TCSS Security Commentaries #030

The Indonesian Presidency of 2022 G20 has succeeded in placing a series of crucial issues in “the Leaders’ Declaration.”

Elpeni Fitrah, Taiwan Center for Security Studies

The Group of 20 (G20) Summit concluded by adopting the 19-page-long “G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration” with 52 key points on November 16 in Bali, Indonesia. The declaration is a glimmer of hope with many opportunities. However, it is critical to observe the block’s ability to produce concrete collaborations in addressing ongoing and anticipated unprecedented and multidimensional crises with the potential to disrupt global order.

President Joko Widodo-led Indonesia took over the 2022 presidency of G20 amidst extreme intra-block divisions and rising food, energy, trade, and tech insecurity due to the Russia-Ukraine War and US-China strategic rivalry. In addition, the economic recovery post-Covid-19 pandemic remained a global challenge and positioned Indonesia in the “most difficult ever” geopolitical juncture.

Russia’s unilateral aggression against Ukraine has soared commodity and food prices and degraded the world economy. In the proxy conflict, western sanctions and Moscow’s response threatened global order and damaged G20 dynamics. The G20 block required a coherent economic and political policy framework.

However, the ministerial-level G20 meetings, especially the Financial and Sherpa track, failed to produce a joint communiqué, the document demonstrating the highest degree of agreement in the G20 tradition. Nevertheless, the G20 Summit in Bali outperformed expectations. By adopting the Bali Declaration, Indonesia rescued the G20 from internal divisions and acted as a responsible player and force behind reviving the world economic situation.

(Source:  Jakarta Post)

The 2022 G20 Indonesia presidency raised three main agendas: global health architecture, sustainable energy transition, and digital transformation. The G20 Bali Joint Declaration also included the Bali Energy Transition Roadmap, food supply chain, vaccine technology transfer, cross-border payments, and anti-money laundering.

The joint declaration and Success of the G20 Summit resulted from the Indonesian political leadership’s hard work, consistency, and flexibility. In the run-up to the G20 Summit, President Joko Widodo made “extraordinary efforts” to meet Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, and US Joe Biden in person to deflate global geopolitical tensions. Indonesia’s independent-active foreign policy doctrine enabled the political leadership to engage with leaders of warring nations to prevent another cold war.

War always proves to have a destructive impact on the world economy. The Russia-Ukraine conflict must be resolved with collective awareness. If the conflict prolongs, it will further disrupt global supply chains, escalates inflation, and ultimately markets and countries will fall into a crisis hole. The Bali Declaration is not a magic wand. It is powerless to revive the 2023 global economy into a more prospective one if the war escalates.

The world operates in an anarchic system with states as principal actors and no higher authority above them, per realism. Nation-states, especially those with great power and resources, can more responsibly contribute to stability and order. Declarations or communiqués at the G20 Summit are not indicators for the Success of a G20 summit. Rather, directing group members’ attention toward the issues that must be resolved immediately is more vital. In addition, the joint declaration is legally a non-binding document with no coercive authority to implement. Moreover, the G20 is not a forum that has a permanent secretariat like the ASEAN Regional Forum. As a result, the members are not necessarily willing to carry out the points of the declaration.

The G20 Summit and Indonesia’s non-aligned foreign policy also facilitated the first-ever in-person meeting between US President Biden and Chinese President Xi. According to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the Biden-Xi summit on the sidelines of the Bali G20 “reduced tensions.” Both leaders agreed to allow senior officials to renew communication on climate, debt relief, and other issues.

On another point, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip this event has reduced the essence of “recover together, recover stronger,” which Indonesia echoed, emphasizing the word “together.” Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the bloc’s members have been split into two: firstly, those who condemn Russia and secondly, countries that prefer to remain neutral. Bali Declaration’s Point 3 read, “(m)ost members strongly condemn the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering….” It reflects differences in attitudes among heads of state and certainly does not represent all members. It is clearly unhealthy and may destroy the principle of inclusivity and leave no one behind in the sustainable development agenda that has been echoed in various forums.

Elpeni Fitrah  is a Research Assistant at the Taiwan Center for Security Studies. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the International Doctor Program on Asia-Pacific Studies (IDAS), College of Social Science, National Chengchi University (NCCU).