- The African Union has been granted permanent membership in the G20 summit to enhance the group’s representation.
- The summit commenced in New Delhi, India, where leaders from the world’s top 20 economies gathered.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the African Union’s inclusion in the G20, giving it equal status to the European Union.
Leaders of the G20 summit began their annual meeting in New Delhi, granting permanent membership to the African Union with the aim of increasing representation in the group.
However, the G20 remained divided on the issue of the Ukrainian war, with Western nations advocating for a strong condemnation of Russia, while others urged a focus on broader economic matters.
US President Joe Biden and other G20 leaders were transported through empty streets to the newly constructed Bharat Mandapam convention center, worth $300 million, overlooking a 16th-century stone fort.
In preparation for this high-profile event hosted by India, many businesses, shops, offices, and schools were closed, and traffic was restricted. Security measures also involved the demolition of slums and the removal of monkeys and stray dogs from the streets.
A draft of the summit declaration, reviewed by Reuters, revealed that negotiators could not resolve their disagreements over the wording on the Ukrainian war, leaving it up to the leaders to find a compromise.
The draft, consisting of 38 pages, left the paragraph regarding the “geopolitical situation” blank, while the other 75 paragraphs were agreed upon.
President Biden aims to push for a higher level of climate action from major countries during the summit. There is growing concern over the lack of consensus on emissions reduction, considering that the G20 nations account for 80% of global emissions.
During the summit’s opening remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to bolster India’s status as a major power, announced the African Union’s membership in the G20 on par with the European Union.
Notably absent from the summit are Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent Premier Li Qiang as his representative, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Attending the summit are President Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman, Japan’s Fumio Kishida, and other leaders.
Anticipation was high for a possible meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Biden, given their efforts to mend strained relations. However, it remains uncertain why China decided not to participate in the G20 summit, leading to speculation that they may be prioritizing other groupings like BRICS.
BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, plans to expand by adding Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. This move aims to accelerate the reshuffling of the current world order, which is perceived as outdated.
Struggling to find common ground on language
G20 negotiators, known as sherpas, have faced challenges in agreeing on the wording due to differences over the Ukrainian war. The summit’s final declaration, called the Leaders’ Declaration, depends on Russia’s position on Ukraine and other crises.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, representing the country, stated that they will block the final declaration unless it reflects Moscow’s stance on Ukraine and other issues.
A source revealed that the joint declaration might not achieve unanimous agreement. It could contain different paragraphs stating the views of various countries or record both agreement and dissent in a single paragraph.
One of the G20 countries’ senior sources mentioned that Western countries drafted a paragraph on the Ukrainian war, which was sent to Russia for their input. Russia has the option to accept the views of Western countries or express their dissent within the statement.
If an agreement cannot be reached, India will issue a chair statement, making this the first G20 summit in 20 years without a formal declaration. However, a Leaders’ Declaration is crucial for recording agreements, ensuring accountability, and guiding internal actions for government systems.
The divergent views on the Ukrainian war have hindered the agreement on a single communique throughout India’s G20 presidency this year.