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1. Global Compact For Migration

1.1. Brief background

  • In 2016, UN General Assembly adopted New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants which calls upon Member States to: o protect the safety, dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status;

  • o support countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants;

  • o integrate migrants – addressing their needs and capacities as well as those of receiving communities – in humanitarian and development assistance frameworks and planning;

  • o combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards all migrants;

  • o develop, through a state-led process, non-binding principles and voluntary guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; and

  • o strengthen global governance of migration, including by bringing International Organization for Migration into the UN family and through the development of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

  • As a result, the members are expected to formally adopt Global Compact for Migration in Morocco in December.

  • The New York Declaration also set in motion a separate negotiation process for the Global Compact on Refugees which aims to o Ease the pressures on host countries

  • o Enhance refugee self-reliance

  • o Expand access to third-country solutions

  • o Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

1.2.  About Global Compact for Migration

Principles of Global Compact for Migration

  • People-centred approach: promotes the well-being of migrants and the members of communities in countries of origin, transit and destination.

  • National sovereignty: safeguards the sovereign right of States to determine their own migration policy.

  • Rule of law and due process.

  • Sustainable development: aims to leverage the potential of migration for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Human rights: upholds the principles of non-regression and non-discrimination.

  • Gender-responsiveness.

  • Child-sensitive.

  • Whole-of-government approach: ensure policy coherence across all sectors and levels of government.

  • Whole-of-society approach: promotes multi-stakeholder partnerships.

  • It is framed in consistent with target 10.7 of the SDG in which Member States committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration.

  • This Global Compact sets out a common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration, making it work for all. o Common understanding that current and potential migrants must have full information about the rights and awareness of the risks of irregular migration

  • Shared responsibility because no country can address the challenges and opportunities of migration on its own

  • Unity of purpose as success of compact rests on mutual trust, determination and solidarity of States to fulfill the objectives

  • The major objectives of the compact include:

  • Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin.

  • Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration and reducing vulnerability in migration.

  • Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work.

  • Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner.

  • Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives.

  • Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion.

  • Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits.

1.3. Importance of the agreement 

  • It is not legally binding. It does not dictate nor impose and it fully respects the sovereignty of States.

  • It demonstrates the potential of multilateralism - our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration — in complicated and contentious issues

  • It acknowledges climate change as a cause of migration and aims to develop approaches to address this challenge.

  • It will protect members of a vulnerable population who are often demonized and attacked while risking their lives during migration.

1.4. Challenges

  • Coordination: There is a possibility that turf wars emerge between UN agencies, and the geopolitics of the North-South divide are transposed to migration policy.

  • Operationalisation of GCM’s objectives: There is lack of timelines or roadmap leading to variable implementation in different nations. Also, the operationalization of each objective will include important behind-the-scenes disputes about the best kinds of migration policies.

  • Monitoring implementation: As of now, the monitoring mechanisms are lumped primarily in the International Migration Review Forum, which only meets every four years, thus, may have very little impact on state policies.

  • Funding: The concept note proposes a start-up fund to provide seed-funding for projects, but little details on scale and operations.

  • It being a voluntary non-binding agreement has raised question on its effectiveness.

Conclusion

  • The Global Compact for Migration is an opportunity to help migrants around the world, but it is not a self-executing agreement. The Compact needs to develop more thoroughly on how the commitments will be implemented and how actors will be held accountable. The GCM lays out five operational components—regional and state actions, research and information centers, a capacity building mechanism, the UN network on migration, and review forums—but implementation requires further actions by the key stakeholders, especially member states, UN agencies and civil society.

2. 10TH BRICS SUMMIT

2.1. About BRICS

  • BRICs is the acronym coined by British Economist Jim O’Neill in 2001. Officially formed in 2006, it originally included four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Its first summit took place at Russia in 2009. Later in 2010, South Africa became the 5th member of the grouping.

2.2. About BRICS Part NIR

  • It aims at deepening BRICS cooperation in digitalization, industrialization, innovation, inclusiveness and investment to maximize the opportunities and address the challenges arising from the 4th Industrial Revolution.

  • It would enhance comparative advantages, boost economic growth, promote economic transformation of BRICS countries, strengthen sustainable industrial production capacity, create networks of science parks and technology business incubators, and support small and medium-sized enterprises in technology intensive areas.

  • Recently, the 10th BRICS Summit took place from 25th to 27th July, at Johannesburg in South Africa. The Theme of the summit was ‘BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution.’

