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The Hindu Editorial

17-January-2024

1. A provisional order by ICJ on Israel will cast shadow on legitimacy of its war.

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Important International institutions
The South Africa-Israel case at ICJ sheds light on geopolitical tensions, genocide allegations, and global calls for Gaza ceasefire, relevant for UPSC aspirants. 
Context:
  • The article discusses South Africa’s case against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza at the International Court of Justice.
  • It also highlighting historical contexts, legal arguments, and concerns about Israel’s compliance with potential provisional measures amid global calls for a Gaza ceasefire.
Background of the ICJ Hearing:
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague is currently holding a preliminary hearing on South Africa’s case against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
  • The case has attracted global attention, standing out among other proceedings at this elite inter-state forum.
Historical Context of the Dispute:
  • South Africa, having overcome its apartheid past, accuses Israel of practicing ‘apartheid’ against the Palestinian people for 75 years since 1948.
  • Israel asserts it is acting in the interest of justice and humanity and vehemently denies any accusation of genocide.
Parallel Diplomatic Histories:
  • Both countries experienced diplomatic isolation in the past century, with countries and sporting bodies boycotting them, yet they had the support of their western allies.
  • Today, apart from a few allies, the entire world supports a ceasefire in Gaza to alleviate the suffering of its people.
South Africa’s Case at the Preliminary Stage:
  • South Africa aims to demonstrate that some of Israel’s actions fall within the terms of the Genocide Convention, alleging ‘genocidal intent.’
  • It relies on data regarding deaths, destruction, and the collapse of civilian life and health infrastructure in Gaza.
  • Statements attributed to key Israeli government figures are highlighted as evidence of ‘genocidal intent.’
  • Provisional measures sought include a suspension of military operations and steps to prevent genocide.
Israel’s Defense and Counterarguments:
  • Israel characterizes the South African case as ‘blood libel’ but argues that its Gaza operations are a legitimate response to a terrorist attack on October 7 of the previous year.
  • Israel downplays the relevance of its leaders’ statements, dismissing them as mere rhetoric.
  • Civilian casualties are attributed to Hamas using civilians as shields and utilizing hospitals for storing explosives and launching pads for attacks.
Concerns About Compliance:
  • The central issue before the court is straightforward, focusing on whether Israel will abide by any provisional measures.
  • There is historical precedent, as Russia ignored an ICJ order to suspend its operations in Ukraine in March 2022.
  • Despite any potential non-compliance, any provisional measure is likely to cast a shadow on the legitimacy of Israel’s Gaza war.
More about International Court of Justice
  • Main role: Settles disputes between countries & offers legal advice through advisory opinions.
  • Established: 1945, alongside the United Nations.
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands.
  • Judges: 15 from different countries, elected for 9 years.
  • Cases: Covers issues like maritime borders, environmental conflicts, & human rights violations.
  • Decisions: Binding for involved countries, though enforcement can be challenging.
  • Impact: Shapes international law & promotes peaceful resolution of disputes between nations.

