President Cyril Ramaphosa told the other leaders of the Brics bloc, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, that the Covid-19 pandemic had reinforced the belief that representative multilateralism was the key to a sustainable future for all.
The grouping, whose member countries together represent about 42% of the world’s population, 23% of GDP, 30% of the world’s territory and 18% of global trade, held its 13th summit virtually on Thursday because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa urged Brics countries to “ensure equal access to Covid-19 vaccines … because that is the only way in which we can collectively respond to this pandemic that engulfs the world”.
He also called on them to support the proposal made by India and South Africa to the World Trade Organisation for a waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to ensure rapid expansion of Covid-19 vaccines production around the world.
This was a reiteration of comments Ramaphosa made at the inaugural Africa-Caribbean Community (Caricom) Summit on Tuesday.
He noted that the global community was now in the final decade towards meeting the United Nations sustainable development goals “and we must remain focused on the attainment of better health outcomes whilst also pursuing the goals of quality education, decent work, climate action and peace and justice”.
The sustainable development goals were established at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and are intended to be achieved by 2030.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on top of its $100-million donation to Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax), a worldwide initiative aimed at an equitable provision of vaccines, his country would donate an additional 100-million doses of drugs to developing countries.
“We need to step up our political responsibility, support each other’s Covid-19 response, and share relevant information and Covid-19 control experience,” said Xi. “We need to pursue practical cooperation on vaccines, including joint research and production and mutual recognition of standards.”
Another talking point at the summit was Afghanistan after the country’s takeover by the Taliban, which Russian President Vladmir Putin said could prove to be a regional and global security threat.
He said that “the United States’ and its allies’ withdrawal from Afghanistan has led to a new crisis and it is still unclear how it will affect global and regional security”.
According to Al Jazeera, China, Russia and India have interests in Afghanistan and China’s biggest worry is the potential for a security vacuum in the neighbouring country to cause trouble within its own borders.
Anathi Madubela is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the M&G.