Table of Contents
- Conventions related to United Nations
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT)
- United Nations Genocide Convention
- 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees
- United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements (UNISA)
- UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)
- 62nd Session of UN Social Development Commission
- Climate and environment-related conventions and agreements
- Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol
- Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
- Paris Agreement
- Ramsar convention
- Climate Breakthroughs Summit
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
- CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species)
- World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS)
- Bilateral summits and agreements of India
- India and Maldives – Judicial Cooperation
- India-US Commercial Dialogue 2023
- Migration And Mobility Agreement Between India And Austria
- Paris Club
- India, Singapore Start Instant Fund Transfer
- India, U.S. Step Up Strategic Partnership With Technology Initiative
- 5th Regional Dialogue on Afghanistan
- 19th ASEAN-India Summit
- Delhi and Dhaka sign river pact
- INDIA IRAN PACT ON SEAFARERS
- India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership
- India and Vietnam Mutual Logistics Agreement
- West Seti Power Project
- Australia India Water Security Initiative (AIWASI)
- Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark
- Open Sky Agreement
- Other conventions and agreements
- Voice of Global South Summit
- First I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-USA) Leaders’ Virtual Summit
- Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)
- International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
- First Movers Coalition
- Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion
- Group of Friends
- Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)
- G20 Digital Innovation Alliance (G20-DIA)
- Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
- 2nd United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress
- Financial Action Task Force
- Singapore Declaration
- Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP)
- Istanbul Convention on violence against women
- Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process
- OECD-G20’s ‘Inclusive Framework’ tax deal
- Atlantic Charter
- Chemical Weapons Convention
- 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
- European Convention on Human Rights protocol
- Doha Agreement
- Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
- China-Iran Strategic Cooperation Pact
- EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)
- 8th Meeting of Agriculture Experts of BIMSTEC
- ‘Blue Dot’ Network
- Russia withdraws from the Open Skies Treaty
- Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage
- Sendai Framework
- Glasgow Climate Pact (COP 26)
- Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between India and Australia
- China-Solomon Islands Pact
- Colour Revolutions
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
- Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
- Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
Conventions related to United Nations
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- It is the 40th anniversary (2022) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- UNCLOS has allowed unfair benefits to some countries, and has failed to protect the marine environment.
- Thus, UNCLOS might need an overhaul.
- 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)
- The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) has concluded in Montreal, Canada, promising to take urgent action to protect and restore the world’s biodiversity that inhabit this planet.
- About CBD:
- 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.
- About COP 15:
- The U.N. biodiversity conference concluded in Canada's Montreal.
- The first part of COP 15 took place in Kunming, China and reinforced the commitment to address the biodiversity crisis and the Kunming Declaration was adopted by over 100 countries.
- In 2021, the Kunming Declaration was signed by more than 100 countries to ensure the development, adoption, and implementation of an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
- The theme of the declaration was Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth.
- China invested about 230 million dollars to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in the developing countries.
- The declaration referred to the '30 by 30' target, that would afford 30% of the Earth’s land and oceans protected status by 2030.
- The 15th CoP adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF).
- GBF includes 4 goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030.
- Key Targets of the GBF:
- 30×30 Deal:
- Restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally (on land and sea) by 2030.
- Conserve and manage 30% areas (terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030.
- Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown.
- Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030.
- Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030.
- Reduce pollution risks and negative impacts of pollution from all sources by 2030 to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions.
- Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste.
- Sustainably manage areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry and substantially increase agroecology and other biodiversity-friendly practices
- Tackle climate change through nature-based solutions..
- Reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030.
- Secure the safe, legal and sustainable use and trade of wild species by 2030.
- 30×30 Deal:
- Other Major Outcomes of COP15:
- Money for Nature: Signatories aim to ensure USD200 billion per year is channelled to conservation initiatives, from public and private sources.
- Big Companies Report Impacts on Biodiversity: The parties agreed to large companies and financial institutions being subject to “requirements” to make disclosures regarding their operations, supply chains and portfolios.
- Harmful Subsidies: Countries committed to identify subsidies that deplete biodiversity by 2025, and then eliminate, phase out or reform them. They agreed to slash those incentives by at least USD500 billion a year by 2030 and increase incentives that are positive for conservation.
- Monitoring and reporting progress: All the agreed aims will be supported by processes to monitor progress in the future, in a bid to prevent this agreement meeting the same fate as similar targets that were agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, and never met.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- The COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt concluded with a historic breakthrough to help vulnerable countries deal with losses and damages from the impacts of climate change.
- About UNFCCC:
- 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.
- COP27 is the 27th annual UN meeting on climate. It is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh until 18 November 2022.
- Outcomes of the COP27:
- The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan: It emphasised that a global transition to a low-carbon economy will require at least $4-6 trillion in annual spending.
- Mitigation work programme: This would begin this year and last until 2030. Governments were requested –
- To revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their national climate plans by the end of 2023.
- To accelerate efforts to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
- To reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in applicable sectors through increased renewable and low-emission energy.
- Loss and damage (L&D): COP27 adopted the basic demand of a fund to acknowledge assistance needed for particularly vulnerable developing countries. However, there is no agreement yet on how finance should be provided and where it should come from.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
- The 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held from 9th May to 20th May 2022.
- 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.
- It was held in Abidjan, a city in Cote d’Ivoire.
- Theme: Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.
- Objective: To bring together stakeholders from governments and the private sector to drive progress towards sustainable management of land.
- Drought, land restoration, land rights, gender equality, and youth empowerment are the focus areas of COP 15.
- UNCCD released the Second edition of Global Land Outlook (GLO2), which is being discussed at COP 15. The report observed that around 40% of all ice-free land is degraded.
- As per the Drought in Numbers, 2022 report released at the COP 15, the frequency and duration of drought are increasing across the world. According to the report, India is one of the severely drought-impacted countries. Around 66% of India suffered a drought during 2020-2022.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Universal Children's Day is celebrated on 22 November every year.
- 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)
- It was frequently in the news due custodial torture related news.
- 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
- International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime is commemorated on December 9 of every year around the world.
- 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
- The year 2022 marks the 71st anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, a key international treaty establishing the rights of people forced to flee
- 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)
- The Convention came into force in September 2020.
- 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)
- 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.
- All the permanent members of UNSC (US, China, Russia, UK and France) attended the Meet.
- 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.
62nd Session of UN Social Development Commission
Context: 62nd Session of the UN Social Development Commission was held recently.
- The UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD) has elected India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ruchira Kamboj as its chair for the 62nd session.
- The opportunity to chair the 62nd session of CSocD comes at a time when India is leading the G20 and is steering the global agenda through its G20 Presidency.
- In addition, India has undertaken a number of initiatives and policies to advance the social development of its citizens, which might be very advantageous for other nations.
- Theme – “Fostering social development and social justice through social policies to accelerate progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieve the overarching goal of poverty eradication”.
UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD):
- CSocD, formerly known as Social Commission, has been in existence since the very inception of the United Nations.
- It advises the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Governments on a wide range of social policy issues and on the social perspective of development.
- CSocD is a functional commission of the ECOSOC of the UN CSocD meets annually in New York, usually in February.
- Since the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, the CSocD has been the key UN
- body in charge of the follow-up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
- Since 2006, the Commission has taken up key social development themes as part of its follow-up to the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit.
- Originally 18, membership now stands at 46.
- Members are elected by ECOSOC based on the equitable geographical distribution for 4-year terms.
UN’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH):
- Baguette — the staple French bread — was inscribed into the UN’s list of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) on November 30.
- UNESCO, the international body which aims at promoting peace and cooperation among nations through education, arts, sciences and culture, recognized the “Artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” as a world cultural heritage.
- UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was established in the year 2008.
- UNESCO defines “intangible” as “expressions that have been passed from one generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments and contribute to giving us a sense of identity and continuity…”
- 'Intangible cultural heritage’ includes “oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.”
- It ascribes importance to “the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next,” which necessitates their preservation.
- The document states that the safeguarding of an ICH means ensuring that it “remains an active part of life for today’s generations that they can hand on to tomorrow.”
What are the criteria for the selection?
- There are three criteria for an intangible cultural heritage to be inscribed in the United Nations list.
- The entity must:
- be recognized by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage,
- be transmitted from generation to generation and be constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history and
- provide them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.
What are India’s intangible cultural symbols on the UNESCO list?
- Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana
- Tradition of Vedic chanting
- Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre
- 2009: Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India
- Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
- Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
- Chhau dance
- 2012: Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India
- 2013: Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
- 2014: Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India
- Nawrouz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowrouz, Nawrouz, Nauryz, Nooruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Navruz
- 2017: Kumbh Mela
- 2021: Durga Puja in Kolkata
Who manages nominations to the UNESCO list in India?
- Sangeet Natak Akademi is the nodal organisation which looks after this function, and files nominations of intangible cultural entities from India, for evaluation by the international body.
- The Ministry of Culture also launches regular schemes, in an attempt to preserve, protect and promote intangible cultural heritage in the country.
- Among them, the “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India” aims to “professionally” enhance “awareness and interest” in the safeguarding, promotion and propagation of ICH.
Climate and environment-related conventions and agreements
Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- At present, there is insufficient research to determine whether we are overshooting the novel entities' planetary boundary.
- The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to be communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- 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.
- 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
- Lowering the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% compared to 2005 levels by 2030
- Increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil-free energy sources to 40% by 2030
- Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover.
- Updated NDC:
- The updated NDC seeks to enhance India’s contributions towards achievement of the strengthening of global response to the threat of climate change, as agreed under the Paris Agreement. Such action will also help India usher in low emissions growth pathways.
- It would protect the interests of the country and safeguard its future development needs based on the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC.
- India at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Glasgow, United Kingdom, expressed to intensify its climate action by presenting to the world five nectar elements (Panchamrit) of India’s climate action.
- This update to India’s existing NDC translates the ‘Panchamrit’ announced at COP 26 into enhanced climate targets. The update is also a step towards achieving India’s long term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070.
- Earlier, India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to UNFCCC on October 2, 2015.
- The 2015 NDC comprised eight goals;
- three of these have quantitative targets upto 2030 namely, cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources to reach 40%; reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 percent compared to 2005 levels and creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.
- As per the updated NDC, India now stands committed to reduce Emissions Intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from 2005 level and achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
- Today’s approval, also takes forward the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of sustainable lifestyles and climate justice to protect the poor and vulnerable from adverse impacts of climate change.
- The updated NDC reads “To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change”.
- The decision on enhanced NDCs demonstrates India’s commitment at the highest level for decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
- India’s updated NDC has been prepared after carefully considering our national circumstances and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC).
- India’s updated NDC also reaffirms our commitment to work towards a low carbon emission pathway, while simultaneously endeavoring to achieve sustainable development goals.
- The updated NDC also represents the framework for India’s transition to cleaner energy for the period 2021-2030.
- The updated framework, together with many other initiatives of the Government, including tax concessions and incentives such as Production Linked Incentive scheme for promotion of manufacturing and adoption of renewable energy, will provide an opportunity for enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports.
- It will lead to an overall increase in green jobs such as in renewable energy, clean energy industries- in automotives, manufacturing of low emissions products like Electric Vehicles and super-efficient appliances, and innovative technologies such as green hydrogen, etc.
- India’s updated NDC will be implemented over the period 2021-2030 through programs and schemes of relevant Ministries /departments and with due support from States and Union Territories.
- The Government has launched many schemes and programs to scale up India’s actions on both adaptation and mitigation.
