BRICS need to step up to the international plate

Following their failure to join the liberation of Libya, it is time for the BRICS to step up to the level they're so often talked about being on, writes Luke Bozier.

Operation ‘Unified Protector’, NATO’s military response to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 authorising the use of force to protect Libyan citizens, saw the deployment of military assets from 18 countries, led by Britain, France and the United States. Most of the other countries were other NATO member states, with the high profile exception of Germany. Contributions were made by several non-NATO states – namely the UAE, Qatar and Jordan.

The Security Council resolution which authorised the action was passed without the support of 80% of the BRICS nations (all of which are current members of the Security Council) – all five BRICS countries except South Africa abstained. Germany was the only non-BRICS country which abstained from voting.

Despite their lack of willingness to support the spirit of the mission to liberate Libya, let alone support it with military/other resources, yesterday President Sarkozy announced he has invited Brazil, India, China and Russia to attend the Libyan reconstruction conference in Paris next week.

My question is this: do BRICS countries deserve their seat at the big international tables if they are consistently unwilling to live up to their obligations under the United Nations Charter to protect people from tyranny and genocide?

If Bosnia, Nigeria and Gabon felt able to at least vote for the resolution, if not provide military support, why can’t the big economies of the 21st century? If Bulgaria and the UAE can provide military support to help an oppressed nation liberate itself, why do countries like Russia and China feel they have the right to pontificate from the sidelines while sitting on their hands?

Worse still, why does Russia in particular feel it is appropriate to continue selling weapons and ammunition to the Syrian regime, knowing full-well those weapons will be used to kill innocent civilians, clearly breaking the Responsibility to Protect that all United Nations member states hold? If the BRICS are to be taken seriously, they will have to change their approach to international affairs.

The emerging powers of the 21st century haven’t yet realised it, but they too have a duty to stand up against genocide and serious oppression beyond their borders.

Humanitarian interventions are invariably led by the big Western powers, sometimes with non-Western nations as part of a coalition. It appears to be the case that countries like Britain, France and America are the only countries who care enough about standing up for people – even if we don’t intervene sometimes when we should, or sometimes when we can’t.

Often Western nations are accused of using humanitarian intervention as an excuse to tap oil reserves or protect some interest or another. We can be sure some of those factors will have been at play in days gone by, but it would be extremely cynical to suggest we only intervene where our interests are threatened.

But whilst you can cynically point the finger at Western countries when they do intervene, you can’t say anything about the emerging powers of the 21st century. You can’t say anything because those countries do little more than sit on their hands and snipe from the sidelines (that’s the best they do) or veto resolutions and stand in the way when responsible nations are willing to act (that’s when they really do damage, and it is in fact the norm).

This status quo can’t last forever; it is surely a matter of time before we see Brazilian and Indian jets alongside British and French ones, defending citizens and supporting indigenous uprisings, is it not? If BRICS wish to be taken seriously on the world stage, that process ought to start soon.

The next time a regime is brutalising its people and its people are calling for help from the outside, it would be nice if one or two BRICS would provide vociferous support to UNSC resolutions, military support in the air or on the sea, and special forces support, and not just hang around waiting for the investment and contract opportunities which await a fallen dictator.

It is time for the BRICS to step up to the level they’re so often talked about being on. The world would be a better place for it, and those nations would stand to benefit too, if nothing else than from a boost in moral authority.

18 Responses to “BRICS need to step up to the international plate”

  1. Luke Bozier

    BRICS need to step up to the international plate: http://t.co/2Zj1RQM writes @LukeBozier #Libya #FreeLibya #Gaddafi

  2. Luke Bozier

    BRICS don't realise it yet but they too have international duties to stand up against crimes against humanity http://t.co/u8O8Tm3

  3. Shamik Das

    BRICS need to step up to the international plate: http://t.co/2Zj1RQM writes @LukeBozier #Libya #FreeLibya #Gaddafi

  4. The Centre

    BRICS need to step up to the international plate: http://t.co/2Zj1RQM writes @LukeBozier #Libya #FreeLibya #Gaddafi

