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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - June 2020

Jun 2020

Jun 30, 2020

Iran Seeks Interpol's Help to Arrest Trump

  • Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad.
  • While Trump faces no danger of arrest, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
  • Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said that Trump and more than 30 others whom Iran accuses of involvement in the January 3 strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad face "murder and terrorism charges," the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
  • Alqasimehr did not identify anyone else sought other than Trump, but stressed that Iran would continue to pursue his prosecution even after his presidency ends.
  • Interpol, based in Lyon, France, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • It is unlikely Interpol would grant Iran's request as its guideline for notices forbids it from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political nature.

Baloch Separatists Attack Pakistan Stock Exchange

  • Security forces killed four gunmen who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi. Four security guards, a police sub-inspector and a civilian were also killed in the attack.
  • According to Sindh Rangers Director General Umer Ahmed Bukhari, a tweet had been posted in which the attack has been attributed to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
  • The BLA is one of several insurgent groups fighting primarily in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province.
  • The building, which is in a high-security zone, also houses the head offices of many private banks.

Government Lifts Ban on PPE Exports

  • The Government has decided to lift the ban on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) medical coveralls with a monthly quota of 5 million units.
  • According to the Ministry of Commerce notification, a firm applying for permission to export should be a manufacturer of PPE coveralls (Certification of registration from concerned Department/ Authority to be supplied).
  • Welcoming the Government's decision, Apparel makers said that this would open the entire global market for Indian players who were fast enough to seize this opportunity of producing and supplying PPE kits as the world struggles to control coronavirus pandemic.
  • According to the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), the production of PPE is more than sufficient to cater to the needs of the country and allowing exports of PPE items will not only help the health workers across the world but also support the revival of the apparel industry in the country.
  • Today, from zero production of PPE in early March, India produces more than 8 lakh PPE pieces per day – the second largest producing country in the world.

President of Serbia Declares the Victory of the Ruling Party

  • Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia declared the victory of the Serbian Progressive Party (Srpska napredna stranka – SNS) with more than 63% vote in the Parliamentary election held earlier this month (June 2020) which was boycotted by most of the opposition parties.
  • Most of the opposition parties boycotted the election considering the current pandemic situation which does not provide free and fair environment to conduct elections.
  • The SNS hrld about 189 seats in the 250 member General Assembly.
  • The Socialist Party of Serbia (Socijalistička Partije Srbije – SPS), the junior coalition partner of the SNS, secured the second position predicted to take around 32 seats.
  • The Serbian Patriotic Alliance (Srpski patriotski savez – SPAS) is the only opposition party with votes to pass the 3% threshold to enter parliament with around 12 seats.

FATF's First Global Report on Illegal Wildlife Trade

  • In accordance with the first ever report on illegal wildlife trade (IWT) titled "Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade" report by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), illegal wildlife trade is a global threat which generate estimated revenues between $7to $23 billion a year. This crime could lead to more zoonotic diseases in the future.
  • The report is based on the inputs of 50 jurisdictions across the FATF global network, as well as expertise from the private sector and civil society.
  • During the study, 22 of the 45 respondent countries considered themselves as source for wildlife crime, 18 as transit countries and 14 as destination countries. All but nine reported to be impacted by the risks from financial flows linked to the trade, with the majority of exceptions being European countries.
  • FATF is an independent inter-governmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mississippi Votes to Remove Confederate Icon from State Flag

  • The last state flag in the nation to prominently feature the Confederate battle emblem is poised to come down across Mississippi, after state lawmakers voted to replace the 126-year-old design.
  • Amid a national reckoning over racial injustice, the state House, and then the Senate, approved the measure. The bill was then headed to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who indicated previously that he would sign it. With his approval, the flag must be removed from government buildings within 15 days through a process that is prompt, dignified and respectful.
  • Before this month, the flag faced its most serious challenge in 2001, when a referendum offered voters a choice of whether to replace it. They voted 2 to 1 to keep it. That same year, the only other state whose flag bore the Confederate battle emblem, Georgia, changed it after a legislative showdown.

Jun 29, 2020

India, 5 Other Countries Object to Chinese Communist Party Language for 75th Anniversary UN Resol...

