Cabinet approves BRICS MoU for Regional Aviation Partnership Cooperation

The union cabinet approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) amongst BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations for a Regional Aviation Partnership Cooperation.

According to an official statement, the MoU signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and other BRICS member states and has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges amongst them.

Among the areas of cooperation, the following areas have been identified:

  • Public Policies and best practices in regional services.
  • Regional Airports.
  • Airport infrastructure management and air navigation services.
  • Technical cooperation between regulatory agencies.
  • Environment Sustainability; including deliberation of global initiatives.
  • Qualification and Training.
  • Other fields as mutually determined.

 Impact:

The MoU signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and the other BRICS Member States and has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges amongst the BRICS Nations.

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The acronym “BRICs” was initially formulated in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill, of Goldman Sachs, in a report on growth prospects for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China – which together represented a significant share of the world’s production and population.

Why does the world need the BRICS?

Jim O’Neill’s point has been that the world is changing. The leading role of the Group of Seven (G7) and, more broadly, of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is no longer undisputed. Most multi-lateral institutions were designed in the era when the West dominated the world. The US and Europe are over-represented in the IMF and the World Bank. Together with Japan, they control most regional development banks as well.

This imbalance has been especially clear during the recent global financial crisis when the need for participation by non-G7 countries became evident. This resulted in reviving the Group of 20 (G20) and proposals to redistribute voting rights in international financial institutions. But change has been slow and Western countries continue to control the international financial institutions.

This is why BRICS summits are so important. These meetings provide a unique forum where non-OECD leaders can discuss global challenges and coordinate their actions within and outside global institutions. The small size of the club and the absence of OECD partners helps in shaping the discussions at the summit.

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UN Security Council adopts resolution to protect children in armed conflict

The Security Council adopted a resolution aimed at a framework for mainstreaming protection, rights, well-being, and empowerment of children throughout the conflict cycle.

Resolution 2427, which won unanimous approval of the 15 members of the council, strongly condemns the recruitment and use of children by parties to the armed conflict as well as their re-recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and abductions.

The resolution also condemns attacks against schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict and all other violations of international law committed against children in situations of armed conflict.

It demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children.

The resolution also emphasizes the responsibility of all states to put an end to impunity and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children.

The resolution reiterates the Security Council’s readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children.

It calls on member states and the United Nations to mainstream child protection into all relevant activities in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations with the aim of sustaining peace and preventing conflict.

The resolution stresses the importance of long-term and sustainable funding for mental health and psychosocial programming in humanitarian contexts and ensuring all affected children receive timely and sufficient support, and encouraging donors to integrate mental health and psychosocial services in all humanitarian responses.

Over 21,000 cases of grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict have been verified by the United Nations for 2017, a drastic increase from the previous year with 15,500 violations, according to an annual report of the UN secretary-general on children and armed conflict that was released last week.

Among the violations in 2017, some 15,000 were perpetrated by non-state armed groups and about 6,000 were committed by government forces, according to the report.

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Fifth Committee Approves $6.69 Billion for 13 Peacekeeping Operations in 2018/19

The UN member states approved a $6.69 billion dollar budget for 13 peacekeeping operations for the year 2018-19, besides agreeing to major management reforms, including the creation of two new departments focused on political and peacebuilding affairs.

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the General Assembly recommended authorization of $6.69 billion to finance 13 peacekeeping missions from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

It is the second year in a row in which the committee has made significant cuts to the overall peacekeeping budget.

The missions include United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Hait (MINUJUSTH), Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic(MINUSCA), Stabilisation Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The Committee also approved significant management reforms – including the creation of two new departments focused on political and peacebuilding affairs and four stand-alone divisions for Africa – aimed at streamlining the Organisation’s operations.

Approving a draft resolution titled ‘Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019’, the Committee asked the assembly to endorse the establishment of the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Department of Peace Operations.

Further, the assembly would create four stand-alone divisions for Africa, effective from January 1, 2019. Affirming “Middle East Division” as the name of the related new regional division, the lead responsibility for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) would be placed in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

The US Mission to the UN said the UN Member States adopted a responsible peacekeeping budget that reflects hundreds of millions of dollars in savings from the previous year and ensures peacekeeping missions are adequately funded to fulfill their mandates.

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SAARC TO LAUNCH SOCIAL ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

SAARC Development Fund will soon be launching a social enterprise development programme to fund 80 entities annually across eight-member states, including India. SDF was established by the heads of the eight SAARC member states in April 2010 and its governing council comprises finance ministers of these eight countries. SDF is in the process of launching the SEDP as part of its social window. The programme will be implemented in all the SAARC member states with the objective of identifying and building social enterprises by using a mix of grants and concessional returnable capital. The programme intends to fund around 80 enterprises across the 8 SAARC member states annually. SDF has already committed $73.74 million for social window projects.

The SEDP is being launched as part of its SAARC Development Fund’s social window.

The programme will be implemented in all the SAARC member states with the objective of identifying and building social enterprises by using a mix of grants and concessional returnable capital.

The programme intends to fund around 80 enterprises across the 8 SAARC member states annually.

About SAARC Development Fund:

SDF which was established by the heads of the eight SAARC Member States in April 2010. SDF have three Windows. They are Social, Economic and Infrastructure Windows.

Its governing council comprises finance ministers of the SAARC countries.

The aim of the fund is to:

Promote the welfare of the people of SAARC region.

Improve their quality of life.

Accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region.

A primary reason for establishing SDF was that the existing South Asian Development Fund (SADF) was found to be inadequate i.e. in terms of required quantum of funds and its limited scope of work. The Thirteenth SAARC Summit decided to reconstitute the SADF into SDF to serve as the “umbrella financial mechanism” for all SAARC projects and programmes.

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