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November 2017 International Affairs

  • Zimbabwe's ruling party sacks President Robert Mugabe as its leader
    Zimbabwe's ruling party has sacked President Robert Mugabe as its leader. Officials say, Zanu-PF has instead appointed ex-Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as President. Emmerson Mnangagwa had been fired by Mr Mugabe. 

    The sacking of Mr Mnangagwa had prompted an extraordinary chain of events as the military intervened to block Mr Mugabe, from installing his wife, Grace, in his place. The first lady has been expelled from the party altogether. Mr Mugabe is set to meet military leaders. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans attended street protests, demonstrating against the Mugabes. 

  • Myanmar, Bangladesh to implement plan to end Rohingya Crisis
    China on 20th November said Bangladesh and Myanmar have accepted China's mediatory role and agreed to implement a three-phased solution proposed by its Foreign Minister Wang Yi to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis. 

    Over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's violence hit Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August when the military intensified crackdown against alleged terrorist outfits of Rohingya Muslims. 

    China mostly refers to Rohingya crisis as Rakhine state issue, the home of Rohingya people who are mostly Muslims. 

    Second, the international community should encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to keep communication in a bid to find a feasible solution to the issue. The two countries have reached an initial agreement on repatriation of refugees fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar. 

    The third phase is to find a long-term solution; he was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency. 

    Stressing that poverty is the root cause of turbulence and conflict, Wang called on the international community to support poverty alleviation efforts in Rakhine state. China, which provided unwavering support for Myanmar's military junta over two decades, is behind a USD 7.3 billion deep-water port in Rakhine, which plays a pivotal role in Beijing's belt and road trade initiative. 

    It also built USD 2.45 billion oil and gas pipeline project linking the remote coast of Rakhine to southwestern China's Yunnan province, 770-km away. 

    State Grid Corporation of China launched a power transmission line and a substation project in Shwebo in Myanmar's north western Sagain region, and Myanmar has also bought FC-1 Xiaolong multi-role combat aircraft from China

    This three-phased solution won the "acknowledgement" from Bangladesh and Myanmar, Lu said, without elaborating. 

  • 95% of youth in developing nations work in informal sector
    In developing countries, as many as 19 in every 20 young men and women work in the informal economy, compared with adult workers, says a new ILO study, which shows that globally, 76.7 per cent of working youth are in informal jobs, compared with 57.9 per cent of working adults. According to report: 
    • India, Tanzania and Zambia all have an extremely low prevalence of formal wage employment; in all three countries, fewer than one in ten young workers are in wage employment with a contract.
    • In Tanzania and Zambia almost all youth and adult employment is vulnerable...In India, almost half of all young workers are employed as wage labourers, without a written contract
    • As India embarks on a major policy measure to increase job creation, the report cautions that “the youth employment challenge is not just about job creation, but also — even more so — about the quality of work for youth.”
    • 39 per cent of young workers in the emerging and developing world – 160.8 million youth – live in moderate or extreme poverty, ie on less than $3.10 a day.
    • An estimated 21.8 per cent of young people are neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET); most of them female.
    • The NEET rates for young men are lowest in developing countries, at 8 per cent, followed by emerging countries, at 9.6 per cent, and the developed countries at 11.3 per cent
    • The incidence of unemployment among youth in South Asia was expected to remain stable, at 10.9 per cent in 2017 and 2018, mainly because “fast economic growth in India, the region’s largest economy, will be compensated by slightly worsening labour market conditions in the rest of the region.”

    Informality: A growing force
    • The bulk of international migrant flows consists of young people — around 70% are younger than 30
    • 25.6 million young workers aged 15-29 will enter the labour force and will need jobs between now and 2030
    • By 2030, about 77% of youth labour force aged 15-24 will be in the developing countries of Africa and Asia-Pacific

  • Volcano in Bali erupts for the first time in 54 years
    A volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali has erupted for the first time in 54 years. The country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the eruption of Mount Agung began on 21st November. Nearly 1,600 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963. It stirred to life again in September, prompting about 140,000 people to leave the area. Mount Agung lies some 75 kilometers from Bali's tourist areas, which attract millions of tourists every year. 

  • Cuba, North Korea vow to strengthen ties
    Cuba and North Korea have vowed to strengthen ties amid escalating political tensions with the US. In a meeting with his visiting North Korea counterpart Ri Yong Ho on 22nd November, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez reiterated Havana's position that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula can only be resolved through dialogue and negotiations. 

