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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Civil BRICS Forum

On 1 July, the Civil BRICS Forum ended in Moscow. The three-day forum was attended by over 400 civil society representatives, experts, academics and journalists.

It resulted in eight pages of recommendations for the BRICS governments from civil society representatives in a number of spheres including security, the power industry, the economy, trade, healthcare, education, science and social issues, forum co-chair Viktoria Panova said.

The document proposes that a BRICS treaty be signed based on the UN principle of non-aggression, which can serve as a benchmark for international relations on the global level.

The recommendations have also been submitted to Russian G20 Sherpa Svetlana Lukash. "Russia has initiated a dialogue between civil society and the authorities within BRICS," Ms Lukash said, adding that she would forward the document to the other G20 Sherpas.

Summing up the results of the forum, Executive Director of Russian National Committee on BRICS Research Georgy Toloraya said the forum's proposals included setting up a commission or some other body to formulate measures to improve and uphold international law.

According to Mr Toloraya, representatives of civil society urged the leaders of the BRICS countries to take note of the new types of weapons and military technology that are not yet subject to regulation and address other challenges, including natural disasters, terrorism, and threats to information security.

Energy challenges and climate change were also discussed at the forum. Greenpeace Russia representative Vladimir Chuprov took an active part in the discussion. He pointed to the array of measures proposed at the forum for an environmental review of BRICS countries' energy policy, which were included in the final recommendations of civil society. According to Mr Chuprov, the leaders of the BRICS countries should prioritise energy efficiency.

Alena Peryshkina, head of the regional NGO AIDS Infoshare and co-chair of BRICS & G20 Russian NGOs Working Group, said BRICS civil societies had made significant strides over the past year in creating a Civil BRICS platform as part of Russia's Presidency and in implementing the plans that were formulated a year ago.

Ms. Panova pointed out that civil society forums could become an integral part of the BRICS agenda. "Closer cooperation between the BRICS countries' civil societies will create conditions for large-scale joint development projects in our countries," she said.

First Deputy Chairman of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development Shen Guofang stressed that the three-day forum resulted in some degree of consensus. The participants intend to continue their cooperation in the future.

This view was shared by B K Sharma, an Indian expert on security and foreign policy, who said that a roadmap was developed at the forum for further interaction between BRICS civil society representatives.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council, said the discussion of the issue of social inequality and its implications for countries, continued on day three of the Civil BRICS Forum.

"Civil society recommends that all governments recognise that inequality is extremely harmful for our countries' economic and social development," she said, adding that the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS countries, should also help reduce the level of inequality.

The participants in the Civil BRICS Forum also proposed establishing an international professional community of social entrepreneurs, with experienced business people acting as advisers.

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