(Current Affairs For SSC Exams) International Events | September : 2012

International Events

THE US AID TO PAKISTAN TO CUT BY 650 MILLION DOLLAR

The US House of Representative on 19 July 2012 voted unanimously to cut the US aid to Pakistan by 650 million dollar. The amendment to cut the aid was proposed by Republican Congressman Ted Poe. The proposal which got the approval of the house in a voice vote will now be tabled in Senate for its approval. Pakistan, a long time ally of US in its war on terror, has received over 20 billion dollar in military and non-military aid since 2001. The Islamic country is one of the largest recipients of US assistance, as in year 2012 alone it is set to receive nearly 3 billion dollar in US aid.

KERRY-LUGAR BILL

The US Senate in September 2009 had unanimously passed the Kerry-Lugar bill which tripled nonmilitary aid to Pakistan to 1.5 billion dollar per annum, pledging America’s long term commitment to its key ally against extremism.

MOHAMED NASHEED CHARGED FOR JUDGE’S ILLEGAL ARREST

The ousted Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed is charged with illegally ordering the arrest of criminal court Chief Justice, Abdulla Mohamed. Mohamed Nasheed, was forced out of office in February 2012. General
Ahmed Muizz the Maldives prosecutor was the one to file the criminal charge against Mohamed Nasheed and the, then defence minister, Tholhath Ibrahim. At present, Nasheed has been charged with violating Article 81 of the Penal Code, the article states that the detention of a government employee who if not found guilty of a crime is illegal. If Nasheed and Ibrahim are found guilty they shall face a jail sentence or banishment for three years. Despite pressures from both international and local parties and a direct order by the Supreme Court for immediate release, Abdulla had been detained in a military training facility at Kaafu Atoll Girifushi for twenty
two days. Nasheed is the second former President in country’s history to be charged after late President Ibrahim Nasir. Nasheed is a Maldivian politician and one of the founders members of the Maldivian Democratic Party. He served as the fourth President of the Maldives from the year 2008 to 2012. Maldives is a presidential republic. The President acts as the head of government as well as the head of state. The President heads
the executive branch and also appoints the cabinet . The cabinet is approved by the People’s Majlis.

UNAIDS REPORT

According to UNAIDS Report released on 18 July 2012, new HIV infections among children are declining at a steady rate. The report noted that about 330000 children were newly infected in 2011, which indicated a 24 percent drop in the new HIV case among children since 2009. Report asserted that nearly 60 percent of the 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV in poor countries received effective anti- AIDS medications last year, which lowered the chances of passing on the virus to their babies. As per the report about 34.2 million people worldwide were living with the AIDS virus at the end of 2011, while, a record eight million people in low- and middle-income countries received the antiretrovirals treatment in 2011.

UNAIDS (UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME ON HIV/AIDS)

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Member of United Nations Development Group, UNAIDS came into existence in 1994 by a resolution of the UN Economic and Social Council and launched in January 1996. UNAIDS has its headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland. Michel Sidibe is the Executive Chairman of UNAIDS.

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTED RESOLUTION ON SYRIA

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution that condemns Syria’s use of heavy weapons in the fight against rebel forces. The resolution,  drafted by Saudi Arabia, deplored the unrelenting bloodshed in Syria and demanded a peaceful political transition in the country. The resolution got 133 votes in favour in the 193-member body, while 12 voted against the resolution. 31 nations including India chose to remain absent during the voting. The fresh resolution is largely in line with the League of Arab States’ resolution which demanded Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad to step down from power and urged world community to severe diplomatic relations and ties with Syria. Syrian government, however, deemed the resolution as an attempt to jeopardize the regional peace and stability. Those who opposed the UN resolution including China, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Cuba argued that putting pressure only on one party would not help resolve the Syrian issue and would instead derail the issue from the track of a political settlement. India abstained from voting after it found some of the provisions of the resolution contrary to its long held stance on the Syrian crisis. Provisions such as forced regime change and sanctions against the country India found particularly objectionable. Before deciding to abstain from the voting Indian Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri had held several rounds of dialogue with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts to remove these provisions.

