United Kingdom Current Affairs - 2019
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United Kingdom Government has announced new plans to change law for organ and tissue donation to address urgent need for organs within Indian-origin communities in the country. The amendment in existing law will propose new system of consent for organ and tissue donation. This will be known as Max’s Law after Max Johnson, a 10-year-old boy who was saved by a heart transplant.
The changes in law will try to incorporate opt-in system similar to India, whereby families’ decision to donate organs of their loved one after death is discretionary. This will come into effect in England in 2020 as part of a drive to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people desperately waiting for a life-saving transplant. Under this new presumed consent system, those who do not want to donate their organs will be able to record their decision on state-funded National Health Service (NHS) Organ Donor Register (ODR).
The announcement comes as recent report titled ‘Organ Donation: Breaking Taboos Amongst British BAME Communities’ had called on NHS to take more proactive action to address high death rate among Indian-origin people in Britain due to low levels of organ donation within community. The report was commissioned by Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and was aimed at studying low levels of donation among BAME communities in the UK. According to this report, BAME communities are seen as generally less inclined to opt for organ donation, largely due to deeply-entrenched cultural and religious beliefs discouraging organ donation. In another report by NHS, it was found that 21% of people who died on organ donation waiting list in UK in 2017 were from BAME background. It also held that family refusal continues to be biggest obstacle to organ donation among UK’s Asian communities
The world’s foremost chemical weapons watchdog, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as granted itself new powers to help identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria. 82 members (exceeding required two-thirds majority) of the OPCW voted in favour of this proposal tabled by United Kingdom at special session of Conference of States Parties in The Hague. 24 countries including Russia, Iran and Syria voted against it.
With enhanced powers, OPCW now can put in place arrangements to identify the perpetrators of use of chemical weapons in Syria. It is considered as important step forward for arms control. It strengthens unravelling consensus against use of chemical weapons.
Until now, OPCW was only able to say whether chemical weapons were used – but not who had used them. It had limited power to only send teams to alleged chemical weapons attack, collect samples and draw their conclusions. They were having only limited power of determining whether attack is chemical weapons or not. But whatever evidence they turned up, they were not having powers to point finger at particular country or non-state actor as the perpetrator for the attack.
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
OPCW is an intergovernmental organization that promotes, administers and verifies the adherence to the Convention on Prohibition of Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC). This convention outlaws production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. 190 member-states have signed and ratified this convention including India. Six states- Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea and South Sudan are still outside the CWC. OPCW was established April 1997 and it is headquartered in Hague, Netherlands. It was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for overseeing global endeavour for permanent and verifiable elimination of chemical weapons.