2.3. About the Johannesburg Declaration:

  • It reaffirms the principles of democracy, inclusiveness and agrees to fight unilateralism and protectionism. Some of the important takeaways of Johannesburg Declaration includes:

  • Multilateral Trading System: It stresses the centrality of rules based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading based on WTO.

  • Commitment to United Nations: It commits support for multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations in international affairs and uphold fair, just and equitable international order, respect for international law, promoting democracy and the rule of law.

  • Importance of 4th Industrial Revolution: It recognizes the importance and role of culture as one of the drivers of the 4th Industrial Revolution and acknowledges the economic opportunities that it presents. It recommends the establishment of BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR).

  • On counter-terrorism: It calls upon the international community to establish a genuinely broad international counter-terrorism coalition and support the UN's central coordinating role in this regard. It calls for expeditious finalisation and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) by the United Nations General Assembly.

  • Along with commitment towards strengthening cooperation in international peace and security there were concerns against arms race in outer space and calls for strict compliance with the existing legal regime providing for the peaceful use of outer space.

  • Brazil to get a New Development Bank (NDB) regional office: The Declaration mentioned the creation of the Project Preparation Fund and establishment of the NDB Regional Office in São Paulo, Brazil, which, alongside the Africa Regional Centre, will help the NDB consolidate its presence in these continents.

2.4 Significance of BRICS

  • Represents five countries and four continents: It consists of 43% of world population, 22% of the total world GDP and 17% world trade share. According to a UN report, the combined output of BRICS countries will surpass the aggregate GDP of US, Canada and other European nations by 2020.

  • Influential grouping, including four developing and emerging economies and Russia, which promotes a multi-polar world. It has expanded the arc of its interests and established new institutions and partnerships. For instance, institutions like New Development Bank injected fresh driving force into the mechanisms’ leading role in South- South cooperation.

  • Platform for addressing Global issues such as IMF reforms, climate change, terrorism, etc. from the perspective of emerging economies. BRICS nations adhere to the principle of equality, negotiations, and pragmatic cooperation.

  • Platform for addressing bilateral issues among it members. For instance, India has tried to use the Summit level meets for resolving mistrust and complications with China.

  • ‘BRICS outreach to Africa’ and ‘BRICS Plus’ formats: BRICS plus format initiated at Xiamen Summit in 2017 by inviting a few countries from different regions was emulated in Johannesburg Summit also. It presents an opportunity for networking among different leaders.

  • Diverse agendas under BRICS: It is also working in issues like Global Governance reforms, Women Empowerment by a proposal to set up a BRICS Gender and Women’s Forum and setting up a vaccine research center for immunization to promote research, develop and discover new vaccines.

  • Multi-layered pragmatic cooperation has been established in the fields, such as economy and trade, finance, industry and commerce, agriculture, education, healthcare, science and technology, culture, think tanks and twinned cities which have imposed great influence on the international community.

Concerns

  • Still far from achieving its initial goals such as a) Reform of global financial governance; b) Democratization of United Nations and expansion of UNSC are work in slow progress.

  • Contradicting views of the members: For instance China opposed India’s move to declare Pakistan based terror outfits. It is also against India’s bid to UNSC and NSG membership. No decisions are taken yet on BRICS Credit Rating Agency favored by India.

  • Lack of commonality among the members: While Brazil, India and South Africa are democratic, China and Russia are not. Brazil and Russia export hydrocarbons, China and India are net importers. China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council – the others are not. Structure of financial systems, levels of income, education, inequality, health challenges also differ substantially within BRICS which makes it hard for them to speak with a unified voice and to co-ordinate action.

  • New Development Bank (NDB) yet to disperse loans to outside member countries: So far all the loans dispersed totaling $5.1 Billion are to its members only, with other developing countries like African country look at NDB for their infrastructural requirements.

Way Forward

  • To address the asymmetry of power within the group and global governance they must reaffirm their commitment to a multi-polar world that allows for sovereign equality and democratic decision-making.

  • Building on the success of the NDB it must invest in additional institutions, for instance, an institutional research wing, along the lines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), can offer solutions distinct from western-led knowledge paradigms and is better suited to the developing world.

  • BRICS must lead the effort to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN's SDGs by setting up a BRICS energy alliance and an energy policy institution.

  • BRICS members must encourage direct interactions between their constituents as in the digital age, seamless conversations amongst people, business and academia can foster relationships, which are more likely to cement the future of this alliance than any government efforts.

