UN

 

Introduction

  • The UN Security Council is the premier global body for maintaining International peace and security
  • The Security Council, the United Nations’ principal crisis-management body, is empowered to impose binding obligations on the 193 UN member states to maintain peace
  • The Security Council, the United Nations’ principal crisis-management body, is empowered to impose binding obligations on the member states to maintain peace
  • The council’s five permanent and ten elected members meet regularly to assess threats to international security, including civil wars, natural disasters, arms proliferation, and terrorism
  • Structurally, the council remains largely unchanged since its founding in 1946, stirring debate among members about the need for reforms
    • Composition of UN Security Council
      • The UN Security Council is composed of 15 members, including five permanent member states – China, France, Russian Federation, the United States, and the United Kingdom – and 10 non-permanent member states, which are elected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
      • Ten non-permanent members are elected to the UNSC every year for a two-year term
      • The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed among the regions of the world: five seats for African and Asian countries (three are for Africa and two for Asia), one for Eastern European countries, two for Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the remaining two for Western European and other countries.
        • The Africa and Asia Pacific group takes turns every two years to put up an Arab candidate
    • How does presidency of UNSC rotate?
      • Each non-permanent member gets the opportunity to operate as president of the UN Security Council during the two years it is part of the grouping.
      • The presidency of UNSC changes hands every month between its members in the English alphabetical order of the member states’ names
    • Powers of the UNSC President
      • According to the UNSC’s official website, the presidency derives responsibility from the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the United Nations Security Council as well as UNSC’s practice.
      • The holder of the presidency is considered to be the ‘face’ and spokesperson of the UNSC.
      • Responsibilities of the UNSC president include:
        • Calling meetings of the UN Security Council
        • Appealing to parties in a conflict to “exercise restraint”
        • Reading statements of the UN Security Council to the press
        • Approving provisional agenda (proposed by the secretary-general)
        • Presiding at UNSC meetings and deciding questions relating to policy and overseeing any crisis
    • Veto power of UNSC member states
      • The UN defines ‘veto’ as a “special voting power“, which provides that “if any one of the five permanent members cast a negative vote in (UNSC), the resolution or decision would not be approved”.
      • However, the “veto power” is restricted to P5 member states of the UN Security Council. Non-permanent members of the UNSC do not enjoy this privilege.
      • Article 27 of the UN Charter says each member of the UNSC shall have one vote and that decisions on “procedural matters” shall require no more than the affirmative vote of nine out of the 15 members.
      • It is important to note that decisions on any other matter need not only an affirmative vote of nine members but also the concurring votes of the permanent members.

 

 

India’s run for permanent membership in UNSC

    • Why the reforms at UNSC are unavoidable now?
      • To meet the evolved Geopolitics
        • UNSC was composed by victors of the Second World War in 1945 to suit their interests and the UN Charter was designed accordingly, giving to themselves the permanent membership and veto power in the council.
        • However, the geopolitical, strategic, economic realities have changed considerably since then, but the UNSC has not reformed itself to these global realities
      • Inadequate representation
        • With global economic and population fulcrum shifting to Indo-Pacific, inadequate Asian representation and no African and Latin American representation are pushing UN to irrelevance, unless it reforms itself
      • Powerplay of the P5
        • Currently, the governing capacity of the International security relations rests with the elite class of countries
        • The veto powers enjoyed by the permanent members of UNSC doesn’t seem to suit the current global security needs
        • Further, the UNSC has not been successful in understanding the International changes and dynamics in the area of human security and peace

 

  • In this perspective, in a truly ‘’historic’’ move to reforming global governance in the arena of international peace and security, the 193 member-United Nations adopted a consensus resolution in its 69th General Assembly on September 14, 2015 to move from Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) to a Text-Based Negotiations (TBN) process for reforming the United Nations Security Council

UN_security_council

 