  • In a strong message for China, the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande changed the language of the resolution to be adopted by UN on the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the global body.
  • The resolution that will be adopted in September will have a new sentence and not the one that has been a key part of Chinese foreign policy and backed by the Chinese communist party. This after 6 countries – India, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand objected to the use of language – "community with a shared future for mankind', which has been talked about by Chinese Xi Jinping many times as his vision for the world.
  • Several European countries were not very happy with the use of the phase.
  • Another UN source explained, "UNGA President proposing an alternate language..its recognition of what we had asked for, vindicates our stance"Interestingly, China had put the phase under "silence" procedure and not at the negotiation stage which many UN member believe is not by chance. Under the silence procedure, the proposal is deemed to be passed, if no one breaks the silence by raising a concern. China had not taken kindly to the silence being broken and backed by Pakistan, Syria and Russia had written a letter to UN.
  • The proposed wording by UNGA President "for the common future of present and coming generations" was given approval for the resolution via silence procedure with China not objecting to it. Any objection by China could have led to a deadlock, and perhaps a controversy even as UN marks 75th year of existence.

Trump Makes Vandalising National Monuments Punishable Offence

  • US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prosecute those who damage national monuments, making it a punishable offence with up to 10 years in jail.
  • The order comes in the wake of rioters defacing and destroying historical sites, monuments and statues in the country as violence erupted following the brutal custodial death of African-American George Floyd in May 2020. The President accused radical left for the violence.
  • Under the order, the federal government is directed to prosecute any person or entity that damages or defaces religious property and withhold certain federal support from state and local governments that fail to protect public monuments, memorials and statues from destruction or vandalism.

Niger's Ex-military Junta Leader to Vie for Presidency

  • The former head of Niger's military junta General Salou Djibo will vie for the presidency in this year's election.
  • Gen. Djibo was announced as the candidate for the Peace Justice Progress (PJP) Party.
  • He led the military junta that ousted President Mahamadou Tandja in February 2010, after he tried to stay in power beyond his two-term limit.
  • Gen. Djibo handed power back to civilian rule after Mahamadou Issoufou won the subsequent elections.
  • The general retired from the army in 2019.
  • He hopes to succeed President Issoufou who is constitutionally barred from serving a third term.
  • The elections are set for 27th December 2020.

Nepal PM Blames India of Conspiring to Topple His Government

  • Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has alleged that India wants to topple his government after he issued the new map that shows Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as Nepalese territories.
  • As per Oli, his government did not commit any mistake by claiming their land, which was snatched from us for the past 58 years after Nepal enjoyed the rights over these areas for 146 years.

Poland Presidential Election Heads for Second Round - Exit Poll

  • Exit polls in Poland's presidential election suggest the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, has finished first but without enough votes to win outright.
  • If confirmed, Mr. Duda, a conservative, will face the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, in the second round in two weeks' time.
  • The polls suggest Mr. Duda took just under 42% of the vote and Mr. Trzaskowski just over 30%.
  • Turnout was high despite coronavirus and social distancing restrictions.
  • President Duda is an ally of the governing nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and if he loses, the opposition could push through major changes in Polish politics.
  • The president has the power to veto legislation, so Mr. Duda's re-election would be of benefit to PiS, of which he used to be a member.

Princeton to Remove Woodrow Wilson Name from Public Policy School

  • Princeton University has announced plans to remove the name of former President Woodrow Wilson from its public policy school because of his segregationist views, reversing a decision the Ivy League school made four years ago to retain the name.
  • University president Christopher Eisgruber said to the school community that the board of trustees had concluded that Wilson's racist views and policies make him an inappropriate namesake" for Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs and the residential college.
  • Eisgruber said that the trustees had in April 2016 decided on some changes to make the university more inclusive and more honest about its history" but decided to retain Wilson's name, but revisited the issue in light of the recent killings of George Floyd and others. Wilson, governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913 and then the 28th US president from 1913 to 1921, supported segregation and imposed it on several federal agencies not racially divided up to that point. He also barred Black students from Princeton while serving as university president and spoke approvingly of the Ku Klux Klan.

Jun 28, 2020

ASEAN Takes Position against China's Vast Historical Sea Claims

  • Southeast Asian leaders said a 1982 U.N. oceans treaty should be the basis of sovereign rights and entitlements in the South China Sea, in one of their strongest remarks opposing China's claim to virtually the entire disputed waters on historical grounds.
  • The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations took the position in a statement issued by Vietnam on behalf of the 10-nation bloc. ASEAN leaders held their annual summit by video, with the coronavirus pandemic and the long-raging territorial disputes high on the agenda.
  • The leaders were referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a 1982 international agreement that defines the rights of nations to the world's oceans and demarcates stretches of waters called exclusive economic zones where coastal states are given the right to exclusively tap fishery and fuel resources.

