Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
With our Policy summer reading issue falling between the Hiroshima G7 in May and the Delhi G20 in September, we’ve asked Senator Peter Boehm, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and served as sherpa for six G7s, for a status report on both groups.
Whither the Gs? Summitry in a Time of Disruption
(Policy) Notwithstanding recent geopolitical ructions involving China and Russia’s stated designs on replacing that rules-based international order via both covert and kinetic aggression, both groups appear to be in fine shape. To make a generational reference, assessing the G20 and the G7 is not a Beatles vs Stones comparison. While both groups have their individual (and overlapping) memberships, styles, functions and fans, their issue sets and approaches to global problems have tended to be different. Of interest too, especially outside our country, is the perception that Canada has been an engaged, committed member of both in functional terms, regardless of who our prime minister was at the time. Within Canada, our punditry often succumbs to the “we are not worthy” perspective, arguably a Canadian trait. The bottom line is that summits, related ministerial meetings, working groups and related structures would simply fall into desuetude were government leaders to question their usefulness. So, they persist.
… What distinguishes the G7 from the G20 is its informality, both at the round table and when leaders meet bilaterally. While sherpas and others undoubtedly prepare the agenda in consultation with their leaders, invariably the participants can put down their notes and engage in an informal discussion, away from the pressures of having to deliver speeches to large audiences in whichever forum they are participating. Leaders relish this, and this is in itself another reason why the group is not about to fade away any time soon.
The G20 culminates in a larger summit with many more participants, including foreign and finance ministers as well as central bank governors and heads of international organizations, the latter also usually attending a portion of the G7 summit. The table is large, the leaders’ speeches pro forma and there is much emphasis on bilateral meetings, planned —sometimes unplanned— “bump-intos” and “brush-bys” (you don’t have to be a practitioner to appreciate these esoteric terms of diplomatic art). The focus is on the global economy, on international development financing and trade. But important decisions can be taken.
The clear advantage of the G20 is the presence of China and Russia, who are also involved in the ministerial and sherpa tracks where they can make their own contributions, by either supporting, attempting to create or diluting consensus. But unless there is a clear decision on a global economic initiative to respond to a crisis, G20 documents often represent a very low common denominator in collective will.
Global South leaders demand end of ‘plundering international order’
G77+China summit comes amid growing frustration with the Western-led world order because of widening differences over the Russian war in Ukraine, the fight against climate change and the global economic system.
(Al Jazeera) Cuba’s leader says the Global South must “change the rules of the game” of the international order after centuries of dominance by wealthy Western nations putting their own interests first.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel said developing countries were the main victims of a “multidimensional crisis” in the world today from “abusive unequal trade” to devastating climate change.
“After all this time that the North has organised the world according to its interests, it is now up to the South to change the rules of the game,” Diaz-Canel said at the opening of the G77+China summit in Havana.
Emerging countries represent 80 percent of the world’s population. The meeting comes at a time of growing frustration with the Western-led world order because of widening differences over the Russian war in Ukraine, the fight against climate change and the global economic system.
The meeting should conclude on Saturday with a statement underscoring “the right to development in an increasingly exclusive, unfair, unjust and plundering international order”, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez earlier told reporters.
Two Key Takeaways from the Antonio Guterres UNGA Preview and Press Conference
For Antonio Guterres, the 2023 opening of the United Nations General Assembly is the culmination of several frenetic weeks of international summitry. In the last few days alone he attended the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, the G-20 meeting in New Delhi — and tomorrow he’s going to Havana for the G-77+China confab.*
Today, in his Pre-UNGA press conference, the UN Secretary General acknowledged each of these meetings. “But next week begins the greatest ‘G’ of all,” he told the UN press corps. “The “G-193.”
G-20 result shows clout of Global South in face of Europe’s priorities
By Karishma Mehrotra
(WaPo) Twenty of the world’s most important leaders sat in a room over the weekend and hammered out a final statement they could all agree on that downplayed the largest land war in Europe in more than half a century. It was a startling sign of how global power and priorities are moving away from Europe to the world’s developing countries.
The final declaration of New Delhi’s Group of 20 summit carried no mention of Russia in the language about the war in Ukraine — which has dominated discourse in the West since its start a year and a half ago. Wording on the invasion was substantially diluted from last year’s statement in Bali, Indonesia.
Analysts say the language is an indication that the United States prioritized having a consensus document led by India over a more aggressive condemnation of Russia that would have been boycotted by some members.
The greater openness by the United States toward the priorities of the Global South and flexibility on the war language comes as China is gaining influence in the BRICS forum, an expanding global group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that excludes Washington.
The recent BRICS summit “underscored … the rising importance of the Global South” and the forums that it occupies with China and Russia, said Ian Lesser of the German Marshall Fund.
“There were deep compromises made in regard to the language in regard to Ukraine, above all, which might have been an anathema in other circumstances but here seemed to be a price that the ‘West’ would pay in order give India a multilateral success, but to also to underscore the importance of the G-20 as a vehicle for North-South relations,” he said.