  • Why India should be granted permanent membership?
    • Emerging Global Power
      • India, after 75 years of independence, has emerged as one of the major powers in global politics; which represents one-sixth of the global population
      • It is also the world’s fifth largest economy and third largest in terms of purchasing power parity as of 2020.
      • Also, India has taken the lead in calling for New International Economic Order (NIEO) by reforming the international organizations
      • Further, at times of challenges, India has been at the forefront in raising its voice for cooperation and shared responsibilities.
    • Long Historical ties with UN
      • India shares a long historic relationship with the UN and its contemporary role in the global arena
      • India’s contribution to the international community is undeniable.
      • India also adheres to the Principle of Panchsheel whose relevance is timeless
      • The principle of Panchsheel is based on Mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference, equality and peaceful coexistence. These principles can be highly significant to UN Charter to work towards peace and security in cooperation
    • India’s stand on disarmament and non-violence
      • India has stood to uphold non-discriminatory and transparent working in international organisations
      • India has time and again reiterated its stand as a responsible nuclear weapons state and its deterrence to no first use and non-use against non-nuclear states
      • India has often criticised the discriminatory and undemocratic nature of the NPT (Non-proliferation treaty)
    • Active International participation
      • India has been an active participant in international events and treaties like UN peacekeeping mission, development goals, sustainable development, climate change and anti-terrorism
      • India has provided more than 200,000 officers to UN peacekeeping missions
      • India is also contributed to the UN in fighting against global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, energy security, refugee crisis, pandemics and restructuring the existing international economic world order
    • As an added representative from Asian region
      • In the recent times, India’s shift from non-alignment to multi-alignment shows that India can maintain good parallel relations with all major and minor powers in the international system
      • India’s membership can be demanded based on its economic growth, size, democratization, political stability, the rise of soft-power, nuclear power, military power and its emergence as a rising power in the South Asian region
  • Tracing India’s run to permanent membership at UNSC
    • In 1992, India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan (referred as G4) had put up their claims and logic for demanding inclusion as permanent members
      • Besides G4 countries South Africa (largest economy in African Continent) is also a claimant, as the Continent remains unrepresented on high table of permanent members
    • In retaliation, the pitch for reforms of G4 was lowered by their regional rivals like Italy, Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt, which started formulation of another interest group, known to be “Uniting for Consensus” opposing G4 becoming permanent members with a veto power.
    • The efforts for expansion of UNSC and reforms were also made in the form of the General Assembly Task Force on Security Council Reform and 2005 Kofi Annan’s Plan to expand to 24 member UNSC, with various combinations for equitable representation, but none of the initiatives have worked so far
    • The USA has time and again supported India’s bid for permanent membership in 2010 and again in 2017
    • Recently in 2020, France also supported India’s candidacy for permanent seat in the UNSC
  • What would be India’s aspirations being a permanent member at UNSC?
    • Being a “pen holder” as the permanent member of the Security Council, India would similarly assume the mantle of international peace and security decision-making
    • The powerful body would provide it the much needed leverage to expand its global geo-political and geo-economic clout
      • It would serve as an equaliser to China and an emerging hegemon in Asia, and an ever increasing strategic and security concern in its immediate neighbourhood and beyond
    • As India’s international profile and capabilities rise due to its ever expanding global and regional footprint in diverse areas such as politics, development, economics, culture and science and technology, India wishes to shift its international position from a rule taker (a constrained role) to a rule maker (a system shaping role)
    • The Indian attempts at joining various regimes like the MTCR(Missile Technology Control Regime) and the ongoing, high-pitched campaign to join the NSG amply indicate that India is no more satisfied with being either the target or a mere follower of various international norms and rules, and now wants to shape and align them to suit Indian ideas and interests

 

  • Indian strategies for a permanent seat at UNSC

 

