Daily Prelims Newsletter for upsc 04 Mar 2022

Daily Prelims Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

04 Mar 2022-Friday

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

Crimes of War

Why in the news?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently announced that it will launch an investigation into possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine. War crimes are subject to specific international standards.

What exactly is the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

It is a permanent judicial body established by the ICC’s Rome Statute (its founding and governing document) in 1998, and it began operations on July 1, 2002, when the Statute entered into force.

Headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands.

Members: 123 countries have signed the Rome Statute and recognise the ICC’s authority.

The United States, China, Russia, and India are not members.

The forum was established as a last resort court to prosecute crimes that would otherwise go unpunished, and it has jurisdiction over four major crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression.

What exactly are war crimes?

War crimes are serious violations of humanitarian law committed during a conflict. The definition established by the ICC’s Rome Statute is based on the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

It is predicated on the notion that individuals can be held accountable for the actions of a state or its military. Taking hostages, willful killings, torturing or inhumane treatment of prisoners of war, and forcing children to fight are just a few examples.

What are the 1949 Geneva Conventions?

The Geneva Conventions (1949) and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules for limiting war’s brutality.

They protect those who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, and aid workers) as well as those who are unable to fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war).

During a war, the first Geneva Convention protects wounded and sick soldiers on land.

During a war, the second Geneva Convention protects wounded, sick, and shipwrecked military personnel at sea.The third Geneva Convention governs the treatment of prisoners of war.

The fourth Geneva Convention protects civilians, including those in occupied territory. The Geneva Convention is ratified by India.

What are the War Crimes Criteria?

Criteria: International humanitarian law establishes three principles for determining whether an individual or a military has committed a war crime:

Targeting objectives that are “expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objectives, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” is illegal.

Proportionality: Proportionality forbids armies from retaliating violently in response to an attack.

For example, if a soldier is killed, you cannot retaliate by bombing an entire city.

Precaution: It requires conflict parties to avoid or minimise harm to civilian populations.

Raids on cities or villages, bombing of residential buildings or schools, and even the killing of groups of civilians do not always constitute war crimes — not if their military necessity is justified.

The same act can be classified as a war crime if it causes unnecessarily high levels of destruction, suffering, and casualties that outweigh the military benefit of the attack.

Furthermore, the distinction between civilian and military populations has become increasingly difficult.

What is the distinction between war crimes and crimes against humanity?

The United Nations Office for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect (or Genocide Convention) distinguishes between war crimes and genocide and crimes against humanity.

War crimes are those committed during a domestic conflict or a war between two states.

While genocide and crimes against humanity can occur in peacetime or during a military’s unilateral aggression against a group of unarmed people.

Thermobaric Weapons and Cluster Bombs

Why in the news?

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Russia of using cluster bombs and vacuum bombs in the ongoing conflict (on Ukraine).

According to Amnesty International, the use of weapons that are inherently indiscriminate, such as cluster munitions, is prohibited under international humanitarian law. It is a war crime to launch indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians.

What exactly are cluster munitions?

A cluster munition is defined as a “conventional munition designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions weighing less than 20 kilogrammes, including those explosive submunitions.”

Cluster munitions are essentially non-precision weapons that are designed to injure or kill people indiscriminately over a large area, as well as destroy vehicles and infrastructure such as runways, railways, and power transmission lines.

They can be dropped from an aircraft or launched in a projectile that spins in flight, scattering a large number of bomblets as it travels.

Many of these bomblets do not explode, but instead remain on the ground, often partially or completely hidden and difficult to locate and remove, posing a threat to civilians long after the fighting has ended.

International humanitarian law is a set of rules aimed at mitigating the effects of armed conflict. It protects civilians who are not or are no longer involved in hostilities and limits the means and methods of warfare.

The Cluster Munitions Convention defines “cluster munition remnants” as “failed cluster munitions, abandoned cluster munitions, unexploded submunitions, and unexploded bomblets.”

What exactly is a thermo baric weapon?

Thermobaric weapons, also known as aerosol bombs, fuel air explosives, or vaccum bombs, produce a large, high-temperature blast by using oxygen from the air.

A thermobaric weapon wreaks far more havoc than a conventional bomb of comparable size.

The weapons, which are launched in two stages, can be launched as rockets from tank-mounted launchers or dropped from aircraft.

As they approach their target, a first explosion splits open the bomb’s fuel container, releasing a cloud of fuel and metal particles over a large area.

A second explosion occurs, igniting the aerosol cloud into a massive ball of fire and unleashing intense blast waves capable of destroying even reinforced buildings or equipment and vaporising humans.

What is the Cluster Munitions Convention?

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a legal instrument adopted by the United Nations that prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions.

It creates a framework for cooperation and assistance to ensure adequate assistance to survivors and their communities, cleanup of contaminated areas, risk reduction education, and stockpile destruction.

In 2008, it was adopted in Dublin, Ireland, and it was opened for signature in Oslo, Norway. It went into effect in 2010 after the required 30 ratifications were obtained.

The convention currently has 110 State Parties and 13 Signatory States.

Countries that ratify the convention are obligated to never use cluster munitions, as well as to never develop, produce, acquire, retain, stockpile, or transfer cluster munitions to anyone.

India has not signed the convention and is therefore not a signatory to it. Other countries that are not parties include the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, and Israel, to name a few.

Vacuum bombs are not prohibited by international law or agreement, but their use against civilian populations in built-up areas, schools, or hospitals may result in legal action under the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions.

