A new forum for the developing world
On October 18, I will have the pleasure of
returning to South Africa to join President Thabo Mbeki and Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh in Tshwane. We will meet for the second summit
of the India-Brazil-South Africa Forum (IBSA) to design strategies and
formulate proposals in response to the concerns and aspirations that
unite the three leading democracies of the developing world.
On the basis of a suggestion first aired by President Mbeki, India,
Brazil, and South Africa have decided to give South-South cooperation a
powerful push. This is our answer to an international world order
riddled with inequality and clearly unable to deal with urgent issues of
development and collective security.
In the face of the combined menace of global terrorism, persistent
poverty, and spreading environmental degradation and disease, we propose
more cooperation and more solidarity.
We agree that the first step should be closer coordination among our
three emerging economies of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Together,
we can give countries of the South a more forceful voice on critical
Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee (left) with
South African Foreign Minister N. Dlamini Zuma and Brazilian
Foreign Minister Celso Amorim at a meeting of the IBSA
initiative in New York last month.
dominating the global agenda.
We advocate greater democracy in international decision-making. We
wish to see stronger multilateral institutions and wide-ranging reform
of the United Nations.
The support we have received for our joint stake to become permanent
members of the Security Council underscores the credibility of our
The challenge of fostering international peace and security will only
be met if we arrive at enduring solutions to poverty and ensure
sustainable growth. The invitation extended to us to take part in the G8
Outreach Mechanism only confirms what we have argued all along:
developing countries can no longer be excluded from this critical
Our continued joint action through the G20 is crucial if we are to
put an end to longstanding distortions in international trade and
agriculture that are inimical to the legitimate aspirations of poorer
Environmental concerns are making headlines. That is why this year
IBSA will be focusing on the question of sustainable growth. We are
devising strategies to ensure that the concepts coming out of the Rio de
Janeiro and Johannesburg conferences - in particular the notion of
shared but differentiated responsibilities - remain the guiding
principles for international action against climate change.
Our three countries are parties to the International Forum on
Biofuels, an initiative at the forefront of efforts to bring together
environmental protection and energy security. Making access to new
energy sources more democratic is our answer to the worldwide trend
towards higher energy prices and growing scarcity of fossil fuels.
We wish to see our countriesí strengths in the fields of agriculture,
trade, technology, and energy translated into meaningful initiatives in
the cause of South-South solidarity. The combined resources of our
pharmaceutical industries should be put at the service of countries,
particularly in Africa, that are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, malaria,
tuberculosis, and other devastating pandemic diseases.
Through the IBSA Fund for Alleviation of Hunger and Poverty,
triangular cooperation projects are helping countries such as
Guinea-Bissau and Haiti back on to the path of national reconciliation
and economic reconstruction. The powerful symbolism of this gesture has
been recognised by the U.N.ís decision to confer on IBSA the South-South
Our ambitions stretch beyond our three countries. We seek to bring
together widely flung regions: Southern Africa, South America and the
Indian subcontinent. We are working on a trilateral free trade agreement
among Mercosul, the Southern Africa Customs Union, and India. Our wish
is to make South-South trade a driving force of self-sustaining and
Our nations have responded successfully to the opportunities stemming
from globalisation for increased trade and investment among developing
countries. This is all the more important as South-South commerce is
increasingly centred on technologically sophisticated goods with high
added value that generate quality jobs.
This helps explain why Brazilís trade with India topped $2.4 billion
last year, a five-fold increase since 2000. Over the same period, the
flow of goods with South Africa has tripled to $1.7 billion. We can do
much more. The business event taking place alongside the IBSA Summit
will no doubt help identify some of the new opportunities waiting to be
India, Brazil, and South Africa are determined to see IBSA continue
to grow and mature, for this forum gives expression to some of our best
hopes for a better world.
In this endeavour, we will seek to engage civil society and encourage
the private sector. IBSA shortens distances, bringing peoples and
continents together. Above all, it fosters a vision of the future guided
by a fundamental sense of global solidarity.
I have always felt inspired by Mahatma Gandhiís and Nelson Mandelaís
teachings and actions in the cause of strategic forbearance and
non-violent resistance. This, I believe, is the struggle we must wage
for a fairer and more peace-loving world. The IBSA is here to stay.
The writer is the President of Brazil