Desh Duniya Samachar

The G20 Summit has achieved a remarkable victory by successfully delivering the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, dispelling earlier concerns that it might follow the precedent set by G20 meetings of Foreign, Finance, and Development Ministers. These previous meetings were unable to produce joint statements due to divergent views on the Ukraine conflict, leading India to issue Chair’s Summaries instead. However, this pessimism has been pleasantly proven wrong.

Russia, with support from China, had previously opposed reiterating the compromise language on the Ukraine war found in the Bali Leaders’ Declaration during Indonesia’s Presidency in 2022. Over time, the West has adopted a more resolute stance, providing increased financial support and arms, including cluster munitions, enriched uranium ammunition, and advanced missiles, to aid Ukraine in its military efforts and compel Russia to engage in peace negotiations. Given these stark differences over the Ukraine conflict, it appeared improbable that consensus could be reached or that compromise language could be crafted for a joint statement.

The credit for forging a compromise language on the Ukraine conflict goes to New Delhi’s diplomatic efforts, bolstered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s global stature. Crucially, the Global South played a pivotal role in this endeavor, with Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa—past and future G20 Presidents and prominent Global South nations—mediating the language, with additional support from Mexico and Turkey. Neither the G7 members of G20 nor Russia and China, which hold significant interests in the Global South, could resist these diplomatic endeavors.

The G20 platform, established by the G7, was designed to accommodate major developing nations in international decision-making on economic and financial matters. The G7 aimed to maintain the prominence of this platform, in which they wield substantial influence, rather than diminish its significance by concluding the Delhi Summit without a consensus document. The recent expansion of BRICS to G11, with further expansions on the horizon, excludes the G7 and, consequently, reduces its influence and control over the agenda. This strategic move seeks to challenge the established Western global dominance and was a key factor considered to avoid discord at the G20 Summit.

Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Adviser, referred to the declaration as a “significant milestone” and emphasized the vote of confidence it represents in the G20’s ability to address pressing global issues.

The United States also took into account its burgeoning bilateral ties with India when handling the summit. It was recognized that an inconclusive end to the summit under the leadership of the US-led G7 would not only be a setback for India but also for Prime Minister Modi personally. For India, the G20 Presidency provided an opportunity to showcase a confident, economically ascending nation committed to shaping a more democratic and equitable global order, serving as a bridge between East and West, as well as North and South. The constructive role played by G7 leaders, with whom Modi has cultivated productive relationships, deserves acknowledgment.

Despite Western efforts to diplomatically isolate Russia, the country is effectively reaching out to the Global South, especially African nations. Similarly, China’s Belt and Road Initiative has made significant inroads into the Global South, positioning itself as a rival to the United States in terms of global power. Both Russia and China, in light of the growing attraction of the Global South to BRICS, may have been responsive to pressure from developing nations to arrive at a compromise language on Ukraine.

In the final document, the G7 has yielded substantial ground on the Ukraine conflict compared to the language used in the Bali Declaration. Notably, there is no direct mention of Russia in the text. Phrases such as “deploring in the strongest terms Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” and “Russia’s complete and unconditional withdrawal from Ukrainian territory,” present in the Bali Declaration, are absent. The war in Ukraine is now contextualized within the broader framework of “the immense suffering and the adverse impact of wars and conflicts around the world.”

The inclusion of the statement that “all states must refrain from threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state” is a general principle that, even if indirectly alluding to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, may be acceptable to Russia. Russia argues that the principle of self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter applies in Ukraine, and the territories in question have been incorporated into Russia through referendums.

Certain elements from the Bali Declaration have been reincorporated into the Delhi Declaration, primarily in the form of general principles, such as the assertion that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” Russia did not oppose this formulation in Bali or when it appeared in documents involving China and the EU. The inclusion of the statement that “there were different views and assessments of the situation” with regard to the impact of the war in Ukraine, although omitting the word “sanctions,” is clearly a concession to the G7, which believes that its sanctions are justified.

Regarding the contentious issue of food grain and fertilizer exports from the region (the Black Sea Initiative), which Russia suspended, the Declaration acknowledges the importance of full and timely implementation of the UN-brokered Istanbul Agreements. These agreements aim to ensure unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers/inputs from the Russian Federation and Ukraine to meet the demands of developing and least developed countries, particularly in Africa. Russia has argued that Western sanctions are obstructing Russian agricultural exports, contrary to the provisions of these agreements. This text reflects the influence of the Global South in its drafting.

The Declaration’s call to welcome constructive initiatives that support comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine, while upholding the principles of the UN Charter for the promotion of peaceful, friendly, and good neighborly relations among nations in the spirit of “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” serves as an acknowledgement of India’s diplomatic efforts.

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