3. Saarc Development Fund (Sdf)

3.1. More about the news

  • The event aims towards Strategic growth in the South Asian region through project collaboration and Regional integration and proposes to:

  • Solicit Cross-Border project Co-Financing under social, economic and infrastructure windows for SDF in SAARC member States.

  • Build partnership with various organisations like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for fund mobilisation and investment in SAARC member states

  • The larger aim is to convert the SDF into a regional bank by strengthening its credit portfolio so that it could get lender’s status. It will help raise funds from the capital market through various instruments like bonds etc.

3.2. About SDF

  • It was established by heads of all eight SAARC member states during 16th SAARC summit at Thimphu, Bhutan in April 2010.

  • Its Secretariat is located at Thimphu, capital of Bhutan. Its Governing Council comprises finance ministers of these eight countries.

  • It was created as umbrella financial mechanism for all SAARC developmental projects and programmes.

  • Its core objectives are to promote welfare of the people of SAARC region, improve their quality of life and accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region.

  • It funds projects in South Asia region via three windows viz. Social Window, Economic Window and Infrastructure Window.

  • The SDF has a total corpus of $1.5 billion with the total capital base currently at $497 million. Of this, more than 100 million has been committed.

3.3. Opportunities of SDF

  • Economic integration of south Asia: According to a World Bank study, the South Asia Region needs to invest between $ 1.7 trillion and $ 2.5 trillion to close its infrastructure gaps mainly in energy, power, transportation, telecom and environment.

  • SDF can play a major role in ensuring physical as well as financial connectivity. Thus, an efficient regional value chain would be developed on the lines of ASEAN tigers.

  • Dedicated project development agency: It may fill the vacuum of a dedicated project development agency in the south Asian region which is a major cause of delay in project implementation.

  • Reforming global financial architecture: It may add to India's continuing effort to reform global financial architecture by presenting an inclusive model of development to the world.

  • Opportunity for South-South cooperation: SDF can also invest in countries of South-east Asia, Africa and Latin America like ADB and other multilateral financial agencies. It would provide India an opportunity to claim leadership of the global south.

3.4. Challenges

  • Lack of financial resources: SDF lacks membership of economic powerhouses like China, Japan, USA as in other multilateral financing agencies like ADB, AIIB etc.

  • Power asymmetry between India and other neighbouring countries: India is disproportionately big as compared to other SAARC members both in territorial extent and economic, political and military strength, hence a sense of apprehension exists among its neighbours.

  • India has many unresolved outstanding issues like border disputes and river disputes with its neighbours that also doesn't inspire confidence for sustained cooperation.

  • Security challenges like cross border terrorism and armed insurgent movements also create problems for investments.

  • Presence of China in the region with its deep pocket throws a major challenge for India to secure investment opportunities in the neighbourhood in particular and the developing world in general.

Way forward

  • SAARC minus X model: Developing small models at sub-regional level as a template to replicate, for example Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), South Asian satellite, etc. have been developed without Pakistan's cooperation.

  • Gujral doctrine: Unilateral support to smaller neighbours without expectation of reciprocity is very important to inspire confidence which would help in taking them on board for regional cooperation. Also resolve outstanding issues on priority basis with all the neighbouring countries.

  • Converging efforts of other regional groups like BIMSTEC, South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

4. INDIA-APTA TARIFF EASING MEASURES

4.1. More about the 4th round

  • With the implementation of the current Fourth Round, the coverage of preferences for each member would increase to 10,677 tariff lines (up from 4,270 items at the conclusion of the Third Round).

  • The average Margin of Preference (MoP) being provided under the agreement would deepen to 31.52% but Least Developed Countries (LDC) members are entitled to greater concessions on 1,249 items with an average MoP of 81%.

  • India has agreed to provide tariff concessions on 3,142 products to APTA and special concessions on 48 tariff lines for LDCs, with Bangladesh and Laos.

  • China has agreed to reduce or cut to zero tariffs on a total of 8,549 types of goods originating in India, Bangladesh, Laos, South Korea and Sri Lanka.

  • These concessions are significant not in terms of value but in terms of gesture in the context of recent trade wars triggered by USA.

  • However, issues of market access in agricultural commodities and pharma products remain a challenge.

APTA​

  • The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), previously named as the Bangkok Agreement, was signed in 1975 as an initiative of UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific).

