International Organizations in news

To read about various United Nations Organisations: Click here
  • Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium on Sri Lankan debt

    Source: The post is based on the articleParis Club proposes 10-year moratorium on Sri Lankan debtpublished in AIR on 5th December 2022

    What is the News?

    The Paris Club has proposed a 10-year moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and another 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the Sri Lankan debt crisis. 

    What is the Paris Club?

    The Paris Club is an informal group of creditor nations whose objective is to find workable solutions to payment problems faced by debtor nations. 

    Members: The club has 22 permanent members including most of the western European and Scandinavian nations, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

    – Note: India is not a member of the club

    Origin: The origin of the club is traced to a meeting that happened in Paris between officials from Argentina, which had trouble paying back its debt with a group of lenders in 1956.

  • Just Energy Transition Partnership(JETP): India-G7 JETP stuck over coal, Centre’s insistence on own transition plan

    Source: The post is based on the article “India-G7 JETP stuck over coal, Centre’s insistence on own transition plan” published in Business Standard on 5th December 2022

    What is the News?

    Global efforts to bring India on board the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with G7 nations have failed to move forward.

    What is the Just Energy Transition Partnership(JETP)?

    The G7 countries had decided to launch a Just Energy Transition Partnership(JTEP) with India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Senegal this year. 

    This partnership is aimed at helping large developing economies to move away from coal in their electricity systems and achieve the Paris climate goals. 

    Germany and the US are the two G7 nations that are co-leading the negotiations with India to join JETP.

    Have any developing countries signed JETP with G7?

    The JETP initiative is modelled after the South Africa JETP launched at the COP26 in Glasgow with the support of the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), France, Germany, and the European Union (EU).

    South Africa has been promised to finance worth $8.5 billion in the first phase through mechanisms such as grants, loans and investments to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals.

    At the 27th G20 summit, Indonesia also announced its JETP with G7 nations co-led by Japan and the US for $20 billion. The Indonesian JETP is primarily focused on the phase-out of coal from the economy.

    Why has India not signed the JETP with G7?

    Firstly, India has refused to put ‘coal phase-out’ on the negotiation table and wants to design its own “transition plan”. 

    Secondly, talks on JETP have also stalled over differences in approaches on coal. US wants to include decommissioning of assets aka coal phase-out as part of the discussion. However, India is pushing for climate funds for renewable energy, technology transfer and green jobs.

  • China-Indian Ocean Region Forum: Explained | China’s moves in the Indian Ocean

    Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | China’s moves in the Indian Oceanpublished in The Hindu on 5th December 2022

    What is the News?

    China has convened the first “China-Indian Ocean Region Forum” in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.

    What is the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum?

    Organized by: China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA)

    Theme: Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy.

    Participating countries: The forum was attended by “high-level representatives” and “senior officials” from 19 countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Australia.

    Note: Australia and Maldives released statements stating that they did not participate officially.

    Outcome of the forum: The forum issued a “Joint Press Statement” that noted China’s proposal to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region.

    What are China’s plans for the IOR?

    The China-Indian Ocean Region Forum has underlined China’s stepped-up interest in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) where it is already a major trading partner for most countries and where lie sea routes vital to China’s economic interests. 

    The forum also reflects the Chinese view that it has a clear stake in the region and that more such initiatives are likely. 

    For instance, China has already set up its first-ever overseas military facility in Djibouti near the Horn of Africa. Chinese military ships, tracking vessels, and submarines have been visiting ports in the IOR with greater frequency. 

    The Chinese Navy has a long-term plan to deploy six aircraft carriers to secure China’s maritime interests, and two of them will be based in the Indian Ocean Region.

    How does India view the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum?

    India has viewed China’s recent moves in the region suspiciously including the recent visit of a Chinese military tracking vessel, the Yuan Wang 5 to Sri Lanka. 

    Moreover, India sees the Indian Ocean Rim Association(IORA) as an already established platform for the region which has 23 members including Australia and Maldives with 10 dialogue partners which include China, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.

  • Ambition on Melting Ice(AMI) Group: COP27: 18 countries join group on cryosphere loss, see it as major contributor to sea-level rise

    Source: The post is based on the article “COP27: 18 countries join group on cryosphere loss, see it as major contributor to sea-level rise” published in Down To Earth on 26th November.

    What is the News?

    At COP 27, a broad coalition of 18 governments — led by the two polar and mountain nations of Chile and Iceland — joined together to create a new high-level group ‘Ambition on Melting Ice(AMI) on Sea-level Rise and Mountain Water Resources’.

    What is the purpose of the Ambition on Melting Ice(AMI) Group?

    Aim: To ensure impacts of cryosphere loss are understood by political leaders and the public, and not only within the mountain and polar regions but throughout the planet.

    Founding Members of the Group: Chile, Iceland, Peru, Czech Republic, Nepal, Finland, Senegal, Kyrgyz Republic, Samoa, Georgia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Monaco, Vanuatu, Sweden, Tanzania, Liberia, Norway and Mexico.

    What is the declaration issued by this group?

    Climate change has already caused dramatic changes in the global cryosphere, and Earth’s snow and ice regions.

    Lives and livelihoods are threatened by, and some are already lost from, these changes. Indigenous peoples in both the Arctic and mountain regions have been among the earliest affected.

    The IPCC Sixth Assessment Cycle reports including the Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, conclude that such changes in the cryosphere will worsen with each additional increment of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

    These consequences will occur both within and far beyond those in polar and mountain regions.

    Hence, protecting the cryosphere through vigorous climate action is not a matter for mountain and polar nations alone. It is a matter of urgent global concern because the greatest impacts on human communities lie well outside these regions.

    Suggestion given by this group: Rapid and emergency-scale decreases in global CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, across all sectors, to keep alive the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, is the world’s best option to slow progressive cryosphere loss and the resulting widespread global catastrophes. 

    What is Cryosphere?

    The term cryosphere derives from the Greek word kryo for cold and encompasses all the parts of the Earth system where water is in solid form, including ice sheets, ice shelves, glaciers, snow cover, permafrost (frozen ground), sea ice, and river and lake ice. 

    The cryosphere exerts an important influence on Earth’s climate, owing to its high surface reflectivity (albedo). This property gives it the ability to reflect a large fraction of solar radiation back into space and influences how much solar energy is absorbed by land and oceans. 

    Impact of Climate Change on Cryosphere: As the climate changes, the cryosphere changes with it, and through feedback processes, these changes have an influence on the climate.

    For example, the increased melting of snow and ice caused by a warming planet enables more solar energy to be absorbed by land or water, which in turn leads to more warming. 

  • India wins the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Vice Presidency and Strategic Management Board (SMB) Chair for the 2023-25 term

    Source: The post is based on the articleIndia wins the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Vice Presidency and Strategic Management Board (SMB) Chair for the 2023-25 termpublished in PIB on 25th November.

    What is the News?

    India wins the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Vice Presidency and Strategic Management Board (SMB) Chair for the 2023-25 term.

    What is the International Electrotechnical Commission(IEC)?

    Founded in: 1906

    Purpose: It is the world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These are known collectively as “electrotechnology”.

    Type: It is a global, not-for-profit membership organization that brings together 173 countries and coordinates the work of 20,000 experts globally.

    Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

    Note: Standardization Management Board(SMB) is an apex governance body of IEC responsible for technical policy matters.

  • Global Shield Against Climate Risks: COP27: Climate vulnerable countries, G7 launch plan for quick loss and damage funding

    Source: The post is based on the article “COP27: Climate vulnerable countries, G7 launch plan for quick loss and damage funding” published in Down To Earth on 17th November 2022.

    What is the News?

    The Global Shield Against Climate Risks has been launched at COP27 in Egypt.

    What is Global Shield Against Climate Risks?

    Launched by: It is a joint initiative of G7 and V20 

    Note: Vulnerable Twenty(V20) is a dedicated cooperation initiative of countries systemically vulnerable to climate change. It was established in 2015 in Lima, Peru.

    Purpose: The initiative will provide pre-arranged financial support designed to be quickly deployed during climate disasters.

    – The initiative is envisioned as a social protection and insurance-based finance mechanism for loss and damage outside the UNFCCC process.

    Funding: World Bank Group has announced a Global Shield Financing Facility to support the Global Shield Against Climate Risks.

    Significance: The Global Shield is touted to expand financial protection instruments for governments, communities, businesses and households.

    – Such instruments can lessen the impact of disasters by making vulnerable economies resilient, safeguarding sustainable development and protecting lives and livelihoods.

  • Nine countries join alliance to boost offshore windpower

    Source: The post is based on the article “Nine countries join alliance to boost offshore windpower” published in Economic Times on 10th November 2022.

    What is the News?

    Nine countries including Britain, Germany, the United States and Japan have joined the Global Offshore Wind Alliance(GOWA).

    What is Global Offshore Wind Alliance(GOWA)?

    Global Offshore Wind Alliance(GOWA) was set up by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Denmark and the Global Wind Energy Council.

    Purpose: The alliance brings together governments, the private sector, international organizations and other stakeholders to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind power.

