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International Current Affairs September 5th Week 2017
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International Current Affairs September 5th Week 2017

1. China bans export of key petroleum products to North Korea.

China said on Saturday it will ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles from the isolated North, in line with a UN Security Council resolution passed after Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.

The announcement from Beijing came at the end of a week that saw tensions ratchet up between the United States and North Korea, with the leaders of both countries trading insults.

The ministry of commerce said in a statement on its website that China would limit exports of refined petroleum products from 1 October and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas immediately to comply with the latest UN sanctions. Imports of textiles from North Korea would also be banned immediately, the statement said.

Textile trade contracts signed before 11 September would be respected if import formalities are completed before midnight on 10 December, the statement said.
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The moves follow the adoption of a unanimous UN Security Council agreement on sanctions after the isolated North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on 3 September. That resolution imposed a ban on condensates and natural gas liquids, a cap of 2 million barrels a year on refined petroleum products and a cap on crude oil exports to North Korea at current levels.

Russia urged calm on Friday after US President Donald Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “madman”. Kim had called Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard” a day earlier after Trump said Washington would “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the US or its allies.

Trump announced new US sanctions on Thursday that he said allows the targeting of companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea. US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin also said banks doing business in North Korea would not be allowed to operate in the US.

China has also urged calm, with foreign minister Wang Yi telling his Japanese counterpart that Tokyo should not abandon dialogue over North Korea.

North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, several of them flying over Japan, as it accelerates a weapons programme aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.

The US and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty. The North accuses the US, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.
 
2. Australia announces new space agency to develop domestic space industry.
Australia announces new space agency to develop domestic space industry
Australia will establish a national space agency as part of long-term plan to develop the country’s domestic space industry, a government minister said on Monday. Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham made the announcement at the International Astronautical Congress, a five-day event being held in the Australian city of Adelaide.

“This agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement with so many of you across the world’s space industries,” Birmingham said. He did not say where the agency would be located.

The global space industry sector has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.52 percent from 1998 to 2015, the government said last month. “Globally, revenue from space-related activities in 2015 was about US$323 billion,” it said. The five-day Congress is expected to draw more than 4,000 space professionals, including astronauts, engineers, scientists and innovators, from all over the world, according to the congress website.
 
3. Pakistan,Russia begin joint military drills DRUZBA 2017.
Pakistan,Russia begin joint military drills DRUZBA 2017
A two-week long joint exercise named ‘DRUZBA (Friendship) 2017’ between the special forces of Pakistan and Russian armies kicked off in Minralney Vody, Russia on Monday, according to an official handout issued by the Pakistan Army.

The opening ceremony was attended by senior military officials of special forces of both the countries, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). It said the joint exercise would focus on counter terrorism operations, hostage and rescue, cordon and search operations.

“The joint exercise will enhance and further strengthen military ties between both the countries and share Pakistan Army’s experience in war against terrorism,” the statement added.

The exercise is taking place at a time when Pakistan is recalibrating its foreign policy options in the wake of last month’s new strategy announced by President Donald Trump for Afghanistan and South Asia.

How Russia came to Pakistan’s help

Pakistan now considers Russia as key regional player in the new scheme of things in order to offset the possible negative fallout of Trump’s new road map.

Both Pakistan and Russia appear to be on the same page on Afghanistan as they have been calling for political solution to the long running conflict.

There have been greater exchanges between the two former cold-war rivals in recent years. Russian and Pakistani foreign ministers recently met on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in New York.
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Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is also expected to travel to Russia in the first week of October, a development which further underlines the growing ties between the two countries.

China, Russia to ‘veto any US move at UN to slap sanctions on Pakistan’

Relations between Pakistan and Russia have seen unprecedented growth in last few years after the two sides realised that the current geo-strategic situation required greater interaction between the two countries. In October last year, the two countries held their first-ever joint military exercise in Pakistan.

The joint military drill is seen as another step in growing military-to-military cooperation, indicating a steady growth in bilateral relationship between the two countries, whose ties had been marred by Cold War rivalry for decades.
 
4. 7th ASEM Economic Minister’s Meeting Held in South Korea.
7th ASEM Economic Minister’s Meeting Held in South Korea
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed left Dhaka for Seoul, South Korea to attend the 7th ASEM (Asia and Europe Meeting) Economic Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM EMM) early yesterday.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed left here for South Korea last night to attend the seventh ASEM Economic Ministers` Meeting (EMM) to be held in Seoul on September 21-22.

Around 400 representitives ? including trade and economic ministers of Asian and European countries ? will gather in Seoul in September to discuss measures for the region`s economic growth.

The seventh ASEM Economic Ministers` Meeting (ASEM EMM) will be held from September 21 to 22.
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ASEM, or the Asia-Europe Meeting, has been discussing measures to strengthen ties between Asian and European countries since its launch in 1994. ASEM is comprised of 22 Asian and 31 European countries, including ASEAN and the European Union, and accounts for 59 per cent of the world`s population, 65 per cent of global trade and 57 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP).

