Beijing – Brics can play a major role in the development of different sectors of the countries it represents but the benefits should go beyond trade and economies it should uplift the most vulnerable of society, women and children.
This is according to executive director of the Economic Justice Network Malcolm Damon who delivered a speech at the opening of the Brics Political Parties, Think-tanks and Civil Society Organisations Forum.
Brics is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Damon was part of the South African civil society delegation who attended the conference. Deputy secretary general of the ANC Jessie Duarte and ANC national executive committee member Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim also attended the meeting.
The three-day conference is being held in the Chinese city of Fuzhou in Fujian Province and ends on Monday.
This year’s theme is “Pooling wisdom and efforts towards common development and a brighter future”.
More than 200 politicians, academics, members of civil society organisations from Brics and other developing countries attended the meeting.
Damon said: “Pooling our wisdom and efforts means realising the roles and responsibilities each of us have within society and the state.
“Women form the majority of our populations as well as the youth. We must make a special effort to include these voices in our deliberations.”
He called for a commitment to good governance and for governments to be held accountable. “We need rigorous research and ideas, dialogue amongst Brics civil society organisations, a commitment to good governance and accountability by our political parties."
He said development meant integrating the needs of society with and focusing on justice and equity so everyone could benefit. “Brics can play a major role in this development and the different sectors here can assist in this development.”
He encouraged these nations to learn lesson from the World Trade Organisation. “Trade should benefit all and not just...some.”
Too often the WTO was used by those wanting to push the Washington Consensus agenda.
“Brics should work for a win-win position which gives special attention to weaker economies.”
The objective of the forum was to cover groundwork and raise pertinent issues ahead of the Brics Summit which will be hosted in Xiamen at the beginning of September.
The forum comes as developing countries are increasingly faced with challenges in a world economy which is sluggish, terrorism, anti-globalisation sentiments from the West grow stronger, as does populism and protectionism.
Indian politician and national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party Ram Madhav urged China and other Brics nations to unite against terrorism.
He told the forum it was time to end "double standards". Brics countries should take the lead in an early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Madhav warned terrorism was the “single most lethal challenge to mankind today". Brics and several other countries have been the victims of one form of terrorism or the other, be it ideological, religious, political, racial or ethnic.
"Brics countries should stand united in the fight against terror in all its forms and manifestations."
Senior official of the Communist Party of China Liu Yunshan called on Brics countries to cement exchanges and boost cooperation within the group.
Liu said the 9th Brics Summit would be another important global conference following the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May. In a letter sent to other Brics leaders after China took the Brics rotating presidency in January, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would work with the other four nations to make the summit a success and move cooperation to a new level, in accordance with an open, inclusive and win-win spirit. "We hope this forum will pool more wisdom and efforts for the Xiamen summit and future Brics cooperation," Liu said.
Liu said over the past ten years, Brics has achieved remarkable progress and the group has become an important platform for cooperation among emerging economies and developing countries, as well as a great force in improving global governance, promoting global economic growth and democracy in international relations.
He urged Brics political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organisations to play their roles to guide cooperation, offer suggestions, jointly promote economic globalisation, innovate cooperation measures, promote implementation projects, and consolidate the social foundation for Brics cooperation.
He hoped Brics political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organisations would enhance cultural exchanges and dialogue, create new highlights in cultural exchange, and promote the building of cooperation mechanisms to create more effective cooperation.
* Melanie Peters is the Live Editor of the Weekend Argus. She is on a 10-month scholarship with the China Africa Press Centre.