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.
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.
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. 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
- 8th: October 17th, 2017, in Durban
- 9th: September 27th, 2018, in New York
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:
- 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, which was established in 2004 and became operational in 2006, supports projects on a demand-driven basis through partnerships with local governments, national institutions and implementing partners. Initiatives are concrete expressions of solidarity and objectives range from promoting food security, to addressing HIV/AIDS, to extending access to safe drinking water all with the aim of contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Important concerns of IBSA partners in the design and implementation of the Funds projects include capacity-building among project beneficiaries, built-in project sustainability, and knowledge sharing among Southern experts and institutions. The successes and innovations of the IBSA Fund have been recognized by governments, United Nations officials, academics and development practitioners.
The IBSA Trust Fund operates through a demand driven approach. Governments requesting support by this fund initiate discussions with focal points appointed among IBSA countries officers around the world. These focal points submit proposals to the IBSA board of directors for review. If a proposal receives favorable review, UNDPs United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, which acts as the fund manager and board of directors secretariat, initiates contact with a potential executing agency to advance a project formulation, and to facilitate the projects implementation.
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