High Seas Treaty
Why in NEWS
- Recently, UN adopted the Marine Biodiversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) or the High Seas Treaty.
- It became the third agreement to be approved under UNCLOS, after the 1994 and 1995 treaties, which established the International Seabed Authority and the Fish Stocks agreement.
When did the process start?
- The idea of protecting the marine environment emerged in 2002.
- In 2015, UNGA Resolution created committee for the treaty.
- The Committee recommended the holding of intergovernmental conferences (IGC) and after five prolonged IGC negotiations, the treaty was adopted in 2023.
- The treaty’s objective is to implement international regulations to protect life in oceans beyond national jurisdiction through international cooperation.
What does the treaty entail?
- It addresses critical issues such as the increasing sea surface temperatures, overexploitation of marine biodiversity, overfishing, coastal pollution, and unsustainable practices beyond national jurisdiction.
- For this, there is a need to establish marine protected areas to protect oceans from human activities.
- Voting will be done through “three-quarterly majority vote,” which prevents the decision from getting blocked by one or two parties.
- There is a “Clear House Mechanism” for the fair sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources
- Through the mechanism, information on marine protected areas, marine genetic-resources, and “area-based management tools” will be open to access for all parties.
- The treaty also focuses on capacity building and marine technology.
- The Scientific and Technical Body will also play a significant role in environmental impact assessment.
- The body will be creating standards and guidelines for assessment procedures, and helping countries with less capacity in carrying out assessments.
- This will facilitate the conference of parties to trace future impacts, identify data gaps, and bring out research priorities.
Why did it take so long to sign?
- The marine genetic resources issue was the treaty’s most contended element.
- The parties to the treaty must share and exchange information on marine protected areas and technical, scientific and area-based management tools to ensure open access of knowledge.
- The negotiations on the subject were prolonged due to the absence of a provision to monitor information sharing.
Issues with the treaty
- Small island states supported the idea of having a licensing scheme for monitoring, but were opposed by the likes of the U.S., and Russia, stating its notification system would hinder “bio-prospecting research.”
- The use of the phrases “promote” or “ensure” in different parts of the treaty, especially with respect to the sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources, was heavily debated over.
- And finally, there was the prolonged negotiation over the adjacency issue where coastal states whose national jurisdictions over the seas may vary.
Who opposed the treaty?
- Many developed countries opposed the treaty as they stand by private entities which are at the forefront of advanced research and development in marine technology (patents relating to marine genetic resources are held by a small group of private companies).
- Russia withdrew from the last stage of reaching a consensus in IGC-5, arguing that the treaty does not balance conservation and sustainability.
The conservation and sustainable use of resources in the open oceans lie beyond national territorial jurisdictions. This is why the agreement is a critical step forward in saving the planet — and also why it is important to temper expectations.
GS PAPER – III
Why in NEWS
- India plans to execute the Chandrayaan-3 mission this August
- Though the government had stated that the mission was scheduled for 2022, this is the first time that a specific month has been announced.
- The Chandrayaan-3 mission is a follow-up of Chandrayaan-2 of July 2019, which aimed to land a rover on the lunar South Pole.
- It was sent aboard the country’s most powerful geosynchronous launch vehicle, the GSLV-Mk 3.
- However, lander Vikram, instead of a controlled landing, ended up crash-landing on September 7, 2019, and prevented rover Pragyaan from successfully travelling on the surface of the moon.
- Had the mission been successful, it would have been the first time a country landed its rover on the moon in its maiden attempt.
About the Chandrayaan -3 Mission
- The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will be launched by LVM3 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- The propulsion module will carry the lander and rover configuration till 100 km lunar orbit.
- The spacecraft consists of an indigenous Lander module (LM), Propulsion module (PM) and a Rover with an objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for Inter planetary missions, according to ISRO.
- The Lander will have the capability to soft land at a specified lunar site and deploy the Rover which will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility.
- The main function of PM is to carry the LM from launch vehicle injection till final lunar 100 km circular polar orbit and separate the LM from PM.
- The lander and the rover will stay on the moon for 14 days until sunlight is there.
- When there is no sunlight, a small solar panel which is on the rover will generate power to charge the battery for the next 14 days until light comes.
- The temperature there goes down to minus-40 degrees Celsius, and in such an environment, there is no guarantee that the battery and
electronics will survive.
GS PAPER – II
United Nation Human Rights Council
Why in NEWS
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, which is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world, has appointed advocate Vrinda Grover in the three-member panel probing human rights violation in Ukraine.
About UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
- The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, through which States discuss human rights conditions in the UN Member States.
- The Council’s mandate is to promote “universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all” and “address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon.”
- The Human Rights Council was established in 2006 by Resolution 60/251 as a subsidiary body to the UN General Assembly.
- It replaced the former Commission on Human Rights, which operated from 1946 to 2006.