  • It is the oldest preferential trade agreement (PTA) among developing countries in Asia-Pacific, under which the basket of items as well as the extent of tariff concessions are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds, which are launched from time to time.

  • Currently, the following six Participating States are parties to APTA: 1. Bangladesh 2. China 3. India (founding member) 4. Laos 5. South Korea 6. Sri Lanka (Mongolia is set to become the 7th member)

  • It is open to all developing member countries.

  • It aims to promote economic development through the adoption of mutually beneficial trade liberalization measures that will contribute to intra-regional trade expansion and provides for economic integration through coverage of merchandise goods, services, investment and trade facilitation.

  • Notably, it is the only operational trade agreement linking China and India.

  • Preferential Trade Agreement v/s Free Trade Agreement

  • Under a free trade agreement (FTA), countries cut or eliminate duties on most number of goods traded between them besides liberalising norms to promote services trade and investments. But under a PTA, duties are eliminated on a certain number of identified items.

  • Margin of Preference

  • It means the percentage difference between the Most Favoured-Nation (MFN) rate of duty and the preferential rate of duty for the like product.

5. India-South Korea

5.1. Key News Highlight of the visit

  • Moon coined a new acronym ‘3P Plus’ for boosting bilateral ties through cooperation for people, prosperity and peace.

  • Indian Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Korea inaugurated Samsung’s mobile manufacturing plant, touted as the biggest in the world, in Noida.

  • South Korean President also set a trade target of $50 billion to be achieved by 2030, up from the $20 billion at present.

  • South Korea would be the second country after China with whom India would undertake a joint project in Afghanistan.

  • Joint Statement on Early Harvest Package of the Upgraded Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA): its objective is to facilitate ongoing negotiations on upgrading the India-South Korea CEPA by identifying key areas for trade liberalisation (including shrimp, molluscs and processed fish).

5.2. New Southern Policy

  • The new S. Korean government is seeking to elevate strategic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on par with Korea’s four traditional, major diplomatic partners of the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

  • It is a new policy orientation is being pursued under the government’s broader strategy of promoting a “Northeast Asia Plus Community for Responsibility-sharing (NEAPC)”.

  • New Southern Policy is one of the 3 parts of NEAPC which would involve deepening relations with India as well as the countries of Southeast Asia, including in the economic realm.

  • Moon’s New Southern Policy aims to strengthen the economic-cooperation and build a prosperous and people-centric community of peace while India’s “Act East Policy,” as articulated by Modi, focuses on promoting deeper economic engagement, reinvigorating cultural and civilizational relations, and developing new strategic partnerships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral as well as at multilateral levels. Both these policies show convergence in their objectives and should further strengthen the Special Strategic Partnership between India and South Korea.

5.3. India-South Korea relations

  • Politically India played an important and positive role in Korean affairs after Korea's independence in 1945. Bilateral consular relations were established in 1962 which was upgraded to Ambassador-level in 1973. Since then various high level meetings have taken place between the two.

  • In terms of Commercial relations, in course of time, RoK's open market policies found resonance with India's economic liberalization and 'Look East Policy' as well as “Act East Policy”. Trade and economic relations have gathered momentum following the implementation of CEPA in 2010 and the bilateral trade in 2011 crossed USD 20.5 billion registering a 70% growth over a two-year period. Economic engagement constitutes the core of our relations.

  • India and South Korea launched an initiative ‘Korea Plus’, as proposed by Indian Prime Minister in June 2016 to promote and facilitate Korean Investments in India.

  • Major Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai Motors and LG have made significant investments into India, estimated at over $4.43 billion (as of March 2017).

  • The large trade deficit in South Korea’s favour has led India to be wary of further opening up. In turn, Korean companies cite problems in doing business in India, despite a special “Korea Plus” desk set up by the Prime Minister’s Office in 2015.

  • Cultural Relations- To further enhance cultural exchanges between India and Korea, various cultural centres have been established in Seoul, Busan, etc.

  • Other Areas- Tourism between the two countries has always been low while strategically both New Delhi and Seoul are preoccupied with tensions in their immediate neighbourhoods.

5.4.  Way forward

  • Trade: Agreement to invoke the “early harvest” clause in the 2010 CEPA will allow both to do away with tariffs in 11 areas, benefiting Indian seafood exporters and food processing units, as well as South Korean petrochemical companies.

