The African Union (AU) has made history by becoming the second regional organization to be admitted as a full permanent member of the Group of 20 (G20), a distinguished group comprising leading industrialized and developing nations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this milestone at the G20 leaders’ summit in Delhi, marking a significant step towards elevating the global multilateral forum’s focus on the Global South during India’s G20 presidency. In this article, we examine the implications of the AU’s membership and India’s push for inclusion and representation within the G20.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted the inclusive spirit of his G20 presidency and referenced ‘Sabka Saath,’ meaning ‘together with all,’ in his opening remarks. Underscoring India’s commitment to inclusion, Modi proposed permanent membership for the African Union in the G20. This move not only signifies India’s pursuit of a more diverse and representative G20 but also reinforces its role as a symbol of inclusion within and outside the country.
Following the announcement, Prime Minister Modi warmly welcomed AU Chairperson Azali Assoumani, extending an invitation to take a seat at the conference table reserved for permanent G20 members. This gesture signifies India’s willingness to embrace African representation and forge stronger ties with the continent. The AU’s full membership in the G20 is a testament to the African continent’s growing global influence.
The African Union’s admission to the G20 has garnered support and enthusiasm from international partners. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, expressed his delight on X, emphasizing the EU’s longstanding commitment and support for this initiative. This significant recognition of the AU’s membership further solidifies the G20’s commitment to diversifying its membership and perspectives.
For Prime Minister Modi, the G20 summit holds immense importance as his government leverages its rotating G20 presidency to enhance India’s geopolitical significance prior to next year’s national elections. Amidst China’s slowdown, many governments, investors, and businesses are turning their attention toward India, projected to be the world’s fastest-growing economy this year. India’s strategic approach to the G20 presidency serves as a branding vehicle to position the country as a global leader and attract investment opportunities.
This weekend’s agenda at the G20 leaders’ summit focuses on several critical issues, including climate action acceleration, mitigating geopolitical impacts on food and energy security, providing increased loans to developing nations through multilateral institutions, debt architecture restructuring, and establishing an international framework for cryptocurrencies. This emphasis underscores the G20’s commitment to sustainable development and the advancement of developing economies. Brazil and South Africa, slated to assume G20 presidencies in 2024 and 2025 respectively, further amplify this focus in the coming years.
Building on the G20’s strong emphasis on sustainable development, Brazilian President Lula da Silva announced the launch of the Task Force for Global Mobilization against Climate Change during Brazil’s presidency next year. This initiative strives to rally engagement and cooperation from all stakeholders, underscoring the urgency of combating climate change. By engaging the international community, the G20 seeks to go beyond mere rhetoric and take concrete actions to protect the environment for future generations.
In the midst of shifting global alliances, India aims to persuade the Global South that its strategic partnership with the United States offers a viable alternative, particularly concerning food security and debt resolution. Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Tuggar expressed Africa’s desire to protect its interests and asserted that African countries are no longer naive when dealing with the West. India’s deepening relationship with the US signals its intent to provide the Global South with a reliable partner and reduce historical imbalances in global power dynamics.
While the G20 leaders’ summit in Delhi boasts an impressive lineup of world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and US President Joe Biden, the notable absences of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have raised concerns. Both Russia and China, as G20 member states, have objected to the wording referencing the conflict in Ukraine. The absence of these leaders could potentially impact the issuance of a communique at the end of the summit, potentially undermining India’s influence and its domestic messaging.
As India strives for a more inclusive and representative G20, the admission of the African Union as a full permanent member symbolizes a significant step towards greater Global South representation. India’s agenda, including sustainable development, partnering with the US, and mobilizing against climate change, highlights the country’s commitment to shaping the future in a human-centric and responsible manner. The G20 leaders’ summit in Delhi provides a platform for crucial discussions and decisions that are essential for navigating the challenges of the 21st century and building a more equitable and sustainable world.