During The main purpose of this institution, as

During the first decade of the twenty-first
century, the establishment of the IBSA has been one of the most important and
counts as one of the most remarkable developments in international politics
when talking about platforms of South- South cooperation. IBSA, a trilateral agreement,
stands for India-Brazil-South Africa dialogue forum. The main purpose of this institution,
as already indicated, has been the promotion of South-South cooperation along
with global leadership, trade, investment and development so that, countries, mainly
those from the developing world, may benefit from it. The success behind
founding this institution can be attributed a large extent to the declining
power of the United States being a hegemon, since this decline meant greater
opportunities for the emerging powers, more specifically, in the South. IBSA,
being a coordinating mechanism, promotes both the individual and collective
interests of these three countries. It has been established on 23rd
of June 2003, through the Brasilia Declaration but became operational only in
2006. Three summits have already been held; one being in Brazil (Brasilia) in
2006, the second being in South Africa (Pretoria) in 2007 and finally the last
one being in India (New Delhi) in 2008, leading to the completion of the first
round of summits. IBSA has marked the construction of a new international
architecture, with the 3 states emerging as rising powers.


BRICS, again a South-South framework, is
the collaboration of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Initially, the
institution consisted of only the first four emerging economies and was thus
named BRIC, until South Africa joined them in 2010, as from the third summit of
the organization. The institution has been founded in 2006 with the main aim of
having and maintaining cooperation among the member nations leading to
development; for instance, financial assistance, supporting various projects,
infrastructure aids among others. Starting fundamentally with economic issues
of mutual interest, the agenda of BRICS meetings has considerably widened over
the years, to include current global concerns. However, the economic-financial
sphere stands out as one of the most promising areas of activity for the BRICS.
Seven BRICS summits have already been held up to date; the first BRIC Summit
being on the 16th June 2009 in Russia (Yekaterinburg), the second BRIC Summit
on the 16th April 2010 in Brazil (Brasilia), the third being BRICS summit on
the 14th of April 2011 in China (Sanya), the fourth being on the 29th
of March 2012 in India (New Delhi), the fifth being in South Africa (Durban) on
the 26th and 27th March 2013, the sixth being in Brazil
(Fortaleza) from 14th to 16th July 2014 and the final one
in Russia (Ufa) on the 8th and 9th of July 2015. BRICS
has emerged as a potential competitor to IBSA.


Several questions have been raised on the
formation of the IBSA. For instance, why have these three countries opted for
cooperation when their political ties were not on proper terms in the beginning
of the twenty-first century and thus how come did they decide to create this
forum. It has been often argued that this initiative has been in order to have
a greater say in international affairs and not to construct international order,
is it really the case? Three broad motivations have been analyzed which led to
the IBSA. Firstly, the three emerging powers wanted a greater level of
independence and there was a greater need of autonomy from established major
powers, which were mainly the group of seven (G7). Autonomy can be defined as little
or no interference at all of other cross- borders states in decision making of
a particular state and this could be achieved only by the diversification of
partners. There was a need of cooperation between other members which are
outside their regions rather than the traditional ones. Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner
argues, “One of the major aims of the global south nations has been to
challenge the perceived inequality of the international status quo, achieve
visibility for their concerns and reduce their economic and political
dependence on the north. To attain these ends, they have to establish channels
for the promotion of alternative norms and strategies.” Thus, one of the
concerns of IBSA might be to change the perception in which countries from the
third world are seen in the international arena since they are often ignored by
the developed North.


