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June 2017 International Affairs

  • Yemen faces world's worst cholera outbreak: UN
    The United Nations on 25th June warned that Yemen is now facing the worst cholera outbreak anywhere in the world. 

    According to UNICEF and the WHO the number of suspected cholera cases in the war-torn country has exceeded two lakh. 

    It says in just two months, cholera has spread to almost every governorate, with an estimated 5,000 new cases every day in the country. So far more than 1,300 people have died, one quarter of them were children. The UN said, the death toll expected to rise. The two UN agencies say they are doing everything they can to stop the outbreak from accelerating. 

  • China urges Afghans, Pakistan to form crisis-management mechanism
    China's foreign minister has urged leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations and establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism during visits to both countries. Foreign minister Wang Yi was scheduled to speak in Islamabad on on 25th June, a day after meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul. Wang said a three-way conference mechanism involving the two countries and China could promote dialogue and cooperation. 

  • France refuses to recognise Crimea 'Annexation'
    President Emmanuel Macron has said that France refuses to recognise Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Speaking after talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Paris, Macron said, France is committed to Ukraine's sovereignty with its recognised borders. 

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on 25th June visited Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, in a trip that Kiev condemned as a violation of its sovereignty. Western powers accuse Russia of failing to honour its commitments under the Minsk accords framework for ending the violence between government forces and Kremlin-backed rebels in Ukraine's east. 

    EU leaders agreed last week to extend stringent economic sanctions against Russia for another six months, saying Moscow had failed to meet its commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine. 

  • Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Syed Salahuddin named global terrorist by US
    A few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets President Donald Trump at the White House, the US Department of State has declared Syed Salahuddin, chief of the terrorist group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Syed Salahuddin has been operating out of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The US move is seen to signal that the Trump administration will take a tougher stance on Pakistan harbouring terror groups. 

    The US statement said that the Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people. The designation of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and result in denial of access to the US financial system. It can also complement the law enforcement actions of other nations. 

    A native of Budgam district in central Kashmir, Salaluddin had shifted to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir around 1989 from where he played a key role in fueling militancy in Kashmir for 27 years; training and arming youth before sending them back to the Kashmir valley. He also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella body set up in the mid-1990s to oversee terror outfits active in Jammu and Kashmir. 

  • US tech giants join hands to fight extremist online content
    Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube have announced the launch of an anti-terror partnership aimed at thwarting the spread of extremist content online. 

    The global internet forum to counter terrorism intends to share engineering, research and knowledge to help “continue to make our hosted consumer services hostile to terrorists and violent extremists”, the companies said. Each of the technology giants has been working individually to prevent its platforms or services from being used to promote or spread extremist views. 

    Facebook said it would seek to educate charities and other organizations on how to fight hate speech, in the wake of the terror attacks in Britain as well as in Belgium and France. The online civil courage initiative (OCCI) will act as a forum for charities and other non-profit organizations to share their experiences of extremism and develop “best practices” to tackle the issue, both on and offline. 

    There are already OCCI schemes in France and Germany. Earlier this year, G7 leaders had urged companies like Facebook and Google to do more to curb extremist content online. Facebook this month launched a series of counter-terrorism measures in the wake of attacks in Manchester and London. 

  • Cyberattack Adylkuzz hit over 2000 Computer Systems
    A large-scale, stealthy cyberattack took place on the same vulnerabilities the WannaCry ransomware worm exploited but, rather than freeze files, uses the hundreds of thousands of computers believed to have been infected to mine virtual currency. 

    Instead of completely disabling an infected computer by encrypting data and seeking a ransom payment, Adylkuzz uses the machines it infects to "mine" in a background task a virtual currency, Monero, and transfer the money created to the authors of the virus. 

    Virtual currencies such as Monero and Bitcoin use the computers of volunteers for recording transactions. They are said to "mine" for the currency and are occasionally rewarded with a piece of it. 

    Proofpoint said in a blog that symptoms of the attack include loss of access to shared Windows resources and degradation of PC and server performance, effects which some users may not notice immediately. 

    Proofpoint said it has detected infected machines that have transferred several thousand dollars worth of Monero to the creators of the virus. 

