War causing immense human suffering: G20 declaration

G20 Leaders raise their garden hoes for a group photo during a tree planting event at the Taman Hutan Raya Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest, on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 16, 2022.

G20 Leaders raise their garden hoes for a group photo during a tree planting event at the Taman Hutan Raya Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest, on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 16, 2022.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Leaders of the G20 grouping on Wednesday said it was “essential to uphold international law and the multilateral system” as “today’s era must not be of war”.

In a joint declaration brought out at the end of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, the multilateral organisation said that the war in Ukraine is causing economic difficulties and insecurity worldwide and termed the threat of using nuclear weapons in the war as “inadmissible”. 

However, the leaders’ declaration also revealed that not all member states condemned the Russian action against Ukraine. “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy – constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food security and elevating financial stability risks,“ said the declaration. 

The statement was issued soon after U.S. President Joe Biden chaired an emergency meeting of the western bloc in Bali after a missile from the Ukrainian battlefield landed in Przewodow in eastern Poland near the Polish border with Ukraine. NATO countries called for an emergency meeting to determine who exactly fired the missile.

Consensus document

Following the summit, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that the “outcome document” was adopted through “consensus” among the G20 members and that India contributed “constructively” in the drafting of the text. “The consensus document going forward will be a positive development as we take over the presidency of the G20 on first of December,” he added. 

The joint statement’s reference to the phrase “today’s era must not be of war” indicates that the collective has incorporated the argument that Prime Minister Narendra Modi first mentioned in his discussion on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s September meeting at Samarkand in Uzbekistan. “I know that today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this,” Mr. Modi had told Russian President Vladimir Putin then. Subsequently, this argument was reiterated by French President Emmanuel Macron, and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his tour of India.

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The leaders’ declaration coming out of the Bali summit hinted at the conversation that has gone into ensuring that the draft reflects the strong western concerns regarding Russia, while making small concessions — especially with regards to food and fertiliser supply — for Russia, which may translate into openings for dialogue in the future. 

Differing assessments

The declaration indicated that the G20 summit addressed the impact that western sanctions against Russia have had on the global economy, saying, “There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions. Recognising that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy.” 

The declaration from the G20 leaders expressed concern about the challenges to global food security which has been intensified by the ongoing “conflicts and tensions”, and committed to take “urgent actions” to help developing economies. “We will take further coordinated actions to address food security challenges including price surges and shortage of food commodities and fertilizers globally,” the joint statement declared. The text of the outcome document also acknowledged the “Russian donations of fertilizers facilitated by the World Food Programme” and the Black Sea Grain Corridor.

The G20 declaration also called upon the international community to “step up” efforts to counter money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing and urged the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF Style Regional Bodies to “lead global action” to respond to these threats. The leaders also said the “rules-based, non-discriminatory, free, fair, open, inclusive, equitable, sustainable and transparent multilateral trading system (MTS) with the WTO [World Trade Organisation] at its core, is indispensable” to advancing inclusive growth among the member states.

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