On February 25, 2016, the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a roundtable discussion with Ted Piccone, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and Elena Lazarou, policy analyst for the European Parliamentary Research Service. The discussion started with a presentation from the findings of Ted Piccone’s book entitled: “Five Rising Democracies and the Fate of the International Liberal Order” focusing on the impact of the rise of India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and Indonesia on the international order, and these countries’ transitions towards democracy. The discussion was moderated by John Richardson, senior transatlantic fellow at GMF, and brought together participants from local, national, and European institutions, and organizations in Brussels.
The roundtable, addressed the role of these five pivotal countries in the promotion and support of democratic ideas and practices both within their borders and abroad, and the broader implications for the engagement with transatlantic partners. The discussion covered the transformational processes within these five countries and examined the progress made over the past decades in terms of political freedom, economic growth, and human development. The efforts made by these countries to insert themselves within the global economy, and to create new patterns in the international system through the use of soft power tools, and regional leadership, were also addressed. Even though the promotion of democratic values and human rights has to varying degrees over the past decades been a priority on their domestic agendas, their foreign policies have proven to be more attached to traditional notions of sovereignty and non-interference in the affairs of other countries. Potential paths to and areas of north-south convergence on democracy and human rights were identified throughout the discussion, including the promotion of civil society, rights to food, water, health, and shelter, rights to education for girls and women, and countering corruption. The discussion also touched upon the EU’s role, underlining the need for the EU to push for more efficient and functional engagement with these rising powers beyond the broad institutional framework.
The panel was followed by a question and answer session touching on a number of issues such as further EU and U.S. engagement with these countries, the role of national parliaments in the international scene and as watchdogs, the implications of democratic transitions for the geopolitical space, and the role of these countries as enablers of change and reforms in their region. The discussion ended on the need to pursue peaceful and democratic values, in order to have stable democratic systems and secured economies around the world.