In a major move, influential five-nation grouping BRICS on Tuesday supported a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines as it held extensive deliberations on effectively combating the coronavirus crisis, describing it as the most serious global challenges in recent history.
In his opening remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) strives for a just, inclusive and equitable multipolar international system that recognises the sovereign equality of all states and respects their territorial integrity. The virtual meeting, hosted by India in its capacity as BRICS chair, was attended by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, minister of international relations of South Africa Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor and Brazilian foreign minister Carlos Alberto Franco.
Jaishankar's comments highlighting the need for respecting territorial integrity came in the backdrop of the border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh. Lavrov also made similar comments at a press conference in Moscow after the BRICS meeting. A joint statement said the foreign ministers of the grouping also resolved to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the cross-border movement of terrorists and vowed to step up joint efforts in building support for an India-backed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). The foreign minister also resolved to finalise a "result-oriented action plan" by the bloc's counter-terrorism working group in 2021.
Sources said India was also able to get the foreign ministers to agree to strong language on counter-terrorism, including reference to cross-border movement of terrorists, terror financing networks and safe-havens.In yet another important move, the ministers strongly pitched for strengthening and reforming the multilateral institutions especially the United Nations and its principal organs like UN Security Council and General Assembly, besides International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation. The ministers issued a standalone statement on steps to reform the multilateral bodies.
Sources said the foreign ministers of the BRICS countries for the first time agreed on a common, stand-alone joint statement on reforming the multilateral system. The BRICS brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 41% of the global population, 24% of the global GDP and 16% of the global trade.
In their discussions on combating the coronavirus pandemic, the ministers underlined the urgency for expeditious development and deployment of Covid vaccines, especially in developing countries, and called for further close cooperation among various stakeholders for a diversified vaccine portfolio.
"The ministers reaffirmed the need to use all relevant measures during the pandemic, including supporting ongoing consideration in WTO on a Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property rights waiver and the use of flexibilities of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement," a joint statement said.
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