G20 admits African Union as permanent member at New Delhi summit
(Reuters) – The African Union was made a permanent member of the G20, comprising the world’s richest and most powerful countries, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the bloc’s summit in New Delhi on Saturday.
The African Union, a continental body of 55 member states, now has the same status as the European Union – the only regional bloc with a full membership. Its previous designation was “invited international organisation”.
Why the G20 Keeps Failing, and Still Matters
Summits like the one in India this weekend have produced many ambitious statements — and, often, disappointing results. Critics say an upgrade is needed.
(NYT) The annual Group of 20 summit brings together world leaders in pursuit of a lofty goal: coordinating policy for the global economy. But how much progress has the G20 made toward its ambitions?
Myanmar won’t be allowed to lead Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2026, in blow to generals
(AP) — Southeast Asian leaders decided Tuesday that Myanmar won’t take over the rotating leadership of their regional bloc as scheduled in 2026, in the latest blow to efforts by its ruling generals to gain international recognition after violently seizing power in 2021.
… The Philippines agreed to take over the regional bloc’s chairmanship in 2026 at an ASEAN summit hosted by Indonesia on Tuesday, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in a statement, citing what he told fellow leaders in the closed-door meetings.
India-China ties and the G20 summit
New Delhi event set to witness meetings between top leaders, barring Xi and Putin
C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies
(The Tribune India) … With the UN Security Council having been rendered ineffective after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, multilateral summit-level meetings have acquired their own significance; the flurry of high-level political activity is testimony to that. While the US leads the western alliance under the NATO/G7 banner, the developing world has a range of disparate groupings. These include the G20 (of which India is the current rotational chair); the BRICS, which has just expanded its membership from five to 11; and the 18-member East Asia Summit (EAS) that has 10 ASEAN nations and eight dialogue partners.
The EAS event will be held in Indonesia before the G20 summit in Delhi. It is reported that President Biden will not be attending that event; this is a signal to ASEAN, which is grappling with a Chinese footprint that is steadily increasing. The BRICS summit hosted by South Africa was marked by Beijing’s primacy and India was in a way compelled to accept some initiatives that had Chinese fingerprints.
Southeast Asian leaders are besieged by thorny issues as they hold an ASEAN summit without Biden
(AP) — Southeast Asian leaders led by Indonesian host President Joko Widodo are gathering in their final summit this year, besieged by divisive issues with no solutions in sight: Myanmar’s deadly civil strife, new flare-ups in the disputed South China Sea, and the longstanding United States-China rivalry.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings will open Tuesday [5 September] in the Indonesian capital Jakarta under tight security. The absence of U.S. President Joe Biden, who typically attends, adds to the already somber backdrop of the 10-state bloc’s traditional show of unity and group handshakes.
After discussions Tuesday, the ASEAN heads of state would meet Asian and Western counterparts from Wednesday to Thursday, providing a wider venue that the U.S. and China, and their allies, have used for wide-ranging talks on free trade, climate change and global security. It has also become a battleground for their rivalries.
[ASEAN leaders to tackle regional crises at tropical resort]
Xi no show at G20
Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly unlikely to attend the G20 summit of the world’s leading advanced and emerging economies in India next week.
(GZERO media) No reason for Xi’s decision is known, but it’s the first time he’ll miss the gathering. He also unexpectedly skipped giving a speech at the BRICS summit earlier this month and is said to be sending a deputy in his stead to an Asian economic summit next week as well.
The G-7 Becomes a Power Player
Russia’s war and China’s rise are turning a talking shop into a fledgling alliance of democracies.
By G. John Ikenberry, professor of politics and international affairs, Princeton University.
(Foreign Policy) Time and again over the last century, the United States and the other liberal democracies in Europe, East Asia, and elsewhere have found themselves on the same side in grand struggles over the terms of the world order. This political grouping has been given various names: the West, the free world, the trilateral world, the community of democracies. In one sense, it is a geopolitical formation, uniting North America, Europe, and Japan, among others. It is an artifact of the Cold War and U.S. hegemony, anchored in NATO and Washington’s East Asian alliances. In another sense, it is a non-geographic grouping, a loosely organized community defined by shared, universal-oriented political values and principles. It is an artifact of the rise and spread of liberal democracy as a way of life.
The closest thing this shape-shifting coalition of like-minded states has to formal leadership is the G-7, whose annual summit brings together the heads of seven major industrial democracies—Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States—and the presidents of the European Commission and European Council.
BRICS, Modi and Multilateralism: How China Under Xi Is Strengthening Its Ranks
The Chinese conduct shows it has no interest in multilateralism as it shows scant respect for global institutions.
(The Quint) Through its fine words, China may wish to project that it is an emerging country whose interests coincide with other emerging economies and the countries of the Global South. However, such a mask cannot really obscure present international realities and China’s own aggressive approaches.
