Anil Sooklal: South Africa, BRICS and Global Governance
Pretoria: It is my distinct honour to deliver an address on behalf of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to the distinguished academic community of SAIIA and South Africa as well as our partners from BRICS countries. DIRCO was requested to address the issue of South Africa, BRICS and global governance. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane has on several occasions explained the underlying rationale of South Africa’s BRICS membership which is directly linked to the issue of global governance and the reform of the prevailing global governance architecture, notably in the economic and financial domains; our foreign policy prioritisation of the African agenda and our furthering our own domestic priority interests notably through strengthened intra-BRICS economic relations.
I would like to firstly recall significant historic milestones which precede the formation of BRICS. You will agree that the global landscape has undergone transformational changes since the end of the Second World War and subsequently the Cold War, as well as the post September 11 international events. South Africa’s foreign policy has since the advent of the new and democratic South Africa in 1994, addressed the issue of global governance and solidarity. South Africa’s own unique history was testimony to the fact how the international community could join together to confront a common challenge, namely the apartheid dispensation. As a result, a new democratic country was born which also provided the world with a successful example of how a political transformation process could result in a modern democratic and constitutional state.
Former President Mandela stated, in regard to, global governance the following:
"It is the ANC`s view that the United Nations has a pivotal role to play in fostering global security and order. But to achieve this, serious attention must be paid to a restructuring of the organization. South Africa intends to play a vigorous role in the debate on this issue. The United Nations should not be dominated by a single power or group of powers, or else its legitimacy will continuously be called into question. We hope a mechanism can be found so that the Security Council can reflect the full tapestry of humankind” (South Africa`s Future Foreign Policy: Article by Nelson Mandela in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72, No.5)
The most influential political and economic structure post-Cold War other than that of the United Nations system was that of the Group of 8 (G8) which was established in 1975, then as the G6, with Canada joining in 1976 and the Russian Federation in 1997.
Former President Mbeki engaged the G8 to establish a dialogue process with African leaders at the 2000 Summit in Okinawa which subsequently developed into the G8-Africa Outreach process with its African Action Plan. The G8 subsequently supported the African leaders’ initiative to create a type of Marshall Plan for Africa which became the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) at its 2002 G8 Summit held in Canada.
If you refer back to the NEPAD in this context, you will also see a clear agenda that argues for global governance reforms in order for Africa to be repositioned in the global political, economic and financial system. There was also an attempt on the part of South Africa to organise a G8 of the South, but due to the events of 9/11 in 2001, the global context was not conducive to such initiatives. In 2001 former President Mbeki wrote to eight leaders of the South and a meeting was planned for October 2001,
The G8 developed another arrangement, namely the Group of 5 Outreach (established at Gleneagles, United Kingdom in 2005 and continued until 2009 which was intended to establish dialogue with selected leading emerging markets, i.e. China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa. The subsequent Heilligendamm/L’Aquila Process (HAP) followed, which was however disbanded in the wake of geopolitical dynamics arising from the fact that the Group of 20 (G20) has been designated as the premier forum on financial and economic global governance.
The first Asian financial crisis of 1997 rejected the World Bank model and saw new regional arrangements such as the Chiang Mai, a multilateral currency swap arrangement among the ten Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, intended to manage regional short-term liquidity problems and to facilitate the work of other international financial arrangements and organizations like International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stabilise the collapsing financial system in 1997. The second global financial crisis, which began in 2008 and which impact is globally still felt, now definitively illustrated that the global security and financial architectures of the post-Second World War era are at great variance with current global realities and in need of urgent reform to deal with the common challenges of humanity.
Foreign policymaking in the 21st century
Foreign policymaking in the 21st century is a multidimensional endeavour as states use different avenues to pursue their various interests. There are issues that can best be addressed only through bilateral contacts and there are others that require plurilateral and multilateral forums – this is not contradictory. In academic circles we detect various descriptions of this new phenomenon in foreign policy such as club diplomacy and minilaterals, etc.
The important fact is that South Africa’s participation in or membership of these fora, is intended to forge strategic and collaborative partnerships and coalitions. We also diversify our foreign policy approaches as required. These alliances again contribute and provide perhaps more impetus to the core activities of the United Nations system in order to ensure a more equitable global system of governance.
This impetus that I refer to is not intended to create another system of newly privileged Member States, but to ensure that the fundamental reforms that the international community undertake and can agree to, also address the developmental challenges of the contemporary and interdependent world in a more equitable and transparent manner.
I wish to remind you of South Africa’s own foreign policy vision in this context: “Our vision is an African continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable”.
I can also argue that this new type of diplomatic association, arguably links emerging power bases from both a political and economic perspective, as is illustrated in the case of BRICS which was at first introduced as “a Goldman Sachs” investment bracket and then evolved into a diplomatic initiative.