  • India has adopted a multi-layered strategy to assume the highly coveted permanent seat in the Security Council
  • The Indian strategy of “revisionist integration” into the Security Council consists of two components:
    • Maximising support in the UN General Assembly and
    • Minimising resistance in the UN Security Council
  • India hopes that its continued leadership of various Global South forums such as G 77 and NAM, would garner much needed numbers in its support
    • This is reflected in India’s strong defence of the principle of sovereignty and the constant voluble criticism of the “Responsibility to Protect.”
  • On the other hand, India’s growing strategic partnerships with the P5, including the historic nuclear deal with the US in 2005, reiteration of historic ties with Russia, and most importantly, seeking a rapprochement with China, in Indian eyes, paint a favorable picture for Indian hopes in the Security Council by the existing permanent members
  • India has also joined the L-69, the 42-member grouping of developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America, to further its prospects
    • India also, in late 2016, joined as a member the newly founded group of Friends on UN Security Council Reform, created to accelerate the negotiating process of Council reforms
  • Roadblocks for India
    • China factor
      • China is one of the five permanent members of the UNSC and has been using its veto power to block India’s efforts to become a permanent member of the body
      • The opposition by China, could be further complimented by India’s assertion with China on Border issues and India’s opposition to China’s Belt & Road Initiative
    • India’s firmness to not mend
      • Critics argue that India has still not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and also refused to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996
      • This aspect doesn’t sit well with other Permanent members of UNSC
    • Lack of resources for Multi-lateral Diplomacy
      • Though India is on firm path of Economic growth, it has been performing poorly in socio-economic indicators like the Human Development Index, which might become a consideration factor
      • Further, India still heavily relies on weaponry imports from US and Russia for its military requirements; which questions its abilities to operate beyond the Indo-pacific region
    • Veto power contention
      • Reforms to improve effectiveness and responsiveness of UN to international security challenges are meaningless without the reform of the UNSC veto power with P5, which enables any one of them to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” draft council resolution, regardless of its level of international support.
  • Way forward
    • India should begin playing an active role, rather than pursuing a policy of silence on most of the issues in international security which UNSC permanent members are often concerned with, from nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, to human rights violations in Syria
    • India could also think of aligning its foreign policy on a more coherent note, to better impact its presence in the Geopolitics of the world
    • On the whole, a permanent membership to India in UNSC will ensure representation of the developing and underdeveloped world
      • Further, India can also significantly contribute to the misuse of veto power and represent the interest of not only India but also the underdeveloped countries and make United Nations a more democratic global governing institute

 

 

 

Introduction

    • The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces are employed by the World Organization to maintain or re-establish peace in an area of armed conflict
    • The UN may engage in conflicts between states as well as in struggles within states.
      • The UN acts as an impartial third party in order to prepare the ground for a settlement of the issues that have provoked armed conflict.
      • If it proves impossible to achieve a peaceful settlement, the presence of UN forces may contribute to reducing the level of conflict.
    • Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a role held by the Department of Peace Operations as “a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace”
    • Peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they may have signed.
      • Such assistance comes in many forms, including confidence-building measures, power-sharing arrangements, electoral support, strengthening the rule of law, and economic and social development
    • The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security

 

Financing

    • The financial resources of UN Peacekeeping operations are the collective responsibility of UN Member States
    • Decisions about the establishment, maintenance or expansion of peacekeeping operations are taken by the Security Council
    • Peacekeeping expenses are divided by the General Assembly based upon a formula established by Member States which takes into account the relative economic wealth of Member States among other things

 

Structure

    • A United Nations peacekeeping mission has three power centres
      1. The first is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the official leader of the mission
        • This person is responsible for all political and diplomatic activity, overseeing relations with both the parties to the peace treaty and the UN member-states in general
      2. The second is the Force Commander, who is responsible for the military forces deployed
        • They are a senior officer of their nation’s armed services, and are often from the nation committing the highest number of troops to the project
      3. The Chief Administrative Officer oversees supplies and logistics, and coordinates the procurement of any supplies needed

 

India and UN Peacekeeping

    • India stands solidly committed to assist the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security with a proud history of UN peacekeeping dating back to its inception in the 1950s
    • Also, India’s unique combination of being the largest democracy in the world with a strong tradition of respect for rule of law and the successful experience in nation building makes it particularly relevant in the context of twenty-first century peacebuilding
    • India today is the largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs).
      • More than 200,000 Indian troops have served in 49 of the 71 UNPKOs deployed so far
      • India is the second largest troop contributor [TCC] with 7,676 personnel deployed in 10 out of 16 active UN Peacekeeping Missions

 

The following have been the notable missions in which India has contributed since 1950.