    According to Xinhua news agency, Rodriguez also rejected unilateral sanctions and the inclusion of North Korea in the US list of state sponsors of terrorism only two days ago by President Donald Trump's administration. 

    In response, Ri said the situation on the Korean Peninsula is worsening and is tense because of the increased use of military forces by the imperialists. 

  • Latin America is world’s most violent region for women: UN
    Latin America and the Caribbean is the most violent region in the world for women, the United Nations said on 23rd November, highlighting Central America and Mexico as particularly dangerous. 

    In a report presented in Panama, UN Women and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) found assaults on women persisted in the region despite severe laws aimed at curbing the phenomenon. The issue of violence against women in Latin America is critical. It’s the most violent region in the world against women outside of conflict contexts

    The rate of sexual violence against women outside of relationships is the highest in the world in the region, and the second-highest for those who are in, or were in, a couple, the report stated. 

    Three of the 10 countries with the highest rates of rape of women and girls were in the Caribbean, it said. 

    Femicide -- the killing of women -- occurred on a “devastating scale” in Central America, it said, explaining that two out three women murdered died because of their gender. 

    In some countries it has become a severe crisis. In the Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) and Mexico the problem of femicide and violence against women has reached epidemic levels, in many cases with links to organised crime

    Central America’s Northern Triangle is considered the most dangerous area in the world outside war zones, mainly because of rampant gangs and drug cartels. 

    The UN report noted that 24 of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have laws against domestic violence, but only nine of them have passed legislation that tackles a range of forms of other violence against women in public or private. 

    It also said that 16 of the countries had femicide on the books, and a few punished newer types of crimes, such as cybercrime, political violence, or acid attacks. 

    The UN recommended strengthening institutions and policies in the region, and allocating resources to empower women. It also advised that “patriarchal” cultural norms that maintain gender inequality needed to be addressed. 

    The report added one third of women worldwide have been a victim of violence in their relationship or of sexual violence by people outside their relationship. 

  • Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Sayeed freed after over nine months of house arrest in Lahore
    Pakistan has freed Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the banned JuD and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack from detention. He was released in Lahore. Sayeed was freed after the government decided against detaining him further in any case. 

    He was under detention since January this year. Punjab province's Judicial Review Board comprising judges of the Lahore High Court on 22nd November unanimously ordered Saeed's release on the completion of his 30-day house arrest. 

    The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and the UN after the Mumbai attack. 

    India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded the trial of Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of the evidence it had provided to Islamabad. 

  • Militants kill 235 people in Egypt mosque attack 
    Militants killed more than 235 people at a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai on 24th November, detonating a bomb and gunning down worshippers in the deadliest attack in the country’s modern history. 

    No group immediately claimed responsibility, but since 2013 Egyptian security forces have battled a stubborn Islamic State affiliate in the mainly desert region, and militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers. 

    The jihadists have also attacked local tribes and their militias for working with the army and police, branding them traitors. The Sinai branch is one of Islamic State’s surviving branches following the collapse of its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq after military defeats by US-backed forces. 

    Security has long been one of the key sources of public support for the former general, who is expected to run for re-election early next year for another four-year term. He promised the attack “would not go unpunished”. 

  • 48th International Film Festival of India begins in Goa
    The 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) began on 20th November with a gala opening ceremony in Goa. The opening ceremony, which was organised at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Bambolim, began with a spectacular performance by the Drums of India. 

    The festival was inaugurated by Shah Rukh Khan. 

    Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar announced that in 2019, when IFFI completes 50 years, it will be held at a new world class state of the art venue in Goa. 

    Around 200 films from 82 countries will be screened during the nine-day extravaganza in Panaji. Apart from 20 Oscar-nominated movies, this year’s festival will have over 10 Asia premiers, 3 world premieres and 64 India premiers of international films. 

    ‘Beyond the clouds’ by legendary Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi was the opening film, while Indo-Argentine film ‘Thinking of Him’ by Pablo César will be the closing movie. 

    26 feature films and 16 non-feature films belonging to different languages and regions will be screened in the Indian Panorama Section of the festival. 

    Vinod Kapri-directed Hindi film Pihu will be the opening movie in the feature film category, while Pushkar Puran by Kamal Sawroop will open the non-feature film category of Indian Panorama. 

