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GS – 1


Saving child brides: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context:

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, who is below 18 years of age, is rape.

What is the verdict?

  • Marriage cannot be a license to have sex with a minor girl, the Supreme Court of India recently ruled in its judgment, the Supreme Court held in its judgment.
  • “Human rights of a girl child are very much alive and kicking whether she is married or not and deserve recognition and acceptance,”, the court observed.
  • The court further insisted the government to take preventive steps against child marriages.
  • Sexual Intercourse with a girl below 18 years of age is rape, regardless of whether she is married or not.
  • The exception carved out in section 375 of the Indian Penal Code creates an artificial distinction between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child.

What will be the implication of this judgment?

  • With this judgment, the court ended the decades-old disparity between Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC and other child protection laws.
  • Before SC ruling, there was an exception in Section 375 of IPC (rape law) provisions that protected a man who had sexual relations with his wife even if she was under 18. Wife’swillingness or consent is of no concern before this judgment.

Loopholes:

  • The issue of Child marriage by large still remains open as the court refrained from dealing with the issue of marital rape of a woman aged above 18.
  • The SC verdict on marital rape focused solitarily on married women below the age of 18.Thus a large part of marital rape law is still open.
  • The government authorities need to ensure that child marriage is abolished at all cost.

Child marriage in India:

  • The study based on 2011 Census, stated that 2.5% of marriages of minor girls were reported in Rajasthan.
  • The other states with a high incidence of marriages of girls below the legal age are Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • Rajasthan also topped in the percentage of boys marrying below the legal age of 21 (4.69%).
  • No marriage below 10 years of age was reported across the country.
  • According to the Census study, 12.9% of girls got married at the age of 10-17 years and 43.6% between 18-20 years.
  • However, only 4.9% of boys got married in the 10-17 years age group and 11.2 % in the 18-below 21 age group.
  • The study shows a minor decline of 0.1% in the marriage of minor girls.
  • The decline in rural India, between 2001 and 2011 Census was marginally higher than in the whole of the country.
  • However, the incidence of child marriage among girls increased substantially in urban India from 1.78% in 2001 to 2.45% in 2011.

Major reasons for the prevalence of Child Marriage in India:

1-      Economies of marriage

  • Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry may lead a family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs.
  • Patriarchal Indian society considers a girl as an economic burden. Marrying her off at an early age is a way to transfer this burden to the marital family.
  • It is believed that the marriage of the boy brings home an additional hand to assist the unpaid household and economic activities.

2-      Lack of education:

  • Poor educational opportunities for girls, especially in rural areas increase the vulnerability of a girl child to be married off early.
  • In the current patriarchal set up a girl’s right to education is regarded as a secondary priority to her labor in the household
  • This aggravates the situation as the girl’s’ power to resist marriage and opt for alternative aspirations is decreased.
  • Patriarchy and gender inequalities prevailing in the Indian society is one of the major reasons for persisting high incidence of child marriages.
  • Prevailing cultural perspectives to encourage the child marriage to thrive in.
  • Inadequate implementation of laws is a major reason for persisting menace of child marriage in the country.

What are the implications of child marriage?

Early marriage is a serious infringement of child rights. Some of the implications of child marriage are given below.

1-   On women health:

  • Issues related to early pregnancy. Mental health is also a major concern. Violence and abuse at marital home can lead to post-traumatic stress and depression.

2-   On Education:

  • Girls are forced to drop out schools. There lie a cause and effect relationship between lack of education and child marriage.

3-   On fertility:

  • Lower age at marriage directly affects fertility rates. Lower the rate of age at marriage higher is the fertility rate.

4-   Maternal mortality:

  • Maternal mortality is high among women who have conceived at an early age. Risks associated with pregnancy are higher.

5-   Infant Mortality:

  • Mortality rates of children born to very young mothers are high. The children that survive are likely to develop health problems and are more at risk of transmitting HIV/AIDS.

What are the laws related to Child Protection in India?