    Target: To contribute to achieving a total global offshore wind capacity of a minimum of 380 GW by 2030.

    What is Offshore wind energy?

    Offshore wind energy refers to the deployment of wind farms inside the water bodies. They utilize the sea winds to generate electricity. These wind farms either use fixed-foundation turbines or floating wind turbines. 

    A fixed-foundation turbine is built in shallow water, whereas a floating wind turbine is built in deeper waters where its foundation is anchored in the seabed. Floating wind farms are still in their infancy.

    Offshore wind farms must be at least 200 nautical miles from the shore and 50 feet deep in the ocean. 

    Offshore wind turbines produce electricity which is returned to shore through cables buried in the ocean floor. The coastal load centres distribute this electricity based on priority.

    What are the advantages and challenges of Offshore wind energy?

    Click Here to read

  • What is the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, which India joined at COP27?

    Source: The post is based on the article “What is the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, which India joined at COP27?” published in Indian Express on 11th November 2022.

    What is the News?

    At the 27th Session of Conference of Parties(COP27), Mangrove Alliance for Climate(MAC) was launched with India as a partner.

    What is the Mangrove Alliance for Climate(MAC)?

    Led by: United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Indonesia

    Aim: To educate and spread awareness worldwide on the role of mangroves in curbing global warming and its potential as a solution for climate change.

    Members: United Arab Emirates(UAE), Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan and Spain.

    Working: The alliance works on a voluntary basis which means that there are no real checks and balances to hold members accountable. Instead, the parties will decide their own commitments and deadlines regarding the planting and restoring mangroves. 

    – The members will also share expertise and support each other in researching, managing and protecting coastal areas.

    What is the current state of mangroves?

    South Asia houses some of the most extensive areas of mangroves globally, while Indonesia hosts one-fifth of the overall amount.

    India holds around 3% of South Asia’s mangrove population. Besides the Sundarbans in West Bengal, the Andamans region, the Kachchh and Jamnagar areas in Gujarat too have substantial mangrove cover.

    However, infrastructure projects — industrial expansion and building of roads and railways, and natural processes — shifting coastlines, coastal erosion and storms, have resulted in a significant decrease in mangrove habitats.

    According to the Global Mangrove Alliance 2022 report, between 2010 and 2020, around 600 sq km of mangroves were lost of which more than 62% was due to direct human impacts.

  • Union Minister for Environment Forest and Climate Change speaks at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit 2022 at COP 27 Egypt

    Source: The post is based on the article Union Minister for Environment Forest and Climate Change speaks at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit 2022 at COP 27 Egypt published in PIB on 7th November 2022. 

    What is the News?

    The Union Minister for Environment Forest and Climate Change has addressed the Middle East Green Initiative Summit 2022 on the sidelines of COP 27.

    What is the Middle East Green Initiative(MGI) Summit?

    The Middle East Green Initiative(MGI) summit is a Saudi Arabia-led initiative to drive unified climate action. 

    Aim: To provide an ambitious and clearly defined roadmap for regional climate action.

    Objectives: To ​​plant 50 billion trees across the Middle East region and reduce carbon emissions by more than 10%.

    The inaugural MGI Summit was hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2021.

    The 2022 summit is being hosted on the sidelines of COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

  • Goa hosts Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation(CANSO) Asia Pacific Conference

    Source: The post is based on the articleGoa hosts Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation(CANSO) Asia Pacific Conferencepublished in PIB on 2nd November 2022.

    What is the News?

    Goa is hosting the three day Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation(CANSO) Conference. The theme of the conference is “Think Global, Collaborate Regional, Accomplish Local”.

    What is the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation(CANSO)?

    Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation(CANSO) was founded in 1996. It is a representative body of companies that provide air traffic control. 

    It represents the interests of Air Navigation Service Providers(ANSPs). 

    CANSO members are responsible for supporting over 85% of world air traffic and through its workgroups, members share information and develop new policies, with the aim of improving air navigation services on the ground and in the air. 

    CANSO also represents its members’ views in regulatory and industry forums, including at the International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) where it has official Observer status.

    Headquarters: Amsterdam Airport, Netherlands.

  • Suspension of Black Sea Grain initiative expected to further exacerbate food security, fuel, fertilizer supply challenges: India

    Source: The post is based on the article “Suspension of Black Sea Grain initiative expected to further exacerbate food security, fuel, fertilizer supply challenges: India” published in Indian Express on 1st November 2022.

    What is the News?

    India has said the suspension of the Black Sea Grain initiative is expected to further exacerbate food security, fuel and fertilizer supply challenges faced by the world, particularly in the global South.

    What is the Black Sea Grain Initiative?

    Ukraine is among the largest exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, globally. Ukraine normally supplies around 45 million tonnes of grain to the global market every year.

    Countries in West Asia and Africa such as Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen depend more on Russian and Ukrainian exports. They tend to buy more during the winter to supplement their own harvests, which are largely consumed by the end of the year

    But following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mountains of grains built up in silos, with ships unable to secure safe passage to and from Ukrainian ports, and land routes unable to compensate. This contributed to a jump in the price of staple foods around the world. 

    To overcome this, in July 2022 the UN, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine agreed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

    What is the significance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative?

    The initiative alone cannot address global hunger; it can only avert the chances of the global food crisis spiralling further.

    The deal allowed exports from Ukraine of grain, other foodstuffs, and fertilizer, including ammonia, to resume through a safe maritime humanitarian corridor from three key Ukrainian ports to the rest of the world. 

    As per the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, approximately 10.1 million tonnes of grains have been shipped since the initiative commenced. The deal has also been credited for having made a “huge difference” to the global cost of living crisis.

    To implement the deal, a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) was established in Istanbul, comprising senior representatives from the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations.

    What has happened to the Black Sea Grain Initiative now?

    Russia has announced it was withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative for an indefinite period after it accused Ukraine of a “massive” drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in Crimea.

    This is expected to further exacerbate the food security, fuel and fertilizer supply challenges faced by the world.

  • In a first, UNSC’s Counter Terrorism Committee to meet in India this week

    Source: The post is based on the article “In a first, UNSC’s Counter Terrorism Committee to meet in India this week” published in Indian Express on 27th October 2022

    What is the News?

    India is hosting a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee(CTC).

    What is Counter-Terrorism Committee(CTC)?

    The Counter-Terrorism Committee(CTC) was established by the UN Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), which was adopted unanimously on 28th September 2001 in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.

    Mandate: The Committee comprising all 15 Security Council members were tasked with monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001) which requested countries to implement a number of measures intended to enhance their legal and institutional ability to counterterrorist activities at home, in their regions and around the world.

    – The resolution also calls on States to become parties, as soon as possible, to the relevant international counter-terrorism legal instruments. 

    Chaired by: The Permanent Representative of India to the UN currently serves as the Chair of the CTC for 2022.

    What is the purpose of the UNSC Counter Terrorism Committee(CTC) meeting in India?

    UNSC Counter Terrorism Committee(CTC) will discuss the overarching theme of ‘Countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes’. 

    The panel will also discuss terror financing through crypto-currency and the use of drones in new-age terrorism.

    This will be the first such meeting of the UNSC-CTC in India since its establishment in 2001.

  • CICA: At Kazakhstan meeting, India terms Pakistan epicentre of terrorism

    Source: The post is based on the article “At Kazakhstan meeting, India terms Pakistan epicentre of terrorism” published in The Hindu on 14th October 2022.

    What is the News?

    Minister of State for External Affairs has recently rejected Pakistan’s statement on the Kashmir issue at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Astana.

    What is the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)?

    It is a multinational forum for strengthening cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.

    Founded by: Kazakhstan’s First President in 1992.

    First summit: held in 2002.

    Location of CICA Secretariat: Almaty (Kazakhstan).

    Meetings and Summits: The CICA Summit is convened every four years in order to conduct consultations, review the progress of, and set priorities for CICA activities.
    The Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is required to be held every two years.

    Members: To be a member of CICA, a state must have at least a part of its territory in Asia. So far the CICA has 27 member countries, 9 observer states, and 5 international organizations.

    Participation of India: India is one of the founding members of CICA.

  • The Interpol General Assembly meeting in Delhi

    Source: The post is based on the article “The Interpol General Assembly meeting in Delhi” published in The Hindu on 14th October 2022.

    What is the News?

    The General Assembly of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) is meeting in Delhi for four days. This is the second time since 1997 the 195-member-strong body is holding such a large conference in India.

    What is the Interpol?

    Set up in: 1923

    Interpol is a secure information-sharing platform that facilitates criminal investigation of police forces across the globe through the collection and dissemination of information received from various police forces.

    It keeps track of the movements of criminals and those under the police radar in various regions and tips off police forces which had either sought the Interpol’s assistance or which in its opinion will benefit from the particulars available with it.

    Read here: Interpol
    How is Interpol organised?

    Head: President. He is elected by the General Assembly. He comes from one of the member nations and holds office for four years.

    Day-to-day activities: These are overseen by a full-time Secretary General elected by the General Assembly, who holds office for five years.

