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Ufa summit offers new blueprint for global governance

By Li Dongyan | 2015-09-07 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech titled “Jointly Build a Partnership for a Bright Future” at the seventh BRICS summit held in Ufa, Russia on July 9, 2015, expounding upon the comprehensive partnership of BRICS countries for the first time.


The seventh BRICS summit and the 15th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) were held in the southwestern Russian city of Ufa in July.

At the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping encouraged all parties to step up efforts and take effective measures to forge a community of common destiny. The Ufa summit has injected new vitality into the development of the BRICS and the SCO, demonstrating the willingness and potential of the two organizations to play important roles in global governance.

The summit has also enhanced the influence of the organizations on the international order, including formulation of international rules, reform of international organization and resolution of global issues.

Broadening  ‘partnership’

The Ufa summit continued to reinforce the abilities and mechanism construction of BRICS nations and the SCO.

There is increasing cooperation and cohesion among members of the two organizations. The Ufa summit resolved to start the process of granting India and Pakistan full membership in the SCO, which will enlarge the member size and partnership of the SCO and also make the bloc more open and representative. This step has been hailed as the most important organizational reform since the establishment of the organization.

The summit has made new progress in pushing forward the establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. In addition to activities such as drills, exchanges and training, the SCO has made other advances in security cooperation. It ratified a new cooperation guideline for fighting separatism, terrorism and extremism, set a plan to form an anti-extremism pact and signed a border defense cooperation agreement to establish a legal basis for security cooperation.   

Furthermore, cooperation between the two organizations and non-member states and other international organizations will be extended through enlargement of the membership and partnerships. A model of open cooperation between BRICS countries and other parties has enhanced interaction between different actors.

In 2013, BRICS countries held a meeting in South Africa with the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization,” advancing the cooperative model of “BRICS plus Africa.” In 2014, such a cooperative mode was extended to South American countries through a dialogue between leaders of BRICS and South American countries held in Brazil.

BRICS countries have made the construction of partnerships a strategic priority to expand the cooperative relationship between BRICS countries and other countries and international organizations through such concrete measures as summit conferences with member states of the Eurasian Economic Union and the SCO.

Additionally, the two organizations have conducted further cooperation in traditional and non-traditional security fields, including terrorism, transnational crime, drug-trafficking, corruption, cyber security, disaster management, public health security, piracy and immigration. Furthermore, they are extending cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, development, science and technology, and energy.

Ending era of Western domination
By promoting organization construction, the BRICS and the SCO will highlight their roles and development in terms of global governance. The two organizations expressed their aspirations to play a greater role in global governance in a declaration published after the summit, including positive participation in such fields as global economic development and regional security in addition to making significant contributions to the settlement and governance of global problems. 


From the perspective of contrast of international powers, the two organizations stand for emerging economies, including the interests of large, rising developing countries. These countries participate in the governance and resolution of global issues in the form of multilateral organization or bloc.

They have provided new governance resources and capacity beyond what is expected of traditional developed countries, playing the role of a new economy or new benefactor. This is vital to address regional or global issues of developing countries, such as global economic governance, development, environment and climate change, and terrorism.

In conclusion, the BRICS and the SCO represent the rising powers in global governance. Some Westerners have argued that the BRICS has changed the world pattern, ending the era of Western domination.     

Compared to the Group of Seven (G7), the BRICS and the SCO cover a larger population with various regional characteristics and representative cultures, which is of great significance to the governance of regional and trans-regional issues and the establishment of a new model of South-South cooperation. This is a bloc different from the G7, which is composed of Western countries. It comprises emerging economies and developing countries, excluding the Western bloc. It covers different regions of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe and has some natural connections with the Group of 77 (G77) and Non-Aligned Movement countries.

In terms of political culture and value concepts, the two organizations not only reiterate the basic principles of the UN Charter, asserting the dominant position of the UN in global governance, but also emphasize their own interpretations of the concepts of sovereignty, development, peace, security and human rights. For example, the BRICS and the SCO stress cooperative norms of equality and mutual respect among sovereign countries while viewing sovereign equality as the cornerstone of promoting and protecting human rights. BRICS countries and the SCO identify with the G77 in such aspects as defending state sovereignty, enhancing South-South cooperation, maintaining cultural diversity, promoting the democratization of international relations and establishing a new international political and economic order.  

Economy still major drive
Currently, international organizations and trans-regional blocs, such as the G7, G20 and BRICS, are enlarging and diversifying themselves in aspects including membership, partnership and issue fields. For example, some single-purpose organizations have begun to play more comprehensive roles. Some organizations that originally focused on security have begun to pay attention to such issues as climate change, finance, development, food and energy.


The G20 cannot simply limit its scope to the fields of international economy and finance while the BRICS will inevitably increase its membership and expand fields of cooperation. This bloc, with a special focus on economic cooperation, has also paid more attention to issues of global politics and security. Some have described such a change as a “political transformation.” The SCO, with non-traditional security cooperation at its core, is vigorously conducting global cooperation in areas including the economy.

The two organizations expressed their self-identity and support for the UN’s dominant role. They both participated in the agenda of the UN in such areas as development, security and human rights and provided the UN with more financial and human resources, including contributions they made to UN peacekeeping operations. It can be predicted that BRICS countries and the SCO are expected to play an important role in a wider range of global governance, with their enlarged partnership and extended cooperative fields.   

The two organizations also have their limitations and problems while constantly developing ahead. Both the SCO and BRICS have problems in their internal consistency and cohesion. For example, there are different standpoints in some issues among the three major powers-China, India and Russia. Their unsolved border disputes have resulted in political distrust.

BRICS countries’ “political transformation” and their political influence on the world have been a subject of debate at the highest level, but the fact should be acknowledged that the source of BRICS development is still the economy instead of politics or security. There are also differences of opinion among members of the two organizations on such issues as the enlargement of the UN Security Council.

In summation, under the framework of the spirit of “openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and mutual benefit,” the BRICS and the SCO both have the potential to make contributions in such aspects as governance capacity, concepts, modes and institutional innovation. These goals can be realized through the development and expansion of their own power and a willingness to actively participate in global governance. In the foreseeable future, the two organizations will increasingly become a decisive power in global governance.

Li Dongyan is a professor from the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.