In a major diplomatic win, India managed to hammer out a `New Delhi Leaders’ Summit Declaration’ with “100 per cent” consensus on all developmental and geo-political issues on the very first day of the G20 Summit despite differences over Russia-Ukraine war issue.

Other major developments followed including induction of African Union as a full member of the G20, launch of a global biofuel alliance with India, the US and Brazil as founder-members, and announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor which can make trade between India and Europe faster by an estimated 40 per cent.

The declaration was thrashed out with the Indian negotiators burning the midnight’s oil with the two factions — the Western Block at one end and the Chinese and Russian side on the other. The bilaterals that Prime Minister Narendra Modi held with leaders including US President Joe Biden, UK PM Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, on the sidelines of the G20, also helped in forging a consensus, officials said.

India hailed the Joint Declaration as a major feat.

“The declaration seeks to accelerate progress on SDGs and has come up with an action plan accordingly. It envisages a green development pact for a sustainable future, it endorses high-level principles on lifestyle for sustainable development, voluntary principles of hydrogen, the Chennai principles for a sustainable resilient blue economy, and the Deccan principles on food security and nutrition among others,” Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said at a media briefing.

On the financial front, the declaration endorses FSB (Financal Stability Board) recommendations for crypto regulation, capital adequacy framework for multilateral development banks, early debt resolution for Sri Lanka, better use of digital public infrastructure.

The briefing followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement during the summit that consensus had been built on the declaration. “My proposal is to adopt this leadership declaration. I announce to adopt this declaration. On this occasion, I congratulate my Sherpa, ministers, who worked hard for it and made it possible,” Modi said.

“With 83 paras and absolutely no dissent, no footnotes, no chair summaries - the New Delhi Leaders Declaration symbolises unparalleled global consensus. (It has been) Steered by the vision of PM,” tweeted India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant.

Convincing the West

One significant achievement of Indian negotiators in getting Russia and China to agree to the declaration was to convince Western nations to allow no direct reference to Russia while criticising the war in Ukraine.

“Concerning the war in Ukraine, while recalling the discussion in Bali, we reiterated our national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly (A/RES/ES-11/1 and A/RES/ES-11/6) and underscored that all states must act in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety. In line with the UN Charter, all States must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible,” said the Joint statement on the contentious issue of the war in Ukraine. 

However, in the paragraph in the declaration on the “human sufferings and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine with regard to global food and energy security…”, the rift between members on the issue got highlighted. “There were different views and assessments of the situation,” the declaration, noted making it clear that there was no unanimity on the matter.

When asked to comment on this, Jaishankar said that the differing views on the matter was a fact.  “This is today a polarising issue. There are multiple views on this. There are a spectrum of views on this. So I think in all fairness it was right to record what was the reality in the meeting rooms and I think that is the sense that is sought to be captured,” he said.