    The firm believes Adylkuzz has been on the loose since at least May 2, and perhaps even since April 24, but due to its stealthy nature was not immediately detected. 

  • China’s CNPC suspends fuel sales to North Korea
    China National Petroleum Corp has suspended sales of fuel to North Korea over concerns the state-owned oil company won’t get paid, as pressure mounts on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes. 

    It’s unclear how long the suspension will last. A prolonged cut would threaten critical supplies of fuel and force North Korea to find alternatives to its main supplier of diesel and gasoline, as scrutiny of China’s close commercial ties with its increasingly isolated neighbour intensifies. The North Korean agents who mostly buy the diesel and gasoline have been unable recently to pay for the supplies — CNPC normally requires upfront payments.

    Last year, China shipped just over 96,000 tonnes of gasoline and almost 45,000 tonnes of diesel worth a combined $64 million to North Korea, where it is used across the economy from fishermen and farmers to truckers and the military. Most of that was sold by CNPC, which has grown over the past two decades to dominate China’s energy trade with Pyongyang. 

  • Indians' money in Swiss banks hit record low of 676 million francs
    Money parked by Indians in Switzerland's banks nearly halved to 676 million Swiss francs (about Rs 4,500 crore) in 2016 to hit a record low amid a continuing clampdown on the suspected black money stashed behind their famed secrecy walls. 

    In comparison, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks somewhat rose to CHF 1.42 trillion or about Rs 96 lakh crore (from CHF 1.41 trillion a year ago). 

    The total funds held by Indians directly with Swiss banks stood at CHF 664.8 million at the end of 2016 while the same held through fiduciaries was nearly $11 million, as per the latest data published on 30th June by the country's central banking authority SNB (Swiss National Bank). 

  • UNESCO names Sharjah as World Book Capital 2019
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Sharjah as World Book Captial. Sharjah is the 19th city to become World Book Capital. The Sharjah is the first in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and third in the Arab world and the Middle East received this recognition. 

  • Seventeenth UNCTAD-OECD Report on G20 Investment Measures released
    United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has released report on various economic issues of G-20 nations. During the reporting period (from mid-October 2016 to mid-May 2017), seven G20 Members have introduced investment policy measures specific to foreign direct investment (FDI). 

    Among those, four countries took liberalisation measures in a variety of sectors. On the other hand, two countries restricted certain outward investment for public policy reasons and one country introduced a cap on foreign capital participation in payment transaction processing. 

    G20 Members (Argentina, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) concluded six new bilateral investment treaties (BITs). 

    In addition, Argentina and Brazil concluded an Intra-MERCOSUR Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Protocol; the United States a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with Paraguay; and the EU and Canada concluded a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The termination of at least 10 BITs concluded by G20 Members entered into effect. 

    The Report cautions that, given the relatively low number of FDI-related policy measures that were taken in the reporting period, it is too early to interpret the comparatively higher ratio of restrictive measures as foreshadowing a trend. 

    Nonetheless, these findings should focus policymakers’ attention to the commitments by G20 Leaders in favour of an open world economy, the promotion of global investment, and the thrust of the G20 'Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking', which call for open, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable conditions for investment. 

  • MPs approve to legalise same-sex marriage in Germany
    In Germany, a clear majority of MPs have voted to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to a vote. The reform grants couples now limited to civil unions full marital rights and allows them to adopt children. 

  • UN announces to initiate fresh peace talks among Syrian factions
    The United Nations has announced to initiate fresh peace talks among Syrian factions early in July. According to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, the talks would focus on various issues, including constitution, governance, elections, and fight against terrorism. The UN intends to convene further rounds of talks in August and in September this year. 

  • French President Emmanuel Macron's party wins parliamentary majority
    French President Emmanuel Macron's party has won a clear parliamentary majority and weeks after his own presidential victory, with nearly all votes counted, his La Republique en Marche, alongside its MoDem allies, won more than 300 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. The party was formed just over a year ago, and half of its candidates have little or no political experience. 

    The conservative Republicans and their allies could form a large opposition block, with 125-131 seats. But this figure is down from 200 seats in the last parliament. 

    The second round of the parliamentary election was marked by weak voter turnout, estimated to be a record low of about 42%.