    The General Assembly lays down the policy for execution by its Secretariat which has several specialised directorates for cybercrime, terrorism, drug trafficking, financial crime, environmental crime, human trafficking, etc.

    What is the Red notice?

    It is a structured communication issued by Interpol to all member nations notifying the name(s) of persons against whom an arrest warrant is pending in a particular country.

    The notice issued requests all member nations that if the named individual(s) is located in their country immediate communication should be sent to the nation that wants him in connection with a criminal investigation.

    What are Interpol’s future challenges?

    The rising spectre of transnational, cyber and organised crime requires a globally coordinated law enforcement response. Interpol has a legacy of trust and reliability.

    So Interpol needs to acquire powers of sanction against a country which refuses to cooperate in implementing a Red notice.

  • PM addresses United Nations World Geospatial International Congress

    Source: The post is based on the following articles

    “PM addresses United Nations World Geospatial International Congress” published in the PIB on 11th October 2022.

    “India’s geospatial economy is expected to cross Rs 63,000 crore by 2025 at a growth rate of 12.8% and to provide employment to more than 10 lakh people” published in the PIB on 11th October 2022.

    What is the News?

    The Second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UN-WGIC) 2022 was recently held in Hyderabad.

    About the Second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UN-WGIC)

    Aim: To promote a broad dialogue on global geospatial information management with all relevant governments, non-governmental organisations, academia, and the private sector.

    Theme: ‘Geo-Enabling the Global Village: No one should be left behind’

    Hosted by: Ministry of science and technology.

    Must Read: Geospatial Sector in India – Explained, pointwise
    About United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC)

    Objective: Enhancing international collaboration among the Member States and relevant stakeholders in Geospatial information management and capacities.

    It is conducted every four years. The first UNWGIC was organized by China in October 2018.

    Read more: DST launches Geospatial Self Certification Portal
    What is the status of India’s geospatial economy?

    India’s geospatial economy is expected to cross Rs 63,000 crore by 2025 at a growth rate of 12.8% and to provide employment to more than 10 lakh people.

    More than 250 Geospatial start-ups in India working across a range of domains like waste resource management, forestry, urban planning and mapping of roads to demonstrate the applications of Geospatial Technology.

    Geospatial Science and Technology and trained manpower will help develop an international GIS services market for the Indian geospatial industry.

    Read more: Challenges and opportunities of geospatial sector in the country?
  • G4 countries highlight ‘urgent need’ for reform in the U.N. Security Council

    Source: The post is based on the article “G4 countries highlight ‘urgent need’ for reform in the U.N. Security Council” published in The Hindu on 24th September 2022.

    What is the News?

    India’s External Affairs Minister met with his counterparts from Germany, Brazil and Japan under The Group of Four(G4) banner.

    What is the Group of Four(G4)?

    Group of Four(G4) was formed in 2005.

    The group is primarily focused on U.N Security Council (UNSC) reform and permanent membership of the body for G4 members among others. 

    Members of G4: India, Germany, Brazil and Japan.

    What is the Uniting for Consensus(UFC) group?

    The Uniting for Consensus(UFC) group nicknamed the Coffee Club is an informal club that developed at the UN in the 1990s.

    The group developed in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council.

    Under the leadership of Italy, the group aims to counter the bids for permanent seats proposed by G4 nations and is calling for a consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council.

    Some of the members of the group include – Italy, Spain, Malta, San Marino, Pakistan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia & Turkey. 

  • AIBD Unanimously extends India’s Presidency for one more year

    Source: The post is based on the articleAIBD Unanimously extends India’s Presidency for one more yearpublished in PIB on 20th September 2022.

    What is the News?

    The 47th Asia-pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development (AIBD) Annual Gathering meeting was held in New Delhi.

    At this meeting, the member countries have decided to extend India’s Presidency of the AIBD for one more year. 

    What is the Asia-pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development(AIBD)?

    Established in: 1977 under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO). 

    Purpose: It is a unique regional inter-governmental organization servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific(UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development.

    Mandate: To achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.

    Members: AIBD currently has 26 countries as full members represented by 43 organizations, and 52 affiliate members. 

    Secretariat: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

  • Explained | Will the future of the Commonwealth change?

    Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | Will the future of the Commonwealth change?” published in The Hindu on 20th September 2022.

    What is the News?

    The death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom marks not only the end of an era for the British monarchy but also a turning point for the 14 Commonwealth realms of which she was the Head of State.

    What is the Commonwealth?

    The Commonwealth of Nations is a group of 56 member countries, the vast majority of which are former British colonies. It was established by the London Declaration in 1949.

    The member countries are mostly from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific. Three European nations are part of the Commonwealth: Cyprus, Malta and UK.

    The developed nations of the Commonwealth are Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. India is also part of the Commonwealth.

    Republics and Realms: The Commonwealth consists of both republics and realms. The British monarch is the Head of State for the realms whereas the republics are ruled by elected governments except in the case of five countries — Brunei Darussalam, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malaysia and Tonga — each a self-governed monarchy. 

    What is the relevance of the Commonwealth in today’s world?

    Although the Commonwealth may seem like an outdated forum after the death of the queen, yet it retains a suitable relevance which has sustained it over time even after the decolonization of the British Empire.

    In this regard, Queen Elizabeth played a critical role in championing the organization and maintaining the group’s relevance.

    Has any country left the commonwealth?

    In the 1970s, a host of countries chose to leave the Commonwealth realm including Dominica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, effectively removing the Queen as their head of state. 

    In 2021, Barbados left the realm arguing that the time has come fully to leave our colonial past behind.

    Which countries are moving towards ending formal ties with monarchs?

    Australia, New Zealand, and the Bahamas are likely to remove King Charles from the role of official Head of State and become republics.

    Governments in five other Caribbean nations — Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica and Saint Kitts and Nevis — have signalled their intention to act similarly.

    Thus, it is not beyond imagination that following the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Commonwealth realms might fade into being a relic of the past, and nations that suffered a history of colonialism — along with its attendant violence and resource extraction — will move forward to establish themselves as republics.

  • Green Fins Hub: UNEP launches new worldwide digital platform to encourage sustainable marine tourism

    Source: The post is based on the article “UNEP launches new worldwide digital platform to encourage sustainable marine tourism” published in Down To Earth on 16th September 2022.

    What is the News?

    The United Nations Environmental Programme(UNEP), along with UK-based charity Reef-World Foundation has launched the Green Fins Hub.

    What is Green Fins Hub?

    The Green Fins Hub is the first-ever global marine tourism industry platform.

    Purpose: The hub offers enhanced and global membership for participating dive and snorkel operators to conserve the marine environment.

    Features: The platform will help diving and snorkelling operators worldwide to make simple, cost-efficient changes to their daily practices by utilizing tried and tested solutions.

    – It would also help them keep track of their annual improvements and communicate with their communities and customers.

    Significance: Coral reefs are home to at least 25% of marine life, are the mecca for marine-related tourism contributing up to 40% or more of the gross domestic product in some island nations. 

    – However, they are a most vulnerable ecosystem, especially to climate change with the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5 or 20C being existential for reefs.

    – Hence, increasing accessibility of best practice, knowledge and citizen science through the Green Fins Hub could be a game changer in ensuring a future for coral reefs and other fragile marine ecosystems.

    What are Green Fins?

    Green Fins is a proven conservation management approach – implemented internationally by The Reef-World Foundation and the UN Environment Programme – which leads to a measurable reduction in the negative environmental impacts associated with marine tourism. 

    Aim: To protect coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines promoting sustainable diving and snorkelling. 

    – To provide the only internationally recognised environmental standards for marine tourism and its robust assessment system measures compliance.

  • Union Minister takes part in the first in-person Ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum in Los Angeles

    Source: The post is based on the article “Union Minister takes part in the first in-person Ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum in Los Angeles” published in PIB on 10th September 2022.

    What is the News?

    The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry attended the first in-person Ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF).

    What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF)?

    IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region in May 2022 in Tokyo, Japan.

    Aim: To strengthen economic partnership among participating countries with the objective of enhancing resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness and competitiveness in the region.

    Members: The 14 members of the IPEF are — Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the US.

    Significance: IPEF would work to ensure that the Indo-Pacific Region would remain secure and open for business.

  • IRENA and Industry Leaders Launch the Alliance for Industry Decarbonization

    Source: The post is based on the article IRENA and Industry Leaders Launch the Alliance for Industry Decarbonizationpublished in IRENA on 1st September 2022.

    What is the News?

    The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)and 13 companies across all industry sectors have launched the Global Alliance for Industry Decarbonization.

    What is the Global Alliance for Industry Decarbonization?

    Aim: To accelerate net-zero ambitions and decarbonisation of industrial value chains in pursuit of the 2015 Paris Agreement climate goals.

    Declaration: It was formed under the Bali Declaration adopted during IRENA’s Investment Forum on Energy Transitions held in Bali, Indonesia.

    Working: The alliance is intended to provide a platform for the industry to exchange and collaborate to contribute towards the achievement of countries’ net zero goals. It will strengthen dialogue and coordinate action by industrial stakeholders from across the public and private sectors.