It is no secret that it wanted an expansion of BRICS and achieved its purpose. …
The World Stands Divided Over Multilateralism
India’s desire for a ‘multipolar world’ – even if this term was not used then – goes back to the early years of independence. Essentially, it means that the world should not be dominated by one or two powers who would be setting the rules of world order.
It is a demand that rules-making for international governance should have the participation of many important states, including India, and that these rules should take the interests of the Global South into account too.
The Johannesburg Declaration committed BRICS to strengthen its three pillars: political and security, economic and financial, and cultural and people-to-people. These objectives are fine but it is already a disparate group and its expansion will only add to that. It will also come increasingly under China’s influence. India’s challenge will be to contain that process which will not be easy despite the progress the country is making.
BRICS is doubling its membership. Is the bloc a new rival for the G7?
(Atlantic Council) This bloc goes to eleven. At its summit on Thursday in Johannesburg, the BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa announced that its membership is more than doubling. Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia have been invited to join the group in January. A formidable rival to the Group of Seven (G7) democratic powers could reshape geoeconomics and geopolitics across a range of issues, from Russia’s war in Ukraine to the status of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Does the yet-to-be-acronymed group amount to such a rival? Atlantic Council experts share their insights below
BRICS has big ambitions, but it also faces new challenges
They will be eleven now. Six new countries, including two African countries, Egypt and Ethiopia, will be added to the five BRICS members on January 1, 2024.
The current five-member BRICS group represents a quarter of the world’s wealth and brings together 42 percent of the world’s population. But now, the BRICS will face new challenges. First, this group is very diverse, with unequal growth and rivaling interests. The importance of China, which represents 70 percent of the group’s gross domestic product, is a problem for India. Some of the BRICS countries, including South Africa, want to save its trade relations with the United States and don’t want to be dragged into the Cold War strategy pursued by Russia. … And with the new membership of authoritarian regimes such as Iran, the question arises: Do Africans really need the Middle East’s problems brought into this group? If they want to do business with Israel, what will Iran say?
Beyond this membership issue, the BRICS group should be taken seriously. The high-level attendance, from Xi to Modi, reveals a lot of the bloc’s big ambitions to build an alternative multilateralism, starting with challenging the dollar and strengthening the New Development Bank without conditionality.
China’s awkward power play at the BRICS summit
(WaPo) Chinese officials are keen on expanding the bloc to a possibly far more unwieldy acronym, with countries like Indonesia, Nigeria, Argentina and Saudi Arabia all knocking on the door. Leaders from more than 60 countries are expected to be in attendance at the summit.
Will anything come out of the BRICS summit?
(GZERO media) Potential BRICS expansion will be the most important issue. Although approximately 40 countries have formally applied for or expressed interest in membership, according to some media reports, BRICS members do not agree on how to move forward — a critical requirement for any final decisions.
While Russia and China have pushed for expansions, believing it will help counter US-dominated institutions, the other three states, US allies, don’t want to undercut relations with Washington. They prefer to cast BRICS as broadly focused on emphasizing Global South interests, and not as a counterweight to US influence.
Heather Cox Richardson August 17, 2023
Philip Stephens of Financial Times today pointed out how much global politics has changed since 2016. …just seven years later, international cooperation is evident everywhere. Stephens pointed out that a series of crises have shown that nations cannot work alone. Migrants fleeing the war in Syria in 2015 made it clear that countries must cooperate to manage national borders. Then Covid showed that we must manage health across political boundaries, and then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine proved that European nations—and other countries on other continents—must stand together militarily in their common defense.
Secretary Blinken noted for reporters on Tuesday that the world is currently being tested by geopolitical competition, climate change, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and nuclear aggressions. “Our heightened engagement is part of our broader efforts to revitalize, to strengthen, to knit together our alliances and partnerships—and in this case, to help realize a shared vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, prosperous, secure, resilient, and connected,” he said. “And what we mean by that is a region where countries are free to chart their own path and to find their own partners, where problems are dealt with openly, where rules are reached transparently and applied fairly, and where goods, ideas, and people can flow lawfully and freely.”
BRICS nations to meet in South Africa seeking to blunt Western dominance
China, India, Brazil, S.Africa heads to meet, Putin absent
Expansion to include Global South nations high on agenda
Some 40 countries interested in joining
BRICS seek to woo African nations with aid, trade
(Reuters) – BRICS leaders meet in South Africa next week to discuss how to turn a loose club of nations accounting for a quarter of the global economy into a geopolitical force that can challenge the West’s dominance in world affairs.
C. Uday Bhaskar: As Russia again raises spectre of nuclear war, world leaders must renew their deterrence vow
(SCMP) Nearly 80 years after the Hiroshima atomic bombing, the global nuclear taboo seems to be fraying amid Russian and North Korean threats, and US alliance complications
The coming G20 summit would be an appropriate forum for world leaders to reiterate their commitment to nuclear restraint and a return to deterrence
Russia’s threat on July 30 of a “global nuclear fire” in response to Ukraine’s counteroffensive came exactly a week before Hiroshima Day, held as a reminder of the horrors of the nuclear bomb.
