Leaders of five of the world’s major emerging powers said on Thursday the use of force in Libya and the Arab world should be avoided, at a summit intended to showcase their growing global clout.
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) also warned volatile commodity prices could slow the global recovery and that huge capital flows could hurt developing countries, according to a draft summit communiqué.
Chinese President Hu Jintao chaired the wide-ranging morning talks in the southern China resort city of Sanya with South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Brazil’s Dilma Rouseff, Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The leaders were expected to make a joint press appearance later in the day to issue their final statement following the talks on Hainan Island.
The five nations — which together represent more than 40% of the world’s population — said their unusual joint presence on the UN Security Council in 2011 offered an opportunity to work together on Libya.
‘Peaceful means and dialogue’
“We are of the view that all the parties should resolve their differences through peaceful means and dialogue in which the UN and regional organisations should as appropriate play their role,” the countries said in the statement. “We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided. We maintain that the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of each nation should be respected.”
South Africa was the only Brics nation to approve a United Nations Security Council resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorising “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, opening the door to coalition air strikes.
The other four countries have expressed concern that the Nato-led campaign — which aims to thwart Muammar Gaddafi’s assault on rebels seeking to end his 41-year rule — is causing civilian casualties.
The statement, however, did not specifically single out the Nato campaign.
But a government source who participated in the meeting said that the leaders of the Brics joined in criticising the Western air campaign in Libya. “They all condemned the bombings.”
The source said the leaders voiced concern about the effects of the air strikes on Libyan civilians. The source spoke on condition that his country not be identified.
He said that South Africa was among the countries that joined in the criticism.
On the economy, the five countries — whose combined GDP accounted for 18% of the global total in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund — expressed concerns about risks to the global recovery.
“We note that the world economy is gradually recovering from the financial crisis, but still faces uncertainties,” the Brics leaders said, supporting moves to reform the international monetary system.
“Excessive volatility in commodity prices, particularly those for food and energy, poses new risks for the ongoing recovery of the world economy,” said the countries, many of which are experiencing high consumer inflation.
“We call for more attention to the risks of massive cross-border capital flows now faced by the emerging economies,” they added.
The five nations called for “comprehensive reform” of the UN, including the Security Council, “with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative”.
China and Russia are veto-wielding permanent Council members. India has long pressed for a permanent seat, while South Africa and Brazil are part of campaigns to see better representation for Africa and Latin America. — AFP