International Current Affairs 2017

October 14: World Standards Day

The World Standards Day is observed every year on 14 October across the globe to mark the development of voluntary engineering and scientific standards. The theme for year 2017 is “Standards make cities smarter”

Significance of the day

Observance of the day honours contributions of all those who have developed technical agreements that are published as international standards. It also seeks to raise awareness regarding significance of standardization in global economy, among regulators, industry and consumers.

This day is mainly celebrated by members of organisations like ISO (International Organisation for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ITU (International Teleommunication Union) and IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).

Background

The first World Standards Day was celebrated on 14 October, 1970. On this day in 1946, representatives from 25 countries gathered in London for first time with the aim of creating an international organization solely focused on facilitating standardization. The ISO was formed a year later in 1947.

US withdraws from UNESCO accusing it for anti-Israel bias

The United States has announced its withdrawal from Paris-based United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), UN’s cultural agency accusing the body of anti-Israel bias. Besides US, Israel has also decided to pull out of UNESCO. US withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. Until then, it will remain a full member. US has announced to establish an observer mission to replace its representation at UNESCO.

Background

USA and UNESCO were at loggerheads since 2011, after UNESCO had admitted Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine. UNESCO was first UN agency to recognise and admit Palestine as full member. The recognition was against US policy in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This was against US’s law which cut off its funding for any organization that recognizes independent Palestine. The US had previously paid for 22% ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget. UNESCO in 2013, had suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies after US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO.

United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

UNESCO is UN organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide. It is special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France. It promotes literacy and sex education as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world. It is also known for recognising world heritage sites and work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient ruins, villages and temples, and historic sites.

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