The US dropped atomic bombs on Japan in the final stages of World War II, hitting Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, then Nagasaki three days later. Since that terrifying nuclear inferno ravaged the two Japanese cities and their hapless citizens, a global nuclear taboo has been maintained – but this now appears to be fraying.
On July 30, Russian Security Council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev, formerly Russia’s president, said Russia would be forced to use nuclear weapons if Ukraine’s counter-attack succeeded.
The BRICS are better off disbanding than expanding
By Hugo Dixon
(Reuters Breakingviews) – The BRICS are an acronym searching for a geopolitical role. When Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa get together for their annual summit in Johannesburg next month, a top issue for discussion will be whether to expand the club. Emerging economies might be better off if it disbands. …
But the Global South won’t get much from a club whose leading members are China, which is throwing its weight around in its region, and Russia, a near-pariah state. India and other emerging economies would do better to form their own non-aligned bloc.
Despite their annual gatherings, the BRICS haven’t achieved anything notable together. They created a multilateral lender, the New Development Bank, in 2015. But it has approved only $33 billion of projects in its entire history. The World Bank, by contrast, committed $104 billion in its 2022 fiscal year alone.
The fault line between India and China, which fought a small war in the Himalayas in 2020, is one reason the BRICS club has done so little. India sees the People’s Republic as its most dangerous threat.
Developing nations have other options for joining forces. During the Cold War, India helped create the Non-Aligned Movement, which brought together countries that didn’t want to be part of either the U.S. or Soviet Union sphere of influence. Today’s large non-aligned nations could create a similar group.
They would, of course, first need to agree what they would stand for. Top of the list would be to stress their neutral status.
This is not just a matter of pride. Developing countries can benefit from playing one superpower off against the other. Both the United States and China have shown they are willing to offer so-called swing states inducements – from weapons to infrastructure and help in building green economies – to stop them falling into the other’s camp.
*See Comment of 2 August
BRICS Invites 69 Leaders to August Summit — Western Countries Omitted
The BRICS economic bloc has invited 69 leaders to its upcoming summit, including all African heads of state and the political heads of major Global South bodies. More than 40 countries have expressed interest to join the BRICS group, with 22 nations already having submitted official applications.
BRICS vs. the West
Before the heads of the world’s most “advanced” economies meet this weekend in Germany for the annual G7 summit, the leaders of the top five “emerging” ones — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, aka BRICS — are holding their own (virtual) summit in Beijing on Thursday.
BRICS became a thing 21 years ago, when a Goldman Sachs economist coined the term — initially with a small “s” — to predict the emerging market economies that would lead global growth in the future (this came true for China, not so much for the rest). Now they’ve established a formal presence, set up their own development bank, and claim to represent the entire Global South.
Development Banks the World Needs
Lawrence H. Summers and N.K. Singh
Multilateral development banks are the only institutions that provide the combination of expertise, staying power, low-cost financing, leverage, and knowledge-sharing capabilities needed to assist developing countries. But to help transform these countries’ future, the MDBs must first transform themselves.
(Project Syndicate) While most institutions, most of the time, aim for a gradual strengthening of their scale and effectiveness, MDBs have been stuck in place. We must move past sterile debates about whether we need more money or better policy, more green initiatives or more development spending, more public-sector programs or more private lending, more leverage or more capital. The language of “both/and” must replace that of “either/or.” To that end, we are calling for action on three fronts. First, the MDBs should embrace a triple mandate by adding global public goods (GPGs) to their current goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
… Second, stakeholders should provide MDBs with the requisite resources. By our calculations, sustainable lending levels at the MDBs need to triple by 2030, rising to about $400 billion annually. This includes grants and concessional finance for the poorest countries, non-concessional funding for creditworthy middle-income countries, and resources for mobilizing private finance.
… Third, a coalition of funders (including governments, philanthropies, and the private sector) should establish a new “global challenges mechanism” that offers a range of financing options, such as guarantees, equity, and other risk-sharing instruments. This is needed to address a pervasive MDB shortcoming: the underuse of non-lending instruments (like guarantees) for sovereign and non-sovereign borrowers. Such tools have become especially relevant in today’s volatile economic climate.
Colin Robertson: The NATO Vilnius Takeaway: Managing the Perils of a Small World
(Policy) Under Biden, US leadership has revitalized the Alliance. Russia and China are threats but for the allies, including Canada, their abiding fear is a return of Donald Trump in next year’s presidential election. Trump has threatened to leave NATO and end the war “in 24 hours”.
Alliance members have wrestled with the morality of providing weapons to Ukraine from the outset. The wrestling, now over fighter jets, will continue. It’s a reflection of western values that do not trouble the autocrats.
Alliances of democracies are difficult. Division in opinion is natural, if frustrating. They are slow to act especially when consensus is the operating norm. But as we saw at Vilnius, they are capable of decisions that will strengthen the deterrence that is vital to our security.