Hesham Kandil Appointed Egypt’s New Prime Minister

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi elected fifty year old Hisham Kandil as the country’s Prime Minister. Morsi ordered the country’s former minister of water resources and irrigation, Kandil to form a new government. Kandil, holds an engineering degree from Cairo University in the year 1984 and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in the year 1993. Kandil,will be the first Egyptian prime minister to wear a beard,which is a sure sign of change in the country. A number of more experienced names were suggested for the prestigious role, but Morsi chose Kandil, a relatively lesser known face as the Prime Minister of the country, this could be because he wanted someone unlikely to threaten or overshadow him.Kandil is an independent national figure who has never been a member of any party before. Mohamed Morsi who became the fifth President of the Republic of Egypt on 24 June 2012, is the first to have been freely elected in the country. The next government will be technocratic in nature, and the ruling Islamist Freedom and Justice Party is expected to head eight to ten ministries of the new cabinet

International Events

US MADE VISA APPLICATION RULES FOR INDIANS MORE FLEXIBLE

The  United States made the visa application rules for Indians more flexible. Under the new visa application norms Indians who aspire to travel US for business or  holiday purpose would not have to pay visa fees again in the case of reapplication. In the cases like pending application or it had been put on hold for any reason, applicants won’t be required to pay the visa fee again. The relieved visa application norm also immunes children under seven years of age free from any non-immigrant visa interview after completed visa form is submitted. The US consulate has also upgraded its emergency appointment module for applicants who seek visa for
unforeseeable travel to the US.

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA IS THE FIRST FEMALE HEAD OF AU

African Union (AU) elected South Africa’s home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma as its new head, making her the first female head of the union. In a closely fought contest Dlamini-Zuma beat incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon 37-17. Dlamini- Zuma, wife of the former South African President Jacob Zuma, was  declared winner following a third round of voting. In election held in January 2012, neither of the two candidates got the two-thirds majority, which was required to be elected as the organization head. Consequently, Ping got an  extension of another six months in the office. African Union, the successor to Organisation of African Unity, came into existence in 2002 at Durban summit in South Africa. The Union is headquartered at Addis Ababa Ethiopia. A pan- African organization, AU aims at promoting unity and cooperation among African nations. The association also strives to spread democracy and good governance in the continent. At present the African Union has a total of 54 members. Morocco is the only African country which is not the part of the Union.

US HEALTH CARE LAW CONSTITUTIONAL

The US Supreme Court upheld the US President Barack Obama’s most ambitious social legislation, the Health Care Law (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The court verdict came in the favor of legislation, made it mandatory for all American citizens to have health insurance or pay a penalty. The health care legislation mainly aims at covering more than 30 million Americans who have not been insured. The 9-judge US Apex Court bench headed by Chief Justice John Robert held the ruling as constitutional in a 5-4 ruling.  Chief Justice John Robert’s vote proved to be crucial while deciding the fate of the bill. With the Supreme
Court ruling came in the favor of legislation, the country is set to join the league of developed nations which provide mandatory health care assurance to all its citizens. US President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in March 2010. The legislation faced severe protest as Republicans, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and several individuals came in the opposition of it and pushed the demand to repeal the law. Nearly 25 states came forward opposing the bill as they argued that the health care legislation would add to the national debt, and proved to job-killer.

