SPR 2021: International Agreements & Conventions in News

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Table of Contents

 

Conventions related to United Nations

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 

  • Context:
    • Recognition of the UN Convention on Law of Sea (UNCLOS) at the United Nations Security Council (open debate on maritime security) is being viewed as a diplomatic achievement for India.
  • About:
    • UNCLOS, signed in 1982, is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.
    • The convention has been ratified by 168 parties including India, China.
    • USA is NOT a party to the convention.
    • The framework highlights the importance of enhancing international and regional cooperation to counter threats to maritime safety and security.
    • The UNCLOS further promotes safe and secure shipping while ensuring freedom of navigation following applicable international laws.
    • UNCLOS contains special provisions for the protection of the marine environment, obligating all States to collaborate in this matter.
    • International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an organization established by UNCLOS.
    • The UNCLOS prescribes the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special sovereign rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
    • It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from the coast of the sovereign state.
    • Similarly, the territorial sea (TS) as per UNCLOS, is an area extending up to 12 nautical miles from the base of a country’s coastline.
    • The difference between EEZ and TS is that a state has full sovereignty over the waters encompassed within the TS, whereas concerning the EEZ, the state merely has exclusive sovereign economic rights to substances lying below the surface of the sea.

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • Context:
    • ASEAN member states said that developing countries will need resources for proper implementation of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will include financial support and technology transfer.
  • About:
    • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a multilateral treaty and was signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.
    • Its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
    • The convention has three main goals:
      • The conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity)
      • The sustainable use of its components
      • The fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. 
    • It has two supplementary agreements, the Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
    • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, adopted in 2000, is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. 
    • The Nagoya Protocol adopted in 2010, provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. 
    • At the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in Nagoya in 2010, a revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, 2011-2020 was agreed and published, which included the “Aichi Biodiversity Targets“, comprising of 20 targets.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • Context:
    • India is committed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, Union Environment Minister said, while extending support to the UK which will host the international climate conference COP 26 in November this year.
  • About:
    • The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994 and has 197 countries that have ratified the Convention.
    • The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system.”
    • Its supreme decision-making body, the Conference of the Parties (COP), meets annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
    • The Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997 and ran from 2005 to 2020, was the first implementation of measures under the UNFCCC. 
    • The treaty established different responsibilities for three categories of signatory states. 
    • The developed countries, also called Annex 1 countries, are called upon to adopt national policies and take corresponding measures on the mitigation of climate change by limiting their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases as well as to report on steps adopted to return individually or jointly to their 1990 emissions levels.
    • Annex II countries include all of the Annex I countries except for those in transition to democracy and market economies. 
      • They are called upon to provide new and additional financial resources to meet the costs incurred by developing countries in complying with their obligation to produce national inventories of their emissions by sources and their removals by sinks for all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.
    • The developing countries are then required to submit their inventories to the UNFCCC Secretariat.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

  • Context:
    • Speaking at the high-level virtual dialogue on desertification, land degradation, and drought, PM Modi said that India is on track to restore 26 million hectares (mha) of degraded land to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.
  • About:
    • Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
    • It is the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference's Agenda 21.
    • It has 197 parties, making it near-universal in reach.
    • The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
    • The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

  • Context:
    • The USA has added Pakistan and 14 other countries to a Child Soldier Recruiter List that identifies foreign governments having government-supported armed groups that recruit or use child soldiers.
  • About:
    • It is an international human rights treaty that sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights of children.
    • The CRC was adopted on November 20, 1989, and entered into force on September 2, 1990.
    • Currently, 193 countries have ratified the CRC, including India.
    • It prohibits the state parties from recruiting children under 15 into the armed forces.
    • In 2000, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
    • While the CRC requires states to refrain from using children under 15 in direct hostilities, the Optional Protocol raises this age to 18.
    • CRC and its Optional Protocol are limited by the signatories’ willingness to comply.
    • Somalia, for example, is a signatory but it hasn’t ratified the convention.

UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT)

  • Context:
    • A father-son duo in Tamil Nadu who kept a shop open after COVID-19 curfew hours died in custody, allegedly after being tortured at the hands of the Thoothukudi district police.
  • About:
    • It is an international human rights treaty, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
    • It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984 and came into force in 1987.
    • The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
    • UNCAT has helped countries abolish and rewrite old colonial laws that mandated hurt and suffering, for example in the treatment of prisoners.
    • It has guided States to update laws and practices that no longer reflect modern law enforcement approaches, or which fail to match realities on the ground.
    • India signed the convention in 1997, but yet to ratify it 
    • Thus, it is one of only five countries that have yet to ratify it, others include Sudan, Brunei, and Haiti.
    • The Committee against Torture (CAT) is a body of human rights experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by State parties.
    • The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.
    • All state parties are obliged under the Convention to submit regular reports to the CAT on how rights are being implemented. 

United Nations Genocide Convention

  • Context:
    • Sudan will hand long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court along with other officials for genocide trial.
  • About:
    • It is an international treaty that criminalizes genocide and obligates state parties to enforce its prohibition.
    • It was the first legal instrument to codify genocide as a crime, and the first human rights treaty unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, in 1948.
    • The Convention entered into force in 1951 and has 152 state parties.
    • India is a party to the convention. 
    • The Convention defines genocide as an intentional effort to completely or partially destroy a group based on its nationality, ethnicity, race, or religion.
    • It recognizes several acts as constituting genocide, such as imposing birth control and forcibly transferring children and further criminalizes complicity, attempt, or incitement of its commission.
    • Member states are prohibited from engaging in genocide and obligated to enforce this prohibition even if violative of national sovereignty.
    • All perpetrators are to be tried regardless of whether they are private individuals, public officials, or political leaders with sovereign immunity.

1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees 

  • Context:
    • The year 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, a key international treaty establishing the rights of people forced to flee
  • About:
    • UNHCR is the guardian of the 1951 Convention, with a unique mandate under international law to supervise its application and to work with states to protect refugees and find durable solutions.
    • The Refugee Convention builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.
    • A refugee may enjoy rights and benefits in a state in addition to those provided for in the Convention.
    • Countries that have ratified the Refugee Convention are obliged to protect refugees that are on their territory following its terms.
    • India is NOT a party to the convention.
    • The Convention and the 1967 Protocol, which broadened the scope of those in need of international protection, clearly spell out who is a refugee and the kind of protection, other assistance, and social rights they are entitled to receive.
    • These twin instruments remain the cornerstone of refugee protection today and have inspired numerous regional treaties and laws, such as the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention in Africa, the 1984 Cartagena Declaration in Latin America, and the EU’s Common European Asylum System.
    • The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals.
    • The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of refugee travel documents issued under the convention.
    • The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.
    • This is now considered a rule of customary international law
    • The principles of the Convention were reaffirmed in 2018 by the Global Compact on Refugees, a blueprint for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing.
    • Although the Convention is “legally binding,” there is no organization that monitors compliance.
    • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has supervisory responsibilities but cannot enforce the Convention, and there is no formal mechanism for individuals to file complaints.
    • The Convention specifies that complaints should be referred to the International Court of Justice.

United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements (UNISA)

  • Context:
    • The Convention came into force in September 2020.
  • About:
    • It is an international agreement regarding the recognition of mediated settlements.
    • It is signed by 53 states, including India.
    • Also known as Singapore Convention on Mediation, this is the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.
    • Singapore had worked with the UN Commission on International Trade Law, other UN member states, and non-governmental organizations for the Convention.
    • As adoption of the Convention becomes more prevalent globally, it will also strengthen Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution center and better serve the needs of international businesses that use Singapore as a base for their international commercial transactions.
    • Over the years, Singapore has set up various institutions, including the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Mediation Centre, and Singapore International Commercial Court to provide a full suite of dispute resolution services for international commercial parties to resolve their disputes in Singapore.
    • The convention aims to facilitate international trade by rendering mediation an efficient and entrusted method for resolving disputes, alongside arbitration and litigation.
    • Before the Singapore Convention, an international mediated settlement agreement lacked enforceability in and of itself.
    • With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract following each country’s domestic process.
    • The harmonized and simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs, which is especially important for businesses in times of uncertainty, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)

  • Context:
    • India, as the UNSC president for August 2021, noted the threats to maritime safety and security and called upon the members to consider implementing the 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
  • About:
    • Also called the Palermo Convention, it is a multilateral treaty against transnational organized crime.
    • It was adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2000, entered into force in 2003, and has 190 parties to it.
    • India signed and ratified the convention.
    • The Convention is further supplemented by three Protocols (Palermo protocols):
      • The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
      • The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air
      • The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components, and Ammunition.
    • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) acts as custodian of the UNTOC and its protocols.
    • Countries must become parties to the Convention itself before they can become parties to any of the Protocols.
    • States that ratify this instrument commit themselves to take a series of measures against transnational organized crime, including
      • The creation of domestic criminal offenses (participation in an organized criminal group, money laundering, corruption and obstruction of justice)
      • The adoption of new and sweeping frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance and law enforcement cooperation
      • The promotion of training and technical assistance for building or upgrading the necessary capacity of national authorities.

