Can BRICS Become an Alternative Voice for The Global South?

The BRICS bloc has attracted the Global South by offering a platform for cooperation and development that is more inclusive and respectful of the diversity and interests of developing countries. BRICS is a group of five emerging economies that have been trying to challenge the liberal world order and present themselves as an alternative platform for cooperation and global development. The BRICS bloc advocates for a more democratic and multipolar world order that respects the sovereignty, equality, and diversity of all nations. BRICS opposes unilateralism, protectionism, and interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Currently, the BRICS countries hold a substantial proportion of the global population, economy, commerce, and investment. In 2020, the World Bank reported that the BRICS nations constituted around 42% of the global population, 16% of global trade, and 18% of global foreign direct investment. Also, it has 31.5% of the current global GDP. The data illustrates the capacity and impact of the bloc in influencing the global agenda and tackling shared obstacles.

Many factors indicate the emergence of BRICS as a viable alternative representative for the countries of the global south. The BRICS group advocates for a restructuring of global governance organizations, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund, to enhance their inclusivity and adaptability to the requirements and interests of developing nations. Furthermore, this bloc offers tangible collaboration and support to developing nations across several sectors, including infrastructure, banking, healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, science and technology, culture, and interpersonal interactions. Furthermore, BRICS has implemented many processes to promote collaboration and advancement among its constituent nations as well as with other emerging economies. The New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) have been established with the object of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development initiatives in the BRICS nations and other developing economies.

BRICS’s challenge to the dominance and interests of the West in the global arena has been met with opposition and rivalry from Western countries, which are cautious of this emerging bloc. The Western nations have tried to mitigate the effect of the BRICS bloc by bolstering their alliances and partnerships with various countries and areas, including the Quad, NATO, the European Union, and Africa. The Western nations have used a range of strategies like the G-7 forum, implementation of sanctions, the initiation of trade wars, the exertion of diplomatic pressure, and the execution of media campaigns, to diminish the credibility and legitimacy of the BRICS bloc. It is also important to note that the BRICS coalition is not one cohesive entity; rather, it is a group of countries with various interests, viewpoints, and goals. The BRICS bloc might be seen as being oriented towards development and multilateralism rather than being anti-Western. But BRICS does not pose a danger to Western nations. Rather, it presents an avenue for fostering communication and collaboration on shared concerns and obstacles as BRICS upholds principles of multilateralism, free trade, and dialogue as effective mechanisms for resolving conflicts and advancing peace and stability.

In light of the continuous progress in economic growth, several nations from the Global South have shown a keen interest in engaging as either participants or spectators in these endeavors. The BRICS group has shown its willingness to expand its membership to include other developing economies that align with its vision and principles. More than 40 nations have shown interest in becoming members of the bloc, with 23 countries having submitted official applications for membership. These include Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia. BRICS has further sent invitations to leaders from many regional organizations or groupings, including the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and ASEAN, to participate in its summits or discussions. The invitations demonstrate the BRICS bloc’s inclination to actively participate in dialogue with other emerging nations and areas about matters that are of shared interest and concern. However, experts have raised significant criticism about the BRICS. The absence of a well-defined vision and strategy for the BRICS bloc has resulted in a lack of clarity and consistency in its objectives. BRICS has faced difficulties in formulating a cohesive and persuasive narrative on its core principles and objectives. Its current discourse mostly revolves around expressing discontent with the prevailing global order and advocating for more representation and influence for developing nations.

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has contributed to the significance of BRICS in the countries of the Global South. This war has provided an opportunity for collaboration that is characterized by inclusivity and a recognition of the unique needs and perspectives of developing nations. The war has brought to light the deficiencies and prejudices inherent in the liberal world order, which has proven ineffective in both preventing and resolving the war. Additionally, the US and Western allies have imposed sanctions and exerted pressure on Russia, a member of the BRICS alliance.  Additionally, the war has underscored the need for enhanced financial and economic collaboration and autonomy among the BRICS nations and other rising economies against the US economy. These nations are confronted with the potential repercussions of the United States sanctions on Russia and the instability of the US currency. The aforementioned circumstances have prompted BRICS nations to pursue strategies aimed at diminishing their reliance on the United States dollar while concurrently increasing bilateral trade conducted in their domestic currencies. In addition, the war has fostered more political and diplomatic discourse and collaboration among the BRICS nations and other developing nations about matters of shared interest including food security, economic stability, and energy resilience. The war has shown that the BRICS bloc functions not only as an economic entity but also as a political entity capable of both challenging and complementing the established world order.

Global South states are drawn to the BRICS due to their appeal in providing alternative frameworks to fulfill their primary objectives as states. These objectives include achieving economic parity with developed states and preserving traditional principles of sovereignty, which were frequently disregarded by the United States and European nations. The Western initiatives aimed at promoting democracy and human rights in the global south were frequently displaying contradictory and self-serving practices and were seen as potential dangers to their growing economy.

However, the BRICS is now encountering several challenges. Firstly, the internal divides and disputes that exist among the BRICS members These include the ongoing border dispute between India and China, the political instability seen in Brazil, and the imposition of sanctions on Russia. The divergences among the BRICS nations present challenges in terms of policy coordination and alignment on several matters, sometimes leading to conflicting stances. Also, the challenge of enlarging the BRICS bloc to include other rising economies arises due to apprehensions among current members, such as India, over the potential diminishment of their power in South Asia. The BRICS countries are confronted with internal differences. There are inquiries about the standards and advantages associated with being a member of the BRICS alliance, with considerations regarding the compatibility and harmonization of prospective new members with the current ones.

In conclusion, the US and Western allies often dismiss the BRICS as a viable alternative framework to the current global order. BRICS is assisting the global south via a platform that promotes collaboration and progress, characterized by enhanced inclusivity and a heightened regard for the necessary interests of developing nations.

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma
Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma
Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma is a Research Associate at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD). She is a research analyst in security studies. She obtained her Master's and Bachelor's in International Relations from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She can be reached at ash77662[at]