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One earth: One family: One future -G-20 declaration

photo by Thomson Reuters

On Sunday, the leaders of the G20 paid their respects at a memorial site dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, the revered Indian independence leader. This visit followed a day of significant developments at the forum, which included the addition of a new member and agreements on various matters, albeit with a notable softening of the language concerning Russia's actions in Ukraine.

India, this year's host for the Group of 20, which comprises leading wealthy and developing nations, achieved diplomatic victories on the summit's first day. At the onset of the inaugural session, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced the inclusion of the African Union as a member, aligning with his commitment to bolster the Global South.

Later in the day, India successfully secured the group's endorsement of a final statement, although this required tempering the language related to the contentious issue of Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

Following these significant agenda items, leaders such as Canada's Justin Trudeau, Australia's Anthony Albanese, and Japan's Fumio Kishida, among others, gathered at the Rajghat memorial site in New Delhi on Sunday. The site was adorned with vibrant orange and yellow flowers. Modi presented the leaders with shawls made from khadi, a handspun fabric championed by Gandhi during India's struggle for independence against the British.

In the months leading up to the summit, India had encountered challenges in reaching a consensus on Ukraine-related language, with objections from Russia and China, even though they had previously agreed to similar wording at the 2022 G20 summit in Bali.

The final statement for this year, released a day prior to the summit's formal closure, acknowledged the "human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine" but refrained from directly mentioning Russia's invasion. Instead, it referred to a United Nations charter that emphasized refraining from the threat or use of force for territorial acquisition, as well as the inadmissibility of the use or threat of nuclear weapons.

In contrast, the Bali declaration from the previous year explicitly condemned "the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine" and voiced strong condemnation of the conflict.

While Western leaders had pushed for a more robust condemnation of Russia's actions in previous G20 meetings, they still considered the consensus achieved this year a success and commended India for its adept handling of the situation. Failure to produce a final communique would have been a first for the G20 and a blow to its reputation.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted the significance of Russia's agreement to the statement's language concerning Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russian negotiator Svetlana Lukash described the discussions on the Ukraine-related section of the final statement as "very difficult" but noted that the agreed-upon text represented a "balanced view" of the situation, according to Russian media reports.

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