The 13th meeting of ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association in Perth yesterday was the first chaired by Australia in the organisation’s 16-year history. Australia succeeded India and Indonesia became the new vice-chair. The IORA consists of 20 member states. They reflect the remarkable diversity of our Indian Ocean region and represent from small island countries, such as Comoros and Seychelles, to G20 members such as India, Indonesia and Australia.

Apparently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calculated that sharing a few words with Chinese President Xi Jinping was worth the risk of a potential brush off. This set the stage for Abe’s diplomatic gambit at the G-20 Summit meetings in St. Petersburg earlier this month. While leaders milled about in the moments before the kickoff, Abe approached Xi and extended his hand in an attempt to begin a process of chipping away at the diplomatic deep-freeze in Sino-Japanese relations since last September’s purchase of three of the disputed Senkaku-Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

At this weekend’s G20 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin has invested a substantial amount of his time rallying nations to stand against American efforts to engage in military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. As of right now, it’s working, and I can imagine Barack Obama pouting in the dark somewhere, like Rihanna at the VMAs. Syria seems like it’s shaping up to be another Iraq. Yet again, large swaths of the international community are choosing to rebuke American military adventurism.

Ahead of the G20 meeting, president Xi Jinping has met his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. It’s the third meeting between the two leaders this year. Both sides vowed to boost their comprehensive cooperative relationship. Xi says China-Mexico relations have entered a new phase, and that the two countries should continue to boost bilateral investment and economic cooperation.

Leaders of G20 countries should take concrete action to show support for human rights and civil society during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. They should meet nongovernmental organizations, for example. Russia set its priorities for its 2013 G20 presidency as growth through jobs and investment, growth through transparency and trust, and growth through effective regulation. It is hosting the leaders’ summit on September 5-6 in St Petersburg.

In our rapidly changing world, old institutions often survive but are regularly supplemented with newer, larger groups that keep pace with progress. That’s certainly the case with the G-8 and G-20 meetings, which have an important place in diplomacy but also have limitations. As the world develops, dynamic nations clamor to have their voices heard.

Public diplomacy efforts to project a more culturally sensitive regional outreach merely provide a patina of inclusiveness that covers and perpetuates traditional economic interests associated with the inter-American system that is structured to ensure that wealth is pumped up to the top of the economic pyramid.

Canada will be able to "punch above its weight" at the G20 summit as a result of the country's reputation as a strong performer during the recession, say some observers.