G20 at Hamburg: America Jilted, World Wilted

The post-US withdrawal of Paris Pact at Hamburg was not adequately appropriative of the world mood. Such congregations and jamborees do create artificial camaraderie sans any tangible results, and the same has been witnessed at the Hamburg-Germany. Trump Presidency would be remembered for its biggest disservice to the cause of maintaining climate ecology on the planet earth.

Trump administration has emasculated the Paris Pact on Climate Change by shamelessly abandoning it. However, trade, security, and economic agenda have also met the predictable permutations. Despite the fact of an optimistic environment, there has been a sense of déjà vu among the members of the grouping at the Hamburg regarding many issues, particularly about climate change. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a statement, “I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated” as reported by the BBC News on July 08, 2017. But the consensus is the hallmark of such organizations and that was conspicuous by its absence to the cheers of US capitalist and protectionist classes.

The international community has created and established many regional and international organizations and institutions like ASEAN, ECO, CARICOM, APEC, SAARC, OAS, Arab League, AU, GCC, ECOWAS, SCO, OECD, ACS, CAIS, Mercosur, Council of Europe, EAC, EU, PIF, CSTO, OECS, MSG, UM, ELAC, ACPGS, EFTA, VG, EEC, LAP, IBSA Dialogue Forum, Andean Community, ECCAS, IORA, NATO, RCEP, RECs, PLG, IADB, IGAD, SADC, NAFTA, SAFTA, BIMSTEC, BRICS, ADB, FTAs and TPPs and FAO, ILO, Interpol, IDB, UNDP, UNESCO, UNHCR, WHO outside the UN and  under the UN Charter to address the local and regional aspirations of the people in a manner that is expeditious and pragmatic. However, the establishment of these alliances is a testimony to the fact that various regions and continents of the world have got disenchanted with the functioning of the UNO. In many respects, UN architecture of post-World-War-II does not represent the present realities of the world. Thus, it has necessitated the mushrooming of these regional arrangements to attend those gaps where UN could not succeed.  

But, of late, it is being seen that these groupings have been failing in their mandate. Therefore, such a trend is not good for the world as a whole and raises highly annoying questions like; has G20 lost its relevance? What is the utility of such groupings like G8, G20, G77, or other regional alliances? Are these gatherings merely reduced to talking territories, photo-ops, and political tourism at the expense of ordinary taxpayers? What is the relevance of UNO in the contemporary world? International institutions like G20 must not be made hostage to one or few countries.  In fact, it was an occasion to underline the proactive approach of G20 on its agenda implementation within the stipulated time frame. Moreover, G20 could have put its foot down on all outstanding issues excluding the US. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has rightly designated the EU is in an “elevated battle mood” to resort to the countermeasures on the US sidling to the policy of protectionism to promote the US steel industry. Further, EU has signed a free trade deal with Japan that might have the capability to defend the multilateral trade system beyond the US orbit and would neutralize the US protectionist measures against steel industries of China and Germany.  

Angela Merkel had articulated apprehensions and asserted that US exit from Paris Climate Change Accord had made the Germany and EU “more determined than ever to lead it to success.” Therefore, Angela Merkel has put the Paris Climate Change Agreement in the G20 Agenda items that created geopolitical embarrassment for Mr. Donald Trump. In this situation, she has emerged as a role model of sorts for center-left politicians across the West and established herself as an alternative leadership that is enthusiastically suave and diplomatically shrewd to the Trump Presidency. Thus, G20-Hamburg would also be remembered by the Media Mughals for their being witnesses to the moments of Historical Hand-Shakers without making any history of substance for the posterity. Putin and Trump were the cynosures of the entire assemblage, but Trump did not go beyond the usual euphemistic and optimistic averments on such occasions based on reciprocity and diplomacy. Therefore, how to decipher and decode the handshake between Vladimir Putin of Russia and Donald Trump of US? Would a domestic Donald Trump compete with a dynamic Emmanuel Macron of France? Would Angela Merkel get any dividends out of this diplomatic ostensibility? However, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Macron has extended an adorable treatment to Angela Merkel as her being their geo-strategically understandable personality of sorts. It is, indeed, a historical moment for the Europe to the lead the world on climate change under the new collective leadership of Merkel and Macron without the US. 

