Most members were of the view that the war in Ukraine was causing immense human suffering.
Leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations (G20) met in the Indonesian island of Bali on 15th and 16th of this month. The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, presided over the summit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the conference. Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He left Bali before the conclusion of the summit.
The leaders of 19 countries adopted a declaration deploring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine in the strongest terms and demanded its unconditional withdrawal. They also recognized that while most members condemned the war in Ukraine, there were other views and different assessments of the situations and on the severe sanctions imposed on Russia by some countries.
Most members were of the view that the war in Ukraine was 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 leaders also denounced any threat on the use of nuclear weapons. This was quite clearly a rebuke to Russia.
To this the response of the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was that in the absence of President Putin “politicisation of the meeting was uncalled for”.
The Summit was preceded by a bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. This was the first time the two met since Mr Biden became President.
The meeting produced few tangible results. In a minor way, it was a positive development. Both sides, in their three-hour meeting, did mention their differences over Taiwan, trade restrictions and technology transfer. Nevertheless, the two agreed to keep in touch and avoid confrontation.
The bilateral relations between the US and China had plunged to a historic low after the visit to Taiwan by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
The concrete result of the Biden-Xi meeting was that Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, could pay a visit to China early in 2023.
Climate change was discussed at length. G20 leaders agreed to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, reiterating the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The United States, Japan and their partners declared that they would “mobilise” 20 billion dollars of public and private financial institutions to help Indonesia shut coal power plants and bring forward the sector’s emissions date by seven years to 2030.
I have deliberately not quoted from the speeches of Presidents and Prime Ministers. These are written by their advisers and ambassadors. Broadly speaking, controversy is avoided. Words and inane phrases are well chosen and seldom memorable.
Having participated in several Heads of State and Heads of Government Summits I know this routine only too well. Modern diplomacy gives precedence to economics, science, technology, climate change, poverty elimination, population control, matters relating to health, etc. Politics is now not given excessive importance. India, under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, played an admired and constructive role. He took over as president of G20 from President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. Some of his time now will be taken up by G20 issues.
The G7 and G2, the European Union and NATO seem to matter more than the United Nations. The annual meetings of the General Assembly—September to December—do not cause New Yorkers to take notice of the deliberations of the Organisation. For decades the “Cry” has been the UN (particularly the Security Council) needs urgent reform. But reform is not on the horizon.
From 22 November to 18 December the Football World Cup, being held in Qatar, will be witnessed by millions and millions of people the world over. Football is the richest game in the world. Ronaldo and Messi are probably worth—how much—certainly seven digits. Which countries will make it to the final? My take. Any two from Germany, France, Brazil and Argentina.