The BRICS bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was created to address the inequities in the current world order, South African diplomat Anil Sooklal said on Thursday.
Sooklal, the Ambassador at Large: Asia and BRICS at the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, was speaking on radio station 702 after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not personally attend the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.
Russia will be represented by its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the summit. However, Putin will deliver his speech via video conference at the BRICS Summit that will take place between August 22 and 24.
South Africa is the current chair of the BRICS.
The ICC has indicted Putin for war crimes over accusations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children. As a member of the ICC, South Africa is expected to arrest Putin if he sets foot in the country.
“President Putin decided not to attend next month’s BRICS Summit in South Africa in person to allow the issues to be debated there without any distraction,” Sooklal said.
Putin’s decision of not attending the BRICS Summit in person has ended South Africa’s quandary about complying with the International Court of Justice (ICC) warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
“In what underlines BRICS cooperation, President Putin has decided that he will not allow this issue to detract from the summit and to undermine it from being a success,” Sooklal told the station.
Sooklal said the decision could not be announced sooner because there still had to be consultations with the ICC and the other BRICS partners, adding that this was a “solution which all of the BRICS leaders were comfortable with”.
“It was not just about President Putin. It has implications for the summit as a whole, for BRICS as a whole, so there had to be intense consultation with all BRICS partners by our President,” Sooklal said.
The South African diplomat also queried the way in which the arrest warrant was issued by the ICC.
“Part of the challenge is the way in which international law is applied globally. It’s not done uniformly. It’s done so selectively in a discriminatory manner. That is what we within the BRICS have been addressing these global fault lines where the global hegemons still try to dictate on how the global south should behave.
“This is precisely why the BRICS came into being to address these fault lines and create a more just, inclusive world. When we speak of international law, it applies equally to all, not selectively,” he said.
But Sooklal would not comment on whether South Africa would leave the ICC, as had been debated in some government circles as the warrant against Putin was issued.
“There is no such decision at the moment. We are a full treaty member to the Rome Statute, and we respect those provisions, and that is why we were at pains to find a solution to the dilemma that South Africa found itself in.
“South Africa is a respected member of the international community and we fulfil our international obligations fully and respect our international obligations, in terms of the treaties that we have signed,” Sooklal said.
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