The title of this article refers to an extraordinary novel written by Emily Brontë in the mid-19th century and which, on many occasions, has been adapted for film and television. I saw the 1992 version directed by Peter Kosminsky.
The title of the novel came to my mind when I decided to reflect on the result of a series of meetings held recently this year and that have meant a real storm for the existence and functioning of the international system. These are the summits of the BRICS group held in South Africa in August, those of the G-20 in India and the G77+ China in Cuba, in September. And I would add the Far East Economic Forum, held in the Russian city of Vladivostok during the same month. In less than two months, the foundations of the Atlanticist and Eurocentric international system have been shaken.
The 2023 annual meeting of the BRICS group definitively broke the media obscurantism that accompanied these sessions. It was no longer possible to hide from the world an association of 5 States that around 40 countries from the so-called “Global South” wish to join in the face of the overwhelming advance of this group that has been gaining strength as a counterweight to the Western financial and political order.
At this time (before the incorporation on January 1, 2024, of six new countries), the BRICS already represent 41 % of the population, 31.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 16% of trade of the world. This has allowed it to establish an agenda different from that of the West, as has been evident with its support for Russia to confront sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
The great demand that exists today to join the bloc is a demonstration of the influence of this new geopolitical force that has the potential to challenge the Western-led system. A force that would be led by the second world power, China, which together with Russia hopes to lead the international community towards a more just, equitable and participatory world.
President Xi Jinping said it when saying goodbye to his Russian counterpart at the end of his state visit to that country in March: “Changes are taking place that we have not seen in a hundred years, and we are the ones who are leading it together.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated this last Monday the 18th at the beginning of his visit to Moscow: “We are willing to ensure, together with Russia, the formation of a multipolar world and a more just world order.” These statements leave no room for doubt regarding what the final goal is.
Just a few days after the Johannesburg meeting, during the second week of September, the G20 summit in New Delhi was held with great success for India. Contrary to Western interests, the conclave avoided “Ukrainizing” the event. The final declaration approved by consensus set out other issues of planetary interest such as food, climate and energy, the need to reform international financial institutions, digital transformation, and macroeconomic policy.
It is worth highlighting the acceptance of the importance of the development objectives defined as strategic by the Global South, especially in relation to strengthening the role that developing countries must play in the global economic sphere and the need for countries to developed countries comply with the agreed financial obligations that establish the need to allocate one hundred billion dollars annually to fight climate change. The inclusion of the African Union in the G-20 as a permanent member was a historic decision.
Russia and other countries that have strived to depoliticize the debates in this instance to have the capacity to respond to these problems faced by the majority of the world’s population, managed to paralyze Western attempts to transform the event into a discussion about the situation in Ukraine. The conclave precisely established that there is a multiplicity of armed conflicts on the planet, calling for their peaceful settlement through dialogue and diplomatic efforts based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in its entirety. Once again, the failure of the United States and its allies was evident.
On the other hand, during the same month, the Eastern Economic Forum was held in the city of Vladivostok, located in the far east of Russia. This space is “a key international platform to create and strengthen ties between the Russian and global investment communities, as well as to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the economic potential of the Russian Far East.” Around 7,000 representatives from more than 50 countries participated. According to the RT portal last year, documents worth almost 34 billion dollars were signed at the event, including agreements on infrastructure and transportation projects, development of large deposits, as well as in the construction, industry and agriculture.
Trade exchange between Russia and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. It grew 13.7% last year, while during the first six months of this year it increased another 18.3%. During his speech at the conclave, President Putin clearly stated that the development of the Russian Far East is a “strategic priority for the entire 21st century.” This event and the agreements signed expose a lie to the idea publicized by the transnational media of disinformation that speaks of the “isolation” of Russia and the crisis of its economy.
Putin expressed the idea that “a new model of cooperation” was being born at a global level that is not based on Western patterns, explaining that these changes are occurring due to “the destruction of the financial system” by the West. This has led – according to the Russian president – to more and more countries showing their willingness to cooperate under the new model.
Finally, also during this month, the summit of the Group 77+China, a group made up of 134 countries from Asia, Africa and America, was held in Cuba. The group represents 80% of the world’s population and two thirds of the members of the United Nations.
This event has been considered a meeting of the southern countries that have been beaten and mistreated by the unjust international system hegemonized by the West. It was especially important that the meeting was held in Cuba, a country that for more than 60 years has been blocked and multi-sanctioned by the United States. At the event, the policies of blockade, injustice, colonialism, impoverishment, sanctions, marginalization, exploitation and racism that these peoples have suffered in various forms were persistently denounced.
Contrary to what the transnational media of disinformation transmit, the summit has made it clear that it is the United States, Europe and what they have called their “International Community”, which is isolated from the majority of humanity that seeks other paths and points out other directions on the route of defending the values of justice and well-being.
The event emphasized that it is necessary to build a different approach to deal with the fundamental elements of scientific, cognitive, and technological development, so that, in this way, progress can be made and achieving “added value, achieving justice and equality of conditions and eliminating once and for all, the arrogance, discrimination, hegemony and wars imposed by the North.”
At the meeting, the logic established in his speech by Miguel Díaz-Canel, president of Cuba, prevailed when he said that: “We are not poor countries but rather impoverished and deprived of technology and science so that we continue to be marginal and make it easier for the countries of the North plunder our human resources and wealth.”
As president of the Group, Díaz-Canel called for the construction of a fair and sustainable global order that allows the majority of these countries to emerge from the crises that have been imposed on them. To this end, he proposed focusing in a participatory and collective manner on the development of scientific resources, innovation and the strengthening of scientific and cognitive capacities to achieve sustainable development.
In his speech at the event and in a surprising way, the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, joined the global clamor by stating that it is essential to change both the international order and its institutions, created after the Second World War, so that “reflect current realities.”
Guterres added that: “We need global action (…) to build an international system that defends Human Rights and work in their best interests at all levels. And that requires the G77+China to use their voice to fight for a world that works for everyone.”
Contrary to his traditional position, Guterres assured that the fundamental objective should be to build “strong and effective multilateral institutions”, since many of them, especially the UN Security Council and those created from the Bretton Woods agreements, “They reflect a past era” and not the current one .
It seemed incredible, but the Portuguese diplomat firmly expressed that: “The voice of the G77+China will always be essential in the United Nations. And I am counting on this group, which has long been advocates of multilateralism, to step up, use their power and fight.”
Thus, seen as a whole, the summit meetings of the last two months have shown a humanity that seems to be charting a different course than the one it has had to live in the last 80 years, marked by domination, imposition, blackmail and permanent threat that the Atlanticist hegemony of the United States and Europe meant.