    IFFI will also screen two movies - Hindi Medium and Secret Superstar - for visually impaired persons with special audio-described technology. Seven award-winning films from BRICS countries will also be screened at the festival. 

  • India's nominee Dalveer Bhandari re-elected to the International Court of Justice
    India’s Dalveer Bhandari was on 20th November re-elected to the International Court of Justice as the General Assembly overwhelmingly threw its weight behind him, forcing Britain to withdraw its candidate from a hard-fought race to the World Court. 

    Bhandari and UK’s Christopher Greenwood were locked in a neck-and-neck fight for re-election as the UN could not decide between them after electing four out of five judges to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

    Bhandari, received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all 15 votes in the Security Council to fill the final vacancy on the ICJ after separate but simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York. 

    Soon after the election results were announced, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin was congratulated by representatives of other countries on the floor of the General Assembly. The UK will not have a judge on the bench of the ICJ for the first time in its 71-year history. 

    Based in The Hague, the ICJ has a bench of 15 judges, five of whom are elected every three years for a nine-year term. 

    Established in 1945, the role of the ICJ is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions. 

    The permanent members of the Security Council - the US, Russia, France and China - were understood to have been throwing their weight behind 62-year-old Greenwood. 

    Rycroft thanked judge Greenwood for his service and paid tribute to his outstanding contribution to the working of the court and to the development of international law. 

    However, the British Ambassador noted that this was the right time to adopt the joint conference mechanism, which he had pushed earlier, but was opposed by India. 

    The statue of the ICJ provides in its Article 12 that if after the third meeting, one or more seats still remain unfilled, a joint conference may be formed any time at the request of either the General Assembly or the Security Council for the purpose of choosing one name for each seat still vacant to submit to the General Assembly and the Security Council for their respective acceptance. 

  • Hike in salaries of High Court, Supreme Court judges
    The Union Cabinet on 22nd November approved hikes in the salaries of High Court and Supreme Court judges. After the Seventh Pay Commission, this subject was to be discussed. The Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958 and High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954 will be amended as any decision on judges’ salaries is made through legislative instruments,” Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. 

  • Centre promulgates Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance
    Centre has promulgated Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to encourage bamboo cultivation in non-forest areas. The ordinance exempts bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of tree, thereby dispensing with the requirement of felling and transit permit for its economic use. 

    Bamboo, though, taxonomically a grass, was legally defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Before this amendment, the felling and transit of bamboo grown on the forest as well non-forest land attracted the provisions of the Indian Forest Act and was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on the non-forest land. 

    The amendment will encourage farmers and other individuals to take up plantation/ block plantation of suitable bamboo species on degraded land, in addition to the plantation on agricultural land and other private lands under the agro-forestry mission. 

  • PM Modi inaugurates 5th global conference on cyber space in New Delhi
    Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi on 23rd November said digital technology has emerged as a great enabler and helping business and economies grow. Inaugurating fifth global conference on cyber space, he said rapid change in digital domain has brought changes in the entire world. 

    Mr Modi said technology breaks barriers and has given a level playing field to the society. He said power of technology in improving governance is the need of the hour. He said, Indian IT talent is recognised world-wide and Indian companies have made name for themselves globally. 

    Sri Lanka Prime minister Ranil Wikramsinghe said transparency is central to cyber space. Saying cyber space repository of information, He said super computer pin pointed location of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan when many believed he was in Afghanistan. 

    Mr Modi also launched UMANG app, which is a unified platform for multiple government of India mobile apps. Prime minister also gave awards to winners of Hackathon. 

    Global Conference on Cyber Space two-day mega event began in New Delhi. For the first time, the event is being organized in India. The theme of the conference is Cyber for All: A Secure and Inclusive 

    Cyberspace for Sustainable Development. Representatives from 124 countries and 33 Ministerial delegates from 31 countries are attending the conference. 

  • HRD ministry launches Digital Signature campaign on Constitution Day
    Ministry of Human Resources Development has launched a Digital Signature campaign on Constitution Day affirming faith in Indian Constitution and to generate awareness on fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution. 

    People can join the campaign by filling a form online. 26th November is celebrated as Constitution Day. 

