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The G20 Summit: A critical examination

The G20, or Group of Twenty, is an international forum consisting of 19 major economies and the European Union. Established in 1999, it serves as a platform for high-level discussions and cooperation on global economic and financial issues.

The G20 members represent a significant portion of the world's GDP and population. They convene annually to address economic challenges, financial stability, trade, and development, with a goal of fostering global economic growth and stability. The G20 also plays a role in responding to global crises, making policy recommendations, and coordinating efforts to promote sustainable development and address pressing international concerns.

The G20 Summit held in Delhi in 2023 was a crucial moment for world leaders to come together, address global challenges, and forge solutions for a better future. However, what unfolded at this highly anticipated summit was far from the harmonious cooperation and meaningful progress that the world desperately needed.

Indeed, there were various achievements of the summit, such as Accelerating Progress On Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), framework for debt relief for Zambia, Ghana, and Ethiopia, Countering Terrorism And Money Laundering, Agreement on the need for better, bigger, and more effective MDBs (Multilateral Development Banks) and adding South Africa to the forum, which turned G20 into G21. Yet simulataneously, the summit was marred by disarray, disputes, and missed opportunities.

The Climate Crisis: A Missed Opportunity

The climate crisis is undeniably one of the most urgent challenges facing humanity today. The G20 Summit in Delhi presented a prime opportunity for world leaders to make significant strides in addressing this existential threat. The outcomes of the summit fell far short of what is required to avert catastrophic climate change.

The summit's final communique included vague promises of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources, but it lacked concrete targets and timelines. The communique states that the G20 leaders are "committed to accelerating the transition to clean energy" and are "determined to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement." However, the communique does not provide any specific targets or timelines for achieving these goals.

This lack of specificity is concerning, as it suggests that the G20 leaders are not serious about addressing the climate crisis. The climate crisis is a real and urgent threat, and we need to take concrete and ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the specific ways in which the G20 could strengthen their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources are:

  • Set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions: The G20 countries should set ambitious targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. This means that they should aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

  • Develop roadmaps for transitioning to clean energy: The G20 countries should develop roadmaps for transitioning to clean energy sources. These roadmaps should include specific targets for increasing the deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.

  • Provide financial support for developing countries: The G20 countries should provide financial support to developing countries to help them transition to clean energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This support is essential, as developing countries often lack the resources to make the transition to clean energy on their own.

Trade Disputes and Economic Stagnation

Another major issue that plagued the G20 Summit in Delhi was the ongoing trade disputes among member countries, particularly the United States and China. These disputes, which have been festering for years, have far-reaching implications for the global economy. Yet, instead of seeking common ground and constructive solutions, leaders of these countries used the G20 Summit as an arena for public posturing and finger-pointing.

One of the most notable trade disputes was the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. The two countries have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other's goods, which has disrupted supply chains and raised costs for businesses and consumers.

Another notable trade dispute was the dispute between the United States and Canada over steel and aluminum tariffs. The United States imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in 2018, prompting Canada to retaliate with tariffs on US goods.

At the G20 Summit, Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that they had reached a deal to lift the tariffs. However, the deal was met with criticism from some US lawmakers, who argued that it did not go far enough to protect American jobs.

The trade tensions between the two economic giants have already led to damaging tariffs and counter-tariffs, disrupting global supply chains and causing economic uncertainty. The failure of the G20 to facilitate meaningful dialogue and resolution of these disputes is a dereliction of its duty as a forum for global economic cooperation.

Furthermore, the summit did little to address the underlying issues of economic inequality and stagnation that are exacerbating trade tensions. The economic policies advocated by some G20 members have only deepened the divide between the wealthy and the rest of society.Inadequate dedication to reforming the global economic system and tackling these inequalities places the heaviest burden of economic instability on the most vulnerable communities.

Hidden Poverty Amidst the Glitz

The controversies surrounding the organization of the G20 Summit in Delhi added another layer of disappointment to the event. One of the most significant concerns was the attempt to conceal poverty in the host city. Makeshift walls were erected to hide slums and dilapidated buildings from the view of G20 delegates, perpetuating a false narrative and denying world leaders the opportunity to witness the stark realities faced by millions of Delhi's residents.

The restrictions imposed on Delhi's residents during the summit were not only inconvenient but also deeply unfair and discriminatory. Curfews, road closures, and restrictions on movement disrupted the lives of ordinary citizens, particularly those from marginalized communities. Businesses suffered losses, daily wage earners were unable to work, and essential services like healthcare and education were disrupted. The heavy-handed security measures created a climate of fear and intimidation, curbing civil liberties and freedom of movement.

The absence of some key leaders at the summit raised questions about the inclusivity and representativeness of the G20. Leaders from countries with significant global influence, such as Russia and Brazil, were notably absent. Besides key global leaders, leaders from the opposition, including Congress Chief Mallikarjun Charge, were not invited to the event.

