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Before the Emergence of BRICS: Non-Aligned Movements and Unity. Gregory Savioz-Buck, University of Sherbrooke, Canada.

BRICS refers to the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, enlarged in 2010 with addition of South Africa to the predecessor BRIC. Before the emergence of the BRICS, there were several non-aligned movements and groups formed in response to the Cold War and a desire to maintain sovereignty. 

These coalitions were born out of the preference to remain independent, steering clear of aligning with major superpowers during the Cold War. These movements sought to safeguard their national interests, maintain self-determination, and forge a path distinct from the ideological struggles of the era.

Here are a few examples:

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM): The most prominent and well-known non-aligned group was the Non-Aligned Movement, founded in 1961. It consisted of newly independent countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The NAM aimed to remain neutral in the Cold War conflicts and promoted peaceful coexistence, decolonization, and economic cooperation among member states.

Group of 77 (G77): Formed in 1964, the Group of 77 is an organization of developing countries in the United Nations. It was established to promote economic cooperation and collectively address issues related to trade, finance, and development. Despite its name, the group now has more than 130 member countries.

Organization of African Unity (OAU): Founded in 1963, the OAU was a collective effort by African countries to promote unity and cooperation on the continent. While not explicitly non-aligned, it aimed to maintain African independence and resist external interference.

Group of 15 (G15): Established in 1989, the G15 is a forum of developing countries from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. It focuses on cooperation in areas such as investment, technology, and trade to enhance economic growth and development.

Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA): Initiated in 1992, CICA includes Asian countries and seeks to promote peace, security, and stability in the region through dialogue and confidence-building measures.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC): Formed in 1969, the OIC consists of Islamic-majority countries and aims to foster solidarity and cooperation among member states while promoting economic, social, and cultural development.

These non-aligned movements and groups were diverse in their goals and scopes, but they shared the common objective of asserting autonomy, reducing dependence on major powers, and promoting cooperation among developing nations. The principles of these movements have influenced the spirit of collaboration that continues in entities like BRICS today.

The Drive for Unity: Shared Goals and Interests

These non-aligned movements were fueled by a common vision: to ensure a balanced world order where nations could pursue their development without being entrapped in the rivalries between major power blocs. The motivations were diverse yet united by a shared aspiration for autonomy, dignity, and socioeconomic progress. By coming together, these nations aimed to amplify their collective voices on global platforms, advocating for fair representation, peace, and justice.

BRICS in Historical Context: A New Epoch of Collaboration

In this historical context, the emergence of BRICS stands as a significant milestone. The effort draws from the spirit of these non-aligned movements. Born in the 21st century, BRICS represents the culmination of these aspirations, embodying the changing dynamics of a multipolar world.

United by the goals of economic growth, development, and equitable influence, BRICS nations leverage their collective strength to reshape the global order. This bloc serves as a counterbalance to traditional power structures, advocating for a more inclusive and multipolar international landscape. While the non-aligned movements sought to safeguard independence, BRICS builds upon this to actively shape global policy agendas and foster cooperation across a spectrum of domains.

In essence, the evolution from non-aligned movements to the establishment of BRICS illustrates the continuity of the principles that motivated nations to come together. These entities demonstrate that unity, driven by shared goals and interests, has the potential to transcend historical eras, facilitating collaboration that echoes across time and space.

Editor's note: The first BRIC summit took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 16, 2009. The heads of government from Brazil, Russia, India and China attended.

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