| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

G20 summit in Delhi: Trends show gaps in leaders’ attendance each year

In just one week, New Delhi will become the focal point of global attention as it hosts its first-ever G20 Summit. This significant event has attracted leaders from around the world who will come together to address some of the most critical challenges facing our world today. As excitement mounts, the international community is keenly awaiting confirmation from these leaders, recognizing that their decisions to attend are influenced by geopolitical considerations and their respective domestic agendas.
Delving into the annals of G20 Summit history reveals a remarkable consistency – since 2010, there hasn’t been a single instance where all member countries attended at the head of state/head of government (HOS/HOG) or leaders level. This pattern underscores the complexity of factors influencing leaders’ decisions to attend these pivotal gatherings.

The variability in attendance becomes even more striking when examining specific instances of countries being represented below the leadership level. On six occasions, a single leader from a country was absent (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017), while on five occasions, two leaders chose not to attend (2010, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019).
The 2021 Rome Summit stands out as an anomaly, with a record-breaking six leaders skipping the G20 meeting. This occurred even as the world was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when leaders faced critical domestic challenges.

In contrast, the 2022 Bali Summit saw three leaders absent, overshadowed by the Ukraine conflict. Notably, this summit marked the first time the traditional “leaders’ family photo” was absent, as Western leaders hesitated to stand alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Examining individual country data reveals a spectrum of commitment to G20 Summit attendance. Nations such as Canada, Germany, India, Italy, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, the USA, and the European Union have consistently upheld leadership-level attendance, underscoring their dedication to the global stage.
In contrast, some nations have experienced sporadic attendance. Mexico, for instance, has been represented by a minister since 2018 instead of its president.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and Russia each have had two instances of lower-level representation, while China, France, Indonesia, Japan, and South Africa have experienced a single such occurrence. A notable exception is Saudi Arabia, which attended G20 summits below the leadership level on nine occasions, including one instance featuring a Minister of State without portfolio in 2017.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t attended a G20 summit in person since the 2019 Osaka summit. He was notably absent from the Italy (2021) and Indonesia (2022) summits and is set to skip the upcoming India (2023) summit. Just like last year, Russia will be represented by Foreign Minister Lavrov this year.
The G20 Summit, elevated to the leaders’ level in 2008, has continued to evolve as a pivotal diplomatic forum. With two summits held in 2009 and 2010, the rotation, after India extends to Brazil in 2024, South Africa in 2025, and the United States in 2026.

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