At the G20 New Delhi Summit, world leaders embraced the theme of “One Earth, One Family, One Future” to address critical issues such as food security, climate and energy, development, health, and digitalization. Although the Summit declaration took a step in the right direction on a number of fronts, one topic – mentioned but not elaborated upon in detail – fits this theme arguably more than any other. This topic is nuclear disarmament. Today, nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to all of humanity and other life on our precious planet. 

G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration

In a statement endorsed unanimously by all G20 member states in attendance, the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration demonstrated the bright future of multilateral diplomacy. The 37-page document reflected the willingness of the Western bloc to prevent the breakdown of the G20 by “reaffirming that the G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and recognizing that while the G20 is not the platform to resolve geopolitical and security issues, we acknowledge that these issues can have significant consequences for the global economy. (2)” Leaders at the G20 Summit highlighted their commitment to an international world order, inclusive of the concerns of the Global South. 

The consensus served as a resounding call to dedicate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) according to the 2030 Agenda. Within the framework, G20 leaders addressed critical concerns encompassing eradicating hunger and malnutrition, mitigating the impacts of food and energy insecurity, bolstering educational initiatives, and safeguarding cultural diversity as a driving force behind the realization of the SDGs. Moreover, they reflected unity in a vision of a sustainable future, emphasizing efforts to combat climate change and align National Determined Contributions (NDCs) with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals.

Commencement of G20 Summit

Photo by X/@narendramodi

Induction of the African Union (AU) to G20

In a landmark achievement, the G20 member states welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, acknowledging the Global South’s growing economic and sociopolitical prominence. This welcome development will enable one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions to achieve fair representation in global policymaking. The G20’s induction of the African Union demonstrates hope for building true international consensus to address numerous threats and challenges to humanity.

Writing for the Project Syndicate in 2021, Professor Jeffrey Sachs —NAPF’s 2023 Distinguished Peace Leader— argued that the inclusion of the AU would, in one stroke, include all of Africa in “flexible and quicker problem solving” enabled by the size of the G20 – now G21 – and engage this overlooked population in critical decision making, such as on “climate change and development financing.” The President of the G20 New Delhi Summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasized the importance of giving a greater voice to the Global South, stating that world leaders must find “concrete solutions” to global issues that have stemmed from the “ups and downs in the global economy, the north and the south divide, the chasm between the east and the west,” and other issues like terrorism, cybersecurity, health and water security.”

Leaders of the African Union

Photo by Paul Kagame

Addressing the Existential Threat of Nuclear Weapons

The G20 New Delhi Summit declaration made headlines, stating that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” More will be needed from this group going forward to address this threat, especially at the time of growing geopolitical tensions and ongoing war in Ukraine.

The G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration carefully addressed the context of the Ukraine War, with only four references to Ukraine and none to Russia in the 37-page declaration. The condemnation of the “use or threat of nuclear weapons” closely resembles the language of previous summit meetings (G20 in Bali 2022, G7 in Hiroshima 2023) but does not reference any single country. As advocates for a world free of nuclear weapons, we call on the G21 to offer concrete, time-bound action toward change. One such step would be for the G21 members to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and to call on all states that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the treaty. 

The TPNW was adopted by the 122 state members of the United Nations in 2017 and entered into force in 2021. The treaty prohibits states from engaging in the use, possession, testing, transfer, and other actions having to do with nuclear weapons. None of the world’s nuclear-armed powers—including China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom or the United States—have signed the TPNW. Given that the G21 is one of the opportunities for some of the nuclear weapon possessors to be in direct conversation with states like Mexico and South Africa, which are leading the way for the TPNW and nuclear disarmament more generally, more progress in the coming meetings will be necessary. 

First Meeting of States’ Parties in Vienna

Photo by NAPF

Concluding Thoughts

The outcome of the G20 New Delhi Summit represents a significant step forward in addressing global challenges and fostering inclusivity with the addition of the African Union. While the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration acknowledges the gravity of the nuclear threat with a condemnation of its use or threat, further concrete actions are needed, such as a global commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The 2024 Summit will take place in Brazil, which has signed and is currently on a path to ratification of the TPNW. President Lula will have a unique opportunity to push this issue of critical importance into the global spotlight. 

As we navigate a world where the risk of nuclear conflict looms, world leaders must continue working towards a safer future, preserving the well-being of our one Earth, our one family, and our one shared future.

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