The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting took place in the national capital Delhi on Thursday where lawmakers and officials from top economies of the world sat at one table to discuss issues of global importance. The august gathering, however, could not arrive at a consensus to issue a joint communique, and host India had to come up with a chair’s summary, just like what happened last month at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Bengaluru.
At the G20 finance ministers’ meeting too, the partner countries could not reach a common ground, and India released a ‘Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document’ instead of a joint communique to spread out the group’s words across the world.
So, what is the reason that member countries of this elite grouping are not able to come on the same page?
External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar said Thursday said the meeting could not find a common voice on the Ukraine war, the same reasoning that was given by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last month.
The ‘Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document’ released by him Thursday had a footnote that mentioned Russia and China did not agree to Paragraphs 3 & 4 of the G20 Bali Declaration arrived at the G20 Summit held in the Indonesian city in November 2022.
Sitharaman had told reporters after the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting that the draft communique included two paras on the Ukraine crisis, which were taken from the Bali declaration. She had said both Russia and China had a reservation about this.
“They didn’t want those two paragraphs to be in the communique…it was all agreed by all countries except for these two,” she said.
Now, the footnote in the chair’s summary of the foreign ministers’ meeting has also mentioned that Russia and China did not agree to Paragraphs 3 & 4 of the G20 Bali Declaration.
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What Is Bali Declaration?
The G20 Summit was held in the Bali island in November 2022 when Indonesia hosted the event under its presidentship. The Bali Declaration was a joint statement that came out at the end of the summit, summarising the commitments of the member countries towards the world and ways to resolve the issues at hand. The declaration, which concluded the yearlong G20 presidency of Indonesia, focuses on financial stability, humanitarian crisis, poverty, and aid to least developed nations among other things as areas of importance for the group.
The declaration noted that one member had “divergent views” on the content of paragraph 33, which talked about debt issues. However, there was no mention at the time of any diverse opinion on paras 3 and 4, which talk about the Ukraine situation and now seem to be coming in the way of a consensus between the partner countries, particularly the West and Russia-China.
What Do Paragraphs 3, 4 Say About Ukraine War?
At both the G20 finance ministers and foreign ministers’ meetings, Russia and China were against the condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fact that the war caused massive ups and downs across various sectors affecting the global economy. With both countries not agreeing to the inclusion of these points, the G20 leaders failed to come out with a joint communique both times.
The Paragraph 3 specifically holds the Ukraine conflict responsible for existing global economic fragilities, including increasing inflation, disruption in supply and chain and growing food and energy insecurity. It says most countries condemned the war and also asked for Russia’s “complete and unconditional” withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.
“This year, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine further adversely impact the global economy. There was a discussion on the issue. We reiterated our national positions as expressed in other fora, including the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, which, in Resolution No. ES-11/1 dated 2 March 2022, as adopted by majority vote (141 votes for, 5 against, 35 abstentions, 12 absent) deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine,” the paragraph read.
It added: “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 insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks. There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”
The declaration mentioned that G20 is the stage to discuss security concerns, but added that security issues can have “significant consequences for the global economy”.
“Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy,” it said.
Paragraph 4 of the Bali Declaration, meanwhile, focused more on the humanitarian side, usage of weapons and modes to resolve the conflict.
It asked to defend the Principles of the Charter of the United Nations and adherence to international humanitarian laws. The statement categorically stated usage of nuclear weapons as ‘inadmissible’.
“It is essential to uphold international law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability. This includes defending all the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and adhering to international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and infrastructure in armed conflicts. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible,” the paragraph read.
Focusing on peaceful ways to solve the ongoing conflict, it said, “The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”
Both Russia and China were against the inclusion of content from these two paragraphs in the joint communique of the G20 finance and foreign ministers meeting, leading to differences in opinion.