Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII); United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC);

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

  • The 23rd session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, commenced on April 15 in New York.
    • It focuses on the pressing need to accelerate the recognition and protection of Indigenous Territories (ITs) worldwide.

About UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII):

What is it?
  • One of three UN bodies mandated to deal specifically with indigenous peoples’ issues.
  • Others are-
  1. Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and
  2. Special Rapporteur Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Formation 28 July 2000
Headquarters New York, USA
Parent Organization United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • 16 independent experts serving three-year terms, with eight nominated by member governments and eight directly nominated by indigenous organizations
  • Countries: Finland, Nepal, Chad, Australia, Colombia, Bolivia, United States, Russia, China, Ecuador, Burundi, Denmark, Mexico, Namibia, Estonia, and one additional rotating seat
  • Provide expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, UN programs, funds, and agencies through ECOSOC.
  • Raise awareness and promote integration of indigenous issues within the UN system.
  • Prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues.
  • Established by General Assembly in 2002.
  • Based in New York within Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD) of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)



[UPSC CSE 2009] With reference to the United Nations, consider the following statements:

  1. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of UN consists of 24 member States.
  2. It is elected by a 2/3rd majority of the General Assembly for a 3-year term.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

India abstains in UNGA on Pak Resolution on Islamophobia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNGA, Non-members, Resolutions

Mains level: NA

Why in the news

  • India abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly draft resolution on Islamophobia introduced by Pakistan and co-sponsored by China.
  • India asserted that while condemning all acts of religious discrimination, it’s crucial to recognize religiophobia against various faiths rather than singling out one religion.

India’s Position on Islamophobia:


  • Prevalence of Religiophobia: India emphasized that religiophobia extends beyond Abrahamic religions and affects followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
  • Opposition to Precedence: India expressed concerns that adopting the resolution could set a precedent for numerous resolutions centered on specific religious phobias, potentially dividing the United Nations along religious lines.
  • Religious Autocracy: India urged member states to consider the broader scope of religious discrimination globally in non-secular theocracies, highlighting the need to address challenges faced by all faiths.
  • Contemporary Forms: India cited examples of attacks on religious places of worship and the spreading of hatred against non-Abrahamic religions as evidence of contemporary religiophobia.

 What is UN General Assembly?

  • The UNGA is the main policy-making organ of the United Nations, founded in 1945.
  • It serves as a forum for all Member States to discuss and make recommendations on a wide range of international issues covered by the UN Charter.
  • The UNGA is the only universally representative body of the UN, focusing on topics like international peace and security, development, disarmament, human rights, and international law.


  • The UNGA comprises all Member States, with each having an equal vote in the assembly. It elects non-permanent members of the Security Council, appoints the Secretary-General, and approves the UN budget.
  • It has granted observer status to international organizations, entities, and non-member states, allowing them to participate in its work with certain limitations.
  • Notable observers include the European Union, the Holy See, and the State of Palestine.


  • The UNGA discusses, debates, and makes recommendations on various international issues within its competence, including political, economic, humanitarian, social, and legal matters.
  • It plays a central role in standard-setting, codification of international law, and making recommendations to promote international political cooperation.
  • It has the power to
  1. Consider and approve the UN budget,
  2. Elect non-permanent members of the Security Council, and
  3. Make recommendations on maintaining international peace and security, disarmament, and other matters outlined in the UN Charter.

What are UNGA Resolutions?

  • A UNGA resolution is a formal expression of the General Assembly’s opinion, will, or intention on various matters of global significance.
  • UNGA resolutions are adopted through a voting process during plenary sessions of the General Assembly.
  • Each member state has one vote, and decisions are typically made by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting.
  • While UNGA resolutions are not legally binding on their own, they can influence the development of customary international law and provide guidance for the interpretation of treaties and conventions.
  • Types of Resolutions:
    1. Binding Resolutions: Some resolutions are legally binding on member states, requiring them to take specific actions or comply with certain obligations.
    2. Non-binding Resolutions: Many resolutions are non-binding, serving as recommendations, expressions of concern, or statements of principle. While non-binding, these resolutions carry significant political weight and influence.


With reference to the United Nations General Assembly, consider the following statements:

  1. The UN General Assembly can grant observer status to the non-member States.
  2. Inter-governmental organisations can seek observer status in the UN General Assembly.
  3. Permanent Observers in the UN General Assembly can maintain missions at the UN headquarters.

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Are INTERPOL Blue Corner Notices being Politically Exploited?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: INTERPOL

Mains level: Read the attached story


Why in the News?

Concerns arise over the misuse of Interpol notices, especially blue corner notices, raising issues about balancing police cooperation and preventing abuse of power.

About INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization)

  • Established in Vienna, Austria (1923), it enables cross-border police cooperation and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime.
  • An inter-governmental organization comprising 195 member countries,
  • Facilitates better coordination among police forces globally
  • Enables member countries to share and access data on crimes and criminals
  • Offers technical and operational support to member countries
  • Manages 19 police databases containing information on crimes and criminals, accessible in real-time
  • Provides investigative support, including forensics, analysis, and assistance in locating fugitives worldwide.
  • Run by a Secretary General
  • Headquarters located in Lyon, France
  • Global complex for innovation based in Singapore
  • Several satellite offices in different regions.
India’s Membership
  • Joined in June 1956.
Functioning in Member Countries
  • Each member country has a National Central Bureau (NCB), serving as the central point of contact for the general secretariat and other NCBs worldwide
  • NCBs are typically managed by police officials and situated in the government ministry responsible for policing (e.g., MHA in India)
  • Interpol’s databases contain various information, from names and fingerprints to stolen passports, accessible in real-time to member countries
  • Provides investigative support to member countries, aiding in forensic analysis and locating fugitives globally.


What are Blue Corner Notice?

  • Types of Notices: Interpol issues seven types of notices, including Blue Notice.
  • Purpose: Blue corner notice, also known as an “enquiry notice,” facilitates sharing critical crime-related information, including criminal records verification and locating individuals.
  • Example: In January 2020, Interpol issued a blue corner notice to locate fugitive Nithyananda, a self-styled godman.

Distinguishing Blue from Red Corner Notice

  • Red Corner Notice: It is issued by a member state for the arrest of a wanted criminal, often following criminal convictions, allowing arrests in any member state.
  • Difference: Blue notices precede criminal charges, while red notices typically follow convictions. Red notices enable arrests and other consequences like bank account closures, while blue notices facilitate information exchange.

Examples of Notice Issuance

  • Red Corner Notice: In 2018, a red corner notice was issued against Nirav Modi for the Punjab National Bank scam.
  • Interpol’s Decision: However, in October 2022, Interpol rejected India’s request for a red notice against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, citing insufficient information and political dimensions.

Concerns of Misuse

  • Political Misuse: Despite Interpol’s prohibition on political activities, concerns persist regarding its enforcement.
  • Instances: Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and Tunisia face accusations of abusing Interpol notices for political purposes.
  • Criticism: While Interpol tightened oversight of red notices, vulnerabilities remain, especially with blue notices, which experts suggest are less scrutinized before publication.

Debates on Notice Issuance

  • Turkey’s Argument: Countries like Turkey argue against excessive restraint in notice issuance, citing hampered police cooperation and sovereignty concerns.
  • Global Response: International human rights groups call for stricter enforcement of Interpol’s rules to prevent authoritarian exploitation.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

ICJ: Doing Justice without power


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Mains level: Read the attached story


About the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Role Principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
Establishment Established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations, began work in April 1946.
Predecessor Successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) established by the League of Nations.
Inaugural Sitting Held its first sitting at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, in February 1922.
Seat Located at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.
Jurisdiction ICJ’s jurisdiction requires consent from both parties involved in a dispute. Its judgment is final and binding.
Judges Comprises 15 judges elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and Security Council.
Official Languages  English and French.
India’s Representation Four Indians have been members of the ICJ, including Justice Dalveer Bhandari, R S Pathak, Nagendra Singh, and Sir Benegal Rau.
Notable Indian Cases at ICJ
  • Trial of Veer Savarkar (1910) for extradition to Britain from France at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
  • Right of Passage over Indian Territory (Portugal v. India, culminated 1960).
  • Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council (India v. Pakistan, culminated 1972).
  • Trial of Pakistani Prisoners of War (Pakistan v. India, culminated 1973).
  • Aerial Incident of 10 August 1999 (Pakistan v. India, culminated 2000).
  • Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. India, culminated 2016).
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav (India v. Pakistan, culminated 2019).

Enforcement Challenges

  • Binding Rulings: ICJ decisions are legally binding, but they lack enforcement mechanisms, relying on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to enforce judgments.
  • Political Influence: Enforcement often falls victim to the politics of UNSC’s permanent members, as seen in potential vetoes by the US, Israel’s strong ally.

Challenges to Efficacy

  • Non-Participation: Powerful states may refuse to participate in ICJ proceedings, making compliance difficult. For instance, Russia declined to submit to the court’s jurisdiction during Ukraine-Russia conflict hearings.
  • Bureaucratic Delays: The ICJ’s slow bureaucratic process leads to years-long trials and judgments, making justice delayed justice denied.

ICJ’s Relevance

  • Expanding Jurisdiction: The ICJ now handles diverse international law areas, including human rights and environmental violations, furthering the participation of states through dispute settlement clauses.
  • Successful Reparations: The court’s rulings on reparations, such as Uganda’s payment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, demonstrate its impact.
  • Advisory Role: The ICJ’s advisory opinions contribute to peaceful conflict resolution, as seen in its opinions on nuclear weapons and the Israeli-Palestinian wall.

Niche Position

  • Amid New Courts: Despite the emergence of new international courts and tribunals, the ICJ maintains a unique place in international judicial adjudication.
  • Fragmentation Concerns: Coexisting courts raise concerns about potential contradictions in rulings and the fragmentation of international law.
  • Guardian of World Order: The ICJ serves as a last resort when diplomacy fails, safeguarding the interests of the World Court.


  • The ICJ, with its rich history and evolving role in international law, faces challenges in enforcing its rulings and ensuring swift justice.
  • However, its expanding jurisdiction, successful reparations, and advisory role in peaceful conflict resolution demonstrate its continued relevance.
  • Striking a balance between centralization and decentralization in international judicial adjudication will be crucial to upholding the integrity of the World Court.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Is India ready to host the Olympic Games?


Central idea

The article explores India’s aspiration to host the 2036 Olympics, discussing the significance of hosting the Games in terms of showcasing global standing and soft power. It delves into the challenges, including governance issues, and evaluates the country’s readiness, emphasizing the transformative potential in sports and the need for strategic planning for sustainable success.

Relevant key points from the Article:

  • Hosting the Olympics is considered a pinnacle of sport, showcasing a nation’s soft power and global standing.
  • Challenges include the dual nature of attention, focusing on both positive and negative aspects.
  • India’s Prime Minister expressed the aspiration to host the 2036 Olympics, linking it to asserting geopolitical power and showcasing development.

Mains Relevance of this article for UPSC:

  • Analyzing the geopolitical and developmental impact of hosting international events like the Olympics.
  • Evaluating the challenges and potential in transforming India’s sports governance and infrastructure.
  • Discussing the role of sports in soft power diplomacy and nation-building.

India’s 2036 Ambition is for Showcasing Global Standing and Soft Power:

  • Prestige and Global Recognition: Hosting the Olympics is seen as a symbol of prestige, enabling India to garner global attention and recognition on a grand stage.
  • Cultural Diplomacy: The 16-day event acts as a platform for cultural diplomacy, allowing India to project its rich heritage, hospitality, and values to a global audience.
  • Soft Power Projection: The Olympics become a unique opportunity for India to wield soft power, influencing international perceptions about the nation’s capabilities and strengths.

Transformative Potential in Sports:

  • Sports as National Catalyst: Sports possess transformative potential, acting as a catalyst for national development, as exemplified by the success stories of athletes like Neeraj Chopra.
  • Social Impact: Beyond individual achievements, sports contribute to broader societal impacts, with improved facilities, medical support, and global exposure enhancing overall national sports performance.
  • Inspiration for Youth: Successful sporting endeavors inspire the youth, encouraging active participation, talent development, and creating a positive impact on the country’s sports ecosystem.

Key Challenges

  • Governance Fragmentation: Internal disputes within the National Olympic Committee (NOC), as witnessed during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, can hinder effective governance. Infighting over athlete selection and fund allocation underscores the need for a cohesive NOC to ensure smooth event organization.
  • Infrastructure Balancing Act: Beijing’s 2008 Olympics exemplify the dual nature of hosting, showcasing impressive urban development and sports facilities. However, concerns over human rights and environmental consequences highlight the importance of a balanced approach to infrastructure development.
  • Media Scrutiny: The Olympics’ magnitude amplifies media scrutiny, requiring strategic planning for effective management. The 2016 Rio Olympics faced challenges like Zika virus concerns and infrastructure issues, emphasizing the need for proactive crisis management and communication strategies to shape positive perceptions.