- Appropriate measures are being taken under these schemes and programs across many sectors, including water, agriculture, forest, energy and enterprise, sustainable mobility and housing, waste management, circular economy and resource efficiency, etc.
- As a result of the aforesaid measures, India has progressively continued decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Net Zero target by 2030 by Indian Railways alone will lead to a reduction of emissions by 60 million tonnes annually. Similarly, India’s massive LED bulb campaign is reducing emissions by 40 million tonnes annually.
- India’s NDC do not bind it to any sector specific mitigation obligation or action. India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protecting the vulnerable sectors of economy and segments of our society.
- Recently, India has added 11 new wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites taking total tally to 75.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species)
- CMS, also known as the Bonn Convention, aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty concluded under the aegis of UNEP, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.
- CMS is the only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.
- Indian Government signed the “Raptor MOU” on Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, with the CMS. However, the MOU is not legally binding.
- Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) is a unique voluntary public-private coalition of like-minded governments and organizations sharing a common purpose, i.e. focussing public as well as political attention and resources on ending the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
- The 13th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP) concluded in Gandhinagar. India hosted the CMS COP for the first time.
- CMS COP 13 adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration, which calls for migratory species and the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritized in the new framework, which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October.
- The theme of the CMS COP 13 was “Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home”. Mascot for the COP was ‘Gibi- The Great Indian Bustard’
World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS)
- 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.
- 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
- The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met virtually in May 2021.
- 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-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline
Context: Joint Virtual Inauguration of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline by Prime Ministers of India & Bangladesh.
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline on 18 March 2023 at 1700 Hrs (IST) via video conference.
- This is the first cross-border energy pipeline between India and Bangladesh, built at an estimated cost of INR 377 crore, of which the Bangladesh portion of the pipeline was built at a cost of approx. INR 285 crore, has been borne by the Government of India under grant assistance.
- The Pipeline has the capacity to transport 1 Million Metric Ton Per Annum (MMTPA) of High-Speed Diesel (HSD). It will supply High-Speed Diesel initially to seven districts in northern Bangladesh.
- The operation of the India- Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline will put in place a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective, and environment-friendly mode of transporting HSD from India to Bangladesh and will further enhance cooperation in energy security between the two countries.
- The IBFPL is a 131.5-kilometre-long oil pipeline connecting Siliguri in North Bengal to Parbatipur in Bangladesh’s Dinajpur province.
- The pipeline is part of energy sector cooperation between the two neighbouring countries through which Bangladesh will import petroleum, especially diesel from India.
India and Maldives – Judicial Cooperation
Context: Recenly, the Union Cabinet approved the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the field of judicial cooperation, between India and Judicial Service Commission of Maldives.
More on news:
- The MoU will provide a platform to tap benefits of Information Technology for court digitization, and can be a potential growth area for the IT companies and start-ups in both the countries.
- This is the eighth MoU signed between India and other countries in the field of Judicial Cooperation.
- During recent years, the close relationship between India and Maldives has intensified multi-dimensionally. With the signing of this agreement on cooperation in the field of law and justice, the good relations between the two countries will receive further impetus. It will not only enable exchange of knowledge and technology in judicial and other legal areas between the two countries but will also further the objectives of “Neighbourhood First” policy.
- India was among the first to recognise the Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
- India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations. Relations between India and Maldives have been traditionally warm. However, during Abdulla Yameen’s presidency (2013-18), bilateral relations frayed, especially with Maldives’ economic and strategic relations with China growing rapidly.
- Despite its small size, the Maldives is currently being wooed by a number of developed and developing countries. Because of the Strategic Importance of the Geographic Location of the Maldives with respect to key International Shipping Lanes (ISLs).
- The Indian Ocean is a key highway for global trade and energy flows. The Maldives is geographically positioned like a ‘toll gate’ between the western Indian Ocean chokepoints of the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz on the one hand, and the eastern Indian Ocean chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca on the other.
- It is extremely important for India’s strength in the blue economy through sustainable management and utilisation of marine resources.
- Maldives is important for political stability and security in the Indian Ocean Neighbourhood and the protection of Indian trade and investment.
- They have a clear responsibility in maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean. India to see Maldives supporting the Pacific strategy of the Quad — a strategic arrangement between India, US, Japan and Australia.
- India being a net provider of security, is also our responsibility to maintain peace and security in the region. So these two are complementary approaches that India is working on.
- It is key that Male treats India as the “first among equals” when it comes to China. When Solih came to power, he categorically said India First policy is my foreign policy.
- In 2016, an Action Plan between India and the Maldives was signed for ‘defence cooperation’ to enhance the “shared strategic and security interests of the two countries in the Indian Ocean region”.
- This potential must be realised through imaginative foreign policy and maritime-security initiatives. While the recent ‘India-First Policy’ of the Maldives and India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ are intuitively complementary, the challenge lies in implementing these policies with cultural, geo-economics, and geostrategic sensitivity.
India-US Commercial Dialogue 2023
Context: India-US bilateral Commercial Dialogue 2023 was co-chaired by India’s Union Commerce and Industry Minister and US Secretary of Commerce.
- A semiconductor sub-committee was established:
- This sub-committee will be led by the Department of Commerce for the US and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the Indian side.
- It is aimed at establishing a semiconductor supply chain. It will help develop an ecosystem to reduce the dependency on China and Taiwan.
- Welcomed the launch of the U.S.-India initiative of Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET):
- iCET aims to elevate and expand the strategic technology partnership and defense industrial cooperation between India and USA.
- It seeks to build supply chains that increase co-production and co-development between the countries and increase linkages between the countries’ start-up ecosystems.
Migration And Mobility Agreement Between India And Austria
Context: India signed a “Comprehensive Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement” (MMPA) with Austria.
- India signed a “Comprehensive Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement” (MMPA) with Austria.
- This is a much-needed agreement, especially in view of the sharp increase in illegal migration in Austria. This includes over 15,000 illegal migrants from India with practically no chance of asylum.
- This agreement is also seen as a stepping stone for India which has been keen to finalize these agreements with European countries in order to resolve issues over the long-pending India-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement.
- In addition, the agreement will also help Indian working professionals.
Context: The Paris Club, an informal group of creditor nations, will provide financial assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sri Lanka’s debt. This assurance is a key step needed to unlock a $2.9 billion bailout by the IMF.
- An assurance from the Paris Club, as well as other bilateral creditors, is one of the conditions that Sri Lanka has to fulfill for the IMF to begin disbursing a $2.9 bn bailout package to the beleaguered nation that all but collapsed last year under a severe economic crisis.
- The Paris Club is a group of mostly western creditor countries that grew from a 1956 meeting in which Argentina agreed to meet its public creditors in Paris. Their objective is to find sustainable debt-relief solutions for countries that are unable to repay their bilateral loans.
- It describes itself as a forum where official creditors meet to solve payment difficulties faced by debtor countries. All 22 are members of the group called Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
- The members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.
How has Paris Club been involved in debt agreements?
- According to the information on its website, since its beginnings, the Paris Club has reached 478 agreements with 102 different debtor countries. Since 1956, the debt treated in the framework of Paris Club agreements amounts to $ 614 billion.
- It operates on the principles of consensus and solidarity. Any agreement reached with the debtor country will apply equally to all its Paris Club creditors.
- A debtor country that signs an agreement with its Paris Club creditors, should not then accept from its non-Paris Club commercial and bilateral creditors such terms of treatment of its debt that are less favorable to the debtor than those agreed with the Paris Club.
The role of the Paris Club over time:
- The Paris group countries dominated bilateral lending in the last century, but their importance has receded over the last two decades or so with the emergence of China as the world’s biggest bilateral lender.
- In Sri Lanka’s case, for instance, China, Japan, and India are the largest bilateral creditors. Sri Lanka’s debt to China is 52 per cent of its bilateral debt, 19.5 per cent to Japan, and 12 per cent to India. With Japan a member of the Paris Club, Sri Lanka needed assurances from China and India as well.
- The Paris Club had tried to get both countries on board a centralized effort, but Delhi launched its own bilateral negotiations with Colombo. Last month, during a visit to Colombo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced that India had written to the IMF providing the necessary financial assurances, adding that it hoped others would follow suit.
- The reported readiness by the Paris Club comes against this background. That still leaves China, whose Exim Bank offered a two-year moratorium on its loans soon after the Indian announcement.
- This has been deemed to be insufficient. Victoria Nuland, the US under-secretary of state who is touring Sri Lanka, said the Chinese offer was “not enough”. The IMF has not commented on the Chinese assurance, but described the Indian submission as a “good development”.
India, Singapore Start Instant Fund Transfer
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while saying Unified Payments Interface (UPI) was the most preferred payment mechanism in India, hailed its integration with Singapore's PayNow said called it a gift to citizens of the two countries.
- India recently kicked off its first cross-border real-time payments systems connectivity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who witnessed the launch event, stating that the linkage of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Singapore’s PayNow will benefit migrant workers, professionals, and students and their families in foreign remittances between the two countries.
- Stating that the linkage is a “new era in cross-border fintech connectivity”, Modi said it will provide a low-cost, secure, and real-time option for cross-border remittances between India and Singapore.
- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the idea of the linkage was first conceived in 2018 when PM Modi visited Singapore. He said cross-border remittances between India and Singapore amount to over $1 billion annually. Of the total inward remittances to India in 2020-21, the share of Singapore stood at 5.7 percent, according to the Reserve Bank of India Remittance Survey, 2021.
- RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das and the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Managing Director Ravi Menon launched the new linkage in the presence of Modi and Lee Hsien Loong. A live cross-border funds transfer between the two platforms was also carried out.
- The UPI-PayNow linkage is a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments between India and Singapore – which is among the major countries sending remittances to India – and closely aligns with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities of driving faster, cheaper, and more transparent cross-border payments.
- To begin with, the State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank, and ICICI Bank will facilitate both inward and outward remittances while Axis Bank and DBS India will facilitate inward remittances, according to a statement by the RBI.
- For Singapore users, the service will be made available through DBS-Singapore and Liquid Group, which is a non-bank financial institution. The RBI said that more banks will be included in the linkage over time.
- Currently, Indian users of the participating banks will be able to remit up to Rs 60,000 in a day using the mobile apps. “At the time of making the transaction, the system shall dynamically calculate and display the amount in both the currencies for convenience of the user,” the RBI said.
- According to the RBI, ICICI Bank and Indian Overseas Bank users can send money to Singapore through their respective internet banking facilities. Indian Bank users can use the facility through its own mobile app called IndOASIS, and State Bank of India users can remit through the BHIM UPI Pay app. Currently, cross-border transaction under the linkage is not possible on popular UPI platforms like PhonePe, Google Pay, and Paytm.
- The RBI also clarified that in the UPI-PayNow interlinkage transactions, only person-to-person (P2P) remittances towards the purpose of “Maintenance of Relatives Abroad” and “Gift” under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) are allowed, and the prescribed LRS limits would be applicable. Funds held in bank accounts or e-wallets can be transferred to and from India using just the UPI-id, mobile number, or Virtual Payment Address (VPA).
- Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple banks accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collection request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.
- With the above context in mind, NPCI conducted a pilot launch with 21 member banks. The pilot launch was on 11th April 2016 by Dr. Raghuram G Rajan, Governor, RBI at Mumbai. Banks have started to upload their UPI-enabled Apps on the Google Play store from 25th August, 2016 onwards.
