G20 Leaders Summit Declaration Succumbs to Complex Negotiations and Nuanced Diplomacy


Following months of rigorous negotiations deemed “very difficult” by Canadian government officials, leaders at the G20 arrived at a final communique, a consensus declared by Indian Prime Minister Narendar Modi at a G20 session on Saturday.

The agreement shaped the G20 Leaders Summit Declaration, a formidable testament to the diligence of all the associated teams. This consensus, as remarked during the kickoff of the G20 summit in New Delhi, was not easily reached. Those privy to the negotiation deliberations, although not enlisted to disclose them publicly, all agreed on the inherent complexity of the talks.

In retrospect, one senior government official reflected, “We anticipated the negotiation to be challenging, and so, held our ground to the maximum possible extent.”

The precedent for such concurrences was set in last year’s G20 held in Bali. Here, the Indonesian President Joko Widodo obtained consensus at the eleventh hour, addressing Ukraine’s rising tensions, widely recognized as a primary contentious issue. The resultant Bali Leaders’ Declaration censured the war in Ukraine for its catastrophic human suffering and its exacerbating effect on global economic frailty. The declaration also accommodated contrasting perspectives and disparate evaluations of the situation and associated sanctions.

However, a comparison with this year’s 37-page G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration reveals a milder stance towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Critics perceive this as retrogressive, as the joint declaration refrains from condemning Russia, advocating instead for an end to military devastation or other assaults on relevant infrastructures.

The declaration affirms all states’ responsibility to adhere to international law, including upholding territorial integrity, sovereignty, international humanitarian law and the multilateral system safeguarding peace and stability. It condemns the use or threat of nuclear weapons as “inadmissible”. The single explicit reference to Russia is an appeal to implement the Black Sea initiative fully and effectively, enabling the unhindered delivery of grain. This announcement follows Russia rescinding its wartime export deal in July, citing unmet demands on its agricultural exports.

The declaration proceeds to acknowledge and invite all relevant initiatives promoting comprehensive, equitable, and prolonged peace in Ukraine.

The Canadian delegation, keen on negotiating the strongest possible language, sought consensus with a table that included Russia and other nations favoring Russia. This fact added a nuanced complexity to the discussions.

While many nations anticipated resolute text about Ukraine, officials reported that some countries regard the G20 as inappropriate for such contentious dialogue. Furthermore, these countries, unnamed except for Russia, countered more assertive language in the interest of minimizing dissension. A Canadian government source underscored this tension by reflecting, “There are some countries that acknowledge the necessity for discussion, yet prefer to limit it, to avoid resentment around the table.”

On querying whether the language of the declaration was sufficiently robust, senior government sources conceded space for enhancement, expressing, “We would always wish it could be stronger.”


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