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The age of consent under the IPC was raised from 16 to 18 under this act.
  • However, the age above which marriage is an exception to rape was retained at 15, as fixed in 1940.
  • POCSO criminalizes even consensual teenage sexual activity and the latest ruling has brought this into the domain of marriage.
  • A teenager could be prosecuted for a sexual offence under POCSO even if he was just a little above 18.
  • According to the Juvenile law, if boys under 18 but over 16 are charged with penetrative sexual assault under POCSO or rape under the IPC, which can be termed ‘heinous offences’, they could face the prospect of being tried as adult
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: The Act came into effect on 1st November 2007.Under this Act, “child” means a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age. The Act defines “child marriage” as a marriage where either of the contracting parties is a child

Conclusion:

  • Child marriage is a social evil that adversely affects the physical and mental health of children, denies them opportunities for education and self-advancement, infringes on their bodily autonomy and deprives them of any role in deciding on many aspects of their lives. Therefore it was the right decision taken by the highest court of the land but there are some loopholes which need to address.

GS-3


World Bank cautions against protectionism:

  • The World Bank has cautioned that a rise in protectionism and policy uncertainty could derail the fragile recovery of global economy.

What is Protectionism?

  • Protectionism refers to government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade
  • Protectionism is often done with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition.
  • The primary objective of protectionism is to make local businesses or industries more competitive by increasing the price or restricting the quantity of imports entering the country.

What are the ways through which Protectionism is implemented?

Protectionist policies can be implemented in four ways:

  • Taxation with Tariffs
  • Import Quotas
  • Product Standards
  • Government Subsidies

What are the advantages of Protectionism?

  • Protectionism temporarily creates jobs for domestic workers. The protection of tariffs, quotas or subsidies allows domestic companies to hire locally.
  • If a country is trying to grow strong in a new industry, tariffs will protect it from foreign competitors.

What are the disadvantages of Protectionism?

  • Trade protectionism weakens the industry in long-term.
  • Consumers in the domestic market may also have to pay a premium for a better-produced import or be denied the ability to acquire it at all.

Weak investment

  • He expressed concern that risks such as a rise in protectionism, policy uncertainty or possible financial market turbulence could derail this fragile recovery.
  • Forced displacement

Globalisation vs Protectionism

  • Globalization means expanding the trade internationally and protectionism means protecting domestic industries from foreign competition.
  • Supporters of globalization argue that it has the potential to make this world a better place to live in and solve some of the deep-seated problems like unemployment and poverty.
  • Free trade is supposed to reduce barriers such as tariffs, value-added taxes, subsidies, and other barriers between nations. This is not true. There are still many barriers to free trade. The Washington Post story says “the problem is that the big G20 countries added more than 1,200 restrictive export and import measures since 2008. The proponents say globalization represents free trade which promotes global economic growth; creates jobs, makes companies more competitive, and lowers prices for consumers.
  • Furthermore, the sharing of technology with developing nations will help them progress. True for small countries but stealing our technologies and IP have become a big problem with our larger competitors like China.
  • In the case for protectionism, if a country is trying to grow strong in a new industry, tariffs will protect it from foreign competitors. That gives the new industry’s companies time to develop their own competitive advantages. However, domestic industries and markets can only grow so much until they must embark on global trade, otherwise, they won’t be able to meet growing supply and demand.
  • Protectionism does temporarily create jobs for domestic workers. The protection of tariffs, quotas or subsidies allows domestic companies to hire locally, but again, if a company in a protectionist state wants to expand, they won’t be able to.

Why the economic slowdown, and how to fix it?: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Context:

  • The ministry of finance is caught in a deficit fetishism that seeks to limit the fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP

Introduction:

  • The growth in gross domestic product (GDP) has plummeted by 3.5 percentage points in just six quarters, from 9.2% in January-March 2016 to 5.7% in April-June 2017.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has slashed its GDP growth forecast for 2017-18 from 7.3% to 6.8%.
  • The latest RBI survey in six metropolitan cities shows eroding consumer confidence, dipping business sentiment in manufacturing, mounting concerns about jobs, and sliding growth perceptions.

Reasons for decelerating growth:

1- Demonetisation: The effects of demonetization such as reduced purchasing power, supply-side inflation with the decreased procurement of raw material, increased transportation costs, delayed payments, etc.  The adverse impact of demonetization on output and employment in the economy, particularly in informal, unorganized sector.

2- Introduction of GST: The consequences of new tax regime such as uncertainty, delayed payments, increase in prices of commodities, increased vows of the informal sector, etc.The GST had an adverse effect on output, in the April-June 2017 quarter.

