Maldives applies to rejoin the Commonwealth after defeat of isolationist president Abdulla Yameen

The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, three months after the surprise election defeat of the country’s isolationist ex-leader.

The tropical atoll nation is seeking readmission to the organisation two years after it withdrew under autocratic president Abdulla Yameen.

Two years ago, the country’s former leader Yameen withdrew the Maldives from the Commonwealth after it mounted pressure on him to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law amid a ferocious crackdown on dissent.

The Commonwealth of Nations, at one time known as British Commonwealth, is an organisation of fifty three states that were principally below the colonial rule of British Government. They came into existence with the proclamation of sovereignty of the state from the colonial rule of British Empire and were later given self-governance.

It proclaims that the Commonwealth nations are “free and equal.” The insignia of this Commonwealth Association is Queen Elizabeth II who is considered the Supreme of the Commonwealth nations.

The member states of the commonwealth are not legally liable or bound to each other. They are rather united by language, history, culture, likeness of the democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Their values are listed down within the Commonwealth Charter and the hands of harmony towards the member states are extended by the Commonwealth Games held every four years.

Former British mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, British Palestine, Sudan, British Somaliland, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Former name — British Commonwealth.

Composition: intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.

It operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states.

Established in 1949 by the London Declaration.

Structure: Head of the Commonwealth — Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth. The position is symbolic.

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UAE Holds Next 40th GCC Summit

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and King of Saudi Arabia, chaired the 39th session of the council in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Supreme Council of GCC States welcomed the UAE’s hosting of next summit and issued the ‘Riyadh Declaration’, which included 72 items covering matters related to the Gulf countries, the region and the world.

What is GCC?

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic alliance of six countries in the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Established in 1981, the GCC promotes economic, security, cultural and social cooperation between the six states and holds a summit every year to discuss cooperation and regional affairs.

All current member states are monarchies, including three constitutional monarchies (Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain), two absolute monarchies(Saudi Arabia and Oman), and one federal monarchy (the United Arab Emirates).

The GCC comprises six main branches that carry out various tasks, from the preparation of meetings to the implementation of policies. They are- Supreme Council, Ministerial Council, Secretariat-General, Consultative Commission, Commission for the Settlement of Disputes and the Secretary-General.

Role of GCC today:

Whether the GCC still has a relevant function and role in the region is questionable. Though it was created for the purpose of solidifying union ranks, the blockade imposed on Qatar by its neighbours has largely annulled these principles.

The Gulf states have in the past differed in their views on several issues that have unfolded in the region over the past two decades. The role of the GCC has also been diminishing ever since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, with the six states illustrating various approaches to the war and its consequences. This has been enhanced during the wave of protests that swept the Middle East in 2011, known as the Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia has gained a dominant role within the GCC today.

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U.N. approves $9 million in aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela

The United Nations on Monday announced $9.2 million in health and nutritional aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela, where hunger and preventable disease are soaring amid the collapse of the country’s socialist economic system.

The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will support projects to provide nutritional support to children under five years old, pregnant women and lactating mothers at risk, and emergency health care for the vulnerable.

Venezuela has been in an economic depression for at least half a decade, adding to hyperinflation and mass food shortages. Millions of citizens have left Venezuela to find more opportunity in other Latin American countries.

About the UN Central Emergency Response Fund:

It is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations General Assembly on December 15, 2005, and launched in March 2006.

With CERF’s objectives to 1) promote early action and response to reduce the loss of life; 2) enhance response to time-critical requirements; and 3) strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises, CERF seeks to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts.

The fund is replenished annually through contributions from governments, the private sector, foundations, and individuals.

Allocations:

The CERF grant element is divided into two windows:

Rapid Responses (approximately two-thirds of the grant element)

The Rapid Response window provides funds intended to mitigate the unevenness and delays of the voluntary contribution system by providing seed money for life-saving, humanitarian activities in the initial days and weeks of a sudden onset crisis or a deterioration in an ongoing situation. The maximum amount applied to a crisis in a given year typically does not exceed $30 million, although higher allocations can be made in exceptional circumstances.

Underfunded Emergencies (approximately one-third of the grant element).

The Underfunded Emergencies window supports countries that are significantly challenged by “forgotten” emergencies.