MissionDetails
Korea(1950-54)To facilitate withdrawal of sick and wounded in Korea
Indo-China(1954-70)India provided an Infantry Battalion and supporting staff for control of Indo-China comprising three states of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Tasks

included monitoring, ceasefire and repatriation of prisoners of war, among other

Middle East (1956-67)United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), where for first timearmed troop contingents were deployed. India’s contribution was an infantry battalion and other support elements
Cambodia(1992-1993)Was set up to supervise ceasefire, disarm

combatants, repatriate refugees and monitor conduct of free and fair elections

 Lebanon(Since 1998)The current situation in the Mission is tense and volatile due to the crises in Syria. And India has provided One infantry battalion group, along with hospital staff for the mission
Sudan(Since 2005)The latest political developments in the Mission led to widespread inter-tribe violence and large displacement of locals.. The current situation continues to be highly volatile and sporadic clashes between the tribes are being reported regularly

India has contributed two Infantry Battalion groups, and Engineering assistance

Is UN Peacekeeping Losing its Appeal?

    • Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, most global conflicts were driven by competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, creating the need for an impartial army to stand between them
      • But, most modern conflicts, whether in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda during the 1990s or in Syria and Iraq today are too messy and chaotic for the old model of peacekeeping to work
    • The factors that allow for effective peacekeeping aren’t in existence anymore; as the same factions that allow for an easy creation of cease-fire do not exist anymore
    • Also, there is the lack of public support in Western nations for the costly and sometimes dangerous missions
      • Ex: France leads the counterterrorism mission in Mali but is working to reduce its involvement and end the mission, in part because of domestic pressure and an upcoming election
    • Further, waning support for peacekeeping in the West is rippling into sub-Saharan Africa
      • Neither Malian nor Somali forces are capable of filling the gap left by peacekeepers and other foreign forces if and when they withdraw
    • The withdrawal from Afghanistan marks the end of an era, and for now the end of enduring stabilization operations in distant places
      • It provides an opportunity for all Western nations to reconsider the use of their military as an instrument of their foreign policy

 

UN Peacekeeping: Critical Analysis

    • Positive Impacts
      • There is strong evidence that the presence of peacekeepers significantly reduces the risk of renewed warfare; more peacekeeping troops leads to fewer battlefield and civilian deaths
      • There is also evidence that the promise to deploy peacekeepers can help international organizations in bringing combatants to the negotiation table and increase the likelihood that they will agree to a cease-fire
    • Concerns
      • There have been several reports during UN peacekeeping missions of human rights abuse by UN soldiers, notably in Central African Republic in 2015
      • The cost of these missions is also significant, with the mission in South Sudan costing $1 billion per year for 12,500 UN soldiers unable to prevent the country’s movement towards civil war
      • Also, Often missions require approval from local governments before deploying troops which can also limit effectiveness of UN missions
      • A 2021 study in the American Political Science Review found that the presence of UN peacekeeping missions had a weak correlation with rule of law while conflict is ongoing, but a robust correlation during periods of peace

 

Way forward: Proposed reforms

    • Brahimi analysis
      • The Brahimi Report was the first of many steps to recap former peacekeeping missions, isolate flaws, and take steps to patch these mistakes to ensure the efficiency of future peacekeeping missions
      • The UN has vowed to continue to put these practices into effect when performing peacekeeping operations in the future, which include:
        • the harmonization of the conditions of service of field and headquarters staff
        • the development of guidelines and standard operating procedures
    • Need for Rapid reaction force
      • To prevent delays in action and deployment, a standing group, administered by the UN and deployed by the Security Council, that receives its troops and support from current Security Council members and is ready for quick deployment in the event of future genocides could be helpful
    • Reforms needed in United Nations peace and security architecture
      • This should have an overall objective of reducing fragmentation for better delivery, to make the peace and security pillar more coherent, nimble and effective by prioritizing prevention, sustaining peace and delivery on Agenda 2030
    • Other reforms efforts in this perspective include
      • Capstone Doctrine (2008), outlining the most important principles and guidelines for UN peacekeepers in the field;
      • Peace Operations 2010 (2006), containing the reform strategy of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO);
      • 2005 World Summit establishing the Peacebuilding Commission;
      • High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change , setting out a broad framework for collective security for the new century