On top of the ASEM summit, which is held every two years, there are ministerial meetings related to foreign affairs, finance, culture, and trade and economy.

ASEM EMM was especially dedicated to facilitating and expanding regional trade and investment and strengthening economic cooperation, but it has been suspended since 2005, when the sixth gathering was held in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.
 
5. World Tourism Day is observed on September 27.
World Tourism Day is observed on September 27
About World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day is commemorated each year on 27 September. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to highlight the contribution the tourism industry can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, invites all interested parties to take part on 27 September each year in the special celebrations taking place in their respective country or holiday destination.

World Tourism Day theme and official celebrations

World Tourism Day is celebrated with appropriate events on themes selected by the UNWTO General Assembly, on the recommendation of the UNWTO Executive Council.

The UNWTO Secretary-General issues a message each year to mark the occasion and chairs the official celebrations.

Previous World Tourism Day Celebrations

Establishment of World Tourism Day
It was at its third session (Torremolinos, Spain, September 1979), that the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute World Tourism Day, commencing in the year 1980. This date was chosen to coincide with an important milestone in world tourism: the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on 27 September 1970.
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The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere.

Declaration of 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

On 22 December 2015, during its 70th session, the United Nations General Assembly designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development through its resolution A/RES/70/193, in which it “encourages all States, the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the International Year to promote actions at all levels, including through international cooperation, and to support sustainable tourism as a means of promoting and accelerating sustainable development, especially poverty eradication.”

 6. World Rabies Day is observed on 28th September.

World Rabies Day is observed on 28th September
Many people around the world observe World Rabies Day (WRD), which raises awareness about the impact of rabies and how the disease can be prevented. It is held on September 28 each year. is an annual event on April 7 to draw attention to particular priorities in global health.

What Do People Do?

Many communities and organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health, and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), actively promote various activities and events that center on World Rabies Day.

Many government agencies and disease control centers that support World Rabies Day produce media kits, including posters, pamphlets, and press releases, to increase awareness about rabies and preventing the disease. Symposiums are also held on or around this time of the year to remember researchers who were pioneers in finding a rabies vaccination. Some associations and clinics offer free pet vaccinations and some organizations host competitions, such as t-shirt design contests to promote the event’s message.

Public Life

World Rabies Day is a global observance but it is not a public holiday.

Background
Rabies is widely distributed across the globe. More than 55,000 people die of rabies each year. About 95 percent of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa, according to WHO. Most human deaths follow a bite from an infected dog. About 30 to 60 percent of dog bite victims are children under the age of 15. There are safe and effective vaccines available for people who have been bitten by an animal that might have the disease, but usage in developing countries is low due to the high cost.
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World Rabies Day, which is founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and GARC, aims to unite relevant partners to address rabies prevention and control. With the initial goal of engaging 55,000 people to take action, one for each person who dies each year from rabies, the inaugural campaign saw nearly 400,000 people from at least 74 countries participating on September 8, 2007. The event was held again in 2008, but on September 28 instead of September 8, and September 28 has been used as the date to promote the event from that year onwards.

More than 393,000 people participated and rabies education messages reached more than 50 million people on World Rabies Day in 2008. The result of this event was that there were enough funds to start grass-roots education and control projects in five countries. Various partners, including WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, support World Rabies Day, which highlights the impact of human and animal rabies and promotes how to prevent and stop the disease by combating it in animals.

Symbols

The World Rabies Day logo features a globe in blue and green, and the green shapes in the globe are that of a bat (left), human (center), and dog or canine figure (right).  The words “World Rabies Day” and the event’s date (month, day and year), typed in black, circle the outer part of the globe. These elements are kept within a black ring, completing the logo.
 
7. Two US Lawmakers Introduce Legislation in House of Rep. to Support India’s Permanent Membership to UNSC.
Two US Lawmakers Introduce Legislation in House of Rep. to Support India’s Permanent Membership to UNSC
In the United States, two influential Democratic lawmakers have introduced a legislation in the House of Representative to support India’s permanent membership to the UN Security Council. 

Introduced by Congressman Ami Bera and Congressman Frank Pallone, the resolution would put the House officially on record in support of India’s bid. 

Ami Bera, Vice Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and longest serving Indian-American in Congress, said securing a permanent spot for India on the UN Security Council would strengthen democracy around the world. 

He said, India plays a critical role as a strategic partner for the United States and is a pillar of stability in South Asia. 

Frank Pallone, founder of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said it is in the interests of the US and the world to have a UN Security Council whose members combine military strength with respect for democracy and pluralism, and an appreciation of the dangers posed by rouge states and terrorist groups. He said India belongs on the UN Security Council and it is imperative that Congress makes this clear to the US administration and the world.
 