Consequently, this diplomatic bonhomie paved the way for Russia to refute the allegation of its involvement in hacking the US Presidential elections in 2016 and also brokered a ceasefire deal impacting the South-Western Syria. However, the leaders have been privy to the games of the doppelganger and phantom diplomacy with Trump admiring Putin moderated by the stipulations of colonial disapprobation from the coterie of cronies. Trump asserted that Russia was involved in the destabilization drive and fishing in the troubled waters in Iran, Ukraine, and Syria and testing the patience of the West. Trump further exhorted the Russia to be a part of “community of responsible nations in our fight against the common enemies and in defense of civilization itself” by adopting a policy of unilateral internationalism correctness deviant to the idea of global constitutionalism, the rule of law, diversity, and multiculturalism. However, G20 Declaration has positively claimed to create an “interconnected world” order that alluded to a trajectory of disconnects of deep roots navigating on the old miasma. Therefore, present G20 leadership could have learned from the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou-China at which a trinity of targets called building resilience, improving sustainability, and assuming responsibility were unanimously agreed upon to advance the G20 Agenda by taking pragmatic actions.

But, unfortunately, the entire gamut of parleys at Hamburg got nosedived in nostrums advocating that the benefits of globalization had to be reaped collectively, markets had to be opened further (but what about the Western protectionism) while ignoring the fact that “the benefits of international trade have not been shared widely enough.”  Nevertheless, just to accentuate how the agenda has been nudged with the obsession of free markets, the diplomatic communiqué incorporated that the states had a right to protect their markets. Now, here is a problematic question as to how this objective is achieved within the theology of free trade in the present world. Moreover, the same arguments were advanced to reiterate the sovereign rights of states on the question of controlling, managing, or limiting the refugee exoduses and migrant influxes. Because refugees and migrants have created a situation that modestly pulls off the regular parochial order based on “national interests and national security” narrative in which the idea of responsibility to protect is absent.

The global financial situation and its system had to be made buoyant and robust to the hilt through the reforms by ensuring bigger financial transparency, fostering international tax cooperation, and dismantling heavens of money stashing stations reported in the Panama Papers. On the issue of climate change, G20-1 members endured their pledge of “collectively committed to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions” using a range of technologies, clean and efficient energy options. Moreover, members minus US did take note of US recantation from the Paris Climate Change Pact and maintained the irreversibility of the impugned agreement that resulted as a sharp jolt to the US and eroded its international stature. Even NGOs and unorganized protesters outside the venue of the G20 Summit have also mounted considerable pressure on the G20 leadership on a range of issues relating to climate change migration and the wealth disparities. Further, the Climate Change and Energy Action Strategy for Development released at the end of the meeting did not provide any future vision to collaborate on the most controversial parts of the climate negotiations including climate finance. The US departure from the Paris Pact has created an additional liability of $3 billion on the rest of the 19 members of the G20 that was initially promised by the US and it had paid $1 billion before reneging the same later. Therefore, there is a shortfall of $2 billion that require other countries to raise their climate change mitigation ambitions in addition to their existing shares. But, unfortunately, Hamburg exercise was subjected to intangible determination and inconsequential resolution that has vindicated a more fractured international community with less dissonance ahead. 

Dr. Nafees Ahmad

Ph. D., LL.M. Author teaches at the Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University (An International University Established by the Eights SAARC Nations)-New Delhi, author is an Indian national who holds a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in International Refugee Law and Human Rights. Author writes on International Forced & Irregular Migrations, Human Displacement, Climate-Change Refugees, Refugee Studies, Asylum Policies, Human Trafficking in Refugees and Migrants, Durable Solutions, Diplomacy, International Relations, Extradition and SAARC Issues. Author has conducted research on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Jammu & Kashmir and North-East Region in India and has worked with several research scholars from US, UK and India and consulted with several research institutions and NGO’s in the area of human displacement and forced migration. Dr. Ahmad has introduced a new Program called Comparative Constitutional Law of SAARC Nations for LLM along with International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law.  Author has been serving since 2010 as Senior Visiting Faculty to World Learning (WL)-India under the India-Health and Human Rights Program organized by the World Learning, 1 Kipling Road, Brattleboro VT-05302, USA for Fall & Spring Semesters Batches of US Students by its School for International Training (SIT Study Abroad) in New Delhi-INDIA nafeestarana[at]gmail.com,   drnafeesahmad[at]sau.ac.in

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