    Founding members: It includes Siemens Energy Enel Green Power, TAQA Arabia, JSW (India), Tata Steel (India), Sable Chemicals, Repsol, Equinor among others.

    First meeting: It is planned to take place at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022.

    Significance of the alliance: Around 25% of global GDP is produced by the industrial sector, but it also emits around 28% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

    The industrial sector is also the second-largest emitter. Hence, this alliance was launched as it will help the Industrial Sector in rapid decarbonisation.

  • PM virtually addresses Plenary Session of 7th Eastern Economic Forum

    Source: The post is based on the articlePM virtually addresses Plenary Session of 7th Eastern Economic Forum” published in AIR on 7th September 2022

    What is the News?

    The Prime Minister of India has virtually addressed the Plenary Session of the 7th Eastern Economic Forum.

    What are the key highlights from the PM’s address at the 7th Eastern Economic Forum?

    India has been emphasizing on the need to adopt the path of diplomacy and dialogue since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, and it supports all peaceful efforts to end the conflict.

    India has made significant investments in the Russian Far East in the fields of pharma and diamond.

    India is also keen to strengthen its partnership with Russia on Arctic subjects and there is immense scope for cooperation in the field of energy as well.

    This month marks 30 years since the establishment of the Consulate of India in Vladivostok (Russia). India was the first country to open a consulate in this city. 

    What is Eastern Economic Forum(EEF)?

    EEF is an international platform for establishing and strengthening ties within the Russian and global investment communities.

    The objective is to support the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

    It was established by the Decree of the Russian President in 2015. In accordance with the Decree, the meeting of the Forum takes place each year in Vladivostok, Russia.

  • Supply Chain Ministerial Forum: India adopts joint statement on cooperation on global supply chains

    Source: The post is based on the article “India adopts joint statement on cooperation on global supply chains” published in Economic Times on 22nd July 2022.

    What is the News?

    The US State Department released a Joint Statement of the 2022 Supply Chain Ministerial Forum, focusing on the global challenge which includes – the COVID-19 pandemic, wars and conflicts and climate change.

    What is the Supply Chain Ministerial Forum?

    Hosted by: United States

    Aim: To advance work to reduce and end near-term supply chain disruptions and collaborate to build supply chain resiliency to avoid future disruptions.

    Partner Countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

    What is the statement issued by the Supply Chain Ministerial Forum?

    The shocks to global supply chains came from pandemics, wars and conflicts, extreme climate impacts and natural disasters.

    To address these disruptions, the world needs to further strengthen supply chains, end near-term disruptions and build long-term resilience.

    For this, all the partner countries aim to follow various global supply chain principles including transparency, diversification, security and sustainability.

  • Explained: What are rare earth elements, and why is India keen to join a global alliance to ensure their supply?

    Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are rare earth elements, and why is India keen to join a global alliance to ensure their supply?” published in Indian Express on 4th August 2022.

    What is the News?

    India is working through its diplomatic channels to fetch an entry into the Mineral Security Partnership.

    What is a Mineral Security Partnership(MSP)?

    It is a  US-led partnership to secure supply chains of critical minerals, aimed at reducing dependency on China.

    Aim: To catalyze investment from governments and the private sector to develop strategic opportunities.

    Members: US, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the European Commission.

    Significance of the alliance: The MSP will focus on the supply chains of minerals such as Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium, and also the 17 ‘rare earth’ minerals. 

    – The alliance is also seen as primarily focused on evolving as an alternative to China, which has created processing infrastructure in rare earth minerals and has acquired mines in Africa for elements such as Cobalt.

    Why is India not part of MSP?

    According to experts, the reason India would not have found a place in the MSP grouping is because India does not bring any expertise to the table. In the group, countries like Australia and Canada have reserves and also the technology to extract them, and countries like Japan have the technology to process REEs.

    What are Rare Earth Metals?

    Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of seventeen chemically similar metallic elements on the periodic table. It comprises 15 lanthanides elements (lanthanum to lutetium), plus scandium and yttrium. REEs are classified as light RE elements (LREE) and heavy RE elements (HREE).

    Some REEs are available in India — such as Lanthanum, Cerium, Neodymium, Praseodymium and Samarium, etc. 

    Others such as Dysprosium, Terbium, and Europium, which are classified as HREEs, are not available in Indian deposits in extractable quantities. 

    Hence, there is a dependence on countries such as China for HREEs, which is one of the leading producers of REEs with an estimated 70% share of the global production.

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its stature in the modern world

    Source: The post is based on the article “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its stature in the modern world” published in The Hindu on 19th July 2022.

    What is the News?

    Iran and Belarus could soon become the newest members of the China and Russia-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO).

    What is Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO)?

    Click Here to read about SCO

    Focus Areas: It includes education, energy, transport, tourism and environmental protection.

    India and SCO:

    India acquired the observer status in the grouping in 2005 and was admitted as a full member in 2017. 

    Through the years, the SCO hosts have encouraged members to use the platform to discuss differences with other members on the sidelines. 

    – For instance, in 2015 Indian Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister.

    – In 2020, the Foreign Minister negotiated a five-point agreement with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Moscow conference in 2020. 

    What is the reason behind the expansion of SCO?

    Click Here to read

    Why are Iran and Belarus joining SCO as members?

    Iran: The Iranian leadership has often stressed that the country must “look to the East”. This is essential not only to resist its economic isolation (by addressing the banking and trade problems on account of U.S. sanctions) from the West but also to find strategic allies that would help it to reach a new agreement on the nuclear program. In other words, using its ties with China and Russia as leverage against the West. Additionally, it would help it strengthen its involvement in Asia. 

    Belarus: The same premise applies to Belarus, which lent its support to Russia for its actions in Ukraine. An association with the SCO bodes well for its diplomacy and regional stature.

  • Explained: Interpol’s ICSE initiative on child sex abuse, now joined by the CBI

    Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Interpol’s ICSE initiative on child sex abuse, now joined by the CBI” published in Indian Express on 11th July 2022.

    What is the News?

    India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has joined Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) Initiative.

    What is the International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) Initiative? 

    Launched by: Interpol

    Purpose: It is an intelligence and investigative tool which will allow it to collaborate with investigators in other countries for detecting child sexual abuse online and identifying abusers, victims, and crime scenes from audiovisual clips using specialised software.

    Significance: The database avoids duplication of effort and saves precious time by letting investigators know whether a series of images have already been discovered or identified in another country or whether it has similar features to other images.

    What has India done to combat child sex abuse?

    India reported over 24 lakh instances of online child sexual abuse from 2017 to 2020, with 80% of victims being girls below the age of 14 years.

    More than 60% of unidentified victims were prepubescent, including infants and toddlers. Around 65% of unidentified victims were girls, but severe abuse images were more likely to have boys.

    In 2019, the CBI set up a special unit called the ‘Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/Investigation (OCSAE)’ for tracking and monitoring posting, circulation and downloads of CSEM online.

  • Explained: What is the US-led ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ initiative to counter China?
    What is the News?

    The US and its allies — Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom — have launched the ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ Initiative.

    What is the Partners in the Blue Pacific(PBP) initiative?

    Launched by: US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom 

    Purpose: It is an “informal mechanism” to support Pacific islands and to boost diplomatic, and economic ties in the pacific region. 

    Objectives: 1) To deliver ​​results for the Pacific more effectively and efficiently ​​2) To expand cooperation between the Pacific and the rest of the world and 3) To focus on bolstering “Pacific regionalism”.

    Priority Areas: The areas where PBP aims to enhance cooperation with the pacific islands include climate crisis, connectivity and transportation, maritime security and protection, health, prosperity, and education.

    How is China trying to transform its ties with the Pacific?

    China has signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April 2022. This deal has raised serious concerns for the US and its allies as the Chinese will be setting up a military base in the southern Pacific close to the US island territory of Guam and right next to Australia and New Zealand.

    Moreover, China has also signed an agreement called the “Common Development Vision” with the 10 Pacific nations. The agreement speaks about China wanting to work with traditional and non-traditional security and expand law enforcement cooperation with these countries.

    What other initiatives has the US and allies launched to counter China?

    Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)

    Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment(PGII) Initiative

    Source: The post is based on the articleExplained: What is the US-led ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ initiative to counter China?published in Indian Express on 28th June 2022.

  • India-ASEAN conclave: Foreign ministers agree on unified response to global issues
    What is the News?

    The Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting was held in New Delhi.

    What is the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting?

    Chaired by: The meeting was co-chaired by India’s External Affairs Minister and Singapore Foreign Minister.

    The meeting was also attended by Foreign Ministers of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Lao PDR, Philippines and Thailand sent representatives of their foreign ministers.

    Purpose: The meeting was held to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations in 2022 which has been designated as the ASEAN-India Friendship Year. 

    What are the key highlights from the meeting?

    The ministers reviewed the status of the ASEAN-India Partnership and set out the path for the coming decade. 

    Deliberations were held on COVID-19 & Health, Trade & Commerce, Connectivity, Education and Capacity Building as well as the implementation of the ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Cooperation on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. 