Strategic Planning for Sustainable Success:

  • Unity and Collaboration: Strategic planning requires a unified approach, emphasizing collaboration between the NOC, government, and sports bodies for effective execution.
  • Long-Term Legacy: Legacy planning is crucial, exemplified by cities like Paris, where preparations extend beyond the event, involving deep cleaning, infrastructure earmarking, and cultural integration.
  • Cohesion Over Discord: The article advocates for a cohesive strategy, steering away from discord, and promoting a shared vision for successful Olympics hosting.

Way forward:

  • Redefining Success: Instead of focusing on a top 15 benchmark in medals ranking, the article suggests redefining success by aiming for competitiveness across various events and ensuring representation in every final.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure: A paradigm shift is proposed, favoring temporary structures that benefit communities post the Games, aligning with global trends promoting sustainable and eco-friendly hosting.
  • Global Recognition: As India aspires to host the 2036 Olympics, the article concludes by underscoring the potential for enhanced global recognition, geopolitical influence, and accelerated national development through strategic planning and effective execution.


  • Hosting the Olympics is an opportunity for India to showcase development, assert geopolitical power, and transform its sports landscape.
  • The journey towards the 2036 Olympics requires addressing governance issues, developing key sports, and nurturing talent.
  • A realistic approach considering a 20-year horizon may be more practical for sustainable and impactful change.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

United Nations at 76: From Inception to Evolution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: United Nations, League of Nations

Mains level: Read the attached story

United Nations

Central Idea

  • On this day in 1945, the United Nations (UN) was established amid a backdrop of global turmoil, emerging from the shadows of two devastating world wars.
  • This article traces the birth of the UN, its historical evolution, and highlights both its notable achievements and challenges.

Birth of the UN

  • Post-World War Turmoil: Following the devastation of both World War I and World War II, global powers were grappling with the need for a more effective international organization to prevent future conflicts.
  • Predecessor: The League of Nations, established in 1919 after World War I, laid the foundation for the UN’s creation but faltered during World War II.
  • The Atlantic Charter: In August 1941, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and UK PM Winston Churchill issued the Atlantic Charter, an affirmation that paved the way for the UN. It articulated shared principles for a better world.
  • Birth of the Term ‘UN’: The term ‘UN’ was first coined by President Roosevelt in 1941 to identify the Allied nations against the axis powers.
  • Declaration of the UN: On January 1, 1942, representatives of 26 Allied nations gathered in Washington DC to sign the Declaration of the UN, outlining the war objectives of the Allied powers. India, under British colonial rule, was among these nations.

Inception and Charter

  • Formation and Ratification: The UN officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, with ratification by 51 nations, including five permanent members (France, Republic of China, Soviet Union, UK, and US).
  • General Assembly Inauguration: The first meeting of the General Assembly took place on January 10, 1946.
  • UN’s Core Goals: The UN was founded on four key goals: maintaining international peace and security, fostering friendly relations among nations, promoting international cooperation in problem-solving, and coordinating global actions toward common objectives.

Evolution and Impact

  • Membership Growth: Initially comprised of 51 member states, the UN’s membership expanded as independence movements and decolonization unfolded. Today, it boasts 193 member countries.
  • Broadened Scope: Over 75 years, the UN has tackled numerous global issues, including health, environment, and women’s empowerment.

Achievements of the UN

  • Peace and Security: Prevented conflicts, mediated peace agreements, and conducted peacekeeping missions in places like Bosnia and Kosovo.
  • Humanitarian Aid: Provided vital aid through agencies like WFP and UNICEF, offering food, shelter, and healthcare during crises.
  • Human Rights: Established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and monitors violations globally through mechanisms like the Human Rights Council.
  • Health: Led efforts against diseases like smallpox and HIV/AIDS through WHO, addressing current threats like COVID-19.
  • Refugee Support: UNHCR aids refugees and internally displaced persons while advocating for their rights.
  • Environmental Advocacy: Raised awareness about climate change, negotiated the Paris Agreement, and promotes sustainability via UNEP.

Failures and Criticisms of the UN

  • Genocide Prevention: Failed to prevent genocides like Rwanda and Srebrenica despite early warnings.
  • Peacekeeping Challenges: Faced issues like misconduct allegations and difficulties in halting violence in missions like South Sudan.
  • Veto Powers: Criticized for Security Council veto powers that hinder action and maintain power imbalances.
  • Enforcement Limits: Reliant on member states for enforcement, leading to limited action in cases of non-compliance, as seen in the Iraq War.
  • Lack of Representation: Critiqued for underrepresenting Global South countries in key decision-making bodies.
  • Neoliberal Influence: Accused of promoting neoliberal economic policies, which can exacerbate inequalities, through associated organizations like the World Bank and IMF.

Future Plan

  • 2020 Declaration: In a high-level UN General Assembly meeting commemorating 75 years of the UN, a declaration was adopted outlining goals for the next decade. These include protecting the environment, promoting peace, gender equality, digital cooperation, and sustainable financing.
  • Decade of Action: The next ten years, designated as the “decade of action and delivery for sustainable development,” are considered critical for addressing global challenges, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The UN, born out of the ashes of conflict, has played a significant role in shaping the world’s course over the past 75 years.
  • Its journey has been marked by both notable achievements and formidable challenges.
  • As it enters a new decade with a renewed commitment to global betterment, the UN continues to evolve as a pivotal force in promoting international cooperation and addressing humanity’s most pressing issues.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Nepal at UN: Peace Process and Diplomatic Balancing Act


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Nepal at UN

nepal prachanda

Central Idea

  • Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, commonly known as ‘Prachanda’, addressed the UN General Assembly, highlighting that his nation is nearing the conclusion of its unique peace process.
  • He emphasized the importance of completing the remaining transitional justice tasks and sought international goodwill and support.

Why discuss this?

  • Challenges in Nepal: Nepal’s peace process is not without hurdles. Many Maoist leaders, including Prachanda, are accused of serious human rights violations during the 1996-2006 civil war, complicating the path to justice. Additionally, Nepal faces diplomatic challenges in balancing relationships with neighboring countries.
  • Diplomatic Balancing Act: Prachanda’s upcoming visit to China is seen as an effort to maintain a balance between Nepal’s relationships with China and India. His recent visit to India strengthened ties with the southern neighbor.
  • Public Scrutiny and Corruption: Amidst diplomatic endeavors, Nepal’s leaders, both in government and opposition, face public scrutiny for alleged corruption. The government’s credibility has diminished, both domestically and internationally.

Nepal and the United States

  • Prachanda’s History: Prachanda’s leadership during the Maoist insurgency led to his inclusion on US global watch lists. However, he has evolved into an important figure facilitating American interests in Nepal due to the country’s strategic location.
  • The MCC Nepal Compact: Prachanda played a significant role in Parliament’s endorsement of the $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Nepal compact grant in February 2022, despite China’s objections. This move led to improved Nepal-US relations.
  • Geostrategic Importance: The US has been involved in Nepal’s development sectors for 75 years, particularly through USAID. However, the MCC raised concerns about Nepal’s non-aligned foreign policy and potential implications for relations with China.

Navigating Relations with China

  • China’s Influence in Nepal: The economic blockade of Nepal by India in 2015 provided China with an opportunity to deepen its influence in the country. It intervened in Nepal’s politics and played a role in uniting communist parties.
  • Changing Dynamics: Nepal’s relationship with India, China, and the US shifted during K.P. Sharma Oli’s tenure as Prime Minister. Trade and transit agreements with China were signed, and Nepal gained access to northern sea routes.
  • COVID-19 Impact: The pandemic temporarily halted China’s development projects in Nepal. However, the acceptance of the MCC compact altered Nepal’s perspective on development partnerships with China.
  • Prachanda’s Approach: Prachanda and his coalition partners appear cautious about Chinese loans and prefer grants over soft loans mentioned in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Concerns in Nepal: The challenge lies in convincing China that the MCC is purely a developmental project without strategic or security implications. Nepal is cautious about falling into a Chinese debt trap.
  • Infrastructure Projects: Prachanda may request China to provide grants and possibly waive a loan taken for the Pokhara International Airport, which currently lacks a profitable operational plan.
  • China’s Strategy: China aims to expand its presence, investments, and interests in Nepal to counter the influence of the US and India. It may extend its political outreach beyond the communist parties.

View from New Delhi

  • India’s Perspective: India has witnessed shifts in its relationship with Nepal, and certain aspects of the bilateral ties have weakened over time.
  • Border Concerns: India has concerns about the open border with Nepal, citing potential threats to peace and law and order.
  • US-India Cooperation: India and the US share concerns about the influence of major communist parties aligning in Nepal. India sees an opportunity to work with the US to manage China’s influence in the region.
  • Watching Prachanda’s China Visit: India closely observes Prachanda’s visit to China to gauge the reception and how effectively he conveys Nepal’s viewpoint during discussions with Chinese leadership.


  • Nepal faces challenges in concluding its peace process and navigating its diplomatic relationships.
  • The delicate balancing act between China and India, as well as Prachanda’s diplomatic endeavors, play a pivotal role in shaping Nepal’s future on the global stage.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

US re-entry into UNESCO


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNESCO

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The US first lady held a flag-raising ceremony at UNESCO in Paris, marking Washington’s official re-entry.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

Established November 16, 1945
Headquarters Paris, France
Membership 195 member states and 10 associate members
Mandate Promoting international cooperation in education, science, culture, and communication
  • Ensuring an inclusive and equitable quality education for all
  •  Safeguarding cultural heritage
  •  Advancing scientific research and collaboration
  •  Promoting freedom of expression
  •  Fostering intercultural dialogue
Notable Programs and Activities
  1.  World Heritage Program: Designates and preserves sites of outstanding universal value
  2.  Education for All Program: Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all
  3.  International Hydrological Program: Promoting sustainable water management and cooperation
  4.  Man and the Biosphere Program: Promoting sustainable development and Conservation of natural resources
  5.  Intangible Cultural Heritage Program: Safeguarding and promoting intangible cultural heritage


A quick recap

  • US and Israel’s withdrawal: Last December, the United States and Israel decided to leave UNESCO.
  • Historical trajectory of engagement: The decisions should be viewed within a longer historical context.

Reasons for Withdrawal

  • Anti-Semitic resolutions: The US and Israel cited several resolutions that they perceived as biased against Israel.
  • Disdain for multilateralism and ‘America First’ policy: The US demonstrated a lack of interest in multilateral organizations and prioritized its own interests.
  • Mounting arrears: The decision was based on mounting arrears, the need for reform, and perceived anti-Israel bias.
  • Lack of interest in paying UNESCO debts: The Trump administration had little incentive to pay off debts accumulated since the Obama administration froze contributions.

Implications of the withdrawal

  • Impact on UNESCO’s daily workings: The departure of the US and Israel impaired the organization’s operations.
  • Limited consequence for Palestinians: The diplomatic victory for the Palestinian Authority was of little political or economic significance for Palestinians living under occupation.

Why is the US now joining back?

  • Counterbalance China’s influence: The US aims to counterbalance China’s growing influence in shaping global policies on artificial intelligence and technology education.
  • Protect and promote US interests: Rejoining allows the US to protect and advance its interests in cultural heritage preservation, climate change initiatives, and girls’ education.
  • Reforms and diplomatic efforts: UNESCO’s management reforms and efforts to address concerns have contributed to the US decision to rejoin.
  • Bipartisan support for engagement: The decision to rejoin UNESCO has received bipartisan support within the US, ensuring long-term engagement regardless of future political changes.
  • Financial considerations and commitment: The US plans to fulfill financial obligations to UNESCO, including paying dues and arrears, demonstrating a commitment to supporting key initiatives within the organization.


  • The decision of the United States to rejoin UNESCO reflects a strategic effort to counterbalance China’s influence, protect and promote American interests, and engage in international efforts for cultural preservation, climate change, and education.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

What is High Seas Treaty?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BBNJ/ High Seas Treaty

Mains level: Read the attached story

high seas treaty

Central Idea

  • The Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) or the High Seas Treaty was adopted by the UN on June 19.
  • It became the third agreement under UNCLOS, following the establishment of the International Seabed Authority (ISB) and the Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA).

BBNJ/ High Seas Treaty

  • The idea of protecting the marine environment emerged in 2002, leading to the recognition of the need for an agreement in 2008.
  • In 2015, the UN General Assembly formed a Preparatory Committee to create the treaty.
  • Intergovernmental conferences (IGC) were held, resulting in the adoption of the treaty in 2023.
  • The treaty’s objective is to implement international regulations for the protection of marine life beyond national jurisdiction through international cooperation.

Key Provisions of Treaty

(1) Marine Protected Areas:

  • The treaty establishes marine protected areas to safeguard the oceans from human activities.
  • Decisions on protected areas require a “three-quarter majority vote” to prevent obstruction by a few parties.

(2) Sharing Benefits from Marine Genetic Resources:

  • The treaty mandates sharing scientific information and monetary benefits through a “clear house mechanism.”
  • The mechanism ensures open access to information on marine protected areas, marine genetic resources, and area-based management tools.

