New Delhi: In a significant step forward, the BRICS grouping comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have backed the India-South Africa joint proposal for COVID vaccine wavier at the World Trade Organisation or WTO. The grouping decided to back the proposal at the BRICS Foreign ministers virtual meet that was held under the chairmanship of India.
The joint statement after the meet said that the ministers “reaffirmed the need to use all relevant measures during the pandemic” which included “supporting ongoing consideration in WTO on a Covid-19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights waiver” and “use of flexibilities of the TRIPS agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”
BRICS is one of the first global multilateral groupings to come in the support of the proposal. The US earlier this year extended its support to it leading to other countries in the west, including the European Union dropping its hesitation on the proposal. The proposal once accepted means large-scale production of vaccines at a time when the world is facing serious storages of it amid the pandemic which is in its 2nd year.
The BRICS also called for urgent reforms at global bodies such as the United Nations and in a first released “BRICS Joint Ministerial Statement on Strengthening and Reforming of the Multilateral System’. The joint statement said that they “recommitted to instil new life in the discussions on the reform of the UN Security Council and continue the work to revitalize the General Assembly”. BRICS has 2 permanent members of the UNSC–China and Russia, and while calls have been growing for urgent reforms at the top UN Body, progress has been slow.
BRICS has agreed on 6 principles as guides amid growing calls for multilateral institutions. The principles call for “more meaningful participation of developing and least developed countries, especially Africa, in global decision-making processes” and make it “better attuned to contemporary realities.” The statement not only focuses on reforms at the UN but also International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO).
The meet also discussed Afghanistan and Myanmar. The FMs called for an immediate, permanent, and comprehensive cease-fire in Afghanistan, while Myanmar voiced support to the recent ASEAN initiative and the implementation of its five-point consensus.
India as the chair of the grouping will hold the summit later this year. So far 50 events have taken place under its chairmanship. This is the 3rd time India is holding the BRICS Chairmanship, after 2012 and 2016.