Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

The Trouble With the BRICs

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 15, 2011

by Jorge G. Castañeda for Foreign Policy, March 14th, 2011.

Why it’s too soon to give Brazil and India permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council.

As the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, have grown more and more influential in the world economy, their administrators and myriad pundits have inevitably concluded that they and other rising powers should also become more important actors in global politics. The insistence by Brazil and India for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, a similar push by China and Brazil for a greater say on climate change talks and on IMF and World Bank voting shares, and a greater voice for South Africa in all of these arenas are just a few examples of the BRICs’ growing boldness.

But as I noted last year in Foreign Affairs, the emerging powers are not ready for prime time. And never has this been clearer than now, with revolution sweeping the Middle East. It is the traditional powers in the West that will determine the international response to this crisis — not because they are favored by global institutions, but because their word is backed by military and diplomatic weight. In contrast, the world’s rising economies lack the ability — and the values — to project their power on the world stage.

Let’s back up a bit. By now, the growing economic clout of the new regional powers is indisputable. Their political strength, however, is less obvious. And more importantly, their entry into the halls of world governance would not necessarily strengthen the developing international legal regime. These new powers lack the same commitment as the older ones to supranational institutions and universal values such as human rights, the collective defense of democracy, a robust climate change framework, nuclear nonproliferation, and so forth. Hence, permanent seats on the Security Council for Brazil, India, and South Africa, coupled with greater participation by China, Pakistan, Indonesia, and even Mexico in international agencies or bodies, might weaken the very foundations of the liberal democratic order — although in this regard, their entrance would also make international bodies more globally representative. (continue reading… )

 

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