(3) Capacity Building and Marine Technology:

  • The treaty emphasizes capacity building and the use of marine technology for environmental impact assessment.
  • The Scientific and Technical Body will create standards and guidelines, assisting countries with limited capacity in carrying out assessments.

Challenges and Controversies

(1) Marine Genetic Resources:

  • The issue of sharing and exchanging information on marine genetic resources was a contentious point during negotiations.
  • Debates focused on monitoring information sharing and the potential hindrance to bioprospecting research.

(2) Definition and Language:

  • The use of phrases like “promote” or “ensure” in different parts of the treaty, particularly regarding benefit sharing, sparked heated debates.

(3) Adjacency Issue:

  • Negotiations were prolonged due to the need for provisions allowing coastal states to exercise sovereign rights over seabed and subsoil in areas beyond their jurisdiction.
  • The interests of landlocked and distant states further complicated decision-making.

Opposition to the Treaty

  • Several developed countries opposed the treaty due to their support for private entities involved in advanced research and development of marine technology.
  • Russia and China also expressed reservations, with Russia ultimately withdrawing during the final stage of consensus building, arguing that the treaty lacks a balance between conservation and sustainability.

Significance of the treaty

(1) Environmental Preservation:

  • The High Seas Treaty is crucial for protecting marine biodiversity and addressing pressing issues such as overfishing and pollution.
  • It represents a significant step towards international cooperation in preserving the health and sustainability of our oceans.

(2) Global Cooperation and Research:

  • The treaty promotes the sharing of scientific information and encourages collaboration among countries.
  • This will foster research initiatives and facilitate a better understanding of marine ecosystems, leading to more effective conservation measures.


  • The adoption of the High Seas Treaty marks a significant milestone in international efforts to protect marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions.
  • While challenges and controversies prolonged the negotiation process, the treaty sets the stage for enhanced global cooperation and the implementation of regulations to safeguard our oceans for future generations.


International Seabed Authority (ISA) Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA)
Purpose Regulate and manage activities in the international seabed and ocean floor beyond national jurisdiction Ensure the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks
Legal Framework Established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) International treaty adopted by the United Nations
Established Date 1994 1995
Resource Focus Non-living resources (seabed minerals) and living resources (deep-sea ecosystems) Fish stocks (shared resources occurring in EEZs and beyond national jurisdiction)
Cooperation Emphasizes cooperation among states and establishment of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) Promotes cooperation among states for sustainable fisheries management
Conservation Manages resources for the benefit of humankind as a whole, adhering to the common heritage of mankind principle Aims to conserve and sustainably manage fish stocks for present and future generations
Licensing Issues licenses and contracts for seabed mineral exploration and exploitation N/A (Focuses on the management and conservation of fish stocks)
Data Collection Promotes scientific research and international cooperation in the deep seabed area Encourages data collection, reporting, and scientific assessment of fish stocks
Dispute Settlement Provides mechanisms for dispute settlement and peaceful resolution of conflicts Includes provisions for dispute settlement and peaceful resolution of conflicts
Membership Consists of member states and the European Union Open to states committed to sustainable fisheries management
Headquarters Located in Kingston, Jamaica N/A (Operates under the United Nations framework)


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

What is Intergovernmental Negotiations Framework (IGN)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Intergovernmental Negotiations Framework (IGN)

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The Intergovernmental Negotiations Framework (IGN) meetings, which aim to reform the United Nations Security Council, are now being webcasted for the first time in history.

What is IGN?

  • The Intergovernmental Negotiations framework (IGN) is a collective effort by various nation-states within the United Nations to advance the reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • This article provides an overview of the composition of the IGN and highlights the progress made in achieving consensus among its members.

Evolution of the Reform Agenda

  • The issue of reforming the UN Security Council has been under discussion since 1993, with successive reports published in 2001 and 2007.
  • The current agenda for this issue within the UN General Assembly can be accessed online.

Composition of the IGN

  • The IGN consists of several international organizations representing different perspectives on UN Security Council reform, including:
  1. African Union
  2. G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan)
  3. Uniting for Consensus Group (UfC), also known as the “Coffee Club”
  4. 69 Group of Developing Countries
  5. Arab League
  6. Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
  • Each group presents unique positions regarding the reform of the UN Security Council, reflecting the diverse interests and perspectives of its member states.

Establishment of Consensus

  • On July 27, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted an “oral decision” by general acclamation, approving the “elements of convergence” declaration.
  • This declaration outlined the status of the consensus achieved by the IGN members at that time.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

India’s Initiative for ASEAN Women in UN Peacekeeping


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ASEAN, UNPKF

Mains level: UN Peacekeeping and its significance

asean un peacekeeping

Central Idea

India-ASEAN Initiative for Women in UNPK Operations

  • Defence Minister proposed this initiative last year to strengthen India-ASEAN defence cooperation.
  • Tailor-made courses for women peacekeepers from ASEAN member-states will be conducted at the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) in India.
  • Twenty peacekeepers, two from each country, will receive training in various aspects of peacekeeping.
  • A “Table Top Exercise” focusing on UNPK challenges will be held in December, specifically designed for women officers from ASEAN.

India’s Training and Capacity Building

  • The Indian Army has established the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) in New Delhi, which trains over 12,000 troops annually in peacekeeping operations.
  • The CUNPK hosts foreign delegations, shares best practices, and dispatches mobile training teams to Friendly Foreign Countries for capacity building in UNPK.
  • India has deployed Female Engagement Teams, Women Military Police, and women staff officers and military observers in various UN missions.
  • India has the second-largest women contingent in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and UN Interim Security Force for Abyei.

What is United Nations Peacekeeping?

  • UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
  • UN peacekeepers are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.

UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:

  1. Consent of the parties
  2. Impartiality
  3. Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate

UNPKF in operation

  • Since 1948, UN Peacekeepers have undertaken 71 Field Missions.
  • There are approximately 81,820 personnel serving on 13 peace operations led by UNDPO, in four continents currently.
  • This represents a nine-fold increase since 1999.
  • A total of 119 countries have contributed military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping.
  • Currently, 72,930 of those serving are troops and military observers, and about 8,890 are police personnel.

Why UN Peacekeeping is needed?

  • Conflict resolution: UN peacekeeping missions play a crucial role in assisting host countries in transitioning from conflict to peace.
  • Burden sharing: UN peacekeeping utilizes a global coalition of troops and police to share the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability worldwide.
  • Democratization: Peacekeepers provide security and political support to facilitate the early transition to peace and support democratic processes in post-conflict countries.

India’s Contribution to UN Peacekeeping

  • Largest troop contributor: India has a long-standing history of contributing personnel to UN peacekeeping missions, with over 253,000 Indians serving in 49 out of 71 missions.
  • Current deployments: Approximately 5,500 Indian troops and police are deployed in UN peacekeeping missions, ranking India as the fifth-highest troop-contributing country.
  • Women in Indian Peacekeeping: India has played a pioneering role in deploying women peacekeepers, starting with an all-women contingent to Liberia in 2007.
  • Humanitarian services: Indian peacekeepers also provide medical care, veterinary support, and engineering services to communities in need.

Issues with UN Peacekeeping

[A] Issues for India

  • Kashmir interference: India has expressed discontent with the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) operating in Kashmir, considering it irrelevant after the Shimla Agreement.
  • Disregard for India-Pak ceasefire: UNMOGIP continues to observe hostilities and ceasefire violations along the Line of Control, which India believes is unnecessary.

[B] Global Challenges

  • Diverse security challenges: UN peacekeeping operations need to adapt to rapidly evolving security dynamics.
  • Resource allocation: Mandates of peacekeeping missions should align with available resources.
  • Greater involvement of troop-contributing countries: Countries providing troops and police should have a meaningful role in mission planning.
  • Investment in peacebuilding: Adequate financial and human resources are required for post-conflict peacebuilding.

Way Forward

  • UNSC reform: Reform the UN Security Council to reflect the changing global landscape.
  • Multi-partner collaboration: Enhance effectiveness by involving actors beyond the UNSC in counterterrorism efforts.
  • Modernization of peacekeeping: Strengthen UN Peacekeeping Forces through modernization and inclusivity.
  • Human-centric decision-making: Promote accountability and transparency in the UNSC’s decision-making processes.


  • India’s commitment to promoting women’s participation in UNPK operations underscores its dedication to global peace and security.
  • These initiatives aim to enhance the capabilities and representation of women in peacekeeping, recognizing their valuable contributions to maintaining peace and stability worldwide.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

What is UN Democracy Fund?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNDEF

Mains level: Not Much


Central Idea: The article provides an explanation of the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF), its history and objectives, as well as the involvement of India and the United States in its establishment.

Why in news?

  • There is a controversy surrounding the fund’s support for NGOs funded by George Soros, who is on a watchlist in India.
  • He had alleged the Adani turmoil will weaken Indian politics and lead to a “democratic revival” in the country.

What is UN Democracy Fund?

  • The UNDEF was established in 2005 with an initial contribution of $10 million each from the United States and India.
  • Its aim is to support projects that strengthen the voice and participation of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the development of democratic institutions and processes.
  • It is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from member states and is governed by an advisory board composed of 16 members representing different regions of the world.

Role in promoting democracy and civil society

  • UNDEF’s mission is to support projects that strengthen the voice and participation of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the development of democratic institutions and processes.
  • The fund solicits and receives up to 3,000 proposals from NGOs around the world each year.
  • An advisory board considers these proposals and recommends proposals for approval by the Secretary-General.
  • Between 30 to 50 projects are chosen every year, and in 15 rounds of funding so far, UNDEF has supported over 880 two-year projects in more than 130 countries.

India’s involvement in the governance of UNDEF

  • India has been a member of the UNDEF advisory board since the fund’s inception.
  • The board is composed of 16 members representing different regions of the world, and it includes the eight largest member state contributors and six other states to reflect diverse geographical representation, including one “small island” and developing states.
  • It also has two individual members and two CSOs.
  • The CSOs currently serving on the board include CIVICUS and Transparency, Accountability and Participation Network.

India’s involvement in the establishment of UNDEF

  • India played a key role in the establishment of UNDEF as it was one of the founding members of the fund.
  • In 2005, India’s then PM, Manmohan Singh, and US President George W. Bush announced the US-India Global Democracy Initiative, which included support for the UNDEF.
  • India has contributed to the fund on several occasions since its inception, although its contributions have decreased in recent years.

Contradictions with UNDEF

  • India’s relationship with UNDEF has been marked by contradictions.
  • While India has supported the fund and contributed to it, it has also put George Soros on a watchlist in India while UNDEF has no objections to the fund giving grants to NGOs funded by Soros.
  • This underscores a contradiction between the imperatives of the Modi government’s high table diplomacy and its domestic political ideology.
  • It requires only Delhi to deploy a soft touch in the former while playing hardball at home for domestic audiences.

India’s contribution so far

  • India has contributed to UNDEF on several occasions since its inception, although its contributions have decreased in recent years.
  • India gave $5 million to the fund in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011, but no contribution was made in 2007 and 2010.
  • The contributions began dipping from 2012, with the amount being $4.71 million that year.
  • In 2014, India slashed its funding, contributing only $200,000 that year and in 2015.
  • In 2016, it was a mere $50,000, and no contribution was made in 2017.
  • In 2018 and 2019, India was back with $100,000, and in 2020, 2021 and 2022, it gave $150,000.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

India elected to UN Statistical Body


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN Statistical Commission

Mains level: Not Much

Central idea: India has been elected to the UN Statistical Commission for a four-year term.

About United Nations Statistical Commission

  • The UN Statistical Commission is the topmost body of the global statistical system, bringing together the Chief Statisticians from member states worldwide.
  • Responsibilities of the Commission include setting statistical standards and developing concepts and methods, implemented at national and international levels.
  • The Commission was established in 1947 and is headquartered in New York.
  • The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) is overseen by the Commission.
  • The Commission is a Functional Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council.

Membership details

  • There are 24 member states of the Commission.
  • Members are elected by the Economic and Social Council based on equitable geographical distribution, including:
  1. African States (5)
  2. Asian States (4)
  3. Eastern European States (4)
  4. Latin American and Caribbean States (4)
  5. Western European and other States (7)


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Explained: Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BBNJ Treaty

Mains level: Read the attached story


For the first time, United Nations members have agreed for an early conclusion of the International Legally Binding Instrument of BBNJ under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


  • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was established in 1994 before marine biodiversity became a well-established concept
  • An updated framework to protect marine life in the high seas had been in discussions for over 20 years.
  • BBNJ is an agreement that aims to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).
  • ABNJ refers to the high seas, which are not governed by any country but are still important for global biodiversity.

What is the BBNJ treaty?

