In 2014, the Presidential Summit of the BRICS member countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – called for the inclusion of the issues of labour and employment, social security, and social inclusion public policies in its agenda. Following this resolution, the First BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting (LEMM) was held in Ufa, Russia, in 2016. The LEMM recognised that the employment pillar was essential and thus laid the foundation of the BRICS Employment Working Group (BEWG). Today, the labour market deliberations add to many issues that the BRICS formation considers important, e.g., finance, foreign affairs, trade, etc.
In 2006, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, and China met for the first time on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, marking the beginning of BRIC cooperation. In June 2009, the BRIC leaders held their first meeting in Russia, upgrading BRIC cooperation to Summit level. In 2011, with South Africa officially becoming a member, BRIC was enlarged to BRICS. Since 2009, the BRICS leaders have convened 14 formal meetings and 9 informal meetings.
In 2017, China successfully hosted the BRICS Xiamen Summit. The BRICS Leaders unanimously agreed to develop a closer, broader and more comprehensive strategic partnership, and consolidate the three-wheel-driven cooperation covering economy, political security and people-to-people exchanges. The BRICS Leaders also set up the idea of BRICS+ cooperation and jointly ushered in the second Golden Decade of BRICS cooperation. As the BRICS Chair of 2022, China successfully held the 14th BRICS Summit on June 23. Under the theme of “Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development”, Leaders of the five countries had an in-depth exchange of views on BRICS cooperation in various areas and major issues of common interest and reached important consensus. The XIV BRICS Summit Beijing Declaration was adopted and released at the event.
On June 24, President Xi Jinping chaired the High-level Dialogue on Global Development Leaders of BRICS countries and 13 other highly representative emerging markets and developing countries attended the Dialogue. Important consensus was reached on promoting global development. After the Dialogue, a Chair’s Statement together with the deliverables of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development were released. China looks forward to working with BRICS partners to deepen cooperation in various areas, build a more comprehensive, close, pragmatic and inclusive partnership, tackle common challenges and create a better future.
Over the past 16 years since the establishment of BRICS, the foundation for cooperation has been consolidated and the areas of cooperation have been expanded. It has become an all-round and multi-level framework, with BRICS Summit playing a leading role, supported by BRICS Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Meetings of National Security Advisers, carrying out practical cooperation in dozens of areas, such as economy and trade, finance, science and technology, industry, agriculture, culture, education, health, think tanks, and friendship cities. With the growing strength of the five countries, BRICS cooperation has deepened and become more tangible. The influence of BRICS cooperation has gone beyond the five countries and become a constructive force for boosting world economic growth, improving global governance and promoting democracy in international relations.
In recent years, the influence and attractiveness of the BRICS mechanism has been increasing. The BRICS countries uphold fairness and justice, actively promote reform of the global governance system and make the BRICS voice heard on international and regional hotspot issues. This has not only enhanced the say of emerging markets and developing countries in the world, but also made BRICS an important platform for promoting South-South cooperation. BRICS cooperation has been widely recognized by developing countries, and its status and role in multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been rising and growing.
The cooperation of BRICS is without a secretariat and it thus governed through annual rotation of members states. South Africa picked up the baton from the People’s Republic of China to chair BRICS, for the third time, South Africa takes over the rotational chairship of BRICS from 1 January to 31 December 2023.
Therefore, this presidency has come when urgent solutions are needed to rising unemployment and many socio-economic challenges. The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) is a lead coordinator for the labour and employment stream during this presidency. This stream entails arranging the BRICS Employment Working Group meetings, the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes meeting and the Ninth BRICS LEMM in 2023.