This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered all of the current affairs linked to International Resolutions, Conventions, legislations and Agreements from Nov. 2021 to March 2022. In the 2nd part, we will cover the rest of the current affairs of the period July 2021 to 31st April 2022.
List of Contents
- International Resolutions, Conventions, legislations and Agreements
- Nairobi Declaration
- U.N. draft resolution on climate change
- Minsk Agreements
- COMPETES Act, 2022
- Second phase of CPEC agreement
- BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA)
- Temporary Protection Directive (TPD), 2001
- Hague Convention and “Blue Shield” emblem
- Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)
- Geneva Conventions
- New Zealand Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill
- Resolution 2601
- Freedom of Air and Chicago Convention
- Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan and Delhi Declaration
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International Resolutions, Conventions, legislations and Agreements
News: The Nairobi Declaration was adopted by African nations in November 2021. It underlined the need to deliver commitments on the Programme of Action (PoA) for implementing the Sendai Framework in Africa.
About the Nairobi Declaration
The declaration was adopted at the Eighth Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that took place in Nairobi, Kenya.
The declaration included the action plans under the PoA, to implement Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030.
Nairobi declaration will contribute to the Global Platform for DRR scheduled to be held in May 2022, in Indonesia.
Note: Tunis declaration was adopted at the Africa Arab Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Tunis in 2018. Under it, 25 African countries have adopted DRR strategies and action plans aligned with the Sendai Framework.
About Eighth Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
Theme: Towards Disaster Risk-Informed Development for a Resilient Africa in a COVID-19 Transformed World
Organised by: United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
U.N. draft resolution on climate change
News: A Resolution to authorise the UN Security Council to deliberate on climate change-related issues was rejected after Russia vetoed it and India voted against it.
About the resolution
The resolution was sponsored by Ireland and Niger. The resolution sought to create a formal space in the UN Security Council for discussions on climate change and its implications on international security.
It has also called for the UN Secretary-General to submit a report on security aspects of climate change in the next two years and appoint a special envoy for climate security.
Further, it asked UN field missions to regularly report on climate change assessments in their areas of operation and take the help of climate experts in carrying out their routine functions.
What did India say regarding the resolution?
The attempt to discuss climate action and climate justice issues at the UNSC was motivated by a desire to evade responsibility in the appropriate forum.
The draft resolution, would undermine progress made at Glasgow, where the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference took place.
Also, the reason countries were attempting to bring climate talks to the Security Council was that decisions could be taken without consensus or the involvement of most developing countries.
Moreover, if the Security Council indeed takes over the responsibility on this issue, a few states will then have a free hand in deciding on all climate-related issues. This is clearly neither desirable nor acceptable.
Lastly, India stated that viewing conflicts through the prism of climate change was misleading and an oversimplification that could worsen conflicts rather than resolving them.
News: The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia have brought Minsk Agreements to limelight.
About Minsk Agreements
Source: The Economist
Minsk agreements were signed to stop the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine administration in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
There were total 2 Minsk Agreements signed:
It was signed by Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists in 2014. Its provisions included prisoner exchange, delivery of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. However, the agreement broke down with violations by both sides.
It was signed by Russia, Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of pro-Russian separatist regions in 2015. The agreement set out a series of military and political steps that remain unimplemented.
About Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest regional security organization.
Purpose: Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections.
Member States: It consists of 57 participating States from North America, Europe and Asia.
Secretariat: Vienna, Austria.
COMPETES Act, 2022
News: The United States has unveiled the ambitious America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act, 2022.
About the America COMPETES Act, 2022
Aim: a) To open up new vistas for talented individuals from across the world with a new start-up visa and b) To make the supply chains stronger and reinvigorate the innovation engine of the country’s economy to outcompete China and the rest of the world for decades to come.
Key provisions of the COMPETES Act, 2022?
Firstly, it allocated grants and loans to encourage semiconductor production in the US and to improve supply chain resilience and manufacturing.
Secondly, it proposes funding to address social and economic inequality, climate change and immigration. For example, it offers an exemption for STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) PhDs from the green card limit.
Thirdly, it has allocated USD 600 million a year to build manufacturing facilities to make the United States less dependent on solar components manufactured in Xinjiang, China.
Fourthly, it proposes a new category of visa called the “W” classification. This visa will be for non-immigrant entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in a start-up entity, essential employees of a start-up entity and their spouses and children.
What is the significance of the COMPETES Act for India?
This Act would create more opportunities in the US for Indian talent and skilled workers. Usually, Indians and Indian companies corner the lion’s share of H-1B work permits issued every year. With this new category, Indian professionals will likely have a better shot at opportunities.
