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Why do we need G20?

While experts are ventilating their thoughts on the various moves the US President Donald Trump has been making in recent months, in light of the recently concluded G20 summit in Osaka, I believe there is a pertinent question to ask if G20 is needed any longer.

The architects of United Nations and its various instruments put in place soon after world war II, basically to avoid any more wars and repeat of what went on before the two wars would not have envisaged many things that have happened in recent decades.

In light of Osaka’s G20, if one were to scan Donald Trump’s conduct as a world leader, his go-it-alone approach and widening global differences on issues from trade to climate change are just enough to kill any enthusiasm one might have for the continuing of the G20 as a global body. Analysts are raising questions about whether the group still has a role to play in the world.

Remember the protests against G7 when the head honchos of top 7 economies in the world used to meet up and the turmoil it used to create for the host country? Well that original group of 7 is now expanded to G20.

Can anyone list any achievements of G7? The answer is most certainly none. And what are the aims and objectives or the charter of G20? Well in practical realities of the world today, it is all a grey area when it comes to mandate, or enforcement power.

In their official declaration for G20, the leaders say on Trade and Investment:

“We welcome the G20 Ministerial Statement on Trade and Digital Economy in Tsukuba. We strive to realize a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open. International trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. We reaffirm our support for the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to improve its functions. We will work constructively with other WTO members, including in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. We agree that action is necessary regarding the functioning of the dispute settlement system consistent with the rules as negotiated by WTO members. Furthermore, we recognize the complementary roles of bilateral and regional free trade agreements that are WTO-consistent. We will work to ensure a level playing field to foster an enabling business environment.”

Read that in light of Donald Trump’s go it alone style, for which only he should not be blamed. He has just extended the unilateral actions armoury of the US when it comes to foreign policy.  When George W. Bush came up with his ‘Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Strike’, he totally mutilated both in spirit and letter of the text of UN Charter’s Purposes and Principles:

Article 1 of the United Nations charter reads:

The purposes of the United Nations are:

  1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
  1. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  1. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  1. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

The charter stipulates:

The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. (Article 2.1)

And it says:

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. (Article 2.3)

And then there are different agendas various leaders are pursuing, and rightly so. Because it suits their national and international needs. Not every nation accepts the US to be right in every aspect of its policy and then every leader is answerable to his/her own people.

The collective wisdom which led to the creation of so many instruments some 70-80 years ago is no longer the accepted and smart wisdom. The thoughts and sentiments behind such zeal at that time requires a fresh look and needs to be validated in the current climate.

Till the time such an approach is canvassed and adopted, the leaders can will continue to have fun, food and frolic in the name of diplomacy. The effort gone into preparing and putting up the list of beverages served on the occasion of G20 in Osaka must be appreciated – it runs into 7 pages and multiple columns. Amen!                        -DM

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