Important international organizations, groupings, and initiatives | Current Affairs Compilation for Prelims 2022 | Part 2

Dear Friends,

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 Important international organizations, groupings, and initiatives of September, October 2021, and April 2022 months.

To Read Other Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC Prelims 2022– Click here


Important international organizations, groupings, and initiatives


AUKUS Grouping

News

US administration announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. (AUKUS). As part of this, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines with help from the U.K. and the US within 18 months.

 Key features of AUKUS Security Alliance.

Under the AUKUS partnership, The UK and the US will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. The nuclear-powered submarines will be built in Adelaide, Australia. This is significant as the USA sharing the technology for nuclear submarines. This has happened only once in 70 years, when it shared the technology with the UK in 1958.

The submarines will not be nuclear-armed submarines. Instead, these are conventionally armed submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors.

Only a handful of countries possess nuclear-powered submarines. These include the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and India. With the AUKUS partnership, Australia will also join these elite countries. Further, Australia will also be the only country to have such submarines without having a civilian nuclear power industry.

Note: Australia is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) which bans it from acquiring or deploying nuclear weapons. So, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability under the partnership.

Focus on Indo-Pacific

The AUKUS security grouping will focus on advancing strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

Other multi-sectoral cooperation

The AUKUS partnership will also involve a new architecture of meetings and engagements between the three countries. Further, they also cooperate across emerging technologies such as applied AI, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities, etc.

Further, the partnership will work along with other partners in the region, such as the Quad and ASEAN.

Other key features of AUKUS Security Alliance

This trilateral grouping is security-focused. An official said that the AUKUS is not aimed [at] or about any one country, it’s about advancing the strategic interests of the AUKUS Countries and upholding the international rules-based order and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.


UK-India Green Growth Equity Fund

It was established with investment from India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Government of UK.

The fund invests in scalable operating companies and platforms across renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, e-mobility, resource conservation and associated value chains in India.

The UK-India Green Growth Equity Fund is based in Mumbai and EverSource is the fund manager


U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)

News

The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas has co-chaired a virtual Ministerial meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Energy to launch the revamped U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP).

About the U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)

Launched in: It was launched at the Leaders Summit on Climate held in April 2021.

The partnership is in accordance with the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership.

Pillars: It organizes inter-governmental engagement across five pillars of cooperation: (1) Power and Energy Efficiency; (2); Responsible Oil and Gas; (3) Renewable Energy; (4) Sustainable Growth and (5) Emerging Fuels.

Other Initiatives

Partnership to Advance Clean Energy(PACE): It was launched in 2009 by India and the United States to accelerate inclusive, low carbon growth by supporting research and deployment of clean energy technologies.

Hydrogen Task Force: It is a public-private initiative launched by India and the US to help scale up technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and fossil fuel sources and to bring down the cost of deployment for enhanced energy security and resilience.


India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

News

The ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue between India & Australia was held.

About ‘2+2 Dialogue’

‘2+2 Dialogue’ is a term adopted in foreign diplomacy that implies a dialogue between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries.

The goal of the 2+2 dialogue is to facilitate the highest-level dialogue on the bilateral, regional, and global issues between countries.

India holds such talks with the US, Japan and Australia.

About India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

India-Australia 2+2 dialogue is the outcome of a decision made at the India-Australia leaders virtual summit in 2020 to elevate bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

The focus of the recent India-Australia 2+2 Dialogue

The dialogue is aimed at further ramping up the overall defence and strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Topics Discussed: The recent developments in Afghanistan, maritime security in Indo-Pacific, cooperation in multilateral formats & other related topics are discussed.


International Energy Agency (IEA)

News

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has invited India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, to become its full-time member. Currently, India is an associate member of IEA.

If India accepts the proposal of IEA, then India needs to raise its strategic oil reserves to 90 days requirement. India’s current strategic oil reserves equal 9.5 days of its requirement.

About International Energy Agency

IEA was founded in 1974 by industrialised countries – within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – in response to the oil embargo.

Objective: To ensure reliable, affordable, and clean energy for its member countries and beyond.

Focus areas: It has four main areas of focus: a) Energy security b) Economic development c) Environmental awareness and d) Engagement worldwide.

Members: It has 30 member countries and eight association countries. India became an associate member in 2017.

Oil Stock: IEA member countries need to maintain total oil stock levels equivalent to at least 90 days of the previous year’s net imports.

Secretariat: Paris, France.

Reports: It releases the World Energy Outlook report annually.