SYRIAN DEFENCE MINSITER, DAWOUD RAJIHA KILLED

The National Security Bureau in the Rawda district of Damascus, capital of Syria suffered a heavy blow on 18 July 2012. As per the information available, the bomb struck while the high profile security meeting was in progress in the Syrian security establishment. The bomb killed the country’s Defence Minister, Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defence Minister Assef Shawkat and seriously injured Interior Minister, Assad’s brother in law, in  relation. The bomb strike was carried out by a suicide bomber, who was apparently a part of the security team that was posted to guard  Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s inner group. This incident took place after four days of violence in Damascus, which started soon after the opposition launched a new offensive  codenamed Operation Damascus Volcano, which focused on high visibility targets As of now, a Syrian rebel Islamist group is claiming up for the strike. The group came up with the information via a post written on Facebook. On the other hand, the opposition Free Syrian Army is also claiming for the attack, according to its spokesman
Qassim Saadedine.

UN MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOAL 2012 REPORT

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released United Nations Millenium Development Goal 2012. Report. The report noted that three important targets on poverty, slums and water have already been met three years ahead of 2015, the target year. On the front of poverty, the report stated that for the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and the poverty rates have fallen in every developing region including sub Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. Preliminary estimates indicate that in 2010, the share of people living on less than a 1.25 dollar a day dropped to less than half of its 1990 value. The target of providing clean drinking water to a substantial population of the world also saw a considerable achievement as the proportion of people using improved water sources rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010, which means more than two billion people across the world today have the access to sources of clean drinking water. In developing world the share of urban population living in slums came down to 33 per cent in 2000 from 39 per cent in 2000. The millennium development goal asserted that the developing countries have also marked considerable achievements in education as many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000. Girls have benefited the most. On the front of AIDS control, the developing countries have achieved tremendous fate as at the end of  2012 nearly 6.5 million people in the developing countries were receiving the antiretroviral therapy for HIV AIDS.

WHAT IS UN MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOAL?

The UN Millenium Development Goal Report presents the most comprehensive global assessment of progress to date, based on data provided by a large number of international organizations within and outside the United Nations system. The aggregate figures in the report provide an overview of regional progress under the eight goals and are a convenient way to track advances over time. The report is coordinated and published by the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The Millenium Development Goal has its origin in the Millennium Declaration produced by the United Nations following the Millennium Summit in 2000. The Declaration asserts that every individual has the right to dignity, freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence, and encourages tolerance and solidarity. In order to achieve its target of providing every individual a basic standard of living along with freedom, equality, the member nations had adopted the Eight goals which has to be achieved by 2015. The eight areas which comprises the UN Millenium Development Goal are as follows:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health

  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

UNEP’S GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY REPORT

The United Nations Environment Programme released its food security report Avoiding Future Famines: Strengthening the Ecological Basis of Food Security through Sustainable Food Systems during Rio+20 Summit on
sustainable development in Rio de Janeirio, Brazil. The report noted that food security must be at the top of the priority list of country’s policy if the world has to provide food to its seven billion population - a number expected to cross nine billion mark by 2050. The report, based on a study conducted by a team of researchers from Swedish Institute of Food & Biotechnology and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, pointed out that an astounding 1.3 billion tones of food is wasted every year. A staggering 220 million tones of food is wasted every year in North America and Europe alone, the report figured out. The UNEP report seeks to draw the attention of global community on key environmental aspects, which are largely being ignored by economic activities like over fishing, unsustainable water use and other human activities. The report also kicks off a debate with respect to the Green Economy and sought for a food security mechanism which does not undermine the crucial ecosystem services. The report, which has been written by a team of eleven scientists and experts, covered several areas of expertise including food consumption patterns, agricultural production, marine fisheries and inland fisheries. International organizations including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), also made their contribution in the first of its kind study, which links global food security to ecological system.