    About ASEAN-India Dialogue

    ASEAN-India dialogue relations started with the establishment of a sectoral partnership in 1992. The dialogue translated into a full dialogue partnership in December 1995, a Summit level Partnership in 2002 and a Strategic partnership in 2012. 

    ASEAN is central to India’s Act East Policy and its vision for the wider Indo-Pacific. This partnership encompasses many sectoral dialogue mechanisms and working groups that meet regularly at various levels and include annual Summit, Ministerial and Senior Officials meetings. 

    The ongoing India-ASEAN collaboration is guided by the Plan of Action 2021-2025 which was adopted in 2020.

    Source: The post is based on the article “India-ASEAN conclave: Foreign ministers agree on unified response to global issues” published in Indian Express on 17th June 2022.

  • India, Israel, US, UAE are I2U2, summit next month
    What is the News?

    The US President will host a virtual summit of I2U2 Grouping in July,2022.

    What is I2U2?

    I2U2 is the grouping formed by four nations-India, Israel, UAE and the US. The countries share various common global issues including food security crisis and defense.

    When is the first summit of I2U2?

    The first summit of I2U2 nations will be held in a virtual mode in July 2022 where the four nations will discuss the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation. 

    What is the significance of I2U2 Grouping?

    The grouping of the four nations- India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021. 

    At that time, the grouping of the four-nation was called ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’.

    Moreover,  the Ambassador of UAE to India had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’.

    Now the four nations group will officially be called I2U2 where I stand for India and Israel and U stand for the US and UAE.

    Source: The post is based on the article “India, Israel, US, UAE are I2U2, summit next month” published in Indian Express on 15th June 2022.

  • Explained | What is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation?
    What is the News?

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretariat has condemned and denounced the comments on Prophet Muhammed made by two national spokespersons of the Indian political party.

    In response, a spokesperson at the Ministry of External Affairs stated that India rejected the OIC Secretariat’s unwarranted and narrow-minded comments.

    What is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC)?

    Established in: 1969 summit in Rabat (Morocco) after what it describes as the ‘criminal arson’ of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. 

    Aim: To work as a collective voice of the Muslim world by safeguarding the interests of the Muslims in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.

    Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

    Relations with the UN: The OIC has consultative and cooperative relations with the UN and other intergovernmental organizations to protect the interest of Muslims. 

    MembersUN members with a Muslim majority can join the organisation. The membership is to be ratified with full consensus at the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers. The same provisions apply to acquiring an observer status. 

    Currently, OIC has 57 members. India is not one among them.

    Decision-making at OIC: All decision-making in the forum requires a quorum defined by the presence of two-thirds of the member states and complete consensus. In case a consensus cannot be reached, decisions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.

    Financed by: The OIC is financed by the member states proportionate to their national incomes. 

    Supreme Authority: The supreme authority of the organization is the Islamic Summit. It is composed of Kings and heads of state. It is convened every three years. It deliberates, takes policy decisions, provides guidance on issues relevant to the organization and considers issues of concern to the member states. 

    India and OIC

    India’s association with the OIC has not been easy. Even though the country has good relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, its membership and engagement with OIC have been constantly challenged by Pakistan. 

    In 1969, Pakistan’s opposition to Indian participation at the first OIC Plenary resulted in the Indian delegation being turned back from the venue at the last minute.

    In 2019, India’s External Affairs Minister addressed the OIC Plenary of Foreign Ministers in Abu Dhabi as a guest of honour. The invitation was extended by the UAE’s Foreign Minister.

    What are the criticisms against OIC?

    Firstly, OIC had become a premise for ‘window dressing’, more interested in the rights of Muslim minorities in places such as Palestine or Myanmar than the human rights violations of its member states. 

    Secondly, OIC lacks the power and resources to investigate human rights violations or enforce its decisions through signed treaties and declarations. 

    Thirdly, the organization is largely restricted to arbitrating in conflicts where both parties are Muslims. This is because the organization is centred around Quranic values which, it believes, makes it a qualified arbitrator. 

    Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | What is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation?” published in The Hindu on 13th June 2022.

  • India is poised to play a leadership role in global digital revolution: Union Minister at World Summit of Information Society(WSIS) 2022
    What is the News?

    The Minister of State for Communications has attended the opening ceremony of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 held in Geneva, Switzerland.

    What is the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) 2022?

    ​​The World Summit on the Information Society(WSIS) 2022 represents the world’s largest annual gathering of Information and communications technology(ICT) for the development community.

    Organized by: International Telecommunication Union(ITU), UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD in close collaboration with all WSIS Action Line facilitators.

    Objective: To provide a platform for multi-stakeholder cooperation, and information exchange to ensure that ICTs remain a key enabler in achieving the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The theme for 2022: “ICTs for Well-Being, Inclusion and Resilience: WSIS Cooperation for Accelerating Progress on the SDGs”.

    Source: The post is based on the article “India is poised to play a leadership role in global digital revolution: Union Minister at World Summit of Information Society(WSIS) 2022published in PIB on 31st May 2022.

  • India joins First Movers Coalition to decarbonise carbon-heavy sectors
    What is the News?

    India has joined a public-private partnership initiative called First Movers Coalition.

    What is the First Movers Coalition?

    Launched by: President of the USA and the World Economic Forum(WEF) at COP26.

    Aim: To decarbonise the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors that are responsible for 30 percent of global emissions.

    Target Sectors: The target sectors include aluminium, aviation, chemicals, concrete, shipping, steel and trucking which are responsible for 30% of global emissions. Without any urgent progress on clean technology innovation, these sectors might witness over 50% of global emissions by mid-century.

    Source: The post is based on the article “India joins First Movers Coalition to decarbonise carbon-heavy sectors” published in Business Standard on 26th May 2022.

  • India to join Biden’s new trade initiative for Indo-Pacific region
    What is the News?

    The US President has launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). The negotiations will begin shortly and these are expected to centre around four main pillars, including trade, supply chain resiliency, clean energy and decarbonisation, and taxes and anti-corruption measures.

    Indian PM has mentioned that India will work together with [other IPEF countries] to build an inclusive and flexible Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

    About Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)
    Read here: Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?

    Members of IPEF: The grouping includes seven out of 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), all four Quad countries, and New Zealand represents about 40% of global GDP.

    Three ASEAN countries considered closer to China — Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos — are not members of the IPEF, however.

    How IPEF is different from TPP and RCEP?

    IPEF would not be a “free trade agreement”, nor are countries expected to discuss reducing tariffs or increasing market access.

    The IPEF would not seek to replace the 11-nation CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that the U.S. quit in 2017, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP), which China and all of the other IPEF countries (minus the U.S.) are a part of.

    The IPEF was intended to boost U.S. manufacturing. As businesses are beginning to look for alternatives to China, the U.S. would seek to attract businesses investing in China towards IPEF. Thereby, making the countries in the Indo-Pacific Framework will be more reliable partners for U.S. businesses.

    Source: The post is based on the article “India to join Biden’s new trade initiative for Indo-Pacific region” published in The Hindu on 24th May 2022.

  • Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?
    What is the News?

    The United States President is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

    What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)?

    In October 2021, the US administration announced the development of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework(IPEF).

    Pillars: The IPEF is built on four modules: 1) fair and resilient trade (including digital, labour, environmental and other standards), 2) supply chain resilience, 3) infrastructure, decarbonisation and clean energy and 4) tax and anti-corruption.

    Countries would have to sign up for all of the components within a module but do not have to participate in all modules.

    However, IPEF will not include market access commitments such as lowering tariff barriers, as the agreement is more of an Administrative arrangement.

    Why is the US planning to launch this framework?

    IPEF is seen as a means by which the US is trying to regain credibility in the region after former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP). 

    Since then, there has been concern over the absence of a credible US economic and trade strategy to counter China’s economic influence in the region.

    Will India be joining the IPEF?

    India is currently examining the framework.

    However, some experts have said that some areas proposed in the IPEF do not appear to serve India’s interests. 

    For example, the IPEF talks about digital governance but the IPEF formulation contains issues that directly conflict with India’s stated position. Amongst these are the prohibition/restrictions on cross-border data flows and data localization requirements including for financial services; promotion of the interoperability of privacy rules among others.

    Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?” published in Indian Express on 20th May 2022.

  • India signs Host Country Agreement with the International Telecommunication Union for establishment of Area Office & Innovation Center at New Delhi
    What is the news?

    India’s Union Minister of Communications and Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has signed the Host Country Agreement (HCA) for the establishment of an Area Office & Innovation Center of ITU in New Delhi.

    What is the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)?

    International Telecommunication Union(ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs.

    It was originally established in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union.It is one of the oldest international organizations in operations.

    Members: It is open to all Member States of the United Nations. There are currently 193 Member States of the ITU.

    India was a founding member of ITU.

    HQ: Geneva, Switzerland

    Area Office & Innovation Center of ITU in India

    The Government of India and ITU have signed an agreement for setting up an Area Office and Innovation Centre for ITU in New Delhi.

    The area office will serve South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India.

    The office will help provide greater access and engagement to India and South Asian countries in global policy and standard formation in the field of telecommunication.

