India Current Affairs - 2019

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CoP18 of CITES held in Geneva

The 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was recently held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Highlights of COP18 CITES

Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) was moved from CITES Appendix II to CITES Appendix I, giving it highest level of international protection from commercial trade. Indian star tortoise was also moved to CITES Appendix I. Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) will be included in CITES Appendix II.

The proposal to prohibit commercial international trade in species of otter native to the subcontinent and some other parts of Asia was put by India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Smooth-coated otter: It is considered to be facing high risk of extinction and is detrimentally affected by international trade, as well as habitat loss and degradation and persecution associated with conflict with people (and fisheries). Its numbers in wild has fallen by at least 30% over the past 30 years.

About Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

It is as international agreement aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Its text was agreed in Washington, DC, in 1973 (So it is also referred to as Washington Convention) and entered into force in 1975.  It now has 183 parties. It is legally binding on Parties i.e. they are committed to implementing it. However, it does not take place of national laws of parties, but obliges them to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals. It is administered through United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its secretariat is located in Geneva, capital of Switzerland.

CITES Appendix: It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on level of threats faced by them. CITES also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, medicine, clothing, and souvenirs etc.

Appendix I: It includes species threatened with extinction. CITES completely bans commercial trade in specimens of these species. But is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Appendix II: It provides a lower level of protection.

Appendix III: It contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

WADA suspends accreditation of India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory for 6 months

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspended accreditation of National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) for six months. This suspension was imposed due to non-conformities with International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by NDTL as identified during WADA site visit.

Reasons for Suspension

WADA had given repeated warnings to NDTL to upgrade its testing methods. Since 2011, lot of positive doping reports were reported out of NDTL in cases where Indian athletes were actually tested negative earlier by it. With rising trust issues, WADA had warned NDTL to improve its testing methods and types of equipment in September 2018.

But NDTL subsequently failed to meet standards, forcing WADA to recommend its suspension following its visit to the lab in May 2019. One of the key areas of concern for WADA was the ‘Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry’, which differentiates the presence of a natural and synthetic substance in the body.

Impact of Suspension

This suspension (effective from 20 August 2019) prohibits NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples Despite six-month suspension, NADA can still carry on sample collection but tests will have to be conducted at WADA-accredited labs outside India during this period. Moreover, samples collected previously by NDTL will have to be moved safely to an accredited lab.

About World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

It is global Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that aims at harmonizing anti-doping regulations in all sports and countries. It is collective initiative led by the International Olympic Committee.

It was established in 1999 in Lausanne Switzerland under so called Declaration of Lausanne. Its headquarters is in Montreal, Canada.

It is mandated to coordinate, promote and monitor the fight against drugs in sports.