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July 23, 2014

Earlier this week, the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) released their Fortaleza Declaration, announcing their New Development Bank (NDB).

In an interview on Democracy Now about the new BRICS declaration,  former World Bank Chief Economist, Joseph Stiglitz said, “I think it’s difficult for the United States to accept the notion it’s no longer the largest country. It’s no longer the largest country in trade, in savings, in other areas, but this will be the second-largest country in the world,” while BRICS has the ability to “create a fund that can bring in not only countries, but Sovereign wealth funds, to use not just debt but equity.”

As a development bank that is launching in developing countries, BRICS has strong fraternal relationships with other trade alignments like Mercosur and ALBA.

In the Pacific, Small Pacific Island states have been stuck with PACER+,  an Aid for Trade regime dominated by the governments and trade policy of Australia and NZ; or under the privatization regime of ADB, the EU, and the U.S.

Arguably, agreements like the ACP-EU, PACER+, and the TPP are hurriedly looking to conclude their agreements, to both obstruct BRICS, as well as bind emerging markets and developing countries.

Already, NGOs like Conectas are calling for BRICS to make progress on Human Rights, which BRICS is asserting and has already proved it can do so by using their economic clout to stop the US from sending troops into Syria and negotiating the Chemical Weapons Agreement. Sadly, however, Conectas is calling for “Free, prior and informed consultation for projects that impact the lives of indigenous and tribal peoples.”

At this early stage, Indigenous Peoples can help to shape the rules of trade and investment in the BRICS New Development Bank. Within the Fortaleza Declaration it is clear that they are moving away from the World Bank’s privatization model, targets of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Since the MDG is a consensus-based initiative, BRICS could soon find greater capacity among the majority of the 150+ developing countries and is in a much better position to affirm free prior and informed consent as originally conceived in the drafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, than anything the World Bank could produce representing the investment regime and enforcing neoliberalism.


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