    Moreover, the office will also have an innovation center which is expected to give impetus to research and development in telecommunication technologies in South Asia.

    Source: This post is based on the article “India signs Host Country Agreement with the International Telecommunication Union for establishment of Area Office & Innovation Center at New Delhi” published in PIB on 4th Mar 2022.

  • AUKUS Security Alliance – Explained, pointwise
    For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE
    Introduction

    A week before the meeting of Quad leaders in Washington DC, the 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.

    There is no explicit mention of China in any of the AUKUS announcements. Despite that, the announcement of the grouping is significant as the Indo-Pacific is fast emerging as the theatre of geopolitical rivalry, with China staking claim over the whole of the South China Sea. In this article, let us understand the new AUKUS group and its significance and challenges.

    What are the key features of AUKUS Security Alliance?
    Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines

    The first major initiative of AUKUS would be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia over the next 18 months.

    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 strategic interests of the AUKUS Countries and upholding the international rules-based order, and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

    What is the significance of the AUKUS Security Alliance?

    Nuclear-powered submarines: Under the AUKUS alliance, the US and UK are willing to export nuclear technology to a non-nuclear powered nation.

    Conventional Submarines need to come to the surface to recharge their batteries. On the other hand, Nuclear powered submarines need not come to the surface to recharge their batteries.

    Further, Nuclear-powered submarines are able to move faster underwater than conventional submarines. So, these will augment the defence capabilities of Australia. With AUKUS, Australia is accessing nuclear submarines for the first time, so, this will amp up the defence quotient in the Indo-Pacific.

    Compliment the efforts of QUAD in Indo-Pacific: According to Arzan Tarapore, a South Asia security expert, “If the new partnership lives up to its promise, it could be a “game-changer” for the region”. He also mentions, “Alongside India’s stated intent to acquire more nuclear-powered submarines, the AUKUS will amount to a step-change increase in the Quad’s undersea and anti-submarine warfare capabilities“.

    The Quad is not a security grouping, so the AUKUS brings a security adjunct to the Quad. For the present, the Quad and AUKUS will move on parallel tracks, with the possibility that in future, the two could merge.

    Read more: Quad Summit and its relevance – Explained, Pointwise

    Countering China in the Indo-Pacific, especially in the South China Sea: The nuclear-powered submarines will give Australia naval heft in the Pacific, where China has been particularly aggressive. With nuclear-powered submarines, the Royal Australian Navy now has the capability to go into the South China Sea to protect its assets and conduct patrols.

    Compliment other regional groupings in Indo-Pacific: Apart from complimenting the QUAD, the AUKUS will also compliment the other security alliances in the Indo-Pacific. These include the ANZUS and Five Eyes alliance.

    Note:

    Five Eyes: Along with Canada and New Zealand, the AUKUS countries already share extensive intelligence through the Five Eyes alliance.

    ANZUS: Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS or ANZUS Treaty) is the 1951 collective security non-binding agreement between Australia and New Zealand to cooperate on military matters in the Pacific Ocean region.

    Why China has raised its concerns regarding the AUKUS Security Alliance?

    China is more rattled by AUKUS than by Quad and other arrangements in Indo-Pacific because of the following reasons,

    Firstly, AUKUS is aimed at protecting the partners’ strategic interests in a region that spans two oceans and 38 countries.

    Secondly, it is a message to China that the US could one day do the same for other countries in the region. Sharing of military and critical capabilities like cyber, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. It is a cause of concern for China, as these are the key areas China is dominating at present.

    Thirdly, the AUKUS is a security grouping, unlike QUAD, which is a diplomatic grouping. The Quad has neither created a charter nor invested itself with any substance. This is why China dismissed the Quad as a “headline-grabbing idea which will dissipate like sea-foam”. Similarly, the Malabar exercise is not a naval alliance, even though the habit of cooperation is geared to facilitate communication and interoperability in times of need.

    Fourthly, The announcement marks a new low in Australia-China relations. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, with two-way trade of nearly US $200 billion. But the relationship has soured over the last few years.

    For these reasons only, China called the new AUKUS partnership as “severely damaging regional peace and stability“.

    What the AUKUS Security Alliance meant for India?

    According to the Indian Observers, the partnership is much beneficial for India. As India has been at the forefront of rallying a broader coalition of countries in the Indo-Pacific. The benefits include,

    Upgrade India’s allies in the region: QUAD is meaningless without the necessary capability upgrade for all its members, especially Australia and Japan. This will make India’s partners become more self-confident and assured of their defence capabilities.

    The AUKUS and a future American military base on Australian soil will help India’s efforts to protect the Indo-Pacific.

    Provide necessary time to India to build naval capabilities:  Further, The AUKUS will buy some valuable time for India to beef up the country’s own naval capabilities.

    Improve India’s ambition in International relations: The partnership would allow India to be more ambitious in its foreign policy and defence approach.

    What are the challenges associated with the AUKUS Security Alliance?

    Promote Nuclear arms race: Chinese Foreign Ministry already mentioned that the new AUKUS grouping will aggravate the arms race and hurt international non-proliferation efforts. This view is also reflected by other South-Asian Countries like North Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

    Create a Cold-war like scenario: Strategic experts believe that these types of new alliances are similar to the Cold War days, where the entire world was divided into groups. As US-China relations unravelled in recent years, nations in the Indo-Pacific have found it increasingly difficult to navigate between the two superpowers.

    For instance, according to a former Australian diplomat, Countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, in particular, may find it “less tenable” to have security ties with the US and also manage relations with China.

    Unpredictable behaviour of America in foreign ties: The US not even informed or consulted any other partners in the region, For instance, countries like France, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan were not invited to join this partnership. Recently, the US has clarified that India or Japan would not be added to the AUKUS alliance.

    The French government termed this move of the US as a “brutal, unilateral, unpredictable decision”, “Allies don’t do this to each other“. On the other hand, Canada expects the AUKUS should be a CAUKUS with Canada on board.

    So C. Raja Mohan is of the view that AUKUS could leave a deep scar on US-EU relations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and weaken the international coalition in the Indo-Pacific.

    Questions the credibility of the US and its allies to counter China: Former Australian Prime Minister mentioned, “the US military with all its might could not beat a bunch of Taliban rebels“.  Furthermore, he was of the opinion that this alliance will not threaten China, as “China, not only the biggest state in the world but the occupant and commander of the biggest landmass in Asia“. Further, China is also pursuing the largest military modernisation program.

    Trouble the relations with France: For signing this AUKUS partnership, Australia had cancelled the $65 billion worth deal it signed in 2016 with France for building 12 of the world’s largest conventional submarines. Now, France is demanding explanations from all sides and called the initiative a “stab in the back” and recalled its envoys from Australia and the US. Further, a harsh legal battle over the contract appears inevitable.

    As France is also having a growing presence in the Indo-Pacific region, it will impact any future cooperation with France in the region. Further, it also impacts the India-Australia-France trilateral for the time being. Recently, France had cancelled a scheduled meeting of the foreign ministers of Australia, France, and India at the UN.

    Against the 1984 nuclear-free zone policy of Australia and New Zealand: The announcement of the partnership led to a minor tussle with New Zealand. According to the nuclear-free zone policy, Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would not be allowed into the New Zealand territorial waters.

    Conclusion

    India now has a little less to worry about on the maritime front with AUKUS in play. The new alliance would allow the three nations to sharpen their focus on an increasingly complicated part of the world. The AUKUS trilateral will be a huge message to China, and it will move a step closer to balance China in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • Way forward for India at UNSC

    Synopsis: As India assumes UNSC membership for the 8th time as one of the 10 non-permanent members, it should integrate UNSC functions with national objectives while adjusting to changed realities. 

    Introduction  

    Dynamics at UNSC have changed completely since the cold war, while India’s attitude has changed from the reactive to the proactive. 

    India needs to align its goals of national objectives at UNSC with the present dynamics at UNSC to achieve maximum gain. 

    • India’s new term should be led by purposeful and pragmatism.
        • Purposefulness is about tightly incorporating UNSC meeting with India’s broader national goals.  
        • Pragmatism requires adapting to the changed conditions at the UNSC and avoiding overly ambitious goals. 

    How UNSC and India evolved post-cold war? 

    • During 1991-92, India’s term at UNSC was influenced by collapse of the Soviet Union. 
    • Delhi was fixing its broken economy and was reorganising its foreign policy to survive in the post-Soviet world.
        • Countries Like EU and Us wanted to transform this “inter-national” forum into a “supra-national” institution, to interfere actively in the matter of countries.  
        • India had to resist external solutions to its problems on issues like the Kashmir question and the nuclear.
        • Thus, India was not vocal and adopted a defensive approach at that time.
    • In 2011-12, revived Russia and a rising China began influencing UNSC to resist west.  
    • India witnessed rapid economic growth in the first decade of 21st century which resulted in improvement of its own relative position in the meeting. 
        • Delhi was less defensive than in the 1990s, but was struggling to change its new strengths into practical outcomes.
    • At present UNSC term of India, it is facing the challenge of sharp competition between US, China and Russia. Which is enforced by closeness of Russia-China and disagreement between US and EU.   