 

Climate and environment-related conventions and agreements

Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol

  • Context:
    • The Union Cabinet has recently approved the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
  • About Kigali amendment:
    • The Kigali Amendment aims to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by curbing both their production and consumption.
    • Though HFCs do not impact the ozone layer, they are powerful greenhouse gases.
    • HFCs are entirely man-made & currently used as replacements for hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were ozone-depleting gases.
    • The goal of the amendment is to achieve an 80% reduction in HFC consumption by 2047, which will curb a global increase of temperature by up to 0.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
    • Following a massive growth in the use of HFCs, especially in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector, the parties to the Montreal Protocol reached an agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) held in 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances and approved a timeline for their gradual reduction by 80-85% by the late 2040s.
    • India will complete its phase-down in four steps from 2032 onwards with a cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042, and 80% in 2047.
    • With the Kigali Amendment, the Montreal Protocol will be an even more powerful instrument against global warming.
  • About Montreal Protocol:
    • The Montreal Protocol (1987) is one of the world’s most successful environmental treaties, and since its adoption, it has encouraged countries to commit to phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances.
    • The Protocol has been successful in reducing ozone-depleting substances and reactive chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere and as a result, the ozone layer is showing the first signs of recovery.

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal

  • Context:
    • For the first time, international shipments of plastic waste came under global control this year. That’s because disposable plastic was added to the Basel Convention.
  • About:
    • The agreement was formulated in 1989 and took effect in 1992, and initially covered toxic, poisonous, explosive, corrosive, flammable, ecotoxic, and infectious wastes.
    • It has recently been extended to encompass plastics.
    • Even if the Basel Convention is successful in its mission, it will only solve part of the plastics problem, as it doesn’t address the manufacture of plastics or their domestic disposal.
    • The Basel Convention does not deal with nuclear waste, which is instead regulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
    • Basel Convention doesn’t ban the production, transport, or dumping of waste.
    • However, both importing and exporting nations (and any pass-through nations) have to agree in writing in advance on what can be shipped, whether for recycling or disposal.
    • Recipient nations can refuse to take waste they deem contaminated.
    • Nations are also free to enter into agreements with each other as long as their requirements meet or exceed the convention’s requirements.
    • For nearly three decades, the Basel Convention has regulated international transport of hazardous materials, primarily so wealthy companies couldn’t dump their dangerous garbage on less-developed ones.
    • The United States is the only major nation not to have fully implemented the treaty.
    • The Basel Convention partially addresses one of nine critical planetary boundaries — scientifically estimated limits within which humanity can continue to thrive, but which, if exceeded, could threaten civilization, humanity, and much of life on Earth.
    • The novel entities' planetary boundary includes
      • Synthetic organic pollutants
      • Heavy metals
      • Radioactive materials
      • Genetically modified organisms
      • Industrial nanoparticles
      • Plastics
    • At present, there is insufficient research to determine whether we are overshooting the novel entities' planetary boundary.

Paris Agreement

  • Context:
    • Prime Minister Narendra recently announced that India has already installed 100 GW of renewable energy, adding that India is the only country among G20 nations that is progressing rapidly to meet its climate goals.
  • About:
    • The Paris Agreement is a climate pact adopted by 195 Parties in 2015 to address climate change.
    • It aims at arresting the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and urges the Parties to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
    • It also aims to strengthen countries' ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts.
    • Before COP 21 in Paris, countries were asked to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC's). 
    • Under the Paris Agreement, India has three quantifiable nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which include
      1. Lowering the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% compared to 2005 levels by 2030
      2. Increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil-free energy sources to 40% by 2030
      3. Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover.

