This year's BRICS summit took place in South Africa between 22-24 August, bringing together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and this year's host, South Africa. The BRIC, founded in 2009 (and BRICS since 2011), reached a major milestone with the decision to add six new members – Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – but also announced that more than 40 countries have already applied for or expressed interest in membership. But why is there suddenly so much interest in BRICS, and what does BRICS have to offer?
In 2001, when the term BRIC was first used in a study by Goldman Sachs, the four countries accounted for "only" 8 per cent of world GDP. In 2011, when South Africa joined and BRICS was formed, they accounted for 19.6 per cent of world GDP.
With the accession of the new members, although the population and GDP have not increased enormously, oil production has doubled, and world oil production has risen from 20.4 per cent to 43.1 per cent.
In the case of BRICS, it is important to point out that the members do not currently include countries belonging to the Western alliance system. Although in June Macron was still looking forward to being invited to the BRICS summit (according to a statement made by the French foreign minister at a press conference), the French president took a different tone after the summit, to which no French state leader was invited but a small French delegation was allowed to attend: "This [BRICS expansion] shows a wish to establish an alternative order to replace what we call the world order, which today is seen as too Western."
It seems that the 'non-Western' countries, which have grown economically and politically stronger by the 21st century, have had enough of the Western dominance of the last 500 years of the Atlantic era. They are thinking of a more harmonious, peaceful world order, where the world does not only mean the West but where all civilisations can participate as equals. BRICS is indeed a new system of international relations, a new alternative to the Western world order. The question is how the West will interpret this: will it continue to see the major powers of the East as competitors and launch an economic war, or will it try to change the old system and opt for peaceful cooperation. In other words, whether the transformation of the world order will be peaceful or warlike this time.
Cover photo: AFP/Iranian Presidency