  • The BBNJ Treaty also called the Treaty of the High Seas, is an international agreement that aims to preserve and sustainably use the marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • This includes the high seas, which are outside of countries’ exclusive economic zones and makeup nearly half of the Earth’s surface.
  • These areas are currently poorly regulated and only 1% of them are protected.
  • The High Ambition Coalition on BBNJ was launched in February 2022 to negotiate and achieve a comprehensive and ambitious outcome.

Key areas of agreement

The negotiations focus on elements agreed upon such as the-

  1. Conservation and sustainable use of marine genetic resources,
  2. Area-based management tools like marine protected areas,
  3. Environmental impact assessments, and
  4. Capacity-building and technology transfer

Consensus reached

  • A new body will be created to manage the conservation of ocean life and establish marine protected areas in the high seas
  • The treaty establishes ground rules for conducting environmental impact assessments for commercial activities in the oceans
  • Several marine species, including dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and many fish, make long annual migrations, crossing national borders and the high seas

What is the significance of this treaty?

  • Beyond jurisdiction coverage: BBNJ refers to the areas beyond the jurisdiction of any single country, such as the high seas, the deep sea floor, and the international seabed area. These areas are critical for the health of the ocean, the well-being of coastal people, and the overall sustainability of the planet.
  • Covers entire oceans: BBNJ comprises 95% of the ocean and provides invaluable ecological, economic, social, cultural, scientific, and food-security benefits to humanity.
  • Hard-arrived consensus: BBNJ is governed by a patchwork of international agreements, conventions, and bodies, but there is no single comprehensive framework that regulates activities in these areas.

Various threats

  • BBNJ, despite its resilience in the past, is currently at risk due to several emerging dangers such as pollution, overexploitation, and the observable consequences of climate change.
  • In the future, the escalating need for marine resources, whether for food, minerals, or biotechnology, may intensify these issues.
  • For example, deep-sea mining, where valuable metals are extracted from the ocean floor, is becoming more prevalent despite the fact that little is known about the biodiversity in these areas.

Why protect deep seas?

  • The deep seafloors, believed to be the harshest habitat, are also facing the extinction process.
  • A recent study assessed 184 species of Molluscs in the deep sea and found that 62% are listed as threatened: 39 are critically endangered, 32 are endangered and 43 are vulnerable.
  • Yet, the International Seabed Authority, a Jamaica-based intergovernmental body, is allowing deep-sea mining contracts.

Way forward

Ans. Create legally binding instrument

  • To address these threats, there is a need for a legally binding instrument for BBNJ.
  • The instrument would provide a framework for the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ and would address gaps in the current international legal regime.
  • The legally binding instrument would establish a mechanism for the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ, including measures to protect biodiversity, manage human activities, and ensure the equitable sharing of benefits.
  • It would also provide for capacity-building and technology transfer to support the implementation of these measures.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

UN World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC)

Mains level: Geospatial technology


PM has inaugurated the second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC) in Hyderabad.

What is UNWGIC?

  • The first United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress was held in Deqing, Zhejiang Province, China in 2018.
  • The United Nation Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) organizes the UNWGIC every four years.
  • It is hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of India.
  • The objectives are enhancing international collaboration among the Member States and relevant stakeholders in Geospatial information management and capacities.
  • The theme of UNWGIC 2022 is ‘Geo-Enabling the Global Village: No one should be left behind’.

Objectives of UNWGIC

  • The move aims to provide high-quality and trustworthy geospatial data to support global and national policy agendas.
  • It also stresses international cooperation and coordination in the development of human data linked to geography.
  • It promotes societal development and well-being, addresses environmental and climate challenges, and embraces digital transformation and technological advancement.

Why collaborate on geospatial technology?

  • Geospatial technology can be used to create intelligent maps and models which help to collect geographically referenced data.
  • Decisions based on the value and importance of resources, most of which are limited, can become easy through geospatial technology.
  • Intelligent maps and models can be created using geospatial technology.
  • It can be used to reveal spatial patterns hidden in large amounts of data that are complex to access collectively through mapping.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Human Rights Council rejects debate on Xinjiang Abuses


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uighurs, Xinjiang

Mains level: HR abuses in China


The UN Human Rights Council has voted against holding a debate on alleged abuses in China’s Xinjiang region after intense lobbying by Beijing, in a major setback for Western nations.

What is the news?

  • India and 10 other nations abstained.

Who are the Uighurs?


  • There are about 12 million Uighurs, mostly Muslim, living in north-western China in the region of Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
  • The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.
  • They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.
  • In recent decades, there’s been a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) to Xinjiang, and the Uighurs feel their culture and livelihoods are under threat.
  • In the early 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly declared independence, but the region was brought under complete control of mainland China’s new Communist government in 1949.

Where is Xinjiang?

  • Xinjiang lies in the north-west of China and is the country’s biggest region.
  • Like Tibet, it is autonomous, meaning – in theory – it has some powers of self-governance. But in practice, both face major restrictions by the central government.
  • It is a mostly desert region, producing about a fifth of the world’s cotton.
  • It is also rich in oil and natural gas and because of its proximity to Central Asia and Europe is seen by Beijing as an important trade link.

What was the build-up to the Uighur crackdown?

  • Anti-Han and separatist sentiment rose in Xinjiang from the 1990s, flaring into violence on occasion.
  • In 2009 some 200 people died in clashes in Xinjiang, which the Chinese blamed on Uighurs who want their own state.
  • Xinjiang is now covered by a pervasive network of surveillance, including police, checkpoints, and cameras that scan everything from number plates to individual faces.
  • According to Human Rights Watch, police are also using a mobile app to monitor peoples’ behaviour, such as how much electricity they are using and how often they use their front door.
  • Since 2017 when President Xi Jinping issued an order saying all religions in China should be Chinese in orientation, there have been further crackdowns.

Chinese narrative

  • China says the crackdown is necessary to prevent terrorism and root out Islamist extremism and the camps are an effective tool for re-educating inmates in its fight against terrorism.
  • It insists that Uighur militants are waging a violent campaign for an independent state by plotting bombings, sabotage and civic unrest.
  • China has dismissed claims it is trying to reduce the Uighur population through mass sterilizations as “baseless”, and says allegations of forced labor are “completely fabricated”.

Why did India abstain from voting against China?

  • India has traditionally voted against or abstained from such country-specific resolutions at the UNHRC.
  • It is understood that China’s presence within the UNHRC was a factor in the decision since any backing for the Xinjiang issue could have led to similar moves by China on other issues in India.
  • This is particularly in the context of the Kashmir issue.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Very recently, in which of the following countries have lakhs of people either suffered from severe famine/acute malnutrition or died due to starvation caused by war/ethnic conflicts?
(a) Angola and Zambia
(b) Morocco and Tunisia
(c) Venezuela and Colombia
(d) Yemen and South Sudan


Post your answers here.
Please leave a feedback on thisx


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

International Day of Non-Violence event at UN


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: International Day of Non-Violence

Mains level: NA


The International Day of Non-Violence event, held at the UN headquarters in New York, saw a life-size hologram of Gandhi displayed.

International Day of Non-Violence

  • Every year, since 2007, the day is observed on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, in January 2004, first proposed the idea of dedicating a day to non-violence, around the world.
  • In 2007, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution to commemorate October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence, with the core objective to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.”

What does the term “non-violence” stand for?

  • The UN defines the term as a rejection of the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change.
  • The UNGA resolution reaffirms the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence and establishes a desire to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.
  • The theory emphasises that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the populations, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

G4 countries call for UNSC reforms


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: G4, Coffee Club, UNSC

Mains level: UNSC reforms


The G4 nations have said that the Intergovernmental Negotiations on UN Security Council reform are constrained by a lack of openness and transparency.

Who are the G4 Countries?

  • The G4 nations, comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.
  • Their primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council.
  • Each of these four countries have figured among the elected non-permanent members of the council since the UN’s establishment.
  • Their economic and political influence has grown significantly in the last decades, reaching a scope comparable to the permanent members (P5).

Deterrent in their cause

  • The UK and France have backed the G4’s bid for permanent seats.
  • All the permanent members of P5 have supported India’s bids for permanent seat.
  • However, China has previously implied that it is only ready to support India if it does not associate its bid with Japan.
  • The US has sent strong indications to Brazil that it is willing to support its membership; albeit, without a veto.

What holds them back?

  • There has been discontent among the present permanent members regarding the inclusion of controversial nations or countries not supported by them.
  • For instance, Japan’s bid is heavily opposed by China, North Korea, Russia and South Korea who think that Japan needs to make sincere reparations for war crimes committed during World War II.
  • Under the leadership of Italy, countries that strongly oppose the G4 countries’ bids have formed the Uniting for Consensus movement, also called as Coffee Club.
  • In Asia, Pakistan opposes India’s bid.

Why India deserves a permanent seat?

  • India has been part of UN since inception.
  • It has the world’s second-largest population and is the world’s largest democracy suited to represent South Asia.
  • It has contributed maximum peacekeepers to UN so far.

Why reform UNSC?

  • Non-representative nature: UNSC in current form is not representative of developing world and global needs, with primacy of policy being political tool in hands of P5, is well recognised globally.
  • Contention over Veto and Technical Holds: Veto power with P5 enables any one of them to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” draft Council resolution, regardless of its level of international support.
  • Divided institution: UNSC has become an organisation, which can pass strong resolutions against weak countries, weak resolutions against strong countries and no resolution against P5 countries.


  • There is a possibility that if UN doesn’t reform itself, it may lose relevance and alternate global and regional groupings may assume greater importance.
  • More global pressure from middle powers like G4 may force an expansion of UNSC as a possibility, but abolition of veto power in current set up is unlikely

Back2Basics: United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

  • The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members.
  • These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

What is the Plant Treaty?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Plant treaty

Mains level: Not Much


The ninth session of the governing body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) has recently begun in New Delhi.

Theme of this years event

  • The theme of the meeting is ‘Celebrating the Guardians of Crop Diversity: Towards an Inclusive Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’.

What is the Plant Treaty?

  • The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) was adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations November 3, 2001.
  • It was signed in 2001 in Madrid, and entered into force on 29 June 2004.
  • It is the first legally-binding international instrument to formally acknowledge the enormous contribution of indigenous people and small-holder farmers as traditional custodians of the world’s food crops.
  • It also calls on nations to protect and promote their rights to save and use the seeds they have taken care of for millennia.
  • The parties to this treaty have come together after nearly three years to discuss governance of agricultural biodiversity and global food security.

Objectives of the treaty

The treaty aims at:

  1. Guaranteeing food security through the conservation
  2. Exchange and sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA)
  3. Fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from its use, as well as
  4. Recognition of farmers’ rights.

Key feature: Annex 1 Crops

  • The treaty has implemented a Multilateral System (MLS) of access and benefit sharing, among those countries that ratify the treaty, for a list of 64 of some of the most important food and forage crops essential for food security and interdependence.
  • The genera and species are listed in Annex 1 to the treaty. The treaty facilitates the continued open exchange of food crops and their genetic materials.
  • The list of plant genetic material included in the Multilateral System of the Treaty is made of major food crops and forages.
  • The Forages are also divided in legume forages and grass forages.
  • They were selected taking into account the criteria of food security and country interdependence


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Indian team deliberating on Ocean Diversity Pact


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNCLOS

Mains level: High seas regulation

A delegation from India and other member countries of the UN are in New York to deliberate on a one-of-its-kind agreement to conserve marine biodiversity in the high seas, namely the oceans that extend beyond countries’ territorial waters.

What is the news?

  • The agreement follows a resolution by the UN General Assembly.
  • The pact is expected to be the final in a series set in motion since 2018 to draft an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Why need Ocean Diversity Pact?

(1) Deciding on rights of explorers

  • A key aspect of the agreement is deciding on the rights of companies that undertake exploration for biological resources in the high seas.
  • It is under discussion if companies have absolute rights on any discovery or extraction in these regions or should they share their gains, in terms of intellectual property and royalties with an UN-prescribed body.

(2) Regulation for exotic items

  • The focus of mining activity in the sea has been for gas hydrates, precious metals and other fossil fuel
  • However, with advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering, several companies see potential in exotic microbes and other organisms — several of them undiscovered — that abide in the deep ocean and could be used for drugs and vaccines.

(3) ‘Blue Economy’ policy of India

  • The Union Cabinet approved a ‘Blue Economy’ policy for India, a nearly ₹4,000-crore programme spread over five years.
  • This among other things will develop a manned submersible vessel as well as work on bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes.
  • Studies on sustainable utilisation of deep sea bio-resources will be the main focus.

What is UNCLOS?

  • UNCLOS is sometimes referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty.
  • It came into operation and became effective from 16th November 1982.
  • It defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
  • It has created three new institutions on the international scene :
  1. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,
  2. International Seabed Authority
  3. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

Note: UNCLOS does not deal with matters of territorial disputes or to resolve issues of sovereignty, as that field is governed by rules of customary international law on the acquisition and loss of territory.