  • Results of preventing under-nutrition must be seen by 2022: Indian Prime Minister 
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reviewed the progress made to prevent under-nutrition in India and has stressed that visible results should be seen by 2022, the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence. 

    The high-level review meeting was attended by officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), NITI Aayog and other ministries on 25th November. 

    The current status of malnutrition, stunting and related problems was reviewed at the meeting. Successful nutrition initiatives in some other developing countries also came up for discussion. The Prime Minister stressed on the need for working towards concrete objectives to reduce stunting, under- nutrition, low birth weight, and anemia. 

    He emphasised that visible and measurable results should be seen by 2022, the 75th anniversary of independence

    Towards this end, real-time monitoring towards progress of nutrition outcomes was discussed, especially in the worst performing districts

    Initiatives such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Mission Indra-dhanush, Beti Bachao - Beti Padhao, and the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, were having a positive impact on nutrition. 

    Modi called for convergence among all schemes of the Union and state governments, which directly or indirectly have an impact on nutrition outcomes. 

  • Rajnath Singh seeks cooperation of States on Central forces
    The Centre and the State governments should engage in greater cooperation so that differences on issues such as deployment of Central forces are resolved quickly, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on 25th November 

    At the 12th Inter-State Council meeting, he said a number of steps had been taken in recent years by the Centre to promote cooperative federalism. 

    Andhra Pradesh had opposed the recommendation made by the Puncchi Commission that Central forces could be deployed without the concurrence of the State government. 

    It also suggested that the Centre should not charge any cost to the State government whenever Central forces are deployed at the request of the State government. 

  • Telangana govt announces waiver of all pending electricity dues of STs
    Telangana State Government has announced waiver of all pending electricity dues of the Scheduled Tribes to a tune of 70 crore rupees and ordered for lifting of the theft cases pending against them in the state. State Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao announced this during a special meeting with ST public representatives held in Hyderabad. 

    An official release said 40 out of total 70 crore rupees dues, the government will pay to the electricity departments and the Electricity corporations will waive 30 crore rupees. He also said each ST habitation in the state will be provided road connectivity and each ST house will be provided electricity connection at a subsidised rate, and each ST Farmer will get free electricity connection besides schemes like sheep rearing will be extended to STs too. 

  • Israel hints to continue military strikes across its frontier with Syria
    Israel on 12th November signalled that it would keep up military strikes across its frontier with Syria to prevent any encroachment by Iranian-allied forces, even as the United States and Russia try to build up a ceasefire in the area. 

    U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed joint efforts to stabilise Syria as its civil war wanes, including with the expansion of a July 7 truce in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan. 

    A U.S. State Department official said, Russia had agreed to work with the Syrian regime to remove Iranian-backed forces a defined distance from the Golan Heights frontier with Israel, which captured the plateau in the 1967 Middle East war. Moscow did not immediately provide details on the deal. 

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza militants against attacking Israel after the Islamic militant group vowed revenge for the demolition of one of its attack tunnels. 

  • India, Australia, Japan, US hold talk on peace, stablity in Indo-Pacific region
    India, Australia, Japan and the United States discussed cooperation based on their converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected Indo-Pacific region. 

    The ministry officials of the four countries held consultations in Manila on 12th November. They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. 

    The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity. 

    The Indian side highlighted India’s Act East Policy as the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. 

  • 31st ASEAN summit in Manila, Philippines
    World leaders gathered in Manila on 13th November to attend the 31st ASEAN Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. 

    The Summit, with the theme "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World," was packed with business conferences and meetings between world leaders. 

    Some of the highlights of the first day of the Summit were the meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump, the signing of an agreement between ASEAN member-countries and China on the drafting of a South China Sea code. 

  • China proposes inclusive dialogue with Indo-Pacific nations
    China on 13th November proposed an inclusive dialogue among all countries in the Indo-Pacific area, following fledgling attempts to form a quad group comprising India, the United States, Australia and Japan. 

    Rejecting a Cold War mindset, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that all relevant parties can put forward their vision and proposal on how to develop cooperation between the countries and regions. During a visit to China last week, U.S. President Donald Trump had rejected the doctrine of ‘containment’ of China, and signalled that Washington and Beijing will be the main pillars of a more inclusive international system. 

  • Southeast Asia summit issues statement skipping Rohingya crisis 
    A draft of the statement issued after a Southeast Asian summit makes no mention of the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine state following a military crackdown that has been described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing. 

