| 2 October 2023, Monday |

G20 summit agrees on words but struggles on action

The Group of 20 major economies reached a hard-fought compromise over the war in Ukraine and papered over other key differences in a summit declaration at the weekend, presenting few concrete achievements in its core remit of responses to global financial issues.

Diplomats and analysts said the surprise consensus in the summit statement on the Russia-Ukraine conflict avoided a split in the group, and the inclusion of the African Union as a new member represented a victory for host India and for developing economies, but the rest was disappointing.

“The G20 has been at its best as a multilateral forum when it can forge consensus – not just on language, but on action – to deal with serious global issues, such as global financial crises,” said Michael Froman, president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

“Looking ahead, the focus should be on that, not on the statement per se,” said Froman, a former U.S. trade representative who has also worked as Washington’s G20 and G8 negotiator.

The summit declaration avoided condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine but highlighted the human suffering the conflict had caused and called on all states not to use force to grab territory.

Few had expected the G20 to reach a consensus on the document, let alone on the first afternoon of the two-day summit, as the group had failed to agree on a single communique at the 20 or so ministerial meetings this year due to the hardened stance on the war.

A failure to agree on a summit declaration would have signalled that the G20 was split, perhaps irrevocably, between the West on one side and China and Russia on the other, analysts said.

And with Beijing pushing to reshuffle the world order by expanding groupings such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, G20 could have ended up becoming irrelevant, they said.

  • Reuters