    What objectives India would be taking along at the UNSC? 

    To make its present term fruitful, India needs to work towards 5 objectives; 

    • Firstlymaking the UNSC effective. Except brief moment of cooperation in 1990s, UNSC is dealing with the divisions among 5 permanent members, making it less effective.  
        • India needs to carve out the larger room for itself and try to create an atmosphere of cooperation as done by US and USSR on nuclear proliferation.  
    • Secondlymaking the UNSC more representative. India wanted permanent membership since the end of the Cold War but China does not want India and Japan to join the UNSC as permanent members. 
        • However, India should push its efforts in partnership with Brazil, Germany and Japan, to expand the UNSC.  
    • Thirdly, India has to deal with China’s growing enmity. On the issue of cross-border terrorism china continues to protect Pakistan from the international pressures and also tried to get the UNSC to focus on India’s constitutional changes in Kashmir. 
        • India should try to get the wind in its favour by presenting real facts  
    • Fourthly, the engagement with peace and security issues at the UNSC. India will be able to strengthen its new coalitions. 
        • For example, the Quad which brings together Australia, India, Japan and the US.
        • Collaboration with its European partners like France and Germany in the security field. 
    • Fifthly, Delhi should renew its ties with its old partnersDelhi should express the peace and security concerns of the global south in UNSC. Supporting the rule and survivability of the island states is a critical political task for India. 
        • 60 per cent of UNSC documents and 70 per cent of its resolutions are about peace and security in Africa. There is an opportunity for Delhi to deepen India’s engagement on peace and security issues in Africa at bilateral, regional and global levels.
  • 15th East Asia Summit

    News: India’s External Affairs Minister has represented India at the 15th East Asia Summit(EAS).

    Facts:

    • The summit was chaired by the Prime Minister of Vietnam.
    • During the summit, countries adopted the Ha Noi Declaration and discussed ways to strengthen the EAS platform and make it more responsive to emerging challenges.

    Additional Facts:

    east asia summit

    • East Asia Summit: It was established in 2005.It is a premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region dealing with issues relating to security and defence.
    • Members: It comprises the ten member states of the ASEAN countries along with 8 members Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit.
    • Priority Areas: There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS which are a) Environment and Energy b) Education c) Finance d) Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases e) Natural Disaster Management and f) ASEAN Connectivity.
    • Significance: The members of the EAS together represent 54% of the world population and account for 58% of the global GDP.

    Read Also :MAINS QUESTION BANK AND ANSWERS for UPSC

  • 206th Session of the Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

    News: The 206th Session of the Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union(IPU) will be held from 1st to 4th November 2020.

    Facts:

    1. Inter-Parliamentary Union(IPU): It was established in 1889 as a global organization of national parliaments.
    2. Aim: To promote parliamentary dialogue worldwide and works for peace and cooperation among the people.
    3. Members: It consists of 179 Member Parliaments and 13 Associate Members.
    4. Significance: IPU has permanent observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.
    5. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

    Read Also :GS Paper 2 Previous year Questions

  • IBSA

    News: External Affairs Minister of India has chaired the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Foreign Ministers meet.

    Facts:

    • The countries called for accelerated and comprehensive reforms of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
    • They also agreed to extend their support to the African Union in accordance with the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration.
    • Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte declaration: It was adopted by the African Union in 2003 to call for at least 2 permanent and 5 to 2 non-permanent UNSC seats to be given to African countries at UNSC.

    About IBSA

    It is a unique Forum that brings together India, Brazil and South Africa. The grouping was formalized and named the IBSA Dialogue Forum when the Foreign Ministers of the three countries met in Brasilia in 2003 and issued the Brasilia Declaration.

    Cooperation in IBSA is on three fronts:

    • Forum for consultation and coordination on global and regional political issues.
    • Trilateral collaboration on concrete areas/projects, through fourteen working groups and six People-to-People Forums for the common benefit of three countries and
    • Assisting other developing countries by taking up projects in the latter through IBSA Fund.

    IBSA Fund: It was established in 2004 and became operational in 2006 to support projects on a demand driven basis through partnerships with local governments, national institutions and implementing partners.

    Read Also :-IAS Preparation strategy

  • WHO South East Asia Region (SEAR)

    News: The 73rd session of WHO South East Asia Region was held under the Chairmanship of Minister of Health, Thailand.

    Facts:

    • WHO South East Asia Region (SEAR): It was established at the First World Health Assembly in 1948.
    • Objective: To address persisting and emerging epidemiological and demographic challenges in the South East Asia Region.
    • Member States: It has 11 Member States – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste.
    • Regional Office: New Delhi.
    • Programmes: The Region has eight flagship priorities.
      • Measles and rubella elimination
      • preventing non-communicable diseases
      • reducing maternal, under-five and neonatal mortality
      • universal health coverage with a focus on human resources for health and essential medicines
      • combating antimicrobial resistance
      • scaling up capacities for emergency risk management

    eliminating neglected tropical diseases and accelerating efforts to end TB.

    Read Also :-indian economy quiz

  • BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation)
    • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC): It is a regional organization founded in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
    • Aim: To create an enabling environment for economic development; accelerate social progress and promote collaboration on matters of common interest in the region.
    • Members: It comprises seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
    • Headquarters: Dhaka, Bangladesh.
    • First Summit: The First Summit Meeting of the Heads of the BIMSTEC Countries was held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2004.
    • The Fourth Summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2018.
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)

    News: After 35 years, India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization(ILO).

    International Labour Organization(ILO):

    • Established in: 1919
    • Aim: To promote social and economic justice through setting up of international labour standards.
    • Members: 187 member states
    • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
    • Significance: It is the first affiliated specialized agency of the United Nations and the only tripartite U.N. agency that brings together governments, employers and workers to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
    • Recognition: It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 for improving peace among classes, pursuing justice for workers and for technical assistance to other developing nations.
    • Reports: a) World Employment and Social Outlook b) Global Wage Report and c) World Social Protection Report.
    • ILO Conventions ratified by India:
      • The six conventions of ILO which have been ratified by India are a) Forced Labour Convention b) Abolition of Forced Labour Convention c) Equal Remuneration Convention d) Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention e) Minimum Age Convention and f) Worst forms of Child Labour Convention.
      • The other two conventions namely a) Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organised Convention b) Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention has not been ratified by India.

    Read Also :upsc previous year question paper

  • G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group

    News: Union Minister has addressed the 1st ever Ministerial Meeting of G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group.

    Facts:

    • G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group: It was set up in June 2010 at the Toronto Summit of G-20.
      • Objective: To prepare comprehensive recommendations for consideration by leaders on how the G20 could continue to make practical and valuable contributions to international efforts to combat corruption.
    • G20: It is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
      • Origin: It was initially founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis.However after the 2008 Financial Crisis, the meeting has been held annually since 2010.
      • Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the USA and the EU.
      • G20 Summit,2020: Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency in 2020.Theme: “Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”.

    Read Also :upsc previous year paper

  • India’s UN journey and its role

    What are the different phases of India’s journey in UN?

    1. Phase 1- Before the end of the Cold War in 1989-
    • The Indian leadership learned that the UN could not be relied upon to impartially resolve vital security disputes.
    • The UN only to focus on common causes such as anti-colonialism, anti-racism, nuclear disarmament, environment conservation and equitable economic development.
    • In 1988- India claims the moral high ground by proposing, three-phase plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from the surface of earth.
    1. Phase 2- The demanding decade from 1990-2000-
    • There was a change in India’s foreign policy which was reflected in voting patterns at the UN.

    For example– India showed pragmatism in enabling the toughest terms on Iraq even after eviction from occupied Kuwait, or in reversing the hitherto stated position on Zionism as racism

    • India’s diplomatic difficulties were exposed when it suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of Japan in the 1996 contest for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC.
    • India stood against indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, and rejected the backdoor introduction for adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996.
    1. Phase 3- Wind of changes – 21st century.
    • India strengthened its profile- The economic liberalization and globalization policies, helped India to strengthening its profile.
    1. The reliable and substantial troop contributions to several peacekeeping operations in African conflict theatres.
    2. India has emerged as a responsible stakeholder in non-traditional security issue areas such as the spread of small and light weapons, the threat of non-state actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and the impact of climate change.

    What will be the role of India as a non-permanent UNSC member?

    India’s areas of priority will continue to be-

    • The upholding of Charter principles in the backdrop of a turbulent world..
    • Mounting effective punitive measures against those who support, finance and sponsor terrorists.
    • Striving for securing due say to the troop contributing countries in the management of peace operations.

    Challenge for India-

    1. In the midst of multilateralism and, and China’s aggressive territorial forays India may face challenges and opportunities in the UNSC.
    2. Voting scenario– China might succeeding in convening a formal meeting on Kashmir, India may have to choose either to abstain in the vote since it is a party to the dispute or vote against any unfavorable proposal that might be tabled.
    • The growing proximity with the US may prompt India not to stay neutral in order to counter balance China.