Hyperinflation is the biggest problem faced by Venezuela. The inflation rate there is expected to reach a stunning one million percent this year, putting it on par with the crises of Zimbabwe in the 2000s and Germany in the 1920s, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government claims that the country is the victim of “economic war” and that the major issues are due to opposition “plots” and American sanctions.

What caused this increase?

The plummeting oil prices since 2014 is one of the main reasons why Venezuela’s currency has weakened sharply. The country, which has rich oil reserves largely depended on it for its revenue. But when the oil price dropped drastically in 2014, Venezuela which received 96 percent of its revenue from the oil exports, suffered a shortage of foreign currency. This made import of basic essentials like food and medicines difficult.

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Apec leaders summit: five key moments in Pacific tug of war

The Apec leaders summit, held in Port Moresby over the weekend, was one of the most remarkable and tense in recent years. It ended with no joint statement from the leaders – a first in Apec history – and with the fight for dominance in the Pacific region between Australia, the US and Japan on one side and China on the other, coming out into the open.

It ended with no joint statement from the leaders – a first in Apec history – and with the fight for dominance in the Pacific region between Australia, the US and Japan on one side and China on the other, coming out into the open.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. APEC has 21 members.

Aim: to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

APEC works to help all residents of the Asia-Pacific participate in the growing economy. APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad.

Recognizing the impacts of climate change, APEC members also implement initiatives to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainable management of forest and marine resources.

The forum adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being. This includes ensuring disaster resilience, planning for pandemics, and addressing terrorism.

APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam.

APEC Members account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, approximately 54% of the world’s gross domestic product and about 44% of world trade.

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UN postal agency issues special Diwali stamp

India thanked the UN Postal Administration for issuing special postal stamps to commemorate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.

The United Nations Postal Administration issued a special event sheet on October 19 to commemorate the festival of Diwali.

The sheet in the denomination of USD 1.15 contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and the symbolic lamps known as diyas.

Key Facts:

The special event sheet (stamps) issued by UNPA are in denomination of US $1.15.

It contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and symbolic lamps known as diyas.

The background of sheet features United Nations Headquarters building illuminated with a message of “Happy Diwali” to celebrate the spirit of the festival.

The description accompanying information about stamps mentioned that Diwali, also known as Deepawali is a joyous and popular festival of lights, which is celebrated in India and by followers of many faiths across the world.

It also said that during celebration clay lamps known as diyas are lit to signify the victory of good over evil. The festival also symbolizes the start of new year for many communities.

About the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA):

It is the postal agency of the United Nations. It issues postage stamps and postal stationery, denominated in United States dollars for United Nations offices in New York, in Swiss francs for offices in Geneva and in euros for the offices in Vienna. Postage rates charged are identical to those of the host nation.

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Quad countries to focus on maritime security

The “Quad” countries, namely India, US, Japan and Australia, will hold their next meeting on the sidelines of the 13 th East Asia Summit at Singapore in mid-November, with the grouping keen to step-up maritime security and disaster relief initiatives as well as economic development projects in the critical Indo-Pacific region.

The regional coalition known as the ‘Quad’, the quadrilateral formation includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.

The US believes the Quad, as one of the elements of its larger Indo-Pacific strategy for “a free, open and rules-based order” in face of an aggressive and expansionist China in the region, should eventually evolve into a ministerial-level dialogue imbued with a strong military dimension.

But Washington also recognizes that New Delhi, for now, remains opposed to any militarization of the Quad, which was revived after a decade as a joint secretary-level dialogue in November 2017, with its second meeting being held in June this year. India has also made it clear that the US should not “conflate” the Indo-Pacific with the Quad, stressing the centrality of Asean in the former.

Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest. All four countries share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in the development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.

The Quad grouping is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context. Quad should not be seen in any comparative or in an exclusive context.

With a vast coastline of about 7600 kilometres, island territories on both sides of the peninsula are sizeable Exclusive Economic Zone and seaborne trade, the greater part of which moves by ship; there are many strands to India’s composite maritime security including the safety of major ports plus aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines at strategic levels.

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Bangladesh elected as IORA Chairman for 2021-23

Bangladesh has been elected as Vice Chairman of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for the period of 2019-21 and eventually as the IORA Chairman for 2021-23.

