Introduction:

It is impossible to tell how historians fifty years from now will judge this first decade-and-a-half of the 21st century. Three things, however, are reasonably certain. They will note it was a period of profound transformations in the global economy. A rapid shift in the balance of power between the established “old” economic powers of the North and the emerging “new” ones of the South marked this period. They will say that this shift resulted in a search for a global system of governance more in tune with the “new” realities than the “old” arrangement that had emerged in the wake of World War II, which had the Bretton Woods institutions, the GATT, and the Security Council of the UN at its core. And they will reflect on how this search, in turn, spawned a truly massive proliferation of acronyms. The BRICS is one of those myriad acronyms, but one that also reflects the three other major forces: the shift in the balance of power, the rapid rise of South-South economic relations (trade, investment, aid, tourism, etc.), and the search for a new global governance architecture.