2. Status quo seems to suit Taiwan best in its relationship with China

Topic: GS2 – International Relations
UPSC relevance: Taiwan’s election dynamics, DPP’s win, and China tensions offer insights into geopolitics, democracy, and regional stability.
Context:
  • The article discusses Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party’s historic third consecutive presidential win
  • Emphasizing voters’ preference for continuity and the status quo amid tensions with China, whose military drills and threats face resistance from Taiwanese voters.
Taiwan’s Presidential Election Results:
  • Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secures a historic third consecutive term in Taiwan’s presidential elections.
  • Vice President William Lai Ching-te emerges victorious, reflecting 14 million voters’ preference for continuity and the status quo.
Message to the World and Beijing’s Response:
  • Vice President Lai describes the elections as a global message affirming Taiwanese commitment to democracy.
  • Beijing questions the DPP’s representation of mainstream public opinion, citing a reduced vote share for the ruling party.
Shift in Election Dynamics:
  • While past elections reflected concerns about cross-strait relations, the latest polls prioritize local issues like the economy and jobs.
  • Despite tensions with China, voters support DPP, signaling resistance to Beijing’s political and military pressures.
Continued Tensions and China’s Stance:
  • Tensions persist with frequent military drills by China around Taiwan.
  • China refuses to rule out force for “reunification,” but experts suggest economic consequences may deter such actions.
China – Taiwan relations
  • Core Issue: Dispute over Taiwan’s political status. China views it as a breakaway province, while Taiwan sees itself as a separate nation.
  • “One China” Policy: Most countries recognize China’s claim but maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan.
  • History: Civil war in 1949 led to separation. War officially ended in 1991, but tensions remain.
  • Economic Ties: Strong trade interdependence, making Taiwan China’s 9th largest trading partner.
  • Political Differences: Taiwan a vibrant democracy, China a one-party state with limited freedoms.
  • Taiwanese Identity: Growing sense of distinct Taiwanese identity, especially among younger generations.
  • Military Concerns: China’s military significantly larger, raising fears of potential forced unification.
  • Cross-Strait Dialogue: Periods of communication and cooperation punctuated by increased tensions.
  • International Spotlight: Key flashpoint in global security, with potential to impact regional and global stability.
  • Uncertain Future: Complex issue with no easy solution, requiring careful navigation by all parties involved.

3. The geopolitics in the Bangladesh election results.

Topic: GS2 – International Relations
UPSC relevance: Bangladesh’s elections reveal geopolitical complexities, impacting regional dynamics, democratic values, and economic considerations, crucial for aspirants’ understanding. 
Context:
  • Bangladesh’s controversial national elections saw the ruling Awami League secure a resounding victory amid violence.
  • Global powers, including the U.S., expressed concerns about democratic shortcomings, while China and Russia supported the outcome, reflecting Bangladesh’s rising geopolitical importance and economic influence. 
Bangladesh’s Controversial Elections:
  • National elections on January 7, 2024, marked by violence and protests, result in a resounding victory for the ruling Awami League, securing 225 out of 300 contested seats.
  • Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotts, demanding elections under a neutral caretaker government.
Geopolitical Dynamics:
  • Bangladesh’s rising economic prominence attracts global powers like China, India, Russia, and the U.S., engaging in a geopolitical tug-of-war.
  • India, with deep strategic interests, views a stable Bangladesh as crucial for balancing China’s influence.
U.S. Stance and Concerns:
  • The U.S. criticizes Bangladesh for democratic shortcomings, human rights suppression, and press freedom restrictions.
  • Balancing strategic interests and democratic values, the U.S. considers imposing visa restrictions on individuals undermining the democratic process.
China and Russia’s Responses:
  • China, Bangladesh’s top trading partner, considers the election an internal matter and congratulates the Awami League on its victory.
  • Russia, invested in Bangladesh’s infrastructure, aligns with China and congratulates Sheikh Hasina, emphasizing a collaborative relationship.
Economic Implications and Challenges:
  • Bangladesh’s economic strength, with 7.1% GDP growth, becomes a geopolitical battleground.
  • Potential U.S. and EU restrictions on the readymade garment industry, a significant foreign exchange source, pose challenges.
UN and Historical Precedent:
  • Past UN warnings in 2007 resulted in a military-backed caretaker government holding elections in 2008.
  • Uncertainty surrounds the UN’s response and potential actions following criticism of the 2024 elections.
Domestic Challenges:
  • Surging living costs trigger protests amid challenges of dealing with energy import prices, dwindling dollar reserves, and a weakening local currency.
  • Post-COVID recovery faces economic shocks, supply chain disruptions, and inflationary pressures, adding complexity for Prime Minister Hasina’s government.
Conclusion:
  • The contentious Bangladesh elections showcase the nation’s geopolitical significance. As global powers weigh in, economic and strategic considerations intertwine, presenting challenges for the government in managing internal affairs while navigating complex international dynamics.

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