For Putin, Vilnius was a setback. The argument that Putin has an incentive to keep fighting now that he knows that Ukraine stays out of NATO as long the conflict continues is weak. Ukraine is fortified and will remain so “as long as it takes”. The Alliance is not only stronger than ever, but Putin’s actions brought Finland and Sweden into the fold.
Nor can Xi Jinping take any comfort from Vilnius. Chinese aggression is called out yet again. The principles of mutual collaboration to deter aggression that is at the root of NATO now extends to the Indo-Pacific as Australia, Japan, Korea and New Zealand give meaning to NATO ‘partner’ nations.
Article 5: NATO’s common defense pledge that stands in the way of Ukraine’s admission while at war
(AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy may have gotten support and vague assurances from NATO leaders in Vilnius this week, but he ultimately returns home without a clear commitment that his country will be joining the club any time soon.
Vilnius Summit Communiqué
Issued by NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Vilnius
… This Summit marks a milestone in strengthening our Alliance.
… 3. We welcome Finland as the newest member of our Alliance. This is an historic step for Finland and for NATO. For many years, we worked closely as partners; we now stand together as Allies. NATO membership makes Finland safer, and NATO stronger.
4. We reaffirm our commitment to NATO’s Open Door policy and to Article 10 of the Washington Treaty. Every nation has the right to choose its own security arrangements. We look forward to welcoming Sweden as a full member of the Alliance and, in this regard, welcome the agreement reached between the NATO Secretary General, the President of Türkiye, and the Prime Minister of Sweden.
… 86. NATO’s engagement with other international and regional organisations, including the United Nations, the OSCE, and the African Union, contributes to international security. We will strengthen these interactions to advance our shared interests. We are exploring the possibility of establishing a Liaison Office in Geneva to further strengthen our engagement with the United Nations and other relevant international organisations.
NATO Secretary General: we must stand together for the rules-based international order
NATO is a regional Alliance between Europe and North America but the challenges we face are global and our security is interconnected.
What happens in the Euro-Atlantic region matters for the Indo-Pacific, and what happens in the Indo-Pacific matters to the Euro-Atlantic.
Rich nations pledge to unlock hundreds of billions of dollars for climate fight
Agreement for development banks to boost lending
Rich nations close in on $100 bln climate finance pledge
U.S., China adopt conciliatory tone on debt relief
(Reuters) – Multilateral development banks like the World Bank are expected to find $200 billion in extra firepower for low-income economies by taking on more risk, a move that may require wealthy nations to inject more cash, world leaders said on Friday.
The leaders, gathered at a summit in Paris to thrash out funding for the climate transition and post-COVID debt burdens of poor countries, said their plans would secure billions of dollars of matching investment from the private sector.
At Paris summit, World Bank, IMF take steps to boost crisis financing
(Reuters) – The World Bank will ease financing for countries hit by natural disasters, it said on Thursday, as the International Monetary Fund announced it had hit its target of making $100 billion in special drawing rights available for vulnerable nations.
France calls for the adoption of a New Global Financing Pact (22 – 23 June 2023)
(France Diplomatie) At the initiative of its President, France is hosting more than 300 high-level participants, Heads of State and Government, international organizations and representatives of civil society and the private sector on 22 and 23 June 2023. The aim of the Summit is to lay the groundwork for a renewed financial system suited to the common challenges of the 21st century, such as fighting inequalities and climate change and protecting biodiversity.
‘A green transition that leaves no one behind’: world leaders release open letter
We, leaders of diverse economies from every corner of the world, are united in our determination to forge a new global consensus. We will use the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact on June 22-23 as a decisive political moment to recover development gains lost in recent years and to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, including just transitions. We are clear on our strategy: development and climate commitments should be fulfilled and, in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we recognise that we need to leverage all sources of finance, including official development assistance, domestic resources and private investment.
Can the African Union be part of the G20? (video)
India’s leader has suggested a full Group of 20 membership for the African Union.
Some of the world’s most pressing issues are often decided by the leaders of a few wealthy nations.
For far too long, input from Africa, and other places in the Global South, has been limited or even disregarded.
But there’s now a push for that to change, specifically within the Group of 20 (G20) bloc.
As India prepares to host the G20 summit this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is calling for the African Union to be given full and permanent membership.
But why now? And what political and economic interests are at stake?
IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2023
The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is Asia’s premier defence summit. It’s a unique meeting where ministers debate the region’s most pressing security challenges, engage in important bilateral talks and come up with fresh approaches together.
China and U.S. defense chiefs compete for influence in the Asia Pacific
A hemisphere away, the war in Ukraine is an issue of contention in Asia
(NPR) Political heavy-hitters from the European Union and Ukraine also traveled to Singapore to rally support for Ukraine in its fight to expel Russian troops from its territory.
“There’s many countries who are doing a very important contribution to Ukraine. But I think we also, at the same time, should be humble about the need also to have a strategic dialogue with the Global South,” Pål Jonson, Sweden’s defense minister, said in an interview with NPR.” Sweden is increasing its defense budget this year and has applied to join NATO, the security alliance, breaking away from its history of neutrality.