    One paragraph of the communiqué mentions the importance of humanitarian relief provided for victims of natural disasters in Vietnam and a recent urban battle with Islamist militants in the Philippines, as well as “affected communities” in northern Rakhine state. 

    The statement was drawn up by the Philippines, current chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - which includes Myanmar. 

    The draft did not give any details of the situation in northern Rakhine or use the term Rohingya for the persecuted Muslim minority, which Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has asked foreign leaders to avoid. The government in mostly-Buddhist Myanmar regards the Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and does not recognize the term. 

    Well over 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to find shelter in refugee camps after military clearance operations were launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts on Aug. 25. 

    The plight of the Rohingya has brought outrage from around the world and there have been calls for democracy champion Suu Kyi to be stripped of the Nobel peace prize she won in 1991 because she has not condemned the Myanmar military’s actions. 

    In September, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation in Rakhine was best described as ethnic cleansing. 

    Some members of ASEAN, particularly Muslim-majority Malaysia, have voiced concern. However, in keeping with ASEAN’s principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, the issue appears to have been put aside at the summit. 

    In September, Malaysia disavowed a statement issued by the Philippines on behalf of ASEAN’s foreign ministers as misrepresenting “the reality” because it did not identify the Rohingya as an affected community in Rakhine state. 

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wound up his three-day official visit to the Philippines capital Manila, with his participation in three major summits and five bilateral meetings with world leaders. 

    In his address in the 15th ASEAN-India Summit, Mr Modi called for intensified cooperation in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. He said the countries in the region have individually striven hard to fight the scourge of terrorism, adding a joint effort is now necessary. 

    Mr Modi highlighted that India’s Act East Policy is shaped around the ASEAN. He added that the bloc is at the centrality in the regional security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region. 

  • Yemen records 925,000 suspected cholera cases, nearly 2,200 deaths: UN
    United Nations has said there were more than 925,000 suspected cholera cases with over 2,200 associated deaths in Yemen as of 12th November. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 15th November said Aid workers continue to respond to the outbreak, but fuel to run hospital generators and to pump clean water will run out in less than three weeks, as key ports for humanitarian shipments remained closed. 

    It also warned that vaccines needed to treat diphtheria will also run out in two weeks. The agency said ships and planes carrying humanitarian supplies have been unable to reach Yemen since the start of a blockade on 6th of November. 

    Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has said, the coalition would reopen seaports and airports in areas controlled by the Yemeni government. However it said those in rebel-held areas, including Hudaydah and Sanaa, would remain closed unless a stricter UN verification and inspection mechanism is in place over cargo transferred through those ports. 

    According to UN, more than two-thirds of people in need and more than 80 percent of all cholera cases are located in the areas closest to Hudaydah and Saleef ports. 

  • India has highest number of people without basic sanitation: Report
    India, the world's second-largest country by population, has the highest number of people without basic sanitation, according to a report. 

    The report says despite immense progress through the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, more than 732 million people still suffer fear and indignity of relieving themselves in the open or in unsafe or unhygienic toilets- a situation that is worse for women and girls. 

    In India, a staggering 355 million women and girls are still waiting for a toilet; if they were all to stand in a queue, it would stretch around the Earth more than four times!" Water Aid's State of the World's Toilets 2017 report says. 

    The report, quoting government data, says there has undoubtedly been immense progress made in improving access to sanitation by working with the Swachh Bharat Mission- with 52 million household toilets built between October 2014 and November 2017. 

    According to the report, after India, China, the world's most populous country, comes in second, with 343 million people without decent toilets. However, it too has made a lot of progress since 2000, when 40 per cent of the population lacked basic sanitation. Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, is in the third place. 

    The report says globally, one in three people still have nowhere decent to go to the toilet, and demonstrates how women and girls bear the brunt of this global crisis. 

    For more than 1.1 billion women and girls, this injustice results in an increased risk of poor health, limited education, lost opportunities, vulnerability and embarrassment of having to go out in the open. 

    According to VK Madhavan, Chief Executive for WaterAid India, India is making rapid progress in improving sanitation under the ongoing Swachh Bharat Mission. 

  • Russia casts 11th UN Syria veto, again blocking inquiry 
    Russia has again cast a veto to block a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Russia rejected a Japanese draft resolution to prolong by 30 days the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), whose mandate ended at midnight on 17th November. 

