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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit 2018

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On 9-10 June 2018, Qingdao, PRC, hosted a meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (CHS SCO).

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, and President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The meeting was chaired by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

The meeting was also attended by SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Director of the Executive Committee of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS) Yevgeny Sysoyev.

Taking part in the event were President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani, President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga, as well as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed, Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Lim Jock Hoi, Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergei Lebedev, Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation Yuri Khachaturov, Executive Director of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia Gong Jianwei, Chairman of the Collegium of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sarkisyan, Vice President of the World Bank Victoria Kwakwa, and IMF Department Director Changyong Rhee.

The Heads of the Member States considered the implementation of the results of the 2017 Astana Summit and priorities for further SCO development in the context of current processes in world politics and economy. The parties’ coordinated positions have been reflected in the Qingdao Declaration that was adopted at the meeting.

It was stated that the Member States were firmly committed to the goals and principles of the SCO Charter and, guided by the Shanghai Spirit, were continuing to address the tasks outlined in the SCO Development Strategy until 2025. It was noted that the SCO had asserted itself as a unique, influential and authoritative regional organization whose potential had grown remarkably following the accession of India and Pakistan.

The intention was reaffirmed to continue strengthening practical interaction in the political, security, trade and economic areas, including finance, investment, transport, energy, agriculture, as well as cultural and humanitarian ties. A Plan of Action for 2018-2022 to implement the Treaty on Long-Term Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between SCO Member States was approved.

In the context of an exchange of views on current international and regional problems, the need was stressed to build up joint security and stability efforts in the SCO space and to facilitate the emergence of international relations of a new type and a common vision of the idea of creating the Community of Shared Future for Mankind.

The Member States consistently advocate the settlement of crises in Afghanistan, Syria, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, as well as other regional conflicts within the framework of generally accepted norms and principles of international law. They noted the importance of the steady implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme.

The Member States reaffirm their resolute support for UN efforts to ensure international peace and security. They noted the need for reaching a consensus on adopting the UN Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism and supported the Republic of Kazakhstan’s initiative at the UN to promote the Code of Conduct to Achieve a World Free of Terrorism.

The heads of the Member States took note of the intention of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan to become non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The SCO’s coordinated policy of waging an effective fight against challenges and threats to security remains unchanged. Practical interaction in this area will be facilitated by the adopted Programme of Cooperation between the SCO Member States in Opposing Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2019-2021. A special role in implementation is assigned to the SCO RATS.

The participants praised the results of the International Conference on Countering Terrorism and Preventing Violent Extremism (Dushanbe, 3-4 May 2018) that became an important venue for interaction between the parties on said issues.

The Heads of the Member States are in favour of launching a comprehensive effort to promote the spiritual and moral education of youth and prevent their involvement in destructive activities. In this connection, they adopted the Joint Appeal to Young People and the Programme of Action to implement the provisions. They also supported the initiative of the Republic of Uzbekistan to approve a special UN General Assembly resolution on Education and Religious Tolerance.

The Member States will further promote cooperation in the fight against illegal drug trafficking based on the SCO Antidrug Strategy and the Programme of Action to implement this strategy as well as the Concept to Prevent the Abuse of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The SCO continues to contribute to broad-based and mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of information security and to the development of universal international rules, standards and principles for the responsible conduct of states in the information space.

The SCO Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the central role of the United Nations in implementing the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development. They stressed the importance of improving global economic governance architecture and of consistently strengthening and developing the multilateral trade system with a nucleus in the World Trade Organisation in order to form an open world economy.

The SCO is seeking to create favourable conditions for trade and investment and to define joint approaches to simplifying trade procedures, incentivising e-trade, and developing the service industry and trade in services. Efforts will continue to support micro-, small- and medium-size businesses and to promote transport, energy and agricultural cooperation.

The participants supported the initiative to hold the first meeting of SCO railway administration heads in Uzbekistan.

To draw more attention to environmental issues, the Member States adopted the SCO Concept on Environmental Protection. They have also continued working on the draft programme of cooperation between the SCO member states on food security.

Tajikistan’s initiatives on the International Decade of Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028 and the high-level international conference on this subject (Dushanbe, June 20-22, 2018) were appreciated.

The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan reaffirmed their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and approved the efforts to jointly implement it, including the coordination of the development of the Eurasian Economic Union and BRI.

The leaders of the Member States support using the potential of the regional countries, international organisations and multilateral associations to form a broad, open, mutually beneficial and equal partnership in the SCO space.

The newly-established SCO Regional Heads’ Forum will contribute to the development of interregional cooperation. The plan is to hold the first meeting of the Forum in 2018 in Chelyabinsk (Russian Federation).

Efforts will continue to achieve the full potential of the SCO Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association.

The participants reaffirmed the position in favour of further strengthening of practical cooperation in the banking and financial sectors and continuing to search for common approaches to the establishment of the Development Bank of the SCO and the SCO Development Fund (Special Account).

Reaffirming the special role of humanitarian cooperation in strengthening mutual understanding, trust and friendship among peoples, the leaders of the Member States spoke in favour of developing multifaceted cooperation in culture, education, science and technology, healthcare, tourism and sport.

They underlined the commitment to enhance multidisciplinary cooperation with observer states and partners in the SCO dialogue, as well as with international and regional organisations.