The second motivation behind the IBSA is
promoting greater and better understanding between the three important parts of
the world through socialization. Moreover, the three countries face certain
similarities, for example, challenges like rapid urbanization or inequality or
low level of public education. Therefore, these emerging powers could learn
from each other’s policies and programs that they formulate in order to tackle
the respective challenges they usually have to face. The third goal of the
association has been to increase the political power and influence in the
international affairs. Since, working collectively with other countries with
the global South towards a specific combined focus is easier to achieve better
results than being on one’s own. Thus, the dialogue forum provides the facility
for the countries to discuss on different global concerns and present their
positions more firmly. As Raja Mohan writes, “IBSA is about middle powers
aspiring for a larger role by working with each other.” Adding to this
statement, Fabricius also notes that the main aim of IBSA is to increase the
power of the third world in the international affairs and provide a prominent
place to them. Furthermore, Kornegay argues that the creation of IBSA is the
beginning of the process to turn the global order into a multipolar and
culturally diverse world. The members of the association believe that in order
to achieve these goals, it is important to enhance their capacities and this
could be done by strengthening their ties with their partners. India, Brazil
and South Africa are being seen as having increased power and influence on
international affairs. Therefore, the emerging powers are much more influential
than they ever were before.  


As it has been argued by Randall Schweller
and Xiaoyu Pu, “Unipolarity, which seemed strangely durable only a few years
ago, appears today as a ‘passing’ moment. The United States is no longer a
hyper power towering over potential contenders. The rest of the world is
catching up.” Samuel Huntington believed that even earlier, the world was not a
unipolar one but in fact a ‘uni-multipolar’ one. By this statement, he meant
that even if the US was the major power, it often needed the help of other
emerging powers in order to achieve its goals and it is the reason why the US
could not manage to maintain the large gap which existed between itself and its
aspiring powers. Initially, when talking about the potential rivals of the US,
indications were towards Germany, France, Japan and China as well. However,
India played no role then but as predicted by Goldman Sachs that by 2050 the
BRICS economies would be more powerful than the G6. With time, it could be seen
that while tackling prominent global challenges, such as, climate change,
poverty reduction, failed states among others, Brazil, India and China were
crucial in developing solutions. Summits could no more be held without having
invited the BRICS economies. Gradually, there was being a transition of power
from the group of major powers towards emerging powers which eventually led to
the G20. An evidence of successful cooperation between the BRICS economies is
in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the area of TRIPS. Also, China now
represents the head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board
along with India and Brazil making important and strong interventions in the
World Health Assembly which led to a conclusion that BRICS has the capacity of
changing the global health governance and development assistance.



There are several reasons as to why are the
BRICS economies given much attention. One obvious reason is that they all
possess the required ability to be able to contribute towards the international
system. As mentioned earlier, China and India are popular because of their high
level of economic growth and development. Analytical work from the 1990s has
recognized Brazil as a ‘pivotal state’ or one of the ‘Big Ten’ emerging
markets. As expressed by another scholar, ‘countries like China, India and
Brazil are acquiring enough power to change the face of global politics and
economics’ (Jeffrey E. Garten, 1997). However, MacFarlane argues that Russia is
the outlier because since two decades, the country has been losing its regional
and global influence but its foreign policy is trying to regain the lost power.
On the other hand, the other countries are strong enough to challenge and
revise current established international order which seems to be another reason
why these countries are together. An important theme of the twentieth century
has been the struggle of states towards equal status and rights which led to
the rapprochement of these countries in the form of IBSA. In contrast to the
statement of J.Mearshiemer, “great powers are determined on the basis of their
military capability. To qualify as a great power, a state must have sufficient
military assets to put up a serious fight in an all-out controversial war
against the most powerful state in the world”, becoming a great power does not
only imply large quantities of material power but also demands legitimacy and
authority; which means that it should be recognized by other states, both peer
countries and weaker developing nations. Countries around the world should be
willing to accept the particular country as a major power. This is one of the
reasons why China seems to be inspired to be known as a ‘responsible great
power’. Globalization is another reason of economies to change their foreign
policies and the world to demand new forms of governance along with
international institutions.   



