G20 Admits African Union as Full Permanent Member
The African Union (AU) has been granted full permanent membership in the Group of 20 (G20), making it the second regional organization to join the leading industrialized and developing nations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this historic move at the start of the G20 leaders’ summit in Delhi. The inclusion of the AU aligns with India’s goal of elevating the G20’s focus on the Global South during its presidency this year.
Modi emphasized the spirit of togetherness and inclusivity, known as “Sabka Saath,” in his opening remarks. He expressed India’s proposal for permanent AU membership in the G20, symbolizing the country’s commitment to inclusion. In a show of support, Modi welcomed AU Chairperson Azali Assoumani and offered him a seat at the conference table alongside other permanent members of the G20.
The G20 summit holds significant importance for Modi, who aims to enhance India’s geopolitical significance ahead of next year’s national elections. With China’s economic growth slowing down, many governments, investors, and businesses are turning their attention to India, projected to be the fastest-growing economy this year according to the International Monetary Fund.
The summit’s agenda includes accelerating climate action, addressing the impact of geopolitics on food and energy security, providing more loans to developing nations through multilateral institutions, restructuring the global debt architecture, and establishing an international framework for cryptocurrencies.
Modi highlighted the need for a new direction and human-centric approach to address the challenges of the 21st century. Sustainable development and the advancement of developing economies will be central to the G20’s focus in the coming years. Brazil will assume the G20 presidency in 2024, followed by South Africa in 2025.
Indian officials are using the summit to showcase the deepening strategic partnership between India and the United States as a viable alternative for the Global South. They aim to demonstrate that this partnership can address various issues, including food security and debt resolution.
Notably absent from the summit are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both countries objected to the wording regarding the war in Ukraine. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Premier Li Qiang are representing their respective countries. The absence of Putin and Xi has raised concerns that a binding communique may not be issued at the end of the summit, potentially impacting India’s influence and domestic messaging.
Despite the challenges, Modi remains optimistic and believes that just as the world can overcome the COVID-19 crisis, it can also overcome the crisis of mutual trust that currently exists.