UNESCO Current Affairs - 2019
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Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22. It was first celebrated in 1970, and since then it is celebrated in more than 193 countries by over a billion people every year. Earth Day celebrations are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
Earth Day 2017’s Campaign is Environmental & Climate Literacy. Environmental and climate literacy was chosen as it is important for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies across the globe as well as to accelerate green technologies and jobs.
Every year Earth Day is being observed on the 22nd April to build support for environmental protection around the world. It aims to encourage people to carry out activities that will benefit the Earth, such as recycling more, using solar power or plant trees.
Earth Day celebrations are a way to remind humans of environmental deterioration caused by them and advise them to turn off the electronic devices that are not in use or taking public transport to reduce the emission levels. It recognises that Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance. It also aims to raise awareness that humans have a collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature and to balance the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.
The concept of observing Earth Day was formally proposed by John McConnell at a UNESCO conference on Environment in 1969. Later in 1971, a proclamation was signed to observe international Earth Day annually on the Vernal Equinox by UN Secretary-General U Thant.
On Earth Day 2016, historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed. The agreement is legally binding on signatory countries to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
India has contributed USD 2,50,000 to the UN Election Assistance Division to help other countries to hold elections and develop their electoral systems. This is the second time that India has contributed USD 2,50,000 towards electoral assistance and capacity building. The first assistance was made in 2012.
UN Election Assistance Division
UN Election Assistance Division was set up in 1991 to help member states to build credible and sustainable national electoral systems. The UN electoral assistance is based on the principle established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to it, “the will of the people, as expressed through periodic and genuine elections, shall be the basis of government authority”.
Under this programme, UN has assisted over 100 countries with their elections. Though it principally provides technical assistance for conducting elections, it has also sent observers at the request of the General Assembly or the Security Council to ensure the integrity of elections conducted at different countries.
In the 1990s, UN under this programme has provided popular consultations in the countries like Timor-Leste, South Africa, Mozambique, El Salvador and Cambodia. Recently, it has provided technical and logistical assistance to conduct elections in countries like Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
Types of Assistance
- Technical assistance
- Election observation and other assessments
- Organization or Supervision of Elections.
UN entities providing electoral assistance
- The Department of Political Affairs (DPA)
- The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- United Nations Volunteers (UNV)
- The United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS)
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)