Heaps of praise at Ibsa summit

2011-10-19 07:47

India, Brazil and South Africa used yesterday’s Ibsa summit as an opportunity to congratulate themselves on largely escaping the effects of the global economic crisis and to plot how to use the ensuing financial headaches in Europe to their advantage.

The three heads of state met in Pretoria, accompanied by large delegations, to show that when three regional powerhouses get together, the world must take note.President Jacob Zuma commented on how the trade relationship between the three countries grew to a combined $16 billion (R129 billion) since the inception of Ibsa in 2003.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bragged about how the three countries can use their combined force in multilateral forums such as Brics, the United Nations Security Council and the G20, which is due to meet in Cannes, France, in November.

In effect, it was only recently when Ibsa joined forces on the international stage, and then it was on an issue that affects none of the members directly.

They jointly abstained from voting in favour of a resolution on action against Syria, saying this was a ploy of the Western countries to plan another invasion as they did in Libya.

They were roundly condemned for the abstention, but it showed solidarity. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff heaped praise on the Ibsa countries for how they managed the effect of the global financial crisis.

Although she did not bring up the issue of bailouts, it was clear she thought it was time to show the Western countries that countries of the South are not lightweight observers in times of international crisis.

“Our politics and the way we managed the economic crisis in our own countries should be an example to them (the Europeans) to manage the crisis,” she told the audience at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

She added it was time to move towards “a different governance” at world bodies like the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Ibsa countries have found common ground on their demand for UN reform, and have informally decided to use the lull in international diplomacy – where the West is preoccupied with the economic crisis – to push for reform.

Although reform is on the UN agenda, it constantly gets relegated to the back seat in favour of more urgent crises. In the Tshwane declaration, signed at the end of the summit, the three countries said they committed themselves “to achieve tangible results” on UN reform at the end of the current session of the General Assembly.

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