India, U.S. Step Up Strategic Partnership With Technology Initiative
Context: India’s NSA Ajit Doval and the U.S. NSA Jake Sullivan officially launched the United States-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).
- India and the U.S., recently, launched a program to enhance their strategic partnership with delegations led by the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan, meeting in Washington for the inaugural dialogue of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).
- The two sides announced a set of programs whose aim is to increase the depth and scope of bilateral cooperation in cutting-edge technology, including in the defence sector.
- The iCET seeks to build supply chains that increase co-production and co-development between the countries and increase linkages between the countries’ start-up ecosystems, both governments said in their statements describing the dialogue.
- A White House ‘fact sheet’ released after the meeting highlighted six areas of planned cooperation:
- strengthening innovation ecosystems, defense innovation and technology cooperation, resilient semiconductor supply chains, space, STEM talent, and next-generation telecommunications
- The programs include a Research Agency Partnership between the U.S. National Science Foundation and Indian science agenciesquantum computing that will also involve academia and industry; developing a new defense industrial cooperation roadmapsemiconductors in India, including by setting up a task force to identify opportunities; and increasing space cooperation including human spaceflight.
- Also announced were a private-public dialogue to further 5G/6G cooperation and the adoption of Open RAN (technology to connect phones to each other and to the internet) in India.
- The U.S. also committed to a speedy review of an application from General Electric to produce jet engines in India for India-manufactured Light Combat Aircraft.
- The initiative is a particularly significant milestone in the bilateral relationship, having been announced at the highest level — by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden at the Quad summit in Tokyo in May 2022.
- This level of backing, plus the fact that it is being led by the NSAs on both sides — with their ability to coordinate across ministries and departments — not only “distinguished” this initiative but was also critical to its success, a senior U.S. official told reporters on a Tuesday briefing call.
- The involvement of the business and academic communities in India and the U.S., and the initiative’s plan to renew and capitalize on existing mechanisms rather than replace them, are factors in iCET’s favor, one U.S. official said.
5th Regional Dialogue on Afghanistan
Context: National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval participated in the fifth multilateral meeting of secretaries of security councils/ NSAs on Afghanistan, held in Moscow.
- National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval participated in the fifth multilateral meeting of secretaries of security councils/ NSAs on Afghanistan, held in Moscow.
- NSA Doval also called on President Putin and had wide-ranging discussions on bilateral and regional issues:
- It should be noted that the ties between India and Russia remained strong notwithstanding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
- India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
- Key Highlights:
- Need for inclusive and representative government in Afghanistan:
- India reiterated its call for an “inclusive and representative” government in Afghanistan.
- India has not recognized the Taliban administration in Kabul.
- However, an Indian technical team is stationed at the Indian embassy in the Afghan capital. This team has been overseeing the humanitarian assistance that India has been providing over the past year.
- People of Afghanistan were among India’s foremost priorities:
- Recently presented India’s Union Budget 2023-24 allocated ₹200 crores for the development and
- humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.
- India has so far delivered 40,000 MT of wheat, 60 tonnes of medicines, 5,00,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses, winter clothing, and 28 tonnes of disaster relief.
- India has also granted fresh scholarships to 2,260 Afghan students including 300 Afghan girls in the past two years.
- On Terrorism:
- India reiterated its position that no country should be allowed to use Afghan territory to export terrorism and radicalization.
- It reaffirmed the importance of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2593:
- The resolution was passed in August 2021 under India’s Presidency.
- It demands that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any other country or to shelter and train terrorists.
- Regional Dialogue on Afghanistan:
- Participants: Russia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were represented at the 5th meeting. The meeting was held at the level of NSAs.
- To discuss various issues related to Afghanistan.
- This includes the security situation and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan.
- This meeting is among the heads of security establishments. Hence, it is not a protocol-oriented meeting.
- It mostly discusses practical cooperation — from intelligence sharing to information gathering to counter-terrorism capacity-building.
- The meeting looks at evolving a regional security architecture to deal with these challenges, arising out of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
- Need for inclusive and representative government in Afghanistan:
19th ASEAN-India Summit
Context: Recently, the Vice President of India attended the 19th ASEAN-India Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
- The Vice President, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar led the Indian delegation, including the External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, at the 19th ASEAN-India Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
- The Vice President hailed the deep cultural, economic and civilizational ties that have existed between India and South East Asia from time immemorial.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) is central to India’s Act East policy.
- It is at the heart of India’s Indo-Pacific outreach.
- The Indian Prime Minister at Shangri La Dialogue laid out India’s Indo-Pacific policy that highlighted that ASEAN will remain at the core of India’s policy outreach in the region.
Outcomes of the Summit:
- At the summit, ASEAN and India adopted a joint statement announcing the elevation of the existing strategic Partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
- Both sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation, and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region.
- It also recognized the importance of “unimpeded lawful maritime commerce” and the disputes should be resolved by following “universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
- Both sides also agreed to intensify maritime cooperation including anti-piracy operations, armed robbery against ships, maritime safety, search and rescue (SAR) operations, humanitarian assistance, and emergency response and relief.
- Both sides announced plans to enhance collaboration against “terrorism and transnational crimes including international economic crimes and money laundering, cybercrime, drugs and human trafficking and arms smuggling.”
- Both sides decided to expand their collaboration in the space industry including “through the establishment of tracking, Data Reception and Processing Stations in Vietnam and Indonesia”.
- India and ASEAN agreed to expedite the review of the ASEAN-India Trade In Goods Agreement (AITIGA).
- It also agreed to enhance ASEAN-India cooperation on the digital economy through a series of regional capacity-building activities in digital transformation, digital trade, digital skills, and innovation, as well as Hackathons.
What is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations?
- It is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation.
- It was established in August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the founding fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
- Its chairmanship rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
- ASEAN countries have a total population of 650 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 2.8 trillion.
- ASEAN brings together ten Southeast Asian states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – into one organization.
Delhi and Dhaka sign river pact
- About the river pact:
- India and Bangladesh signed an interim water sharing agreement for the Kushiyara river, the first such pact between them in over 25 years — the Ganga water treaty was signed in 1996.
- The two sides also decided to start negotiations on a comprehensive trade pact and strengthen cooperation against terrorism and radicalism.
- Kushiyara pact will benefit people in southern Assam and Sylhet in Bangladesh.
- The two countries will also share the data on floods.
- The two sides will start discussions on a trade agreement, underlining that the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent geopolitical challenges make it essential to strengthen bilateral economic ties.
- Besides the agreement on the Kushiyara water-sharing, the two sides signed pacts on railways, space, IT and media.
- What is the Kushiyara agreement?
- Over the last century, the flow of the Barak river has changed in such a way that the bulk of the river’s water flows into Kushiyara while the rest goes into Surma.
- According to water expert, Dr. Ainun Nishat, the agreement is aimed at addressing part of the problem that the changing nature of the river has posed before Bangladesh as it unleashes flood during the monsoon and goes dry during the winter when demand of water goes up because of a crop cycle in Sylhet.
- Though the details of the agreement are not yet known, Dr. Nishat says that under this MoU, Bangladesh will be able to withdraw 153 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water from the Kushiyara out of the approximately 2,500 cusecs of water that is there in the river during the winter season.
- Under the agreement, Bangladesh will be able to withdraw 153 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water from the Kushiyara that will solve the water crisis for farmers of Sylhet.
- There are various estimates about the area that will benefit from this supply but it is generally understood that approximately 10,000 hectares of land and millions of people will benefit from the water that will flow through a network of canals in Sylhet benefiting the farmers involved in Boro rice, which is basically the rice cultivated during the dry season of December to February and harvested in early summer.
- Bangladesh has been complaining that the Boro rice cultivation in the region had been suffering as India did not allow it to withdraw the required water from the Kushiyara.
- The agreement addresses Bangladesh’s concern over water supply along the river, during the winter months but flood control in the basin of Kushiyara is expected to require much more work.
- How will Bangladesh use the water?
- The Rahimpur Canal project in Zakiganj upazila or subdivision of Sylhet was built to help the farmers access Kushiyara’s water but the facility used to remain dry during the lean season without serving the purpose for which it was built.
- The eight km long canal is the only supplier of water from the Kushiyara to the region and Bangladesh has built a pump house and other facilities for the withdrawal of water that can now be utilized.
- The water of Kushiyara will be channeled through the Rahimpur Canal project in Sylhet.
- India-Bangladesh Relations:
- Bangladesh is one of India’s Neighbouring Countries.
- India shares the longest international border with Bangladesh. The length of the India-Bangladesh Border is 4,096.7 Kms.
- India and Bangladesh marked their 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2021.
- There are 54 common rivers between India and Bangladesh.
- India and Bangladesh signed the Ganga Waters Treaty on 12th December 1996 (For 30 years.)
- Both nations established the Joint River Commission (JRC) which came into force in 1972. It works for the common interests and sharing of water resources, irrigation, floods, and cyclones control.
- As per the data published by the Ministry of External Affairs, India’s exports to Bangladesh in FY 2018-19 stood at US$ 9.21 bn and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were US$1.04 bn.
- Some important institutional mechanisms:
- Joint Economic Commission (JEC) at Ministerial level
- Foreign Office Consultations
- Home, Commerce, and Water Resources Secretary-level talks
- BSF-BDR DG-level border coordination conference
- Joint Working Group on Security (JWG)
- Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG)
- Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG)
- Joint Group of Customs Officials (JGC)
- Protocol Renewal Committee and Standing Committee to review the implementation of Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade
- Inter-Governmental Railway Meeting
- India-Bangladesh Conflict Zones:
- The flow of migrants across the Bangladesh boundary due to unstable conditions in Bangladesh
- Water Dispute – Read about Teesta Water Dispute in the linked article.
- Border Disputes
- Sharing River Water.
INDIA IRAN PACT ON SEAFARERS
- India and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to smoothen movement of seafarers from both the countries as per the provisions of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers (1978).
- What is the International Convention on STCW for Seafarers?
- It sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships.
- STCW was adopted in 1978 by a conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London and entered into force in 1984. The Convention was significantly amended in 1995.
- The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level.
- It prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.
- One especially important feature of the Convention is that it applies to ships of non-party States when visiting ports of States which are Parties to the Convention.
- How have been the India-Iran Relations?
- India and Iran share close civilizational ties since the times of the Persian Empire and Indian kingdoms.
- Iran is an important nation in India’s neighborhood and in fact, the two countries shared a border until India’s partition and independence in 1947.
- The “Tehran Declaration” signed during former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Iran affirmed the shared vision of the two countries for an “equitable, pluralistic and co-operative international order”.
- It recognized the then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s vision of a “dialogue among civilisations” as a paradigm of international relations based on principles of tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity.
- What is the Significance of India-Iran Relations?
- Iran is located at a strategic and crucial geographical location between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea.
- Iran is important to India as it provides an alternate route of connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asian republics through Chabahar Port without passing the land route through Pakistan.
- Since, Iran is one of the largest deposits of crude oil and natural gas in the world.
- India may well consider restarting oil imports from Iran. If India changes course and resumes imports of Iranian oil, it could potentially encourage some other countries to follow suit and open up additional oil in the market, which could eventually bring prices of crude oil down.
- The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), aims to connect India, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe through multi-modal transport, reducing the transit time of goods drastically.
- Although some part of it has been operationalized, again, due to sanctions on Iran, its full potential has not been realised. India and Iran could well play a major part in giving INSTC the required boost to reap the benefits of resultant trade.