Major conventions:

There had been three major conferences of UNCLOS:

  1. UNCLOS I: It resulted in the successful implementation of various conventions regarding Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zones, Continental Shelf, High Seas, Fishing Rights.
  2. UNCLOS II: No agreement was reached over breadth of territorial waters.
  3. UNCLOS III: It introduced a number of provisions. The most significant issues covered were setting limits, navigation, archipelagic status and transit regimes, exclusive economic zones (EEZs), continental shelf jurisdiction, deep seabed mining, the exploitation regime, protection of the marine environment, scientific research, and settlement of disputes.

The convention set the limit of various areas, measured from a carefully defined baseline.

These terminologies are as follows:

(1) Baseline

  • The convention set the limit of various areas, measured from a carefully defined baseline.
  • Normally, a sea baseline follows the low-water line, but when the coastline is deeply indented, has fringing islands or is highly unstable, straight baselines may be used.

(2) Internal waters

  • It covers all water and waterways on the landward side of the baseline.
  • The coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource. Foreign vessels have no right of passage within internal waters.
  • A vessel in the high seas assumes jurisdiction under the internal laws of its flag State.

(3) Territorial waters

  • Out to 12 nautical miles (22 km, 14 miles) from the baseline, the coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource.
  • Vessels were given the Right of Innocent Passage through any territorial waters.
  • “Innocent passage” is defined by the convention as passing through waters in an expeditious and continuous manner, which is not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security” of the coastal state.
  • Fishing, polluting, weapons practice, and spying are not “innocent”, and submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag.
  • Nations can also temporarily suspend innocent passage in specific areas of their territorial seas, if doing so is essential for the protection of their security.

(4) Archipelagic waters

  • The convention set the definition of “Archipelagic States”, which also defines how the state can draw its territorial borders.
  • All waters inside this baseline are designated “Archipelagic Waters”.
  • The state has sovereignty over these waters mostly to the extent it has over internal waters, but subject to existing rights including traditional fishing rights of immediately adjacent states.
  • Foreign vessels have right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters, but archipelagic states may limit innocent passage to designated sea lanes.

(5) Contiguous zone

  • Beyond the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) limit, there is a further 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the territorial sea baseline limit, the contiguous zone.
  • Here a state can continue to enforce laws in four specific areas (customs, taxation, immigration, and pollution) if the infringement started or is about to occur within the state’s territory or territorial waters.
  • This makes the contiguous zone a hot pursuit area.

(6) Exclusive economic zones (EEZs)

  • These extend 200 nm from the baseline.
  • Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources.
  • In casual use, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf.

(7) Continental shelf

  • The continental shelf is defined as the natural prolongation of the land territory to the continental margin’s outer edge, or 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastal state’s baseline, whichever is greater.

India and UNCLOS

  • As a State party to the UNCLOS, India promoted utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which established the international legal order of the seas and oceans.
  • India also supported freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded commerce based on the principles of international law, reflected notably in the UNCLOS 1982.
  • India is committed to safeguarding maritime interests and strengthening security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to ensure a favorable and positive maritime environment.



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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

India’s role in UN Peacekeeping Missions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: United Nations Peacekeeping

Mains level: Read the attached story

Two BSF personnel recently got martyrdom who were part of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Why in news?

  • A total 175 Indian peacekeepers have so far died while serving with the United Nations.
  • India has lost more peacekeepers than any other UN Member State.

What is United Nations Peacekeeping?

  • UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
  • UN peacekeepers are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.

UNPKF in operation

  • Since 1948, UN Peacekeepers have undertaken 71 Field Missions.
  • There are approximately 81,820 personnel serving on 13 peace operations led by UNDPO, in four continents currently.
  • This represents a nine-fold increase since 1999.
  • A total of 119 countries have contributed military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping.
  • Currently, 72,930 of those serving are troops and military observers, and about 8,890 are police personnel.

India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping

  • India has a long history of service in UN Peacekeeping, having contributed more personnel than any other country.
  • To date, more than 2,53,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN Peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.
  • Currently, there are around 5,500 troops and police from India who have been deployed to UN Peacekeeping missions, the fifth highest amongst troop-contributing countries.
  • India has also provided and continues to provide, eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions.
  • India is the fifth largest troop contributor (TCC) with 5,323 personnel deployed in 8 out of 13 active UN Peacekeeping Missions, of which 166 are police personnel.

History of India’s contribution

  • India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping began with its participation in the UN operation in Korea in the 1950s.
  • This is where India’s mediatory role in resolving the stalemate over prisoners of war in Korea led to the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War.
  • India chaired the five-member Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, while the Indian Custodian Force supervised the process of interviews and repatriation that followed.
  • The UN entrusted the Indian armed forces with subsequent peace missions in the Middle East, Cyprus, and the Congo (since 1971, Zaire).
  • India also served as Chair of the three international commissions for supervision and control for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos established by the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina.

Role of women in Indian Peacekeeping

  • India has been sending women personnel on UN Peacekeeping Missions.
  • In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN Peacekeeping Mission.
  • The Formed Police Unit in Liberia provided 24-hour guard duty and conducted night patrols in the capital Monrovia, and helped to build the capacity of the Liberian police.
  • These women officers not only played a role in restoring security in the West African nation but also contributed to an increase in the number of women in Liberia’s security sector.

Medical care as part of India’s Missions

  • In addition to their security role, the members of the Indian Formed Police Unit also organized medical camps for Liberians, many of whom have limited access to health care services.
  • Medical care is among the many services Indian Peacekeepers provide to the communities in which they serve on behalf of the Organization.
  • They also perform specialized tasks such as veterinary support and engineering services.

India’s views on UN Peacekeeping

  • India is of the view that the international community must grasp the rapid changes that are underway in the nature and role of contemporary peacekeeping operations.
  • The Security Council’s mandates to UN Peacekeeping operations need to be rooted in ground realities, and co-related with the resources provided for the peacekeeping operation.
  • It is critical that troop and police contributing countries should be fully involved at all stages and in all aspects of mission planning.
  • There should be greater financial and human resources for peace-building in post-conflict societies, where UNPKOs have been mandated, according to officials.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Explained: Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems Amendment Bill, 2022


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: WMD Bill

Mains level: Read the attached story

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has introduced The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022, which will amend the 2005 Act.

What is the WMD Bill?

  • The Bill amends the WMD and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005 which prohibits the unlawful manufacture, transport, or transfer of WMD (chemical, biological and nuclear weapons) and their means of delivery.
  • It is popularly referred to as the WMD Act.
  • The recent amendment extends the scope of banned activities to include financing of already prohibited activities.
  • The WMD and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act came into being in July 2005.

India’s 2005 WMD Act defines-

  1. Biological Weapons” as “microbial or other biological agents, or toxins…of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; and weapons, equipment or delivery systems specially designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict”; and
  2. Chemical Weapons” as “toxic chemicals and their precursors” except where used for peaceful, protective, and certain specified military and law enforcement purposes; “munitions and devices specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals”; and any equipment specifically designed for use in connection with the employment of these munitions and devices.

What was the purpose of the original WMD Act?

  • Its primary objective was to provide integrated and overarching legislation on prohibiting unlawful activities in relation to all three types of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials, equipment, and technologies.
  • It instituted penalties for contravention of these provisions such as imprisonment for a term not less than five years (extendable for life) as well as fines.
  • The Act was passed to meet an international obligation enforced by the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 of 2004.

What is the UNSCR 1540?

  • In April 2004 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1540 to address the growing threat of non-state actors gaining access to WMD material, equipment or technology to undertake acts of terrorism.
  • In order to address this challenge to international peace and security, UNSCR 1540 established binding obligations on all UN member states under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
  • Nations were mandated to take and enforce effective measures against proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related materials to non-state actors.
  • It was to punish the unlawful and unauthorised manufacture, acquisition, possession, development and transport of WMD became necessary.

UNSCR 1540 enforced three primary obligations upon nation states —

  1. To not provide any form of support to non-state actors seeking to acquire WMD, related materials, or their means of delivery;
  2. To adopt and enforce laws criminalising the possession and acquisition of such items by non-state actors;

  3. To adopt and enforce domestic controls over relevant materials, in order to prevent their proliferation.

What has the Amendment added to the existing Act?

  • The Amendment expands the scope to include prohibition of financing of any activity related to WMD and their delivery systems.
  • To prevent such financing, the Central government shall have the power to freeze, seize or attach funds, financial assets, or economic resources of suspected individuals (whether owned, held, or controlled directly or indirectly).
  • It also prohibits persons from making finances or related services available for other persons indulging in such activity.

Why was this Amendment necessary?

  • India echoes these developments for having made the Amendment necessary.
  • Two specific gaps are being addressed-
  1. As the relevant organisations at the international level, such as the Financial Action Task Force have expanded the scope of targeted financial sanctions and India’s own legislation has been harmonised to align with international benchmarks.
  2. With advancements in technologies, new kinds of threats have emerged that were not sufficiently catered for in the existing legislation.
  • These notably include developments in the field of drones or unauthorised work in biomedical labs that could maliciously be used for terrorist activity.
  • Therefore, the Amendment keeps pace with evolving threats.

What more should India do?

  • India’s responsible behaviour and actions on non-proliferation are well recognised.
  • It has a strong statutory national export control system and is committed to preventing proliferation of WMD.
  • This includes transit and trans-shipment controls, retransfer control, technology transfer controls, brokering controls and end-use based controls.
  • Every time India takes additional steps to fulfil new obligations, it must showcase its legislative, regulatory and enforcement frameworks to the international community.
  • It is also necessary that India keeps WMD security in international focus.

Setting up a precedence

  • There is no room for complacency.
  • Even countries which do not have WMD technology have to be sensitised to their role in the control framework to prevent weak links in the global control system.
  • India can offer help to other countries on developing national legislation, institutions and regulatory framework through the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) or on bilateral basis.

Could the Amendment become troublesome to people on account of mistaken identity?

  • In the discussion on the Bill in Parliament, some members expressed concern on whether the new legislation could make existing business entities or people in the specific sector susceptible to a case of mistaken identity.
  • The External Affairs Minister, however, assured the House that such chances were minimal since identification of concerned individuals/entities would be based on a long list of specifics.

What is the international significance of these legislation?

  • Preventing acts of terrorism that involve WMD or their delivery systems requires building a network of national and international measures in which all nation states are equally invested.
  • Such actions are necessary to strengthen global enforcement of standards relating to the export of sensitive items and to prohibit even the financing of such activities.

Way forward

  • Sharing of best practices on legislations and their implementation can enable harmonization of global WMD controls.
  • India initially had reservations on enacting laws mandated by the UNSCR.
  • This is not seen by India as an appropriate body for making such a demand.
  • However, given the danger of WMD terrorism that India faces in view of the difficult neighbourhood that it inhabits, the country supported the Resolution and has fulfilled its requirements.


  • It is in India’s interest to facilitate highest controls at the international level and adopt them at the domestic level.
  • Having now updated its own legislation, India can demand the same of others, especially from those in its neighbourhood that have a history of proliferation and of supporting terrorist organisations.


Nuclear Security Contact Group

  • The NSCG was established in 2016.
  • The NSCG or “Contact Group” has been established with the aim of facilitating cooperation and sustaining engagement on nuclear security after the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit process.
  • The Contact Group is tasked with:
  1. Convening annually on the margins of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and, as may be useful, in connection with other related meetings
  2. Discussing a broad range of nuclear security-related issues, including identifying emerging trends that may require more focused attention

Nuclear Suppliers Group

  • NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • The NSG was set up as a response to India’s nuclear tests conducted in 1974.
  • The aim of the NSG is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

  • CTBT was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.
  • The Treaty intends to ban all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone.
  • It was opened for signature in 1996 and since then 182 countries have signed the Treaty, most recently Ghana has ratified the treaty in 2011.

Fissile material cut-off treaty

  • FMCT is a proposed international agreement that would prohibit the production of the two main components of nuclear weapons: highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium.
  • Discussions on this subject have taken place at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), a body of 65 member nations established as the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament.
  • The CD operates by consensus and is often stagnant, impeding progress on an FMCT.
  • Those nations that joined the nuclear NPT as non-weapon states are already prohibited from producing or acquiring fissile material for weapons.
  • An FMCT would provide new restrictions for the five recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS—United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China), and for the four nations that are not NPT members (Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea).


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Population Prospects (WPP)

Mains level: Global population trends

The 2022 edition of the United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP) was released.

Why in news?

  • India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.

What is the World Population Prospects?

  • The Population Division of the UN has been publishing the WPP in a biennial cycle since 1951.
  • Each revision of the WPP provides a historical time series of population indicators starting in 1950.
  • It does so by taking into account newly released national data to revise estimates of past trends in fertility, mortality or international migration.

Main takeaways for the global population

(1) Slow pace of growth

  • The world’s population continues to grow, but the pace of growth is slowing down.
  • The global population is expected to grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100.
  • In 2020, the global growth rate fell under 1% per year for the first time since 1950.