  5. Political Planet

    BRICS need to step up to the international plate: Following their failure to join the liberation of Libya, it is… http://t.co/ASlIO1S

  6. Jan Burnell

    BRICS need to step up to the international plate: http://t.co/2Zj1RQM writes @LukeBozier #Libya #FreeLibya #Gaddafi

  7. Sarah Emily Duff

    RT @leftfootfwd: BRICS need to step up to the international plate http://t.co/BVa0EfV

  8. Tim

    I think the reason we have to take the BRIC countries- particularly the Asian giants seriously has nothing ot do with morality and everything to do with power. They could possibly stop us doing this in the future and China in particular probably will- afterall Tibet is at least as egregious an injusticce as Libya. This isn’t an exam the BRICs will pass to be treated as world powers, they already are world powers, our job is to convince them that these objectives are just.

  9. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘My question is this: do BRICS countries deserve their seat at the big international tables if they are consistently unwilling to live up to their obligations under the United Nations Charter to protect people from tyranny and genocide?’

    My short answer to your question would be “no”.

    Further, if and when Libya restabilises and oil contracts, among others, are being negotiated, I hope that the new regime remembers which countries couldn’t be arsed to help them in their hour of need.

  10. SR819

    And what about the USA blocking legislation after legislation at the UN criticising Israeli government policy towards settlement building in the West Bank?

    Liberal interventionism is morally bankrupt, and Luke Bozier would do well to understand that all the New Labour beliefs are dead in the water. The BRICS have their own personal reasons for not voting for the intervention, and those reasons will be selfish, but the countries that are intervening are also doing it for selfish reasons.

  11. Robert

    Funny how Oil comes up, and yet twice as many have died in Syria but sadly not the same quality Oil. Yes love the idea of protecting the Oil sorry sorry people.

  12. Rahul

    ‘My question is this: do BRICS countries deserve their seat at the big international tables if they are consistently unwilling to live up to their obligations under the United Nations Charter to protect people from tyranny and genocide?’

    YES

  13. Sazzadur Rahman

    My few observations as an active social activist living in the West!
    1. Is this a war to liberate Libya from Gaddafi or to help our strategic asset/interests in that country?
    2. The UN resolution didn’t give any mandate for regime change and so why are we massaging the resolution and taking cover under it to regime change?
    3. In most cases the BIG guns of UN security council take unilateral decisions to protect their own vested interest under the cover of UN so is it any wonder why BRICS countries feel, its waste of time to contribute to this arena…there isn’t an equal ownership of decisions made in the security council!
    4. On a different note but this has an impact on it…the recent riots in the streets of UK was brushed over as pockets of sick people who have nothing better to do! But isn’t this the very people who are used to seeing how the upper belly of our society using the pretext of one issue to rampage peoples lives and society for ever for their selfish needs…so why is the riots so difficult to understand. If you tell your child from the very early age to lie to the person knocking on the door, to say your not in the house, when clearly you are behind the door. When that same child few years later tells you, he didn’t still from your pocket and you know he did and you punish him for telling a lie…who is morally bankrupt!

  14. Ed's Talking Balls

    Are you attempting to equate lying to a door-to-door salesman with lying about stealing from one’s parent? Odd.

  15. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘Liberal interventionism is morally bankrupt’

    It’s at least arguable, indeed I would say it’s plainly true, that sitting back and watching thousands of people be sluaghtered by Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi would have been morally bankrupt. This is what the BRICS and Germany were content to see happen. Libya should not forget and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t.

  16. Knut Cayce

    RT @leftfootfwd: BRICS need to step up to the international plate http://t.co/a2mAxTc

  17. Look Left – Libya: Allies urge “reconciliation and forgiveness” | Left Foot Forward

    […] that as well as being the right thing to do, it is in the emerging powers’ interests to ‘step up to the plate’ and back any future liberations, providing financial and military support, one we’ll be making […]

  18. Liberal interventi​on won’t always be a ‘West only’ business | Left Foot Forward

    […] wrote a few weeks ago for Left Foot Forward that the BRICS countries, those five nations flagged as the […]

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