- The Iran-Oman-India gas pipeline (IOI) too is an ambitious project that has been stuck for a long time. Fortunately, Iran and Oman signed a deal to develop two gas pipelines and an oil field along their maritime borders.
- If this comes through, there is potential for the pipeline being extended to India, which would help overcome the loss of the failed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline and facilitate the supply of natural gas to India.
- Way Forward
- There is a need to look forward toward areas of convergence, where both countries have a mutual understanding of each other’s common interests and further work together to achieve the same.
- India and Iran, therefore, have a lot that can be achieved together. The assertive diplomacy being practiced by India, emphasizing on standing by its neighbors and friends and focusing solely on fulfilling its national interests, is a refreshing change.
- If India can extend the same vision toward its engagement with Iran, it could open a huge potential for cooperation between these two great nations and civilizations. Time is therefore ripe for a reset.
India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership
Context: Australia and India agreed to a partnership to strengthen their co-operation in developing critical metal projects and supply chains.
More about news:
- Demand for critical metals like lithium and cobalt has soared in recent times due to their usage in electric vehicles amid a global push towards cleaner sources of energy to tackle climate change.
- Demand for critical metals like lithium and cobalt has soared in recent times due to their usage in electric vehicles amid a global push towards cleaner sources of energy to tackle climate change.
- At the same time, countries like the United States, Australia and India are pushing to develop new sources of critical minerals to counteract China’s dominance over those supply chains.
- Australia would commit A$5.8 million ($3.98 million) towards a three-year investment partnership. Participating firms are Khanij Bidesh India Ltd and the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office of Australia (CMFO).
- Both the Indian company and CMFO will jointly fund a due diligence study in lithium and cobalt mineral assets of Australia with an initial amount of $6 million.
- Once the due diligence is completed and potential projects are identified, investment opportunities will be explored through different methods as envisaged in the MoU (memorandum of understanding).
- Australia has the resources to help India fulfil its ambitions to lower emissions and meet growing demand for critical minerals to help India’s space and defence industries, and the manufacture of solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles.
- Australia welcomes India’s strong interest and support for a bilateral partnership which will help advance critical minerals projects in Australia while diversifying global supply chains.
- Australia and India were natural partners on critical minerals and the two countries shared a commitment to lowering emissions and boosting the use of renewable energy.
- Australia is a trusted supplier of resources and energy to India, and we can build on the success of those established supply chains as Australia’s critical minerals sector grows.
What are critical minerals?
- A critical mineral is a metallic or non-metallic element that has two characteristics:
- It is essential for the functioning of our modern technologies, economies or national security and
- There is a risk that its supply chains could be disrupted.
- Critical minerals are used to manufacture advanced technologies including mobile phones, computers, fibre-optic cables, semi-conductors, banknotes, and defence, aerospace and medical applications. Many are used in low-emission technologies such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels, and rechargeable batteries. Some are also crucial for common products such as stainless steel and electronics.
- A critical mineral is a metallic or non-metallic element that is essential for modern technologies, economies or national security, and has a supply chain at risk of disruption. Individual countries develop their own lists of critical minerals based on the relative importance of particular minerals to their industrial needs and strategic assessment of supply risks. In addition, assessments of mineral criticality reflect market and political conditions at a particular point in time and are subject to change.
- However, such lists mostly include graphite, lithium and cobalt, which are used for making EV batteries; rare earths that are used for making magnets and silicon which is a key mineral for making computer chips and solar panels. Aerospace, communications and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment.
- Risks to critical mineral supply chains can come about when mineral production or processing is dominated by individual countries or companies that could limit availability. Other risks include market immaturity, political decisions, social unrest, natural disasters, mine accidents, geological scarcity, pandemics, and war.
Why is this resource critical?
- As countries around the world scale up their transition towards clean energy and digital economy, these critical resources are key to the ecosystem that fuels this change. Any supply shock can severely imperil the economy and strategic autonomy of a country over-dependent on others to procure critical minerals.
- But these supply risks exist due to rare availability, growing demand and complex processing value chain. Many times thecomplex supply chain can be disrupted by hostile regimes, or due to politically unstable regions.
- As a US government statement in February noted: “As the world transitions to a clean energy economy, global demand for these critical minerals is set to skyrocket by 400-600 per cent over the next several decades, and, for minerals such as lithium and graphite used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, demand will increase by even more — as much as 4,000 per cent.”
- They are critical as the world is fast shifting from a fossil fuel-intensive to a mineral-intensive energy system.
What is the China ‘threat’?
- According to the 2019 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report, China is the world’s largest producer of 16 critical minerals.
- China, according to a report on the role of critical minerals by the International Energy Agency, is “responsible for some 70% and 60% of global production of cobalt and rare earth elements, respectively, in 2019. The level of concentration is even higher for processing operations, where China has a strong presence across the board. China’s share of refining is around 35% for nickel, 50-70% for lithium and cobalt, and nearly 90% for rare earth elements.”
- It also controls cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from where 70% of this mineral is sourced.
- In 2010, China suspended rare earth exports to Japan for two months over a territorial dispute. The decision, according to the Brookings Institution, made the market prices of REEs jump anywhere between 60% to 350%. The prices returned to normal only after a year of China resuming shipments.
What are countries around the world doing about it?
- In 2021, the US ordered a review of vulnerabilities in its critical minerals supply chains and found that an over-reliance on “foreign sources and adversarial nations for critical minerals and materials posed national and economic security threats”. Post the supply chain assessment, it has shifted its focus on expanding domestic mining, production, processing, and recycling of critical minerals and materials.
- India has set up KABIL or the Khanij Bidesh India Limited, a joint venture of three public sector companies, to “ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to the Indian domestic market”. Announcing the formation of KABIL in 2019, Coal and Minister Pralhad Joshi had said: “While KABIL would ensure mineral security of the nation, it would also help in realizing the overall objective of import substitution.”
- Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) and KABIL had recently signed an MoU aimed at ensuring reliable supply of critical minerals to India.
- The UK on Monday unveiled its new Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre to study the future demand for and supply of these minerals. It also said that the country’s critical mineral strategy will be unveiled later this year.
- In June last year, the US, Canada and Australia had launched an interactive map of critical mineral deposits with an aim to help governments to identify options to diversify their critical minerals sources.
- Foreign diplomatic relations between Australia and India are well-established, with both nations sharing a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” since both were part of the British Empire.
- Both are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and share political, economic, security, lingual and sporting ties.
- Besides strong trading & migration, culture, arts, music, commercial & international sports like cricket, tennis, badminton have emerged as a strong cultural connection between the two nations.
- Military cooperation between Australia and India includes the regular joint naval exercise AUSINDEX.
India and Vietnam Mutual Logistics Agreement
- Context: India and Vietnam signed a Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030, “which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation”.
- India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030 will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation.
- Logistics Agreement: signing of India and Vietnam Mutual Logistics Agreement is a major step towards simplifying procedures for mutually beneficial logistic support.
- India and Vietnam Mutual Logistics Agreement is the first such major agreement which Vietnam has signed with any country.
- Defence Line of Credit: Both countries also agreed for early finalisation of $US 500 million Defence Line of Credit extended to Vietnam.
- Building Defence Capabilities: India announced gifting two simulators and monetary grant towards setting up of Language and IT Lab at Air Force Officers Training School for capacity building of Vietnamese armed forces.
- India-Vietnam Relations
- India and Vietnam are marking 50 years of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.
- India Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: India and Vietnam share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership.
- India’s Act East Policy: Vietnam is an important partner in India’s Act East policy.
West Seti Power Project
- Context: India will be taking over an ambitious hydropower project in Nepal — West Seti — nearly four years after China withdrew from it, ending a six-year engagement between 2012 and 2018.
- About West Seti Power Project:
- It is a 750-MW Hydropower Project that would be built on Nepal’s Seti river.
- It is in Nepal’s Far-Western Development Region (FWDR), proposed by West Seti Hydro Limited (WSH), is a storage scheme designed to generate and export large quantities of electrical energy to India.
- The Project will generate electrical energy throughout the year, storing excess wet season river flows in the reservoir, and using this water to generate energy during peak demand periods in the dry season.
- India-Nepal power relations-
- Nepal is rich in power sources with around 6,000 rivers and an estimated potential for 83,000 MW. India has formally approached Nepal on many occasions, seeking preferential rights over Nepali waters.
- An ambitious Mahakali treaty was signed back in 1996, to produce 6,480 MW, but India has still not been able to come out with the Detailed project Report.
- The Upper Karnali project, for which the multinational GMR signed the contract, has not made any headway for years.
- India has been successful in executing the 900-MW Arun-3 project in eastern Nepal’s Sankhuwa Sabha, which is being executed by India’s Sutlej Vidhyut Nigam under a BOOT scheme, and whose foundation was laid in 2018 and which is set for completion by 2023.
- The company executing Arun-3 is also being awarded the 695-MW Arun-4 project, followed by the decision to award West Seti to NHPC.
- Estimated to cost Nepali Rs 104 billion (Indian Rs 6,500 crore), the project is envisaged to provide Nepal 31.9% electricity free.
- Nepal has a massive power shortfall as it generates only around 900 MW against an installed capacity of nearly 2,000 MW.
- Although it is currently selling 364 MW of power to India, it has over the years imported from India.
Australia India Water Security Initiative (AIWASI)
Context: Recently, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Australia for Technical Cooperation for Australia-India Water Security Initiative (AIWASI) has been signed in the area of urban water security.
What is AIWASI?
- The AIWASI scheme is an India-specific component of the South Asia Water Security Initiative (SAWASI) program that focuses on improving access to safe water and sanitation in urban areas in the South Asia region.
- SAWASI program is being supported by Australia with a commitment of 20 million Australian Dollars.
- SAWASI aims at strengthening South Asian city-level water governance by
- supporting governments to provide urban water services and
- improving water security for disadvantaged communities in India and Pakistan.
Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark
- 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.
- 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.
- The Green Strategic Partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement to
Open Sky Agreement
- The UAE is keen to have an open sky agreement with India.
- 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
Voice of Global South Summit
Context: India hosted the Voice of Global South Summit in virtual mode. It was inaugurated by PM Modi.
- Theme — “Unity of Voice, Unity of Purpose”.
- It is an effort to give a “voice to the unheard”, and thereby leverage India’s role as the current G20 president.
- The idea behind the summit is that India will work to ensure that inputs generated from this Summit deliberations will be pushed forward at the G20 summit.
- India holds the presidency of G20 this year.
- The initiative is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, and Sabka Prayaas, and is underpinned by India’s philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.
- Underlining that the world is in a state of crisis, PM Modi told leaders of developing countries that “your voice is India’s voice” and “your priorities are India’s priorities”.
- PM Modi gave the mantra of ‘Respond, Recognize, Respect & Reform’ to re-energize the world:
- Respond to the priorities of the Global South by framing an inclusive and balanced international agenda.
- Recognize that the principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’ applies to all global challenges.
- Respect sovereignty of all nations, rule of law, and peaceful resolution of differences and disputes
- Reform international institutions, including the United Nations, to make them more relevant.
- PM Modi also highlighted the fact that the Global South does not have an adequate voice in the eight decades-old models of global governance.
- He further stated that most of the global challenges have not been created by the Global South but they affect us more. Despite this, the search for solutions does not factor in our voice.
First I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-USA) Leaders’ Virtual Summit
Context: Recently, The leaders of a new quadrilateral forum comprising India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States met (virtually) for the first time.
