Engaging BRICS: Challenges and opportunities for civil society | Bric

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This paper explores ideas and insights for civil society engagement with the BRICS agenda, based on interviews held with 34 representatives of the development sector, academia and media within BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and outside. It draws on the growing awareness that civil society in BRICS countries needs to build coalitions and develop common rights and accountability agendas around the international roles of their governments and private sectors as a basis for action in international and regional fora.
  iii   Oxfam India working papers series September 2012OIWPS - XII Lysa John Study supported by Oxfam India Engaging BRICS Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society  ivThe emergence of BRICS represents an important change in the global political economy. Reactions to the rise of this new ‘club’ range from wary optimism to outright skepticism. There is anticipation that the BRICS – building on their own lessons and initiatives – will play a progressive role on economic and social issues at regional and global levels. The critical view, on the other hand, includes doubts about the nature and coherence of the group. There is also concern that the economic agenda of BRICS could pose new challenges to human rights and development, particularly given the absence domestic frameworks for accountability on international engagements. Despite these concerns, the debate on poverty and inequality is integral to any engagement with the BRICS, given its focus on growth and infrastructure. BRICS-led aid and investment activities are expected to have a significant bearing on issues such as the exploitation of natural resources, land grabs, agriculture and food security across regions. There is a growing awareness that civil society in BRICS countries must build a broader agenda of rights and accountability around the international roles of their government and private sector. This paper accordingly explores ideas and insights for civil society engagement with the BRICS agenda, based largely on interviews held with 34 representatives of the development sector, academia and media within BRICS countries and outside. Forty-four per cent of those interviewed are linked to work with women and socially excluded groups. Abstract Disclaimer: Oxfam India Working Paper Series disseminates the finding of the work in progress to encourage the exchange of ideas about development issues. An objective of the series is to get the findings out quickly, even if the presentations are less than fully polished. The papers carry the names of the authors and should be cited accordingly. The findings, interpretations, and conclusion expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of Oxfam India. Published by:   Oxfam India  Contents Understanding BRICS – Origins, Agenda and Influence 1 1.1 Background: Reviewing the BRICS Growth Story 2 1.1.1 Economic Prospects 2 1.1.2 Global Influence 3 1.1.3 Shaping a New Political Discourse 4 Engaging BRICS – Opportunities and Challenges for Civil Society 9 2.1 Background 102.2 How Important is BRICS? 102.3 Engaging BRICS – Opportunity or Pitfall 112.4 Potential Themes for Engagement 13 2.4.1 Issues relevant to the BRICS Forum 13 2.4.2 Cross-cutting Development Concerns 19 Way Forward 23 3.1 Recommended Strategies 24 3.1.1 Linking National and Global Processes 24 3.1.2 Identifying Opportunities for Action 24 3.1.3 Creating Institutional Mechanisms for Engagement 25 3.1.4 Learning from International Advocacy Efforts 25 3.1.5 Engaging Critical Constituencies 263.2 Next Steps 27 3.2.1 Investing in a BRICS + Advocacy Network 27 3.2.2 Defining Policy Objectives that the BRICS can lead / be challenged towards 27 3.2.3 Ensuring Institutional Mechanisms for Civil Society Engagement with BRICS 27 3.2.4 Mobilising Ene rgies around Events where BRICS can make a difference 28 Contributors 29References 30  For more information, please contact: Supriya Roychoudhury Oxfam IndiaPlot No. 1, Community Centre2nd Floor (Above Sujan Mahinder Hospital)New Friends Colony, New Delhi – 110 025Tel: 91 11 4653 8000Website: www.oxfamindia.org The Author : Lysa JohnLysa John has been actively engaged with national and global advocacy efforts for over fourteen years. Her most recent role has been that of International Campaign Director of GCAP (Global Call to Action against Poverty), prior to which she has also been associated with Wada Na Todo Abhiyan and YUVA (Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action). She holds an MA in Social Work and is currently pursuing her doctoral studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.Copyright @ 2012 Oxfam IndiaReproduction of this publication for educational and non-commercial purposes is authorized, without prior written permission, provided the source is fully acknowledged.
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