Current Affairs - International

UNGA Adopts 2023 As ‘International Year Of Millets’

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on March 3, 2021, adopted India sponsored resolution to mark 2023 as ‘International Year of Millets’.
  • The resolution was initiated by India along with Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia & Senegal and was supported by over 70 nations.
  • The objective of declaring ‘International Year of Millets’ is to raise awareness about health benefits of the grain & suitability for cultivation under changing climatic conditions. Also, millet contributes towards food security, nutrition, poverty eradication, etc. It will help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in regions which are drought prone or threatened by climate change.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations will implement the International Year of Millets in 2023.
  • India observed 2018 as the National Year of Millets.

India’s Humanitarian Assistance To Madagascar

  • India is sending a consignment of 1,000 metric tonnes of rice and one lakh tablets of HCQ to Madagascar.
  • This is in response to the urgent appeal made by Madagascar for international solidarity and assistance to deal with the humanitarian crisis in South of Madagascar due to severe drought.
  • The humanitarian assistance is being delivered on-board INS Jalashwa, which will leave with the food and medical assistance on 3rd of March and is expected to reach the Port of Ehoala in Madagascar during 21st to 24th of March.
  • During this trip, INS Jalashwa will also have on-board an Indian Naval training team which is being deployed in Madagascar for capacity building and training of the Malagasy Special Forces for two weeks.
  • INS Jalashwa will also call at Port Anjoun in the Republic of Comoros where it will deliver a consignment of 1,000 metric tonnes of rice.

Israel Receives First Ever UAE Ambassador

  • Israel's president formally received the first-ever ambassador from the United Arab Emirates, following last year's historic agreement between the countries to normalise ties.
  • UAE envoy Mohamed Al Khaja delivered his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
  • The UAE was the first country to agree to establish full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state under the Abraham Accords, a pact brokered by former US president Donald Trump.
  • Israel opened its UAE embassy in January, with veteran diplomat Eitan Naeh heading the Abu Dhabi mission.
  • Israel and the UAE have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

US Department Of Defense To Create China Task Force

  • The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has come out with details about a new China Task Force that would inform the Pentagon’s strategic approach towards that country.
  • It will provide a baseline assessment of department policies, programs and processes in regard to the challenge China poses.
  • The task force will comprise of up to 15 uniformed and civilian DoD employees and headed by Ely Ratner, advisor to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

IOR Defence Ministers’ Conclave

  • The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ Conclave was held with a keynote address by defence Minister of India - Rajnath Singh - on 4th February on the sidelines of Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru.
  • He highlighted India’s approach and vision to tackle global challenges through Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s dynamic five ‘S’ vision - Samman (Respect), Samvaad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation), Shanti (Peace) and Samriddhi (Prosperity).
  • Twenty six out of 28 countries from the IOR region attended the conclave either physically or in virtual mode.

Geopolitical and Commercial significance of IOR

  • Indian Ocean is a shared asset and a lifeline to international trade and transport due to its control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments.

Challenges Faced in IOR

  • IOR faces a number of challenges such as piracy, smuggling of drugs/people and arms, humanitarian and disaster relief, and Search & Rescue (SAR).

India & IOR

  • As the largest nation in the IOR region with a vast coast line of 7500 Kms, India has an active role to play for peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all countries.
  • To promote trade and tourism among IOR countries India has initiated various programmes like Sagarmala, Project Mausam, and Asia Africa Growth Corridor, etc.
  • In consonance with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR, Neighbourhood First and Act East Policies, India has adopted a cooperative approach through capacity building assistance in partner countries. This was reflected in India’s supply of Indian made ships, maritime aircraft and setting-up of Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems, etc.
  • Defence Minister of India has announced that India is ready to supply various types of weapons systems to IOR countries.
  • India is developing a comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness picture in the IOR, which has resulted in signing of Technical Agreements for sharing of ‘White Shipping Information’.
  • In IOR region India is providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Non-combatant Evacuation (NEO), and Search and Rescue (SAR).

UK’s Post-Brexit Tilt Towards CPTPP

The U.K. government has announced that it is applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world's largest free-trade areas made up of 11 developed and emerging economies in the Pacific, under its post-Brexit plans.


  • It is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
  • It evolved from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which never entered into force due to the withdrawal of the United States.
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was signed on 4 February 2016, but never entered into force, as Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement soon after being elected. All original TPP signatories except the US agreed in May 2017 to revive it and reached agreement in January 2018 to conclude the CPTPP.

5th Joint Meeting Of The India-Japan Act East Forum

India and Japan held the fifth joint meeting of the India-Japan Act East Forum (AEF) on 28 January 2021 in New Delhi.

  • The AEF reviewed progress of ongoing projects in the North Eastern Region of India in various areas including connectivity, hydropower, sustainable development, harnessing of water resources, and skill development.
  • They discussed several new projects being undertaken under India-Japan bilateral cooperation and also exchanged views on cooperation in new areas such as healthcare, agro-industries and SMEs, bamboo value chain development, smart city, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

About AEF

  • The AEF since its establishment in 2017 is streamlining India-Japan bilateral cooperation for the modernization of the North Eastern Region. AEF provides a platform for India-Japan collaboration in the North Eastern Region under India’s "Act East Policy” and Japan’s vision for a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.