CHINA, RUSSIA VETOED UN RESOLUTION ON SYRIA

Russia and China vetoed on the UN Security Council resolution on Syria on 19 July 2012.Though Russia and China vetoed it, India was amongst the eleven countries that voted in favour with Pakistan and South Africa abstaining. The resolution against which Russia and China vetoed, could have brought new sanctions against  President Bashar Al Assad’s regime. This is the third time in a tenure of nine months that Russia and China used their powers as permanent members of the UN Security Council to block resolutions on Syria. The resolution also would have imposed economic sanctions on the Syrian government under Chapter seven of the United Nations Charter. The Obama Administration was grossly against the decision of Russia and China to veto the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, and tagged the countries stating that, they are on the wrong side of history. However, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, stated that the end game of the Assad regime has just begin. U.S also stated that the Security Council has failed miserably on Syria and it would now work outside  of the council to confront Assad’s regime. The situation in Syria is very vulnerable at the moment , post the killing of the Defence Minister and the Deputy Defence Minister. The Syrian army has given the residents a tenure of forty eight hours to leave the areas of the capital, where clashes are taking place between security forces and rebels. The medical and humanitarian situation in Damarcus is getting worst from worse. As per the observatory figures, huge number of hundred and seven people were killed in violence on 19 July 2012. The Security Council vote has now left the future of a 300-member United Nations mission in Syria to monitor the peace plan in jeopardy.

International Events

US AND PAKISTAN INKED NATO SUPPLY AGREEMENT

After a week long negotiations, Pakistan and the US on 31 July 2012 finally signed an agreement on transporting supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan, until the end of 2015. The agreement was signed by Additional Defence Secretary Rear Admiral Farrukh Ahmed and US Charge d Affaires Richard Hoagland. Under the agreement, the US will provide 1.1 billion dollar aid to Pakistan for fighting terrorists within its borders. The agreement will cease to exist by the end of 2015, though, it can be renewed for one-year intervals beyond that.  The agreement is set to replace the existing arrangements, which is not an official agreement
and largely based on a verbal understanding. Some of the major points of the agreement are as follows:

  • The agreement bars transportation of arms and ammunition for NATO/ISAF in Afghanistan via Pakistan

  • Arms shipments and equipments for training of Afghan security forces allowed

  • Routes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are to be used by NATO tankers

  • No tax or duty to be levied on the containers though commercial carriers will have to pay a fee.

  • Pakistan to ensure the security and quick transfer of cargo while keeping the US authority in loop

  • Containers travelling to Afghanistan will be bound to return via Pakistan

  • The Defence Ministry which will act as a central coordination authority will review daily operations and other matters related to the supply routes

  • Two monitoring offices for NATO supplies to be set up at the Defence Ministry and the US embassy

INDIA CALLED ON ALL NATIONS TO COOPERATE AND BRING END TO SYRIA CRISIS

India called on all nations within and outside Syria to fully cooperate with international envoy Kofi Annan to bring an end to the ongoing crisis situation in Syria. Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Permanent Representative to the
UN Ambassador while addressing a Security Council open debate on the situation in the Middle East, stated that India does not see an alternative to the full implementation of UN resolutions 2042 and 2043 for a political resolution of the crisis without any further bloodshed. India urged all parties to fully cooperate with international envoy, Kofi Annan and bring an  end to the bloodshed and crisis in Syria. The crisis in Syria took pace since the uprising against President Bashar Al Assad began sixteen months ago. An  approximate number of thousand people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and thousands displaced. The UNSC failed to adopt a resolution to stop the crisis in Syria after Russia and China vetoed on the UN Security Council resolution on Syria on 19 July 2012.

ICC SENTENCED CONGOLESE WARLORD THOMAS LUBANGA

Hague based International Criminal Court (ICC) awarded Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, 14-year imprisonment on 10 July 2012. Judges at the ICC found Thomas Lubanga guilty of recruiting and using children in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia. The court, however, has arrangements with seven countries to jail the war criminals which includes; Denmark, Serbia, Mali, Austria, Finland, Britain and Belgium. Lubanga, who had used children as the soldiers during the violent struggle in Congo’s eastern Ituri region in 2002-2003 was convicted for war crime. He is the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC)
since it was established in 2002. He was arrested by UN peacekeepers, in March 2005. Lubanga had led the Union of Congolese Patriots, an ethnic militia in the violent struggle in the Ituri region and its main town of Bunia. The conflict, which began in 1999, claimed the life of about 60000 people in the country.