    But Russia used its veto power to prevent the adoption of the resolution after 12 council members voted in favour of the measure. 

    China abstained, while Bolivia also voted no. It was the 11th time that Russia has used its veto power to stop Security Council action targeting its ally Syria. 

    The JIM was set up in 2015 to identify perpetrators of chemical attacks. It is the only official mission investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Moscow strongly criticised the inquiry when it blamed the Syrian government for a deadly nerve agent attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April, which left more than 80 people dead. 

  • 11 princes and 4-ministers in Saudi Arabia detained by anti-corruption body
    Saudi Arabia has arrested dozens of senior figures including princes, ministers and a top business tycoon, with authorities pledging fair justice after a sweeping purge seen as consolidating the crown prince's hold on power. 

    After a new anti-corruption commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established by royal decree that prominent billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal was among the princes arrested late on 4th November. 

    Separately, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings. 

    Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that 11 princes, four current ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were arrested as the commission launched a probe into old cases such as floods that devastated the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2009. 

    The suspects are being granted the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen, attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement, adding that a number of investigations had been initiated. 

  • UNSC drops plans to adopt resolution demanding end to violence in Myanmar
    In the face of strong opposition from China, the United Nations Security Council has dropped plans to adopt a resolution demanding an end to the violence in Myanmar and instead opted for a statement. 

    The statement calls for an end to the violence, full access for humanitarian aid workers to the Rakhine state and for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh. It does not threaten sanctions against Myanmar's military. 

    Britain and France had circulated a draft resolution in October, 2017, but diplomats said veto power China, a supporter of Myanmar's former ruling junta, had argued that a resolution was not the appropriate response to the crisis. 

    Since late August, more than 6 lakh Rohingya Muslims have been driven from their homes by an army campaign in Rakhine that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing. 

  • 64 cities join the UNESCO creative cities network
    64 cities from 44 countries have been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities by Director-General, Irina Bokova. They join a Network at the frontline of UNESCO’s efforts to foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development. This network attracts growing interest from local authorities. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries. 

    While differing geographically, demographically or economically, all Creative Cities commit to develop and exchange innovative best practices to promote creative industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies. 

    Chennai, often called as cultural capital of South India, joined the elite club of world cities on 8th November when it was included in Creative Cities Network of UNESCO for its contributions to music. The city joins two other cities in India - Jaipur and Varanasi - to have figured in the prestigious list for their contributions to music and folk arts. The dossier to nominate Chennai for the CCN was submitted a few months back to the UNESCO by the Union culture Ministry. 

  • JeM chief Masood Azhar is bad guy and should be declared as a global terrorist: US
    According to US, Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar should be declared as a global terrorist. The JeM, founded by Azhar, has already been in the UN's list of banned terror outfits. China for the fourth time had blocked a proposal backed by the US, France and Britain to list Azhar as a global terrorist. 

    China is the only country opposing the designation of Azhar by the Security Council as a terrorist. All other 14 of the 15 members of the UN Security Council were supporting the bid to place Azhar on the sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban. Azhar is accused of several terrorist attacks in India, including one on the Pathankot air force station in January last year. 

  • 201 people arrested in anti-corruption swoop, says Saudi Arabia
    Saudi Arabia says 201 people are being held so far for questioning over an estimated 100 billion US dollars in embezzlement and corruption, after the biggest purge of the kingdom's elite in its modern history. 

    Quoting attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojebthe, Saudi information ministry said in a statement in Riyadh that total of 208 individuals were called in for questioning of which seven have been released without charge. 

    Princes, ministers and a billionaire business tycoon were among dozens of high-profile figures arrested or sacked at the weekend, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman consolidated power. 

    The purge comes amid heightened regional tensions, with Saudi Arabia and Iran facing off over a missile attack from Yemen and a political crisis in Lebanon after Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation announced from Riyadh. 

  • Trump, Putin issue joint statement on fighting ISIS in Syria
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump agreed on a joint statement on Syria on 11th November that said there was no military solution to the conflict and political one was needed. 

    Kremlin which published the text of the joint statement on its website said the statement on Syria was coordinated by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. 

    According to the Kremlin website, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin approved the statement on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Vietnamese resort of Danang. 

