BRICS, an economic collaboration bloc composed of Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil, is set to hold its fifteenth summit in Johannesburg from August 22 to the 24th. In addition to the five member states, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa invited the leaders of 67 countries from the Global South to attend.
Among the invitees are Ebrahim Raisi from Iran, Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba, and Luis Arce of Bolivia. Though Vladimir Putin was invited, he elected to send Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov because he is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and South Africa would be obligated to arrest him if he attended in person.
BRICS harbors ambitions to become an alternative to Western-led economic forums and as a result, seeks to include autocratic regimes to enhance the bloc’s influence. The presence of leaders from countries such as Bolivia, Iran, and Cuba is alarming because it demonstrates how autocrats cooperate to insulate their economies from international pressure. Venezuela’s bid to join BRICS was warmly received by China and Russia.
The WLC condemns the presence of human rights violators and despots in Johannesburg. Under the guise of liberating states from the Global South from the US dollar, the summit in Johannesburg is in fact an attempt to facilitate economic integration among many authoritarian regimes. South African President Ramaphosa’s decision to include dozens of dictatorial regimes in the summit shows a disregard for the crimes that these autocrats commit every day against their citizens. Democracies must remain united in their commitment to isolate autocratic regimes.