The Hague Convention is any of a series of international treaties resulting from international conferences held in The Hague, Netherlands, between 1899 and 1907. They formalise the laws and customs of war by defining the rules that belligerents must follow during hostilities.

Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission

Why in the news?

The 117th meeting of India and Pakistan’s Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held.

Previously, the Central Government decided to implement a new criterion for selecting Bhakra Beas Management Board members (BBMB).

What are the Meeting’s Highlights?

Both sides discussed the exchange of hydrological and flood data, with the Indian side emphasising that all of its projects are fully compliant with the Indus Waters Treaty provisions.

The Fazilka drain issue was also discussed, and Pakistan assured that all necessary steps would be taken to ensure the free flow of the Fazilka drain into the Sutlej River.

Fazilka drain is one of 22 drains and water bodies that discharge untreated water from Malwa district (Punjab, India).

The drain is blocked at the country’s border, causing ponds to form and the quality of groundwater in the border area to deteriorate.

Technical discussions took place about ongoing projects such as Pakal Dul, Kiru, and Lower Kalnai.

The Pakal Dul Hydroelectric Project (1000 MW) is proposed for the Marusudar River, a tributary of the Chenab River in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kiru Hydroelectric Project (624 MW) is proposed on the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district.

Lower Kalnai is a hydroelectric power project in the Jammu and Kashmir districts of Doda and Kishtwar.

The Indian side explicitly stated that, as an upper riparian State, India has been providing information on extraordinary discharges of water from reservoirs and flood flows on an annual basis, as required by the treaty.

What is the Indus Waters Treaty’s History?

The Indus river basin contains six rivers: the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej, which originate in Tibet and flow through the Himalayan ranges into Pakistan, ending south of Karachi.

Apart from delineating geographical boundaries for India and Pakistan, the partition line also divided the Indus river system in two in 1947.

Both sides relied on water from the Indus River Basin to keep their irrigation infrastructure operational, so equitable distribution was required.

Initially, the Inter-Dominion Agreement of May 1948 was signed, in which both countries agreed that India would supply water to Pakistan in exchange for an annual payment made by the latter.

This agreement, however, quickly fell apart because both countries couldn’t agree on its common interpretations.

In 1951, against the backdrop of the water-sharing dispute, both countries applied to the World Bank for funding of their respective irrigation projects on the Indus and its tributaries, at which point the World Bank offered to mediate the dispute.

After nearly a decade of fact-finding, negotiation, World Bank proposals and amendments, an agreement was reached between the two countries in 1960, and the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then-Pakistan President Ayub Khan.

What are some of its most important provisions?

Water Sharing:

The treaty outlined how water from the Indus River System’s six rivers would be shared between India and Pakistan.

It assigned the three western rivers—Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum—to Pakistan for unrestricted use, with the exception of certain non-consumptive, agricultural, and domestic uses by India, and it assigned the three eastern rivers—Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej—to India for unrestricted use.

This means that 80 percent of the water, or about 135 Million Acre Feet (MAF), went to Pakistan, while the remaining 33 MAF, or 20 percent of the water, went to India.

Permanent Indus Commission: It also required both countries to set up a Permanent Indus Commission, which would be made up of permanent commissioners from both sides.

While Pakistan has rights to the waters of the Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus, Annexure C of the IWT allows India certain agricultural uses, while Annexure D allows it to build ‘run of the river’ hydropower projects, which do not require live storage of water.

Design Specifications: It also includes design specifications that India must adhere to when developing such projects.

Raising Objections: The treaty also allows Pakistan to object to such projects being built by India if it believes they do not meet the specifications.

India must share information about the project design and any changes made to it with Pakistan, which must respond with any objections within three months of receipt.

Furthermore, India is permitted to have a minimum storage level on the western rivers, which means it can store up to 3.75 MAF of water for conservation and flood storage.

Dispute Resolution Mechanism: The IWT also includes a three-step dispute resolution mechanism through which “questions” on both sides can be resolved at the Permanent Commission or at the inter-governmental level.

In the event that there are unresolved questions or “differences” between the countries regarding water-sharing, such as technical differences, either side can approach the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert (NE) to make a decision.

Finally, if either party is dissatisfied with the NE’s decision or if there are “disputes” in the interpretation and scope of the treaty, the matter can be referred to a Court of Arbitration.

What about geopolitical clashes?

The Indus Water Treaty has come up a few times in recent years during geopolitical tensions between India and Pakistan.

Following the attack on J&K’s Uri army camp in 2016, India declared that “blood and water cannot flow simultaneously,” prompting the Indian side to suspend the Permanent Indus Commission talks for the year. The Indian side also threatened to withdraw from the treaty at one point.

When a suicide attack in Pulwama killed 40 CRPF personnel in 2019, India threatened to cut off Pakistan’s water supply from the Indus River System for the first time.

Later, it was clarified that restricting Pakistan’s supply would be a violation of the IWT and would necessitate the consideration of top officials at the Centre.

The IWT does not have a unilateral exit clause and is expected to remain in force until both countries ratify another mutually agreed-upon treaty.

What is the purpose of the Permanent Indus Commission?

It is a bilateral commission of Indian and Pakistani officials formed to implement and manage the goals of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

According to the treaty, the Commission shall meet at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan.

The Commission’s functions include the following: studying and reporting to the two governments on any problem relating to the development of river waters.

To settle disputes over water sharing.

Organize technical visits to project sites and critical river headworks.

To conduct a general tour of inspection of the Rivers once every five years to ascertain the facts.

to take the necessary steps to carry out the provisions of the treaty

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