G20 adopts Leaders Declaration under India’s Presidency

From left, Arindam Bagchi (standing), Vinay Kwatra, Amitabh Kant, S. Jaishankar, Nirmala Sitharaman, Ajay Seth, and Harsh Shringla during the press briefing on September 9, 2023, in New Delhi. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

New Delhi, India: In a win-win situation for India’s G20 Presidency, the G20 Leaders’ Summit, convened in the nation’s capital under the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The World is One Family,” unanimously adopted the New Delhi Leaders Declaration on September 9, 2023.

The consensus reached on the Declaration surprised many, especially since Russia and China had previously strongly objected to the joint statement. This statement essentially reiterated two paragraphs from the G20 Bali declaration, which condemned Russia for its actions in the Ukraine conflict. Given the opposition, the G20 Finance of Central Bank Governors Meeting held in Bengaluru in February, and the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting held in New Delhi in March of this year only managed to produce a summary by the Chair.

G20 leaders at Summit held in New Delhi Sept. 9 and 10. PHOTO: X @narendramodi

Providing a background on reaching consensus on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, during a press briefing on September 9, noted, “India worked very closely with Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia. And I want to say that it was the emerging markets, which played a very key role [for reaching consensus]… very tough, very ruthless negotiations which went on for several days nonstop,” adding he strongly believes that ultimately the consensus was reached due to the Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, as the negotiators had to say that the Prime Minister wanted the task to be accomplished.

Kant was joined by India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs, Ajay Seth, G20 Chief Coordinator, Harsh Shringla, and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi at the press briefing.

But the new language in the adopted New Delhi Declaration totally removed Russia’s reference in the war against Ukraine. It just expressed profound concern regarding the extensive human suffering and the detrimental consequences of wars and conflicts globally.

The Declaration noted “We highlighted the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine with regard to global food and energy security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation and growth, which has complicated the policy environment for countries,” while noting “Especially developing and least developed countries which are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic disruption which has derailed progress towards the SDGs. There were different views and assessments of the situation.”

While recalling the discussion in Bali with regard to the war in Ukraine, the Declaration further added, “We [the G20 leaders] reiterated our national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly (A/RES/ES-11/1 and A/RES/ES-11/6) and underscored that all states must act in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety…”

The Declaration however prominently echoed PM Modi’s Samarkhand statement that “Today’s era is not an era of war” and his vision that “Use, or threat of the use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

Leaders at the G20 countries discuss some of the issues at the summit in New Delhi, Sept. 9, 2023. PHOTO: x @narendramodi

Notably, the Summit began with the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and President of Spain Pedro Sánchez. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Chinese Premier Li Qiang were present at the Summit.

Even though, Putin was missing in international conferences since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, Jinping attended the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November, and the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in August this year. “We look forward to the successful hosting of the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi under the Indian G20 Presidency. We note the opportunities to build sustained momentum for change by India, Brazil, and South Africa presiding over the G20 from 2023 to 2025,” noted a joint statement adopted during the BRICS Summit.

Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, while pointing out that the Declaration has 83 paragraphs and has covered a lot of subjects said, “Considerable time was spent especially in the last few days in regard to geopolitical issues, which really centered around the war in Ukraine,” while noting “Everybody helped because everybody came together for the consensus… I think the emerging markets took a particular lead on this… many of us have strong history of working together.”

When questioned about the phrase “There were different views and assessments of the situation” in the paragraph that discusses the Ukraine war, Jaishankar clarified “I think we are being transparent. I mean, it is a fact this is today, a very polarizing issue. There are multiple views on this. You know, there are a spectrum of views on this. So, I think in all fairness, it was only right to record what was the reality in the meeting rooms and I think that is the sense that is sought to be captured.”

The New Delhi G20 Summit also inducted the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. Regarding the Global South, Jaishankar said that India’s G20 Presidency sought “To ensure that the concerns of the Global South constitute the core agenda of G20 deliberations because after three years of pandemic, after economic disruptions of various kinds, after the impact of the Ukraine conflict, after climate events, the fact is that the countries of the Global South are in deep economic distress.” He further emphasized “And that distress has not in our view been fully recognized till now. And we therefore very consciously started off with the voice of the Global South Summit…”

As a premier global forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 leaders in the Declaration committed to matters such as fostering robust inclusive economic growth, expediting comprehensive execution of the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda, pursuing pathways to low greenhouse gas emissions and resilient climate change solutions, improving access to medical countermeasures, addressing debt vulnerabilities in developing countries, advocating reforms to enhance the effectiveness of Multilateral Development Banks, and striving to narrow gender disparities and empower women in decision-making roles.

Narendra Modi @narendramodi

The Declaration reached consensus on various issues under sections including “strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth; accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); green development pact for a sustainable future; multilateral institutions for the 21st century; technological transformation and digital public infrastructure; international taxation; gender equality and empowering all women and girls; financial sector issues, countering terrorism and money laundering; and creating a more inclusive world.”

Meanwhile, a G20 joint statement from the United States, India, Brazil, and South Africa said, “We, the Leaders of India, Brazil, South Africa, and the United States, met on the margins of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi to reaffirm our shared commitment to the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation to deliver solutions for our shared world.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here