Pandemic, economic crisis and aid to poor countries center virtual G20 summit | Human Rights | SAHIFAT ALPACIFIST 

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Direitos Humanos / 20/11/2020


Pandemic, economic crisis and aid to poor countries center virtual G20 summit

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Pandemic, economic crisis and aid to poor countries center virtual G20 summit

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The covid-19 pandemic, the resulting economic crisis and economic aid to the 73 poorest countries in the world will focus, next weekend, on the virtual summit of the 20 most industrialized economies on the planet (G20).

Organized for the first time by an Arab country, Saudi Arabia, and in an unprecedented video conference format, the summit will address the question of the implications of the pandemic in the global economic and health context - the covid-19 has already infected almost 56 million people and killed more than 1.3 million - and possible measures to relaunch the economy in the world.

For the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if, on the one hand, hope for vaccine effectiveness is rising, the economy, on the other, is still far seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, as projections point to that the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should decrease 4.4% in 2020.

The G20 countries have already spent around 11,000 billion dollars to save the world economy and face a “time bomb”: the debt of poor countries, which are facing a collapse (less than 700 billion dollars, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - OECD) of its external financing.

On the 13th of this month, the G20 finance ministers agreed on a “common framework”, which implies for the first time China and private creditors, in order to alleviate the debt burden, an advance in relation to the interest payment moratorium implemented in April , but still insufficient for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

"The G20 is keeping its head in the sand and does not respond to the urgency of the situation", at a time when, according to the World Bank (BM), between 88 and 115 million people are expected to fall into extreme poverty, "said Katherine Tu , director of Action Aid.

One solution would be to use the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDR), a financing instrument already used during the 2008 economic crisis.

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jaddan said he was confident of this solution, despite initial reservations the United States, whose participation at the highest level at the summit is still in doubt, as Donald Trump , defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the US presidential election this month, did not confirm his presence.

“It says a lot about your [Trump's] interest in the G20 summit. These large meetings are, in fact, less valid for a very consensual official program or for the final press release, often very smooth, than for the separations between powerful people, the ties forged at the table, in the coffee breaks, in corridors or gym rooms in hotels, ”commented John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Center.

However, for the also professor at the University of Toronto, "digital diplomacy" also has its advantages, albeit only for reasons of logistics and security, in a region under great tension.

On the other hand, for Camille Lons, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IIEE), the summit is "a clearly missed opportunity" for Saudi Arabia, which "wanted to take advantage of to improve its image a little", marred by the murder, two years, journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Less important at the global level, the issue of human rights in Saudi Arabia is still in focus, since non-governmental organizations will have the opportunity to challenge the international community on an issue that generates major criticism of the actions of the Riyadh authorities .

Relatives of imprisoned activists even called on world leaders to boycott the summit or, at least, to pressure Saudi leaders to release political prisoners and ensure respect for human rights.

The crackdown on dissenting voices has tarnished the image of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmane, who is simultaneously pursuing reforms to ease the very conservative laws in the Muslim kingdom.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the G20 is comprised of South Africa, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, the United States, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Russia and Turkey, as well as the European Union (EU) and Spain, as a permanently invited country.


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