    The Socialists, who were in power for the past five years, alongside their partners, looked set to get only 41-49 seats - their lowest tally ever in parliamentary elections. Socialist leader Jean-Claude Cambadélis announced his retirement from post, and urged the left "to change everything, its form and its substance, its ideas and its organisation". 

  • China hints at blocking India's move on JeM chief Masood Azhar in UN again
    China on 20th June hinted at blocking a UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM leader Masood Azhar once again saying that disagreements continue to prevail in the UN Committee related to terrorism issues in this particular case. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang's comments came in response to a question on the Azhar issue ahead of its review by the 1267 Committee of the UN next month. 

    China says that solid evidence is required to implicate the JeM leader. India has been asserting that it produced "solid evidence" for securing a ban on Azhar and actions of Pakistan-based terrorist is well documented. Geng was responding to a question whether there can be a forward movement over China's repeated technical holds to block India's move to get a UN ban on Azhar. 

  • The third International Yoga Day celebrated in more than 180 countries
    The third International Yoga Day is being celebrated in more than 180 countries worldwide. It has been three years since June 21 became the international day of Yoga. The world unites on this day every year, with people from all nations, continents and places pulling out their yoga mats to celebrate and soak the benefits yoga offers, to experience the oneness of body and mind. 

    India's Permanent Mission to the United Nations organised a 'Yoga Session with Yoga Masters' at the UN's headquarters. More than 1000 yoga practitioners came together to perform asanas in common yoga protocol. The theme for this year's International Yoga day is 'yoga for health.'

  • EU agrees to roll over Russia economic sanctions
    European Union agreed to roll over economic sanctions against Russia for another six months because Moscow has failed to meet its Ukraine ceasefire commitments. EU president Donald Tusk said that the Union will extend economic sanctions against Russia for their lack of implementing the Minsk agreement. He said the decision will become effective on July 31, when the current measures are to expire. The EU imposed the economic sanctions against Russia after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014 with heavy loss of life, blamed by the EU on pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. 

  • North Korea carries out rocket engine test
    North Korea has carried out another test of a rocket engine, the latest in a series of engine and missile tests this year. The disclosure of the engine test came a day after the United States pressed China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to help rein in its nuclear and missile programs. U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that a major conflict with North Korea is possible over its weapons programs, though U.S. officials say tougher sanctions, not military force, are the preferred option. 

  • Russia fires missiles from Mediterranean at IS in Syria
    Russia has fired cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea on positions of the Islamic State group in Syria. In a statement, the Defence Ministry on 23rd June said two frigates and a submarine launched six cruise missiles on IS installations in Syria’s Hama province, destroying command centers and ammunition depots. Russia is one of the strongest backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and has been carrying out airstrikes in the country since September 2015. 

  • Senate Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement bill
    U.S. Senate Republicans on 23rd June unveiled legislation that would replace Obamacare with a plan that scales back aid to the poor and kills a tax on the wealthy, but the bill's fate was quickly thrown into question as several senators voiced skepticism. 

    Four conservative lawmakers said they could not support it in its current form, leaving Republicans short of the votes they need for passage. Democrats are united in opposition. 

    The 142-page proposal, worked out in secret by a group led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, aims to deliver on a central campaign promise of President Donald Trump by rolling back former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, which has provided coverage to millions of Americans since it was passed in 2010. 

    Republicans view the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, as a costly government intrusion into the private marketplace. 

  • US and Russia call for dialogue over Qatar-GCC dispute
    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have called for dialogue over the Qatar-GCC dispute. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the two leaders spoke on the phone and discussed the consequences of the decision by a number of Arab countries to break diplomatic ties with Qatar. 

    The statement said Lavrov and Tillerson pointed to the need of resolving disagreements through negotiations and expressed their willingness to contribute to such efforts. 

    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, along with Egypt and a group of smaller countries, severed relations with Qatar recently, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar has rejected the allegations as baseless. 

  • Donald Trump's travel ban suffers new court defeat
    US President Donald Trump suffered another legal setback on 12th June as a second federal appeals court refused to revive his travel ban on people entering the United States from six Muslim-majority nations in a dispute headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

    The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used narrow grounds to reject the Trump administration's bid to undo a Hawaii federal judge's decision blocking the temporary ban. It said the Republican president's March 6 order violated existing immigration law. But the three-judge panel - all Democratic appointees - did not address whether it was unconstitutional discrimination against Muslims. 

