Why a BRICS 'World Bank' May Be Welcome

Article excerpt

Five nations, which together have nearly half the worlds population, agreed Wednesday to set up a development bank that could easily rival the World Bank. If they succeed, it will mark a serious attempt by this group to redefine the values that humanity shares.

The club of the so-called BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa was started only four years ago. The new bank, which aims to loan or grant $4.5 trillion to poor countries, would be their first concrete step to challenge many of the international norms put in place after World War II, largely by the United States.

Theyve long resented the residual influence of Western countries at many other international organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Such multilateral bodies have helped create a liberal order for the world, promoting free markets and democratic governance in the way they provide economic assistance or agree on rules for commerce.

Most of all, that order has spread the very notion of a global system based on values and not just national interests. They also stand for the idea that values can be universal.

Setting up a separate world bank may represent a symbolic blow to many of those ideas and practices. Indias trade minister, Anand Sharma, said the BRICS will have a defining influence on the global order of this century. Together, the group accounts for about a quarter of the world economy.

In a new book, The End of Power, author Moiss Nam of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace writes about how power within the geopolitical landscape is shifting from West to East and from North to South. The BRICS certainly represent that.

In the last 30 years, the world has also seen more democratic revolutions and more international interventions in sovereign countries to uphold human rights. …