The Rise of the BRICS in the Global Political Economy
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The Rise of the BRICS in the Global Political Economy

Changing Paradigms?

Edited by Vai Io Lo and Mary Hiscock

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Vai Io Lo and Mary Hiscock, together with scholars and researchers from around the world, investigate the rise of the BRICS and assess the extent of their further development and influence from the perspectives of economics, international relations and law.
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Chapter 15: BRICS and mortar(s): Breaking or building the global system?

Melissa Conley Tyler and Michael Thomas


As well as its impact on economics and trade, the rise of the BRICS has had a significant impact on international relations and global governance. This is most evident in the rise of the G20 as a forum of leaders to manage issues in the global economy. With the weight of the BRICS, G20 is eclipsing the G7 as the worldís ëpremier forum for international economic cooperationí. As the power of the BRICS has increased over the last decade, a debate has arisen over what impact this might have on global governance. One view sees the rise of the BRICS as an assault on the existing systems of global governance and thus, figuratively speaking, as a ëmortarí attack on the foundations of the current global order. Another view sees the BRICS as building institutions for global governance that shore up the basic elements of international order, but in a way that makes it more inclusive and stronger ñ thus ëbricks and mortarí. These two metaphors ñ ëmortarsí versus ëmortarí ñ neatly encapsulate the extremes of the debate on the rise of the BRICS in the international system. This chapter explores the behaviour of the BRICS in the G20 to ascertain whether this is undermining the principles of global governance or promoting constructive reform. The chapter begins by outlining the main arguments used by those who see the BRICS as a threat. It then outlines the counterarguments, particularly focusing on the BRICS Declaration at the 2012 Los Cabos G20 Summit.

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