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Insights Daily Current Events, 19 December 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 19 December 2015

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Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

UNSC adopts resolution to cut off funding to ISIS, Al-Qaeda

UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to cut off all sources of funding to ISIS and Al-Qaeda with finance ministers from the member nations vowing to increase sanctions against the terror groups. The resolution was adopted at the recently held first-ever meeting of finance ministers.

Details:

  • The meeting called for enhanced actions, from closing financial system loopholes to stopping the abuse of charitable causes, as well as updating the existing ISIS and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List.
  • The Council stressed that already existing resolutions mandating nations to ensure that financial assets are not transferred to terrorists by persons within their territory “shall also apply to the payment of ransoms to individuals, groups, undertakings or entities on the ISIS and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List regardless of how or by whom the ransom is paid.”
  • The resolution called for increased international cooperation in sharing information and closer collaboration with the private sector to identify suspect transactions.
  • The Council also called on Member States to promote enhanced vigilance by persons within their jurisdiction to detect any diversion of explosives and raw materials and components that can be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices or unconventional weapons, including chemical components, detonators, detonating cord, or poisons.

ISIS funding:

  • Unlike other terror groups, ISIS derives a relatively small share of its funding from donors abroad. Instead, ISIS generates wealth from economic activity and resources within territory under its control.
  • ISIS’ financing has evolved from seizing territory and looting bank vaults to leveraging more renewable revenue streams: so far, ISIS has reaped an estimated USD 500 million from black market oil and millions more from people it brutalises and extorts.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Afghanistan’s WTO membership approved after 11 years of talks

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has formally approved Afghanistan’s membership at its 10th ministerial conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

  • Afghanistan has become the 164th WTO member and the 36th least developed country (LDC) to join the global trade body after 11 years of negotiations.
  • The landlocked Asian country expects to reap the benefits of the WTO membership for its post-conflict reconstruction.

WTO:

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization which regulates international trade.

  • It officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
  • It deals with regulation of trade between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments.
  • The highest decision-making body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO, all of which are countries or customs unions.

How a new member is admitted? -accession process:

  1. A country wishing to accede to the WTO submits an application to the General Council, and has to describe all aspects of its trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO agreements. The application is submitted to the WTO in a memorandum which is examined by a working party open to all interested WTO Members.
  2. After all necessary background information has been acquired, the working party focuses on issues of discrepancy between the WTO rules and the applicant’s international and domestic trade policies and laws. The working party determines the terms and conditions of entry into the WTO for the applicant nation, and may consider transitional periods to allow countries some leeway in complying with the WTO rules.
  3. The final phase of accession involves bilateral negotiations between the applicant nation and other working party members regarding the concessions and commitments on tariff levels and market access for goods and services. The new member’s commitments are to apply equally to all WTO members under normal non-discrimination rules, even though they are negotiated bilaterally.
  4. When the bilateral talks conclude, the working party sends to the general council or ministerial conference an accession package, which includes a summary of all the working party meetings, the Protocol of Accession (a draft membership treaty), and lists of the member-to-be’s commitments.
  5. Once the general council or ministerial conference approves of the terms of accession, the applicant’s parliament must ratify the Protocol of Accession before it can become a member.

The process of becoming a WTO member is unique to each applicant country, and the terms of accession are dependent upon the country’s stage of economic development and current trade regime. The process takes about five years, on average, but it can last longer if the country is less than fully committed to the process or if political issues interfere.

sources: the hindu, wiki.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

UN Security Council agrees on Syria plan

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has agreed to embrace a plan for a ceasefire and a peace process that holds the distant prospect of ending the conflict in Syria. A resolution in this regard was recently adopted by the Security Council.

  • The resolution reflects a months-long effort by American and Russian officials, who have long been at odds over the future of Syria, to find common national interests to stop the killing, even if they cannot yet agree on Syria’s ultimate future.
  • However, there remain sharp disagreements to be reconciled between the American and Russian positions, and huge uncertainty about what the plan will mean on the ground.
  • A dizzying array of armed forces have left Syria in ruins, killed 250,000 and driven four million refugees out of the country, threatening to destabilise the nations where they are seeking new homes.

Details:

  • The resolution envisions the formation of a unity government and calls for an immediate halt to any attacks on civilian targets.
  • The resolution demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict “immediately cease any attacks against civilians.” A mechanism to monitor, verify, and report on the truce is to be worked out within a month.
  • The only groups excluded from the ceasefire are Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
  • The resolution also asks the UN to convene formal talks on a transitional government. The talks between the regime and opposition are targeted for early January.
  • The resolution has also expressed support for a Syrian-led political process that would set up “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months and schedule a process for drafting a new constitution, with the aim of holding fair elections in 18 months.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Country’s biggest wildlife rescue centre commissioned

India’s biggest Wildlife Rescue Centre has been commissioned at Gorewada near Nagpur, Maharashtra. It has been named as Gorewada Zoo and Wildlife.

  • The Union Government had the wildlife rescue centre commissioned at the cost of 26.95 crore rupees.

Details:

  • This centre, spread in 30 hectares, would be a big asset for entire Vidarbha region. The region is known for man-animal conflict.
  • It will house sick, injured and rescued animals. There are four wards with a burial ground on the same premises.
  • The idea has been taken from Gir park. The hospital has state-of-art facilities and equipped with x-ray machine, operation theatre etc
  • Entire office staff, headed by an ACF, will be stationed here. There are cages for herbivores and will house deer, sambars and nilgais. Cases of tiger attacks on humans and cattle are increasing and problem animals will be brought to the centre.
  • There will be two enclosures to house 10 tigers at a time. Besides, 10 panthers can be accommodated.
  • There are also monkey cages and at least 10 monkeys will be accommodated in 5 cages in 0.20 hectare area.
  • One enclosure for over 100 birds of mixed species with small water pond has been set up. Besides, one enclosure has been set up for housing pythons and two enclosures for cobra, rat snakes and vipers in 0.02 hectare area.
  • The whole project will be implemented on Public-Private Partnership with government stake of 51% and private stake of 49% in a joint venture company to be floated after tender process begins later this month.
  • The government side will be represented by Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). The entire project, hanging fire for over 10 years due to red tape and controversies, is expected to be completed in four years.

sources: toi.

 

Paper 3 Topic: biodiversity.

Rare discovery of eel on West Bengal coast

Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India ( ZSI) have a discovered a new species of eel along the coast of Digha in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district.

Details:

  • The species, new to science, named Gymnothorax mishrai, is 32.4 cm long, brown in colour and the body is without any patterns.
  • It is a marine species and is also edible.
  • Distinct from other species described in the group Gymnothorax, this species of moray eel has 134 vertebral bones. Since the number of vertebral bones is less than 150, this particular species is categorised among short, brown, patterned moray eels.

Eels are snake-like fishes with fins and gills, found mostly at bottom of rivers and seas. There are 800 species of eels found across the world and India is home to 150-200 of these fish species. Though considered a delicacy in many countries like Japan, the consumption of eels in India is limited to the coastal areas.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: appointment to various constitutional posts.

RK Mathur set to be new Chief Information Commissioner

Former defence secretary Radha Krishna Mathur has been cleared for the post of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).

  • He will be serving for nearly three years, making him the second-longest serving CIC.
  • Mathur’s selection as the eighth CIC is a departure from the convention of appointing the most senior Information Commissioner (IC) as the CIC.

CIC appointment:

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

  1. The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
  2. The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
  3. A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission, the body that hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act. The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set up under the Right to Information Act and is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.

sources: the hindu.