    A second court, the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on May 25 upheld a Maryland judge's ruling that also blocked Trump's 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. 

    The 4th Circuit had ruled that the ban, which replaced an earlier Jan. 27 one also blocked by the courts, "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination" aimed at Muslims. 

    The 9th Circuit largely left in place a nationwide injunction by Judge Derrick Watson that stopped parts of the order, which Trump said was urgently needed to prevent terrorism in the United States. That ruling came in a lawsuit challenging the order brought by the state of Hawaii, which stated the ban would harm its universities and tourism industry. 

  • Bhutan, Maldives eliminate measles
    Bhutan and Maldives have eliminated measles, a highly infectious disease that is a major childhood killer globally. The two countries have become the first in WHO South-East Asia Region to be verified for having interrupted endemic measles virus transmission, ahead of the 2020 Regional target. 

    Bhutan and Maldives launched their Expanded Program on Immunization in 1979 and 1976 respectively, and since then worked indefatigably to increase access to immunization services. Maldives has not reported any case of indigenous measles since 2009, and Bhutan since 2012. 

    To fortify their progress, both countries have been carrying out mass vaccination campaigns with measles and rubella vaccine covering high-risk populations. 

    Measles elimination and rubella control by 2020 has been one of WHO South-East Asia Region’s flagship priority programmes since Dr. Khetrapal Singh became Regional Director in February 2014. 

    An estimated 620 000 measles deaths have been averted in 2016 alone following vaccination carried out by member countries. Nearly 107 million children have been reached with an additional dose of measles vaccine through mass vaccination between 2013 and 2016. 

    All countries have introduced two doses of measles containing vaccine and have been making focused efforts and progress against measles and rubella. All countries are conducting case-based surveillance for measles and rubella, and Regional surveillance standards have been revised to meet elimination standards. The measles laboratory network has been expanded from 23 laboratories in 2013 to 39 WHO accredited laboratories in 2016. 

    The overarching goal of universal health coverage and the core Sustainable Development Goal theme of leaving no one behind provide new opportunities to further improve immunization programmes, enhance access to new vaccines, and strengthen health systems to sustain the gains made so far, she said. 

    The measles elimination and rubella control strategy in WHO South-East Asia Region is based on four key approaches – achieving and maintaining at least 95% vaccination coverage with two doses of measles and rubella vaccine through routine and supplementary immunization; developing and sustaining a sensitive case based surveillance that meets recommended performance indicators; developing and maintaining an accredited measles and rubella laboratory network; and strengthening support and linkages for these strategies. 

  • Russian parliament adopts bill on demolition in Moscow
    The Russian parliament on 14th June adopted a much-disputed bill that would allow Moscow’s City Hall to pull down Soviet-era apartment blocks and relocate 1.6 million people. 

    The State Duma passed the bill. The controversial plan would allow Moscow City Hall to pull down entire neighborhoods, involving more than 4,500 blocks. 

    The redevelopment project, arguably Russia’s largest, has rattled many in Moscow who see the plans as an encroachment on their constitutional rights. 

  • Staggering civilian deaths from US-led air strikes in Raqqa: UN
    UN war crimes investigators say, US-led coalition air strikes on Islamic State militants in the Syrian city of Raqqa are causing staggering loss of life. Coalition warplanes are supporting an offensive on the IS stronghold that was launched last week by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters. 

    Since then, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have taken territory to the west, east and north of the city. The battle has already led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes. The coalition has said the capture of Raqqa will deliver a decisive blow to the caliphate proclaimed by IS in June 2014, months after it took control or the city. 

    Between 3,000 and 4,000 militants are believed to be holed up inside Raqqa. It is unclear how many civilians are trapped there with them, but the International Rescue Committee recently put the figure at 200,000. 

  • Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, US and UK top the Global Innovation Index 2017
    Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the US and the UK are the world’s most-innovative countries, while a group of nations including India, Kenya, and Viet Nam are outperforming their development-level peers, according to the Global Innovation Index 2017

    Key findings show the rise of India as an emerging innovation centre in Asia, high innovation performance in sub-Saharan Africa relative to development and an opportunity to improve innovation capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

    The Global Innovation Index surveys 130 economies using metrics from patent filings to education spending, providing policy makers with a high level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth. 