Treaty On The Prohibition Of Nuclear Weapons Enters Into Force

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force on 22nd January 2021.

  • So far, a total of 86 countries have signed the treaty and ratified by more than 60 countries, which complements existing disarmament measures like the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • Now, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a part of international law.

About TPNW

  • The TPNW is a significant milestone in the long and global effort to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons.

Basic Obligations

  • The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) prohibits States Parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, or stockpiling nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
  • Signatories are barred from transferring or receiving nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, control over such weapons, or any assistance with activities prohibited under the Treaty.
  • States are also prohibited from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.
  • States Parties cannot allow the stationing, installation, or deployment of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices in their territory.
  • States Parties are obligated to provide victim assistance and help with environmental remediation efforts.


  • Adopted in New York: 7 July 2017
  • Opened for signature in New York: 20 September 2017
  • Entry into Force: 22 January 2021

Major Non-Parties to TPNW

  • India: India is neither a party nor supports the treaty. India did not participate in the negotiations on the TPNW and has consistently made it clear that it will not become a party to the treaty. India does not want be bound by any of the obligations that may arise from it. India believes that this treaty does not constitute or contribute to the development of customary international law; nor does it set any new standards or norms.
  • Other Nuclear-Weapon States: None of the nuclear weapons states (United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel) are party to the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
  • NATO: Nato has refused to support the treaty.
  • Japan: The only state to actually suffer a nuclear weapons attack, also dissociated from the treaty, though it remains committed to full disarmament.

NPT – The Treaty that still Hangs in Balance

  • The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was negotiated with the purpose of strengthening the largely unimplemented disarmament pillar of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
  • The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

Why NPT is still not Implemented

  • Flawed nature of the NPT that divides the world into nuclear haves and have-nots.
  • Security dilemma which leads to nuclear arms race (as in the case of India and Pakistan developing nuclear weapons).
  • The perception (often true) that possession of nuclear weapons gives more prestige and respect in the international regime and a sense of security.
  • Unwillingness of nuclear weapon states to move towards complete time-bound nuclear disarmament.

Why India not a signatory to NPT?

  • NPT allows only those five nations manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon before January 1, 1967 to retain their weapons after signing the treaty.
  • India opposes this discriminative disarmament policy and argues for the complete ban of nuclear weapons and hence, still not a signatory of the NPT.

UN Human Rights Council’s First-Ever Presidential Vote

  • The UN Human Rights Council elected Fiji's ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan as its president in 2021after a diplomatic stand-off blocked the usual consensus decision.
  • The council's presidency rotates each year between the regions and the candidate is typically agreed upon by consensus within each regional group.
  • This year, though, the Asia-Pacific group due to take the helm failed to agree on a candidate -- or even on holding a vote within their group.
  • That meant the council, which for the first time in its 15-year history began the year with no president, was forced to hold unprecedented vote among all 47 members.

Russia Withdraws From Open Skies Treaty

Russia has announced to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty citing "lack of progress" on maintaining the functioning of the treaty after the United States withdrew from it last year.

About OST

  • It is a post-Cold War defense accord signed soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 and came into force in 2002.
  • It allowed its nearly three dozen signatories to carry out short-notice flights over one another's territory to monitor potential military operations.
  • The pact allows its members to request copies of images taken during surveillance flights carried out by other members.
  • The country under surveillance is given 72-hours' warning ahead of a flight and 24-hours' notice of the flight path, to which it can suggest modifications.

Why USA left the Treaty?

  • Last year (in November) Washington left the treaty after accusing Russia of violations, including blocking flights over certain sites and forbidding surveys of military exercises.

Why did Russia leave after the US?

  • A contentious issue regarding Russia’s compliance with the OST was its alleged reluctance to allow flights over Kaliningrad, its exclave in Eastern Europe that sits between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland.
  • Russia defended its position by saying that the restrictions were permissible under treaty rules, and gave the example of the US imposing similar limits on flights over Alaska.
  • After the US left the OST, Russia sought assurances from NATO allies who continued to remain on the treaty that they would not transfer data collected by their flights over Russia to Washington. In its statement, Russia said that these requests were not backed by the NATO members, prompting it to leave the treaty.

Major Arms Treaties abandoned by US in recent Past

  • Open Skies Treaty: The Open Skies pact is one of three major treaties Washington abandoned under the administration of outgoing President Donald Trump.
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): In 2018, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal, which curbed Tehran's nuclear program in return for an easing of international sanctions.
  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Washington also pulled out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, further straining already tense relations between Moscow and Washington that in recent years have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. The INF Treaty was signed between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, in which both powers agreed to destroy two categories of lethal missile systems from their own stocks as a means to decelerate the nuclear arms race.

Last Arms Reduction Pact between USA and Russia

  • With President-elect Joe Biden due to step into office next week, one of the first challenges he will face in bilateral relations with Russia is negotiations over the extension of the New START treaty.
  • The accord, which is Washington's last remaining arms reduction pact with Moscow, is set to expire on February 5.
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