”China and India…possess the weight and
dynamism to transform the 21st century global economy” (Engardio, 2005).
Despite there have been predictions about the BRICS economies taking over the
world within the next 50 years, the success of China and India exceptionally
stands out. These two has been even named separately from other associations,
particularly, as ‘CHINDIA’ (Lloyd & Turkeltaub, 20006). One important characteristic
about these two economies is their respective population size. In spite of the
fact that the following has been pointed out by Hedley Bull; population size is
not a sufficient characteristic to entitle these countries with the status of
superpowers, the growth of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) along with the
trade levels of China and India has been dynamic due to the weight of the
population size itself. As expressed by another scholar, the mix of a
traditional ”population-linked status” and ”newfound economic strength” is
a potent combination (McNicoll, 1999). When talking about CHINDIA, it does not
mean that these two have got similarities between them since they became
economic drivers on different means. While China’s growth focused mainly on
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), India’s growth gave more attention to services
trade and technology industry. The two countries have had changing relationships
with the United Nations throughout the years. For instance, China is no more on
side lines but instead, is the center of international affairs and India has
been trying to be the bridge between the North and the South. It is pretty
difficult to predict the future of China, India and other emerging powers from
the South in the international arena but it is believed that the emerging
powers will be trying to improve their relationships with each other outside
the United Nations, for instance, through the IBSA and by forming other
southern alliances. The reason might be due to the over-dominance of western
interests within in UN. However, as predicted by the ex-prime minister of
India, Manmohan Singh, “together, India and China could reshape the world


There are many reasons which explain the
Sino-Indian relationships that led to their prosperities since 1990s. The first
one includes economic developments, in terms of policy reforms. For instance,
the open-up policy of China in 1979 and economic reforms of India started in
1991 that helped the respective economies immensely. The two countries realized
that they can both benefit from each other’s unique potentials. Another reason
revolves around geo-politics. After the Cold War, relationships among countries
have changed a lot and China wanted to be a friendly country as it had promised
of a ‘peaceful rise’. Therefore, the latter could realize its intention only by
befriending and cooperating with its biggest neighbor which happens to be
India. The reality was as simple that both countries needed each other’s
support to bring economic developments. After all, it cannot be forgotten that
both economies are major exporters of oil and cooperation between these two
meant golden opportunities concerning geo-politics. Furthermore, China and
India share more or less the same kind of philosophies; the latter promotes
‘peace is more precious’ and the former promotes Gandhism, that is,
non-violence. Thus, it is clear that none will invade each other. Also, they
both struggle against hegemonic rule as they did earlier as well, against
colonialism, to be able to establish a new global order. Due to these reasons,
the economies grew closer in terms of bilateral, political and economic ties
since there started to have frequent visits of each other in each other’s
territories. This is what eventually led to the commitment of maintaining
interests of developing countries and promoting South-South cooperation. Peace
between these two is the main source of stability and prosperity in Asia, in
weaker developing nations and even in the world. Some Western scholars
confidently expressed their thoughts that the rise of China and India, also
called the rise of the un-West or non-West, is a revolutionary reallocation of
power globally in the twenty-first century and that CHINDIA will dominate the
history of the rest of this century.


It has been rightly analyzed that all the
countries associated with IBSA are also found in BRICS. Therefore, why not
simply merge IBSA into BRICS? This idea has been quite appalling to certain
while displeasing to others. As already mentioned above, BRICS has been a
potential competitor to IBSA and since BRICS has set out, the importance of
IBSA has been fading away. However, the latter has got an importance of its
own. For instance, there are certain matters that cannot be openly discussed in
BRICS but can be brought forward in the summits of IBSA. Since, China and
Russia are not democratized countries; they oppose certain decisions of the
other democratized members. An example includes that of human rights issues.
China is in favor the argument that IBSA should merge with BRICS and has its
own individual interest behind it. However, it is the absence of China that
makes IBSA an interesting platform because it allows the member countries to
debate on solutions against global challenges which also include dealing with
the rise of China. One of the biggest achievements of IBSA has been the ability
of bringing the three member countries closer to each other since they have the
same notions about international order. The three together, have the huge
potential of meaningful cooperation and to work on specific areas while their
policymakers develop joint strategies to tackle common problems. Nonetheless,
there is a definite need for IBSA to re-calibrate its strategies as it might
become irrelevant in case it does not succeed in doing so. As it has been put
by the ex-prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, “in a short span of two
years, BRICS has travelled a long distance.” Added, by the previous External
Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, “BRICS has emerged as “a major voice” in world
affairs. India will be in a better position to shape that voice when it
succeeds in strengthening IBSA.”


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