G20 leaders end summit with pledges aligned to Trudeau agenda

The world’s largest economy strongly condemned Russia at the close of the G20 summit on Wednesday, pledging to deepen cooperation aimed at preventing another pandemic.

In a world roiled by geopolitical power struggles, the Indonesia-hosted summit was surprisingly consensus and closely related to what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has been seeking.

“I think most Canadians would say that’s what they want from the G20,” said Andrew Cooper, a professor at the Balsilley School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo.

“What they want is something that actually points the finger at Russia and says Russia has committed crimes and waged wars of aggression.”

Canada has been one of the countries most vocal in calling on its counterparts to further isolate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many developing countries, which have struggled to preserve relations with Russia and the West, abstained this year in a minority vote at the United Nations to condemn Moscow.

In the final communiqué, the leaders took note of the UN vote calling for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. They point out that while views on war and imposition of sanctions differ, everyone agrees that the conflict is hurting the global economy.

John Cotton, head of the G20 study group, said the statement made it clear that Russia was losing influence with emerging countries it used to work closely with, such as Brazil, India and China, but the wording allowed Moscow to save face.

This paves the way for other commitments in the environment and public health.

“It’s not at all clear that there will be a communique,” Cotton said.

His team, based at the University of Toronto, was still tabulating what leaders agreed to in Wednesday’s statement, but in the hours after it was released, they found more than 175 pledges.

“It’s very lengthy and detailed,” Cotton said. “We see many of the commitments as weak rather than strongly binding, but this reflects a bottom-up process.”

These include formalizing plans to launch a global fund to prevent pandemics, even though countries have committed only $1.4 of the $10 billion needed to launch the fund.

G20 leaders agreed to make the World Health Organization the lead coordinator of global health planning, which may avoid taking an isolated approach to issues such as monkeypox outbreaks.

The bloc’s leaders also pledged to target the United Nations’ goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, dovetailing with a plan unveiled on Tuesday to help wean Indonesia off its heavy reliance on coal.

Yet despite the looming famine in East Africa, Cotton noted relatively little in communiqués on women’s rights, global tax reform, and food security.

Trudeau said the G20 succeeded because most countries agreed that the Russian invasion had exacerbated the energy and food crises.

“It’s an opportunity for us to come together and address these challenges head-on, and I think that’s an extremely important thing,” he said.

“Global challenges require global solutions, and that’s what we’re working towards.”

Cotton said the various working groups in the months leading up to the summit showed that India was trying to get developing countries to accuse Russia of disrupting the global order without losing all ties.

“(Trudeau) was not the one who made the deal, the best evidence shows. It was really (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi of India who did it,” Cotton said.

“India is clearly working with Canada to build what we want in the Indo-Pacific, which is a great democracy.”

However, when asked what role India, the world’s most populous democracy, played in reaching a consensus on Russia on Wednesday, Trudeau declined to specify which countries supported and opposed the language, instead thanking the host nation.

“All members of the G20 worked together to achieve something we could agree on and made a strong statement,” Trudeau said.

“This is due to everyone who worked at the negotiating table, especially the President of Indonesia.

—Dylan Robertson, Canadian Press

G20 Justin Trudeau

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