Tag: UN

Russia opposes the United States over the Syria’s chemical weapons sanctions
Middle East & Africa

Russia opposes the United States over the Syria’s chemical weapons sanctions

Syria’s chemical weapons: The Syrian authority, supported by close ally Russia, opposed the United States and other countries on Tuesday over the suspension of the Syrian democratic rights to vote within the global chemical weapons watchdog for failing to present details of three chemical strikes in 2017 that the prosecutors indicted on the Bashar Assad regime.

The meeting in the U.N. Security Council implied a standoff when the 193 member state of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands was held in April to think about a French-drafted measure, for 46 nations, to suspend Syria’s privileges and rights. 

The French proposal was a reaction to the Syrian authority’s failure to meet the 90 days deadline in July by the OPCW’s council for Damascus to pronounce the nerve specialist sarin and chlorine, which the OPCW watchdog stated were dismissed by Syrian authority in late March 2017. 

The Western power’s effort shows a lot more extensive exertion in order to obtain responsibility for Syrian chemical assaults and feature claims that the Assad rule is subtly proceeding with its chemical weapons plan. 

In September 2013, Syria entered the Chemical Weapons Convention, pushed by Russia after a lethal chemical weapons assault that the US charged on Damascus. 

However, by Aug 2014, the Assad regime had announced that its chemical weapons were completely destructed. Yet, Syria’s underlying statement of its chemical weapon-making sites has continued to be in conflict. 

It was profoundly upsetting that the OPCW still couldn’t decide if the underlying announcement was precise due to irregularities. The issues are not trivial as some would depict, referring to Russia, Ireland’s UN envoy Geraldine Byrne Nason stated.

Norwegian envoy Mona Juul, also showed concern over Syria’s failure to describe the unnamed chemical that is not used as a weapon. It was identified at the Barzah offices of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. 

Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s UN envoy, blamed the OPCW team of experts for being “corrupt” and asserted they utilized falsely accused Syria. 

English envoy Barbara Woodward stated that the OPCW team had concluded Syria utilized chemical weapons in six events. “These are not speculative issues for a great many citizens in Syria who have endured the appalling consequences for the body of nerve and chlorine agents,” she added. 

The US deputy envoy Richard Mills told that neither the Security Council nor the world is tricked by Russia’s hurried mission to undermine the OPCW. 

He urged board members to approach all nations to help the French draft measures against Syria in April pointed toward advancing answerability for the Assad regime’s activities.

UN watchdog notifies Iran’s intentions of enriching Uranium to 20% purity
Middle East & Africa

UN watchdog notifies Iran’s intentions of enriching Uranium to 20% purity

Enriching Uranium: United Nations nuclear watchdog has informed of Iran’s admission of its intentions to enrich uranium to 20% purity. The agency shared that this level was achieved by Tehran before the 2015 accord at Fordow nuclear site buried inside a mountain. 

The move is one of the many revelations by Iran recently to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This level, though a direct violation of the nuclear deal, is still 90% short of requirement of a nuclear weapon. Tehran had started violating the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in 2019 as direct retaliation to Washington’s exit from the deal under Trump’s presidency. This was along with imposition of sanctions that angered Iran leading to breach the agreement. 

IAEA said in a statement, “Iran has informed the agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium up to 20% at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant.”

Iran, however, hasn’t informed of the time when the said enrichment activity would take place, but only the location. The Fordow site was built inside mountain to ensure it is protected from aerial bombardment. As per the 2015 deal, uranium enrichment isn’t allowed at this site. But in violation of the deal, Tehran is already carrying out enrichment activity at Fordow using first generation IR-1 centrifuges. 

Iran has already breached the deal’s allowed uranium purity limit of 3.67%, and has gone up to 4.5% till now. This is well short of the 20% that it had achieved before the 2015 nuclear deal and the 90% which is required for nuclear weapon. 