Southeast Asian nations are not entirely swayed by the arguments for Ukraine however. Countries like Thailand and Malaysia have either withheld condemnation of Russia’s invasion or, like Indonesia, have continued to openly court Russia.
U.S.-China Rivalry Looms Large at Shangri-La
But the two countries’ defense chiefs won’t be holding a meeting on the summit’s sidelines.
Quad Summit at Hiroshima May Have Been Low-Key on China but the Tension Looms
As India is set to host Quad Summit in 2024, innovative measures & renewed focus on policy and action are warranted.
C Uday Bhaskar
(The Quint) …the Quad nations (Australia, India, Japan, and the USA) met on the sidelines of the G7, and the joint statement issued on 20 May by the four leaders is a significant indicator of reiterating their collective resolve to uphold international law and ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains a free and open domain.
The subtext here is a reference to China’s revisionist stance in the South China Sea and intimidation of Taiwan. Consequently, the China thread at the Hiroshima deliberations (G7 and Quad) and the US-China bilateral relationship merit preliminary analysis, given the multi-layered implications for India.
… Prime Minister Narendra Modi co-chaired the FIPIC (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) with his PNG counterpart PM James Marape while the USA concluded a separate bilateral agreement with the Pacific Islands.
… The strategic takeaway from these summits is the primacy accorded to the war in Ukraine by the G7 and the manner in which China is dealt with by the leaders at the Hiroshima deliberations. The G7 final document is extensive at over 19,000 words … [and] It is instructive that the China reference is tucked away towards the end of the G7 document (in paragraph 50 in a total of 66) and the semantic choice is persuasive and seeks to encourage Beijing to engage with the US-led G7.
May 19-21, 2023
Issues to be addressed at the G7 Hiroshima Summit
Upholding the international order based on the rule of law: Demonstrating G7’s strong determination to uphold the international order based on the rule of law, firmly rejecting any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or the threat to use nuclear weapons, as Russia has done, or the use of nuclear weapons.
Outreach to the Global South: Strengthening outreach to the Global South, by demonstrating G7’s contributions to the issues of their concern.
Arab world pins hopes on unity as Jeddah Declaration adopted at Arab League Summit
(Xinhua) The 32nd Arab League Summit concluded on Friday in the Saudi city of Jeddah by adopting the Jeddah Declaration, which calls for Arab unity to solve regional issues.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit highlighted the success of the Jeddah summit in achieving its goal, expressing hope that the summit would be a beginning for the Arab countries to grasp their fate in their own hands.
The Jeddah Declaration shows Saudi Arabia’s seriousness
(Arab news) The initiatives that the Saudi government will work on during the 12-month period in which it will preside over the Arab grouping are impressive. They include, for example, an interest in green culture by supporting environmentally friendly cultural practices and employing them in support of the creative economy in Arab countries and in ensuring Arab food security. Initiatives mentioned in the final communique included an interest in water desalination and the establishment of intellectual incubators/think tanks to deal with the pressing problems facing Arabs.
As the G7 leaders sent a strong message to Russia by inviting Volodymyr Zelensky to Hiroshima, another rival was also on their minds – China.
… They have also launched a “coordination platform” to counter the coercion and work with emerging economies. While it’s still vague on how this would work exactly, we’re likely to see countries helping each other out by increasing trade or funding to work around any blockages put up by China.
The G7 also plans to strengthen supply chains for important goods such as minerals and semiconductors, and beef up digital infrastructure to prevent hacking and stealing of technology.
Arab League concludes summit, adopts Jeddah Declaration
(Al Arabiya English) The Arab League concluded its 32nd summit by adopting the Jeddah Declaration, reaffirming the need for unity to achieve security and stability.
The summit, which discussed various topics, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and developments in Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Lebanon, convened in Jeddah and saw Syria’s participation for the first time in over a decade. The bloc welcomed Syria’s return to the Arab League following years of isolation and voiced hope that this move would contribute “to Syria’s stability and unity.”
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad attends Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has spoken of an “historic opportunity” for Arab states to remake their region “with the least amount of foreign interference”, in his first trip to an Arab League summit in over a decade. Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was also invited to the summit, accused some Arab leaders of wilfully ignoring to Russia’s invasion. Syria is the only Arab League nation to have openly supported Russia’s war.
Ukraine’s Zelenskiy visits Saudi, seeks Arab League support for his people
(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attended a summit of the Arab League in Saudi Arabia on Friday to canvas support for his people, while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his readiness to mediate in the war between Moscow and Kyiv.
Arab leaders and officials arrive in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah for Arab League summit
(Al Arabiya English) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived Thursday in Saudi Arabia to join an Arab League summit for the first time in more than a decade of war.
Al-Assad “arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to participate in… the Arab League summit” on Friday, Syrian state television reported.