IRAN TEST-FIRED SHAHAB-3

Iran test-fired a medium range ballistic missile Shahab-3. The Shahab-3 has a range of up to 2000 kilometres. The Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, the two short-range missiles, with ranges of 300 to 500 kilometres, were also launched. The missile launch was the part of Iran’s Great Prophet 7 exercise. Great Prophet 7 exercise was announced by Iran on 1 July 2012 in the wake of latest European Union sanctions on Iran. The exercise, which involved test of dozens of missiles and domestically-built drones came following European Union’s decision to ban the purchase of Iranian crude oil. The EU’s decision is the clear repurcussion of failed dialogue held between Iran and world powers on Iran’s ambitious nuclear programme. The world powers including United  States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the Western powers had held three round of dialogues with Iran to persuade it to halt its nuclear programme. With all the three dialogues did not meet their desired end, the world powers including the European Union chose to impose a strict ban against the purchase of Iranian crude oil. Iran is the fifth largest oil producer in the world and the EU ban on Iranian oil imports will badly hurt its already floundering economy. The sanctions, which have been imposed to make Iran reconsider its nuclear development plan, will not only deprive Iran of European market that makes 18 percent of its exports but also bar EU companies from transporting Iranian crude or insuring shipments, hurting its trade worldwide.

HAQQANI NETWORK LABELED AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANISATION

The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution to label the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist group. The resolution came following the US House of Representatives passed Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 early July 2012. The bill was already passed in 2011 but had to be passed by the Senate again given the changes made in it by the House. As the final step to become a legislation, the bill now move to the White House for the approval of President Barack Obama.

WHAT IS HAQQANI NETWORK?

The Haqqani Network is a group of Islamic fanatics which have been fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan to reacquire control over the trouble-torn nation. The insurgent group, which came into existence in mid 1970s, was largely used by the US as a tool against Soviet Russia during the cold war days. Haqqani Network is widely believed to have the support of Pakistani administration as well as the ISI, Pakistan’s top spy agency The Network is led by Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani. The group, which believed to have its base in Pakistan, operates across the Afghanistan- Pakistan border. The
dreaded terror group consistently remains one of the most formidable threats to the US led NATO forces  and the Afghan Government given its striking capabilities and the influence it enjoys among the conservative islamic groups existing across the border. The network has drawn extreme reactions from the leaders in US and western countries, which consider it as the most resilient enemy network. Haqqani Network’s alleged link with Taliban militants has added to the anxiety of US administration which wants the group to be banned immediately. To fund its terror operations the group relies on the extortion, kidnapping and smuggling. 

CHINA PLEDGED 20 BILLION DOLLAR LOAN TO AFRICA

In a move aimed at strengthening its economic ties with the African continent, China pledged to give 20 billion dollar loan to African countries over the next three years. The announcement about the credit line was made by the Chinese President Hu Jin Tao at the opening session of the fifth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing on 19 July 2012. China had pledged 10 billion dollar loans at the previous China-Africa summit in 2009. Chinese President while addressing the conferencea announced to increase Chinese assistance to Africa by building agricultural technology  demonstration centres, training 30000 personnel and offering 18000 scholarships. To provide better medical amenities in the continent, China will also send 1500 medical staffs to the continent. Heads of state and representatives from 50 African countries attended the conference. Besides, more than 20 Chinese and African business houses inked economic cooperation agreements worth 341 million dollar at the  sideline of the conference. China’s two-way trade with Africa stood at 166 billion dollar in 2011, three times the 2006 volume. China in 2009 became the continent’s biggest trading partner  globally. According to China custom data Angola, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt are the five biggest trading partners of China in Africa. China is sponsoring numerous infrastructure projects in African continent. It also provided the 200 million dollar fund for constructing the African Union’s new headquarters in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. To boost the Sino-African ties the Chinese President proposed five measures including: ¨ Expanding cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable  development in Africa ¨ Building more agricultural
technology demonstration centers as necessary to help African countries increase production capacity ¨ Supporting the African  integration process and help Africa enhance capacity for overall development ¨ Enhancing people-to-people friendship by setting up China-Africa people-to people friendship action ¨ Promoting peace and stability in Africa and create a secure environment for Africa’s development Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit 2012 marked the fifth edition of summit. The summit is held every three year since 2000.

