What is IBSA?

IBSA is a unique Forum that brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies and major economies from three different continents, facing similar challenges. All three countries are developing, pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nations.

Latest Context on IBSA –

Recently, the Sixth India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Women’s Forum meeting was held virtually. India is the current chair of the IBSA Dialogue Forum.

  • So far Five IBSA Leadership Summits have been held. The 5th IBSA Summit was held in Pretoria (South Africa) in 2011.

India Brazil South Africa Forum Dialogue – IBSA

Formation of IBSA

  • The idea of establishing IBSA was discussed at a meeting between the then Prime Minister of India and the then Presidents of Brazil and South Africa in Evian on 2 June 2003 on the margins of the G-8 Summit. Read in detail about Group of 8 – G8 Summit on the linked page.
  • The grouping was formalized and named the IBSA Dialogue Forum when the Foreign Ministers of the three countries met in Brasilia on 6 June 2003 and issued the Brasilia Declaration.
  • 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.
  • But, 2011 onwards, BRICS, the larger group comprising IBSA countries, China and Russia, started to overshadow IBSA. Know in detail about the BRICS on the linked page.

Cooperation in IBSA is on three fronts –

  1. as a forum for consultation and coordination on global and regional political issues, such as, the reform of the global institutions of political and economic governance, WTO/Doha Development Agenda, climate change, terrorism etc.
  2. trilateral collaboration on concrete areas/projects, through fourteen working groups and six People-to-People Forums, for the common benefit of three countries
  3. assisting other developing countries by taking up projects in the latter through IBSA Fund.

The success of IBSA reflects an important demonstration effect. It demonstrates, most vividly, the desirability and feasibility of South-South cooperation beyond the conventional areas of exchange of experts and training. IBSA success in contributing to the discourse on global issues also shows the importance of engaging with the countries of the South.

Aspirants can go through the relevant links provided below for their wholistic preparation of upcoming UPSC examination-

Organizational Structure of IBSA

Joint Working Groups

  • Joint Working Groups to promote sectoral cooperation have been established.
  • There are 14 Joint Working Groups in areas, Transport; Health; Education; Defence; Science & Technology; Trade & Investment; Culture; Agriculture; Energy; Public Administration and Governance, Revenue Administration, Human Settlement, Environment and Social Development. These Working Groups meet as per their respective plans.

People-to-People Forums

  • There are six People-to-People Forums under IBSA.
  • These are Parliamentary Forum, Women’s Forum, Academic Forum, Local Governance Forum, Business Forum, and Editors’ Forum.
  • There is also a Tri-nation Forum on MSME.

Focal Points

  • Senior Officials from the Foreign Offices of the three countries dealing with IBSA are the designated Focal Points-
    • Secretary (West), assisted by Joint Secretary (MER), Ministry of External Affairs, is the IBSA Focal Point for India.
    • Focal Points meet once a year for a standalone meeting and also meet prior to the Trilateral Commission.

Trilateral Commission

  • The Brasilia Declaration established a Trilateral Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers. The Commission meets regularly
  • The first meeting of the Trilateral Commission was held in New Delhi on 4 – 5 March 2004. The 7th meeting of the Commission was also held in New Delhi on 8th March 2011; 8th Meeting is due in South Africa.
  • In addition, Foreign Ministers meet regularly before every IBSA Summit as well as on the sidelines of UNGA in New York. Read in detail about the United Nations General Assembly – UNGA on the given link.


  • An innovative work of IBSA is the establishment of the IBSA Facility Fund for Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger through which development projects are executed with IBSA funding in fellow developing countries.
  • An annual amount of US $ 1 million is contributed by each IBSA member country.
  • IBSA Fund received the 2010 MDG Award for South-South cooperation on 17 September 2010 in New York recognizing the work of the three countries in using innovative approaches to share development experiences in other parts of the world.  Aspirants can read further about the South-South Cooperation on the given link.
  • IBSA projects cover Haiti, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Burundi, Palestine, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Sierra Leone. A sports complex has been completed and inaugurated in 2011 in Ramallah under the IBSA Fund.

Also, read about the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation on the link provided here.

IBSA Business Forum

An IBSA Business Forum was launched in Cape Town in March 2005. From India, CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM are represented on the Council; CII coordinates India’s participation.

IBSA Military Exercise

Joint naval exercise IBSAMAR (IBSA Maritime Exercise) is an important part of IBSA trilateral defense cooperation. Six editions of IBSAMAR have been held so far, the latest one being off the coast of South Africa in October, 2018.

Aspirants can check out the links given below for relevant information –

Go through the list of Indian Army Exercises on the linked page.

Importance of IBSA

  • Solidarity among developing countries – Throughout the period of its marginalization by BRICS, a strong body of officials and experts in the three countries has held the view that IBSA is the true inheritor of solidarity among developing countries, which was nurtured from the Bandung Conference (1955) through UNCTAD and G-77 to the BAPA+40 Declaration (2018).
  •  Shared Values – The glue that binds IBSA countries together is their faith in democracy, diversity, plurality, inclusivity, human rights and rule of law. This was reiterated through the IBSA Declaration on South-South Cooperation, issued in Pretoria in June 2018.
  • South–South Cooperation – It is the champion of South-South Cooperation and the advocate of a coordinated response by developing economies to secure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Frequently Asked Questions about IBSA

What is IBSA?

IBSA is a unique Forum which brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies and major economies from three different continents, facing similar challenges.

Why was IBSA formed?

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.

For more articles and exam-related preparation materials for UPSC 2021, refer to the links given in the table below:

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