International Current Affairs February 2016 for Competitive Exams
China Passed First Tough Counter Terrorism Law
1) The Chinese government has passed its first counter terrorism law on December 27, 2015 that allows military operations abroad and requires technology firms to submit sensitive information to government bodies.
2) The new law is designed to neutralise terrorism threats in the Western region of Xinjiang where Uighur Muslims are fighting against perceived repressive measures against their religion and culture, and rebels in Tibet.
3) The new law includes a raft of new measures forcing telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install online back doors in servers so they can be easily accessed by government officials.
4) They also require all ISPs to locate their servers in China storing all data locally whilst handing over encryption keys.
5) China has also faced international terrorism from Islamic State (ISIS) extremists after they kidnapped and beheaded Chinese national Fan Jinghui in Syria. The US embassy also had ‘received information of possible threats’ against Westerners in Beijing’s Sanlitun district.
China Passed First Domestic Violence Law, Gay Couples Excluded
1) China’s largely rubber stamp Parliament passed the country’s first law against domestic violence ‘ on December 27,
2015 which covers unmarried people who cohabit meaning those who are not related but live together but does not protect gay couples.
2) The new law prohibits any form of domestic violence, including psychological abuse, and helps streamline the process for obtaining restraining orders. This domestic violence issue often ignored to avoid bringing shame upon the family in traditional Chinese culture.
3) According to the Communist Party-run All-China Women’s Federation, about one quarter of women have suffered violence in their marriage, though only some 40000 to 50000 complaints are registered each year.
South Korea and Japan Reached Agreement on ‘Comfort Women’
1) Japan and South Korea have reached an agreement on December 28, 2015 over the long-standing issue of comfort women, a term that describes sex slaves used by the Japanese military during World War II.
2) In this regard, the Japanese government will give ¥ 1 billion ($ 8.3 million) to a fund to help those who suffered. Japan helped establish the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, which is supported by private donors and provides assistance to former comfort women.
3) It is estimated that up to 200000 women were forced to be sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in World War II, mainly Korean. Other women came from China, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Zimbabwe Announced to Adopt Chinese Yuan as its Main Currency
1) Zimbabwe has announced on December 25, 2015 that it will soon adopt the Chinese ‘yuan’ as the main currency for use. Zimbabwe is the first country apart from China to use the yuan as its currency in the domestic market.
2) Zimbabwe been the legal tender along with the US dollar and South African Rand for the last couple of years. Yuan has been a legal tender in the country’s multi-currency system for two years.
3)China also wants the local government to encourage wider use of yuan, and might even offer fresh loan to facilitate
4) Zimbabwe, where hyperinflation led to the ludicrous release of a single $ 100 trillion (Zimbabwean) banknote in 2009, hopes to gain from the move. China in turn is. offering to cancel a debt of $ 40 million, which Zimbabwe is unable to repay.
UNSC Backed Libya Unity Accord
1) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on December 23, 2015 unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing an agreement between Libya’s rival camps on forming a unity government.
2) The Council urged the parties to implement its terms within 30-days as prescribed by the agreement to form a government of National Accord.
3) The 15-nation UN body supported the deal that was signed on December 17, 2015 in Morocco between representatives of strife-tom Libya’s two competing regimes. It also called on the world community to provide all necessary aid to defeat terrorist groups.
4) The previous government was expelled from Tripoli, capital of Libya in August, 2014 and is based in the East of the country, while another Islamist-backed body holds the capital. Now, the Unity government will be headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj as Premier.
China Formally Abolished Decades-old One-child Policy
1) The Chinese lawmakers have formally passed a bill on December 27, 2015 regarding decades-long one-child policy. The move effectively ended the infamous one-child rule, which has been in force since 1971 when the Asian giant sought to curb population explosion.
2) As per the newly-amended Law on Population and Family Planning one couple shall be allowed to have two children. Following the session at the; National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Beijing officially embarks on a two-child policy from 2016.
3) The latest policy change had been announced by the Communist Party in October, 2015. With this world’s most populous nation tries to tackle an ageing population.
United Nations Designated ‘World Tsunami Awareness Day’
1) The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction welcomed the resolution on December 23, 2015 adopted by the General Assembly recognising November 5 as ‘World Tsunami Awareness Day’.
2) The awareness will help to focus attention on measures which can be taken to reduce risks from both man-made and natural hazards and to ensure that more people live and work in places which are free from the threat not just of tsunamis but other sudden onset hazards such as earthquakes-, floods and storms.
3) The proposal was first suggested by the Japanese government after the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in March, 2015.
4) The adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 sets targets for the first time on reducing mortality, the numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure from disasters.
US Senate Passed IMF Reform in Budget Bill
1) The US Senate ratified reforms to boost the representation of emerging economies at the International Monetary Fund as part of a budget bill on December 18, 2015 that will clear the way for new industrial powerhouses like China and India to have more clout at the international lender.
2) The reforms ratified in the legislation are in line with the proposed 2010 Quota Reforms that contained a measure to put Brazil, China, India and Russia among the IMF’s top 10 shareholders and give emerging markets more influence at the global lender.
3) Under the new regime, China’s vote at the IMF would increase to 6% from 3.8% and China would become the third-largest shareholder under the changes, from its previous sixth position.
4) Under the reform, all 188 members’ quotas will increase as the Fund’s quota resources rise to about 477 billion special drawing rights, the IMF currency, ($ 659.67 billion) from about 238.5 billion. Under the new proposals, the IMF board will be entirely elected.
USA Lifted 40-years-old Ban on Oil Export
1) The United States of America (USA) lifted a 40-year-old ban on export of oil on December 19, 2015, thus paving the way for energy deficient countries like India to open up another frontier to import oil from a distant friendly nation. The USA is now the world’s number one oil- producer.