Enriched uranium is generated by feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges in order to separate U-235, the most suitable isotope for nuclear fission. Low enriched uranium has 3-5% concentration of U-235 and can be used to produce fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. High enriched uranium has 20% or more concentration and is typically used in research reactors. 90% or more concentration is required for weapons-grade uranium.

May 2018 saw US exit the JCPOA with President Donald Trump calling the agreement as “decaying and rotten”. But President-elect Joe Biden has plans of bringing US back into the agreement that was formed under former President Barack Obama. Mr. Biden has also said that sanctions would be lifted if Tehran pledges to “return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal.” 

Climate change: Protecting world’s oceans need of the hour

Climate change: Protecting world’s oceans need of the hour

Climate change: Developing a robust mechanism for safeguarding global oceans has never been more necessary

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for better managing the fading relationship between humans and the natural world that has resulted in accelerating loss of ocean habitat due to climate change. In this regard, the need for developing new and more effective marine protected areas (MPAs) has grown exponentially.

It is important to note that two-thirds of the international waters fall outside jurisdictions of countries across the world. These water bodies provide shelter to millions of marine species and wide ranging natural resources. However, they are facing severe damage due to climate change and human activities.

A 2019 global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services stated that 66 per cent of the world’s oceans are facing increasing challenges due to increasing human activities such as fishing and commercial trading. Earlier this year, scientists reported that almost half of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals have died off since 1995. In September, it was reported that two of Antarctica’s largest glaciers were close to collapsing. Similar incidents are being recorded from various parts of the world as rapidly-developing impacts of an impending climate catastrophe. 

The United Nations plays a crucial role in ocean governance and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has emerged as a key international agreement that grants coastal and island states authority over massive oceans termed as exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

While UNCLOS has been in place to regulate human activities in the high seas, this international legal agreement appears to be failing to protect the marine ecosystems.

Taking note of the deteriorating conditions of the world’s oceans, leaders from 14 countries recently pledged to sustainably manage the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025. Led by The Ocean Panel, these countries  have also vowed to designate 30 percent of the seas as marine protected areas in the next 10 years, in line with the United Nations campaign – 30 by 30. 

Currently, MPAs are covering only 7.66 per cent of the water bodies across the world, noting that most of these areas come under the jurisdiction of a country such that they are effective protected. 

In the absence of a full-fledged UN treaty on marine life, these 14 countries are working on a series of commitments to establish the world’s biggest initiative on ocean sustainability.

Combined, these 14 countries including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico among others represent 40 percent of the world’s coastlines, 30 percent of the offshore exclusive economic zones (EEZs), 20 percent of world’s shipping fleet, and 20 percent of the world’s fisheries. Meanwhile, these nations have invited other world governments as well to join the initiative to protect the ocean biodiversity.

Research have indicated that if oceans were managed sustainably, there could be six times more food fished from these waters. It could also provide favourable social, economic, health and environmental benefits, in addition to creating 12 million new jobs. 

A new ocean treaty

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly decided to convene negotiations towards designing a new comprehensive international treaty to conserve and sustainably use the marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction named as the high seas. The treaty is aimed at establishing a global legal mechanism to develop MPAs in international waters. 

While three negotiation sessions have taken place in the past three years, the fourth session – scheduled for March 2020 – had to be postponed due to restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic. With only one round of negotiation left for the UN treaty to take shape, it is highly anticipated to see how these new layer to the ocean governance framework will bring change.

UN aid to Ethiopia delayed amid continuing Tigray crisis, fear of looming humanitarian catastrophe
Middle East & Africa

UN aid to Ethiopia delayed amid continuing Tigray crisis, fear of looming humanitarian catastrophe

UN aid to Ethiopia: With almost a month into the conflict involving the northern part of Tigray region controlled by the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and the Addis Ababa based government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the fighting is continuing in the region. The United Nations has said that due to continuing conflicts in many parts of Tigray region of Ethiopia, the humanitarian aid is facing roadblocks to reach the affected and those in need. 