3- Crisis in Agriculture sector. The GDP per capita in the agricultural sector has been less than one-tenth GDP per capita in the non-agricultural sector.

4-The share of manufacturing sector in GDP and employment is lower.

5- India’ share in industrial production and manufactured exports in the world economy has declined steadily.

6- The GDP is largely supported by the service sector, while employment growth in the economy has been sustained essentially by construction activities and the informal sector both of which have been hurt by demonetization

7- Delayed reforms:  In the long term, Delayed reforms such as Labour reforms (with no exit policy in India) and liberalization discourage foreign investors to set up firms in India.

  • The complexities of land acquisition, disputes with major countries over IPR regimes also contribute to the weak business sentiment
  • To complicate matters, we have almost nil Privacy laws, an unregulated and haywire e-commerce sector, etc.

Macroeconomic factors responsible for the slowdown:

  • Investment and exports have remained unchanged for the past six years.
  • Investment (gross fixed capital formation) as a proportion of GDP dropped from 31.8% in 2011-12 to 28.3% in 2013-14 and from 30.4% in 2014-15 to 27.1 in 2016-17.
  • Merchandise export as a proportion of GDP was dropped from 15.2% in 2014-15 to 12.2% in 2016-17.
  • The US dollar value of merchandise exports has declined.

Why investment and exports are important determinants of economic growth?

1-      Demand Side:

  • The three sources of growth from the demand side are consumption, investment, and exports.
  • Consumption, whether in the private sector or in the government sector, depends on their respective income levels.
  • Investment is decided upon within the economy, while exports, and depends on the world demand for our goods.

2-      Supply side:

  • Investment and exports are also critical determinants of growth from the supply side.
  • Investment creates capacities or raises productivity, both of which increase output from the supply side.
  • Exports raise efficiency and productivity of exporting firms to drive growth in output.
  • Investment levels are influenced by factors like investors confidence, bank lending, and infrastructural constraints, but interest rates are by far the most important factor for they determine the profitability of investment.
  • The exchange rate is a crucial price that determines the number of rupees earned per dollar of exports and exercises an important influence on the profitability of exporting firms.

What should be done to address the slowdown in the economy?

  • The government should use counter-cyclical, expansionary, macroeconomics policies to revive growth.
  • Fiscal policy should provide a stimulus, preferably by stepping up public investment.
  • Monetary policy should provide a stimulus to private investment by lowering interest rates.

On the expenditure side:

  • On the spending side, the government can focus on the following four areas.
  • First, provide fresh capital either to existing banks or the new “bad bank”.
  • Second, provide some version of a wage subsidy as an incentive to labour-intensive sectors. A version of this was offered to the textile and garment sectors last year but can be improvised and extended. The successful model of Odisha in the garment sector can be replicated.
  • Third, give a big boost to affordable housing, by funding land acquisition for the builder, and interest rate subvention for the homeowner. The States of Kerala and Maharashtra have interesting and replicable models.
  • Fourth, keep a big focus on exporters, especially in labour-intensive sectors, including agriculture. This includes a weaker exchange rate, quicker refund of GST credit and expanding the scope of the Merchandise Export from India Scheme and Service Exports from India Scheme.

Long-term solutions:

  • The various rigidities in the market for land and labour have been holding back the economy for decades now, stopping investors from risking their capital on large-scale projects needed to boost growth. This needs to be addressed to find a viable solution to the problems.
  • In the long term, in general, it is the capital formation that revives the economy. Investment is an immediate source of demand.
  • Further, the overall unease involved in doing business in the country and the even larger uncertainty looming around the rules that govern the conduct of business have seriously held back growth.
  • Effects of new tax regime should be carefully watched.
  • Incentives to exporters and increase in budget expenditure to their interest.
  • India should be prepared for the impending tightening of monetary policy regime in U.S. and other countries as India has survived the current deficit on account of a strong capital account surplus.
  • Also, India should seek to resolve the impending issues with other countries and organizations such as EU(regarding IPR regime and others) so that the India-EU FTA process could be hastened which could prove to be a major boon for the services sector. Similarly, India’s push for a Services pact along with a goods pact in RCEP is a step in the right direction.