(2) Region-wise differential

  • Rates of population growth vary significantly across countries and regions.
  • More than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries- Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.
  • Disparate growth rates among the world’s largest countries will re-order their ranking by size.

(3) Ageing population

  • The population of older persons is increasing both in numbers and as a share of the total.
  • The share of the global population aged 65 years or above is projected to rise from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050.
  • The report suggests measures for ageing population by improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems and by establishing universal health care and long-term care systems.

(4) Decline in fertility rate

  • A sustained drop in fertility has led to an increased concentration of the population at working ages (between 25 and 64 years), creating an opportunity for accelerated economic growth per capita.
  • This shift in the age distribution provides a time-bound opportunity for accelerated economic growth known as the “demographic dividend”.

(5) International migration

  • This is having important impacts on population trends for some countries.
  • For high-income countries between 2000 and 2020, the contribution of international migration to population growth (net inflow of 80.5 million) exceeded the balance of births over deaths (66.2 million).
  • Over the next few decades, migration will be the sole driver of population growth in high-income countries.
  • In many of these countries, the outflows were due to temporary labour movements, such as for Pakistan (net flow of -16.5 million), India (-3.5 million), Bangladesh (-2.9 million), Nepal (-1.6 million) etc.

How reliable is the UN projection, and how do they compare with India’s Census?

  • In India, of course, the Registrar General comes out with a population projection based on the Census.
  • The last such projection was released in 2019 and it was based on Census 2011.
  • The Census projection is slightly lower than the UN projection.
  • Still UN projection is widely acknowledged across the world

What is the significance of India overtaking China?

  • That India would overtake China has been known for a while.
  • Moreover, in the past, when the world population was still at 5-billion or 6-billion levels, there was a concern about overcrowding.
  • Those concerns no longer exist because the global population is already 8 billion and several countries (including India) have achieved a replacement rate of fertility.
  • The concern now is not about the absolute numbers — India’s population is already 1.4 billion and may go up to 1.6 billion before declining.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

What is the UK-Rwanda Asylum Plan?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Location of Rwanda, English Channel

Mains level: Global refugee crisis

The United Kingdom has signed a deal with Rwanda to send some asylum seekers to the East African nation — a move that PM Boris Johnson said will “save countless lives” from human trafficking.

Immigrants crisis in UK

  • Since 2018, there has been a marked rise in the number of refugees and asylum seekers that undertake dangerous crossings between Calais in France and Dover in England.
  • Most such migrants and asylum seekers hail from war-torn countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, or developing countries like Iran and Iraq.
  • The Britain that has adopted a hardline stance on illegal immigration, these crossings constitute an immigration crisis.
  • The Nationality and Borders Bill, 2021, which is still under consideration in the UK, allows the British government to strip anyone’s citizenship without notice under “exceptional circumstances”.
  • The Rwanda deal is the operationalization of one objective in the Bill which is to deter illegal entry into the United Kingdom.

What is the Rwanda Deal?

  • The UK and Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership or the Rwanda Deal is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two governments.
  • Under this deal, Rwanda will commit to taking in asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on or after January 1, 2022, using illegally facilitated and unlawful cross border migration.
  • Rwanda will function as the holding centre where asylum applicants will wait while the Rwandan government makes decisions about their asylum and resettlement petitions in Rwanda.
  • Rwanda will, on its part, accommodate anyone who is not a minor and does not have a criminal record.

Rationale of the deal

  • The deal aims to combat “people smugglers”, who often charge exorbitant prices from vulnerable migrants to put them on unseaworthy boats from France to England that often lead to mass drownings.
  • The UK contends that this solution to the migrant issue is humane and meant to target the gangs that run these illegal crossings.

What will the scheme cost the UK?

  • The UK will pay Rwanda £120 million as part of an “economic transformation and integration fund” and will also bear the operational costs along with an, as yet undetermined, amount for each migrant.
  • Currently, the UK pays £4.7 million per day to accommodate approximately 25,000 asylum seekers.
  • At the end of 2021, this amounted to £430 million annually with a projected increase of £100 million in 2022.
  • The Rwanda Deal is predicted to reduce these costs by outsourcing the hosting of such migrants to a third country.

Will the Rwanda Deal solve the problem of illegal immigration?

  • This deal will be implemented in a matter of weeks unless it is challenged and stayed by British courts.
  • While Boris Johnson’s government is undoubtedly bracing for such legal challenges, it remains unclear if the Rwanda Deal will solve the problem of unlawful crossings.
  • Evidence from similar experiences indicates that such policies do not fully combat “people smuggling”.

Criticisms of the deal

  • Several activists, refugee and human rights organizations have strongly opposed the new scheme.
  • There are dangers of transferring refugees and asylum seekers to third countries without sufficient safeguards.
  • The refugees are traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing.
  • Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention.
  • Rwanda also has a known track record of extrajudicial killings, suspicious deaths in custody, unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, and abusive prosecutions, particularly targeting critics and dissidents.

Do any other countries send asylum seekers overseas?

  • Yes, several other countries — including Australia, Israel and Denmark — have been sending asylum seekers overseas.
  • Australia has been making full use of offshore detention centres since 2001.
  • Israel, too, chose to deal with a growing influx of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from places like Sudan and Eritrea by striking deals with third countries.
  • Those rejected for asylum were given the choice of returning to their home country or accepting $3,500 and a plane ticket to one of the third countries.
  • They faced the threat of arrest if they chose to remain in Israel.


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Why Brazil always speaks first at the UN General Assembly


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNGA

Mains level: Mandate of the UN General Assembly

Every year since the 10th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1995, Brazil has been the first to address the delegation, followed by the United States.

About UNGA

  • The UNGA is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), serving as the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN.
  • Its powers, composition, functions, and procedures are set out in Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter.
  • It also establishes numerous subsidiary organs to advance or assist in its broad mandate.
  • The UNGA is the only UN organ wherein all member states have equal representation.

Why does Brazil always get to speak first?

  • Brazil has been the first speaker at the UNGA annual general debate for over six decades now.
  • While some assume that the order is determined alphabetically, this is not the case.
  • This tradition dates back to the early years of the United Nations, following its formation soon after the end of World War II.
  • In those days, most countries were reluctant to be the first to address the chamber.
  • Brazil, at the time, was the only country that volunteered to speak first.

So, why does the US go next?

  • In the list of speakers, the United States always goes second after Brazil as it is the host nation.
  • US President Joe Biden addressed the chamber on Tuesday, detailing his vision for a new era of diplomacy in his first-ever UNGA speech.

How is the order of the remaining speakers determined?

  • After the US and Brazil, the order of speakers depends on a number of factors.
  • Generally the order is determined by the rank of the representative — heads of state, heads of government, crown princes, and foreign ministers would be amongst the initial speakers, followed by deputies and ambassadors.
  • Other criteria like geographic balance also play a role in determining the order.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Pursuing national interests, at the UN high table


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Paper 2- India's agenda at the UNSC in its 2 year stint

The article highlights India’s challenges at the UNSC in its 2 year stint.

India’s agenda at the UNSC

  • India’s two-year non-permanent stint at the UNSC should be viewed as a once-in-a-decade opportunity to clearly identify and pursue its national interests regionally and globally.
  • India’s entry into the UNSC coincides with the emergence of a new world order.
  • Under new world order, there is systemic uncertainty, little care for global commons, absence of global leadership, the steady division of the world into rival blocs, pursuit of narrow national interests.
  • Efforts by Biden administration in the United States may go on to ameliorate some of the harsh impact of this global order.
  • The UNSC has also reached a point wherein its very relevance is in serious doubt.
  • India too is no longer an ardent believer in the fantastical claims about a perfect world at harmony with itself, nor is it a timid observer in global geopolitics.
  • India’s pursuit of its interests at the UNSC should, therefore, reflect its material and geopolitical limitations, and its energies should be focused on a clearly identified agenda.

Factors determining India’s agenda at the UNSC

1) Rivalry with China

  • India’s tenure at the UNSC comes in the wake of its growing military rivalry with China.
  • China’s opposition to having India chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in 2022 was a precursor to the things to come ahead.
  • The next two years will be key to ensure checking further Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control and building up enough infrastructure and mobilising sufficient forces in the forward areas.

2) Relations with Russia

  • Greater Indian alignment with the West at the UNSC, an unavoidable outcome, could, however, widen the growing gulf between Russia and India.
  • It might not be possible for India to sit on the fence anymore.
  • Fence sitting would bring more harm than goodwill in an international system where battlelines are sharpening by the day.

3) Terrorism issue

  • Terror is likely to be a major focus for India at the UNSC.
  • External Affairs Minister’s statement at the UNSC Ministerial Meeting on the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 and the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee has set the stage for New Delhi’s approach on the issue.
  • India recently assumed the chair of the Taliban sanctions committee which assumes significance given the fast-moving developments in Afghanistan.
  • India must formulate its policy towards terrorism with far more diplomatic finesse and political nuance especially given that it is chairing the Taliban sanctions committee while courting the very same Taliban.

4) Coalition of like-minded states and setting the agenda for next decade

  • India should use the forum and its engagement there to build coalitions among like-minded states and set out its priorities for the next decade — from climate change to non-proliferation.
  • India should use its bargaining power at the UNSC to pursue its national interests in other forums and domains as well.
  • India’s UNSC strategy should involve shaping the narrative and global policy engagement vis-à-vis — the Indo-Pacific.
  • Given India’s centrality in the Indo-Pacific region and the growing global interest in the concept, New Delhi would do well to take it upon itself to shape the narrative around it.
  • In doing so, it should, through the UNSC and other means, court Moscow once again and assuage its concerns about the Indo-Pacific.

Way forward

  • India’s pursuit of its national interest at UNSC must also be tempered by the sobering fact that the UNSC is unlikely to admit new members any time soon, if ever at all.
  • A glance at the recent debates on UNSC reforms and the state of the international system today should tell us that bending over backwards to please the big five to gain entry into the UNSC will not make a difference.

Consider the question “What agenda should India pursue at the UNSC in its two year non-permanent stint? What are the challenges in pursuing such agenda?”


India must focus its energies on what it can achieve during the short period that it would be in the UNSC rather than what it wishes happened.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

UN Population Award for 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN Population Award

Mains level: Not Much

HelpAge India has been presented the UN Population Award for 2020 (institutional category), according to a release issued by UNFPA.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), a UN mechanism to assist countries transition towards a greener and more inclusive economies, emerged at:

(a) The Earth Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, Johannesburg

(b) The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, Rio de Janeiro

(c) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2015, Paris

(d) The World Sustainable Development Summit 2016, New Delhi

UN Population Award

  • Each year, the Committee for the UNPA honours an individual and/or institution in recognition of outstanding contributions to population and reproductive health questions and to their solutions.
  • The Award was established by the General Assembly in 1981, in resolution 36/201, and was first presented in 1983. It consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a monetary prize.
  • The Committee for the Award is comprised of 10 UN Member States, with UN Secretary-General and UNFPA Executive Director serving as ex-officio members.
  • Nominations for the award are accepted through 31 December of each year.

Whats’ so special this year?

  • For the first time in the history of the UNPA, the honour is being conferred on an Indian institution.
  • HelpAge India, which has been working for ‘the cause and care of disadvantaged older persons to improve their quality of life’ for over four decades, is the first Indian institution to receive this award.
  • The last time the Award came to an Indian was 28 years ago, back in 1992, when it was awarded to Mr J.R.D. Tata as an individual laureate.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN ACABQ

Mains level: Success and failures of United Nations

In a significant victory for India at the United Nations, Indian diplomat Vidisha Maitra was elected to the U.N. Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

Try this PYQ:

Which one of the following is not related to the United Nations?
(a) Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
(b) International Finance Corporation
(c) International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
(d) Bank for International Settlements


  • It is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. The 193-member Assembly appoints members of the Advisory Committee.
  • ACABQ consists of 16 members appointed by the Assembly in their individual capacity.
  • Members are selected on the basis of broad geographical representation, personal qualifications and experience.

Its functions

  • ACABQ ensures that fund contributions to the U.N. system are put to good effect and that mandates are properly funded.
  • It examines, on behalf of the General Assembly, the administrative budgets of the specialised agencies and proposals for financial arrangements with such agencies; and to consider and report to the General Assembly on the auditors’ reports on the accounts of the UN and of the specialised agencies.

Why is the seat given to India?

  • India has a stellar record of bringing professional auditing experience to the U.N. and contributing outstanding professionals to U.N. bodies.
  • With India’s rising obligations in both assessed as well as voluntary contributions to the U.N., India holds key responsibility of administrative and budgetary management of U.N.

Significance of the move

  • The victory gives a strong display of support by U.N. member states for India.
  • It comes as India gets ready to sit in the U.N. Security Council as a non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 2021.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Looking back at India’s journey at the UN


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level:

Mains level: Paper 2- India's journey at United Nations

The article examines India’s journey at the UN as it enters it 75year. It also analyses the challenges India faced at the UN and tracks India’s transformation from being an outlier to the high table.

