The BRICS owe the west for opening up free trade
19 June 2012 | by Paramjit S. Jaswa
The economic strength of the BRICS has come out of the free trade system, initiated historically by the UK and gradually followed by the US and the EU - argues academic
No matter how weak the United Nations may at this moment - in the absence of a UN Security Forces mechanism - appear to be, the historical fact cannot be overlooked: if the United Nations is still alive it is mainly because of the efforts of the trinity of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union; despite all occasional voices to the contrary.
Had it not been for these three, the United Nations by now would have gone to the winds of some five decades of long and strong Cold War. It would also have been shattered by the short-sightedness of non-alignment states. And it would have given in to the veto virus within the very constitutional structure of the UN charter.
It was the UK that struggled tooth and nail to bring the political and military weight of the US into the equations of World War - caused by the Nazism of Germany, militarism of Japan, and Fascism of Italy - and ultimately devising the institution of the UN that would shape the new world ideology of respect for human dignity; based on the unity of all 'we the peoples of the UN'. It was the UK and the US that mainly that brought about the Marshall Plan and European recovery plan, which would make possible the birth of what we call today the EU.
It is the EU member States, the UK included, that are the backbone of whatever the US does on the international stage to maintain the peace and security of the international community, non-alignment and communist giant states included. The world once again alarmingly seems to be at the same crossroads that brought the scourge of the Second World War. The economic depression of the 1930s is repeating itself, though mainly in the west. The world still is faring without an international security mechanism.
The BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are still the soft bricks of the institutional structure of the global social order and not hard stones that can stand as strong pillars of international peace and prosperity. The economic strength of the BRICS have not come out as something originally devised by those nations but by the free trade - often wrongly called capitalism - system initiated historically mainly by the UK and gradually followed by the US and the EU.
China, the so-called rising economic giant - yet by system a communism - owes its success to the system of free trade, the grand legacy of the UK and the US; jointly brought to the very core of the UN through institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Russia equally has been able to achieve its fragile democracy and economic prosperity through these values of the west - mainly the trinity of the UK, the US and the EU. The same goes for India, Brazil and South Africa.
The greatest contribution of the free trade system so far has been not that the UK and the US have enjoyed a long prosperity but because the EU could come into existence as a united Europe; and the BRICS could bring prosperity to billions of the global fraternity, and integral part of international community we call 'we the peoples of the UN'.
The greatest contribution of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - born from within the UN charter values, with the security farsighted of the UK and the US - is that for the first time in history the European continent, the EU included, has lived peacefully without any major war. And, consequently, the UN could so far fulfill its very grand objective of respecting human dignity by saving so far the 'succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind'.
From the Korean War in the 1950s to the heart rending Syrian civil war of the day - all through the error and terror of the Cold War, 9/11, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Rawanda, Iraq and Pakistan - the global free trade and the bi-regional NATO have contributed to the world peace and security by the efforts of the trinity of the UK, US and the EU; with the UK standing at the centre of all these, through the grand human forum of the UN.
It is time that the rising nations show some gratitude to this trinity of nations and support them in supporting the UN that could function for the global cause of peace and security without the virus of veto in the UN Security Council. Hence, a three point global resolution: (i) NATO must turn into an UNTO (United Nations Treaty Organisation), taking the world community from non-alignment to all alignment, a UN value; (ii) the free trade edifice of the WTO, World Bank and IMF must be strengthened further, bringing global prosperity, another UN value; and finally (iii) a veto system of voting in the UN Security Council must be done away with, paving way for a global democracy, a UN value of global governance.
The world at this moment is engaged in a war of values; and these are human values centred in one fundamental value: the respect for human dignity of the people, for the people and by the people, at the global level. It was Korea, Kosovo and Afghanistan yesterday. It is Syria today. It may be anyone else tomorrow. The test of the time is global unity and not global divisions. Those who work for divisions and not for unity of humanity are engaged in a war against humanity, which no one can ever win. The trinity of the UK, the US and the EU must not shrug at this historical responsibility, the sacred trust of intergenerational humanity as a whole.
Professor Paramjit S. Jaswa is vice-chancellor of the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, in India