IBSA on the 10th anniversary of the Brasilia Decleration

December 20, 2012

Franis A. Kornegay – SABC, 12/15/2012

Franics Korenegay was a Public Policy Scholar for the Africa Program at the Wilson Center from June-September 2012

Last year, South Africa hosted the 5th summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Dialogue Forum. In 2013 it is India’s turn. This will mark the 10th anniversary of the Brasilia Declaration that led to the trilateral build up toward the summits of heads-of-state of the three countries that have occurred over the last several years. Meanwhile, all three countries have become members of BRICS, the symbolic vanguard among emerging powers leading the non-Western ‘Rest’ through a transition of relative rise amid Western relative decline.

BRICS has garnered considerably more attention than IBSA and is taken much more seriously as a revisionist actor given the great power status of Russia and China compared to the ‘middle power’ profiles of India, Brazil and South Africa. Russia may be something of a ‘has been’ as the former superpower competitor of the US when it was the Soviet Union. But it remains at least a regionalized great power nonetheless. China on the other hand has effectively emerged.

Given perceptions of Sino-Russia as strategic competitors of ‘lone superpower’ America, BRICS carries a weight that middle power IBSA will never carry. And, it has been gaining momentum to a point where former Indian envoy Rajiv Bhatia, director-general of the Indian Council on World Affairs was moved recently to question what he interprets as IBSA’s relevance.

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