Criteria for IEA Membership

A candidate country to the IEA must be a member country of the OECD. In addition, it must demonstrate several requirements. These are:

Firstly, Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply,

Secondly, a demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%,

Thirdly, Legislation and organisation to operate the Coordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis,

Fourthly, Legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request,

Lastly, measures are in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action.


Quadrilateral economic forum

News

India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have decided to launch a new quadrilateral economic forum.

About the new quadrilateral economic forum

The quadrilateral economic forum builds on the ongoing cooperation between the U.S., Israel and the UAE (Abraham Accords) to include India. The forum is described as an international forum for economic cooperation.

Aim: The aim of the new quadrilateral grouping is to establish an international forum for economic cooperation. The grouping will specifically look for the “possibilities for joint infrastructure projects” in transportation and technology.

Focus areas: The new quadrilateral grouping will “expand the economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, combating climate change, technology cooperation including Big Data, energy cooperation, and increasing maritime security.”

The Quad will also focus on global public health and ways to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

Future of the new Quad: Each country will appoint a senior professional to a joint working group. This joint working group will formulate options for cooperation in the focus areas identified by the new Quad.

Apart from that, the four ministers also decided to convene an in-person meeting in Dubai soon to discuss the further developments of the Quad.


Infrastructure for Resilient Island States(IRIS) Initiative

News

India along with Australia, the UK and small island developing states(SIDS) will be launching a new initiative named “IRIS (Infrastructure for Resilient Island States)” on the sidelines of the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK.

About the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States(IRIS) Initiative

The IRIS initiative is aimed at creating a coalition for putting in place infrastructure that can withstand disasters and lessen economic losses in island nations.

Under this initiative, Australia, India and the UK have committed an initial funding of $10 million. More countries including Japan are expected to contribute to the initiative.

About Small island developing states(SIDS)

Small Island Developing States(SIDS) are a distinct group of 38 UN Member States and 20 Non-UN Members/Associate Members of UN regional commissions that face unique social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities.

Reason for launching IRIS Initiative for the SIDS States

According to a World Bank report titled ‘Climate and Disaster Resilient Transport in Small Island Developing States’, SIDS countries are highly susceptible to economic losses due to disasters, with average annual losses ranging from 1% to 10% of the gross domestic product(GDP).

According to the UN Global Assessment Report (2017), SIDS countries account for two-thirds of the countries in the world that suffer the highest relative losses due to disasters. These countries also have the highest multi-hazard risks relative to the size of their capital stock.

Hence, that’s why the IRIS Initiative is being launched to support the planning process, build capacity as well as infrastructure in an inclusive way that meets the needs of SIDS countries.


Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue(IPRD)

News

The Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) 2021 is being held from 27th to 29th October 2021.

About Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue(IPRD)

Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) is the apex international annual conference of the Indian Navy. The dialogue was first conducted in 2018.

Aim:  To review both opportunities and challenges that arise within the Indo-Pacific.

The organiser of the dialogue: National Maritime Foundation is the navy’s knowledge partner and chief organiser of each edition of the dialogue.

The theme for 2021: “Evolution in Maritime Strategy during the 21st Century: Imperatives, Challenges, and, Way Ahead”.

About National Maritime Foundation(NMF)

NMF was established in 2005 as India’s first maritime think-tank for conducting independent and policy-relevant research on ‘matters maritime’.

It is an autonomous think-tank. But its intellectual and organisational development is supported by the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Navy. It is located in New Delhi.


Global Security Initiative

News

The Chinese President has proposed for the first time a Global Security Initiative at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022.

About the Global Security Initiative

Proposed by: Chinese President

Purpose: It is China’s initiative to make up for the global security deficit and guard world peace and tranquillity.

Focus Areas: The initiative will champion its commitment across six key areas:

– Vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and work together to maintain world peace and security;

– Respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and uphold non-interference in internal affairs.

– Abide by the principles of the UN Charter, reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation;

– Taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously and opposing the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security;

– To peacefully resolve differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation.

– To work together on regional disputes and global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and biosecurity.

Significance of the initiative: The initiative seeks to counter the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy and the Quad – the India, U.S., Australia, Japan grouping.


Trade and Technology Council

News

India and the European Union are set to hold an initial round of negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement(FTA) in June with the aim of concluding an FTA by late 2023 or early 2024.

Note: EU is the third-largest trading partner for India after the US and China.

India-EU Free Trade Agreement(FTA) Negotiations

India had initiated negotiations for an FTA with the EU in 2007, but the talks stalled in 2013 as both sides failed to reach an agreement on key issues including intellectual property rights, duties on automobiles and spirits, and the movement of professionals.