 

Introduction

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences, and culture
  • UNESCO was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation
  • It has 193 member states and 11 associate members, as well as partners in the non-governmental, intergovernmental, and private sector
  • Headquartered at the World Heritage Centre in Paris
  • The UNESCO’s founding mission is to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights by facilitating collaboration and dialogue among nations
    • It pursues this objective through five major program areas:
      • Education
      • natural sciences
      • social/human sciences
      • culture and
      • communication/information
  • UNESCO is governed by the General Conference, composed of member states and associate members, which meets biannually to set the agency’s programmes and the budget.
    • It also elects members of the Executive Board, which manages UNESCO’s work, and appoints every four years a Director-General, who serves as UNESCO’s chief administrator

 

UNESCO: Vision

  • UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens, free of hate and intolerance
    • It has been entrusted to lead the Global Education 2030 Agenda through Sustainable Development Goal – 4.
    • ‘Education 2030 Framework for Action’ (Incheon Declaration) is the roadmap to achieve the global education 2030 agenda
    • Further, UNESCO works to ensure that every child and every citizen has access to quality education
  • By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, UNESCO strengthens the bonds between nations
    • The important conventions and International treaties of UNESCO to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage are as follows:
      • The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property (1970)
      • The Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
      • The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001)
      • The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
      • The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
      • The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
  • UNESCO fosters scientific programmes and policies as platforms for development and cooperation
    • In this perspective, UNESCO works to assist countries to invest in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), to develop national science policies, to reform their science systems and to build capacity to monitor and evaluate performance through STI indicators
  • UNESCO stands up for freedom of expression, as a fundamental right and a key condition for democracy and development
    • This is evident in the way how UNESCO concerns about the safety of journalists, combats online hate speech, as well as disinformation and misinformation through awareness raising initiatives
  • As a laboratory of ideas, UNESCO helps countries to adopt international standards and manages programmes that foster the free flow of ideas and the exchange of knowledge
    • Examples here could be the intergovernmental Programme like Management of Social Transformations (MOST), its Youth Programme and the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence Programme which include initiatives for democracy and global citizenship, intercultural dialogue, peace-building

India and UNESCO

  • India has been a founder member of UNESCO, having ratified UNESCO’s Constitution on 4th November, 1946, while still under colonial rule
    • Further, India has played a leadership role in supporting the implementation of the priorities of UNESCO in its different agendas relating to education, science and culture
  • India has been continuously re-elected to the UNESCO Executive Board since 1946
    • Recently, India won the re-election to the executive board of the UN’s cultural and education organisation for the 2021-25 term
  • India is currently a member of 19 of its UNESCO’s Conventions, including those on natural and cultural heritage, education, and intellectual property rights. Among the more recent ratifications include the Convention of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005 and the Convention Against Doping in Sports in 2005
  • UNESCO’s Mission in India: its core mandates
    • Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
    • Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
    • Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
    • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
    • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication
  • Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU)
    • It is a governmental body formed by the Government of India which functions under the Department of Secondary and Higher Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
    • The objective of the commission is to advise the Government in matters relating to the UNESCO
    • The Minister of Human Resource Development shall be the President of the Commission

 

Important Initiatives of UNESCO

InitiativeDetails
World Heritage Convention and List·         A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

·         To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be a somehow unique landmark which is geographically and historically identifiable and has special cultural or physical significance

·         Globally there are 1121 World Heritage sites in the 167 countries. Meanwhile, India has 38 World Heritage Sites that include 30 Cultural properties, 7 Natural properties and 1 mixed site

Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme·         The MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.

·         It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable

·         The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 701 sites in 124 countries all over the world, including 21 transboundary sites.