2) The ban was lifted as President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus $ 1.8 trillion spending package and tax bill for the current fiscal ending on September 30, 2016. The ban of crude oil exports was born of oil shock of 1973-1974 due to Arab oil embargo that had sent global shooting up of oil prices.
3) The ban was first imposed in 1975 after Arab members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had banned oil exports to the US in retaliation for its support of Israel during the Arab-Israeli war.
Spain’s Ruling Party Won Election
1) The conservative People’s Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy won Spain’s general election on December 20, 2015. But, it fell short of an absolute majority and will have to rely on other parties if it is to govern for another four-year term.
2) People’s Party won 123 seats by securing in the lower house of the 350 member Parliament. The opposition Socialists are seen coming 2nd with 79 to 85 seats while newcomer parties anti-austerity Podemos and liberal Ciudadanos would come 3rd and 4th, respectively.
3) In the earlier outgoing parliament People’s Party was having 186 seats in the lower house of the Parliament.
United Nations Endorsed Syria Peace Plan
1) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an international roadmap for a Syria peace process to end Syria’s five-year-long civil war. The resolution also called for the United Nations to present the council with options for monitoring a ceasefire within one month.
2) In this regard, Foreign Ministers from 17 countries, including Lavrov, Kerry and other European and Middle-Eastern Ministers, as well as top diplomats from regional rivals Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, were in New York for the meetings on December 18, 2015.
3) The resolution came after Moscow and Washington clinched a deal on a text. The resolution also endorsed the continued battle to defeat Islamic State militants who have seized large swaths of both Syria and neighbouring Iraq and Free and fair elections to be held in Syria under UN supervision within 18 months.
United Nations Adopted Plan to Attack Islamic State’s Funding
1) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on December 17, 2015 has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at disrupting revenues that Islamic State receives from oil and antiquities sales, ransom payments and other criminal activities.
2) UN Security Council unanimously backs resolution to target group’s income and block its use of global financial system. Decision in this regard was taken at the first-ever meeting of Finance Ministers of 15 member States to support a diplomatic push to end the war in Syria.
3) The resolution has been drafted by the USA and Russia, calls on governments to ensure that they have adopted laws to make the financing of IS a serious criminal offence. The UNSC also called on Member States to promote enhanced vigilance by persons * within their jurisdiction.
Afghanistan’s WTO Membership Approved
1) The World Trade Organisation (WTO) formally approved Afghanistan’s membership on December 17, 2015 at its 10th ministerial conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. With this, Afghanistan has become the 164th WTO member and the 36th Least Developed Country (LDC) to join the global trade body after 11 years of negotiations.
2) In this regard, Protocol of Accession (PoA) was signed by WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and Afghanistan’s First Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani. The final accession to become a full member will come in to effect after PoA is ratified by Afghanistan Parliament till June, 2016.
3) Afghanistan’s membership was “an endorsement of the extensive programme of domestic reforms the country has undertaken to accelerate economic growth”. The landlocked Asian country expects to reap the benefits of the WTO membership for its post-conflict reconstruction.
Saudi Arabia Announced 34-State Islamic Military Alliance against Terrorism
1) According to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir,a new Saudi-led Islamic alliance to fight terrorism will share information and train, equip and provide forces if necessary for the fight against Islamic State militants.
2) The new coalition would have a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations. The States it listed as joining the new coalition included Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and several African nations.
3) The list did not include Shi’ite Muslim Iran, the arch rival of Sunni Saudi Arabia for influence across the Arab world. Tehran and Riyadh are ranged on opposite sides in proxy conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
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Global Nuclear Watchdog IAEA Ended Iran ‘Weapons’ Probe
1) The global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has ended its 12-year investigation on December 15, 2015 into concerns that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons. The move is seen as a key step towards lifting UN, EU and US sanctions.
2) The IAEA concluded that Iran conducted nuclear weapons-related research until 2003 and to a lesser extent until 2009, but found no evidence of this since. The lifting of sanctions, agreed in a July, 2015 deal with world powers, hinged on the IAEA’s findings on the issue.
3) The sanctions against Iran could be lifted as early as the middle of January, 2016. The IAEA has sought to closely monitor Iran’s nuclear programme and its inspections are set to increase under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed with world powers.
UN Agencies Launched Humanitarian Appeal for Africa’s Crises-hit Sahel Region
1) The United Nations agencies and partners launched the Sahel humanitarian appeal for 2016 on December 9, 2015, which included a regional plan that calls for $ 1.98 billion to provide vital assistance to millions of people in nine countries across the region.
2) According to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates, in 2016, nearly 23.5 million people, or almost 1 in 6, will not have enough to eat, of which at least 6 million will require emergency food assistance, and about 5.9 million children under 5 years of age will be threatened by acute malnutrition, impacting their lives and development.
3) Further, the agency warned that a spurt in violence has worsened the situation in the region, which has also led to new peaks of displacement, with nearly 4.5 million people forced from their homes, representing a threefold increase in less than two years.
Venezuela’s Opposition Won Majority in Legislature
1) The broad, mostly centre-right MUD coalition won a majority of 99 out of 167 seats in the Venezuela State legislature due to a dire economic crisis, the head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, announced early on December 7, 2015.
2) The oil-rich country’s socialist government ruled by President Nicolas Maduro has held the congress for last 16 years. Maduro’s United Socialist Party won 46 seats in the single-chamber National Assembly whereas the results for 22 other seats had not yet been confirmed.
3) Venezuela is an oil-rich Latin American country located on the Northern Coast of South America which hit by falling prices for the oil exports on which it relies, the country of 30 million is in an economic crisis, with families suffering shortages of basic foods and supplies.
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