Leaders from Oman, Mauritania, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen also arrived in Jeddah to participate in the summit, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Bashar al-Assad tells Arab League he hopes his return marks new era of peace
Assad is attending summit in Saudi Arabia after 12 years outside bloc over Syrian civil war
What Is the ‘Quad’ Alliance and Why Doesn’t China Like It?
(WaPo) The informal grouping brings together the US, Japan, India and Australia in an alliance of democracies with shared economic and security interests that span the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The point officially is to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” but the unstated priority is countering China’s growing power, which rankles the leadership in Beijing. The Quad has its critics, who question the group’s sometimes-ambiguous goals and ask how effective it can be given that some members are wary of provoking China. Still, it’s set to become more relevant as US-China tensions persist and Russia’s invasion of its neighbor sharpens Western security alliances.
The group has seen new momentum under the administration of US President Joe Biden, who plans to travel to Japan May 17. He scrapped plans for a visit to Australia where Quad leaders had planned to meet on May 24. When the leaders gathered for a summit in Tokyo last year, they announced a program aimed at curbing illegal fishing across the Indo-Pacific amid growing concern about the activities of Chinese vessels. That followed a virtual conference in 2021 — the first-ever gathering of the Quad leaders, which resulted in a pledge to fund India to accelerate production of Covid-19 vaccines and distribute them across Asia. The group wasn’t always this active. It lay dormant for years before being revived in 2017 by the US under then-President Donald Trump, whose government was intent on confronting China. Yet Trump’s erratic diplomacy left some allies hesitant to line up behind the US on China. When Biden replaced Trump, he pledged to work more closely with allies while continuing a tough stance on China.
G-7 Plus Wooing the Global South
The Group of Seven advanced economies will hold its annual summit starting Friday in Hiroshima, Japan. But it won’t just be seven leaders showing up. Five nations that are members of the bigger G-20 will also be coming: Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Korea.
(Nikkei) Indonesia this week hosted the two-day annual ASEAN leaders’ summit in Labuan Bajo, on the eastern Indonesian island of Flores. One of the main agenda items was the South China Sea, a topic on which Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is taking a dramatically different direction than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. This week’s Asia Insight looks into Manila’s push to increase military cooperation with the U.S. to protect its claims in the area, which could embolden other ASEAN states with maritime claims of their own.
Philippines’ Marcos muscles up ASEAN’s South China Sea posture
China tensions loom over bloc summit as Malaysia asserts gas rights, Vietnam hones defense
(Nikkei) This week, the South China Sea dispute is expected to be high on the agenda when leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hold their summit in Indonesia. ASEAN states Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also lay claims to parts of the waterway, through which around $3 trillion worth of trade passes annually.
Southeast Asian leaders urge end of Myanmar violence, inclusive talks
The meeting in the sleepy Indonesian fishing town is being held as Myanmar’s military intensifies attacks and air strikes on resistance forces and ethnic minority rebels as it tries to consolidate power ahead of a planned election.
ASEAN leaders to tackle regional crises at tropical resort
The 10-nation regional bloc and its member states will meet for three days starting Tuesday, with the growing rivalry between the United States and China as a backdrop.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been reinforcing an arc of alliances in the Indo-Pacific region to better counter China over Taiwan and the long-seething territorial conflicts in the strategic South China Sea which involve four ASEAN members: Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Indonesia, this year’s ASEAN chair, has also confronted Chinese fishing fleets and coast guard that have strayed into what Jakarta says was its internationally recognized exclusive economic zone in the gas-rich Natuna Sea.
C Uday Bhaskar: The EU’s struggle to find a unified stance on China will shape the US-China contest
(SCMP) This has been a month of heightened diplomatic activity in East Asia with Chinese President Xi Jinping hosting his French and Brazilian counterparts in Beijing while Tokyo convened a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven in preparation for next month’s G7 summit
The freshly concluded Tokyo meeting of G7 foreign ministers was a foretaste of the collective resolve. … This commitment will be the core principle for the coming G7 summit. The US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which includes Japan, India and Australia, have a similar orientation regarding the rules-based order, including in their stance on the South China Sea, where concerns have been expressed over the issue of China changing the status quo.
The World Could Move Toward Russia and China
(NYT) Last fall, eight months into the new world disorder created by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the University of Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy produced a long report on trends in global public opinion before and after the outbreak of the war.
Not surprisingly, the data showed that the conflict had shifted public sentiment in developed democracies in East Asia and Europe, as well as the United States, uniting their citizens against both Russia and China and shifting mass opinion in a more pro-American direction.
But outside this democratic bloc, the trends were very different. For a decade before the Ukraine war, public opinion across “a vast span of countries stretching from continental Eurasia to the north and west of Africa,” in the report’s words, had become more favorable to Russia even as Western public opinion became more hostile.