I recently attended a first meeting of the other grouping, the so-called CIVETS plus grouping, i.e. Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan which is now described as the South-South Development Cooperation Dialogue and which will also bring another important perspective to like-minded countries strengthening their cooperation in relation to the development cooperation agenda of the South.
Shared BRICS principles
From a more normative narrative, I wish to highlight critical principles and values which South Africa always underscore and which is shared by our BRICS partners, notably the importance we attach to the centrality of the United Nations in global affairs and the principles of multilateralism and the Rule of Law (which includes International Law).
I wish to quote relevant extracts from the Third BRICS Summit and its Sanya Declaration in this regard: We affirm that the BRICS and other emerging countries have played an important role in contributing to world peace, security and stability, boosting global economic growth, enhancing multilateralism and promoting greater democracy in international relations.
We share the view that the world is undergoing far-reaching, complex and profound changes, marked by the strengthening of multipolarity, economic globalization and increasing interdependence. While facing the evolving global environment and a multitude of global threats and challenges, the international community should join hands to strengthen cooperation for common development.
Based on universally recognized norms of international law and in a spirit of mutual respect and collective decision making, global economic governance should be strengthened, democracy in international relations should be promoted, and the voice of emerging and developing countries in international affairs should be enhanced.
We express our strong commitment to multilateral diplomacy with the United Nations playing the central role in dealing with global challenges and threats. In this respect, we reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative, so that it can deal with today’s global challenges more successfully. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of India, Brazil and South Africa in international affairs, and understand and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
I would to quote Minister Nkoana-Mashabane contextualised our South-South cooperation focus as follows:
"We want to demystify the notion that we are being fashionable in pursuing relations with our partners of the South, by reminding South Africans that the seeds of South-South cooperation were laid at the 1955 Bandung Conference, when African and Asian nations cemented political and cultural ties. But of course, as the South African government, we are also aware that history has marched on. The age of globalisation requires that we elevate these partnerships to a different level, building on the wells of goodwill and solidarity, and generate mutually beneficial economic relations. We share similar perspectives about the reform of global governance, in particular the imperative for enhanced representation and a voice for developing countries in decision-making processes. Significantly, we share a common view that multilateralism and a rules-based global governance mechanism is the best guarantor of stability, and provides a better framework for asserting our values and interests. However, while deepening our relations with countries on our continent and emerging powers, South Africa will continue to strengthen the partnerships that we have with countries of the North."
The Minister has also previously explained that in terms of classical game theory, the new world order should not be viewed in the preceding order’s narrow view of zero-sum terms where one party has to lose out when another party wins, but rather that the new order will seek to maximise win-win scenarios based on our common recognition of our shared global challenges.
South Africa pertinently took on the climate change agenda last year and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane in her capacity as Chairperson of COP17/CMP7 sought to bridge the traditional political divides in this context in the shared interest of humanity to preserve its natural environment also for future generations.
At the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting held earlier this year, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane focused on several core issues, including:
• Providing leadership for effectively and coherently addressing cross-cutting global challenges (social, economic and environmental dimensions) and
• The need for the multilateral system to deliver and to deliver more effectively and in a coordinated manner.
It was highlighted that a multilateral system was needed that delivers effective global public goods in key areas such as:
• Climate change and the sustainable management of the environment;
• Development and the fight against hunger and poverty;
• International peace and security;
• Weapons of Mass Destruction;
• HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other communicable diseases;
• Human rights; and
• Global economic justice and fairness.
The Minister pertinently recognised the catalytic role that the G20 and other like-minded countries can play, through unprecedented levels of coordinated action, to show leadership in working together, based on the values and principles that underpin the United Nations Charter, to address in a pragmatic manner the world’s many needs and challenges.
In the context of South Africa being a multicultural and multiracial society, this is again derived from and linked to the core values of our foreign policy, notably that of the philosophical concept of Ubuntu to define who we are and how we relate to others. Ubuntu is the very essence of our being. We therefore place a premium on a people-centered foreign policy that strongly values cooperation over competition and collaboration over confrontation.
South African foreign policy is informed and guided by Ubuntu and a commitment to the establishment of mutually beneficial international partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the national development priorities of our continental and international partners as well. Our struggle for a better life for all in South Africa is closely intertwined with our struggle for a better Africa and a better world all.
Therefore, at the core of our foreign policy engagements is a desire to continuously build international relations and partnerships that will contribute to the achievement of South Africa's national priorities. The strategic thrust of our foreign policy includes our opposition to the structural inequalities and abuses of power in the global system. We are committed to do our part to strengthen and transform the multilateral system, to reflect the diversity of our nations and to assure its centrality in global governance
The governing structures of International Organizations should reflect the changed realities of the global economy in the 21st Century, through the increased voice and representation of emerging markets and developing economies. South Africa seeks appropriate reform of the components of the multilateral system in the areas of mandate, representation, scope, governance, responsibility, responsiveness and development orientation, in order to ensure that the global governance institutions that guide our interactions are democratic, responsive and accountable.