Way ahead:

To follow the fiscal deficit to rise by 0.5% of GDP, using that to finance public investment, and to drop interest rates by at least 2 percentage points, which would also help the exchange rate depreciate. This would stimulate investment and promote exports, to revive economic growth.

Averting disaster: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Recently, Category 5 hurricanes in the Caribbean and in the American mainland; record floods across Bangladesh, India, and Nepal; and drought emergencies in 20 countries in Africa have damaged these regions. These events reiterate the need to act on a changing climate.

Reasons for frequent floods and droughts across the globe:

  • Rising temperature is increasing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, leading to more intense rainfall and flooding in some places, and drought in others.
  • Rising and warming seas are contributing to the intensity of tropical storms worldwide.
  • Global warming
  • Marine pollution
  • Local and regional circulations such as El-Nino and La-Nina

Step to tackle climate change:

  • The Paris Agreement has set the world on a long path towards a low-carbon future.
  • Reducing the carbon emissions and reduce disaster risk.
  • International cooperation is very crucial to tackle climate change.
  • Restoring the ecological balance between emissions and the natural absorptive capacity of the planet is the long-term goal.
  • Long term reduction of emissions is the most important risk reduction tactic and there is need to deliver on that ambition.
  • The November UN Climate Conference in Bonn provides an opportunity to not accelerate emission reductions but also boost the work of ensuring that the management of climate risk is integrated into disaster risk management as a whole.
  • Poverty, rapid urbanization, poor land use, ecosystems decline and other risk factors will amplify the impacts of climate change.

Sendai Framework of Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR)

  • SFDRR is an international Treaty that was approved by UN member states in March 2015 at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan.It is a voluntary and non-binding treaty which recognizes that the UN member State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk. It has a framework for 15-year i.e. 2015 to 2030.
  • It calls for sharing the responsibility with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
  • It is the successor of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015), which had been the most encompassing international accord on disaster risk reduction.
  • It sets of common standards, a comprehensive framework with achievable targets, and a legally-based instrument for disaster risk reduction.
  • It calls for adopting integrated and inclusive institutional measures for preventing vulnerability to disaster, increases preparedness for response and recovery and strengthens resilience.

Four specific priorities of Sendai Framework:

  • Understanding disaster risk
  • Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
  • Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
  •  Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Indian perspective:

What are the reasons for flooding in India?

India is considered as the world’s most disaster-prone country on account of its unique geo-climate conditions. Reasons for flooding are given below.

1-   Man-made Reasons:

  • Lacks of drainage upgrade works.
  • The encroachment and filling in the floodplain on the waterways
  • Obstruction by the encroachment and filling in the floodplain on the waterways
  • Deposits of building materials and solid wastes with subsequent blockage of the system.
  • Flow restrictions from under-capacity road crossing (bridge and culverts).
  • Lack of planning and enforcement has resulted in a significant narrowing of the waterways and filling in of the floodplain by illegal developments.
  • Encroachments of nalas, lakes and other water bodies
  • Choking of streams and stormwater drains
  • Constructions on the riverbed
  • Weather pattern and topography leads to regular flooding like in Brahmaputra River.
  • As the ice melts in the Himalayas, the water channels downstream swell. When the river enters Assam from Arunachal Pradesh, it experiences a steep fall in gradient, causing the water to hurtle down at a furious pace.
  • During the monsoon, when the river is swollen with the precipitation from the Eastern Himalayas, its channels can’t take the huge volumes gushing down at high speed. Siltation and sedimentation in the channels compound the situation.
  • Human hand in such floods as well. With increasing deforestation in the Eastern Himalayas, the run-off has increased, which means as the water rushes towards the plains, it carries along more sediment.
  • The riverbed in the plains is full of sediment, impairing the Brahmaputra’s carrying capacity.

