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The tussle at Hamburg
G20 meet brought to the fore capacity of world leaders to work around Donald Trump for ignoring interests of their countrymen
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The summit in Hamburg, Germany of G20, a group of 20 developed and developing countries, last week does not appear to have solved purpose for which it was called and the main focus on climate change shifted to pleasing the rich uncle, who needs to be managed and kept in good humour. Instead of pushing for the climate change agenda in which the uncle Sam, the United States of America was isolated with all the 19 members of G20 voting against the refrain and walking away of US on this major issue. The Paris Agreement on climate change in which US was supposed to commit itself to reduction of carbon emissions faded into oblivion with other countries still committed to the agenda of climate change. In fact, majority of the world leaders, who gathered for the event were more interested in pleasing US president Donald Trump instead of looking after the interests of their own countrymen. The success of such summits should be judged with regard to emerging global context with the world's most powerful country, the US, which wants to redefine the world order in narrow transactional terms. This is mainly for the reason that the world economies changing due to digitization and automation with the strength of a country's electoral process increasingly connected to its cybersecurity with migration on an unprecedented scale and terrorism decentralized and dispersed. Such a scenario poses a greater challenge to the countries joining hands in their fight against terror across the globe with innovations but ignoring the basic facts which trigger such strife in resource rich countries. The summit at Hamburg reflected all this either through the dynamics between the leaders or in the joint statement issued officially that emerged from their meetings. The occasion also provided a much-needed opportunity for bilateral meetings of the world leaders, some of which went well beyond the ordinary renewal of commitments among countries. The meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was their first after the election hacking scandal and Trump's inauguration, while the interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping came amid the face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies in Doklam, where it has been the longest one between the two countries. Despite this meeting, any solution on the standoff does not appear on the horizon with both sides sticking to their guns on the issue of claims over the disputed areas.

The most remarkable aspect of the summit was the fact that the G20 managed to pull together a joint communique at all, given Donald Trump's reluctance to commit his commitment on trade and the environment and the tension between interlocutors. It has been reported that French President Emmanuel Macron played a pivotal role in bringing about unanimity among them by getting the US on board. But still the final statement did not hide the fact that US policy currently runs against the global consensus, noting America's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement but declaring that the other 19 countries recognise the pact is 'irreversible' and non-negotiable. Even so, a sentence about the US saying it would help countries access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently struck an odd note. In terms of trade, members committed to fight protectionism while recognising 'legitimate trade defence instruments'. While the G20 dynamics may have been strained, world leaders have clearly moved up the learning curve on how to handle Trump since his first international tour of West Asia and Europe in May, which saw rifts over the US' commitment to NATO, climate change, trade and environment. The scale and violent nature of the protests in Hamburg too was significant, with tens of thousands showing up, and several hundred police officers injured in clashes when attempts were made to contain such protests by activists working for protecting the planet. They were yet another reminder that all is not well with the world, and that the undercurrents of discontent nursed by developing countries have been familiar with have now flowed west. The G20 and other international groupings must work to mitigate their underlying causes through dialogue and responsive measures for ensuring unanimity on major issues facing the planet.

News Updated at : Thursday, July 13, 2017
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