Differences over Russia-Ukraine war likely to dominate proceedings as India hosts first G-20 summit starting Sept. 9
NEW DELHI, INDIA
The upcoming summit of the Group of 20, or G-20, will bring together the leaders of the world’s richest and most influential nations in India’s capital New Delhi, marking a first for the South Asian country.
The two-day summit kicks off on Sept. 9 with a raft of pressing global issues at hand – and uncertainty over whether the bloc can put up a united front.
At its core, the G-20 is an intergovernmental forum primarily concerned with economic issues, comprised of the world’s 20 largest economies – 19 countries and the EU.
The member states are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, the UK and US.
The G-20 accounts for roughly 60% of the world’s land area and two-thirds of the global population.
On the economic front, it has an overwhelming share of 80% in the global gross domestic product and 75% in international trade.
The group was founded after the Asian financial crisis of 1999, and up until 2008, its only annual meeting would bring together the treasury chiefs of the member states.
That changed with another financial crisis – the one in 2008 – and now there is a leaders’ summit every year, bringing together the heads of government or state, finance ministers, finance ministers and other high-ranking officials.
The EU, meanwhile, is represented by top officials of the European Commission, European Council and European Central Bank.
A house divided
The G-20 has a deeply divided outlook this year, particularly because of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Western countries aligned with Ukraine have said condemnation of Russia, a G-20 member, would be a prerequisite for a joint statement.
Russia calls its military activity in Ukrainian territory a “special military operation,” while Western nations view it as an “unprovoked Russian invasion.”
Then there are others, like this time’s host India, who have taken a neutral stance on the matter, making the situation all the more complex.
When the G-20 finance and central bank chiefs met this February, there was no joint statement and the same remains a high possibility for the leaders’ summit.
Climate change goals could be another potential deadlock as they remain an issue that divides developed and developing nations.
The Ukraine war and other geopolitical rifts have also affected the attendance list for the New Delhi summit, with the two most prominent absentees being Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Among those who have confirmed their participation are Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Under India’s presidency, the G-20 has focused on food and energy security, changing the international debt system, loans for developing nations from multilateral institutions and other issues like regulating cryptocurrencies.
“The theme of India’s G-20 Presidency – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘One Earth – One Family – One Future’ – is drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad,” reads the official G-20 website.
“Essentially, the theme affirms the value of all life – human, animal, plant, and microorganisms – and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe.”
With the summit just days away, security measures have been ramped up in New Delhi, including the deployment of tens of thousands of security personnel.
Fighter jets, radars, anti-drone systems and surface-to-air missiles are also included in elaborate efforts to secure the skies of the capital and neighboring areas.