International Events

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON AFGHANISTAN HELD IN TOKYO

The day long International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Tokyo. Nearly 70 countries and organizations attended the conference, pledging a 16 billion dollar development aid to Afghanistan over the next four years. Multilateral organizations like World Bank and Asian Development Bank also attended the conference. At the end of the conference all the participant nations and groups adopted the Tokyo Declaration, on the security of Afghanistan. The declaration read the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability comes from terrorism and that this threat also endangers regional and international peace and security. The declaration also
endorsed key recommendations of a regional conclave hosted by India  to promote direct investment in Afghanistan. The conference, which came in the wake of US and NATO force’s decision to pull out its troop from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, was aimed at providing monetary support to the war-torn nation. The development aid is intended to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the country. The day long International Conference on Afghanistan held in Japanese capital Tokyo on 8 July 2012. The conference, which was held to discuss the peace building process in the war-torn nation concluded with the participants getting agreed to provide 16 billion dollar as the development aid to the country over the next four years. The participants adopted  Tokyo Declaration towards the end of the conference, which widely acknowledged India’s concerns on the security of Afghanistan. The declaration stated that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability comes from terrorism and that this threat also endangers regional and international peace and security. The declaration also endorsed key recommendations of a regional conclave hosted by India to promote direct investment in Afghanistan. Confederation of Indian Industry had hosted the Delhi Investors’ Summit on Afghanistan on 28 June 2012.

BANKS HANDLING IRANIAN OIL TRANSACTIONS SANCTIONED BY US

United States announced fresh sanctions against foreign banks that helps Iran sell its oil.The U.S government signed an executive order of new sanctions which will target anyone buying Iranian petrochemicals or facilitating payments to Iran, including an Iraqi and a Chinese Bank. The government stated that the measure would increase pressure on Tehran for failing to meet its international nuclear  obligations. The sanctions are targeting the foreign banks that handle transactions for Iranian oil or handle large transactions from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) or Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO). The order given by Obama also targeted the  China’s Bank of Kunlun and Iraq’s Elaf Islamic Bank for providing services to Iranian banks. On this order, China reacted quite angrily , saying that the effort is being used to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. China, a big importer of Iranian oil decided to lodge an official protest with U.S.A after the recent development. The new order provides waiver to countries that have cut the purchases of Iranian oil significantly. Oil and
Petrochemical industry account almost eighty percent of Iran’s revenues.

ROMANIA’S PRESIDENT SURVIVED THE IMPEACHMENT

People of Romania voted in a referendum on impeaching the President Traian Basescu. The President, however, survived the impeachment because of low voter turnout. According to Romanian law, the referendum required at least 50 percent voting of eligible voters, while the turnout was under 46 percent on the day of referendum. The referendum came following Romania’s center-left government,  led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, suspended Basescu as it accused him of making unnecessary interference in government affairs.  Traian Basescu was removed from his post by the parliament on 10 July 2012, but as the referendum stands invalid now, he will be reinstated to the position. Traian Basescu was elected president of the country in 2004. Previously he was suspended from office in 2007, though he reacquired the position a month later through a referendum. In 2009 he was re-elected the president for a second 5-year term. Romania, the  member of European Union, is located at the intersection of Central and Southeastern Europe. It is the ninth largest country of the European Union by area, and has the seventh largest population  rope. The country became the member of European Union on 1 January 2007. Under the Romanian political system, Prime Minister of the country serves as the head of the government, while the President wor ks as the head of the state. President is elected through the universal adult franchise system for a maximum of two fiveyear terms. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the country after it holds consultations with the leaders of the party that enjoys the majority in the Parliament.

