UNGA Current Affairs - 2019

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India pledges $5 Million aid to UN Palestine Refugee Agency in 2019

India has pledged to contribute $5 Million in 2019 to United Nation Palestine refugee agency. This move comes amid India voiced its concern over agency’s financial situation and called for ensuring sustained financial support for its work.

India and UNRWA

During UN General Assembly (UNGA) Ad Hoc Committee meeting for Voluntary Contributions to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in June 2019, India notified that it has increased its annual financial contribution fourfold to UNRWA core budget from $1.25 Million in 2016 to $5 million in 2018 in solidarity with Palestine refugees.

Every year Government of India is assisting 150 Palestinian professionals under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

Also in past 5 years under India-Palestine Development Partnership, several agreements have been signed in fields of IT, agriculture, healthcare, women’s empowerment, media, consular affairs and youth affairs.

About UNRWA

It is a relief and human development agency that was established in 8 December 1949. Since 1950 it has been providing relief, social services health and education as well as emergency humanitarian assistance.

Mandate: It supports registered Palestinian refugees, and their patrilineal descendants, who fled/expelled their homes during Palestine war (1948) and those who fled/expelled during and following Six Day war (1967). At present Agency serves 5.4 million Palestinian refugees 20% of world’s refugees.

It provides aid in 5 fields of operation– Syria, West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon, and Gaza Strip. Aid for Palestinian refugees outside these 5 areas of operation is provided by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

The meeting of Ad Hoc Committee, established by UN General Assembly is the primary forum for announcing financial support. At this year’s meet a total of 23 donors announced contributions, or their intention to contribute, to UNRWA’s 2019 budget.

Almost all of UNRWA’s resources come from voluntarily contributions, with a limited donor base of traditional donors.

Current Situation: Currently UNRWA is under difficult financial situation which has caused concern and has put to risk Agency’s core services to Palestine refugees, especially in fields of health, education and assistance to the most vulnerable refugees.

India abstains from voting on Torture Goods

India has abstained from voting on United Nation General Assembly (UNGA’s) resolution aimed at examining options to end trade in goods which are used for capital punishment and torture. India stated that it is unacceptable to place death penalty on par with torture that it firmly believe that freedom from torture is a human right which must be respected and protected under all circumstances.

Key Highlights

UN General Assembly adopted resolution on- Towards torture-free trade: examining the feasibility, scope and parameters for possible common international standards. The resolution was adopted by 193 member assembly with a recorded vote of 81 in favour, 20 against, and 44 abstentions.

Arguments by India

India argued that incorporating capital punishment into scope of this resolution raised concerns about making an attempt to place it on par with torture.

India stressed that the country remains firmly committed to prevent torture and other such punishment (like cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment).

India stated that where capital punishment is statutorily provided for, due process of law is followed.

It warned the assembly against current resolution, that it may even start a duplicative parallel process related to goods being used for torture and capital punishment and that it will further create ambiguity by conflating different issues.

In India, capital punishment is a statutory provision, but at the same time it is used in rarest of rare cases. Also, acts of torture are punishable in India under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Indian judiciary system serves as a bulwark against any such violations of human rights.