‘Not era of war’: Declaration by G20 echoes India’s Ukraine line | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Not era of war’: Declaration by G20 echoes India’s Ukraine line

By, New Delhi
Nov 17, 2022 06:05 AM IST

India’s assertion that this is “not an era of war” found an echo in the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Bali, with leaders of the world’s largest economies calling for upholding international law in the context of the Ukraine war and rejecting the threat of use of nuclear weapons.

India’s assertion that this is “not an era of war” found an echo in the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Bali, with leaders of the world’s largest economies calling for upholding international law in the context of the Ukraine war and rejecting the threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo hands over the G20 gavel to Prime Minister Modi in Bali. (AFP)
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo hands over the G20 gavel to Prime Minister Modi in Bali. (AFP)

The G20 Leaders Declaration, finalised amid deep divisions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said the conflict has adversely impacted the global economy at a time when countries are grappling with “unparalleled multidimensional crises” such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

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Even as G20 leaders began gathering in Bali on Monday, diplomats from several countries had suggested the divisions could hold up a joint statement. Negotiators from India, which is set to take over the G20 presidency next month, and Indonesia played a key role in helping bridge differences between Russia, which was backed by China, and the US and its partners, people familiar with the matter said.

The term “today’s era is not of war” was first used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan in September. Indian negotiators led by G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant pushed this formulation to help find common ground, while the Indian sides sought support from emerging economies within the G20 such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, the people said.

“The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. 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,” the Leaders Declaration stated in the context of the Ukraine war.

“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,” it added.

While India has refrained from public criticism of the Russian invasion, it has persistently pushed for a return to dialogue and diplomacy to end the conflict while calling for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. Modi has also called for direct talks between Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kant said the prime minister’s emphasis on diplomacy and dialogue was highlighted in the declaration, which was possible only because of India’s leadership of developing countries and emerging markets. “India’s suggestion that in view of deep divisions, the Ukraine matter be settled through an inclusive paragraph paved the way for the agreed language in the declaration after five days of discussions,” he said.

He added that India also played a key role in getting important references in the declaration to issues such as sustainable development and lifestyles, additional finance by multilateral development banks for SDGs, multilateral reforms and the Pandemic Fund, to which India has made a contribution of $10 million.

However, the Leaders Declaration also reflected persisting differences between G20 members on matters such as Ukraine-related sanctions and the lack of consensus on denouncing Russia’s actions.

“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,” the declaration said.

“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,” it added.

Putin stayed away from the summit in Bali that brought together the leaders of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, the UK, the US and the European Union.

During the discussion on the Ukraine war, the G20 members reiterated their national positions as expressed in forums such as the UN Security Council and General Assembly, which, in its Resolution ES-11/1 of March 2 deplored 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 declaration noted the G20 leaders met amid “unparalleled multidimensional crises” and pointed to the devastation due to the Covid-19 pandemic and challenges such as climate change, which has caused economic downturn, increased poverty, slowed global recovery and hindered the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The G20 leaders committed themselves to action to promote food and energy security and support stability of markets, “providing temporary and targeted support to cushion the impact of price increases, strengthening dialogue between producers and consumers, and increasing trade and investments for long-term food and energy security needs, resilient and sustainable food, fertilizer and energy systems”.

The G20 members will make public investments and structural reforms, promote private investments, and strengthen multilateral trade and resilience of global supply chains to support long-term growth and inclusive and green transitions.

They also committed themselves to protecting macroeconomic and financial stability and unlocking further investments for low and middle-income and developing countries through innovative financing sources and instruments in order to support the achievement of SDGs.

“We will take further coordinated actions to address food security challenges including price surges and shortage of food commodities and fertilisers globally,” the declaration said. “We support the international efforts to keep food supply chains functioning under challenging circumstances.”

The G20 members emphasised the “full, timely and continued implementation” of the agreements brokered by Türkiye and UN for the unimpeded delivery of grain, food and fertilisers from Ukraine and Russia to ease tension and prevent global food insecurity in developing countries.

While urging the world community to step up efforts to combat money laundering, terror financing and proliferation financing, the G20 leaders backed the strategic priorities of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its regional bodies to lead global action against these threats. They backed FATF’s initiative to implement international standards on virtual assets, especially the “travel rule” for fully tracking all crypto-currency transactions.

Sameer Patil, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said the fact that Putin didn’t attend and G20 leaders skipped the traditional family photo opportunity “indicates that G20 is not past its internal differences”.

He said, “For India, it is not just US-China differences but also its own tensions with China which will continue to pose a major challenge for its G20 presidency. The G20 declaration is not just a reflection of the stand taken by India and Indonesia but also a reflection of the Western assessment that the setbacks to Russian military’s campaign might push Moscow into escalating its attacks.”

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