FIRST US AMBASSADOR TO MYANMAR SINCE 1990

Derek Mitchell assumed the charge as the first US Ambassador to Myanmar in the past 22 year. Mitchell met President Thein Sein in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw before assuming the charge. Prior to his current assignment, Mitchell served as President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Myanmar. The US Senate confirmed his appointment as ambassador to the country in June 2012. Earlier, charge d’affaires used to be the US’ top diplomat in Myanmar. In yet another gesture of amity the US government eased sanctions on Myanmar, allowing American business houses to make investment in the southeast Asian  nation. The decision marked a
strong indication of US’ support to the political reforms being unfolded in Myanmar. Prompted by the series of political reforms in the country, the US Government in January 2012 had announced to restore diplomatic relation with Myanmar. The former Junta ruled country has witnessed a slew of political reforms over the past few months, which witnessed prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi released from the year-long house arrest and moving to the parliament following a victory in by-elections.

HILLARY CLINTON VISITED LAOS

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state visited Southeast Asian nation Laos (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) on 10 July 2012. The historic visit marked the first to the Laos, a communist nation, by any US secretary of state over the past 57 years. John Foster Dulles’ visit in 1955 marked the last visit by any top US diplomat to Laos. During her visit she held separate dialogues with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith where the leaders discussed a range of bilateral and  global issues. The two countries had not been on best of terms after the US dropped two million tons of bombs on Laos during the Vietnam
War. The hazardous effects of unexploded bombs are still being felt in the country. Hillary Clinton’s visit to Laos is the part of US’ strategy to strengthen its presence in the Southeast Asian region. US, which over the past one decade has shown a great willingness to get its position strengthened in the entire Asian continent, is reworking over its future plans in the region against the backdrop of growing Chinese hegemony. The visit indicates the US’ changing foreign policy stance and priorities in the region. Earlier Clinton had visited Mongolia the other Central-east Asian nation on 10 July 2012.

UNHRC ADOPTED RESOLUTION TO PROTECT THE ONLINE HUMAN RIGHTS OF GLOBAL CITIZENS

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Geneva based human rights wing of UN, adopted a first ever resolution to protect the online human rights of global citizens. The resolution adopted by consensus, stated that citizens of the world are as much entitled to the human rights online as they are offline. The resolution noted that there can be no double standard with regard to people’s right of fundamental freedom and since internet makes a major part of present world’s communication process, all governments must endeavour to protect the online rights of its citizens.

PAKISTAN SUPREME COURT ANNULLED NEW LAW PROTECTING THE PRIME MINISTER

Supreme Court of Pakistan annulled the new law called Contempt of Court Act 2012(COCA 2012) seeking to protect the Prime Minister from disqualification. A five-member bench of the Court headed by Chief Justice
Iftikhar Chaudhry ruled that the new law is unconstitutional and void with effect from the day it was enforced. The court found Section 2(a), Section 3, Section 4(4), Section 6(2&3), Section 8(1, 3 &5), Section 10(b), Section 11(3, 4 & 5), Section 12 and Section 13 of COCA 2012 as ultra vires the constitution of Pakistan. COCA 2012 was promulgated under Clause 3 of Article 204 of the constitution, which confers power on the
legislature to make law to regulate the exercise of power by the Courts, and not to incorporate any substantive provision or defences  as it has been done in the proviso. The court ruling said that powers of the courts were reduced by incorporating expression by scandalising a judge in relation to his office whereas in Article 204(2) the word court has been used. The court further observed that incorporation of Article 248(1) in proviso (i) to Section 3 is tantamount to amending the constitution, which could not be done without following the procedure given in in articles 238 and 239 of the constitution.

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