As the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) grouping adopted a new counter-terrorism strategy on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for countries that help and support terrorists to be held guilty.
Participating in the virtual Brics Summit chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi also called on members of the grouping to back a move by India and South Africa to secure exemption of Covid-19 vaccines from intellectual property agreements.
Multilateralism, Modi said, is facing a crisis and questions are being raised about the functioning of global institutions since they haven’t kept pace with the times and are based on the mindset of 75 years ago.
In a tacit reference to Pakistan-backed terrorism, Modi, who was speaking in Hindi, said: “Terrorism is the biggest problem the world is facing today. We must ensure that countries that help and support terrorists are also held guilty and this problem is dealt with in an organised manner.”
He described the finalisation of the Brics Counter-Terrorism Strategy as an “important achievement” and said India, as the chair of Brics from next year, will take this work forward.
In a subsequent intervention, Modi suggested the national security advisers of Brics states should discuss the formulation of a counter-terrorism action plan.
The Brics Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which will allow member states to work out common measures and coordinate more closely at the UN and other forums and promote the implementation of UN’s global counter-terrorism strategy, was adopted at the conclusion of the summit.
Modi’s remarks on terrorism were endorsed by Putin, who said some countries were like the “black sheep of the family” and the world cannot afford any complacency in dealing with problems such as terrorism and the pandemic.
With a group of developing nations led by India and South Africa set to urge the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week to waive patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines so that they become accessible to poor countries, Modi said: “India and South Africa have proposed that Covid-19 vaccines and treatments be exempted from intellectual property agreements. We hope that other Brics countries will support this.”
He added that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to benefit humankind. Among Brics countries, Russia has approved a vaccine for the disease although experts say this has been done without adequate testing, and China has granted emergency approval to three vaccines, including one meant for only military personnel. India has three vaccines that are in human trials.
WTO laws allow compulsory licensing, where a member country has the right to licence the use of a patented drug or vaccine to a local company or even an arm of the government even if the patent holder does not agree to this. However, this can be done only under some conditions and will also require the patent holder to be compensated adequately.
Noting that significant geo-strategic changes taking place around the world will impact security, stability and growth, Modi said Brics countries will play an important role in tackling these issues.
The multilateral system is going through a crisis and questions are being raised about the credibility of global institutions since they haven’t changed with the times and are operating with outdated mindsets, he said. Besides the UN Security Council, reforms are needed in the WTO, IMF and WHO, he added.
The Brics countries, with 42% of the global population, will play a key role in post-Covid-19 economic recovery and there is scope to increase mutual trade, Modi said. India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, which aims to make the country self-reliant and resilient, can be a force multiplier for the post-Covid-19 economy and contribute to global supply chains, he added.
Together, Brics countries account for 33% of global GDP and close to 20% of global trade, with China’s presence in the grouping skewing these numbers.
This was the second time in a week that Modi and President Xi Jinping were on the same virtual platform since the India-China border standoff emerged in the open in May. The theme for the Brics Summit was “Global stability, shared security and innovative growth” and its agenda included global issues such as reforming the multilateral system and measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.