What is I2U2?
- The four-nation grouping is known as ‘I2U2’, with “I” standing for India and Israel and “U” for the US and the UAE. Popularly known as the ‘Middle East Quad’ (or ‘West Asia Quad’) in International discourse.
- First mooted as the “International Forum for Economic Cooperation” during the foreign ministers’ meet of the four countries held in October 2021, the grouping is intended to aid in modernising the infrastructure, promoting low-carbon development pathways for industries, promoting public health, and developing green technologies. Thus, I2U2 is not a new formation, but rather a formalisation of the already existing strategic cooperation between the countries, which is aimed at developing a framework that allows both regions to serve each other’s economic security more effectively.
- Also, it is widely acknowledged that what kick-started the formation of this grouping was the Abraham Accords, signed a year prior to the group’s first meeting and played a crucial role in the normalisation of Arab-Israel ties.
- The Abraham Accord is the first Arab-Israeli peace deal in 26 years mediated by the USA.
Can it be called ‘West Asian Quad?
- The I2U2 has been referred to as the ‘West Asian Quad’ on the lines of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) which has Australia, India, Japan and the US as members. According to analysts, the newly formed alliance will boost US efforts to contain Chinese influence in Asia and the Middle East. However, the parallels drawn are questionable given the differing foreign policy stances witnessed with respect to Russia. Barring the US, no other country in the I2U2 — Israel, India, or the UAE — has followed the Western lead of imposing sanctions on Russia. Furthermore, while the Indo-Pacific Quad was primarily focused on defence and security, the West Asia Quad seems to focus more on economic cooperation, and not security cooperation.
- Even on the issue of China, the grouping doesn’t seem to have converging interests. The UAE is already a signatory to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Israel is expected to gain from the initiative due to its strategic geographical positioning as a transit country, connecting Europe, Asia and Africa. The BRI gives greater scope and reach to Israeli technology, and it also helps in boosting tourism. Maybe this is why, while Beijing has often attacked the Indo-Pacific Quad grouping as ‘Asian NATO’, it has avoided being overly critical of the I2U2 yet.
- Its aim is to discuss “common areas of mutual interest, to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond”.
- The grouping is aimed at promoting joint investments in six mutually identified areas of water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
Highlights of the I2U2 Summit:
- The main focus of the virtual meeting was on the food security crisis and clean energy.
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also announced an investment of USD 2 billion to develop a series of integrated food parks across India to help tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.
- This I2U2 grouping was conceptualised during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries held on October 18 2021. I2U2 will bring together countries, governments and the private sector to tackle challenges.
- India will provide “appropriate land” for “food parks” across the country that will be built in collaboration with Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
- The I2U2 Group also declared that it will support a “hybrid renewable energy project” in Gujarat, consisting of 300 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity. The project is expected to be another step in India’s quest for “500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030”.
Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)
Context: The G7 countries, 48th Leaders’ Summit in Germany, have officially launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries. The project is being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative.
What is G7’s PGII?
- The infrastructure plan was first announced in June 2021 during last year’s G7 Summit in the UK. Back then, US President Joe Biden had called it the Build Back Better World (B3W) framework. However, it did not register much progress and details regarding the plan’s time period or funding source were unclear. This time around, the initiative was officially launched as PGII.
- Essentially, G7 countries — the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan — and the EU have noted the infrastructure projects being undertaken and funded by China at a global level and decided to present their alternative mechanism for it.
- The stated purpose of both the PGII and the BRI is to help secure funding for countries to build critical infrastructure such as roads, ports, bridges, communication setups, etc. to enhance global trade and cooperation.
- However, the G7 say their initiative is meant to be transparent, focused on building climate change-resilient infrastructure, and help in achieving objectives of gender equality and health infrastructure development.
What is China’s BRI?
- China began the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 under its President Xi Jinping. It aims to revive the ancient trade routes crossing to and from China–from Rome in Europe to East Asia.
- Under this, the Chinese government helped in providing loans for infrastructure projects to various countries, and in many cases, Chinese companies were awarded contracts for carrying out the work. This helped China mark its footprints at a global level.
- However, China was criticised in the West and by some other countries for providing unsustainable debts to countries that will be unable to repay them. According to a 2019 World Bank report, among the 43 corridor economies for which detailed data was available, 12 could face a situation where debts were not sustainable, which could lead to public assets being handed over to foreign contractors or China itself.
Is there any overlap between the two schemes?
- While the US has been critical of BRI, other countries of the G7 have had varying responses to it. Italy became the first G7 member to be a part of the BRI in 2019, and the British finance minister Philip Hammond described the policy as a “vision” in the same year, though it is not officially a part of the BRI.
- Germany and France, while not directly participating in the BRI, have also partnered with China in building rail networks and other projects for connectivity.
India and 48th G7 Summit:
- India was one of five special invitees to the G-7 summit in Germany's Schloss Elmau held on June 26 2022.
- The PGII plan was marketed by the United States as a rival to China's BRI, with considerably greater consideration for sustainable debt burdens and environmental considerations, therefore it was surprising that India had not accepted it.
- The infrastructure plan was not included in the agreements that were signed by the G-7 outreach invitees to the summit, and India was not informed of PGII consultations.
How could India benefit from PGII?
- PGII will prioritise four critical infrastructure issues, including gender equality and equity, health and health security, climate and energy security, and digital connectivity.
- These four areas are also priorities for New Delhi.
- In addition, the PGII “factsheet” made public by the White House includes a detailed investment strategy for agritech and the Climate Sustainability Fund, which will invest in companies that enhance food security and promote both climate resilience and climate adaptation in India, as well as improving it.
- The documents state that the goal capitalization for the India fund will be $65 million by September 2022 and $130 million in 2023.
About Group of 7 (G7):
- It is an intergovernmental organization that was formed in 1975.
- The G7 is an informal forum of leading industrialized nations, which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Representatives of the European Union are always present at the annual meeting of the heads of state and government of the G7.
- The G7 does not have a formal charter or a secretariat.
- The presidency, which rotates among member countries each year, is in charge of setting the agenda.
- Germany has the G7 presidency for the seventh time this year.
- Japan will be president in 2023.
Global importance of G7:
- As of 2022, G7 countries make up 10% of the world’s population, 31% of global GDP, and 21% of global carbon dioxide emissions,
- China and India, the two most populous countries with among the largest GDP figures in the world, are not part of the grouping.
- All the G7 countries and India are a part of G20.
- The US and Germany in particular are major export nations.
Highlights of the 48th G-7 Summit:
- Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)
- LiFE Campaign:
- The Indian Prime Minister highlighted the Global Initiative for LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) campaign.
- The goal of this campaign is to encourage an eco-friendly lifestyle.
- Russia-Ukraine Crisis delibrated.
- The G7 leaders adopted a communique to jointly defend universal human rights and democratic values, the rules-based multilateral order and the resilience of democratic societies.
- Climate club:
- Group also pledged to create a new climate club for nations that want to take more ambitious action to tackle global warming.
- Countries that join the club agree on tougher measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 Celsius this century compared with pre-industrial times.
- Food Security:
- The G7 countries will also increase global food and nutrition security through the Global Alliance on Food Security.
- Supply Chain Resilience:
- The G7 leaders remain committed to coordinate on economic security, strengthen the resilience of supply chains while tackling rising costs of living for citizens.
International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
Contex: Recetnly, Iran started transfer of Russia goods to India by using International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC).
More about INSTC:
- International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km multi-modal transport corridor, that combines road, rail and maritime routes, established in 2000 for the purpose of promoting transportation cooperation among the Member States.
- This corridor connects India Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, Islamic Rep., and is then connected to Saint Petersburg and North European via Russia.
- The agreement has been ratified by 13 countries namely, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Armenia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Ukraine.
- The legal framework for the INSTC is provided by a trilateral agreement signed by India, Iran and Russia at the Euro-Asian Conference on Transport in 2000.
Advantages for India:
- Reduce freight costs by 30% and journey time by 40% in comparison with the conventional deep sea route via the Suez Canal.
- Once chabahar port is constructed, india’s access to afghanistan and central asia will be easy as INSTC has Chabahar in its route.
- Provides an opportunity for the internationalisation of India’s infrastructural state.
- It opens up a permanent alternative route for India to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, given the hurdles in the direct route through Pakistan.
- Offers a platform for India to closely collaborate with Russia, Iran and Central Asian republics.
- When looked at in sync with the Ashgabat Agreement, the INSTC could be the key to India’s “Connect Central Asia’’ policy.
- It is also being seen as India’s answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
First Movers Coalition
Context: India participated in the First Movers Coalition (FMC) Leadership Meeting of the World Economic Forum(WEF).
- India participated in the First Movers Coalition (FMC) Leadership Meeting of the World Economic Forum(WEF).
- The First Movers Coalition is a global initiative harnessing the purchasing power of companies to decarbonize 7 “hard to abate” industrial sectors.
- These sectors, currently accounting for 30% of global emissions, include:
- Aluminium, Aviation, Chemicals, Concrete, Shipping, Steel, and Trucking.
- This year’s annual meeting of WEF took place in Davos.
- The theme of this year’s summit was “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”.
- It was launched at COP26.
- The meeting deliberated on the need for clean energy technologies to confront the climate crisis globally.
- Industry leaders appreciated India’s fight against COVID leveraging digital technologies and also expressed their appreciation for Government partnering with industry in its fight.
Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion
Context: The first G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) meeting, under G20 India Presidency, was held in Kolkata.
- The meeting focused on topics like digital financial inclusion, reducing remittance costs, and finance for the SME sector.
- GPFI is an inclusive platform for all G20 countries, interested non-G20 countries, and relevant stakeholders to carry forward work on financial inclusion.
- It also works towards the implementation of the G20 Financial Inclusion Action Plan, endorsed at the G20 Summit in Seoul.
- The GPFI was officially launched in December 2010 in Seoul.
Group of Friends
Context: India has launched the ‘Group of Friends’ to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers.
- The ‘Group of friends’ was launched during India’s current presidency of the U.N. Security Council.
- Co-chairs of the ‘Group of Friends’ – India, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Morocco, and Nepal.
- Its aim is to Promote Accountability for Crimes against Peacekeepers and seek facilitation of capacity building and technical assistance to the host state authorities.
- Its main functions include:
- Actively engage and share information with the Secretary-General.
- Assist the member states hosting or have hosted peacekeeping operations, in bringing to justice the perpetrators of such acts.
- For this, India will soon launch a database that will record all crimes against the Blue Helmets.
- The Group of Friends will convene 2 meetings of its members per year, and organize and host one event per year involving Permanent Missions and other stakeholders.
- The Group will be convened and moderated by the co-chairs (Permanent Missions).
Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)
Context: Prasar Bharati, India’s Public Service Broadcaster, is hosting the 59th Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) General Assembly 2022.
- ABU was established in 1964 as a not-for-profit, non-government, non-political, professional association.
- It is the biggest broadcasting union in the world.
- It covers around 70 countries and 5 continents and has 250 members
- It covers eight regions: the Pacific, Asia(SE, North, South, Central), the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and North America.
- Indian members:
- All India Radio / Prasar Bharati (AIR)
- Doordarshan / Prasar Bharati (DD).
- ABU aims to:
- Assist the development of broadcasting in the region.
- Promotes the collective interests of television and radio broadcasters as well as key industry players and facilitates regional and international media cooperation.
