More than 20 countries have formally applied to join BRICS, a bloc of emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“An expanded BRICS will represent a diverse group of nations with different political systems that share a common desire to have a more balanced global order,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday night in a televised address.
South Africa will host the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, which will be attended by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Russian President Vladimir Putin will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin, which hindered him from travelling to attend the summit, which is scheduled to be held from Aug. 22-24. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the court.
President Xi will arrive in South Africa on Monday, a day before the start of the summit, on his fourth state visit to the country.
South Africa enjoys a strategic relationship with China and is expected to sign several agreements during Xi’s visit.
Ramaphosa said that more than 30 heads of state and government from across Africa will be attending the summit.
He said they want to build a partnership between BRICS and Africa so that the continent can unlock opportunities for increased trade, investment and infrastructure development.
Ramaphosa said that besides hosting other African leaders, they will also be welcoming leaders from several countries of the Global South.
These include leaders from the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East, West Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
He said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also attend the summit following the bloc’s invitation.
‘‘Our support for the United Nations exists alongside our firm belief that this premier multilateral institution needs genuine reform to make it more democratic, representative and efficient,” the South African leader said in his address.
He said the United Nations Security Council must be transformed into a more inclusive, more effective body that is able to ensure peace and security.
Ramaphosa said his country supports the expansion of the membership of BRICS, whose value extends beyond the interests of its current members.
BRICS currently makes up a quarter of the global economy, accounting for a fifth of global trade, and is home to more than 40% of the world’s population.