15 Years of BRICS: India, South Africa’s Move to Push for IPR Waiver for COVID Vaccine is Game Changer

By June 4, 2021 June 4, 2021 News

Both Russia and China, reiterated the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in world affairs and supported their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.


At the recently concluded BRICS Foreign Ministers meet, the global multilateral group extended support to India-South Africa COVID vaccine waiver proposal at WTO. And at the same meeting, for the first time, the BRICS FMs agreed on a common, stand-alone joint statement on reforming the multilateral system.

Both Russia and China, reiterated the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in world affairs and supported their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.

According to the joint statement which was issued at the end of the meet, all the ministers present supported the ongoing consideration in WTO on a COVID -19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) waiver and the use of flexibilities of the TRIPS agreement.

Who was present at the virtual meeting?

India is holding the Chairship of BRICS and was represented by Dr S Jaishankar; Brazil’s Carlos France; Russia’s Sergey Lavrov; China’s Wang Yi; South Africa’s Grace Pandor.

Four key deliverables for India’s Chairship

These include– Reform of the Multilateral System; Using Digital and Technological Solutions to achieve SDGs; Counter Terrorism Cooperation; and Enhancing People to People Cooperation.

During the meeting external affairs minister Jaishankar had called for the “territorial integrity” of all states to be preserved. And stated that: “India strives for a fair, equitable, inclusive, just and representative multipolar international system. A system which is based on international law and the UN Charter that recognises sovereign equality of all States and respects their territorial integrity.”

The meeting which took place on Tuesday (June 1, 2021) was in preparation for the forthcoming annual BRICS summit later this year, which will be hosted by India.

Expert Views on the outcomes of the BRICS FMs meet

Sharing her views with Financial Express Online, Karin Costa Vazquez, Fudan Scholar at the Center for BRICS Studies, School of International Relations and Public Affairs | Fudan University (China), says, “The joint statement by the BRICS Foreign Ministers waved positively at a straggling BRICS. In 2020, Russia became the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine and to call the other four BRICS countries to cooperate in its production and distribution. China announced its intention to make its homegrown vaccine a global public good. Nevertheless, BRICS failed to provide a robust collective response to the health crisis at its 12th Summit in Russia. While Brazil focused on measures to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, India reiterated counter-terrorism as the world’s top priority and remained practically silent on the response to the pandemic, despite being a global pharma powerhouse. Negotiations resulted in vague commitments and the revival of old proposals such as the creation of the BRICS Vaccines Research and Development Centre presented by South Africa in 2018.”

On the support of India-South Africa proposal for WTO

“This year, the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ support to the Indian-South African proposal for a temporary suspension of patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO could be a game changer for the grouping. Until now, Brazil was the only BRICS country to openly oppose the Indian-South African proposal in a direct alignment with Trump’s US. This position began to change in early 2021, after India announced it would start sending vaccines to its neighbors and key partner countries. Brazil then received two million doses a few days after the government abstained from voting against the Indian-South African proposal at the WTO. Biden’s recent support to the Indian-South African proposal seems to have left Brazil with no other choice but to follow the US and the other BRICS. With the five members’ support, the scale and speed of vaccine distribution could not only be increased, but access could be ensured on a more equitable basis. This would be a major victory for the BRICS,” opines Ms Vazquez, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Global Engagements, Center for Africa, Latin America and Caribbean Studies, School of International Affairs | O.P Jindal University (India).

Reforming the Multilateral System

According to her, “For the first time, BRICS Foreign Ministers have agreed on a common, standalone joint statement on reforming the multilateral system. Since inception the BRICS aspire to create space for alternative voices in global governance. In 2009, the BRIC summit declaration outlined the guiding principles of the grouping, including “mutual respect, cooperation, coordinated action and collective decision-making” in a multipolar, equitable and democratic world order. The acceptance of these principles as the foundation of the grouping became the driving force behind its attempt to reform Western-dominated security and financial global governance regimes, mainly the UN Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions. In its first decade, the BRICS were partially successful in pushing the IMF and the World Bank to review their quota systems.”

In conclusion she says, “The five countries also offered an outside option to the international financial order by establishing the New Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Agreement for the provision of sustainable infrastructure finance and liquidity to emerging and developing economies. It will be interesting to see how much the grouping can achieve on this issue in its second decade.”

Originally posted by the Financial Express. To read the original article, please click here.