2-Physiological Reasons:

  • About 60% of the flood damage in India occurs from river floods while 40 percent is due to heavy rainfall and cyclones
  • Damage by Himalayan rivers accounts for 60% of the total damage in the country.
  • A flood occurs when water overflows or inundates land that’s normally dry.
  • Most common are when rivers or streams overflow their banks.
  • Excessive rain, a ruptured dam or levee, rapid ice melting in the mountains, or even an unfortunately, placed beaver dam can overwhelm a river and send it spreading over the adjacent land, called a floodplain.
  • Flooding is a natural phenomenon because of the rivers in the Northeast, mostly originating in the Eastern Himalayas, experience a sharp fall in gradient as they move from Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan to reach Assam’s floodplain.
  • Most of these rivers carry large amounts of sediments, which then get deposited on the floodplains, reducing the storage capacity of the river channels and resulting in inundation of the adjoining floodplains.
  • Flooding is partly anthropogenic as the sediment load carried by the rivers is accentuated through “developmental interventions in the Eastern Himalayas that result in deforestation.
  • The principal causes of vulnerability include rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, poverty, degradation of the environment resulting mismanagement of the resources, inefficient public policies.

Flood-prone areas in India:

  • Areas which are subject to serious floods are mainly in the Plains of Northern India.
  • It is estimated that over 90 percent of the total damage done to property and crops in India is done in the Plains of Northern India.
  • Annual deposition of silt and sand raises the bed and thus reduces the capacity of the river to accommodate flood water.
  • The Assam Valley is another fertile belt which is affected sometimes seriously by flood havocs.
  • The Brahmaputra which drains this valley receives from its tributaries, the Dibang and the Luhit, a large amount of water heavily laden with silt.
  • Floods are almost a regular feature in coastal lowlands of Odisha
  • The deltas of the Godavari and the Krishna.
  • Lower courses of the Narmada and the Tapi

What are the safety measures needed for the natural disaster?

  • There is need to adopt a multidimensional endeavour involving diverse scientific, engineering and financial and social processes.
  • The need to adopt a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach and incorporation of risk reduction in the developmental plans and strategies.
  • Disaster management needs to occupy an important place in India’s policy framework as it is the poor and the underprivileged who are worst affected on account of calamities/disasters.
  • Providing necessary support and assistance to State Governments by way of resource data, macro-management of emergency response, specialized emergency response teams, sharing of disaster-related database etc.
  • Coordinating government’s policies for disaster reduction.
  • Ensuring adequate preparedness at all levels.

Need for disaster risk management:

  • Disaster affects the normal routine and it is not easy to come back to. The risk is reduced by various disaster management systems.
  • Over the last two decades, more than 850000 people have died from disaster in Asia-Pacific.
  • 7 of the top 10 countries in terms of the number of deaths due to disaster are in the Asia-Pacific.

What are the government steps?

  • The government inaugurated the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Management
  • In order to respond effectively to floods, the Ministry of Home Affairs has initiated National Disaster Risk Management Programme in all the flood-prone states.
  • After a disastrous impact of the tsunami in 2004, India realized the need for Disaster Management Response Team and enacted the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • It establishes National Disaster Management Authorities function in coordination with other government departments like police, fire, finance, telecommunications etc.

Conclusion:

Disaster risk reduction has a pivotal role in supporting adaptation to climate change as well as sustainable development. Therefore, flood-prone regions of the country require a focused approach from both the Centre and state governments.

Living in denial: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Context

  • Economic deceleration is real. Acknowledging it is the first step to recovery

Reasons behind economic deceleration

  1. Freefall of rupee against dollar and other currencies
  2. Widening current account deficit (CAD)
  3. Soaring inflation
  4. Dampened GDP growth.
  5. Over-dependence on tertiary sector growth
  6. Various government policies

Step required for recovery

  1. Acknowledge the slowdown and spend on rural areas
  2. India needs to stop chasing the “mirage of a rating upgrade” and focus on spending more.(fiscal stimulus, SOP to exporters, etc)
  3. Cut interest rates, provide financing and stable business environment.
  4. Rationalising government policies(esp subsidies)
  5. Maintain Balance of payment
  6. Introducing reforms in various sector such as land reform, labour reform, service sector etc

Conclusion

There is a need to shift our focus from consumption to supply. It is high time we understand that being a consumer doesn’t count in the long run; it is being a producer that counts, and that is the key to becoming an economic super-power.

If safety is not to be derailed: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Context

  • Derailments on the tracks of Indian Railways have always been a big technical and management challenge.

What makes train travel so unsafe in India?