8. World Maritime Day is observed on 28 September.
World Maritime Day is observed on 28 September
The World Maritime Day is being formally celebrated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on 28 September 2017. The IMO, for those who may not be aware, is the principal organ of the United Nations dealing with and coordinating all maritime related issues ranging from safety, security and environmental concerns to training standards of seafarers and even technical cooperation aspects. It is this organisation which, mindful of the massive contribution made by the international maritime industry in bolstering the global economy, instituted the World Maritime Day that has since become a regular annual feature in the calendar of all seafaring nations. The first time this day was celebrated was on 17 March 1978 to mark the 30th anniversary of the convention which created the IMOs parent organisation, the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. The member states have since swelled from 21 to 172 at present. While commemorating the day, the IMO keeps highlighting a different aspect of its work each year. This day also serves as a reminder to all and sundry that a vibrant and sustainable blue economy is a boon to all mankind.

While the IMO picks a specific date during the last week of every September for its own celebration, it allows each individual government the flexibility to select its own date within the same week. The IMO also chooses an appropriate theme each year to lay a suitable emphasis on. Taking a cue from last year’s theme about shipping being indispensable to the world, the current theme, much more ambitious, is all about ‘Connecting Ships, Ports and People’. It is arguably for the first time that maritime nations are being thematically nudged into viewing the vital inter-connectivity between the three principal components of the maritime sphere.

One cannot help notice that the broader term ‘people’ has been used in lieu of the ubiquitous ‘seafarer’ as had earlier been the norm. The word ‘people’ goes way beyond seafarer to encompass all those involved in the maritime industry in any way. As a matter of fact, all those participating in any manner in this robust cyclic activity have a valid claim for inclusion.

This is not to say that the role of seafarers in the trade thriving at sea stands diminished. The contribution of seafarers is unique in its own way. They not only spend long and lonely hours at sea but relentlessly battle despondency, human scourges and the elements, all at the same time in a bid to keep the wheels of world trade rolling along. The IMO had in fact singled out the seafarers for a signal honour by dedicating the year 2010 as the year of the seafarer, which also constituted the theme of that year’s World Maritime Day. A similar theme about the role of the seafarer in the globalisation process had also resounded some nine years earlier. The unique contribution made by seafarers to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole has also been recognised by the maritime fraternity of nations by designating 25 June as the day of the seafarer.

This designation incidentally came about on the side-lines of a conference at Manila organised to deliberate major revisions to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW),? and the date chosen for bestowing the honour was none other than the day in which the conference was being conducted. The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level. Previously the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping of officers and ratings were established by individual governments, usually without reference to practices in other countries. As a result, standards and procedures varied widely, even though shipping is extremely international by nature. The convention prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.

The welfare element has not been ignored either. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has worked painstakingly in concert with the IMO and all other stakeholders to patiently craft out a consolidated Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) which specifically seeks to improve the working conditions under which seafarers and shore staff works. This Convention, adopted in 2006, sets minimum standards which should not be breached. The ILO continues to update over 65 other maritime labour instruments while introducing a system of certification and inspection to enforce them. This has been hailed as the ‘fourth pillar’ of the international maritime regulatory regime, complementing the ones mentioned earlier, namely SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW.
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This year’s spotlight on the connectivity between the three principal components of the maritime economy is apt, stemming as it does from previous isolated themes. While it tends to focus on one salient aspect theme-wise, the World Maritime Day furnishes for countries like Pakistan a time for broader introspection. Though the day is only being celebrated in the country since many years, albeit in a subdued manner, the absence of policy makers in the festivities provides a vivid pointer to our apathy to all things maritime. At a time when breath-taking changes are sweeping the maritime domain, Pakistan sadly stands on the side-lines, blissfully oblivious of its legal and social obligations. Despite being a signatory to major international maritime conventions, the country’s record in implementing the thrust of these directives through domestic legislation is however dismal. The only significant piece of domestic legislation cobbled together by Pakistan since the Maritime Zones and Territorial Waters Act of 1976 has been the ‘Carriage of Goods by Sea Act’ of 2010 which only came about because of pressure from exporters who felt that the country’s trade would suffer irretrievably if caught in a time warp. This legislation essentially replaced the British-era Act of 1925 with the British Act of 1992 of the same name. The country has also apparently abdicated its international obligations as a Flag State and Port State Control Authority to lower level functionaries to deal with as they deem fit. A lack of interest and perhaps a lack of understanding can possibly explain why two of the country’s most celebrated maritime projects of recent times, namely Gwadar Port and the Karachi Deep Water Container Terminal, are still floundering when seen in combination with the nearby ports of Sohar, Ras Fakhan and Fujairah, which are all seen to flourish in a comparable time frame.

The World Maritime Day thus deserves to be taken seriously in Pakistan. On this day, we may do well to take stock of our failings and limitations in the maritime domain, prior applying ourselves during the rest of the year in faithfully addressing these concerns. It is only after we carry out the much-needed restructuring and capacity-building of an industry which taken as a whole represents the largest slice of the global economy that we can think of taking our rightful place in the comity of responsible maritime nations capable of fulfilling our international obligations and harnessing our maritime potential in a sustainable manner.

 

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