Emerging Powers and Status: The Case of the First BRICs Summit




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Article Citation:

Oliver Stuenkel (2014) Emerging Powers and Status: The Case of the First BRICs Summit. Asian Perspective: January-March 2014, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 89-109.


Why did the leaders of four very different countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—decide to hold a summit in 2009 in Yekaterinburg, thus transforming “the BRICs” from a financial category into a political grouping? I argue that the main driver for the first summit to take place and succeed was to strengthen each member country's international status. The 2009 BRICs summit was successful in that it led to the birth of a political platform during highly unusual international economic and political circumstances. In a global economy in the midst of a recession and widespread uncertainty, the BRICs' relative economic stability and capacity to respond to the crisis was decisive and lent credibility to their call for reform of the international system. The United States' temporarily reduced legitimacy also provided a window of opportunity for emerging powers to act as aspiring guarantors of stability in tomorrow's world. While measureable gains from cooperation and stronger rhetoric that delegitimized the global order did occur in the following years, they were not the primary drivers for the first summit to take place and succeed.

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Keywords: BRICs, emerging powers, status, BRICS

Published Online: January 2014

Oliver Stuenkel is assistant professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in São Paulo, Brazil. He has published articles in Third World Quarterly, Global Responsibility to Protect, and Institutionalizing South-South Cooperation: Towards a New Paradigm?, the last part of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. He can be reached at oliver.stuenkel@fgv.br.

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