A G20 summit without a consensus document is rare, if not unprecedented, but an agreement to grant the AU permanent membership of the group may help India more than just salvage the situation.As TOI had reported on Thursday, there seemed to be a consensus finally on including AU, a 55-member continental group with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion, in the G20.
However, prospects for a breakthrough on Ukraine remained dim with the EU and G7 rejecting efforts to resolve the situation by taking into account Russia’s stand on the war in the declaration under discussion.Looking to reinforce India’s commitment to the Global South, PM Narendra Modi had written to all G20 leaders in June saying the AU be granted full membership. Bloomberg said in a report that the G20 membership agreed upon in the sherpa talks will be at par with the EU.
The negotiators are said to be still finalising the language for the formal acceptance of the AU in the final declaration. Another international agency, Reuters, while confirming the G20 decision to include AU, quoted a source to say that the membership may only be formalised next year in Brazil. According to official sources though, there will be an official announcement in “some form’’ about AU’s inclusion. Russian sherpa Svetlana Lukash has already said efforts are on to mention the decision in the final declaration.
Significantly, Beijing also backed the move on Thursday, saying China was actually the first country that explicitly expressed its support for the AU’s membership of G20. “At the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue last month, President Xi Jinping again stressed that China will work actively to support the AU’s full membership in the G20. China and the AU are important partners in building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future and safeguarding international fairness and justice. China supports the AU in playing a bigger role in global governance,’’ a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said.
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For India, AU’s membership of G20 under its presidency will be nothing short of a landmark achievement, coming as it will in the times of deep fissures within the G20 over the war and also because it will help prove that its efforts to address Global South concerns were not just empty talk. According to Indian authorities, and as Modi had earlier said, Africa has a role to play in international governance and in shaping global affairs.