The UN has estimated that a million of people in the country are facing shortage of food and medicines. Though Ethiopian government had assured of unhindered access to humanitarian aid and workers in the conflict region under government control, UN says that there was still no access to the region as on Friday. 

Ethiopian military had entered Tigray capital city of Mekelle last weekend and had said that TPLF rebels are down under control and many key towns have been seized, citing the long going conflict on verge of ending. Rejecting the claims by government, TPLF said that the fighting is continuing. 

The conflict has led to hundreds and thousands of people from Tigray region dead. Hundreds have been displaced and forced to fled their homes to escape the bloody war. A large number of people have also fled to neighbouring Sudan. This has also raised concerns among UN experts fearing a looming humanitarian crisis in Sudan as well which is already experiencing a high influx of refugees from other African nations. 

TPLF leaders have said that “fighting is still going on in places near the city”. However, Zadig Abraha, Ethiopian minister in charge of democratization has rejected the claims saying “there is no war”.

TPLF forces have retreated from Mekelle to spare the city of any more damages through massive bombardments by the government, but fighting is still continuing in outskirts of the city. Getachew Reda, a TPLF Executive Committee member said that situation in Mekelle is “very tense”. He said, “People have no appetite whatsoever to countenance the invading forces.” 

Mr. Reda added, “My forces are fighting for the self-determination rights of their people. They are fighting gallantly and heroically and there is no reason why they should surrender. While we would not submit to any arm-twisting, we remain beholden to the need for peace.” 

On Wednesday, the UN said that it had reached an agreement with government to deliver aids to the Tigray region. But till Friday security assessments were still being conducted leading to a timeline of next week to make the aid available to people. 

Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian co-ordination office said, “We have been granted this access, this agreement with the federal government. But we also have to have the same kind of agreement with all parties to the conflict to make sure we actually have unconditional free access to Tigray.” 

G-20 nations pledge a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccine in the world
Asia Pacific Focus

G-20 nations pledge a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccine in the world

G-20 nations pledge: On Sunday, In a G20 virtual meeting, world leaders pledged to provide a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccine around the world, however, offered no particular new funding to meet that objective.

“We have a responsibility to rise to the challenge together during this meeting,” King Salman announced as he inaugurated the meeting. 

The summit is held online for the first time due to the pandemic. The members are talking about the effect of the Covid on the world economy and exploring ideas to invigorate financial recuperation and development. 

The Summit was facilitated by Saudi Arabia. His Highness King Salman’s statement was made as worldwide Covid cases reached 58 million, and overall deaths by the virus reached 1.4 million, as indicated by Johns Hopkins University. 

The G-20 members are worried that the pandemic will extend the gap between the wealthy and the poor. To battle that, the European Union asked for commitments adding up to $4.5 billion to Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a worldwide effort to accelerate the development and dissemination of vaccines, treatment, and tests as indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

King Salman called on member nations to reassure the global community of reasonable and impartial admittance to the vaccine. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised more than 500 million euros (almost USD 593 million). Russia’s President Vladimir Putin proposed Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, and China offered to coordinate on the vaccine. 

U.S. President Donald Trump, who dodged a few meetings on Saturday to play golf, paid little consideration to other pioneers’ speech and alleged that the Paris climate deal was planned not to spare the planet but rather to destroy the US economy. 

The White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany expressed that Trump discussed the need to cooperate to reestablish financial development, yet she didn’t refer to a U.S. vow to help the worldwide distribution of the vaccine.

 As Trump left the virtual conference, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, said in a Treasury Department stated that the 7-month-old Debt Service Suspension Initiative “is a fundamental accomplishment of the G-20 because of the pandemic.” 

The initiative intends to enable the world’s least fortunate nations to tussle with the results of the pandemic until mid-2021. 

Treasury’s statement added that the G-20’s Common Framework would enable the poorest nations to address pandemic-induced debt issues “by organizing sovereign debt resolution if necessary.” 

