IBSA is a unique Forum which was formalised by the Brasilia Declaration of 6 June 2003 and brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies and major economies from three different continents, facing similar challenges.
All three partners are developing, pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nations.
Established in June 2003, IBSA is a coordinating mechanism amongst three emerging countries, three multi ethnic and multicultural democracies.
The idea of South-South Cooperation (SSC) is not new. Its genesis can be traced back to the decades of efforts by countries and groupings working together to ensure South-South solidarity such as Bandung conference 1955, Non-Aligned Movement 1961, G77 grouping, UNCTAD, the Buenos Aires Plan of Action 1978, and the 2009 Nairobi declaration.
IBSA Dialogue Forum is an international tripartite grouping for promoting international cooperation of India, Brazil and South Africa.
It represents three important poles for galvanizing South-South cooperation and greater understanding between three important continents of the developing world namely, Africa, Asia and South America, facing similar challenges.
Contribute to the construction of a new international architecture
Bring their voice together on global issues
Deepen their ties in various areas
IBSA also opens itself to concrete projects of cooperation and partnership with less developed countries.
The principles, norms and values underpinning the IBSA Dialogue Forum are participatory democracy, respect for human rights and the Rule of Law.
The strength of IBSA is the shared vision of the three countries that democracy and development are mutually reinforcing and key to sustainable peace and stability.
IBSA keeps an open and flexible structure.
IBSA does not have a headquarters or a permanent executive secretariat.
At the highest level, it counts on the Summits of Heads of State and Government.
Initiatives of IBSA
IBSA fund has formed various developing projects in the needy countries like- Vietnam, Cambodia, Burundi and so on.
The external ministries of the three countries are actively supporting each other for a coordinated grouping.
India has been coordinating IBSA Visiting Fellows Programme through the Delhi-based Research and Information System for Developing Countries.
Joint Naval Exercise:
IBSAMAR (IBSA Maritime Exercise) is an important part of IBSA trilateral defence cooperation.
Cooperation of IBSA Countries
Sector Cooperation, through 14 Working Groups
IBSA Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund)
People-to-People fora (Involvement of other actors beyond the Executive, e.g. civil society)
IBSA’s Declaration on South South Cooperation
SSC as a common endeavour of peoples and countries of the South. It notes the shared histories, understanding and beliefs and developmental experiences of global south.
Developing Countries as developing Partners: Developing countries engaged in SSC are not donors and recipients but developing partners.
Solidarity and the spirit of sharing are the primary motivations for SSC.
Voluntary in nature: SSC is voluntary in nature and not obligatory like Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Demand driven process: Partner countries determine the priorities in the SSC projects. Primary responsibility towards development rests with the States themselves under their ownership and leadership.
Respect for national sovereignty is at the core of SSC. It is guided by principles of respect for national sovereignty; national ownership and independence; equality; non-conditionality; non-interference in domestic affairs; and mutual benefit.
Complements North-South Cooperation: South-South Cooperation serves as a complement to and not as a substitute for North-South cooperation, in supporting the acceleration of the development agenda. It calls upon the global North to honour its ODA commitments fully, scale up existing resources and commit additional resources to provide the necessary means to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as well as implementing SDGs.
IBSA Mechanism for Development Cooperation – IBSA Fund for the Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger
It was set up with the objective of facilitating the execution of human development projects to advance the fight against poverty and hunger in developing countries.
Each member country contributes $1 Million annually to this fund.
The IBSA Fund is managed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
With a cumulative contribution of $35mn, IBSA Fund has thus far partnered 19 countries from the Global South for implementing 26 projects over the last decade. 62.4 percent of the IBSA Fund has been devoted to Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Relevance of IBSA vis-à-vis BRICS
Although IBSA’s visibility in international affairs pales against that of the yearly BRICS Summits, the three IBSA members have identified themselves as partners because they share a set of fundamental notions about global order.
All three IBSA members are multiparty democracies and are thus able to freely debate how to implement difficult reforms necessary to boost growth in a messy and complex political context. These matters cannot be discussed openly at BRICS Summits.
In the same way, issues related to human rights and civil society are not mentioned when the BRICS meet. During the 2011 IBSA Summit, the Brazilian President succeeded in including the “ResponsibilityWhile Protecting” (a concept that seeks to qualify and refine the “Responsibility to Protect” concept) into the final declaration, something which it promptly failed to do several months later at the 4th BRICS Summit due to Chinese and Russian opposition.
As emerging countries that are not yet fully integrated in today’s international structures, they all consider current structures to be unjust and in need of reform. While the degree of rejection of some institutions differs – for example, India is far more hostile towards the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) than Brazil – all three agree that they deserve more institutional responsibility, including permanent seats on the UN Security Council.
IBSA provides an intimate setting undisturbed by at times strained bilateral ties – after all, relations between India, Brazil and South Africa are simply too incipient to hit any meaningful roadblocks or clashes of interest.
Strengthening IBSA is a positive step for the BRICS perspective also.
It will then strengthen the voice of BRICS in other international institutions and forums.
As IBSA’s main aims are-to contribute to the construction of a new international architecture, bring their voice together in the world and to deepen their ties in various areas; IBSA has definitely its unique importance in global south.