International Current Affairs
February 3rd week 2015 current affairs
Category : International Current Affairs
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1) Report on attack on school girls

  • According to the United Nations human rights office, there have been threats, violent attacks and other abuse against girls for going to school in at least 70 countries over the past five years.
  • A report published on 9th February by the Geneva-based body noted that, despite some progress, girls still face difficulty getting an education in many countries around the world.The report cites the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria last year and the shooting of education activist Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in 2012.It says that in 2012 alone there were 3,600 attacks against schools, teachers and students.
2) Britain becomes first country to donate to IMF Ebola debt relief fund
  • Britain on 9th February has declared that it would contribute 50 million dollars to a new IMF fund to help West African countries hit by Ebola to service their debts so they can use their own money to help save lives.The IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust was launched and is designed to help Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone cope with their debt service payments to the IMF for the next two years. The idea is that they can redirect other resources to help fight the outbreak, and to repair their economies and societies. Britain is the first country to pledge cash to the new fund.
  • The Ebola epidemic in parts of West Africa is a humanitarian catastrophe that has drawn attention of the international community to the need of addressing the rapid spread of life threatening infectious diseases that cause substantial domestic disruption and cross international borders.
  • On February 4, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) discussed how to better support Low-Income Countries hit by public health disasters. The Board approved the establishment of the Catastrophe Containment and Relief (CCR) Trust, allowing the Fund to provide debt relief in these cases, as well as to members experiencing other types of catastrophic disasters. These grants can ease pressures on the members’ balance of payments and create fiscal space to tackle relief and recovery challenges.
  • The CCR will provide grants for debt relief totaling $100 million for the three countries affected by Ebola in West Africa—Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. This comes in addition to the $130 million of assistance provided in September 2014, and a second round of new concessional loans amounting to about $160 million to be considered soon by the Executive Board.
  • In the November 2014 meeting in Brisbane, the G-20 called on the Bretton Woods Institutions to continue their strong support to countries severely affected by the Ebola outbreak through a combination of concessional loans, debt relief and grants, and asked the institutions to explore new, flexible mechanisms to address the economic effects of future comparable crises. The CCR Trust is the Fund’s response to that call. It replaces the Post-Catastrophe Debt Relief (PCDR) Trust established on June 25, 2010 in the wake of a massive earthquake in Haiti, and expands the circumstances under which the Fund can provide exceptional assistance to its low income members to include public health disasters.
3) China building 6 nuclear plants in Pakistan
  • China is going to involve in nuclear power projects in Pakistan and is likely to export more reactors to the country. China has been involved in the construction of six reactors in Pakistan. China`s recent projects with Pakistan have come under scrutiny as the NSG does not allow members to supply nuclear technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  • In 2009, the China National Nuclear Corporation signed agreements for two new nuclear reactors, Chashma-3 and Chashma-4. The deals became a matter of controversy and were debated at the NSG, with China arguing that the reactors were "grandfathered" as part of its earlier Chashma agreement -- Chashma-1 and Chashma-2 -- and were not new projects.