Russian President Putin also focused on the aftermaths of the virus on the world economy, causing a crisis that caused famine in many parts of the world, as well as poverty and job cuts, which are the greatest dangers to humankind today.” 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that “Decisions made in the summit will be decisive for limiting the negative impacts of coronavirus for the world and also respond to the world’s expectations.” 

G-20 member nations incorporate Argentina, Germany, India, Australia, Canada, China, Brazil, Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States, Turkey, and the European Union. 

The EU and the UN stated that there is a £4.5bn financing setback this year that the G20 countries should help to reach. Nations have so far put $10bn in the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and in the Covax Facility. 

The majority of the meeting zeroed in on guaranteeing that when the coronavirus vaccines will launch in the market, it will be accessible at reasonable costs in poor nations.

‘Spare Tigray civilians’: Ethiopia urged as PM gives rebels 72 hours to surrender
Middle East & Africa

‘Spare Tigray civilians’: Ethiopia urged as PM gives rebels 72 hours to surrender

Spare Tigray civilians: Ethiopia is facing humanitarian crisis to extremity, attracting international cries of sparing civilians in the Tigray region. Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed has given the Tigrayan rebel forces 72 hours to surrender as military advances on the capital, Mekelle. The rebels of region, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which control the mountainous region have pledged to keep fighting. 

The United Nations has warned of extreme humanitarian crisis in Tigray as hundreds and thousands of people have already succumbed to the conflict so far with thousands displaced. Over 36,000 people have reportedly fled to nearby Sudan and others are moving withing Tigray to escape from the war-torn region. Warning issued by Ethiopian government regarding attack on Mekelle may prompt further displacement of over half million inhabitants of the capital. 

On Sunday night, PM Abiy Ahmed posted on Twitter, “We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72hours, recognizing that you are at the point of no return.” 

Country’s military has warned civilians to separate themselves from the rebels who are believed to be hiding withing the civilian areas or no mercy will be offered in the assault. Military has said that tanks are encircling Mekelle and artillery too might be used on the highland capital city situated in northern Tigray region, that lies on a plateau at altitude of over 2,500 metres. 

Col. Dejene Tsegaye said that till now military has avoided targets that might risk civilians but noted that Mekelle might be a different case. He said, “The next phases are the decisive part of the operation, which is to encircle Mekelle using tanks, finishing the battle on mountainous areas and advancing to the fields.” 

Abiy Ahmed hinted last week of future attacks as “final push” to end the conflict withing few days. But assessment by UN says otherwise. UN suggests that Ethiopian military forces are facing resistance than is being communicated officially. Though troops were deployed days before, they are still struggling to secure territory. This, as per UN experts, raises chances of a lengthy and bloody guerilla war. 

The war is result of consummation of months of turmoil and conflicts between TPLF and ruling party in Addis Ababa. TPLF held the polling even after national elections were cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic. This further aggravated the tensions. Ahmed, last year’s winner of Nobel Peace Prize and Ethiopia’s youngest leader, commenced his aggressive operation after alleging TPLF to have attacked a military camp. 


African Union (AU), who were appointed to mediate the conflict have not been allowed to visit the war-hit region by Ethiopian government. The envoy was appointed by AU President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, including in envoy former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The former presidents of envoy will only meet Abiy Ahmed and not visit the region, said senior advisor to the Ethiopian PM. 

Explaining the reason of not allowing the envoy to visit the war-torn region, the government official said, “Tigray is currently under military operation. We believe that the military operation will come to an end soon. If this disgruntled TPLF wants to bring an end to the current conflict all they need to do is peacefully surrender and for that nobody needs to go to Tigray or Mekelle to make that clear to them.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged to spare Ethiopian civilians who are inhabiting the Tigray capital city of Mekelle. The rising humanitarian crisis is leading to massive influx of refuges from Ethiopia to Sudan. UN fear that this will force Sudan to edge of the cliff as it is already supporting millions of displaced from other African nations.   

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