Derailment

  • Derailment seems to be the most common cause of train accidents. Reports of the Railway Ministry for 2015 and 2016 list a conflicting number of derailments in 2014.
  • The number of derailments that took place in 2015 is greater than those in 2014, according to the 2016 report

Rail fractures

  • Rail fractures are caused by extreme weather that causes tension on railway tracks.
  • What makes rail fractures even dangerous is the fact that they are not very apparent as even with ultrasonic detection
  • Rail fractures occurrence may increase during night time especially during winters when the temperature is low.

Corrosion

  • Corrosion is another reason that may lead to accidents. Tracks that are 1-2 year old are more prone to track accidents

Overcrowded train coaches

  • Coaches filled beyond capacity are also a hazard as an overloaded vehicle is severely susceptible to toppling over.
  • Some coaches have been made at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and are infamous for piling up on collision.
  • Stainless steel Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches are more efficient at shock absorption and can reduce incidents of a derailment.

Uttaranchal Express Derailment at Khatauli

  • Thirteen coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed at Khatauli, near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh due to the civil engineering department staff and officials.
  • The traffic load on the Indian Railways is ever increasing and the saturation level on its important routes is unduly high, leaving little cushion for maintenance.

In which direction should safety measures head?

  •  Large projects to relieve the pressure, like the construction of dedicated freight corridors, will take time

Departmentalism in railways (caused by “thinking in silos”) must be reduced through merger of Group ‘A’ Services either by

  • merger of all engineering services and civil services of the Indian Railways into one unified service, or
  • the merger of all engineering Group ‘A’ Services into one unified service and all civil Group ‘A’ Services into another unified service and giving up the Ministry of Railways cum Railway Board system
  • These recommendations, if accepted, will remove “professionalism” from the top management level of the Indian Railways

What are the Countermeasures that are to be implemented?

  • The railway ministry has already initiated measures like inducting modern coaches, creating a safety fund as well as incorporating new technology to not only plug accidents due to derailments, but also to reduce casualties.
  • The national transporter will invest Rs 15,000 crore in the current fiscal (year) to fix the snags on its network.
  • Railways has 1,22,911 vacancies in safety categories and a shortage of another 17,464 loco running staff.

Additional security

  • The Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, a special safety fund, was created in the 2017-18 budget with a corpus of Rs. 1 lakh crore over a period of five years for financing critical safety-related works.

Prelims Related News


U.S., Israel quit UNESCO:

Context

  • The United States (U.S) has announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), accusing it of “continuing anti-Israel bias.”

What is the major concern?

    • UNESCO is the first UN agency to have admitted Palestine as a full member in 2011. As required by law, the U.S. has stopped funding UNESCO since then. The U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. Until then, it will remain a full member.
    • The State Department of U.S said it would like to remain involved as a nonmember observer state. That will allow the United States to engage in debates and activities, though it will lose its right to vote on issues.

Israel has also decided to pull out of UNESCO.

Immediate impact

  • The most immediate impact is that the U.S. will halt the arrears it has run up since it stopped funding the organization in 2011 to protest UNESCO’s admission of Palestine as a full member.
  • By the end of this calendar year, the unpaid U.S. bill will amount to $550 million. With no sign that U.S. concerns would be addressed, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to pull out after Dec. 31, 2018, when the unpaid balance will top $600 million.

Controversy over UNESCO

  • UNESCO is best known for its World Heritage Program to protect cultural sites and traditions around the world.
  • In recent years, Israel has repeatedly complained about what it says is the body taking sides in disputes over cultural heritage sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.
  • Israel and UNESCO have a contentious relationship, and Israel recalled its ambassador to UNESCO in 2016, accusing it of ignoring Jewish views of the heritage of the region.

UNESCO

  • The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) was founded on 16 November 1945.
  • UNESCO’s messages are of increasing importance today, in a globalized world where interconnections and diversity must serve as opportunities to build peace in the minds of men and women.
  • UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. It strengthens the ties between nations and societies, and mobilizes the wider public so that each child and citizen:
  • has access to quality education; a basic human right and an indispensable prerequisite for sustainable development;
  • may grow and live in a cultural environment rich in diversity and dialogue, where heritage serves as a bridge between generations and peoples;
  • can fully benefit from scientific advances;
  • and can enjoy full freedom of expression; the basis of democracy, development and human dignity.
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