In May 2021, India and the EU decided to resume FTA negotiations. They are aiming to conclude an FTA by late 2023 or early 2024.

For this, they have also decided to establish the Trade and Technology Council.

About the Trade and Technology Council

Established by: India and the European Union

Purpose: To allow India and the EU to address challenges in trade, trusted technology and security and deepening cooperation in these fields.

The council will also provide the political steer and necessary structure to operationalise political decisions, coordinate technical work and report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies.

Significance: The decision to set up such a council will be the first for India with any of its partners and the second for the EU, following the first one with the US.


Trilateral Development Corporation(TDC) Fund

News

The Ministry of External Affairs has launched a platform called the Trilateral Development Corporation(TDC) Fund.

About the Trilateral Development Corporation(TDC) Fund

Launched by: Ministry of External Affairs

Aim: To provide an alternative to the Chinese development partnership model that has pushed parts of the developing world into a debt trap.

The fund would involve private sectors with state support for big-ticket investments in the Indo-Pacific region as well as other geographies.

India’s Global Innovation Partnership(GIP) launched with the UK will provide a template to use the TDC Fund for trilateral projects with other countries like Japan, Germany, France and the EU.

Moreover, India’s contribution to GIP will be channelised through the TDC Fund.


India-US 2+2 dialogue

News

The fourth ‘2+2’ dialogue between India and the United States was held in Washington, United States.

Key outcomes of the recent India-US 2+2 dialogue

Defence cooperation: India stressed the need for co-development and co-production of high-tech military systems. Both countries have decided to “revitalize” the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) which was launched in 2012 but has largely failed to deliver the goods till now. Further, India wants the DTTI to transform the “buyer-seller” relationship.

Two DTTI projects specifically identified during the dialogue were counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and an ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance) platform. These will add to the pact inked last year to jointly develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (ALUAVs).

New Space Situational Awareness (SSA) arrangement: The meeting finalised the signing of a new SSA arrangement and pledged to expand bilateral space cooperation. This will support greater information sharing and cooperation in space.

The two countries also decided to conduct their inaugural Defence Space Dialogue as well as AI Dialogue in 2022 to add to the existing Defence Cyber Dialogue.

Maritime collaborations: The US welcomed India’s decision to join the multilateral Combined Maritime Force (CMF) based in Bahrain as an associate partner. Both countries expressed their shared interest in the Indian Ocean Region and the wider Indo-Pacific. They highlighted the underwater domain awareness, which becomes important with Chinese submarines prowling around in the region.

Artificial Intelligence: India and the US have agreed to hold a dialogue on artificial intelligence to harness opportunities for joint innovation and cooperation in new domains.

Other collaborations:

– The two nations will further increase the “scope and complexity” of their military combat exercises, as well as “deepen cooperation” between their elite Special Forces.

– The dialogue agreed to expand the scope of reciprocal military logistics.

– The US has announced that it did not made a determination to apply CAATSA sanctions on India for the purchase of Russian arms.

On Russia-Ukraine Issue: The two countries urged an immediate cessation of hostilities, and unequivocally condemned civilian deaths. The joint statement underscored that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, respect for international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.


UN Human Rights Council(UNHRC)

News

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council(UNHRC).

Note: This is only the second time the UNGA has suspended a country from the 47-member UN Human Rights Council after its formation in 2006. In 2011, Libya was thrown out through a resolution adopted by UNGA through consensus.

About UNHRC

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the ‘United Nations’ system.

  • The UNHRC replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
  • The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 by a resolution.

Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Mandate:

-It is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

-It adresses situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

Membership: The Council is made of 47 Member States, elected by the General Assembly of the UN through direct and secret ballot.

The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.

Members of the Council serve for a period of 3 years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.

Human Rights Council
Image Source-UNHRC

Working: The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR). The commission also engages in the UN’s special procedures.

UN’s Special Procedures of Human Rights Council: These are independent human rights experts. They have the mandate to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.

Universal Periodic Review(UPR): The council also carries out the Universal Periodic Review of all UN member states. This allows civil society groups to bring accusations of human rights violations in member states to the attention of the UN.

Sessions: The Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least ten weeks.

If one third of the Member States requests so, the Council can hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.

Removal process of country from UNHRC

As per the rules, the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership.

To suspend a member, one needs a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.

Reason for Russia’s suspension

The resolution titled ‘Suspension of the rights of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council was first moved by the United States over Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine.

In the 193-member UNGA, 93 nations voted in favour of the resolution, while 24 were against it. Fifty-eight countries, including India, abstained from the process.

India chose to abstain from the vote, saying that any such decision must follow the “due process” of investigation first.


 

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