Ramsar convention

  • Context:
    • Four more sites from India have been recognized under the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands bringing the total number of such designated areas in the country to 46.
    • These sites are Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat and Sultanpur and Bhindawas from Haryana.
  • About:
    • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
    • It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
    • Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to the treaty to become “Contracting Parties”.
    • The Ramsar list aims to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands, which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes, and benefits.
    • The addition of the four new sites increases the wetland area coverage in India to 1,083,322 hectares.
    • While Haryana recently got its first two Ramsar sites, in the case of Gujarat, it was an addition to an existing Ramsar site since Nalsarovar received its recognition in 2012.

Climate Breakthroughs Summit

  • Context:
    • The United Nations made a call for coordinated action to secure global net-zero emissions and fulfill its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels by 2050. 
  • About:
    • It is a collaboration between the World Economic Forum, Mission Possible Partnership, the United Nations Climate Champions, and the United Kingdom Climate Change Conference (COP26) Presidency.
    • It took place virtually in  May  2021.
    • Climate leaders at the summit discussed progress in critical sectors of the global economy, including steel, shipping, green hydrogen as well as nature.
    • One of its key campaigns is the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign that mobilizes the support of 708 cities, 24 regions, 2,360 businesses, 163 investors, and 624 higher education institutions to move towards zero-carbon recovery for a sustainable future.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

  • Context:
    • The Environment Ministry’s wildlife division has introduced new rules to regulate the import and export of ‘exotic wildlife species’.
    • Currently, it is the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, that oversees such trade.
    • Under the new rules, owners and possessors of such animals and birds must also register their stock with the Chief Wildlife Warden of their States.
  • About:
    • It is an international agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
    • It is also known as the Washington Convention and was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
    • The convention was opened for signature in 1973 and entered into force in 1975.
    • Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words, they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws.
    • Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
    • For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 183 Parties.

World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS)

  • Context:
    • The first World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) is organized by the International Solar Alliance (ISA) along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), as the convenor of ISA Global Leadership Task Force on Innovation.
  • About:
    • Its focus is on developing new Technologies and Innovations in the field of Solar.
    • The objective of the ISA First World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) will be to bring the spotlight on state-of-the-art technologies as well as next-generation technologies which will provide impetus to the growth and propagation of Solar Energy globally.
    • The Summit will provide a global platform for stakeholders to engage in innovations in technology that will catapult the world towards a high Solar growth trajectory. 

Note: Please refer to Environment SMP for more information on environment-related conventions/agreements.


 

Bilateral summits and agreements of India

India-UK Virtual Summit

  • Context:
    • The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met virtually in May 2021.
  • About:
    • Both leaders agreed on a common vision of a new and transformational Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the UK and India and adopted an ambitious India-UK Roadmap to 2030 to steer cooperation for the next 10 years.
    • They emphasized the shared commitment to an enhanced partnership in science, education, research, and innovation and look forward to the next ministerial Science and Innovation Council (SIC).
    • They welcomed the signing of the new UK-India MoU on Telecommunications/ICT and the Joint Declaration of Intent on Digital and Technology, a new partnership to support zoonotic research, and the continuation of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).
    • They agreed to expand and enhance the existing UK-India vaccines partnership, highlighting the successful collaboration between Oxford University, Astra Zeneca, and the Serum Institute of India on an effective Covid19 vaccine that is ‘developed in the UK’, ‘Made in India’, and ‘distributed globally’.

India-Italy Virtual Summit

  • Context:
    • A Virtual Bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Italy Prof. Giuseppe Conte was held in November 2020.
  • About:
    • The leaders discussed a wide range of issues including political, economic, scientific & technological, space and defense cooperation.
    • On regional and international issues, both sides agreed to coordinate closely at multilateral fora especially G-20.
    • Italy will assume the Presidency of G-20 in December 2021 followed by India in 2022.
    • Together, India and Italy will be part of the G20 Troika from December 2020.
    • India welcomed Italy’s decision to join ISA as soon as the ratification process is completed.
    • 15 MoUs/Agreements in various sectors such as energy, fisheries, shipbuilding, design, etc. were signed coinciding with the Summit.

