Reviewed By – Akash Goel
The G20 (or G-20 or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. Currently, following countries are a part of it: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union. It was founded in 1998 with the view of discussing policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. These are mainly those issues which go beyond the scope of any one government.
The G20 was foreshadowed at the Cologne Summit of the G7 in June 1999, and formally established at the G7 Finance Ministers’ meeting on 26 September 1999 with an inaugural meeting on 15–16 December 1999 in Berlin. Ithe late 1990s0s when the debt crisis had spread along major emerging markets it was realized that in a rapidly globalizing world, G7, G8 & the Bretton Woods system would be unable to provide financial stability & this gave shape to a new, broader permanent group of major world economies that would give a voice and new responsibilities in providing it.
The G20 summits were initially limited to Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors but since the inaugural meeting between G20 leaders in Washington DC following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, summits between G20 leaders have become an annual event. The G20 heads of government or heads of state have periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008, and the group also hosts separate meetings of finance ministers and foreign ministers due to the expansion of its agenda in recent years. The G20 Summit of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, who prepare the leaders’ summit and implement their decisions, was created as a response both to the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and to a growing recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance.
The G20’s primary focus has been governance of the global economy. Inclusive growth consisting of migration, digitization, employment, healthcare, the economic empowerment of women and development aid were added to G20 agenda after the adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. It has also been suggested that the issues faced by G20 nations are all interconnected be they purely financial or developmental and there is the need to devise effective cross – cutting policy measures.
Apart from the permanent members, G20’s guests include Spain, the Chair of ASEAN; two African countries (the chair of the African Union and a representative of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development) and a country (sometimes more than one) invited by the presidency, usually from its own region. Additionally, the leaders of the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organization are invited and participate in pre-summit planning within the policy purview of their respective organization.
G20 Hamburg Summit Highlights
The G20 Hamburg Summit was held on 7 & 8 July 2017 in the maritime city. Apart from the recurring themes relating to global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation, the G20 Hamburg summit was expected to focus on the following “issues of global significance”. Migration, digitization, occupation, health, Women’s Economic Empowerment and development aid were some of the key issues addressed in the summit.
Some important incidents which took place just ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg include: Incidents of violent protests across Germany ahead of the summit.
On the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, China’s most famous political prisoner, democracy activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, had been given medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Turkey arrested 12 people in Istanbul on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017 during the “digital security and information management workshop”. They included Idil Eser, the head of Amnesty International Turkey. Activists detained included Ilknur Üstün of the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kursun and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association.
The main agenda for the summit was as follows:
On 7 July terrorism, free trade and the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement were on the agenda; on 8 July Africa was supposed to be a topic.
The introductory speech was given by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 Summit opening session. The logo for the session was Reef Knot – As the tension increases, the reef knot becomes tighter. It was also reiterated that the motto for this G20 Presidency is “Shaping an Interconnected World”
The other highlights of the first day included
- An agreement was reached on better sharing of information in the fight against terrorism
- The urgency for implementing economic reforms was realized as the global economy was enjoying a more peaceful period than 10 years ago.
- Angela Merkel also reported that issues regarding the health of global economy had been addressed in the working sessions, along with financial market regulation and trade.
- In the field of climate policy, Angela Merkel expressed her regret that the United States of America intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. During the discussions at the summit, there was a clear majority in favor of realizing the 2030 Agenda.
- Angela Merkel thanked the security forces for their extreme hard work during the violent protests on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg
- The trade-policy topic addressed during the first working session in the afternoon was global growth. The second working session was dedicated to sustainable development, and climate and energy.
- In the evening Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband Professor Joachim Sauer hosted a reception for the heads of state and government and their partners in Hamburg’s new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie.
The highlights of the second day include
- Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her delight that the World Bank has set up a Facility to promote women’s business start-ups in developing countries.
- Focus was on women’s empowerment as the Chancellor had pledged to incorporate the recommendations of the W20 in the G20 process
- Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin met to discuss the further implementation of the Minsk agreements. There was a consensus that the ceasefire laid out in the Minsk agreements should be realized in full.
- The heads of state and government went on to discuss the partnership with Africa, migration, and health.
- During a working lunch the focus was on digitalization among other topics.
- The Chancellor’s final press conference marked the end of the summit meeting.
- The 30-page summary paper stayed vague in many sections.
- The communique of the 20 participants itself was seen as a success.
- The resolutions are not legally binding.
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