The UN 2023 Water Conference – formally known as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028) – will take place at UN Headquarters in New York, 22-24 March 2023, co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
(Nikkei Asia) Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will visit India from March 19 and meet his counterpart Narendra Modi. Kishida chairs the G-7, while India holds the presidency of this year’s G-20. The Japanese prime minister plans to invite the Indian and Australian leaders to the G-7 summit in Hiroshima in May. As two leaders of the Quad grouping, Kishida and Modi have common concerns about China and maintaining a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Some speculate that Kishida might visit Ukraine after his India trip.
Summit for Democracy 2023
On March 29-30, 2023, the United States will co-host the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia.
The second Summit for Democracy will assemble world leaders in a virtual, plenary format, followed by gatherings in each of the co-hosted countries with representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector. Co-hosting the second Summit for Democracy with a regionally diverse group of co-hosts reinforces the truth that a safer and fairer world grounded in democratic values is both a shared aspiration and a shared responsibility.
Building on the first Summit for Democracy held in December 2021, this gathering will highlight how democracies deliver for their citizens and are best equipped to address the world’s most pressing challenges.
Turkey is blocking NATO’s expansion. It could backfire and hand Putin a propaganda coup
CNN — When Sweden and Finland declared their intention to join NATO last May, it was seen by many as a poke in the eye for Russia and evidence of a shift in European thinking. Historically, both countries had committed to non-alignment with NATO as a way of avoiding provoking Moscow. The invasion of Ukraine changed that.
Both Finland and Sweden – along with the vast majority of NATO allies – would like to see the countries formally join the alliance at a NATO summit on July 11. However, a significant hurdle stands in the way of this becoming a reality: Turkey has yet to give the plan its formal and official blessing.
Turkey is not the only nation blocking the move: Hungary has also failed to ratify the Nordics’ accession which further muddies the waters. However, right now getting Turkey on side is considered the priority.
Grand test for Indian diplomacy as American, Chinese and Russian ministers meet in Delhi
CNN — Foreign ministers from the world’s biggest economies convened in New Delhi Thursday in what was seen as a grand test for Indian diplomacy, which ultimately didn’t succeed in reaching a consensus because of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
In the second high-level ministerial meeting under India’s Group of 20 (G20) presidency this year, foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, met his American, Chinese and Russian counterparts, hoping to find enough common ground to deliver a joint statement at the end of the summit.
But amid festering divisions over Moscow’s war, New Delhi was unable to convince the leaders to put their differences aside, with Jaishankar admitting the conflict had struggled to unite the group.
India, the world’s largest democracy with a population of more than 1.3 billion, has been keen to position itself as a leader of emerging and developing nations – often referred to as the Global South – at a time when soaring food and energy prices as a result of the war are hammering consumers already grappling with rising costs and inflation.
Debt in focus as G20 finance chiefs meet in India
(Reuters) – G20 finance and central bank chiefs meet in India next week at the first-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to discuss rising debt troubles among developing countries, the regulation of cryptocurrencies and the global slowdown.
The Feb. 22-25 meeting is the first major event of India’s G20 presidency and will be followed by a March 1-2 meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi.
The Economist writes: The global economy is still grappling with the effects of the war, with the West still trying to tamp down inflation as interest rates continue to climb. The rising costs of finance, energy and food have pushed some countries to the edge of bankruptcy. This will be in the news this week as finance ministers from members of the G20 gather in India, with the plight of heavily indebted countries high on the agenda. On this issue, as on so much else, America and China find themselves pulling in opposite directions. China is refusing to play by the old rules of international financial diplomacy. . Sri Lanka, in urgent need of a bail-out, and deeply in hock to China, may test the willingness of the West and the IMF to go it alone—i.e., to provide the money and restructure the debt without China’s taking part in the process.
MOPAN attended the Annual Nordic United Nations Assembly to discuss systemic issues impacting effective multilateralism. Facing several crises, there are huge pressures and demands on the system that that can be countered by focusing on 3 key factors: ◾ Focus on building trust – to ensure effective co-operation and deliver inclusive solutions. ◾ Focus on learning – use MOPAN’s performance information to understand good practices. ◾ Focus on coordination – across multilateral organisations and within and across government administrations.
Four Contending U.S. Approaches to Multilateralism
Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
(Carnegie) … This historical moment is defined by two countervailing trends, as described in the 2022 National Security Strategy issued by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration. The first is a profusion of transnational challenges that can only be addressed, mitigated, or resolved through collective action, such as climate change and pandemic disease. The second is a resurgence of geopolitical competition that hinders that very cooperation.1 The imperative for collective action has never been greater, yet the world remains, as United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres bemoans, “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”
Within the U.S. foreign policy establishment, four distinct models vie for primacy—and the administration’s attention. The first is a charter conception of multilateralism, focused on the UN’s model of universal membership. The second is a club approach, which seeks to rally established democracies as the foundation for world order. The third is a concert model, which seeks comity and joint action among the world’s major powers. The fourth is a coalition approach, which would tailor ad hoc frameworks to each global contingency. Each of the so-called four Cs lays claim to a respective virtue: legitimacy, solidarity, capability, and flexibility.