India-Mexico relations

  • Context:
    • The fifth meeting of the India-Mexico Bilateral High-Level Group on Trade, Investment, and Cooperation (BHLG) was held in October through video conferencing.
  • About:
    • India and Mexico have agreed to expand and diversify bilateral trade ties and tap the potential of the complementarities between the two countries.
    • For this purpose, the two sides have agreed to enhance cooperation in pharmaceutical, medical equipment, healthcare, agri-products, fisheries, food processing, and aerospace industries.
    • In the meeting, two business-to-business MoUs were signed to foster cooperation in the respective domains.
    • A Memorandum of Understanding between the Electronics & Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) of India and the Mexican Chamber of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technologies (CANIETI), was signed.
    • An MoU between the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Mexican Business Council of Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE) for promoting the development of business relations between India and Mexico was also signed.

Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark

  • Context:
    • India and its Northern European partner Denmark have begun a new era in the form of a “far-reaching Green Strategic Partnership” that will enable Denmark in delivering sustainable solutions to India.
  • About:
    • The Green Strategic Partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement to
      • Advance political cooperation
      • Expand economic relations and green growth
      • Create jobs
      • Strengthen cooperation on addressing global challenges and opportunities.
    • There is a focus on an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
    • This partnership will build on and consolidate the existing agreement establishing a Joint Commission for Cooperation (signed  2009) between India and Denmark.
    • Both countries are working on a government-to-government level in the strategic sectors of energy, water, and environment, urbanization, and IPR. 

Open Sky Agreement

  • Context:
    • The UAE is keen to have an open sky agreement with India.
  • About:
    • Open Sky Agreements are bilateral agreements that the two countries negotiate to provide rights for airlines to offer international passenger and cargo services.
    • It expands international passenger and cargo flights.
    • Open skies between India and UAE will allow an unlimited number of flights to the selected cities of each other's countries.
    • There are about 1,068 flights a week between India and the UAE operated by the airlines of the two countries under the bilateral Air Service Agreement.
    • India has an open skies policy with SAARC countries and those beyond the 5,000-km radius, which implies that nations within this distance need to enter into a bilateral agreement and mutually determine the number of flights that their airlines can operate between the two countries.

 

Other conventions and agreements

Istanbul Convention on violence against women

  • Context:
    • Turkey’s controversial exit from Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women in July has received severe criticism from various quarters and has led to protests across the country. 
  • About:
    • The Council of Europe established the Istanbul Convention, a human rights treaty, to prevent and prosecute all forms of violence against women, promote gender equality and ensure protection and rehabilitation of women who are victims of violence.
    • The treaty was opened for ratification in May 2011.
    • From the European Union, 34 countries signed this treaty.
    • On November 24, 2011, Turkey became the first country to ratify the Istanbul Convention and, on March 8, 2012, it incorporated the Istanbul Convention into domestic law.
    • It is the first binding international instrument that creates a complete legal framework to protect women against any form of violence and prevent, prosecute, and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence.
    • The Convention also establishes a specific monitoring mechanism (called GREVIO) to ensure the effective implementation of its provisions by the Parties.

Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process

  • Context:
    • Heart of Asia members calls for cooperation to ensure the dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries.
  • About:
    • It is an intergovernmental organization established to provide a platform to discuss regional issues such as encouraging economic cooperation, encouraging security and political stability for Afghanistan and its immediate neighbours.
    • It is an initiative of the Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of Turkey, which was officially launched at a conference hosted by Turkey in Istanbul in 2011. 
    • It provides a platform for sincere and results-oriented regional cooperation by placing Afghanistan at its center, in recognition of the fact that a secure and stable Afghanistan is vital to the prosperity of the Heart of Asia region.
    • The 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) ministerial conference was recently held in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, which was attended by India's External Affairs Minister.

OECD-G20’s ‘Inclusive Framework’ tax deal

  • Context:
    • India and the majority members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting on July 1 adopted a high-level statement outlining a consensus solution to address tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy.
  • About:
    • The proposed solution consists of two components –
      • Pillar One is about the reallocation of an additional share of profit to the market jurisdictions
      • Pillar Two consisting of minimum tax and is subject to tax rules.
    • Some significant issues including share of profit allocation and scope of subject to tax rules, remain open and need to be addressed.
    • Technical details of the proposal will be worked out in the coming months and a consensus agreement is expected by October.
    • With regards to India, the outcome of Pillar 1 will have quantitative benefits since it will ensure India gets its fair share of corporate tax on earnings from the massive market it provides to MNEs.
    • The broader agreement reached on Pillar II solutions is the most significant step towards ending the’ race to the bottom’ that countries have indulged in for decades.
    • A global Minimum tax rule will ensure a level playing field for countries like India that offers a massive market for MNEs without providing a tax safe harbor.

