G20 ministers discuss conflicts, global governance in Brazil

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 4:02 AM

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Anthony Boadle

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from the G20 group of nations gathered in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday to discuss world tensions and ways to improve multilateral organizations in preparation for their annual leaders’ summit presided by Brazil.

Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva has made reform of global governance a top priority for the G20 this year, along with curbing climate change and reducing poverty.

But with continued fighting between Russia and Ukraine and the war in Gaza, diplomats are not optimistic that proposals to upgrade global governance will advance easily within the group of the world’s largest economies.

“We are living in a world with no governance and the proliferation of conflicts is unprecedented. There is a lack of governance to deal with global challenges,” diplomat Mauricio Lyrio, Brazil’s G20 sherpa, told reporters on Tuesday.

He said there is consensus today on the need to reform the United Nations, where Brazil has advocated the expansion of the Security Council, a proposal that has not gained momentum due to the resistance of nations with veto power since the world body was created after World War Two.

Lyrio acknowledged that divergences arise when it comes to which changes to make at the United Nations, he said.

“This meeting will essentially be a venting session to build the case for multilateral reform and diagnosing the problem,” a European diplomat told Reuters.

Lula has criticized the United Nations for failing to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and his accusations last week of atrocities by Israel in Gaza, which he called genocide, triggered a diplomatic crisis with an Israeli reprimand and Brazil recalling its ambassador.

The two-day meeting held at a Rio marina will start on Wednesday with an overview of the global situation and its conflicts, including the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will face each other across the table for the first time since they spoke briefly face-to-face at last year’s foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi.

Thursday’s session will focus on global governance, Lyrio said.

As an innovation, Brazil will propose holding a second G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in September during the U.N. General Assembly in New York to advance talks on global governance, he said, with all U.N. member states invited to take part.

The G20 represents around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alistair Bell)