    Russian officials said Putin and Trump had a conversation before the group photo ceremony for APEC leaders in Danang. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the Kremlin announcement or the conversation the Kremlin said took place. 

    In their joint statement, the two world leaders repeated the urgency of destroying the Islamic State. They agreed to maintain open military channels of communication among army professionals to help ensure the safety of both U.S. and Russian forces. 

    Trump and Putin also confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and called on all parties involved in the Syrian conflict to use the Geneva process to find a resolution. 

  • Cuba announces new immigration policies 
    Cuba has announced changes to the island's immigration policies, seeking to strengthen ties with the 8 lakh Cubans living outside the country. 

    Speaking to a group of Cubans residing in the United States, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the new rules go into effect as of first January. 

    Rodriguez said the foreign ministry will authorise the entry and exit of expatriate Cubans through two tourist ports and allow the return of nationals who left the country illegally. 

    He also said the children of Cubans residing outside the country and those born in foreign countries will be able to obtain Cuban citizenship and identification documents. 

  • Kenya president wins 98% of vote in repeat of disputed election
    Kenya's incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta won 98 per cent of the vote in a repeat presidential election in Kenya, although only 39 per cent of voters turned out due to an opposition boycott, the country's electoral commission said on 30th October. 

  • US court largely blocks Trump's military transgender ban
    A US court has largely blocked President Donald Trump's controversial ban on transgender people serving in the military. Mr Trump had, in August, signed an executive order banning transgender people from serving openly, reversing former President Barack Obama's directive allowing them to do so. 

    The move prompted a flood of lawsuits, many of them filed on behalf of transgender service members or veterans. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sided in part with a group of transgender service members who sued to block the change, halting Mr Trump's ban on service. 

    It, however, upheld the Trump administration's move to block the military from paying for gender reassignment surgery. The order by Kollar-Kotelly temporarily prevents the Pentagon from enacting the ban. 

  • Spain court suspends Catalan independence declaration
    Spain’s Constitutional Court on 31st October ordered the suspension of last week’s declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament

    The court plenary has just provisionally suspended the independence declaration” while it examines an appeal by the Spanish government, indicating the latest in a series of measures by Madrid to stifle the region’s independence drive. 

    Spain's Supreme Court has called on the speaker for Catalonia's parliament Carme Forcadell as well as five other senior lawmakers from the region to testify on Nov. 2 and 3, a court spokeswoman said 

    The country's State prosecutor on 31st October called for rebellion and sedition charges to be brought against Catalan leaders over their push to separate from Spain. 

  • World’s third largest book fair opens in Sharjah
    World’s third largest book fair opened on 1st November at Sharjah. 

    It began with a glittering opening ceremony at Expo Centre, in the presence Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, other shaikhs and guests. 

    The theme of this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair, SIBF is ‘A World inside My Book’. 

    The India Pavillion saw the participation of more than 120 publishing Houses including Publications Division, National Book Trust, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, Malyalam Manorama, Mathrubhoomi , DC Publishing etc. 

    Indian Pavilion was jointly inaugurated by Sadhna Rout, Director General of the Publications Division, Vikas Swarup, Indian High Commissioner to Canada and Neeraj Aggarwal, Head of Chancery at the Indian Consulate in Dubai. 

  • China blocks bid to list Masood Azhar as global terrorist
    China on 2nd November blocked another bid by the US, France and the UK to list Pakistan-based Jaish e Mohammad Chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN. China said it has rejected the move as "there is no consensus". A veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India's move to put a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council. 

    China had in August extended by three months its technical hold on the US, France and UK-backed proposal to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN after having blocked the move in February this year at the United Nations. 

    The comment came as the China's technical hold on a proposal by the US, France and Britain to list Azhar as a global terrorist was set to lapse on 2nd November. 

  • Bangkok hosted the 7th Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable
    The 7th Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable (AMER7) was held in Bangkok from 1st November to 3rd November. The event was organized by the Government of Thailand together with the United Arab Emirates. India is the current chair of International Energy Forum (IEF) which is promoting the AMER - a biennial event bringing together Energy Ministers and experts from Asian countries. 

    This year the meeting was entitled “Global energy markets in transition: from vision to action” and was focused on the current state and prospects of Asia’s oil and gas markets in the context of security challenges, new investment opportunities and emerging breakthrough energy technologies that are all being generated in a world in transition.


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