- The Council is composed of 47 Member States elected from the UN General Assembly to staggered three-year terms, with a specified number of seats going to each major geographic region.
- General Assembly Resolution 60/251 provides that Members States should be elected considering “the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights” and “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”
- In practice, these standards are open to interpretation and the human rights records of States seeking election to the Council have been the subject of significant controversy.
- The Council serves as a forum for dialogue among States, with input from other stakeholders.
- The Council may issue resolutions calling on States to take specific actions or uphold certain principles, or it may create mechanisms to investigate or monitor questions of concern.
- The Human Rights Council has created or renewed the mandates of various “special procedures.”
- The special procedures are experts appointed to monitor human rights around priority themes or in specific countries with serious human rights problems.
- The special procedures may be individual experts (“special rapporteurs” or “independent experts”) or working groups.
- The Council also manages the Universal Periodic Review, a process through which each UN Member State’s overall human rights record is reviewed.
- In addition, the Council receives complaints alleging patterns of human rights violations, which are considered by the Working Group on Communications and may be referred to the Working Group on Situations.
- The Working Group on Situations reports substantiated claims of consistent patterns of gross violations to the Council and makes recommendations for action.
- The Council conducts its substantive work primarily in Regular Sessions and Special Sessions. Regular Sessions are held no fewer than three times a year, usually in March, June, and September.
- The agenda and program of work for each Session are established with respect to any adopted Council resolutions and in consultation with Member States.
- Regular Sessions include the presentation of human rights reports and interactive dialogues with Special Procedure mandate holders or Member States, panel discussions and debates on a wide range of human rights issues, and consideration of Universal Periodic Review reports.
- Council Special Sessions address urgent human rights situations arising between Regular Sessions and may be called at the request of any Council Member State with the support of at least one third of the Council membership.
GS PAPER –II
Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine
Why in NEWS
UN Human Right Council has appointed Vrinda Grover into 3 member panel to investigate the human rights violation by Russian forces. Last year, a similar mechanism was set-up to investigate this issue.
About the Commission
- The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 4 March 2022 to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes in the context of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- The Commission is led by three Commissioners: Erik Mse of Norway (Chair), Jasminka Dumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Pablo de Greiff of Colombia.
- The Commission delivered its reports on 18 October 2022 and 16 March 2023.
- The deadline for submission of information and documentation relevant to its mandate is 31 December 2023.
- Members of the Commission held a hybrid press conference in Kyiv on 2 December 2022, where they met government officials, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, local authorities, members of civil society, representatives of United Nations agencies, and the diplomatic corps to discuss the situation in the country.
- The Commission published its report on 15 March 2023, detailing numerous violations of international human rights, criminal, and humanitarian law, primarily carried out by Russian forces.
GS PAPER –II
Permanent Court of Arbitration and Indus Water Treaty
Why in NEWS
Pakistan went to Court of Arbitration against Kisanganga and Ratle projects in Jammu & Kashmir.
Indus Water Treaty
The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory
How the Treaty works
The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission, which has a Commissioner from each country.
Disagreement over two hydroelectric power plants
- The disagreement between India and Pakistan concerns the design features of the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants.
- The former was inaugurated in 2018 while the latter, based on information available, is under construction.
- The two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of these two hydroelectric plants contravene the Treaty.
- The plants are located in India on tributaries of the Jhelum and the Chenab Rivers. The Treaty designates these two rivers, as well as the Indus, as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has unrestricted use with some exceptions.
Different Treaty mechanisms sought by India and Pakistan
- In 2016, Pakistan asked the World Bank to facilitate the setting up of an ad hoc Court of Arbitration to look into its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects.
- India asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert for the same purpose.
- A Neutral Expert is already seized of differences pertaining to Kishenganga and Ratle projects. Neutral Expert proceedings are the only Treaty-consistent proceedings at this juncture. The Treaty does not provide for the parallel proceeding on the same set of issues.
- India has opposed the constitution of the CoA and contends that it is in contravention of the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.
- Till date, India has not exercised its right under Treaty to appoint two arbitrators to the CoA.
- New Delhi has not attended the court’s proceedings and has sent its correspondence to World Bank.
- India has been participating in the Treaty- consistent Neutral Expert proceedings.
- The last meeting took place at The Hague on 27-28 February.
- The next meeting of the Neutral Expert process is scheduled to be held in September.
- India cannot be compelled to recognise or participate in illegal and parallel proceedings not envisaged by the Treaty.
Court of Arbitration Stand
- The Court concluded that a Party’s nonappearance does not deprive the Court of competence, nor does it have any effect on the establishment and functioning of the Court, including the final and binding nature of its awards
- India’s non-appearance does not lessen Court’s standing duty to verify that it is competent and that it has jurisdiction over the dispute before it.