The G-20 summit held this weekend in New Delhi has breathed some oxygen into a badly wounded multilateralism. The consensus statement sealed in this forum keeps alive the capacity for dialogue and agreement between powers, opening perspectives for a reinforced role of international financial institutions and highlighting the growing value at the global table of the heterogeneous galaxy of countries grouped within the concept from global south.
The world is going through a time of growing confrontation or friction between powers and blocs, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and relations between the United States and China as main elements of crisis. The road to the summit was so tense that, as a European source involved in the negotiations pointed out this Sunday, there were strong doubts that a consensus could be achieved. The position on the conflict in Ukraine was the stumbling block. A failure in the G-20 would have been a new, very serious blow to multilateralism, affecting a forum that brings together the main countries of the world and is, in political terms, the main meeting point between powers, apart from a UN each. blocked again.
The joint statement from New Delhi avoided that risk. The mere fact of having closed an agreement in that forum, regardless of its content, is a significant diplomatic signal. But the agreed text and collateral elements of the summit also offer substantial elements for multilateralism.
Boost to financial institutions
One of them is the renewed push for international financial institutions, in terms of increasing the capacity and effectiveness of loans for economic development and the climate issue. “We have to expand the role of multilateral development banks,” urged the host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the day that concluded the summit. French President Emmanuel Macron also stressed the need for a greater flow of public financing to reduce the fracture of inequality in the world and to accelerate the energy transition.
Another element that speaks of the capacity of various countries to reach agreements is the prominence of the so-called global south, a significant element in the future of international relations, which also reinforces multilateralism, to the extent that it alters the dynamics of traditional blocks. of the northern hemisphere. The summit has given the green light for the accession of the African Union to the G-20.
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The south matters. Perhaps from the north he does it above all to seek complicity in the struggle between powers from the same north. But the reality is that things move. An example of this is the project promoted by the US and the EU to establish two transport, energy and digital connection corridors between Europe and India, and in sub-Saharan Africa.
The first vice president of the Government of Spain, Nadia Calviño, considered that the summit itself conveys a strong message in favor of multilateralism. “This summit concludes with a reinforcement of multilateralism. There is unanimity in considering that the Indian presidency has done a good job,” she assured.
Macron, for his part, praised the work of the Indian presidency, and highlighted what, in his opinion, was an intelligent move by New Delhi to involve Brazil and South Africa in the negotiations, southern countries that will soon assume the presidency of the group. The European source involved in the negotiations also praised the Indian presidency.
As in any international political declaration devoid of executive force, it remains to be seen to what extent these commitments will become realities. But political courage is important at a time of widening fractures. The recent decision of the BRICS to expand that forum is, for some of its current and future members – China, Russia, Iran – something that smacks of the constitution of a bloc opposed to the Western one.
The position on the Ukraine crisis was the main obstacle. The agreement reached underlines that all States must refrain from resorting to force to seek territorial conquests against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of others. He also advocates for a just and lasting peace, concepts that are often in the kyiv narrative.
These elements are clear darts against Moscow. However, the fact that Russia is not named and that there is no explicit condemnation of the invasion – the communiqué from the previous year’s summit, in Bali, stated that “the majority strongly condemned” the aggression, specifying that others expressed a different point of view—has caused disappointment in Kiev. Moscow has declared itself satisfied with the text.
The Spanish delegation – with Nadia Calviño and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, at the head, with President Pedro Sánchez absent due to having contracted Covid – does not share this negative view of the statement that has been installed in some media, nor the criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The first vice president said that “all countries have had a positive assessment.” “We respect everyone (in reference to Zelensky) but we believe that the statement reflects that we are in a very different moment than last year. If discrepancies were highlighted in Bali, this communiqué achieves a consensus that clearly calls for a just and lasting peace based on respect for territorial integrity. “It deserves a positive assessment,” she stated.
For the Spanish delegation, everything in the statement leads to the peace that Zelensky is seeking, with one exception: the condemnation of the invasion and the demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops. But on the latter there is no consensus, they explain, several countries are close to Russia, and that is why, according to the Spanish vision, it is already a great advance that the text speaks of respect for territorial integrity and points towards peace.
Macron, in his press conference, considered that this is not a victory for Russia. The French president stressed that the G-20 is a forum dedicated to global economic, financial, and environmental issues and that it is not its central mission to deal with geopolitics and security. He pointed out that, therefore, it is not reasonable to block its operation due to a disagreement in those sections. The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva, stated in the same sense: “We cannot let geopolitical issues hijack the G-20 agenda.” It didn’t happen. Multilateralism left New Delhi with a little more encouragement.
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