Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- China places hold on listing Azhar as designated terrorist
- United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention
- Global Environment Outlook
- FOREX Swap
1 . China places hold on listing Azhar as designated terrorist
About the News
- China has placed a hold on the listing request for Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) leader Masood Azhar at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 Committee.
- No reason for a hold — which lasts for three months and then can be extended for another six — need be given, and China gave none
- The listing request, which was co-sponsored by the United States, United Kingdom and France
- Had it gone through, it would have resulted in Azhar being designated as a terrorist and subjected him to sanctions, including an arms and travel ban as well as an asset freeze.
- The 1267 sanctions regime was initially based on three UNSC resolutions.
- First, UNSCR 1267 (1999), adopted following the Al-Qaeda attacks on United States (US) embassies in East Africa, imposed a limited air embargo and assets freeze on individuals and entities connected with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Second, UNSCR 1333 (2000), extended those sanctions to individuals and entities associated with Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. This regime evolved to include asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes against individuals and entities named on the 1267 Sanctions List, without the requirement of any territorial connection and for a potentially unlimited period of time (UNSCR 1390 (2002)). A Sanctions Committee was established to oversee the regime. In 2011, UNSCR 1988 split the regime in two: a new Taliban sanctions regime was established alongside the Al-Qaida sanctions regime.
- Finally, UNSCR 2253 (2015) extended the Al-Qaida Sanctions List to individuals and entities connected with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), changing the title of the Sanctions Committee3 and of the Sanctions List, now the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.
- Under the listing procedure, any UN member state may submit names to the Sanctions Committee to request their inclusion on the Sanctions List. The committee approves or rejects the listing requests, unless a UNSC member objects within a certain period. Once an individual or entity is placed on the Sanctions List, all UN member states are obliged to implement the asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban against them.
2 . United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention
Context : The first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port.
About United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention
- The Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) was drafted in 1975.
- It replaces the original Transport Internationaux Routier (TIR) Convention from 1959 and came into force on 20 March 1978.
- The TIR Convention facilitates the international carriage of goods from one or more customs offices of departure to one or more customs offices of destination (up to a total of four customs offices departure and destination) and through as many countries as necessary.
- As a rule, the vehicle remains sealed throughout the TIR transport and, thus, goods are generally not inspected at border crossings. However, customs authorities remain entitled to perform inspections whenever they suspect irregularities or randomly.
- The Convention applies to transports with road vehicles, combinations of vehicles as well as containers and allows for the use of the TIR Carnet for all modes of transport, provided that some portion of the journey is made by road.
- Reciprocal recognition of customs controls is at the heart of the Convention. This enables a facilitative and non-intrusive environment for multi-modal transport of goods through several countries
- To cover the customs duties and taxes at risk throughout the journey, the Convention has established an international guaranteeing chain which is managed by the International Road Transport Union (IRU).
- IRU is also responsible for the printing and distribution of the so-called TIR Carnet, which serves both as international Customs document and proof of guarantee.
- The overall supervision of the TIR Convention and its application in all Contracting Parties falls under the responsibility of the TIR Administrative Committee, an inter-governmental body comprising all Contracting Parties and its TIR Executive Board (TIRExB), composed of nine elected members, each from a different Contracting Party.
- India had joined the TIR Convention (the United Nations Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets) on June 15, 2017.
- The objective of the TIR Convention is to facilitate international transit through a simplified Customs transit procedures and an international guarantee system. The underpinning of the so-called TIR system are a common customs document, the TIR carnet, a common guarantee system, the mutual recognition of customs controls and secured vehicle containers. Usage of the TIR system is limited to authorized operators.
- An international transit operation under the TIR system does not require national customs documents and a national guarantee. Because of the securisation of the containers, the goods are also not subject to physical inspection. As a consequence the advantages are less delays at border crossings and for the overall transit operation.
3 . Global Environment Outlook
Context : A quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage, the United Nations said on Wednesday in a landmark report on the planet’s parlous state.
About Global Environment Outlook
- The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is often referred to as UN Environment’s flagship environmental assessment. The first publication was in 1997 and was originally requested by Member States
- It is a flagship report because it fulfills the core functions of the organization, which date back to the UN General Assembly resolution that established the UN Environment Programme in 1972.
- The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a consultative and participatory process to prepare an independent assessment of the state of the environment, the effectiveness of the policy response to address these environmental challenges and the possible pathways to be achieve various internationally agreed environmental goals.
About the Report
- The report, which was produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries, says that either we drastically scale up environmental protections, or cities and regions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa could see millions of premature deaths by mid-century.
- It also warns that pollutants in our freshwater systems will see anti-microbial resistance become a major cause of death by 2050 and endocrine disruptors impact male and female fertility, as well as child neurodevelopment.
- Lacking access to clean drinking supplies, 1.4 million people die each year from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and parasites linked to pathogen-riddled water and poor sanitation.
- Chemicals pumped into the seas cause “potentially multi-generational” adverse health effects, and land degradation through mega-farming and deforestation occurs in areas of earth home to 3.2 billion people.
- The report says air pollution causes 6-7 million early deaths annually.
What needs to be done?
- The report advises adopting less-meat intensive diets, and reducing food waste in both developed and developing countries, would reduce the need to increase food production by 50% to feed the projected 9-10 billion people on the planet in 2050.
- While urbanization is happening at an unprecedented level globally, the report says it can present an opportunity to increase citizens’ well-being while decreasing their environmental footprint through improved governance, land-use planning and green infrastructure. Furthermore, strategic investment in rural areas would reduce pressure for people to migrate.
- The report calls for action to curb the flow of the 8 million tons of plastic pollution going into oceans each year. While the issue has received increased attention in recent years, there is still no global agreement to tackle marine litter.
4 . Forex Swap
Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to inject rupee liquidity into the system through long-term foreign exchange buy/sell swap — a first-of-its-kind instrument used for liquidity management.
What is Foreign Exchange Swap
- Foreign Exchange swap agreement is a contract in which one party borrows one currency from, and simultaneously lends another to, the second party.
- Each party uses the repayment obligation to its counterparty as collateral and the amount of repayment is fixed at the FX forward rate as of the start of the contract.
- Thus, FX swaps can be viewed as FX risk-free collateralised borrowing/lending.
How It Will Work?
- The swap is in the nature of a simple Buy/Sell foreign exchange swap with the RBI.
- A bank shall sell U.S. dollars to the RBI and simultaneously agree to buy the same amount of U.S. dollars at the end of the swap period.
- Banks would likely bid to swap dollars at a forward rate, which is lower than the market. A cut-off would be determined based on the bids received.
- The dollars raised through the auction will reflect in the RBI’s foreign exchange reserves.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s $5 billion plan to swap rupees for dollars with domestic banks will help achieve its twin objectives of pushing interest rates down while also preventing a sharp appreciation in the rupee
5 . DGP
Context : The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the post of Director General of Police (DGP) of a State was reserved for the best.
- On July 3, 12 years after introducing drastic reforms to free the police from political influence, the Supreme Court had barred State governments from appointing DGPs without first consulting the UPSC.
- State governments should henceforth send their proposals for DGPs to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) three months before the incumbent is due to retire
- The UPSC will prepare a panel of officers fit to be DGP in the State concerned and send them back.
- The State shall “immediately” appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the UPSC.
- The court also directed the States to “ensure that DGP is appointed through a merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.”
- Former Uttar Pradesh DGP Prakash Singh, contended that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) was only considering police officers with a minimum two years’ residual tenure for appointment as DGP.
- This had led to many competent officers being overlooked.
What the Court Said
- SC clarified the order and said that the recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the Union Public Service Commission and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months