Second phase of CPEC agreement
News: Pakistan has signed a new agreement with China to begin the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
CPEC is a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. It is part of OBOR (One Belt One Road) initiative of China.
Objective: To enhance connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by other infrastructure development projects.
CPEC plan: China will invest in industrial power stations, roads and railways from Kashgar in Xinjiang (China) to Gwadar port (Pakistan) in the 3000 km long belt. It also passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) where China is investing in a number of projects.
Purpose of the second phase of the CPEC
Aim: It is aimed at boosting Chinese investment in Pakistan, as well as transferring Chinese industrial capacity.
The agreement will also promote industrialisation and development of economic zones, and initiate, plan, execute, and monitor projects both in the public as well as the private sector.
BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA)
News: India, Bangladesh and Nepal have finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementing the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA).
Note: Bhutan has decided to continue to stay out of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA).
About BBIN MVA
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) had signed the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) in 2015 at Thimphu, Bhutan.
Aim: To provide seamless people-to-people contact and enhance economic interaction by facilitating cross border movement of people and goods.
As per the agreement, member countries would allow vehicles registered in the other countries to enter their territory under certain terms and conditions. Customs and tariffs will be decided by the respective countries and these would be finalized at bilateral and trilateral forums.
Assistance: Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been providing technical, advisory, and financial support to the BBIN MVA initiative as part of its assistance to the South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program.
Why has Bhutan decided to stay out of BBIN MVA?
Bhutan has not ratified the pact due to a fear that there will be environmental degradation and vehicular pollution if trucks from neighboring countries are given access to Bhutan
Note: Bhutan is the only country in the world that is carbon negative, which means it produces more oxygen than it consumes.
Temporary Protection Directive (TPD), 2001
News: Responding to refugee crisis due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU has made the unprecedented decision to activate the European Union’s Council Directive known as the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD). The war in Ukraine is the first time that the EU has invoked the TPD.
About the TPD
The European Commission describes TPD as an exceptional measure to provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from non-EU countries and those unable to return to their country of origin.
The directive applies when there is a risk that the standard asylum system is struggling to cope with demand stemming from a mass influx.
Obligations placed upon EU states while enforcing TPD
According to the European Commission, the TPD foresees harmonized rights for the beneficiaries of temporary protection which include:
- A residence permit for the duration of the protection (1-3 years).
- Appropriate information on temporary protection,
- Access to jobs, housing, social welfare, medical treatment and education for minors.
- Opportunities for families to reunite in some circumstances.
- Guarantees for access to the normal asylum procedure.
Need for TPD
Firstly, having proper standards will reduce the disparities between the policies of European Union (EU) countries on the treatment of potential refugees during mass influx.
Secondly, the standards also promote burden-sharing among EU countries receiving a large number of displaced persons in a short duration.
Hague Convention and “Blue Shield” emblem
News: UNESCO is in contact with Ukrainian authorities to mark cultural sites and monuments with the distinctive “Blue Shield” emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict to avoid deliberate or accidental damages.
About 1954 Hague Convention
The convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (also known as the Hague Convention) was adopted in 1954 under the auspices of UNESCO.
Aim: To protect cultural property such as monuments of architecture, art or history, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest, as well as scientific collections of any kind regardless of their origin or ownership.
Significance: It is the first and the most comprehensive multilateral treaty dedicated exclusively to the protection of cultural heritage in times of peace as well as during an armed conflict.
India is a party to this convention.
About Blue Shield
Blue Shield was founded in 1996. It is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit international organization which strives to protect heritage during armed conflicts and disasters across the world.
This includes all forms of cultural property including museums, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audiovisual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage.
The 1954 Hague Convention designates an emblem for a cultural property that should be protected, and for identification of those working to protect it. The Blue Shield organization took up the emblem of the Convention as a symbol of their protective work, set in a blue circular background.
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)
News: India has emphasized on following the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) at the UNSC meeting over Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The meeting came after a request from Russia who claimed that the US is involved in bioweapon manufacture in the war-torn country, something that the US has strongly dismissed.
About the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was negotiated by the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. It opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975.
Purpose: The convention effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons.
If a state possesses any agent, toxin, or delivery system for them, they have nine months from entry into force of the treaty to destroy their stockpiles, or divert them for peaceful use.
Membership: The Convention has reached almost universal membership, with 183 States Parties and four Signatory States. India is also a party to the convention.
Ten states have neither signed nor ratified the BTWC: Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Israel, Kiribati, Micronesia, Namibia, South Sudan, and Tuvalu.
Significance: It is the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Drawbacks of the Convention: There is no implementation body of the BTWC, allowing for blatant violations as seen in the past. There is a review conference every five years to review the convention’s implementation and establish confidence-building measures.
