G­20 Meet: Fine Print Missing in Global Resolve against Terrorism

The Islamic State is a result of narrow-minded policies of the west and regional powers, writes Ashok Sajjanhar.

Updated
Opinion
5 min read
President Barack Obama (centre)  in a group photo with other leaders during the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The 10th Summit of Group of Twenty (G20) countries was held in the Turkish sea-side resort of Antalya on November 15-16, 2015.

The G20 was established as a meeting of finance ministers and governors of central banks of 20 major economies of the world in 1999 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. It brought together industrialised and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. This was upgraded to summit level in 2008 in the wake of the international economic and financial crisis.

A woman lights candles outside the Bataclan concert hall, which was a site of last Friday’s attacks in Paris, November 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)
A woman lights candles outside the Bataclan concert hall, which was a site of last Friday’s attacks in Paris, November 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)

G20 represents 85 per cent of global GDP, two-thirds of the world population and 75% of world trade.

G20 focusses on achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth, promoting job creation, strengthening financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises, and modernising the international financial architecture.

Snapshot

Hard Talk on Terrorism

  • Discussions on economic issues and environment at the G20 Summit  overshadowed by immediate security concerns and fight against terrorism
  • Global leaders pledged a renewed fight against Islamic State (IS) but offered little concrete details on the strategy
  • Despite growing public unease over number of migrants arriving in Europe, EU chief Juncker rejected an overhaul of EU’s migration policy
  • Emergence of IS is a result of conflicting, short-sighted and narrow-minded policies pursued by western and regional powers
  • Challenge now is to implement the decisions arrived at the G20 Summit sincerely and seriously

Focus On Terrorism

It was felt that timing of the Summit was most opportune as it fell between the UN Sustainability Summit in New York in September, 2015, and the COP 21 in Paris later this month.

The Antalya Summit was initially designed to focus on the current state of global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy. Political issues such as global terrorism and refugee crisis were also expected to be discussed.

Flowers, pictures and candles are set in memory outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris, one of the spots of Friday’s attacks, November 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)
Flowers, pictures and candles are set in memory outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris, one of the spots of Friday’s attacks, November 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)

As so often occurs in international diplomacy, official agendas get blown off the course by events – but rarely in such appalling circumstances and so comprehensively.

Discussions on economic issues and environment were totally overshadowed by the shocking, painful and outrageous attacks in Paris, immediate security concerns and fight against terrorism.

Leaders zeroed in on a trio of urgent, inter-linked issues connected with Syria: ending the war, stemming the flow of refugees, and stopping terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State.

Pictures of victims are put on makeshift memorials outside the Bataclan concert hall, the site of one of the six coordinated attacks  in Paris, November 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)
Pictures of victims are put on makeshift memorials outside the Bataclan concert hall, the site of one of the six coordinated attacks in Paris, November 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Fight Against Islamic State

Leaders strongly condemned the dastardly attacks and pledged a renewed fight against Islamic State (IS) but offered little concrete details on how the strategy would change. They resolved to prevent and suppress terrorist acts through increased international solidarity and cooperation with UN being provided a central role.

They reaffirmed commitment to ’’tackle the financing channels of terrorism, particularly by enhanced cooperation on exchange of information and freezing of terrorist assets, criminalisation of terrorist financing and robust targeted financial sanctions regimes related to terrorism and terrorist financing’’.

American President Barack Obama speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the  G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)
American President Barack Obama speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)

They agreed to adopt a comprehensive approach by ’’addressing conditions conducive to terrorism, countering violent extremism, combatting radicalisation and recruitment, hampering terrorist movements, growing flow of foreign terrorist fighters, countering terrorist propaganda and to prevent terrorists from exploiting technology, communications and resources to incite terrorist acts, including through the internet’’.

They resolved to prevent direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, the incitement of terrorist acts and glorification of violence. This would be achieved by enhancing cooperation including operational information-sharing, border management, preventive measures and appropriate criminal justice response.

 BRICS leaders pose for a photo during their meeting prior to the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)
BRICS leaders pose for a photo during their meeting prior to the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Prime Minister Modi in his address focused on international terrorism and also dealt with climate change, global cooperation to unearth black money, tax evasion, reducing transaction costs for remittances and bringing greater transparency to the financial system. He elaborated on measures that India is taking to reduce consumption of fossil fuels and enhance production and use of green energy. He exhorted developed countries to provide finance and technology to help developing countries pursue a green industrial path.

Narrow-Minded Policies

Leaders issued a communiqué identifying further collective action towards achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth that enhances prosperity of the people.

France called for tighter controls on Europe’s borders to prevent terrorists entering from overseas and using free movement laws to travel across the continent. However despite growing public unease over number of migrants arriving in Europe, and threat that the influx is being exploited by IS, EU President Jean Claude Juncker rejected an overhaul of the EU’s migration policy. He urged leaders not to start treating asylum seekers as terrorists.

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker arrives on the occasion of a summit on migration in Valletta, Malta, November 12, 2015. (Photo: AP)
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker arrives on the occasion of a summit on migration in Valletta, Malta, November 12, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The IS has been reinforcing and widening its sway far beyond its original areas of operations in Iraq and Syria. Over the last 10 days, the IS has successfully carried out four major assaults on its principal adversaries -- downed a Russian civilian airliner over Egypt killing 224 people, massacred Hazara Shi`ites in Afghanistan, bombed the southern suburbs of Beirut, and have now carried out the gruesome attacks in Paris, killing 129 people and injuring many more. The emergence of the IS is a result of conflicting, short-sighted and narrow-minded policies pursued by western and regional powers.

World leaders seized the opportunity presented by the ghastly Paris attacks to arrive at a wide measure of agreement to effectively deal with the ever increasing threat of the IS. The challenge now is to implement the decisions arrived at sincerely and seriously. Only single-minded determination and full cooperation will yield the desired results. Otherwise the leaders will have no one but themselves to blame for the increasing incidence of terrorism and violence in far-flung regions of the world.

(The writer is a former Indian ambassador to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia)

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