    Now in its tenth edition, the 2017 Index notes a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations and lack lustre growth rates for research and development activities, both at the government and corporate levels. 

    India 60th most-innovative globally: India has moved up six places to the 60th spot among 130 nations on the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2017, emerging as the top-ranked economy in central and south Asia. 

    It highlighted the continual improvement of India in terms of investment, tertiary education, quality of its publications and universities, its ICT services exports and innovation clusters. Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the US and UK retained their top spots as the most-innovative countries. 

    The index, co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD and World Intellectual Property Organisation, shows India’s rise as an emerging innovation centre in Asia, although the country ranks far behind China which occupied the 22nd spot. 

  • UNICEF report: Funding shortfall is threatening aid to 9 million children in Syria
    UNICEF warned on 16th June that a critical funding shortfall is threatening aid to 9 million Syrian children, both in their country and among the refugees in neighboring states. 

    The UN children's agency said the $220 million budget gap to its Syria relief programs is the worst it has faced since the start of the conflict, in 2011. It appealed for $1.4 billion in 2017 to provide relief and education to children orphaned, displaced, wounded, or otherwise affected by the Syria war. 

    UN aid programs have suffered from chronic funding shortfall throughout the Syria crisis. The UN's refugee agency UNHCR said it had managed to raise only $29 million of the $153 million it had budgeted to meet humanitarian needs in northern Syria, where a US-supported assault on the Islamic State group's de facto capital Raqqa has displaced more than 100,000 civilians. The UN has been unable to reach any of the 600,000 civilians in Syria it counts as besieged in over 40 days. 

  • Upto 150,000 trapped in old city of Mosul: UN
    The United Nations says up to one hundred fifty thousand people are trapped in old city of Mosul in Iraq, where Islamic State extremists want to keep them as human shields and are shooting people trying to flee. 

    The UN Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, said conditions in the old city are desperate with very little food and no clean water. She said the United Nations expects the battle for the Old City to start within days. 

    Nearly eight hundred sixty thousand people have already fled from Mosul due to fighting between the US-backed Iraq forces and Islamic State group since October last year. 

  • Philippines govt reaches ceasefire agreement with militants in Marawi
    In Philippines, the government has reached a ceasefire agreement with militants in Marawi, to rescue up to two thousand civilians trapped in the city for nearly two weeks. The agreement has been negotiated by Moro Islamic Liberation Front whose unarmed members will also be responsible to shift the civilians to safer places. According to government those trapped in the city need immediate help as they have been without food for the last thirteen days. 

  • UNICEF: 100,000 children in dangerous conditions in Mosul
    The UN children's agency warns that the children in Mosul are bearing the brunt of the intensified fight between US-backed government forces and the Islamic State group in the city's western half. According to the UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Peter Hawkins, the agency is receiving alarming reports of civilians being killed, including children, with some caught in the crossfire while trying to flee. 

    He estimated that 100,000 girls and boys are still in the IS-held Old City neighbourhood and other areas, living in extremely dangerous conditions. He called on the warring parties to protect the children and keep them out of harm's way at all times, in line with their obligations under humanitarian law. 

  • UN chief announces new talks on Cyprus reunification 
    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus have agreed on new talks in Geneva this month. The agreement to resume negotiations on a historic deal was reached during a meeting between Greek Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Guterres at UN headquarters on 5th June

    UN Chief said all agreed that the chapter on security and guarantees is of vital importance to the two communities and agreed to reconvene the conference on Cyprus this month. 

  • Nepal inks MoU with China to construct Hydropower Project
    Nepal has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China for construction of 1200-megawatt Budhigandaki Hydropower Project. The agreement was signed at Kathmandu on 5th June by Nepal Energy Minister Janardan Sharma and Lv Zexiang, President of China Gezhouba Water & Power (Group) Co Ltd (CGGC). The project will be developed on engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF) model. 