- The main functions of the ABU include:
- ABU organizes key industries, regional and global conferences, and summits as platforms for exchanging ideas, experiences, and practices.
- The ABU Media Academy is a center of excellence and learning, providing hundreds of courses and capacity-building activities annually.
- It provides rights-free content acquisition for developing countries, negotiates rights for major sports events, and organizes coverage for the region.
- It trains and equips media practitioners on the role of media in times of crisis.
- It also discovers the latest trends and challenges, bringing together members of the journalistic community and academia from this vast region and engaging them in intense learning, discussions, exchange of ideas, and networking.
G20 Digital Innovation Alliance (G20-DIA)
Context: Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw launches the ‘Stay Safe Online’ Campaign and ‘G20 Digital Innovation Alliance’ as part of India’s G20 presidency.
About Stay Safe Online Campaign:
- The objective of the ‘Stay Safe Online Campaign’ is to raise awareness among citizens to stay safe in the online world due to the widespread use of social media platforms and the rapid adoption of digital payments.
- The exponential increase in the number of internet users in India and the rapidly evolving technology landscape have brought unique challenges.
- This campaign will make citizens of all age groups, especially children, students, women, senior citizens, specially-abled, teachers, faculty, officials of Central/State Governments, etc. aware of the cyber risk and ways to deal with it.
- The campaign will be carried out in English, Hindi, and local languages to reach a wider audience.
- The campaign involves the dissemination of multilingual awareness content in the form of infographics, cartoon stories, puzzles, short videos, etc., and amplifying the same through extensive use of the MyGov website ( https://www.mygov.in/staysafeonline ) and prominent social media platforms.
- Besides this, various publicity, promotion, and outreach activities would be carried out throughout the year through print, electronics & social media to reinforce the stay safe online message.
- In addition, collaboration and involvement of key stakeholders viz. Union Ministries / Departments, industry associations/partners, NGOs, civil society organizations, etc. would be sought for wider outreach of the campaign.
About G20 Digital Innovation Alliance (G20-DIA):
- The objective of the G20 Digital Innovation Alliance (G20-DIA) is to identify, recognize, and enable the adoption of innovative and impactful digital technologies developed by startups, from G20 nations as well as the invited non-member nations, which can address the needs of humanity in the critically important sectors of Agri-tech, Health-tech, Ed-tech, Fin-tech, Secured Digital Infrastructure, and Circular Economy.
- Startup products in the aforementioned six themes enabled through Digital Public Goods Infrastructure can create a global population-scale impact and reduce the digital divide and enable sustainable, and inclusive techno-socio-economic development.
- The G20 Digital Innovation Alliance (G20–DIA) summit which will be held in Bangalore on the sidelines of the Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) meeting will be a multi-day program where top nominated startups from each of the theme areas from all of the G20 countries and the non-member invited countries will showcase their solutions to the global community of investors, mentors, corporates, and other government stakeholders.
- The engagement of innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, corporations, investors, mentors, and other ecosystem stakeholders will lead to the speedy acceptance of the platform that India plans to offer through the G20 Digital Innovation Alliance (G20-DIA).
- The G20-DIA Summit will bring together the key players in the innovation ecosystem from both G20 member countries and the invited non-member countries in order to recognize and support startups creating cutting-edge digital solutions in the six themes that bridge the digital divide between different segments of humanity and advance the world economy.
Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
Context: 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.
- It is a multinational forum for strengthening cooperation toward promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.
- It was founded by Kazakhstan’s First President in 1992.
- Its first summit was 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.
- 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.
- India is one of the founding members of CICA.
2nd United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress
Context: The Second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC 2022) was held in Hyderabad recently. The five-day conference was hosted by the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, and convened by the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management.
- With the theme of ‘Geo-Enabling the Global Village: No one should be left behind,’ the Second UNWGIC 2022 reflects on the importance of integrated geospatial information infrastructure and knowledge services to support the implementation and monitoring of sustainable development goals.
- It also mirrors the well-being of society, addresses environmental and climate challenges, embraces digital transformation and technological development, and catalyzes a vibrant economy.
- The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, said: “There is a need for an institutional approach by the international community to help each other during a crisis”. Saying that “India is ensuring no one is left behind”, the Prime Minister cited that the geospatial technology has been driving inclusion and progress in national development projects like SVAMITVA, PM Gati Shakti master plan, JAM Trinity, etc. “Technology and talent are the two pillars that are key to India’s development journey and technology is not an agent of exclusion but an agent of inclusion. India is a young nation with a great innovative spirit,” the Prime Minister said, highlighting the role of talent as the second pillar in India’s journey. India is one of the top startup hubs in the world, he added, with the number of unicorn startups having almost doubled since 2021- a testimony to India’s young talent.
- The first UNWGIC was organized by China in October 2018.
- The conference is conducted every four years with the objective of enhancing international collaboration among the Member States and relevant stakeholders in Geospatial information management and capacities.
Financial Action Task Force
Context: Pakistan was taken off from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “Grey list” after four years.
About Financial Action Task Force:
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
- The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.
- As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
- It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris.
- The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a coordinated global response to prevent organized crime, corruption, and terrorism.
- They help authorities go after the money of criminals dealing with illegal drugs, human trafficking, and other crimes.
- The FATF also works to stop funding for weapons of mass destruction.
- It also assesses the strength of a country’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing frameworks.
- It does not go by individual cases.
- Its Secretariat is located at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.
- Member countries of FATF:
- The FATF currently has 39 members including two regional organizations – the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.
- India is a member of the FATF.
- Various lists under FATF:
- Grey List: Countries that are considered safe havens for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put on the FATF grey list. Inclusion in this list means a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.
- Black List: Countries known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put on the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly. Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are under High-risk Jurisdiction or blacklist.
- Why Pakistan is in news due to FATF?
- Pakistan has not implemented the FATF Action Plan fully by September 2019.
- It is believed that the country’s anti-terror laws are still not in line with FATF standards.
- Also, Pakistan has failed to adhere to the latest UN resolution 2462 that directs to criminalize of terrorist financing.
- It has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018.
- It was in the same category from 2012 to 2015 too.
- The FATF seeks the freezing of funds, denial of weapons access, and travel ban.
- Consequences of being on the FATF grey list may include- economic sanctions from IMF, World Bank, and ADB; reduction in international trade, and international boycott.
Context: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted a declaration that urges countries to ensure labor protection.
- The 17th Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) set ten-point priorities of national action under the Singapore Declaration.
- It seeks to draw the attention of the member countries to deal with the issue of dwindling wages of workers, inflation, and unemployment.
- It was adopted by the delegates representing governments, employers and workers governments, employers and workers in the regions.
- Members agreed that social dialogue is essential to address labor market challenges and find solutions in crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty.
- Key points of the declaration include:
- Ensure labor protection for all through the promotion of freedom of association.
- Recognition of the right to collective bargaining, including for workers in vulnerable situations and workers in the informal economy, as enabling rights for decent work.
- Closing gender gaps, increasing women’s labor force participation, promoting equal pay for work of equal value, balancing work, and responsibilities, and promoting women’s leadership.
- Develop and implement inclusive labor market programs and policies that support life transitions and demographic shifts.
- Pursue collective and determined efforts to promote and accelerate a smooth and sustained transition from the informal to formal economy.
- Strengthen governance frameworks and respect for freedom of association for migrant workers.
- Strengthen the foundation for social and employment protection and resilience.
- Expanding social protection to all workers, guaranteeing universal access to comprehensive, adequate, and sustainable social protection for all.
Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP)
Context: Global efforts to bring India on board the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with G7 nations have failed to move forward.
- JETP is an initiative of the rich nations to accelerate the phasing out of coal and reduce emissions.
- The JETP initiative is modeled for South Africa, to support South Africa’s decarbonization efforts.
- It aims to reduce emissions in the energy sector and accelerate the coal phase-out process.
- JETP makes various funding options available for this purpose in identified developing countries.
- The JETP was 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)
- Following that G7 announced a similar partnership in India, Indonesia, Senegal, and Vietnam.
- India’s stand – India didn't sign the JETP and argues that coal cannot be singled out as a polluting fuel, and energy transition talks need to take place on equal terms.
Istanbul Convention on violence against women
- 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.
- 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
- Heart of Asia members calls for cooperation to ensure the dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Protocol no. 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights came into force 1 August 2021, following its ratification by all 47 State Parties.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), or the Nuke ban treaty, came into force on 22 January 2021.
- 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
- 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.
- 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)
- The Trade and Cooperation Agreement was signed in December 2020 and entered into force in May 2021.
- 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.
8th Meeting of Agriculture Experts of BIMSTEC
- 8th Meeting of Agriculture Experts of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Countries was hosted by India through video conferencing.
Key-highlight of the meeting
- The UN Food System Summit 2021 and transformational aspects that are happening across agriculture and food systems globally were highlighted.
- It was to enhance the engagement and deepen the cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors amongst the BIMSTEC Member States.
- The BIMSTEC Member States also appreciated the greater engagement of India in offering six slots of scholarships for Master's and PhD programmes in agriculture and other initiatives for capacity development & training.
What is BIMSTEC?
BIMSTEC is an economic bloc that came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- BIMSTEC headquarters is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- Sectors were later expanded to 14 areas of cooperation.
- Agriculture is one among the 14 sectors.
- Out of the 7 members,
- Five are from South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka
- Two are from Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Thailand
- BIMSTEC not only connects South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
- BIMSTEC has emerged as the “preferred platform” for regional cooperation in South Asia.
- It mainly aims to create an enabling environment for ” Rapid economic development ” Accelerate social progress ” Promote collaboration on matters of common interest in the region
- BIMSTEC Importance to India: It provides a new platform for India to engage with its neighbours with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming dysfunctional because of differences between India and Pakistan.
- BIMSTEC allows India to pursue three core policies- ” Neighbourhood First – primacy to the country’s immediate periphery; ” Act East – connect India with Southeast Asia; and ” Economic development of India’s north-eastern states – by linking them to the Bay of Bengal region via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- Allows India to counter China’s creeping influence in countries around the Bay of Bengal due to the spread of its One Belt and One Road Initiative.
- It is of utmost significance to India as it is major support in implementing its Act East Policy and the development of its ambitious ‘Sagar Mala’ project.
‘Blue Dot’ Network
- The US, along with the Japanese and Australian governments, are reviving the ‘Blue Dot Network’ ” It is an infrastructure initiative to provide an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
What is ‘Blue Dot Network’?
- The Blue Dot Network was formally announced on 4 November 2019 at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok, Thailand during the 35thASEAN summit.
- The project is led by the US’s International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
- The initiative is meant to galvanize the private sector investment in infrastructure development in emerging markets.
- It is expected to serve as a global evaluation and certification system for roads, ports, and bridges with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
- The projects that are approved will get a “Blue Dot”, which would set universal standards of excellence to attract private capital to projects in developing and emerging economies.
- It will be a globally recognized symbol of market-driven, transparent and sustainable infrastructure projects.
- It will foster sustainable economic growth by promoting excellence in infrastructure development and supporting alternatives to predatory lending.
- The Blue Dot Network will use infrastructure development principles set by the G20and G7 nations as a foundation for its standards.
- OECD will provide technical and operational input to the global certification process. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
- It is also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
- It is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by China in 2013.
- It aims to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.
- The infrastructure investments include ports, skyscrapers, railroads, roads, airports, dams, and railroad tunnels.
- The initiative includes the ancient ‘silk route’ revival and the maritime silk route also.