This undermined the legitimacy of the summit and hindered the ability of the G20 to address critical issues comprehensively.

Human Rights Abuses Ignored

While the G20 is primarily an economic forum, it cannot turn a blind eye to the human rights violations that persist in some of its member nations. There was silence on critical issues, which raised questions about the G20's commitment to upholding universal values and principles.

  • China's crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province: The Chinese government has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. The Chinese government has detained over a million Uyghurs in concentration camps, where they are subjected to torture, forced labor, and other human rights abuses.

  • India's crackdown on Muslims and other minorities: The Indian government has been accused of cracking down on Muslims and other minorities in recent years. The government has passed a number of discriminatory laws against Muslims, and it has also been accused of using excessive force against Muslims and other minorities.

  • Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses: Saudi Arabia has a long history of human rights abuses, including the execution of dissidents, the torture of prisoners, and the suppression of women's rights.

  • In addition to the specific examples listed above, the G20 leaders also failed to address a number of other important human rights issues, such as the rights of women, the rights of LGBTQ people, and the rights of migrants and refugees.

The G20 leaders failed to condemn any of these human rights abuses. They also failed to take any concrete steps to address them. This is a major disappointment. The lack of any meaningful discussion on human rights abuses during the summit sends a troubling message that economic interests take precedence over fundamental human rights.

Lack of Accountability and Enforceable Commitments

One of the fundamental weaknesses of the G20 remains its reliance on informal and voluntary commitments. Member countries can make commitments at the summit without facing any consequences for failing to fulfill them. This raises doubts about the sincerity of the commitments made and calls into question the effectiveness of the G20 as a platform for meaningful change.

The G20 Summit seems to be one filled with great declarations and lofty promises for an idyllic future but devoid of constructive action. The lack of progress on key issues, such as climate change and trade disputes underscores the need for a more robust and accountable global governance framework.

The Canada-India Dispute: A Fallout from the Summit

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the issue of the Canada-Khalistan dispute with a number of world leaders at the G20 Summit, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Trudeau's public allegation that the Indian government may have been involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist in Canada, who was also a citizen of Canada.

Trudeau's comments angered the Indian government, and accused him of interfering in India's internal affairs. Canada responded by expelling an Indian diplomat post G20, and India expelled a Canadian diplomat in retaliation.

In addition to the expulsion of diplomats, India has also suspended trade talks with Canada and stopped issuing visas to Canadians of Indian origin who have expressed support for pro-Khalistan elements.

The Canada-India dispute is the latest development in a long-simmering conflict between the two countries over the issue of Khalistan. The Indian government has long accused Canada of harbouring Sikh separatists and of providing them with financial and logistical support.

Canada has denied these allegations, but it has also taken steps to address the concerns of the Indian government. For example, Canada has banned a number of Sikh separatist organizations and has increased security at Sikh gurdwaras.

The expulsion of diplomats is a serious diplomatic step, and it is a sign that relations between Canada and India have deteriorated significantly. This is creating a negative impact on the bilateral relationship and trade and investment between the two countries.

The Russia-Ukraine War: A Regional Flashpoint

In February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, seizing control of large parts of the country and causing a humanitarian crisis. The war has been devastating for both countries, with thousands of casualties and millions of people displaced. The war in Ukraine is a major geopolitical crisis with far-reaching implications. It has shaken the European security order and raised the risk of a wider conflict. The war has also had a significant impact on the global economy, causing energy prices to soar and disrupting supply chains.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war cast a long shadow over the international stage and added to the geopolitical tensions that reverberated during the summit. The conflict, which began in 2014, continues to escalate, posing a threat to regional stability and international security.

The tensions between Russia and Ukraine have escalated to a full-fledged war due to a number of factors, including:

  • Russia's desire to expand its sphere of influence and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO.

  • Ukraine's pro-Western aspirations and its growing ties to the United States and NATO.

  • The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

  • The failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

The Russia-Ukraine war represents a glaring failure of diplomacy and international cooperation. The G20, which is an international forum for global governance, has a moral responsibility to address the conflict and seek peaceful solutions to prevent further escalation. The 2023 Summit in Delhi was an opportune moment for world leaders to collectively address the Russia-Ukraine conflict, emphasize the importance of upholding international law, and call for a peaceful resolution. However, the summit fell short in this regard, failing to demonstrate cohesive international leadership on one of the most significant geopolitical challenges of our time.

In light of these challenges and shortcomings, it is crystal clear that the G20 is in crisis. It must undergo significant reforms to regain its credibility and fulfill its potential as a forum for global cooperation. It is imperative that these reforms address pressing global issues, greater transparency in its organization, and mechanisms for resolving economic disputes peacefully. Only by taking these steps can the G20 hope to restore faith in its ability to address the complex challenges facing the world and to provide meaningful solutions for a better future. Until then, the G20 Summit in Delhi in 2023 will remain a reminder of the need for stronger, more effective global governance.

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