  • Qatar boycotted by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain over terrorism
    Saudi Arabia (the United Arab Emirates), Egypt and Bahrain have decided to back off from all the diplomatic relations as well as all land sea and air contacts with fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar. According to sources Saudi Arabia said, “the move was necessary to protect the kingdom from what it described as terrorism and extremism.” All the Qatari troops are being pulled out by the kingdom from the ongoing war in Yemen. 

    According to the Bahrain’s foreign affairs ministry it would withdraw its diplomatic mission from the Qatari capital of Doha within 48 hours and that all Qatari diplomats should leave Bahrain within the same period. The ministry’s statement said Qatari citizens needed to leave Bahrain within two weeks and that air and sea traffic between the two countries would be halted. 

  • WHO revises antibiotics protocol under essential medicines list
    In an effort to curb antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the drugs into three categories — access, watch and reserve — specifying which are to be used for common ailments and which are to be kept for complicated diseases. 

    Commonly used antibiotics will be available under ‘access’ category; the second line of antibiotics, slightly more potent have been categorised under “watch” and potent drugs to be used only as a “last resort” now fall under the ‘reserve’ category. This is the biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the 40-year history of the essential medicines list (EML). 

  • India signs pact to check DTAA abuse on taxation
    India on 7thh June signed a uniform multilateral tax agreement in Paris to check abuse of double tax avoidance agreements (DTAAs) by multinational companies that shift profits from high-tax jurisdictions to those with low or no taxes. 

    The deal signed by more than 65 countries will provide a standard framework for bilateral tax treaties creating common tax regulations for all investors across destinations. It will expedite modification of current tax treaties as countries will not be required to amend individual pacts after agreeing to the multilateral instrument. Finance minister Arun Jaitley signed the deal on behalf of India. 

    The Convention will modify India’s treaties in order to curb revenue loss through treaty abuse and base erosion and profit-shifting strategies by ensuring that profits are taxed where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried out and where value is created

    It is part of the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to check cross-border tax evasion by global companies by exploiting gaps in tax treaties and tax planning strategies. Under BEPS, the G20-led countries have identified 15 action points that will require countries to make suitable changes in their tax treaties and structures. 

    The multilateral convention will pave the way for bilateral pacts with other countries and will modify all covered bilateral tax treaties (covered tax agreements) to implement BEPS measures. 

    The revenue losses arising on account of base erosion and profit-shifting have been estimated by OECD at $100-240 billion annually or anywhere from 4-10 per cent of global corporate income tax revenues. 

    The uniform tax treaty for all investors will create a level playing field for both foreign institutional investors investing in capital markets and private equity players investing in Indian companies. 

    India has already amended its tax treaty with low or zero-tax jurisdictions including Mauritius, Cyprus and Singapore, from April 1, to plug loopholes that were often exploited to ensure complete tax avoidance. In a lot of cases, unaccounted money kept overseas was routed back to India disguised as foreign capital. New Delhi has now gained taxation rights over capital gains accruing to transfer of shares, which till last year used to rest with these countries. 

    Bilateral tax treaties are aimed to ensure that taxpayers do not face the burden of double taxation in both countries. But evaders used to manage to avoid taxes in both countries. 

  • North Korea launches multiple ground-to-ship missiles
    North Korea has launched multiple surface-to-ship missiles on 8th June. It would be the fourth missile test by the nuclear-armed regime in less than five weeks, as Pyongyang continues to defy UN warnings and US threats of possible military action. 

  • Conservative Party wins with a vote share of 46.6 per cent 
    In London, the Conservative Party has a vote share of 46.6 per cent while the Labour Party has a vote share of 38.4 per cent. The other parties have the following vote share. In overall UK Election Results 2017, although the Conservative Party has won a total of 316 seats out of 650 seats in UK Parliament, the party failed to get majority in the elections which have resulted in a hung assembly. The Labour Party has, however, managed 261 seats

  • India, Pakistan become full members of SCO
    India and Pakistan on 9th June became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a China-dominated security grouping that is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO. 

    India's membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan's entry into the grouping was backed by China. With the expansion of the grouping, the SCO will now represent over 40 per cent of humanity and nearly 20 per cent of the global GDP. 

    As an SCO member, India is expected to have a bigger say in pressing for concerted action in dealing with terrorism as well as on issues relating to security and defence in the region. India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia as many of the SCO countries have huge reserves of oil and natural gas. 