Atlantic Charter

  • Context:
    • US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Johnson signed a new version of the ‘Atlantic Charter’ during the former’s first overseas visit since assuming the Presidency earlier this year. 
  • About:
    • US President Franklin Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in 1941 to announce the Atlantic Charter.
    • At the time, the UK was on the back foot during the Second World War and Churchill was hoping that the agreement would incentivize the US to formally join the allied cause.
    • Churchill was left disappointed when the US failed to do so, although it did contribute troops to the war effort months later, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
    • In contrast to the previous world order in which countries acted in self-interest, the Atlantic Charter outlined a series of governing principles that emphasized unity and democratic values.
    • The US and UK charted a post-war order that prioritized the self-determination of sovereign nations, the reduction of trade barriers, the disarmament of hostile nations, and a united drive to ensure better economic and social conditions for all people.
    • While the Charter itself was issued as a statement and was therefore non-binding, it did have a profound impact on the perception of joint British and American values and marked the beginning of the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the two countries.
    • It proved to be one of the catalysts for the formation of the United Nations.
    • Charter was controversial in some parts of the world, with British colonies, in particular, noting the irony of a colonial nation calling for the right to territorial self-determination.
    • In 1942, Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Roosevelt about the ‘hollowness’ of the Atlantic Charter, pointing to the exploitation of Indians and Africans by the British.
    • While Roosevelt was supposedly in favour of abolishing the imperial system, he was reluctant to pressure Churchill into a change amid a global war.

Chemical Weapons Convention

  • Context:
    • Work remains on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.
    • Resolution 2118 calls for Syria to cooperate with the UN partner, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and allow access to its territory.
  • About:
    • It is formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.
    • The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer, or use of chemical weapons by States Parties.
    • States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction. 
    • All States Parties have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.
    • States Parties have also agreed to create a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors (listed in Schedules 1, 2, and 3 in the Annex on Chemicals) to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited under the Convention
    • A unique feature of the Convention is its incorporation of the ‘challenge inspection’, whereby any State Party in doubt about another State Party’s compliance can request a surprise inspection.
    • Under the Convention’s ‘challenge inspection’ procedure, States Parties have committed themselves to the principle of ‘any time, anywhere' inspections with no right of refusal.

1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

  • Context:
    • After some 59 years, the chief drug policy-making entity of the United Nations (UN) has voted to remove cannabis from a listing of narcotics.
  • About:
    • It is an international treaty to prohibit the production and supply of specific (nominally narcotic) drugs and drugs with similar effects except under license for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research.
    • First, it seeks to limit the possession, use, trade-in, distribution, import, export, manufacture, and production of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes.
    • Second, it combats drug trafficking through international cooperation to deter and discourage drug traffickers.
    • It also aims at tackling drug abuse through limiting the availability of certain drugs and international cooperation.
    • In reviewing a series of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on cannabis and its derivatives, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) zeroed in on the decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — where it was listed alongside specific deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin, recognized as having little to no therapeutic purposes.
    • Placing in that schedule means strictest control measures apply, which generally discouraged its use for medical purposes. 
    • CND is the UN’s central drug policy-making body.

European Convention on Human Rights protocol

  • Context:
    • Protocol no. 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights came into force 1 August 2021, following its ratification by all 47 State Parties.
  • About:
    • Protocol no. 15 is an international legal agreement that makes a series of changes to the Convention, and whose development was led by the UK.
    • Its coming into force will conclude the last major reform from the Brighton Declaration, adopted under the UK’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
    • The Brighton Declaration was an agreement made at the Council of Europe High-Level Conference of 2012, where the UK Government announced plans to reform the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
    • The changes introduced by Protocol No. 15 aim to address inefficiencies in the ECtHR.
    • Under certain conditions, the ECtHR reviews applications from people claiming their rights under the Convention have been violated by a State Party. In particular, the Protocol will contribute to helping the Court manage the high number of applications it receives.
    • Protocol No. 15 recognizes that the primary responsibility for protecting human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights falls to each State Party.
    • It will also improve the efficiency of the ECtHR by shortening the time limit for applications and ensuring that all applications have been properly considered by domestic courts.
    • Additionally, it will modify rules regarding the appointment and retirement of judges of the Court, to enable them to serve for a full nine-year term and provide continuity.