Starmer Appointed Kate Green as His New Shadow Education Secretary

  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer appointed Kate Green as his new shadow education secretary.
  • She replaced Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was sacked earlier this week after sharing a story Sir Keir said contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
  • Sir Keir Starmer was delighted to appoint Ms Green, who has campaigned against educational inequalities.
  • Prior to becoming an MP, she was chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group and before that, director of the National Council for One Parent Families (now Gingerbread).
  • It is a return to the shadow cabinet for Ms. Green, who served as shadow minister for women and equalities under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Micheál Martin Becomes Irish PM after Historic Coalition Deal

  • Micheál Martin was elected as the Irish PM at a special meeting of the Irish parliament in Dublin.
  • He has been the leader of the Fianna Fáil party since 2011.
  • He leads a three-party coalition consisting of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.
  • Mr. Martin said that to be elected to serve as taoiseach was one of the greatest honours which anyone can receive.
  • Speaking to the Dáil (Irish Lower House) as taoiseach for the first time, Mr. Martin said that the focus would be on the social, economic, and cultural recovery from the coronavirus.
  • It is the first time in history that former Civil War rivals Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have governed together.
  • Mr. Martin is expected to lead the country until December 2022 before handing back over to Leo Varadkar, the Fine Gael leader.

Nepal to Reopen its Second Border Point with China for Supply of Essential Goods

  • As per reports, Nepal has decided to reopen its second border point with China after five months for the supply of goods like construction material and equipment necessary for hydropower and airport projects.
  • Nepal on January 29 had closed its two border points with China -- Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi -- to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The Tatopani border point was opened on April 8 to bring medicines and health equipment from China.
  • The two countries have now agreed to resume one-way traffic to Nepal through the Rasuwagadhi border.
  • The exact date to reopen the border has not been finalised.
  • Hari Prasad Pant, chief district officer of Rasuwa, said that reopening the border point had been discussed between authorities from the two countries at the Nepal-China Friendship Bridge (Miteri Bridge).

Lazarus Chakwera Wins Historic Poll Rerun

  • Malawi's opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera won the country's rerun presidential vote.
  • According to the electoral commission, he defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of the vote.
  • In February, Malawi's constitutional court annulled Mr. Mutharika's victory in the May 2019 election, citing vote tampering.
  • The country was bitterly divided in the run-up to this week's election.
  • It is the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities, after Kenya in 2017.

Jun 27, 2020

US Senate Passes China Sanctions Bill over Hong Kong

  • In a bipartisan rebuke of China, the Senate has unanimously approved a bill to impose sanctions on business and individuals including the police that undermine Hong Kong's autonomy or restrict freedoms promised to Hong Kong residents.
  • The bill targets police units that have cracked down on Hong Kong protesters, as well as Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for imposing a strict national security law on Hong Kong, which is considered a special administrative region within China and maintains its own governing and economic systems.
  • The measure also would impose sanctions on banks that do business with entities found to violate the law.

Jun 26, 2020

After China Encroaches Nepal's Territory, Opposition Party Moves Motion in Parliament

  • Nepal's opposition party Nepali Congress moved a motion in the Lower House of Nepali Parliament on the Nepalese land encroached by China. Nepali Congress lawmakers put the motion in place drawing the K. P. Sharma Oli led government.
  • According to the motion, "64 hectares have been encroached upon in Dolakha, Humla, Sindhupalchowk, Sankhuwasabha, Gorkha and Rasuwa districts" of Nepal by China.
  • Pillar 35 has been shifted at the border, which has led to Northern Gorkha's Rui Village falling into China's Tibet region. 72 households of Rui village of Gorkha and 18 houses of Darchula are in Chinese territory.
  • Nepali Congress is the largest opposition party in both the Upper House and Lower House of the Nepali Parliament. Earlier this month, Nepali Congress Vice President Bimalendra Nidhi had demanded answers from the K. P. Sharma Oli government over the Chinese encroachment.
  • China currently has encroached 11 locations at China Nepal border.

Jack Ma No Longer the Richest Person in China

  • According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ma Huateng, founder and CEO of Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, has dethroned Alibaba Founder Jack Ma form the title of the richest man in China'. Huatang has a total net worth of $50 billion.
  • Tencent Holdings is currently China's largest game developer. It has surpassed Alibaba Group Holding Ltd as Asia's most-valuable company.
  • Ma Huateng founded Tencent in 1998 along with four of his classmates. He has a Bachelors of Science degree from Shinzen University in China. He currently owns 7 per cent stake in Tencent. He had sold some shares earlier this year, raising his net worth by $757 million, according to Bloomberg.
  • Tencent is one of the world's largest video game company. It also has a major presence in programming social media platform and has become one of China's largest social media companies. One of the social media platforms run by Tencent is WeChat (China's version of Whatsapp). In the gaming space, it provides some of the most popular titles including Honour of Kings, PUBG Mobile and League of Legends.
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