India on Saturday succeeded in getting leaders of the G20 economies to sign off on the Delhi Declaration, putting to rest fears that disagreements among the members over the Russia-Ukraine war would threaten a consensus from emerging for the first time.
Speaking at a session in the afternoon, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he “just got the good news that due to the hard work of our teams and your cooperation, a consensus has been reached on the New Delhi G20 leaders’ summit declaration.”
The declaration called for the establishment of a ‘comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine” and appealed to member countries to refrain from the threat of use of force to seek territorial acquisition or any actions that might undermine the territorial integrity of any nation. The declaration mentions that the use or threat of using nuclear weapons is deemed ‘inadmissible’.
The declaration lists the negative impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food, energy security, supply chains and micro-financial stability, inflation, and growth. This document mentions that the war has complicated the environmental policy for countries.
The G20 leaders also reiterated their national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly and maintained that all states “must act in a manner consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in its entirety.”
Foreign policy analysts credit the successful outcome to India’s sharp negotiation tactics and diplomatic acumen as it managed to bring all group members to agree on the broad plank of “inclusion for the planet, people, peace and prosperity.”
“That India has managed to bring about a consensus on the Delhi document at a time of polarization is itself a huge achievement,” Harsh Pant, a professor of international relations at the King’s India Institute, King’s College London, said.
“All member countries agreeing on the New Delhi Declaration is an interesting and important development from India’s perspective,” Pant said, adding that a range of issues have been looked at in the declaration through the lens of the Global South, “something that India had always been talking about from the very beginning of its presidency.”
“This reflects well on India’s ability to bridge the global divide between North and South and East and West. It represents a certain leadership style, which is more about focusing on convergences and trying to build on those convergences,” he added.
During the inaugural session of summit, Modi declared that the African Union (AU) had been granted permanent membership in the G20.
“In keeping with the sentiment of sabka saath (with everyone), India had proposed that the AU should be given permanent membership of the G20. I believe we all are in agreement on this proposal. With your agreement (he banged the gavel thrice),” Modi said.
“Before we start our work, I invite the AU president as a permanent member to take his position,” he said.
Shortly after the announcement, Comoros President and AU chairperson Azali Assoumani took the seat as a permanent member of the G20.
In recent years, India has emerged as a strong voice representing the concerns and ambitions of the Global South, with a special focus on the African continent.
Modi has been particularly lobbying for the African Union’s participation in the G20, going as far as personally writing to the heads of G20 nations in June.
In his letter, Modi had sought for the African Union to attain full membership status during the summit in New Delhi.
“Transforming G20 to G21 is indeed a Bharat movement, and AU will be an umbilical partner for India,” former Indian ambassador to Jordan and Libya Anil Trigunayat wrote in an opinion piece in CNBC.
“It is a symbolic and psychological victory with substantive outcomes as G21 will have a truly large representation on issues of global economy and governance,” he added.
Their inclusion is expected to give a voice to African countries in the global decision-making process, address their concerns on various issues, including food and health security, and create opportunities for development.
India’s overtures in this regard is also expected to open new avenues for bilateral relations in trade, investment, energy, health, education, and securities, Trigunayat said.
The Delhi declaration, meanwhile, stresses on the need for a green development pact for a sustainable future and expresses the need for integrating economic, environmental, and social (ESG) considerations into development strategies.
It also appeals to accelerating progress towards sustainable development goals (SDGs), while suggesting a voluntary plan to boost renewable energy and provide universal energy access.
The statement calls upon groups to create a clear and bold new goal for climate funding by 2024. This goal should start at $100 billion a year and consider the needs of developing countries, it said, taking into account the needs of developing countries in fulfilling the objectives of the UN’s climate change framework and the Paris Agreement.
The declaration also sought the creation of rules to manage risks tied to virtual assets, in line with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, for terrorism, financing, money laundering, and proliferation financing risks.
Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 Sherpa, celebrated the official adoption of the New Delhi Leaders Declaration at the G20 India Leaders’ Summit, emphasizing the current era as a golden age of human-centric globalization. He credited India’s G20 Presidency, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for tirelessly working toward this goal.
“With 83 paras and absolutely no dissent, no footnotes, no chair summaries – the New Delhi Leaders Declaration symbolizes unparalleled global consensus. Steered by the vision of PM Narendra Modi, the G20 India Presidency has delivered phenomenal action on high ambitions for the world,” he said on social media platform X.
“India’s G20 Presidency stands as a landmark occasion, symbolizing a concerted effort to address global challenges with unity and purpose. The New Delhi Leaders Declaration embodies the spirit of collaboration, cooperation, and shared responsibility,” he added.
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