The G20, also known as the Group of Twenty, is a coalition of nations convened to address global economic and political matters. Collectively, G20 nations contribute to 85% of the world's economic output and over 75% of international trade, encompassing approximately two-thirds of the global population.
The G20 comprises the European Union plus 19 individual countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Some G20 member countries also participate in the G7, a group representing the world's seven leading industrialised nations. Additionally, the African Union, representing 55 African countries, received an invitation to join the G20 as a permanent member during the Delhi summit.
The G20's origins trace back to 1999, emerging in response to the Asian financial crisis. Its primary purpose was to provide a platform for finance ministers and officials to collaborate on strategies to restore economic stability.
In 2008, the G20 elevated its role by holding its first leaders' summit, prompted by the global financial turmoil that year, with the aim of fostering international cooperation.
Over time, the G20 has broadened its scope to encompass issues such as climate change and sustainable energy. Each year, a different G20 member state assumes the presidency, setting the agenda for the annual leaders' summit.
During the G20 summit, member countries issued a joint declaration that expressed concern about "human suffering and the adverse consequences of the conflict in Ukraine on global food and energy security." Notably, this statement did not directly criticise Russia for its role in the conflict.
However, the Ukrainian government viewed this declaration with disappointment, stating that it was "not something to take pride in." They argued that Ukrainian participation in the summit would have provided a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.
In addition to diplomatic discussions, a notable development occurred on the sidelines of the summit. The United States, India, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union jointly announced plans for a new network of railways and shipping routes.
This initiative is aimed at boosting trade between South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. It also serves as a strategic response to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to create new global trade routes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India sought to use the summit as an opportunity to promote India as a significant global power and position himself as a key world leader, especially in light of an upcoming general election scheduled for the spring of 2024. Notably, he played a leading role in inviting the African Union to become a permanent member of the G20.
It's worth mentioning that both President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China opted not to attend the summit.
In May 2023, the G20 encountered difficulties as both China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a G20 meeting on tourism held in Indian-administered Kashmir. This boycott stemmed from the complex situation in Kashmir, a region claimed by both Pakistan and India.
Tensions also flared between India and China shortly before the summit. Beijing released a map asserting territorial claims over the state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau, leading to a diplomatic dispute.
Previous G20 summits have achieved significant milestones. During the 2008 and 2009 leaders' summits, convened amidst the global financial crisis, leaders collaborated on a range of measures aimed at stabilising the global economic system.
However, some critics contend that subsequent summits have been less productive due to conflicts between competing world powers. Nonetheless, one-on-one meetings between leaders have often yielded positive results.
For instance, at the 2019 Osaka summit, then-US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement to resume negotiations aimed at resolving a major trade dispute.
Security concerns at G20 summits typically include:
Protest and Demonstrations: G20 summits often draw anti-globalisation and protest groups, which can lead to large-scale demonstrations and potential security challenges.
Terrorism: Given the high-profile nature of the event and the presence of world leaders, there is a concern about the possibility of terrorist attacks.
Civil Unrest: Protests and gatherings can escalate into civil unrest, posing risks to both participants and security personnel.
Cybersecurity: In the digital age, there is a growing concern about cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure or sensitive information during G20 summits.
VIP Security: Protecting the attending world leaders and delegations is of paramount importance, requiring extensive security measures.
Public Safety: Ensuring the safety of the general public in the host city during the summit is a priority.
Regarding the specific security measures for the Delhi event, the Indian government took significant steps, such as closing roads around the summit venue and deploying a substantial number of security personnel (130,000) across the city to maintain order and ensure the safety of attendees.
Additionally, unique measures were implemented to prevent disruptions by the local monkey population, as Delhi has a significant number of monkeys, and their presence could potentially disrupt the summit.