Face-to-face multilateral diplomacy is back. The group is reforming, but the world has changed since the last G7 meeting.
Our species and our planet face serious threats and the West’s autocratic rivals have flourished and become more powerful.
The stakes are high for those who want the world to be ruled by open, democratic and free societies.
Coronavirus is the biggest challenge for the G7of the first face-to-face summit since the start of the pandemic. Until the whole world is vaccinated, we are all at risk of seeing a new variant send us back to square one.
Former British Ambassador to the United States who knows Joe biden well, Sir Peter Westmacott, told Sky News that the president and his allies know this is their number one priority.
“This virus is going to contaminate international business, travel, vacation, unless we can eradicate it or roughly eradicate it. It’s not enough that one or two countries are doing really well. We are. so we have to work together on this, just like we have to work together if we want to save the planet, “he said.
And if the West fails to take the initiative to immunize the world, its claim to global moral leadership could be fatally undermined.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the world must apply the lessons learned in the fight against COVID to meet the second biggest challenge – climate change.
On the eve of the summit, the new US president wrote that the United States is “back in the presidency on the issue of climate change” and “we have the opportunity to make ambitious progress that restricts the climate crisis”.
Former U.S. Assistant Under Secretary of State and Pepperdine University Law Professor Colleen Graffy says Americans are now more than aware of the dangers of our changing climate.
“We especially realize in California and Phoenix, Arizona, the impact of the devastating fires on the East Coast, the floods, the tornadoes, the increase in weather events that are just out of the ordinary,” he said. .
“And so this has everyone’s attention. And I think there’s a greater focus on how we can work as quickly as possible to get results.”
The G7 must resuscitate a global economy weakened by the pandemic.
But even before the virus, millions of people were so disappointed with the way things are run economically that they voted for populists like Donald trump.
The G7 must convince them that economic integration, globalization and the multilateral institutions that the West has put so much effort into are worthwhile. Otherwise, the populists will be back, maybe even Trump himself.
Sir Kim Darroch was British Ambassador to the United States.
He told Sky News allies would remain nervous about it for a while, saying: “More people voted for Donald Trump [in 2020] than they did in 2016. So there’s a long way to go for them to be convinced that the American cause has been reset stably and consistently for the foreseeable future. “
China is a thorny issue that the G7 knows it must deal with carefully.
Its trampling of human rights in Hong Kong Cannot be ignored. Likewise his treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang – genocidal, or quite close. And his bellicose statements on Taiwan.
If the G7 is serious about what it calls values-based diplomacy, it cannot turn a blind eye to any of them. But neither can he afford to alienate China. It will be a delicate balancing act.
Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Sky News the G7 must be strong when it comes to China’s behavior.
“An attack is not necessarily carried out by tanks or planes,” he said. “On the contrary, you can use economic coercion as part of your aggression. And that’s exactly what China is doing.”
Mr. Rasmussen suggests that the free world apply an “all for one, one for all” approach to China’s economic intimidation. That way, Beijing could think twice before using its size and power to constrain smaller nations economically.
Supremacy of the superpowers
For some, there is nothing less at stake at this summit than who will rule the world in the years to come. Democracies or autocracies?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the main challenge in the coming years will be the struggle between autocracy and democracy, autocracy mainly represented by China and Russia, and to counter the advance of autocracies, it is necessary to rally to basic democratic principles.
If that sounds a bit abstract, don’t underestimate how this contest could affect us all. “It’s an existential question, it’s a question of who will set global norms and standards in the future,” he said.
Citing an example, Mr Rasmussen said, “You can use artificial intelligence to make our lives better and easier, but you can also use artificial intelligence to strengthen the surveillance of your people, control your people. And if it is Beijing that sets the international standards and standards for the use of artificial intelligence, semiconductors and data streams, etc., we would be infringing on individual privacy and freedom. And that’s what’s at stake. “
Fortunately for the West, if it manages to meet individual challenges, it has a better chance of winning the bigger battle, fending off the threat of autocracies.
An alliance of democracies that can lead on COVID, lead on climate change and lead a global economic recovery will be a more attractive alternative to the autocratic regimes in Moscow and Beijing – and more likely to reclaim its preeminent position. Failure will only strengthen Russia and China.
Hope for global action
What happens in Cornwall will impact all of our lives.
The good news is that this G7 is better positioned than many before to achieve unity and success. Recent summits have been marred by Donald Trump’s impatience with the whole idea of a western multilateral democracy.
Before that, the inclusion of Russia in the G8 group inevitably led to watered-down compromise resolutions.
This G7 includes a revitalized America deeply committed to its principles, and the state of the world gives an urgency and potential for concentration that we have not seen for a long time.