UNGA Current Affairs - 2019
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The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was observed on May 29 2019. The theme for this year is ‘Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace’.
About International Day of UN Peacekeepers
- Background: It was instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) through Resolution 57/129 in December 2002. It was chosen to mark 20th anniversary of UN Security Council’s (UNSC) first explicitly mandated a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians viz. UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) from 1999 until 2005.
- The date 29 was chosen as it marks establishment of first UN peacekeeping mission was on this day in 1948, when UN Security Council (UNSC) authorized deployment of small number of UN military observers to Middle East.
- Importance: The day is celebrated to honour memory of more than 3,800 UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives while rendering peacekeeping services. It also pays tribute to all men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations across the world for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage.
About India and UNPKF
- India is the 4th largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping missions. Currently, it contributes about 6,400 peacekeepers to various missions across the world. India also has largest percentage of women in police force, at around 32%, contribution to the future of peacekeeping.
Tags: India and UNPKF • International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers • Resolution 57/129 • UN Mission in Sierra Leone • UNAMSIL • UNGA • United Nation Security Council • United Nations General Assembly • UNPKF • UNSC
The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) passed a non-binding resolution asking United Kingdom (UK) to return Chagos Archipelago in Indian Ocean to Mauritius.
- Background: On February 2019 International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of separation of Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 when latter was a British colony. It also ruled the UK’s decolonisation of the Indian Ocean islands was unlawful. This advisory opinion was endorsed by UNGA.
- About: The UNGA condemned the Britain’s occupation of Mauritius’s remote Chagos Islands in Indian Ocean and passed a resolution demanding Britain to withdraw its administration of the Chagos Islands. The 193-member world body passed resolution with 116-6 in favour (with 56 abstentions). The vote supported a motion which set a six-month deadline for Britain to withdraw from Chagos island chain and for islands to be reunified with neighbouring Mauritius.
- Chagos Archipelago, a group of seven atolls comprises of more than 60 islands in Indian Ocean. It is located about 500 km south of Maldives. Since 18th century when the French first settled in islands, it had been part of Mauritius only. In 1801, all of the islands of French colonial territory in region were ceded to British.
- As per ICJ, in 1965 Britain unlawfully carved up Mauritius (when it was a British colony) which Chagos Archipelago was a part of. Thus even after Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968 UK retained its sovereignty over islands to form British Indian Ocean Territory. UK then forcibly removed entire population of Chagos islands from territory between 1967 and 1973, and also prevented them from returning.
- Since then islands have been known by Foreign Office as British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and being used for defence purposes by UK and United States. The US also established a military base on island of Diego Garcia which is largest of all islands.
- Thus, Mauritius claims its sovereignty over islands and argues that British claim is in violation of law and of UN resolutions that bans dismemberment of colonial territories before independence.
- ICJ verdict: In February 2019 International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the principal judicial body of UN and highest international legal authority, upheld that UK Government is under an obligation to end its administration over Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible. ICJ also advised that all its member states are under an obligation to cooperate with UN in order to complete decolonisation of Mauritius.
- UNGA Resolution: It reaffirmed advisory opinion of ICJ and held that Chagos Archipelago forms an integral part of territory of Mauritius. It demanded UK to withdraw its colonial administration from Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within a period of six months and to also support Mauritius in its quest for restoration of sovereignty over island chain.
- Significance: Although the resolution is not legally-binding, but it still carries significant political weight as the ruling came from UN’s highest court and assembly votes also reflected world opinion.
- India was among 116 nations who voted in favour of resolution.
- India supported draft resolution, submitted by Senegal on behalf of members of Group of African States and voted in favour of it, as Mauritius is a fellow developing nation from Africa, with which India shares age-old people-to-people bonds.
- India for long has been supporter of all peoples striving for decolonization and has consistently supported Mauritius since beginning its quest for restoration of its sovereignty over Chagos Archipelago.
- India urged all concerned nations to reach a mutually agreeable understanding as soon as possible.
Tags: British Indian Ocean Territory • Chagos Archipelago • Diego Garcia • India-UN • Indian Ocean • International Court of Justice (ICJ) • Maldives • Mauritius • UK-Mauritius • UNGA • UNGA Resolution • United Kingdom (UK) • United Nation General Assembly (UNGA)