The election was held at the 18th (IORA) Council of Ministers’ Meeting held in Durban, South Africa on 02 November 2018, a foreign ministry press release said here today.

As per the practice, IORA is led by Chair and Vice Chair on behalf of the member states while the spell of the posts in two years each.

The current Chair is South Africa and the Vice Chair is the UAE. When the incumbent Vice Chair UAE will take the post of Chair in 2019, Bangladesh will assume the Vice Chairmanship. After completion of two years of the vice chairmanship, Bangladesh will become the Chairman of IORA for the first time on 01 October 2021.

This year’s Council of Ministers’ Meeting was attended by delegations from IORA’s 21 member states at the ministerial and state ministerial level which included Australia, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and the UAE, among others.

The 18th IORA Council of Ministers Meeting adopted two outcome documents namely the ‘Declaration on the commemoration of Nelson Mandela’ and the eThekwini Communique which are expected to enhance cooperation among the 21 member states and contribute more in ensuring a peaceful, stable and the sustainable Indian Ocean.

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2nd World Conference on Access to Medical Products – Achieving the SDGs 2030

To enable a holistic view on access to medical products, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India with the support of World Health Organization is organizing the ‘2nd World Conference on Access to Medical Products – Achieving the SDGs 2030’ at New Delhi from 9 -11 October 2018.

The main objective of the 2nd World Conference 2018 is to take forward the recommendations from the 1st World Conference 2017 and build on the work done for access to medical products in the context of SDGs, including trade agreements.

The specific objectives are to promote an enabling ecosystem in the context of WHO’s 13th Global Programme of Work for access to medical products; foster new approaches in innovation landscape for medical products and health technologies for accelerating research and innovation; and identify knowledge, information and policy options on the interface of international trade and health to achieve SDG 2030 goals.

Reliable access to effective, safe, quality-assured and affordable medical products (medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, devices) is key to progressing towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the SDGs. UHC includes appropriate access to affordable and quality-assured medical products supporting countries in achieving the targets of the health SDGs. India’s contribution towards access to medical products worldwide is well recognized.

Shri J P Nadda inaugurates ‘2nd World Conference on Access to Medical Products: Achieving the SDGs 2030’

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G 4 Ministers from India, Brazil, Germany, Japan review UNSC reform

Ministers from India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan have expressed concern that although it has been almost 40 years since the Security Council reform was put on the General Assembly agenda, it is still languishing.

Formed in 2005, the G4 nations comprise Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan. Unlike many inter-governmental bodies whose primary motives are economic and political, the G4’s aim is to ensure permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council.

The UNSC has 15 members – 5 permanent members with veto powers and 10 non-permanent members. The 5 permanent members are the U.K., the U.S., China, France, and Russia.

The G4 nations are regularly elected to two-year terms as non-permanent members.

India has been a member of the UNSC for seven terms (14 years). Cumulatively, the G4 has spent about 64 years on the Security Council ever since the UN’s inception.

The U.K. and France have backed the G4’s bid for permanent seats on the Council.

However, there is a group led by Italy, called Uniting for Consensus (UfC) that does not believe in G4’s idea of increasing the number of permanent seats in the UNSC.

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UN Announces Global Media Compact to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations on 23 September announced the launch of the SDG Media Compact, an initiative marking a new drive to advance awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unanimously adopted by all world leaders at the United Nations in 2015. The Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Goals.

About SDG Media Compact:

SDG Media Compact is an initiative marking a new drive to advance awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unanimously adopted by all world leaders at the United Nations in 2015.

The Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Goals.

The Compact is an initiative of the United Nations, in collaboration with the UN Foundation and with the support of Fleishman Hillard.

The SDG Media Compact is inclusive and aims to embrace media companies from all regions and all platforms. Participating organizations will have the opportunity to create content partnerships with the United Nations, whereby the organization will increase its efforts to source and share high-value media content and newsworthy opportunities relating to the SDGs. Regular monitoring and review meetings will gauge engagement.

Collectively, the founding members of the SDG Media Compact already comprise an audience in the billions spanning over 80 countries on 4 continents and many more companies are expected to join.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Encompassing everything from health, to gender equality, and education, the Goals will mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

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