India is gearing to hold the G20 in its capital Delhi, from 9-10 September, for the first time in its history. G20 members, foreign organizations and institutions have already grabbed their seats and are ready for active participation in the context of the current global tensions. But Russia will skip New Delhi as it expectedly did with BRICS in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a pre-summit phone conversation, President Vladimir Putin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would attend the summit on his behalf.

The G20 includes the world’s 19 wealthiest countries plus the European Union. India currently holds the G20 presidency, which rotates annually between members. It is a solid platform where global issues affecting the further economic development and potential progress will be put under serious debates and discussions, and to design new comprehensive pathways into the future on the global stage.

Without doubts, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is highly expected to be a talking point at the summit in Delhi, where world leaders including US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be present. The United States and Europe plan to confront Russia over steep rising commodity prices, social discontent among the impoverished population and global instability.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia’s first person would abstain. “On the Russian president’s orders, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will lead our country’s delegation at this top-level meeting,” Zakharova said at a press briefing on August 30. Russia intends “to present detailed views on the need to reform the system of global economic governance in light of the emerging polycentric world order and the redistribution of productive forces in favor of developing nations.”

Putin would not attend the summit as he had a “busy schedule” was the reason given by the Russian government spokesperson and widely reported by the local media. In its statement on August 28, India said that Modi expressed “an understanding for Russia’s decision” and thanked Putin for supporting Delhi’s initiatives while it held the G20 presidency.

Russia’s statement did not mention Putin’s absence at the G20 summit but said that the two countries had agreed to “closely collaborate in the context of Russia’s BRICS chairmanship”, which starts on 1 January next year. “The discussion only touched on current issues of Russian-Indian relations, which are developing progressively in the spirit of a specially privileged strategic partnership,” it added.

Late August, Putin attended the BRICS summit – BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – held in Johannesburg by video link to avoid the risk of possible arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has issued a warrant against Mr Putin, accusing him of war crimes in Ukraine.

Quite recently, Jonathan Power, a Sweden-based foreign affairs columnist and commentator for the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times, argued in his opinion article that The Hague’s International Criminal Court (ICC) has ceased to be a mere paper tiger, and that the the long arm of international law will reach people who are allegedly accused of some sort of crimes.

Jonathan Power assertively explained that over the last couple of decades there has been the capture of the war criminals, Ratko Mladic of Serbia, Bernard Munyagishari of Rwanda, Charles Taylor of Liberia and the decision by the UN Security Council to ask the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to send to trial the late Muammar Gadhafi. There was also the killing of Osama bin Laden who, if he had been captured instead, would have been tried as a war criminal.

The ICC has an unblemished record in bringing to The Hague, the Court’s headquarters, the people they want. As the great heavyweight boxer, Joe Louis, once said, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Doubters, not least the US government, have come round to seeing that an ICC arrest and prosecution is a sharp weapon in the quest for furthering democracy, limiting war and furthering the pursuit of human rights. The Court’s reach and confidence is growing. At some point would-be war criminals will surely get the message there is no impunity for them if they engage in war crimes.

On March 11, Bloomberg media reported that Putin may attend the G20 summit in New Delhi. It further said that India did not invite Ukraine to the summit, saying that G20 does not engage in “conflict resolution.” Nevertheless, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Mykola Tochytskyi later stated that Kyiv is still working to secure an invitation to the summit.

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Putin’s scheduled appearance at the BRICS Summit was to be his first overseas trip following the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) issuance of an arrest warrant for him on March 17. The ICC has accused Putin of unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia since February 24, 2022, thereby committing war crimes. According to several media reports, Putin is liable to arrest in 123 countries, including South Africa, that have ratified the Rome Statute.

Those controversies aside, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated that India’s role as the G20 host this year would focus on highlighting the concerns of the developing world, and has proposed the African Union (AU) to become a permanent member of the G20. This will become historically significant and with good perspectives for the African Union, which was created in May 1963 and unites 54 African States.

That however, official documents show that India’s G20 summit has put forth six agenda priorities for dialogue: (i) Green Development, Climate Finance & LiFE, (ii) Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth, (iii) Accelerating progress on SDGs, (iv) Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure (v) Multilateral Institutions for the 21st century, and (vi) Women-led development.

From above at a glance shows the challenges facing India. It has to bridge and control the differences, if it unexpectedly rises, among member countries over the war in Ukraine. India itself has remained neutral, avoiding the critical repercussions from trade and development partners, United States and Europe. Previously, even at BRICS, India has consistently appealed for an acute consciousness at the table over the current geopolitical changes and the emerging new economic architectural arrangement.

At first since its creation, G20’s primary tasks include supporting economic development of the Global South, but it has over these years and to a considerable extent, distanced from its initial driven visions, promoting a more unequitable distribution of resources and supporting largely a unipolar sort of world. It is therefore necessary to use the platform to think of building an alternative mechanism for international cooperation with a focus on the developing world.

With the current situation, G20 is now only a formidable alliance that fosters its members. Majority of developing nations, mainly located in the south including Africa, express growing frustration over outdated structures of global governance, under-representation in many international organizations that no longer reflect the realities of the 21st century. Hence one of the important questions taking place at the summit is seeking collaboration between G20 and the African Union.

Perhaps, these represent some of the shambolic weaknesses on the side of G20. Needless to say, and as widely perceived, that the current “rules-based world order” benefits only one distinctive centre of global power – the industrialized North. The pendulum is noticeably turning, ticking and ticking. Now the time has already arrived to swiftly address the inequalities, with pragmatism to consider the irreversible geopolitical processes including the global governance system – particularly international financial and economic organizations.

In a nutshell, the core mandate of the G20 is to promote global economic growth and development. And this cannot advance if the crucial concerns of the Global South are not addressed. The economic disparity between the two poles, possible reforms and adopting new strategies at international institutions such the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, in practical terms, is all in its entirety at the G20’s three-day conference this September in New Delhi, India.

Reference: The G20 was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis as a forum for the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss global economic and financial issues. It initially focused largely on broad macroeconomic issues, but it has since expanded its agenda to, inter-alia, include trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change, and anti-corruption.

According to the description, the Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues. The 2022 summit was held in Bali, Indonesia. India holds the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023.