G20 summit kicks off on Saturday, New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration voice of global south: India; Modi says confident it will chart new path in human-centric development

New Delhi: Guteres says not very hopeful of peace solution on Russia-Ukraine War in immediate future

BY | Friday, 8 September, 2023

As world leaders converge at the G20 summit here, hosts India on Friday said the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration will reflect the voice of global south and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that the conclave will chart a new path in the human-centric and inclusive development.

Refusing to be drawn into the specifics of contentious issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war and climate-related topics, India’s top G20 officials told a news conference on the eve of the two-day summit that the Declaration was “almost ready” and they were hopeful of clinching a joint communique by consensus.

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and other leaders of the G20 grouping as well as chiefs of many leading world bodies like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gathered in the national capital for the summit beginning Saturday.

The leaders were welcomed by traditional dance performances by various troupes and a smiling IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva danced to the beat of the music at the airport.

Security was beefed up across the national capital, especially in New Delhi district, ahead of the eighteenth G20 summit to be held at the iconic Bharat Mandapam, with police, paramilitary forces and other agencies keeping a hawk-eye vigil. It is for the first time that India is hosting the summit of the 19 countries and the European Union, representing the world’s major developed and emerging economies.

India’s G20 sherpa Amitabh Kant said New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration will reflect the voice of the global south and developing countries.

“Our New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration is almost ready, I would not like to dwell on it because this declaration will be recommended to the leaders during the summit and the leaders will then accept it and only after it is accepted by the leaders, we will be able to talk about the actual achievements of this declaration,” he said.

“India’s expectation is that all G20 members will move towards a consensus and we are hopeful of a consensus on the communique,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said in response to a question on the possibility of Ukraine conflict holding up an agreement on the New Delhi Declaration.

The silver lining for India’s presidency is likely to be the support by almost all G20 countries to its proposal to include the African Union as a permanent member of the bloc that has emerged as perhaps the most influential multilateral forum after the United Nations.

On the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 bloc, Kwatra said he expected that the summit would take a “suitable decision” on it.

“The European Union is looking forward to welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20,” President of European Council Charles Michel said, indicating consensus on the proposal. The African Union (AU) is a significant organisation comprising 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent.

The biggest question that has cropped up in the run up to the summit was whether there will be a joint leaders’ declaration in view of the sharp differences between the West and the Russia-China combine on the text to describe the Ukraine conflict in the document.

The G20 operates under the principle of consensus and lack of a common view may result in the summit ending without the declaration.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hoped India’s presidency of G20 will help drive the transformative changes that the world desperately needs as he warned against the catastrophe of growing divisions and eroding trust in a fragmented world.

Addressing a press conference here shortly after his arrival for the G20 Summit, he said the phrase of ‘One Earth, One Family and One Future’ adopted by India as G20 theme inspired by the Maha Upanishad finds profound resonance in today’s world.

“If we are indeed one global family, today we resemble rather a dysfunctional one,” he added.

Guterres said India has been doing everything possible to fully represent interests of Global South in preparation of G20 Summit.

He also said G20 leaders must show leadership on climate and achieving sustainable development goals.

On Russia-Ukraine conflict, Guterres said he is not very hopeful of a peace solution in the immediate future.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has been flagged as a key topic on the agenda for the UK during the summit discussions, with Downing Street saying India’s role and influence is “vital”.

“India has a vital role to play as the world’s largest democracy in calling out Russia’s assault on human rights and indeed democracy itself. We will use meetings with Modi or elsewhere to encourage them to use that influence to bring an end to Putin’s brutal invasion,” Sunak’s spokesperson said.

Asked whether the G20 will be able to come out with the leaders’ declaration at the summit in view of differences over the Ukraine conflict, President of European Council Charles Michel said it is still being negotiated.

The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed in a news release that the Group of seven industrialised countries (G7) are putting “pressure” on India in an attempt to have their unilateral approaches to the situation in Ukraine reflected in the final documents of the G20 summit.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Modi said on X that it is important to emulate his mission of serving the underprivileged, the very last person in the queue, as he underlined India’s great emphasis on a human-centric way of furthering progress.

Rooted in our cultural ethos, India’s G20 presidency theme, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – One Earth, One Family, One Future’, deeply resonates with our world view that the whole world is one family, he said.

“India’s G20 presidency has been inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented. We actively voiced the developmental concerns of the Global South.”

“It is my firm belief that the New Delhi G20 Summit will chart a new path in the human-centric and inclusive development,” said Modi, who will be holding bilateral meetings with several leaders and heads of delegations to further deepen bonds of friendship and cooperation.

Modi said he will be chairing sessions on ‘One Earth’, ‘One Family’ and ‘One Future’, covering a range of issues of prime concern to the world community. These include furthering strong, sustainable, inclusive and balanced growth, he added.

In a riot of brown, green and shades of vivid orange, hundreds of trees lining roads through which heads of states and foreign delegates will travel during the G20 Summit were adorned with garlands of marigold, as the city wore a festive look.

As officials from India and other countries worked to address some of the complex global challenges such as concerns of the Global South, gloomy economic scenario, and fostering inclusive growth amid a fragmented geopolitical environment, officials indicated there would be a positive outcome at the summit on some of the pressing issues facing the world.

There is an expectation of positive outcomes for India’s proposals on issues such as digital public infrastructure, climate finance, sustainable development and clean energy.

Besides the G20 member nations, India has invited leaders of Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Singapore, Oman, Nigeria and the Netherlands.

After assuming the presidency of the bloc on December 1, 2022, India held around 200 meetings related to G20 across the country on a range of its priority areas.

The G20 member countries represent around 85 percent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

The grouping comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU).

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