What role does India have to play?
- The US wants India on board for the project, as it remains the only member of the Quadrilateral
- Security Dialogue (Quad) to not be a part of the Blue Dot Network.
- Recently, the U.S. the U.K. and Australia announced a new trilateral security partnership, AUKUS.
About the AUKUS Pact
- The historic grouping will advance strategic interests, uphold the international rules-based order, along with generating hundreds of high-skilled jobs.
- Under the first major initiative of AUKUS, Australia would build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the US and the UK, a capability aimed at promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Highlights of AUKUS Alliance
- The AUKUS security team will focus on developing strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Although the US has openly denied that the collection is targeted at China, its Indo-pacific status makes it an ally against China’s independent actions in the South China Sea.
- The three countries alongside Canada and New Zealand already share a deep understanding of the Five Eyes partnership.
- Transferring Nuclear Vessels to Australia: As part of this program, Australia will acquire submarine-powered submarines with assistance from the UK and US.
- The move is significant because the US has only shared marine chemical technology before, and it began in 1958 with Great Britain.
- Nuclear power submarines are quieter than their standard counterparts but also more capable of being installed for longer periods of time and need to appear more frequently.
- Apart from India’s stated goal of acquiring more nuclear-powered submarines, it will lead to an increase in changes in Quad’s undersea power and anti-submarine warfare.
- Quad is a collection of India, USA, Australia and Japan.
- Australia now has to join the top six-nation group – India, US, UK, France, Russia and China – using nuclear-powered submarines. It would also be the end of the world to have such submarines without having a nuclear power plant.
- AUKUS will also include new building and integration meetings between the three countries, as well as partnerships in emerging technologies (using AI, quantum technology and underwater capabilities).
What does the AUKUS Security Alliance mean in India?
- According to Indian Observers, the partnership is very beneficial to India. As India has been at the forefront of uniting the unity of the Indo-Pacific countries.
Develop Indian partners in the region:
- QUAD means nothing but the skills development required by all its members, especially Australia and Japan. This will give Indian partners more confidence and confidence in their defensive skills.
- AUKUS and the future US military base on Australian soil will support India’s efforts to protect the Indo-Pacific.
- Provide much needed time in India to build naval capabilities: In addition, AUKUS will buy some valuable time for India to strengthen its rural military capabilities.
- Develop India’s ambitions for international relations: Partnerships will allow India to demand more of its foreign policy and defence strategy.
Russia withdraws from the Open Skies Treaty
- In the latest development, Russia announced that it was leaving the Open Skies Treaty (OST).
About the Treaty
- The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force in 2002, permits countries to fly unarmed aircraft with cameras and other sensors over the territory of the treaty’s other member states.
- Based on an idea advanced by Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, Open Skies provides for the collection of images of military installations and activities in order to foster transparency.
Each party to the treaty has two annual quotas:
- The number of flights it may conduct over other treaty parties (active quota)
- The number of overflights that it must accept (passive quota)
- Aircraft are inspected before conducting an Open Skies flight, and personnel from the country to be overflown are on board during the flight.
- Under the treaty, a member state can “spy” on any part of the host nation, with the latter’s consent.
- A country can undertake aerial imaging over the host state after giving notice 72 hours before, and sharing its exact flight path 24 hours before.
Reasons given by Russia
- Lack of progress in removing the obstacles to the treaty’s functioning in the new conditions.
- Russia has argued that the limits on flights over Kaliningrad, which hosts sizable military forces, are permissible under the treaty’s terms, noting that the US has imposed more sweeping restrictions on observation flights over Alaska.
- As a condition for staying in the pact after the US pullout, Moscow unsuccessfully sought guarantees from NATO allies that they wouldn’t transfer the data collected during their observation flights over Russia to the United States.
The US exit
- The United States left the OST first after accusing Russia of violating the pact– allegations that Russia denied.
- Moscow has now blamed Washington for its own decision of leaving the treaty.
Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage
- It was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
- It is based on the premise that certain places on Earth are of outstanding universal value and should, therefore, form part of the common heritage of mankind, and therefore should be conserved.
- The countries that ratify the Convention (States Parties) have to become part of an international community, united in a common mission to identify and safeguard our world’s most outstanding natural and cultural heritage.
- While fully respecting the national sovereignty, and without prejudice to property rights provided by national legislation, the States Parties recognize that the protection of the World Heritage is the duty of the international community as a whole.
Category of site: Cultural site, Natural site and Mixed site.
- According to the sites ranked by country, Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 58 sites, followed by China (56), Germany (51), Spain (49), France (49), India (40) and Mexico (33).
- The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) was the fi rst major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda.
- It provides Member States with concrete actions to protect development gains from the risk of disaster.
- The Sendai Framework works hand in hand with the other 2030 Agenda agreements, including The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the New Urban Agenda, and ultimately the Sustainable Development Goals.
- It sets 7 global targets to be achieved under the framework.
- It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).
It advocates for:
- The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.
- It recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-
- 2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. It is the outcome of stakeholder consultations initiated in March 2012 and inter-governmental negotiations held from July 2014 to March 2015, which were supported by the UNDRR upon the request of the UN General Assembly.
- UNDRR is tasked to support the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework.
Glasgow Climate Pact (COP 26)
- The UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) brought together 120 world leaders.
- They take important steps, but unfortunately, the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions.”
- Cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are still far from where they need to be to preserve a livable climate, and support for the most vulnerable countries affected by the impacts of climate change is still falling far short.
- But COP26 did produce new “building blocks” to advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement
- through actions that can get the world on a more sustainable, low-carbon pathway forward.
What was agreed?
Recognizing the emergency
- Countries reaffirmed the Paris Agreement goal.
- They went further, expressing “alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 °C of warming to date.
- Countries stressed the urgency of action “in this critical decade,” when carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent to reach net-zero around mid-century.
- Glasgow Climate Pact calls on all countries to present stronger national action plans next year, instead of in 2025.
- Countries also called on UNFCCC to do an annual NDC Synthesis Report to gauge the present level of ambition.
Moving away from fossil fuels
- Calling for a phase-down of coal power and a phase-out of “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.
Delivering on climate finance
- Developed countries came to Glasgow falling short of their promise to deliver US$100 billion a year for developing countries.
- Developed countries, in a report, expressed confidence that the target would be met in 2023.
Stepping up support for adaptation
- The Glasgow Pact calls for a doubling of finance to support developing countries in adapting to the impacts of climate change and building resilience.
Completing the Paris rulebook
- Countries reached an agreement on the remaining issues of the so-called Paris rulebook, the operational details for the practical implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Focusing on loss & damage
- Acknowledging that climate change is having increasing impacts on people, especially in the developing world, countries agreed to strengthen a network— known as the Santiago Network – that connects vulnerable countries with providers of technical assistance, knowledge and resources to address climate risks.
- They also launched a new “Glasgow dialogue” to discuss arrangements for the funding of
- activities to avert, minimize and address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.
New deals and announcements
- There were many other significant deals and announcements – outside of the Glasgow Climate
Pact – which can have major positive impacts if they are indeed implemented. These include:
- 137 countries took a landmark step forward by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
- 103 countries, including 15 major emitters, signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to limit methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2020 levels.
- Over 30 countries, six major vehicle manufacturers and other actors, like cities, set out their determination for all new car and van sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040 globally and 2035 in leading markets.
- Leaders from South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, and the
- European Union announced a ground-breaking partnership to support South Africa – the world’s most carbon-intensive electricity producer— with $8.5 billion over the next 3-5 years to make a just transition away from coal, to a low-carbon economy.
- Private financial institutions and central banks announced moves to realign trillions of dollars towards achieving global net-zero emissions. Among them is the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, with over 450 firms across 45 countries that control $130 trillion in assets, requiring its member to set robust, science-based near-term targets.
Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between India and Australia
- India and Australia have signed the bilateral 'Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA)'.
- This is the first trade agreement of India with a developed country after more than a decade.
- The last FTA signed by India with a developed country was with Japan in 2011.
- The trade agreement is expected to double the bilateral trade to US$ 50 billion in five years and ease the movement of people, goods and services across borders.
- Calling the agreement a “watershed moment” for the two countries’ relationship, the Indian Prime Minister said that it would make it easier for both countries to exchange students, professionals and tourists which in turn would strengthen people-to-people ties.
Salient Features of IndAus ECTA:
- The Agreement encompasses cooperation across the entire gamut of bilateral economic and commercial relations between the two countries.
- It covers areas like Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Rules of Origin, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Customs Procedures, and Cooperation in other Areas.
Compulsory Review Mechanism:
- There will be a special review mechanism for compulsory review after 15 years for certain aspects of the agreement in a time-bound manner.
China-Solomon Islands Pact
- China’s government announced that it had signed a landmark security pact with the Solomon Islands, evoking concern from Australia and the U.S.
What is the agreement about?
- The agreement is the first of its kind that China has agreed with any country which is basically an inter-governmental framework agreement on security cooperation.
- Under the agreement, the two sides will conduct cooperation in areas such as maintenance of social order, protection of the safety of people’s lives and property, humanitarian assistance and natural disaster response.
- It is unclear how China plans to support the Solomon Islands in maintaining social order and whether Chinese security forces will be deployed.
- But, according to a draft that was leaked last month, the Solomon Islands can request police and military personnel to assist in maintaining social order
- China can also make ship visits and use its ports for logistics.
What is the response of the Indo-Pacific countries?
- Australia- Australia is just 2000km south of the Solomon Islands and has seen years of escalating tensions with China.
- Australia was deeply disappointed and concerned about the lack of transparency with which this agreement has been developed, noting its potential to undermine stability in the region.
- New Zealand- New Zealand said the country was saddened that the Solomon Islands had made the pact.
- The U.S. – The US National Security Council official is due to arrive in the Solomon Islands for high-level talks.The US has said it will re-open its embassy in the Solomon Islands, which has been closed since 1993.
India-UAE Trade Deal
- The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry announced the unveiling of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a press conference held during his visit to the United Arab Emirates.
What is CEPA?
- It is a kind of free trade pact that covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership.
- India has signed CEPAs with South Korea and Japan.
India-UAE CEPA trade deal
- The new strategic economic agreement will increase bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion in five years (2022-27) of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to $15 billion.
The Agreement is a comprehensive agreement which will cover:
- Trade-in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade-in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement,
- Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Customs Procedures, Pharmaceutical products, Government Procurement, IPR, Investment, Digital Trade and Cooperation in other Areas.
- It will include a digital trade element, which is a first of its kind for both countries.
- The United Arab Emirates is India’s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export destination.
- The UAE is also the eighth largest investor in India with an estimated investment of US$ 18 billion.
- Bilateral trade between India and the UAE stood at $43.3 billion in 2020-21.
- Exports were $16.7 billion, and imports, driven by oil, pushed the balance in favour of the UAE at $26.7 billion in 2020-21.
- Context: Chinese President Xi Jinping appealed to members of the SCO to cooperate with each other in order to prevent foreign powers from destabilizing their countries by inciting color revolutions. He was speaking in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan at the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
- Colour revolutions:
- Colour revolutions refer to a series of uprisings that first began in former communist nations in Eastern Europe in the early 2000s.
- They are also used in reference to popular movements in the Middle East and Asia.
- Most of these revolutions involved large-scale mobilization on the streets, with demands for free elections or regime change, and calls for the removal of authoritarian leaders.
- Protesters often wear a specific color, such as in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.
- The term has also been used to describe movements named after flowers like the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.