Three phases of India’s presence at the UN

  • Seven and a half decades of India at the UN may be viewed with reference to roughly three distinct phases.

First phase: From independence to 1989

  • The first phase lasted until the end of Cold War in 1989.
  • During this phase, India had learnt to explore and enhance its diplomatic influence in easing armed conflicts in Asia and Africa by disentangling them from the superpower rivalry.
  • India also leaned that the UN could not be relied upon to impartially resolve vital security disputes such as Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India strove to utilise the UN only to focus on common causes such as anti-colonialism, anti-racism, nuclear disarmament, environment conservation and equitable economic development.
  • India seemed to claim the moral high ground by proposing, in 1988 three-phase plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from the surface of earth.
  • But it resisted attempts by neighbouring countries to raise bilateral problems.
  • Defeat in 1962 war against China meant a definitive redesign of the country’s diplomatic style to privilege bilateral contacts over the third party role by the UN.

Second phase: 1990s

  • The 1990s were the most difficult decade for India in the UN.
  • The 1990s were marked by the sudden end of the Cold War, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the United States as the unrivalled power.
  • Besides, the uncertain political climate along with the balance of payments crisis constrained the country’s capability to be active in various bodies, especially in the Security Council (UNSC) and the General Assembly.
  • There was a change in India’s foreign policy: At the UN as India showed pragmatism in enabling the toughest terms on Iraq even after Gulf War or in reversing position on Zionism as racism.
  • At the same time, growing militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s helped Pakistan to internationalise the dispute with accusations about gross human rights violations by India.
  • India to seek favours from Iran and China in the Human Rights Commission to checkmate Pakistan.
  • The violation of the sovereignty principle by NATO intervention against Yugoslavia in 1999 without the authorisation of the UNSC deeply disturbed India.
  • At the same time call for an end to aerial attacks on Yugoslavia did not garner much support in the UNSC.
  • India’s diplomatic difficulties was exposed when it suffered a defeat in the hands of Japan in the 1996 contest for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC.
  • India resolutely stood against indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995.
  • India strongly rejected the backdoor introduction for adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996.
  • It is against this background that India surprised the world in 1998 with its Pokhran nuclear weapon tests, ignoring the likely adverse reaction from the nuclear club.

Third phase: Rise in influence in 21st century

  • The impressive economic performance in the first decade of the 21st century due to economic liberalisation and globalisation policies, helped a great deal in strengthening profile.
  • This is only aided by its reliable and substantial troop contributions to several peacekeeping operations in African conflict theatres.
  • India has emerged as a responsible stakeholder in non-traditional security issue areas such as the spread of small and light weapons, the threat of non-state actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and the impact of climate change.
  • India has scaled up its contributions to development and humanitarian agencies, while India’s share to the UN assessed budget has registered a hike from 0.34% to 0.83%.
  • India’s successful electoral contests for various prestigious slots in the UNSC, the Human Rights Council, the World Court, and functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council indicates its growing popularity

Major unsuccessful initiatives by India

  • Two major initiatives India has heavily invested in are stuck:
  • 1) The draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism it drafted and revised with the hope of helping consensus.
  • It encountered reservations on provisions regarding definition of terrorist and the convention’s application to state armed forces.
  • 2) Second is the question of equitable expansion of the UNSC to enable India to attain permanent membership along with other claimants from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • The move has been stuck for more than 25 years because of a lack of unity among the regional formations.
  • It also includes opposition from some 30 middle powers such as Italy and Pakistan which fear losing out to regional rivals in the event of an addition of permanent seats.
  •  The only realistic possibility seems to settle for a compromise, i.e. a new category of members elected for a longer duration than the present non-permanent members without veto power.

Priorities at the UNSC as a non-permanent member

  • India’s future role will depend on its ability to deal  economic slowdown and a troubled relationship with China.
  • This is pertinent as India will soon begin its two-year term as a non-permanent UNSC member (January 1, 2021).
  • Its areas of priority will continue to be the upholding of Charter principles, act against those who support, finance and sponsor terrorists, besides striving for securing due say to the troop contributing countries in the management of peace operations.
  • It is reasonable to assume (based on earlier patterns) that India will work for and join in consensus on key questions wherever possible.
  • But it may opt to abstain along with other members including one or two permanent members.

Consider the question “Elaborate on the transformation in India’s role at UN. What are the challenges India may face as a non-permanent member of the UNSC” 


As a non-permanent UNSC member now, India needs to uphold the Charter principles in the backdrop of a turbulent world.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

UN and the retreat from multilateralism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: U.N. and its organs

Mains level: Paper 2- United Nations and the challenges it faces

As the U.N. enters into 75th year of its existence, it faces several challenges. The article discusses such challenges.

Challenges to the multilateralism

1) Withdrawal of the main stakeholders: U.S. and the U.K.

  • The U.S. is withdrawing from multilateralism and so it the U.K.
  • Brexit has shown that nationalism remains strong in Europe.
  • Nevertheless, the most important development is the position of the U.S.
  • The U.S., which created the international system as we know today, is no longer willing to be its “guarantor of last resort”.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump stressed “America First” and suggested that others too should put their countries first.

2) China’s reluctance

  • China has stepped in to take advantage of the West’s retreat from multilateralism.
  • But China is not embracing the idea of multilateralism.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative consists of a series of bilateral credit agreements with recipient countries with no mechanism for multilateral consultation or oversight.
  • The European Union’s and U.S.’s sanctions against Russia have driven it closer to China.
  • Work of the UN Security Council has been affected by the lack of consensus between its permanent members.

3) Turkey’s interventions

  • Turkey has intervened in Syria, Libya, and the Eastern Mediterranean, which is a breach of international law.
  • The last was a reference to Turkey sending a drilling ship in Greek and Cypriot exclusive economic zones.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a detailed reference to the Jammu and Kashmir issue.
  • As Turkey has assumed the position of UN General Assembly President, statement and its actions matters.

4) Paucity of resources

  • Over 40 UN political missions and peacekeeping operations engage 95,000 troops, police, and civil personnel. it suffers from a paucity of resources.
  • The UN peacekeeping budget, a little over $8 billion, is a small fraction of the $1.9 trillion military expenditure governments made in 2019.
  •  Most of the humanitarian assistance, developmental work, and budgets of the specialised agencies are based on voluntary contributions.
  • There are calls for increasing public-private partnerships. This is not a satisfactory arrangement.
  • The UN provides ‘public goods’ in terms of peace and development often in remote parts of the world.
  • There may not be enough appetite on the part of corporations. The UN remains an inter-governmental body.

5) Climate action

  • President Trump mentioned that China’s emissions are nearly twice of those of the U.S.
  • Despite its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the U.S. has reduced its carbon emissions by more than any country in the world.
  • President Xi said that after peaking emissions by 2030, China will achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
  • President Macron said that he was determined to see the EU agree on a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Consider the question “As the world is facing the retreat from multilateralism, what are the challenges facing the U.N. in the current global order?”


What does the UN bring to the developing countries? It gives them greater political space. We need to support reform not only to expand the permanent members’ category of the Security Council but also to revitalise the role of the General Assembly. The retreat from multilateralism would undermine the UN’s capacity to face diverse challenges.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Explained: Birth of United Nations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: United Nations, Atlantic Charter

Mains level: Success and failures of United Nations

The United Nations completed 75 years this year. In order to commemorate the historic moment, world leaders have come together, at a one-day high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Try this:

Q.Discuss the various success and failures of the United Nations. (150W)

Birth of United Nations

  • The United Nations was born out of the horrors of World War II.
  • At the time of its foundation, it was primarily tasked with the goal of maintaining world peace and saving future generations from the evils of war.

A historical backgrounder

  • The UN was born out of the ashes of yet another international organisation created with the intention of keeping war away.
  • The League of Nations was created in June 1919, after World War I, as part of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • However, when the Second World War broke out in 1939, the League closed down and its headquarters in Geneva remained empty throughout the war.
  • Consequently, in August 1941, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British PM Winston Churchill held a secret meeting aboard naval ships in Placenta Bay, located in the southeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

The Atlantic Charter

  • The heads of the two countries discussed the possibility of creating a body for international peace effort and a range of issues related to the war.
  • Together they issued a statement that came to be called the Atlantic Charter. It was not a treaty, but only an affirmation that paved the way for the creation of the UN.
  • It declared the realization of “certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.”

The name ‘UN’

  • The United States joined the war in December 1941, and for the first time the term ‘United Nations’ was coined by president Roosevelt to identify those countries which were allied against the axis powers.
  • On January 1, 1942, representatives of 26 allied nations met in Washington DC to sign the declaration of the United Nations, which basically spelt out the war objectives of the Allied powers.
  • Over the next couple of years, several meetings took place among the Allied big four — The USA, the Soviet Union, the UK and China — to decide on the post-war charter that would describe the precise role of the UN.

Coming to existence

  • The UN finally came into existence on October 24, 1945, after being ratified by 51 nations, which included five permanent members (France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK and the US) and 46 other signatories.
  • The first meeting of the General Assembly took place on January 10, 1946.

Its achievements

  • While at the time of its formation, the UN consisted of only 51 member states, independence movements and decolonization in the subsequent years led to an expansion of its membership.
  • At present, 193 countries are members of the UN.
  • It has also expanded its scope to resolve over a large number of global issues such as health, environment, and women empowerment among others.
  • Soon after its formation, it passed a resolution to commit to the elimination of nuclear weapons in 1946. In 1948, it created the World Health Organisation (WHO) to deal with communicable diseases like smallpox, malaria, HIV.
  • In 1950, the UN created the High Commissioner for Refugees to take care of the millions who had been displaced due to World War II.
  • More recently in 2002, the UN established the UN criminal court to try those who have committed war crimes, genocide, and other atrocities.

Various criticisms

  • The UN has also met with its share of criticisms. In 1994, for instance, the organisation failed to stop the Rwandan genocide.
  • In 2005, UN peacekeeping missions were accused of sexual misconduct in the Republic of Congo, and similar allegations have also come from Cambodia and Haiti.
  • In 2011, the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was unsuccessful in eliminating the bloodshed caused in the civil war that broke out in 2013.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Singapore Convention on Mediation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Singapore Convention

Mains level: Not Much

The Singapore Convention on Mediation has finally come into force.

Try this MCQ:

Q. The Singapore Convention recently seen in news is related to:

Climate change/ Arbitration and conciliation/ Foreign trade/ Marine Regulation

Singapore Convention

  • It is aimed to provide a more effective way of enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other countries that are signatories to the Convention.
  • Also known as the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, this is also the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.
  • With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty.
  • The harmonized and simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs.

Its signatories

  • The Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China and the U.S.
  • Singapore had worked with the UN Commission on International Trade Law, other UN member states and non-governmental organisations for the Convention.

Significance of the convention

  • The Convention would boost India’s ‘ease of doing business’ credentials by enabling swift mediated settlements of corporate disputes.
  • Businesses in India and around the world will now have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

[pib] India’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) of SDGs

The NITI Aayog has recently presented India’s second Voluntary National Review at the UN’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, 2020.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the institutional approach adopted by NITI Aayog for the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

About the UN Forum on SDGs

  • The HLPF is the foremost international platform for follow-up and review of progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The HLPF meets annually in July for eight days under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.
  • The VNRs presented by the Member States at the HLPF are a critical component of the review of progress and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
  • The reviews are voluntary and state-led and are aimed at facilitating the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned.

India VNR 2020

  • NITI Aayog prepared and presented India’s first VNR in 2017.
  • The report is a comprehensive account of the adoption and implementation of the 2030 Agenda in India.
  • India’s VNR this year has undertaken a paradigm shift in terms of embodying a “whole-of-society” approach in letter and spirit.
  • Apart from presenting a review of progress on the 17 SDGs, the report discusses at length the policy and enabling environment, India’s approach to localizing SDGs, and strengthening means of implementation.
  • Leveraging science, technology and innovation for SDGs, and costing and financing of SDGs are the two levers of strengthening means of implementation which have been introduced this year.

Consultations made for the VNR 2020

From Global to Local -key steps of localisation of SDGs in India


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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Multilateralism in the new cold war


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: G7 countries

Mains level: Paper 2- Challenges the current form of multilateralism faces and opportunity for India to shape the new multilateralism.

The world is going through turmoil. The new world that will emerge will be different from what we have known. This provides India with some unique opportunities. This article explains the changes that are taking place and gives the outline of the changing order. So, how can India set and shape the global response? And what should be the principles on which the new multilateralism should be based? Read to know…

Opportunity for India to set the global response

  • As chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Assembly – India can set the global response in terms of multilateralism, not just medical issues.
  • How can India set a global response in terms of multilateralism? Consider the following- a rare alignment of stars for agenda-setting.
  • 1) In September, the United Nations General Assembly will discuss the theme, “The Future We Want”.
  • 2) In 2021, India joins the UN Security Council (non-permanent seat).
  • 3) And chairs the BRICS Summit in 2021.
  • 4) Also hosts the G-20 in 2022.
  • New principles for international system: At the online summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, in May, Prime Minister Modi called for new principles for the international system.
  • His new globalisation model based on humanity, fairness and equality has wide support in a more equal world as, for the first time since 1950, everyone is experiencing the same (virus) threat.