4) World’s biggest solar telescope being built in Hawaii

  • The world’s biggest solar telescope is being built in Maui, Hawaii. It would be launched in2019. It would significantly improve the forecasting of space weather hazards, say researchers from the University of Sheffield in Britain. The development of this telescope provides great potential to make earlier forecasts of space weather hazards, such as identifying solar winds which can cause huge disruption to life on Earth.
  • With a four-metre diameter primary mirror, the telescope will be able to pick up unprecedented detail on the surface of the Sun — the equivalent of being able to examine a one pound coin from 100 km away.
5) Ukraine ceasefire deal reached
  • The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France discussed on 11th February in pursuit of a solution to the Ukrainian conflict that has claimed more than 5,000 lives.
  • The contact group, comprising the Kiev government and the ethnic-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and mediators from Moscow and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, plan to present the four leaders with a draft document for their approval. The contact group is said to be finalising technical details of the application of the accords signed last Sep 19
  • The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany have reached a ceasefire deal after 17 hours of talks in Minsk, Belarus, on the Ukrainian conflict. The ceasefire will come into force on 15th February as part of a deal that also involves the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line.
The main points of the agreement:
  1. Ceasefire to begin at 00.00am local time on 15 February
  2. Heavy weapons withdrawn in a two week period starting from 17 February
  3. Amnesty for prisoners involved in fighting
  4. Withdrawal of all foreign militias from Ukrainian territory and the disarmament of all illegal groups
  5. Lifting of restrictions in rebel areas of Ukraine
  6. Decentralizations for rebel regions by the end of 2015
  7. Ukrainian control of the border with Russia by the end of 2015
  8. The participants also agreed to attend regular meetings ??to ensure the fulfilment of the ??agreements
IMF announces assistance: International Monetary Fund chief Christine had reached an agreement with Ukraine to provide assistance to the country worth 15.5 billion euros ($17.5 billion) over four years.
6) G20 pledges to improve business environment, check tax evasion
  • In the G-20 Summit of World Finance Ministers in Istanbul, India has called for full and fast implementation of automatic exchange of information on black money 
  • The minister of state for finance, Jayant Sinha while making the lead intervention on tax issues at G 20 finance minister`s meet in Istanbul, advocated for full and fast implementation of automatic exchange of information within the agreed time frame and on a global scale including by all financial centers.
  • India also pitched high for investment specially in infrastructure to achieve G20`s collective growth objective. India proposed that this should be done through taking policy measures to improve business environment to promote infrastructure as an asset class. 
  • India called for early operationalization of the Global Infrastructure Hub which has been set up following the last G-20 Summit for the development of a knowledge sharing platform and to improve investment Indian authorities will probe new Indian names related to blackmoney issue. The government is expected to disclose the names of close to 60 Indians and entities as it has recently initiated tax evasion prosecution proceedings against them as part of its crackdown on black money accounts as reported in the HSBC bank`s Geneva branch list. 
  • Committed to improve business: sCommitting to resist protectionism, the G20 nations have pledged to improve business environment to promote growth and strengthen transparency to prevent cross border tax evasion
  • The G20 Ministers also expressed concern over terrorist activities and called upon the member nations to expeditiously comply with international norms concerning exchange of information and freezing of terrorist assets. 
  • The communique issued at the end of the two-day meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors on 12th February also underlined the need for IMF quota reforms to give greater representation to emerging economies.
  • India was represented by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. Observing that global economic recovery continues to remain uneven, the communique said G-20 is determined to overcome these challenges. G-20 also pledged that it will provide some boost to global growth with varying implications across economy. The member nations committed to boost investment in their countries via concrete and ambitious investment strategies that will also support collective growth objective.
  • Emerging counties, like India, China, Brazil and Russia have been asking for increased voting rights in IMF, which would reflect their growing share in the world economy. Quota reform, if implemented, will increase India`s voting share from current 2.44 per cent to 2.75 per cent, following which the country will become the eighth largest quota holder at the IMF, up from 11th position.

7) UN adopts resolution to crack down on terrorist financing

  • The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at cracking down on the financing of terrorist groups and calling for sanctions on individuals and companies trading oil produced by the Islamic State and other al-qaida linked groups.
  • The Russian-sponsored resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and many other council members, requires all 193 UN member states to take “appropriate steps” to prevent the trade in antiquities and other items of historical, cultural, rare scientific and religious importance illegally removed from Syria. A similar ban already exists for antiquities from Iraq. 
  • The resolution adopted on 12th February also reaffirms that it is illegal to pay ransom to individuals and groups that are already subject to UN sanctions, and that all countries are required to freeze such funds.
8) 800 years for Magna Carta
  • The four surviving original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta have been brought together for the first time in London. Magna Carta is one of the most important, well-known documents in history and this year marks its 800th anniversary. The Magna Carta was authorized on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede.
  • The document was agreed by King John to appease rebel barons in the heart of battle. It is considered one of the first steps towards parliamentary democracy and includes the principle that no one was above the law, including the king
All about Magna Carta:
Magna Carta outlined basic rights with the principle that no-one was above the law, including the king
  1. It charted the right to a fair trial, and limits on taxation without representation
  2. It inspired a number of other documents, including the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  3. Only three clauses are still valid - the one guaranteeing the liberties of the English Church; the clause confirming the privileges of the City of London and other towns; and the clause that states that no free man shall be imprisoned without the lawful judgment of his equals.
9) Guidelines for Nepal Constitution
  • The Proposal Drafting Committee of the Nepal Constituent Assembly (CA) on 1st February passed its working guidelines, declaring that principles like democracy, federalism, republicanism, secularism, and inclusiveness would be an integral part of the new Constitution.
  • In its second meeting, the Proposal Drafting Committee (PDC), which has been tasked to study the report submitted by the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee on agreements and disputes over the new Constitution, said no questions would be prepared on it for voting. The new committee has been tasked to prepare a questionnaire with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ voting option to decide the disputes.