The BRICS’s rising self-awareness

Since 2006, when their foreign ministers met in New York for the first time, the leading developing nations, better known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and then South Africa since 2010) have taken center stage on the international scene. Everybody is aware that those countries today represent roughly one-third of the world’s total population, have a combined GDP of around $13.6 trillion and hold an estimated $4.3 trillion in foreign reserves, nearly half the world’s total. Despite their increasing visibility, very little is known about them. We hope they will save us from the economic crisis, we want them to join in managing the global agenda and to be “responsible stakeholders” and fair players in the world market. But what are they really about? If we want to know these not very homogeneous countries better, a worthy starting question could be: “Who do they think they are?” It would also be useful to have a look at their ideas about where they stand on the international scene and what their ambitions are.