Changing global context

  • China is losing influence and the dynamics in its relations with the United States.
  • And Asia again is emerging as the centre of global prosperity.
  • The global governance, economy, scientific research and society are all in need of being re-invented.
  • India should use this opportunity to recover our global thought leadership.

The US-China powerplay and its consequences for multilateralism

  • The clash between China and the U.S. at the just concluded World Health Assembly in May marks the end of the multilateralism of the past 70 years.
  • The donor-recipient relationship between developed and developing countries has ended with China’s pledge of $2-billion.
  • The agenda-setting role of the G7 over UN institutions and global rules has also been effectively challenged by WHO ignoring the reform diktat of the U.S. leading to its withdrawal, and characterisation of the G7 as “outdated”.
  • The U.S. has also implicitly rejected the G20 and UN Security Council, for an expanded G7 “to discuss the future of China”.
  • Important shift in the UN: After World War II, the newly independent states were not consulted when the U.S. imposed global institutions fostering trade, capital and technology dependence.
  • This was done ignoring the socio-economic development of these countries.
  • But social and economic rights have emerged to be as important as political and procedural rights.
  • Against this backdrop, China’s President Xi Jinping deftly endorsed the UN Resolution on equitable access to any new vaccine.

Emergence of Asia and China: Challenges for the US and the West

  • The U.S. faces an uphill task in seeking to lead a new multidimensional institution in the face of China’s re-emergence.
  • The re-emergence of China is based on technology, innovation and trade balancing U.S. military superiority.
  • At the same time, there is a clear trend of declining global trust in free-market liberalism, central to western civilisation.
  • With the West experiencing a shock comparable to the one experienced by Asia, 200 years ago, the superiority of western civilisation is also under question.
  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift of global wealth to Asia suggesting an inclusive global order based on principles drawn from ancient Asian civilisations.
  • Colonised Asia played no role in shaping the Industrial Revolution.
  • But, the Digital Revolution will be shaped by different values.
  • It is really this clash that multilateralism has now to resolve.

World is questioning both U.S. and China’s exceptionalism

  • China has come out with alternative governance mechanisms to the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization with its all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The U.S., European Union and Japan are re-evaluating globalisation as it pertains to China and the U.S. is unabashedly “America First”.
  • The world is questioning both U.S. and China’s exceptionalism.
  • For India, the strategic issue is neither adjustment to China’s power nor deference to U.S. leadership.

Opportune moment for India to propose new multilateralism

  • The global vacuum, shift in relative power and its own potential, provides India the capacity to articulate a benign multilateralism.
  • It should include in its fold NAM-Plus that resonates with large parts of the world and brings both BRICS and the G7 into the tent.
  • This new multilateralism should rely on outcomes, not rules, ‘security’ downplayed for ‘comparable levels of wellbeing’ and a new P-5 that is not based on the G7.

India in a important role

  • China, through an opinion piece by its Ambassador in India, has suggested writing “together a new chapter” with “a shared future for mankind”.
  • The U.S. wants a security partnership to contain China.
  • And the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade bloc — with the U.S. walking out of the negotiations — is keen India joins to balance China.
  • With a new template. India does not have to choose.

Three principles the new system should be based on-

1. Peaceful coexistence

    • First, the Asian Century should be defined in terms of peaceful co-existence, freezing post-colonial sovereignty.
    • Non-interference in the internal affairs of others is a key lesson from the decline of the U.S. and the rise of China.
    • National security now relies on technological superiority in artificial intelligence (AI), cyber and space, and not expensive capital equipment, as India’s military has acknowledged.
    • Instead of massive arms imports, we should use the savings to enhance endogenous capacity.
    • And mould the global digital economy between state-centric (China), firm-centric (the U.S.) and public-centric (India) systems.

2. New principles of trade

  • A global community at comparable levels of well-being requires new principles for trade, for example, rejecting the 25-year-old trade rule creating intellectual property monopolies.
  • Global public goods should include public health, crop research, renewable energy and batteries, even AI as its value comes from shared data.
  • We have the scientific capacity to support these platforms as part of foreign policy.

3.  Civilisational values

  • Ancient civilisational values provide the conceptual underpinning, restructuring both the economic order and societal behaviour for equitable sustainable development.
  • Which is what a climate change impacted world, especially Africa, is seeking.

Consider the question-“The global order is going through serious churn, and it provides India with an opportunity to shape the new multilateralism based on humanity, fairness and equality. Comment.”


In the new cold war, defined by technology and trade not territory, non-alignment is an uncertain option; India should craft a global triumvirate.

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Taiwan makes new push for inclusion in World Health Assembly


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Health Assembly , WHO

Mains level: China-Taiwan tussle

Following its successful containment of coronavirus outbreak, Taiwan has made a new push for inclusion in the World Health Assembly (WHA).

Locate the seas and straits around Taiwan using your Atlas.

What is World Health Assembly (WHA)?

  • The WHA, composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the WHO’s supreme decision-making body.
  • The WHA convenes annually and is responsible for selecting the Director-General, setting goals and priorities, and approving the WHO’s budget and activities.
  • The first meeting of the WHA the WHO’s agency’s governing body, took place on 24 July 1948.
  • Its work began in earnest in 1951 following a significant infusion of financial and technical resources.

Why Taiwan must be included in WHA?

  • Taiwan has been praised over its handling of the pandemic, despite being just a short flight from China where the virus was first detected late last year.
  • Taiwan since then has been in a state of constant readiness to the threat of emerging infectious disease.
  • Hence, its exclusion from the upcoming World Health Assembly would harm the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Issues with Taiwan’s inclusion

  • Taiwan is claimed as part of Chinese territory by Beijing, which has excluded it from the United Nations and its subsidiary organisations.
  • China’s growing influence in the U.N. has made officials wary of crossing it, even while the U.S. has withdrawn from or suspended funding for some of its bodies, including WHO.
  • Beijing’s Communist leadership has increasingly shut Taiwan out of gatherings such as the World Health Assembly as part of a diplomatic and military drive to force Taiwan’s independence-leaning tendencies.

Also read:

[Burning Issue] World Health Organization (WHO) And Coronavirus Handling

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Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

Private: World Health Organization (WHO) And Coronavirus Handling


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: WHO and its funding

Mains level: Fall of major global institutions amid COVID-19 outbreak



  • US President Donald Trump has lashed out at the WHO by declaring he would “hold” their funding, and then said the decision is still under consideration.
  • Trump accused WHO to be China-centric and that it got every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic wrong.
  • The US, however, isn’t the only one criticizing the WHO. Several leaders, columnists, and others have also criticised the WHO’s handling of China — where the virus had originated

A brief history of the WHO

World Health Organization

  • The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • It is part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Group.
  • The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency’s governing structure and principles, states its main objective as ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.

Its establishment

  • The WHO was established in 7 April 1948, which is commemorated as World Health Day.
  • The first meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the agency’s governing body, took place on 24 July 1948.
  • The WHO incorporated the assets, personnel, and duties of the League of Nations’ Health Organisation and the Office International d’Hygiène Publique, including the International Classification of Diseases.
  • Its work began in earnest in 1951 following a significant infusion of financial and technical resources.

Composition of WHA

  • The WHA, composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.
  • The WHA convenes annually and is responsible for selecting the Director-General, setting goals and priorities, and approving the WHO’s budget and activities.
  • The current Director-General is Tedros Adhanom, former Health Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, who began his five-year term on 1 July 2017.

Mandate of the WHO


  • The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well being.
  • It provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey.
  • Its flagship publication, the World Health Report, provides expert assessments of global health topics and health statistics on all nations.

Focus areas

  • The WHO has played a leading role in several public health achievements, most notably the eradication of smallpox, the near-eradication of polio, and the development of an Ebola vaccine.
  • Its current priorities include communicable diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis; non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  • It also focuses on a healthy diet, nutrition, and food security; occupational health; and substance abuse.


  • Some of the WHO’s biggest achievements came in its early days.
  • In 1958, the erstwhile United Socialist Soviet Republic, or USSR, had proposed a WHO-led smallpox eradication programme. The disease was still endemic by 1966, especially in Africa and Asia.
  • The next year, in 1967, the WHO began its Intensified Eradication Program that focused on mass vaccinations, and it proved to be a huge success.
  • By 1980, small pox was declared as eradicated from the world — the only disease to be classified this way.

Other successes

  • In 1978, the WHO adopted the Declaration of Alma-Ata, calling on “urgent and effective national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world”.
  • The declaration was considered historic for identifying the role and necessity of primary healthcare in assuring health facilities for all.
  • The WHO has played a central role in global immunisation programmes against polio, measles and tetanus, among others.

Financing of WHO

  • The WHO relies on assessed and voluntary contributions from member states and private donors for funding.
  • It started off with $5 million and 51 member countries — all of whom signed its constitution.
  • Now, it has 194 member countries, with a budget of $4.8 billion.
  • The US is currently the biggest financial contributor to the WHO and has been its active member for many decades.

Handling of novel coronavirus pandemic

  • In December 2019, the WHO’s China office was informed about cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in the Wuhan city of Hubei province.
  • Ever since, the WHO has worked to inform the world about the illness — called the novel coronavirus — and even earned the praise of global health experts initially for its transparent and swift approach.
  • It was the WHO that announced a global emergency due to the spread of the virus and later declared it a pandemic.
  • It is raising $675 million to find a cure and spread awareness about the illness.

Why is WHO under Criticism?

1) Some unanswered questions

  • Questions were raised when WHO director praised China for the speed with which detected the outbreak and its commitment to transparency.
  • China has a history of keeping its data under wraps and it is said to have even concealed the extent of the outbreak during the early stages.
  • The WHO surprisingly maintained that masks only need to be used by those with symptoms, and travel bans are “ineffective” in curbing the spread of the virus.

2) Affinity with China

  • The WHO can certainly be criticized for giving China too much benefit of the doubt at the beginning of this pandemic.
  • The WHO is now being called “Chinese Health Organisation” even as it is at the forefront of fighting its worldwide spread.
  • Despite the criticism, the WHO has pledged to keep fighting against the current pandemic.

3) Delayed response

  • They accuse the WHO of simply reporting virus statistics given to them by the Chinese government, even though we now know China widely underreported and even tried to hide the extent of the virus.
  • For example, in mid-January, the WHO repeated that China said human-to-human transmission of the virus hadn’t been proved.
  • The WHO waited weeks to declare a public health emergency and only declared it a pandemic March 11, later than many countries would have preferred.

4) Trump being Trump

  • The US is trying to deflect the blame away from this catastrophe back onto China.
  • This fight between the US and China, with the world’s leading health organization in the middle, is a distraction.

Some of its failures:

  • It has come under fire in recent years for its heavy bureaucratic framework, which has led to inefficiencies, inertia, and even “over-reactions”.
  • During the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, the WHO was accused of overplaying the dangers of the virus and aligning with pharmaceutical interests.
  • As a consequence, member states bought billions of doses of vaccines that ultimately remained unused, leading to wastage of resources and money.
  • The organisation later admitted having failed in communicating about it properly.
  • During the Ebola outbreak in 2013-2015, the WHO failed to sound the alarm over the virus, despite knowing about it. Thousands of lives were lost before the WHO could act.

Why has WHO failed?

  • The WHO’s sprawling structure is an outcome of a vague mandate and global power imbalance.
  • WHO is facing the biggest pandemic in human history. For all the responsibility vested in the WHO, it has little power.
  • Unlike international bodies such as the WTO, the WHO, which is a specialised body of the UN, has no ability to bind or sanction its members.
  • Its annual operating budget, about $2bn in 2019, which is smaller than that of many university hospitals and split among a wide array of public health and research projects.
  • At the same time, the international order on which the WHO relies is fraying, as aggressive nationalism becomes normalized around the world.


  • Whatever the causes of this disaster are, it is clear that the WHO has failed in its duty to raise the alarm in time.
  • This shortfall of WHO is failure indicative of a deeper malaise: the global institutional framework is a pawn in the hands of the great powers, cash-strapped.
  • While the focus has been on what happened between China and the WHO, in epidemiological terms the crisis has moved on.
  • The WHO is battling against a breakdown in international cooperation that is far beyond its capacity to control.
  • States have been turning away from international institutions for a long time. And WHO has relied on the often unspoken norms of international collaboration that underlie it.

Way forward

  • The new world order is on the way. The spread of concepts like “before corona” and “after corona” will become commonplace.
  • The global institutional architecture of the 1940s cannot help humanity face the challenges of the 2020s.
  • India as a nation has an important say for fundamental reforms in the UN System, including the WHO to make it more transparent, competent, and accountable.
  • Nothing less than a new social contract between states and the international system can serve the purpose.


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