In the context of BRICS I would like to focus more pertinently on the reform of the global economic and financial architecture. Since its first Summit, the BRICS Leaders’ Declarations have pertinently addressed such reforms and called for strict adherence to the commitments that have already been agreed in the context of the G20, including its important developmental agenda. In this regard, for example, reform of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) should be carried out in accordance with G20 commitments, with the objective of achieving an equitable distribution of voting power between developed and developing countries which is consistent with their participation in the world economy.
South Africa is of the view that reforms of global institutions should be finalised in the relevant multilateral fora. Much of the recent progress that has been achieved on the reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) has been achieved through agreements reached in the context of the G20, which has proven that it can add value to and compliment, where appropriate, the reform processes in other fora.
Experience has certainly shown, for example, that the G20 can play an important facilitating role, as a “catalyst”, especially where negotiations in other fora are not making progress, as was the case in the G20 in reaching agreement on aspects of the reform of the BWIs. Within the context of BWI reforms, South Africa welcomes the agreement on the World Bank’s voice reform to increasing the voting power of developing and transition countries by 3.13% to 4.7% and the creation of an additional Constituency for Sub-Sahara Africa.
The November 2010 G20 Seoul Summit adopted and confirmed the comprehensive package of IMF quota and governance reforms that had been agreed by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. In working together to strengthen the international financial architecture, at their June 2012 Los Cabos Summit, G20 Leaders welcomed the firm commitments to increase the resources available to the IMF, with many Leaders announcing commitments in this regard during the Summit.
South Africa committed to invest US $ 2 billion of its reserve assets in additional resources with the Fund and BRICS leaders jointly committed US $ 75 billion in total. Leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to implement in full the Quota and Governance Reform package agreed at the Seoul Summit by the agreed date of the 2012 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings. The G20 commitment to continue to protect the voice and representation of the poorest members of the IMF was also reaffirmed.
In November 2012, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Governors will review progress made on the implementation of the Quota and Governance Reform package agreed in 2010 at the Seoul Summit by the agreed date of the 2012 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings. The meetings of BRICS Finance Ministers on the sidelines of the G20 has also become a standing arrangement.
South Africa also supports quota reform in the IMF that will not see emerging and developing countries lose any quota share after redistribution. It is important to ensure that the next quota review should therefore ensure adequate protection for developing countries, particularly systemically regional economies, such as South Africa, that contribute to growth and financial development and stability in their regions.
As you know, South Africa, is currently serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2011-2012. The UNSC is one of the global governance institutions that we believe, very strongly, should be more representative – in both composition and decision-making processes – of the international community. South Africa has been actively engaged in and supportive of all aspects of the reform process and welcomes the progress, albeit very slow, that has been made to date.
However, more than ever, the world is in need of comprehensive reform of the UNSC which involves an expanded Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, and with improved working methods. In addition, in keeping with the principle of equitable representation, Africa, which makes up a considerable percentage of the overall membership of the UN, must be represented in the permanent category of the UNSC. A reformed Council will enhance its legitimacy, representativity and effectiveness in global governance.
South Africa will continue to campaign for the reform of not only the UNSC but also other global governance institutions. Our Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Sangqu stated as follows: "The BRICS Leaders views expressed through the both the Sanya and the Delhi Declarations, compliments the South African views mentioned above that the world is undergoing far-reaching, complex and profound changes, marked by the strengthening of multipolarity, economic globalization and increasing interdependence. This is based on universally recognized norms of international law and in a spirit of mutual respect and collective decision making, global economic governance should be strengthened, democracy in international relations should be promoted and the voice of emerging and developing countries in international affairs should be enhanced. Unquote In conclusion, I can remark that the issue of multipolarity is directly linked to the emergence of a new world order and the ascendancy of new powers from the developing world. Our membership of BRICS is focused on the formation’s joint aspirations in this regard and I quote the Delhi Declaration:
“We envision a future marked by global peace, economic and social progress and enlightened scientific temper. We stand ready to work with others, developed and developing countries together, on the basis of universally recognized norms of international law and multilateral decision making, to deal with the challenges and the opportunities before the world today. Strengthened representation of emerging and developing countries in the institutions of global governance will enhance their effectiveness in achieving this objective” Delhi Declaration – 29 March 2012, India.
- Anil Sooklal: Address by Deputy Director-General of Asia and Middle East, at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation BRICS conference, Centurion ( 06/08/2012)