·         India has 18 Biosphere reserves out of which 11 have been recognized internationally under Man and Biosphere (MAB) program:

 

International Geoscience and Global Geoparks Programme (IGGP)·         The International Geoscience Programme (IGCP), since 1972, has harnessed the intellectual capacity of a worldwide network of geoscientists to lay the foundation for our planet’s future, focusing on responsible and environmental resource extraction, natural hazard resiliency and preparedness, and adaptability in the era of a changing climate.
World Water Assessment Programme·         The UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (UNESCO WWAP) was founded in 2000 in response to a call from the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to produce a UN system-wide periodic global overview of the status (quantity and quality), use and management of freshwater resources
Creative Cities Network·         The is a project of UNESCO launched in 2004 to promote cooperation UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) among cities which recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development.

·         As of November, 2019, there are five Indian cities in UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) as follows:

·         Jaipur-Crafts and Folk Arts(2015).

·         Varanasi-Creative city of Music (2015).

·         Chennai-Creative city of Music(2017).

·         Mumbai – Film (2019).

·         Hyderabad – Gastronomy (2019)

 

Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage·         UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance

·         Indian elements on the intangible cultural heritage list include Kutiyattam, Tradition of Vedic chanting, Ramlila etc. Ramman, Chhau dance etc.

Memory of the World Programme·         UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction.

·         It calls for the preservation of valuable archival holdings, library collections, and private individual compendia all over the world for posterity, the reconstitution of dispersed or displaced documentary heritage, and increased accessibility to, and dissemination of, these items

Initiatives in Collaboration with UNESCO in India

  • #KeepGirlsInSchool movement
    • UNESCO Joined Whisper’s mission to #KeepGirlsInSchool to ensure girls don’t miss out on a promising future
    • As part of the #KeepGirlsInSchool movement, P&G-Whisper and UNESCO New Delhi will come together to develop a puberty education module in school curriculums with a vision to help young women achieve their full potential.
    • The project will entail training school teachers and engaging with National and State education authorities to ensure the incorporation of the co-developed module on puberty education as part of the school curriculum.
  • Special Area Heritage Plan (SAHP)
    • Following the inscription of the Jaipur City on the List of the World Heritage in 2019, UNESCO New Delhi and the Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) will work closely in the elaboration of a Special Area Heritage Plan (SAHP), in order to better preserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Jaipur
    • While Jaipur is the second Indian historic town to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage, this project is the first-ever initiative in the South Asian region to elaborate a mechanism to protect an urban landscape, covering an expansive property area of 710 ha
  • Joint project on Media Action Against Rape (MAAR)
    • This project aims to analyse the processes involved in rape reportage through in-depth interviews with journalists. It will map the challenges, that national and regional journalists face, and the way they operationalise existing codes of practices, to produce a set of country-specific journalism guidelines
    • Working with UNESCO will build capacity to engender sustainable impact – specifically, for rape reportage, journalism education, and resilience against gendered violence towards women.
  • Development of Rural Craft and Cultural Hubs in West Bengal for inter-generational transmission
    • The project helps contribute to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development through social and economic inclusion of the disadvantaged rural communities. The project particularly contributes to SDG 8 that aims at inclusive and sustainable economic growth and highlights the role of local culture and local products to achieve that.
    • The joint project strives to:
      • Mobilize practitioners to collectively identify the challenges and needs;
      • Improve the knowledge and skills of the practitioners in the ICH form in collaboration with master practitioners (community based documentation, inventory and safeguarding; ICH skills building workshops);
      • Provide basic skills on safeguarding/promoting ICH forms including entrepreneurial skills training;
      • Create opportunities for practitioners to interact with wider public;
      • Sensitize general public, in particular younger generation in West Bengal on the wealth of its rural intangible cultural heritage;
      • Link the practitioners to existing government schemes to support their socio-economic needs.

Related aspects in news

  • In 2021, The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was awarded to National Institute of Open Schooling in India for its ‘Enabling education of persons with disabilities through technology enabled inclusive learning material, with specific focus on Indian sign language based content’ programme
  • In 1995, UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence was established through the generous donation of the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Indian artist, writer and diplomat Mr Madanjeet Singh

Thus, it is evident from above that, UNESCO and India are natural partners in the quest to build a more peaceful and sustainable world through education, science, culture, heritage and information technology.

