cultures, economies and strategic interests.

At the core of BRICS’ expansion lies the acknowledgment that a fairer world order necessitates active participation from nations beyond traditional power hubs. These newcomers bring not just economic prowess but also distinct perspectives and invaluable experiences, enriching the discourse on global governance.

Critics argue that this expansion might escalate existing geopolitical tensions. However, the essence of BRICS revolves around cooperation, consensus-building, and mutual respect – values that underpin constructive engagement. By broadening its membership, BRICS seeks to create a platform for dialogue, transcending historical divides and fostering understanding amid diversity.

Russia, currently holding the chairmanship of BRICS for 2024, emphasizes cooperation and inclusivity. President Vladimir Putin has underscored the association’s expansion to 10 nations, citing it as “a strong indication of the growing authority of the association.” Putin outlined three key areas where Russia will continue to promote the BRICS partnership: politics and security, economy and finance, and cultural and humanitarian contacts. The priorities also span diverse sectors such as science, technology, healthcare and environmental protection, signifying a robust commitment to multifaceted cooperation.

The Russian president emphasized the core principles uniting BRICS – sovereign equality, mutual respect, multipolarity, and the pursuit of fair global systems. The integration of new participants aimed to uphold established traditions while fostering harmony within the association.

A significant initiative involved creating a new category for BRICS partner countries, aiming to engage with approximately 30 interested nations. This strategic move aimed to expand the multifaceted agenda of BRICS, encouraging diverse participation.

Foreign policy coordination and joint efforts to address global challenges emerged as central objectives. Putin highlighted the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025 and the Action Plan for BRICS Innovation Cooperation 2021–2024 for ensuring energy and food security, and fortifying BRICS’ role in the international monetary system. Over 200 events across Russia will mark the chairmanship, inviting global representatives to partake.

Russia’s vision for its BRICS chairmanship underscores an unwavering commitment to expanding collaboration, embracing diverse perspectives, and collectively tackling global challenges. The agenda emphasizes inclusivity, mutual benefit, and concerted efforts toward fostering equitable global development and security.

The timing of this expansion aligns with an urgent need for a more inclusive and robust global structure. The COVID-19 crisis laid bare the vulnerabilities of an unequal world. BRICS, with its focus on economic collaboration and progress, offers a promising path for unified action in addressing pressing issues like healthcare, climate change and sustainable development.

While dissenting voices, such as Argentina’s withdrawal, highlight the complexities of aligning diverse national interests within a coalition, these differences should not overshadow the broader narrative of convergence and shared purpose that the BRICS expansion embodies.

Amid a world witnessing a recalibration of power dynamics, the BRICS expansion isn’t dissonant; rather, it represents the symphony of a multipolar world order. Embracing diverse viewpoints and fostering partnerships across continents isn’t a challenge but a necessity for a more inclusive and resilient global community.

In an age defined by interconnectedness, the BRICS expansion presents a promising crescendo – a harmonious chorus of nations amplifying the voice of the Global South and guiding us toward a future where collaboration triumphs over discord, and unity prevails over division.

Shahid Hussain, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is the founder and CEO of the UAE-based company Green Proposition.

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