- Few examples of color revolutions:
- Orange Revolution
- It refers to a series of protests that occurred in Ukraine between November 2004 and January 2005.
- The movement was in response to reports that claimed that the country’s 2004 Presidential election was rigged in favor of the incumbent President Viktor Yanukovych.
- It refers to a series of protests that occurred in Ukraine between November 2004 and January 2005.
- Yanukovych was backed by Russia while Viktor Yushchenko was an ally of the West.
- The election commission had declared Yanukovych the winner of the election, drawing criticism from the US and European Union.
- In the aftermath of the elections, protesters wearing orange took to the streets across the country.
- The results were subsequently annulled and the Ukrainian Supreme Court ordered a re-vote, in which Yushchenko emerged victorious and the movement was concluded.
- Tulip Revolution:
- Also called the First Kyrgyz Revolution, the movement led to the ouster of Kyrgyzstan’s President Askar Akayev in early 2005.
- These protests were in response to the parliamentary elections in February 2022, in which Akayev’s allies and family members won.
- Protests erupted in the country against Akayev who had been President since 1990.
- Finally, Akayev fled the country with his family and resigned later.
- Jasmine Revolution:
- This was the popular uprising that occurred between December 2010 to January 2011 in Tunisia.
- The term Jasmine revolution was used in reference to Tunisia’s national flower, to describe the movement.
- It was in response to the underlying corruption, unemployment, inflation, and lack of political freedoms in the country.
- Tunisians were facing hardship and injustice under the reign of longtime President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
- The protests not only led to Ali’s ouster in January 2011 but also inspired a wave of protests in North Africa and the Middle East, which came to be known as the Arab Spring.
- Orange Revolution
- Why China is worried about Colour Revolution?
- In 2019, Beijing said the protests in Hong Kong had taken on color revolution characteristics.
- Hong Kong's protests started in June 2019 against plans to allow extradition to mainland China.
- Critics feared this could undermine judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
- Until 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain as a colony but then returned to China.
- Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, it has some autonomy, and its people have more rights. The new extradition bill was considered to be against these freedoms.
- Russia and China have long criticized color revolutions for being destabilizing influences.
- As per them, these revolutions have been orchestrated by the United States and its Western allies to overthrow regimes in order to further their own geopolitical interests.
- Context: The death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, the country’s longest serving ruler, who reigned for over 70 years, 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 and what are its realms?
- The Commonwealth of Nations is a group of 56 countries comprised mostly of former British colonies.
- While members of the Commonwealth are predominantly located in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific, with many of them emerging economies, the three European members of the group are Cyprus, Malta, and the U.K.
- The developed nations of the Commonwealth are Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
- 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 the case of five countries — Brunei Darussalam, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Tonga — each a self-governed monarchy.
- The realms are comprised of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
- How is the Commonwealth viewed by its members?
- Even if the situation is changing vis-à-vis the realms and their Heads of State, the broader Commonwealth group, of which India and other South Asian countries are members, remains strong and fosters policy coordination among its members through its Heads of Government Meetings, a feature that has gained additional salience in the context of post-pandemic economic recovery.
- In this regard, Queen Elizabeth played a critical role in championing the organisation and maintaining the group’s relevance, regularly travelling to meet with leaders of Commonwealth nations across the world.
- This has not always been the case.
- During the Queen’s third and final visit to India in 1997, many expected an apology for the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of 1919, carried out by the erstwhile colonial government, and ordered by General Reginald Dyer.
- Yet that apology never came, and instead the Queen only referenced the killings during a banquet speech when she said, “It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past. Jallianwala Bagh is a distressing example.” Tactless remarks by her husband, Prince Philip, questioning the number of deaths in the massacre, added salt to injured sentiment.
- It was also in 1997 that the U.K. handed over control of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, thereby losing after 156 years what was considered to be one of the most important colonies in Asia.
- More recently, in March 2022, King Charles’ son and now heir to the throne, Prince William, his wife, Kate, and other royals faced demonstrations and demands for reparations for slavery while on a tour of the Caribbean that also witnessed several gaffes and awkward moments by the visitors from the U.K.
- Which nations are moving towards ending formal ties to the British monarchy?
- The debate in some of the Commonwealth realms, including for example Australia, has led to popular movements to reposition the country in question as a republic.
- In Canberra, the administration of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appointed in June 2022 for the first time a Minister, Matt Thistlethwaite, to set in motion the gradual transition towards a republic.
- In this regard it is likely that there will be a referendum on the question of severing official ties to the monarchy in the months ahead.
- While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has said that her country would support King Charles, she added that it would become a republic “in time”.
- Similarly, Prime Minister Philip Davis of the Bahamas has said he intends to conduct a referendum to remove King Charles from the role of official Head of State, thereby moving the country, which gained independence in 1973, towards being a republic.
- Governments in five other Caribbean nations — Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis — have signaled 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.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Context: Recently, the holy city of Varanasi, showcasing India’s culture and traditions over the ages, is declared the first “Cultural and Tourism Capital” of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
More on news:
- The city of lights, Varanasi, has stories of ancient times to tell. Varanasi is also known as one of the oldest living cities in the world. The city goes by several names like Benaras or Kashi. The oldest living city in the world has been declared the first Cultural and Tourism Capital of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for 2022-233.
- As per the reports, the eight-member organisation plans to initiate a rotating mechanism. Under this, the members will rotate the title of Cultural and Tourism Capital among different states. the presidency of the organisation will be decided by which city becomes the capital of the cultural heritage.
- India hosted the Head of the Government of the SCO meet in 2020.
- India will host the SCO summit next year.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international Eurasian political, economic and military organisation.
- Having begun as the Shanghai Five in 1996 by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, it was rechristened as the SCO in 2001.
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St.Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation's goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.
- At present (2022) the SCO comprises 8 member states, namely Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan.
- India and Pakistan became members in 2017.
- Iran and Belarus are likely to be the two newest additions to the China and Russia-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) grouping.
- Heads of State Council: The supreme SCO body which decides its internal functioning and its interaction with other States & international organisations, and considers international issues.
- Heads of Government Council: Approves the budget, considers and decides upon issues related to economic spheres of interaction within SCO.
- Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs: Considers issues related to day-to-day activities.
- Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS): Established to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
SCO Secretariat: Beijing, China.
Official languages: Russian and Chinese.
Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
Context: India has been elected as a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage for the 2022-2026 cycle.
Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention:
- The Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention consists of 24 members and is elected in the General Assembly of the Convention according to the principles of equitable geographical representation and rotation. States Members to the Committee are elected for a term of four years.
- Some of the core functions of the Intergovernmental Committee include promoting the objectives of the Convention, providing guidance on best practices, and making recommendations on measures for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. The Committee also examines requests submitted by States Parties for the inscription of intangible heritage on the Lists as well as proposals for programmes and projects.
India and Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention:
- In the past, India has served two terms as a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of this Convention. One from 2006 to 2010 and the other from 2014 to 2018.
- For its 2022-2026 term, India has formulated a clear vision for the protection and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
- Some of the priority areas that India will focus upon include fostering community participation, strengthening international cooperation through intangible heritage, promoting academic research on intangible cultural heritage, and aligning the work of the Convention with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- This vision was also shared with the other State Parties of the Convention prior to the elections.
- As a member of the intergovernmental committee, India will have the opportunity to closely monitor the implementation of the 2003 Convention.
- With the aim of strengthening the scope and impact of the Convention, India seeks to mobilize the capacity of different actors worldwide in order to effectively safeguard intangible heritage. Also noting the imbalance in the inscriptions on the three lists of the Convention, i.e., Urgent Safeguarding List, Representative List and Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, India shall endeavour to encourage international dialogue within the State Parties to the Convention in order to better showcase the diversity and importance of living heritage.
The UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH):
- It is a UNESCO treaty adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on 17 October 2003.
- The convention entered into force in 2006, after thirty instruments of ratification by UNESCO.
- As of September 2018, 178 states have ratified, approved or accepted the convention.
- Unlike other UNESCO conventions, this convention begins with stating its purposes, which are:
- To safeguard the intangible cultural heritage.
- To ensure respect for the intangible cultural heritage of the communities, groups and individuals concerned.
- To raise awareness at the local, national and international levels of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage, and of ensuring mutual appreciation thereof.
- To provide for international cooperation and assistance.
- Convention protects the heritages by publishing following lists:
- Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- Register of good safeguarding practices.
- List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
- India ratified the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in September 2005. As one of the earliest State Parties to ratify the Convention, India has shown great commitment towards matters related to intangible heritage and has actively encouraged other State Parties to ratify it.
- With 14 inscriptions on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, India also ranks high in the listing of intangible cultural heritage.
- After the inscription of Durga Puja in 2021, India submitted the nomination for Garba of Gujarat to be discussed in 2023.
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
- Recently, India's Prime Minister participated in an event in Tokyo to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
- This economic initiative came a day before the second in-person summit of the Quad leaders (India, the US, Australia and Japan) in Tokyo.
Significance of IPEF:
- It is a US-led initiative that aims to strengthen economic partnership among participating countries to enhance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The IPEF was launched with a dozen initial partners who together represent 40% of the world GDP.
Opportunity for Indo-Pacific Region:
- It is a declaration of a collective desire to make the Indo-Pacific region an engine of global economic growth.
An Economic Vision:
- The Indo-Pacific covers half the population of the world and more than 60% of the global GDP and the nations who will join this framework in the future, are signing up to work toward an economic vision that will deliver for all people.
- Focus Areas: Unlike traditional trade blocs, IPEF won't negotiate tariffs or market access, and the framework will focus on integrating partner countries in four areas which include:
- Trade: It intends to build high-standard, inclusive, free, and fair-trade commitments and develop new and creative approaches in trade and technology policy that advance a broad set of objectives that fuel economic activity and investment, and promotes sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and benefits workers and consumers.
- Supply Chains: IPEF is committed to improving transparency, diversity, security, and sustainability in supply chains to make them more resilient and well-integrated.
- To coordinate crisis response measures; expand cooperation to better prepare for and mitigate the effects of disruptions to better ensure business continuity; improve logistical efficiency and support; and ensure access to key raw and processed materials, semiconductors, critical minerals, and clean energy technology.
- Clean Energy, Decarbonization, and Infrastructure: In line with the Paris Agreement goals and efforts to support the livelihood of peoples and workers, it plans to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies to decarbonize our economies and build resilience to climate impacts.
- This also involves deepening cooperation on technologies, mobilizing finance, including concessional finance, and seeking ways to improve competitiveness and enhance connectivity by supporting the development of sustainable and durable infrastructure and by providing technical assistance.
Tax and Anti-Corruption:
- It is committed to promoting fair competition by enacting and enforcing the effective and robust tax, anti-money laundering, and anti-bribery regimes in line with existing multilateral obligations, standards, and agreements to curb tax evasion and corruption in the Indo-Pacific region.
- This involves sharing expertise and seeking ways to support the capacity building necessary to advance accountable and transparent systems.
India's Vision for Indo-Pacific Region:
- India’s trade in this region is growing rapidly, with overseas investments being directed towards the East, e.g., the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, and the Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Thailand.
- India has been active in championing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The US, Australia, and the members of the ASEAN have all expressed a common view that India plays a greater role in the region.
- India, along with its Quad partners, is upping its game in the Indo-Pacific.
- India’s view is to work with other like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region to cooperatively manage a rules-based multipolar regional order and prevent any single power from dominating the region or its waterways.