20th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’ (GS2: International institutions)
Issue: The Trump administration is poised to announce its departure from the United Nations’ main human rights body in its latest withdrawal from an international institution.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. The UNHRC has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis. The next three-week session of the UNHRC will begin 18 June 2018. The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.
The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
The UNHRC was established by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 (by resolution A/RES/60/251) to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR) that had been strongly criticized for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members
A particular criticism of UNHRC has been its focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at each session known as Agenda Item 7. The UNHRC has been accused of anti-Israel bias
The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year, in March, June, and September.
The UNHRC can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies, at the request of one-third of the member states. To date there have been 20 special sessions.
The members of the General Assembly elect the members who occupy the UNHRC’s 47 seats. The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) (GS2: Security Challenges)
Issue: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in its 2018 edition of the yearly report on the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security said despite the overall decrease in global nuclear weapons year-on-year, India and Pakistan have increased their stockpiles.
What the report says?
- India, which had estimated 120-130 nuclear warheads as per 2017 report, now has 130-140 warheads. Similarly, Pakistan, which had 130-140 warheads now has increased to 140-150 warheads. Both countries are also developing new land, sea and air-based missile delivery systems.
- Another nuclear country in Asia, China continues to modernize its nuclear weapon delivery systems and is slowly increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal. The country now has an estimated 280 nuclear warheads. In 2017 report, the number was 270.
- The US and Russia still constitute a major share of approximately 14,465 nuclear weapons that exist in the world. Both together account for nearly 92 percent of all nuclear weapons despite reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
- Other countries which are a nuclear state include the UK (215 warheads), France (300 warheads), Israel (80 warheads) and North Korea (10-20 warheads).
SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public. Based in Stockholm, SIPRI also has a presence in Beijing, and is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.
SIPRI’s vision is a world in which sources of insecurity are identified and understood, conflicts are prevented or resolved, and peace is sustained.
SIPRI’s mission is to:
- undertake research and activities on security, conflict and peace;
- provide policy analysis and recommendations;
- facilitate dialogue and build capacities;
- promote transparency and accountability; and
- Deliver authoritative information to global audiences.
‘Net Zero Carbon Emitter’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Indian Railways will become a “net zero” carbon emitter by 2030
With the current action plans on anvil for 100 per cent electrification, coupled with renewable strategies, Indian Railways will become a net zero carbon emitter by 2030
What is Net Zero Carbon emitter?
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. It is used in the context of carbon dioxide releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, and industrial processes such as production of carbon neutral fuel.
The best practice for organizations and individuals seeking carbon neutral status entails reducing and/or avoiding carbon emissions first so that only unavoidable emissions are offset. Carbon neutral status is commonly achieved in two ways:
- Balancing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, with renewable energy that creates a similar amount of useful energy, so that the carbon emissions are compensated, or alternatively using only renewable energies that don’t produce any carbon dioxide (also called a post-carbon economy)
- Carbon offsetting by paying others to remove or sequester 100% of the carbon dioxide emitted from the atmosphere– for example by planting trees – or by funding ‘carbon projects‘ that should lead to the prevention of future greenhouse gas emissions, or by buying carbon credits to remove (or ‘retire’) them through carbon trading.
‘Corals off Goa coast’ (GS3: Environment)
Issue: About 18,000 years ago, there were coral reefs along the west coast of India. These were lost after sea levels began rising rapidly following the last glacial ice melt. Scientists believe that later some reefs started growing near the Indian coast, but the change of climate to monsoon type about 6,000 years ago killed those as well
What are Corals?
Corals are small organisms that build a hard exoskeleton around their soft, sac-like bodies for protection.
* By repeated budding and branching, corals form reefs. On an average, a reef grows by 1mm per year.
* Corals are relatives of jellyfish and anemones.
* They are primarily carnivorous, with tiny seawater animals serving as their food.
* Corals have microscopic plants (Zooxanthellae) living inside their cells which perform photosynthesis. This is why corals are found near the surface where sunlight is abundant.
* Reef-building corals require warm temperatures for survival.
* There are about 800 to 1,000 corals species found in the world. Of these, 206 species are from Indian reefs, with a majority of them found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
‘Pro Tem Chairman’ (GS2: State Legislature)
Issue: With Legislative Council Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy set to retire on Thursday, Governor Vajubhai Vala will be nominating a pro tem Chairman.
What is Pro tem Chairman?
When the Offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant, the duties of the Office of the Speaker are performed by such Member of Lok Sabha as the President may appoint for the purpose. The person so appointed is known as the Speaker pro tem.
The same job is done by Governor in case of State Legislature
Governor appoints the pro tem Chairman based on the State government’s recommendation.
‘Bio-Fuel’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: A brand new Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which flew from the French city of Toulouse to Hong Kong on Wednesday, was partly powered by a sugarcane-based bio-fuel.
What is Bio-fuel?
Fuels created from recently living plant matter as opposed to ancient plant matter in hydrocarbons. The term biofuel is usually used to reference liquid fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel that are used as replacements for transportation fuels like petroleum, diesel and jet fuel
There are two main types of biofuels – ethanol and biodiesel. The simplest way to distinguish between the two is to remember ethanol is an alcohol and biodiesel is oil. Ethanol is an alcohol formed by fermentation and can be used as a replacement for, or additive to, gasoline whereas biodiesel is produced by extracting naturally occurring oils from plants and seeds in a process called transesterification. Biodiesel can be combusted in diesel engines.
‘Generalized System of Preferences’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India is expected to challenge charges leveled against it by the U.S dairy and medical devices industries at a hearing before the United States Trade Representative (USTR) office scheduled for Tuesday and defend its eligibility for benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
What is GSP?
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974.
‘Governor Rule’ (GS2: State Legislature)
Issue: Jammu and Kashmir was on Wednesday placed under governor’s rule for the fourth time in the last decade after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew support to its alliance partner Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prompting chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to resign.
Immediately after receiving the president of India’s approval, governor N.N. Vohra issued the proclamation to impose governor’s rule in the state under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir
About the Governor rule in J&K
Government of India can declare emergency in Jammu and Kashmir and impose Governor’s rule in certain conditions. Matters related to Defense, Foreign relations, Communication and Finance of Jammu and Kashmir is under jurisdiction of Constitution of India.
The Union of India has no power to declare Financial Emergency under Article 370 in the state. The Union can declare emergency in the state only in case of War or External Aggression. No proclamation of emergency made on the grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger thereof shall have effect in relation to the state unless (a) it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the government of the state; or (b) where it has not been so made, it is applied subsequently by the President to that state at the request or with the concurrence of the government of that state. In December 1964, Articles 356 and 357 were extended to the state.