The BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – will hold their 15th annual summit in South Africa from 22 to 24 August 2023.
The BRICS nations have emerged as a significant economic and political force on the global stage over the past two decades.
The BRIC concept was coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, who predicted that Brazil, Russia, India, and China would become major global economic players.
This vision came to fruition in 2009 when the first BRICS summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, marking the formal establishment of the grouping.
In 2010, South Africa began efforts to join the BRIC grouping, and the process for its formal admission began in August of that year.
South Africa officially became a member nation on 24 December 2010 after being formally invited by China to join. BRIC subsequently became BRICS.
The primary objective of BRICS is to enhance cooperation and collaboration among its member countries in trade, finance, technology, and sustainable development.
Despite their diverse cultures, economies, and political systems, the BRICS nations share common interests and aspirations for greater global influence and a more equitable world order.
They aim to voice their concerns collectively on pressing issues like international financial reform, climate change, and global security.
The BRICS summits have become crucial platforms for leaders to engage in dialogue and forge strategies to address shared challenges.
These annual meetings strengthen the five nations’ economic ties and trade relations.
One of the most notable achievements of BRICS has been the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2014, headquartered in Shanghai.
The NDB funds infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries and other emerging economies.
Over the years, the BRICS summits have also expanded their outreach beyond the five core members.
They have invited guest countries and regional organisations to participate, enhancing cooperation and coordination between BRICS and other developing nations.
This inclusiveness reflects the group’s commitment to fostering South-South cooperation and promoting the interests of the broader Global South.
President Cyril Ramaphosa invited the leaders of 70 countries to the 2023 BRICS summit, including 53 other African countries and Bangladesh.
The latest summit made headlines because of the controversy surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Putin for war crimes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
South Africa is required as an ICC signatory to honour the warrant should he arrive in South Africa for the summit.
Last month, Putin announced that he would not attend the summit “by mutual agreement” and would instead send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Short history of BRICS summits
Here is a timeline of previous BRICS summits, courtesy of Momentum Investments’ Herman van Papendorp and Sanisha Packirisamy.