  • Also, the Government of India’s focus on the youth and skill development resonates closely with the vision of UNESCO for the country, and the larger education agenda of the future.
  • Further, there is more that India can contribute to strengthen and consolidate UNESCO’s activities.
    • Among India’s most significant global contribution has been the exercise of its soft power drawing on its ancient culture and civilisation.
    • Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam was among the first precursors of Global Citizenship as it is understood today – the concept that all individuals are collectively responsible towards each other and their shared future. Going ahead, this could be the basis of UNESCO’s dialogue between cultures and civilisations

 

 

Introduction

    • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world
    • The Council has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis
    • The headquarters of the Council is in Geneva, Switzerland
    • The Council was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 to replace the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
    • The Council investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in United Nations member states, and addresses thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities

 

Structure

    • The members of the United Nations General Assembly elect the members who occupy 47 seats of the United Nations Human Rights Council
    • The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms
    • The seats are distributed among the United Nations regional groups as follows:
      • 13 for Africa, 13 for Asia
      • 6 for Eastern Europe
      • 8 for Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), and
      • 7 for the Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
    • The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership
      • The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly

 

Working

    • The UNHRC executes its mission through the following working components:
      • Universal Periodic Review Working Group
        • An important component of the Council consists of a periodic review of all 193 UN member states, called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
          • The mechanism is based on reports coming from different sources, one of them being contributions from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
          • Each country’s situation will be examined during a three-and-a-half-hour debate.
      • Advisory Committee
        • This was created in 2007, with 18 members with mandate to conduct studies on discriminatory practices and to make recommendations to ensure that racial, national, religious, and linguistic minorities are protected by law
      • Complaint procedure
        • This was set up for reporting of consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world and under any circumstances
        • The UNHRC set up two working groups for its Complaint Procedure:
          • Working Group on Communications (WGC) consists of experts, which determine whether a complaint deserves investigation, in which case it is passed to the WGS
          • Working Group on Situations (WGS) to examine the communications transferred to it by the WGC
      • Other subsidiary bodies
        • These include:
          • Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
          • Forum on Minority Issues, which is a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities
          • Social Forum, a space for dialogue between the representatives of Member States, civil society, including grass-roots organizations, and intergovernmental organizations on issues linked with the national and international environment needed for the promotion of the enjoyment of all human rights by all

Noteworthy actions by UNHRC

IssueAction taken
Myanmar Rohinga Issue·         In 2018, the UNHRC released a research report concluding that six generals in Myanmar armed forces should be prosecuted for war crimes as related to the genocide against the Rohingya Muslims

·         The UNHRC conducted 875 individual interviews as part of this research, confirming that the Myanmar army led a program that claimed the lives of more than 10,000 Rohingyas

Israel, human rights Abuse·         In 2015, UNHRC voted Resolution “ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”

·         Since 2006, the council has been voting for a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel

2006 Lebanon conflict·         At its Special Session in 2006, the Council announced the establishment of a High-Level Commission of Inquiry charged with probing allegations that Israel systematically targeted and killed Lebanese civilians during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
Climate change·         The Human Rights Council has adopted the Resolution about human rights and climate change

·         At it’s 48th the Council, it recognized the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment

 

India and UNHRC

    • In 2021, India was re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the 2022-24 term and vowed to continue to work for the promotion and protection of human rights through “Samman, Samvad and Sahyog”
    • In 2021, India abstained from a crucial vote on Sri Lanka’s rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva
    • In the recently concluded session at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), India abstained on one resolution on the human rights situation in Palestine but voted in favour of three other resolutions condemning Israel on the Golan Heights, its expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and in support of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people
    • At the 48th session of the human rights council, India said Pakistan has been globally recognised as a country openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists including UN prescribed terrorists as a matter of state policy
      • Also, India hit out at Pakistan as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for raising the Kashmir issue at the UN Human Rights Commission