    Way forward-

    • India’s future role will probably depend on its ability to weather the impact of the multiple crises it now faces on account of an unabated economic slowdown and a troubled relationship with China.
      Read also:-

    India’s UN journey and its role

  • Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
    • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris.
    • Its Secretariat is located at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.
    • The objectives of the FATF are to (a) set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures (b) for combating money laundering (c)terrorist financing and (d) other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
    • Currently, the FATF comprises 37 member jurisdiction and 2 regional organisations representing most major financial centres in all parts of the globe.
    • The FATF is, therefore, a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

    Listing by FATF:

    • Grey List: Countries that are considered a safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the grey list. This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.
    • Black List: Countries known as Non-Cooperative are put in the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly adding or deleting entries
  • UN Reforms

    Source- Live Mint

    Context- UN  reforms are urgently required. India’s absence from UN decision-making structures and lack of genuine reforms might force India to look for alternatives.

    What are the current issues of the UN?

    1. Ineffectiveness of UN-The UN has been unable to respond effectively to the once-in-a-century global crisis triggered by the coronavirus.
    • A global health pandemic should have been the high point of the multilateral search for a collective solution. Instead, it has turned out to be its nadir.
    1. Challenge to multilateralism– The rift between the permanent members of the Security Council has already started affecting the work of the UN Security Council.
    • China has stepped in to take advantage of the West’s retreat from multilateralism.
    • The U.S. withdrawing from multilateralism.
    • Brexit has shown that nationalism remains strong in Europe.

    What steps should India take in future with regard to UN?

    1. Reforming UNSC – Equitable representation as well as expansion of the UNSC is the desired reform that India envisages.
    • It is not readily evident if the global multilateral order will be able to reform itself and cope with rising geopolitical tensions and new security challenges.
    1. Looking for Alternatives– If the extant multilateral order will not work to secure Indian interests, then India will have to look for alternatives.
    • Today, the Indo-Pacific is driving the global economic and political agenda. Global institutional frameworks should reflect this shift.
    • Reforming UN multilateralism is wishful thinking and countries like India should embrace plurilateral setups, where like-minded nations come together on common interests.

    Way forward-

    • India called for a new template of multilateralism that reflects today’s reality, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges, and focuses on human welfare.
    • For India, the status quo is no longer a viable option. If UN reforms fail, New Delhi’s approach to the United Nations could significantly alter in the coming years as India would feel it necessary to look elsewhere for solutions.

     Read also :-msme full form

  • About Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) 

    Quad is an informal strategic forum among the like-minded democracies across the Indian and the Pacific Ocean aimed to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region. It comprises of the USA, India, Japan and Australia.

    It is rooted in the formation of “core group”, in response to Tsunami in 2004.

    The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure.

    The Quadrilateral coalition was refurbished as ‘QUAD 2.0’ in 2017 on the lines of ASEAN Summit. Quad meetings are taking place on a biannual basis since then but the inclusion of Australia into ‘Malabar’ naval exercise is still being discussed.

    Read Also : union territories of india

  • World Food Programme (WFP)

    WFP was created in 1961 as an experiment to provide food aid through the UN system and in 1965, it was enshrined as a fully-fledged UN programme. It launched its 1st development program in Sudan.

    Headquarters: Rome, Italy

    Since then, WFP has been forefront at the conflict-ridden countries like for humanitarian assistance to the hungry and needy people. Globally, WFP functions in more than 83 countries including India, reaching 86.7 million people.

    Aim: To eradicate hunger and malnutrition with the ultimate goal of eliminating the need for food aid itself.

    It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.

    Funding: Its operations are funded entirely by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors. It raised US$8 billion in 2019

    WFP is governed by a 36-member Executive Board and partners with more than 1,000 national and international NGOs to provide food assistance and tackle the underlying causes of hunger.

  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

    What is Belt and Road Initiative?

    • The Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese foreign policy initiative promoted by president Xi Jinping in 2013
    • Initially the idea of Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and Maritime Silk Road (MSR) was put forward
    • Subsequently, the two projects together came to be known as ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) Initiative. Later, it came to be known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
    • Aim of BRI: Build a trade, investment, and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes
    • The Communist Party of China (CPC) has incorporated Belt and Road Initiative into the Chinese Constitution

    Significance of BRI for China:

    1. Financial Institutions: Promotion of Chinese-led financial institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
    2. Maritime power: Put forward China as a maritime power in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean and its littoral
    3. Development of Western Provinces:
    • Develop poorer western provinces of China, especially Xinjiang. Xinjiang has had ethnic tensions and is considered to be vulnerability for China.
    • Chinese government has designated Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region as ‘Core zone of Silk Road Economic belt’ The government has been giving incentives to attract manufactures and real estate developers
    1. Energy route: Creation of an energy route from the Middle East and Africa. This will act as a proof against any possible prohibition at points like Hormuz and the Malacca strait
    2. Market: Transportation links will help access rich European markets better and boost trade
    3. Boost to domestic infrastructure industry: Development of ports, railways, pipelines and highways across Asia and the Indian Ocean will help China utilise its excess capacity in steel, cement and infrastructural engineering
    4. Trading norms and regimes: Help China to compete with Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or any other future mechanisms which seek to establish new trading norms

    Challenges to BRI

    1. Commercial viability:
    • Very high development costs of projects.
    • Sources for financing project development, to be financed either through public grants or through equity are scarce
    • Limits to debt financing, particularly in foreign currencies is also a major challenge
    1. Institutional Challenges:
    • Countries along the Belt and Road have different levels of development and at times poor governance conditions. This may hinder infrastructure development and the development of trade and investment.
    1. Political instability in countries along BRI:
    • According to the Fragile States Index (FSI), Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq are very unstable politically.
    • Further, in the previously considered stable countries, political instability has been increasing. Example: Turkey- Conflict between the government and Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK).
    • The political instability in growing number of countries along BRI poses serious security concerns for BRI
    1. Regioanl Disparity and Ethnic Tensions in China:
    • Regional disparity between western and eastern provinces of China complicates the use of the western region to connect to neighbouring countries
    • Separatist movements and ethnic tensions particularly in Xinjiang is a serious challenge for development of BRI
    1. Cooperation from neighbouring countries:
    • China has raised sovereignty disputes by putting forward territorial claims against neighbouring countries
    • China rejected the ruling of the UN tribunal regarding its claims in the South China Sea.
    • In 2017, at Doklam, China challenged Bhutan’s sovereignty. This had led to a military standoff with India
    1.  Issues with transparency in tenders and deal conditions:
    • In 2017, the government of Nepal abandoned deal to build the Budhigandaki hydroelectric project dam with a Chinese company. The reason highlighted was that it was signed without an open tender process
    • Pakistan pulled out from a deal to build Diamer-Bhasha dam with China. The reason cited was strict deal conditions.
    1. Potential ecological and environmental consequences especially in developing countries along the BRI

    India and BRI

    • India has opposed the BRI and did not attend the 2017 BRI Summit held in Beijing. It cited issues of sovereignty, transparency and unilateral decision making.

    Major reasons for India’s reluctance towards BRI are as follows:

    1. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):
    • The main reason for India’s opposition to the BRI is the CPEC which is a flagship programme of the BRI
    • The CPEC passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (Gilgit-Baltistan). As both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir, the area is considered a disputed territory by India. According to India, it undermines India’s strategic interests and territorial integrity.
    • Further, China will get access to western Indian Ocean with Gwadar port. This would facilitate China in controlling maritime trade and this could be detrimental to freedom of navigation and trade-energy security of India

    1. Unilateral Decision:
    • India has alleged that China has taken unilateral decisions. There has been lack of consultations with India before the launch of BRI.
    1. Transparency issues:
    • India has highlighted the importance of openness and transparency
    • According to India, mutual agreements on infrastructure projects should be transparent and debt repayments be made easier for recipient countries
    1. Concern over China’s expanding presence in neighbouring countries and Indian Ocean:
    • China’s port development projects in the Indian Ocean raises security concerns for India.

    • Increasing Chinese presence in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar has raised concerns for India. For India, BRI seems driven by large geopolitical aims.

    Advantages for India if joined BRI

    1. Direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asia
    2. Economic benefits; Boost to trade, investment and business engagement
    3. Security: Development in Gilgit- Baltistan area would help to curb security threats
    4. Energy: BRI is expected to normalize India-Pakistan ties. This would remove the obstacles in implementation of two major energy cooperation projects: the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. This is crucial for India’s energy security.
    5. Improve Indo-China ties; India and China may cooperate at many global fronts
    6. All neighbouring countries (except Bhutan) and other countries from SE Asia, Central Asia has joined BRI. Thus, not joining BRI may lead to isolation of India
    7. Many geopolitical issues and differences can be resolved through economic integration

    What lies ahead?

    • More than 65 countries- nearly every country in Asia (barring few like Bhutan, Japan), East and Central Europe have joined BRI
    • With the rise of protectionism, the BRI would give boost to Asian trade
    • The future of BRI largely depends on how China manages its debt as 23 countries that joined BRI are at debt distress.
    • Further, regional cooperation, political stability in countries along BRI is important for BRI to succeed
Print Friendly and PDF