The G20 Summit is an annual meeting of dignitaries from nineteen independent countries, the European Union, and the African Union. Each year, they meet in different countries to discuss the world’s political and economic issues. This year’s G20 Summit, which occurred in New Delhi, India, from September 9-10, will be especially remembered for its achievements and controversies, of which there were many.
The host head of state, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asserted himself and his nation as powerful global leaders. In a move praised by the United Nations, Modi formally invited the African Union to join the G20 as a permanent member. This addition was consistent with India’s aim to make this year’s G20 summit a platform for the voices of developing nations. President of Comoros and Chairman of the African Union Azali Assoumani was “elated” at the G20’s decision to include the AU, expressing that this was a historic moment for Africa on the world stage. The nations also approved the New Delhi Declaration, a vast document that outlines the G20’s stance on various global issues. On the topic of climate change, the countries agreed to increase funding in an attempt to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. A global framework to address potential risks artificial intelligence poses was also proposed. The IMEC, a proposed trade network connecting India, the Middle East, and Europe, also received widespread approval from the governments concerned, showing a significant development in global infrastructure. Meaningful bilateral negotiations that covered almost every aspect of the global economy occurred under the auspices of Modi, ensuring that developing and underdeveloped nations have a voice in the proceedings.
However, there were a few notable absentees. The President of Mexico also chose not to attend to avoid a possible trade war, though he sent a delegation to New Delhi on his behalf. President Xi Jinping of China, which has an ongoing dispute with India over the contested territories of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, declined to attend the summit, sending lower delegations instead. Russia and Ukraine did not attend due to the ongoing conflict between the two nations and followed suit. Speaking of which, the New Delhi Declaration included a statement about that, too. This statement drew ire from Ukraine because of its blatant avoidance of condemning Russia for its aggression. Last year’s statement about the conflict, which was signed in Bali, Indonesia, read that “[the members] deplored the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.” However, the New Delhi declaration talked about “the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine.” The amended wording was praised by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, who called it “a step in the right direction.” India’s hesitance to condemn Russia for the conflict in Ukraine represents a willingness to continue India’s historically pro-Russia stance while also maintaining credibility with the West. Another issue that sparked up during the summit was the India-Canada diplomatic rift. It started when Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of plotting the murder of a Khalistani separatist residing in Canada. India, which denies the allegations, threatened to remove its diplomats from Canada, citing undeterred violence directed towards them from Sikh separatists. Canada responded by removing 41 of its 62 diplomats from New Delhi. Trudeau’s security team also strangely declined to let him stay in the presidential suite booked for him during the summit, preferring a normal hotel room instead.
Despite the controversies, this year’s G20 summit was largely defined by India’s commanding presence as a champion for the developing nations. The inclusion of the African Union helped support this initiative. Modi also tried to showcase himself as a capable leader ahead of the general elections 2024. In summary, the 2023 G20 summit achieved more than expected in a highly polarized world.