India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum

About IBSA Background

The India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum

Established in June 2003, IBSA is a coordinating mechanism amongst three emerging countries, three multi ethnic and multicultural democracies, which are determined to:

• contribute to the construction of a new international architecture
• bring their voice together on global issues
• deepen their ties in various areas

IBSA also opens itself to concrete projects of cooperation and partnership with less developed countries.

The establishment of IBSA was formalised by the Brasilia Declaration of 6 June 2003, which mentions India, Brazil and South Africa's democratic credentials, their condition as developing nations and their capacity of acting on a global scale as the main reasons for the three countries to come together. Their status as middle powers, their common need to address social inequalities within their borders and the existence of consolidated industrial areas in the three countries are often mentioned as additional elements that bring convergence among the members of the Forum.

2013 is a very significant year in that IBSA is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. This is a time to reflect on IBSA's achievements as well as chart the road ahead.

The principles, norms and values underpinning the IBSA Dialogue Forum are participatory democracy, respect for human rights and the Rule of Law. The strength of IBSA is the shared vision of the three countries that democracy and development are mutually reinforcing and key to sustainable peace and stability.

Trade between IBSA partners has increased significantly since the Forum's inception and indications are that the target of US$ 25 billion by 2015 will be readily achieved.

IBSA keeps an open and flexible structure. IBSA does not have a headquarters or a permanent executive secretariat. At the highest level, it counts on the Summits of Heads of State and Government. Numerous Summits have been held with IBSA having concluded its first round of Summits of Heads of State and Government Summits in 2008. In 2013, the second round of Summits will be completed. The Summits have been held as follows:

  • 1st IBSA Summit - 13 September 2006 - Brasilia, Brazil
  • 2nd IBSA Summit - 17 October, 2007 - Tshwane, South Africa
  • 3rd IBSA Summit - 15 October 2008, New Delhi, India
  • 4th IBSA Summit - 15 April 2010 - Brasilia, Brazil
  • 5th IBSA Summit - 18 October 2011 - Tshwane, South Africa

Additionally, the Foreign Ministers meet about once a year to preside over the Trilateral Ministerial Commission meetings of the Forum. The following meetings have taken place to date:

  • 1st: March 5th, 2004, in New Delhi;
  • 2nd: March 3rd, 2005, in Cape Town;
  • 3rd: March 30th, 2006, in Rio de Janeiro;
  • 4th: July 16th and 17th, 2007, in New Delhi;
  • 5th: May 11th, 2008,in Somerset West;
  • 6th: August 31st to September 1st, 2009, in Brasília;
  • 7th: March 8th, 2011, in New Delhi

Over the years, IBSA has become an umbrella for various initiatives, both in the diplomatic field on the international stage and through sector cooperation in priority areas in numerous Working Groups. Civil-society cooperation is also an important element of the IBSA Dialogue Forum and IBSA has distinguished itself through its development cooperation projects in less-developed countries. Thus, the group has also become an instrument for connecting India, Brazil and South Africa at all levels, aiming not only to increase these countries' projection on the international scenario but to strengthen the relations among themselves.

Communiqués and Declarations that consolidate common positions about global issues have been issued at the Summits and at the Joint Ministerial Commissions, as well as on occasions when foreign ministers have met on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

Monitoring and coordinating the IBSA activities are the responsibility of senior officials of the foreign ministers, known as Focal Points.

In summary, the progress of the activities can be divided into four tracks:

  • I. Political Coordination
  • II. Sector Cooperation, through 14 Working Groups
  • III. IBSA Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund)
  • IV. People-to-People fora (Involvement of other actors beyond the Executive, e.g. civil society)

I. POLITICAL COORDINATION

The IBSA Forum has achieved important results in terms of political cooperation. So far, numerous declarations of Heads of State and Government and Ministerial Communiqués have been issued. They constitute a repository of common positions about a wide range of global issues.
Meetings amongst IBSA representatives have also been held at the margins of multilateral fora (e.g. Human Rights Council, WTO, WIPO, Antarctic Treaty, Conference for the Reconstruction of Palestine), as a means to reinforce the positions of mutual interest.

II. SECTOR COOPERATION

The following Working Groups were established with the objective of deepening the mutual knowledge and exploring common points of interest in sector areas:

  • Agriculture
  • Culture
  • Defence
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Human Settlements
  • Transport and Infrastructure
  • Public Administration
  • Revenue Administration
  • Science and Technology and Information Society
  • Social Development
  • Trade and Investment and Tourism

Within the Working Groups, numerous Agreements and Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) were signed, in order to legally support the cooperation.

III. THE IBSA FUND

The IBSA Fund was created in 2004 and aims at to support viable and replicable projects that, based on the capabilities available in the IBSA countries and in their internal best practices, contribute to the national priorities of other developing countries. In addition to that, projects intend to serve as examples of best practices for the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This Head of State-level initiative is a pioneering effort to implement South-South cooperation. Each country currently contributes US$1million per year to the Fund. Numerous projects have been completed in sectors such as agriculture, electrification/energy systems and health. Project proposals must adhere to certain criteria, including national ownership and leadership as well as the strengthening of local capacity. The Board of Directors of the IBSA Fund is made up of the Representatives of IBSA countries accredited to the Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN) in New York which assesses project proposals. The Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SU/SSC) of the UN Development Programme acts as the Fund Manager and Board of Directors' Secretariat. IBSA projects are executed through partnerships with UN agencies, national institutions, local governments and NGOs.

IV. PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE FORA

Aimed at deepening the relationship between the societies in India, Brazil and South Africa, other fora have been created to promote the exchange of ideas and cooperation and as a means of engaging society at grassroots level:

  • Academic Forum;
  • Business Council;
  • Editors´ Forum;
  • Intergovernmental Relations and Local Government;
  • Parliamentary Forum;
  • Tri-nations Summit on Small Business;
  • Women's Forum