News: As the Russian-Ukraine Conflict gets intense, there is growing concern surrounding the issue of violations of human rights and Geneva Conventions.
About Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war.
The convention codifies widely accepted ethical and legal international standards for humanitarian treatment of those impacted by any ongoing war.
The focus of the Conventions is also on the treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war. They do not address the use of weapons of war, which are instead addressed by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which concern conventional weapons, and the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which concerns biological and chemical warfare.
Treaties under the Convention: The convention contains four treaties, formalized in 1949 and three additional protocols, the first two of which were formalized in 1977 and the third in 2005.
- The first Geneva Convention protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during the war.
- The second Geneva Convention protects wounded, sick and shipwrecked military personnel at sea during the war.
- The third Geneva Convention applies to prisoners of war.
- The fourth Geneva Convention affords protection to civilians, including in occupied territory.
Note: Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions cover situations of non-international armed conflicts. They include traditional civil wars, internal armed conflicts that spill over into other States, or internal conflicts in which a third State or a multinational force intervenes alongside the government.
Parties to the Convention
The Geneva Conventions have been ratified by 196 states, including all UN member states. The three Protocols have been ratified by 174, 169 and 79 states respectively.
Potential Prosecution under the Convention:
Under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is the ICC that has jurisdiction in respect of war crimes. War Crimes’ refers to grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions including wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments among others.
Note: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a humanitarian organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. State parties (signatories) to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and its Additional Protocols have given the ICRC a mandate to protect victims of international and internal armed conflicts.
News: New Zealand Parliament has passed the Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. With this, New Zealand has become the first country in the world to have a climate-related disclosure law in place.
Purpose of the Bill
The bill requires banks, insurers, firms and investment managers to report the impacts of climate change on their business.
The firms will
- Assess their own investments and also evaluate the companies they are lending money to in terms of their environmental impact.
- Disclose how they would manage climate-related risks and opportunities.
These disclosures will be based on standards from New Zealand’s independent accounting body, the External Reporting Board (XRB).
These disclosures will become mandatory from 2023.
About 200 of the largest financial firms in New Zealand, including banks with total assets of more than NZ$1 billion, large insurers and equity and debt issuers listed on the country’s stock exchange will have to make disclosures.
Several foreign firms that meet the NZ$1 billion thresholds will also come under the legislation.
News: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted a unique first-of-its-kind resolution called “Resolution 2601”.
About the Resolution 2601
Resolution 2601 calls for the protection of education in armed conflict. It also,
- Condemns attacks against schools, children and teachers.
- Urges parties to armed conflict to immediately stop such violence and to safeguard the right to education.
- Urges the Member States to create domestic legal frameworks that should include comprehensive measures to prevent attacks and protect schools, children, teachers as well as related civilians during armed conflict and in post-conflict phases.
Need for Resolution 2601
As per Education under Attack Report 2020, more than 22,000 students, teachers, and academics were injured, killed or harmed in attacks on education institutions over the past five years during armed conflict or in areas experiencing political instability.
Freedom of Air and Chicago Convention
News: India launched a direct flight between Srinagar and Sharjah (UAE). The flight was to operate through Pakistani airspace. However, the flight was denied permission to enter Pakistan and it had to take a longer route to reach the destination. Many experts have criticised Pakistan for violating the first freedom of the air under Chicago convention.
About Freedom of Air
The freedom of air means a country grants airlines of a particular country the privilege to use and/or land in another country’s airspace. The rule emanates from the Chicago Convention.
About the Chicago Convention
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, which is more commonly known as the ‘Chicago Convention’ was drafted in 1944.
The convention established the core principles permitting international transport by air. It also led to the creation of the specialized agency which has overseen the convention ever since – the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The convention provides nine freedoms of air, but only the first five freedoms have been officially recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
About the First five Freedom of Air
It includes the rights in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one State to another State or States to –
- Fly across its territory without landing.
- Land in its territory for non-traffic purposes.
- Put down, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from the home State of the carrier.
- Take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic destined for the home State of the carrier.
- Put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third State.
Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan and Delhi Declaration
News: India has hosted the ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ to address the security concerns arising due to new developments in Afghanistan.
The dialogue was chaired by India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) and attended by the NSA of 7 countries including Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
During the dialogue, the countries adopted the Delhi Declaration.
Key provisions of the Delhi Declaration
1) Underlined the need for forming an open and truly inclusive government in Afghanistan that represents the will and representation of all sections of Afghanistan.
2) Reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasising the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs.
3) Stressed that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist acts.
4) Expressed concern over the deteriorating socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and underlined the need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.