  • Investment: More Korean companies should be persuaded to invest, by projecting a counter-narrative to the failed bid by the steel company Posco to set up its plant in Odisha. Much will depend on negotiations on the regional free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

  • Strategic front: On the strategic front, India has asserted its place as a “stakeholder” in the Korean peace process, while South Korea has for the first time shown an interest in talking about an Indo-Pacific policy.

  • In the short term, a symbolic token towards shared interests will be seen in a joint “capacity-building” programme in Afghanistan.

5.5. Conclusion

  • South Korea can be an indispensable partner of India in its Act East Policy in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • South Korea’s technological advancement and manufacturing capabilities can be helpful in India’s economic growth and human resource development.

  • At a time when U.S. foreign policy is capricious and unpredictable, and China’s is making purposeful moves towards global domination, it is important that the South Korea-India partnership grows and consolidates, to contribute to stability in the region.

6. PM VISIT TO AFRICAN NATION

6.1. About Girinka Programme

  • It is the Rwanda’s one of a kind Social Protection scheme under which the poorest residing in the region get cows from the government and gift the first female calf to a neighbour to promote brotherhood.

  • It aims to transform livelihoods, reconcile communities, and improve agricultural productivity through the use of manure as fertilizers.

  • It has led to an increase in agricultural production in Rwanda - especially milk production and products, reduced malnutrition and increased incomes.

  • India gifted 200 locally bought cows to villagers from Rweru village for Girinka.

6.2. Agreements signed with Rwanda during the visit

  • Eight agreements were signed in the areas of cooperation in agriculture and animal resources, Defence, Dairy, leather and allied sector and trade.

  • Two lines of credit worth $100 Million each were extended by India for development of industrial parks and expansion of Kigali Special Economic Zones (SEZ), and Agriculture irrigation scheme respectively.

  • An Indian High Commission will be opened at Rwanda which will ease the consular and passport/Visa related processes between the countries.

6.3. Agreements signed between India and Uganda

  • India and Uganda signed four MoUs on - Defence Cooperation, Visa exemption for Diplomatic and official passport holders, Cultural Exchange Programme and Material Testing Laboratory.

  • In Uganda, India extended two lines of credit of $141 million for electricity lines and sub-stations, and $64 million for agriculture and dairy production.

  • PM while addressing a session of Ugandan Parliament listed 10 guiding principles for deepening India’s engagement with Africa to help in its economic growth and tackle challenges like terrorism and climate change.

6.4. Significance of these visits

  • While it was the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Rwanda, it was also a first bilateral tour by any Indian PM to Uganda since 1997. This outreach enhances India’s South-South leadership credentials.

  • Rwanda is the current Chair of African Union and after the end of its civil war (1994), is moving steadily on the path of recovery and national reconciliation and is also one of the fastest growing economies of Africa.

  • Similarly, Uganda is the current chair of East African Community which is a regional intergovernmental organization of six partner States: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

7. Un Military Observer Group In India And Pakistan (Unmogip)

Details

  • The UNMOGIP was established in January 1949 with first team of unarmed military observers arriving in Jammu and Kashmir to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan, and to assist the Military Adviser to the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), established in 1948 by the UN Security Council.

  • Following the India-Pakistan war in 1971 and a subsequent ceasefire agreement, the tasks of UNMOGIP have been to observe, to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of December 17, 1971 and to report to the Secretary-General.

  • Further, it clarified that mission does not have a mandate beyond the LoC and does not cover whole of Kashmir.

  • On the other hand, India has maintained that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Shimla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control.

8. India-Bangladesh

Details

  • In the meeting, both the sides noted the positive impact of border haats on the livelihoods of the people living in areas adjoining the haats.

  • To improve the livelihood of people on the border, India and Bangladesh will set up six more border haats (markets) in addition to the existing four.

8.1. India- Bangladesh Border Haats

  • It is a border trade market organised by the two countries one day a week.

  • The border haats aim at promoting the wellbeing of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders, by establishing traditional system of marketing the local produce through local markets.

  • Two border haats are located in Meghalaya at Kalaichar and Balat and two are located in Tripura at Srinagar and Kamalasagar.

  • India and Bangladesh opened their first border haat at Kalaichar on the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district on July 23, 2011 reviving the traditional border trade after nearly 40 years.

9. Delhi Dialogue X

9.1. Highlight of Delhi Dialogue

  • It is a premier annual track 1.5 event to discuss politico-security, economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and ASEAN.

  • It has been held annually since 2009 in partnership with Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).

June International Relations

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