    The SCO had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc during its summit in Ufa, Russia, in July, 2015, when administrative hurdles were cleared to grant membership to India and Pakistan. 

    The SCO was founded at a Summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. 

    India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana Summit. The Tashkent SCO Summit in June 2010 had lifted the moratorium on new membership, paving the way for the expansion of the grouping that is increasingly seen as a counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). India has been an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region

  • 23,000 Terror Suspects in United Kingdom: MI5
    Some 23,000 terror suspects may be at large across Britain, the country's intelligence community say after the Manchester attack by a Libyan-origin man who was on the radar of the UK's spy agencies. The scale of the challenge has emerged in the aftermath of the Manchester suicide bombing that killed 22 people and left 119 injured. 

    Reports that Libyan-origin Salman Abedi had been on the radar of intelligence services had added pressure on the MI5 to reveal what they knew. MI5 or Military Intelligence 5 is a British spy and counter-terrorism agency. 

    The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a "residual risk". Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police released CCTV images showing suicide bomber Abedi attacked Manchester Arena at the end of a US singer Ariana Grande's concert. 

    The images are the first to show what the 22-year-old looked like when he carried out the terror attack. Fourteen locations are still being searched in connection with the attack and 11 men remain in custody on suspicion of terror offences. 

  • Pentagon successfully tests ICBM defense system for first time
    United States has for the first time successfully tested its defence system against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The Missile Defense Agency said that a ground-based interceptor was launched at a California air base and shot down a mock ballistic missile. 

    The Pentagon said the test was long-planned but it comes amid increased tensions with North Korea. The test comes after Pyongyang fired its ninth missile this year. 

  • Yemen facing 'total collapse' as fighting continues, UN warns
    According to the United Nation humanitarian co-ordinator Yemen is facing total social, economic and institutional collapse. Stephen O'Brien was speaking to the UN Security Council, telling them urgent action is required. Yemen is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with almost seven million people on the brink of famine. 

    An outbreak of cholera has also killed 500 people. Mr O'Brien said the suffering of Yemenis was not a coincidence, or the result of forces beyond our control but rather the fault of those involved and inaction by world powers. 

    Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, has taken advantage of the chaos to reinforce its presence in the south and south-east of the country. 

    UN figures say that more than 8,000 people - mostly civilians - have been killed and close to 44,500 others injured since the conflict escalated in March 2015. An estimated 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

  • China vows to stick to Paris pact
    China will implement the Paris climate pact, Premier Li Keqiang said on 1st June, urging others to do likewise as U.S. President Donald Trump was due to announce whether he would keep Washington in the deal. China has been investing billions in clean energy infrastructure, as its leaders seek to clear up the notorious choking pollution enveloping its biggest cities, including Beijing. 

    Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk made a personal appeal to Mr. Trump not to pull Washington out of the Paris climate agreement. 

  • Donald Trump confirms US will quit Paris climate agreement
    Donald Trump has confirmed that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, in effect ensuring the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases will quit the international effort to address dangerous global warming. 

    The US will remove itself from the deal, joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the Paris agreement. There will be no penalty for leaving, with the Paris deal based upon the premise of voluntary emissions reductions by participating countries. 

    In 2015, nearly 200 countries agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the runaway climate change that would occur should temperatures spiral 2C or more above the pre-industrial era. 

  • UN expands N Korea blacklist in first sanctions deal under Trump
    The UN Security Council on 2nd June expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea after its repeated missile tests, adopting the first such resolution agreed by the United States and North Korea’s only major ally China since President Donald Trump took office. 

    The United States has struggled to slow those programs, which have become a security priority given Pyongyang's vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. 

    Adding names to the UN blacklist — a global travel ban and asset freeze — was the minimum sanctions measures the Security Council could have taken and comes after five weeks of negotiations between Washington and Beijing. 

    The resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, sanctions four entities, including the Koryo Bank and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People's Army, and 14 people, including the head of Pyongyang's overseas spying operations. 

    North Korea's Koryo Bank handles overseas transactions for Office 38, a shadowy body that manages the private slush funds of the North Korean leadership, according to a South Korean government database. 

    The UN Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. North Korea is threatening a sixth nuclear test.


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