Doha Agreement

  • Context:
    • The Doha Agreement, also known as the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, was signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020, to bring the Afghanistan War to an end.
  • About: 
    •  
    • Also known as the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, it is a peace agreement that was signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020, to bring the Afghanistan War to an end.
    • It is important to note that Bonn Agreement was also signed between the U.S. and Taliban in 2001 to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 
    • The Agreement provided for the withdrawal of all NATO forces from Afghanistan in return for a Taliban pledge to prevent al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control, as well as ongoing talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
    •  
    • The Agreement was supported by China, Russia and Pakistan and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, but did not involve the government of Afghanistan. India welcomed the pact.
    • Despite the peace agreement, insurgent attacks against Afghan security forces surged in the aftermath, with thousands killed. However, withdrawals per the agreement continued. 
    •  
    • The US completed its full evacuation on August 30, 2021, as the Taliban took control of the country by force.
    •  


Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

  • Context: 
    • The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), or the Nuke ban treaty, came into force on 22 January 2021.
  • About:
    •  It is a legally binding instrument aimed at the total elimination of nuclear weapons, under the aegis of the United Nations.
    • The Treaty prohibits States Parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, or stockpiling nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
    • Signatories are barred from transferring or receiving nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, control over such weapons, or any assistance with activities prohibited under the Treaty.
    • States are also prohibited from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.
    • Lastly, States Parties cannot allow the stationing, installation, or deployment of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices in their territory.
    • In addition to the Treaty’s prohibitions, States Parties are obligated to provide victim assistance and help with environmental remediation efforts.
    • Each State Party must maintain its existing safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). State Parties that have not yet done so must, at a minimum, conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement.
    • At least 50 countries have ratified the treaty to date. 
    • The eight nuclear weapon states i.e US, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan and North Korea along with Israel had not participated in the negotiations.
    • Even Japan, the only country to have suffered nuclear attacks boycotted the conference.
    • India maintained that it recognises the ‘Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament-(CD) as the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum & it is not convinced of the potential of the current treaty to address the disarmament issue.

China-Iran Strategic Cooperation Pact

  • Context:
    • On March 27, China signed a landmark 25-year Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Iran, marking a renewed commitment to their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership established in 2016. 
  • About:
    • The strategic cooperation agreement is likely to give a boost to the bilateral energy trade between Iran and China, which had witnessed a drop as a result of the US sanctions and disruptions caused by COVID-19.
    • Nearly 80% of China’s total imports from Iran are of crude oil and natural gas. 
    • Besides trade and business, there is strategic significance to the agreement.
    • Firstly, both Iran and China remain at odds with the US.
    • Though President Joseph Biden, unlike his predecessor, has signalled willingness to engage in negotiations with Iran to revive the nuclear deal, the outcome is not yet clear.
    • The efforts to get the US back to the JCPOA is moving at a snail’s pace.
    • Secondly, the strategic cooperation agreement acquires significance in the context of the regional geopolitics in the Gulf and West Asia.
    • The regional allies and partners of the US, namely Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, see Iran as a security threat.
    • This was one of the major factors that led to the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and Gulf Arab countries, namely Bahrain and the UAE. 

EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)

  • Context:
    • The Trade and Cooperation Agreement was signed in December 2020 and entered into force in May 2021.
  • About:
    • The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded between the EU and the UK sets out preferential arrangements in areas such as trade in goods and in services, digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, aviation and road transport, energy, fisheries, social security coordination, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, thematic cooperation and participation in Union programmes.
    • It is underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field and respect for fundamental rights.
    • While it will by no means match the level of economic integration that existed while the UK was an EU Member State, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement goes beyond traditional free trade agreements and provides a solid basis for preserving our longstanding friendship and cooperation.
    • The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement consists of
      • a Free Trade Agreement, with ambitious cooperation on economic, social, environmental and fisheries issues,
      • a close partnership on citizens’ security,
      • an overarching governance framework.
    • Foreign policy, external security and defence cooperation is not covered by the Agreement as the UK did not want to negotiate this matter.
    • Since January 2021, there is therefore no framework in place between the UK and the EU to develop and coordinate joint responses to foreign policy challenges, for instance, the imposition of sanctions on third-country nationals or economies.



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