The participants adopted the Joint Statement of the Heads of State on Trade Facilitation and the Declaration of the Heads of State on the Joint Countering of the Threat of Epidemics in the SCO Space. A joint action plan was signed for the implementation of the SCO Cooperation Programme in tourism for 2019-2020, a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting micro-, small- and medium-sized business cooperation within the SCO, the Regulations for Information Interaction for 24-hour contact points using the channels of the CENcomm RILO-Moscow online platform, and the Memorandum on the exchange of information on transboundary movements of ozone-depleting substances and hazardous waste.

The participants heard and approved a report by the SCO Secretary-General on SCO activities over the past year, and a report by the Council of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure on the activities of RATS in 2017.

The Council of Heads of the SCO Member States appointed Vladimir Norov (Republic of Uzbekistan) as Secretary-General of the SCO and Dzhumakhon Giyosov (Republic of Tajikistan) as Director of the Executive Committee of RATS from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021.

Since the summit in Astana (June 8-9, 2017), the following high-level events have been held:
a meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) (Sochi, 30 November — 1 December 2017); a meeting of the SCO National Security Council Secretaries (May 21-22 2018); an extraordinary and regular meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (New York, 20 September 2017; Beijing, 24 April 2018); a meeting of the SCO Council of National Coordinators (Yangzhou City, Moscow, Beijing, August 2017 — June 2018); meetings of the Council of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (Beijing, 17 September 2017; Tashkent, 5 April 2018); a meeting of the Heads of Border Services of Competent Authorities of SCO Member States (Dalian, 29 June 2017); a SCO meeting of Heads of Emergency Prevention and Relief Agencies (Cholpon-Ata, 24-25 August 2017); a meeting of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO member states (Tashkent, 20 October 2017); a meeting of Chairpersons of the Supreme Courts of the SCO Member States (Tashkent, 25-27 October 2017; Beijing, 25 May 2018); a meeting of the Heads of SCO Member States Services in Charge of Ensuring Sanitary and Epidemiological Wellbeing (Sochi, 31 October 2017); a meeting of the SCO ministers responsible for foreign economic and foreign trade activities (Moscow, 15 November 2017); a meeting of the Prosecutor Generals of the SCO (St Petersburg, 29 November 2017); a Conference of the Heads of Ministries and Agencies of Science and Technology (Moscow, 18-21 April 2018); the SCO Forum (Astana, 4-5 May 2018), a meeting of the heads of national tourist administrations (Wuhan, 7-11 May 2018); a Defence Ministers’ Meeting (Beijing, 24 April 2018); a meeting of the Ministers of Culture (Sanya City, 15 May 2018); a meeting of the Heads of the SCO Counternarcotics Agencies (17 May 2018); the SCO Women’s Forum (Beijing, 15-17 May 2018); the SCO Media Forum (Beijing, 1 June 2018); a meeting of the Board of the SCO Business Council (Beijing, 6 June 2018); and a meeting of the Council of the SCO Interbank Association (Beijing, 5-7 June 2018), as well as other events at various levels.

The leaders of the Member States praised the work done by the People’s Republic of China during its Presidency of the SCO and expressed gratitude to China for its hospitality and the quality of the organising of the summit in Qingdao.

The Kyrgyz Republic is taking over the Presidency of the organisation. The next meeting of the Council of the SCO Heads of State will be held in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2019.

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EU Politics

Commission sets out key actions for a united front to beat COVID-19

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Two days ahead of the meeting of European leaders on a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission set out a number of actions needed to step up the fight against the pandemic. In a Communication adopted today, it calls on Member States to accelerate the roll-out of vaccination across the EU: by March 2021, at least 80% of people over the age of 80, and 80% of health and social care professionals in every Member State should be vaccinated. And by summer 2021, Member States should have vaccinated a minimum of 70% of the adult population.

The Commission also calls on Member States to continue to apply physical distancing, limit social contacts, fight disinformation, coordinate travel restrictions, ramp up testing, and increase contact tracing and genome sequencing to face up to the risk from new variants of the virus. As recent weeks have seen an upward trend in case numbers, more needs to be done to support healthcare systems and to address “COVID-fatigue” in the coming months, from accelerating vaccination across the board, helping our partners in the Western Balkans, the Southern and Eastern neighbourhood and in Africa.

Today’s Communication sets out key actions for Member States, the Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which will help reduce risks and keep the virus under control:

Speeding up the roll-out of vaccination across the EU

By March 2021, at least 80% of people over the age of 80, and 80% of health and social care professionals in every Member State, should be vaccinated.

By summer 2021, Member States should have vaccinated 70% of the entire adult population.

The Commission, Member States and the EMA will work with companies to use the EU’s potential for increased vaccine manufacturing capacity to the fullest.

The Commission is working with Member States on vaccination certificates, in full compliance with EU data protection law, which can support the continuity of care. A common approach is to be agreed by the end of January 2021 to allow Member States’ certificates to be rapidly useable in health systems across the EU and beyond.

Testing and genome sequencing

Member States should update their testing strategies to account for new variants and expand the use of rapid antigen tests.

Member States should urgently increase genome sequencing to at least 5% and preferably 10% of positive test results. At present, many Member States are testing under 1% of samples, which is not enough to identify the progression of the variants or detect any new ones.

Preserving the Single Market and free movement while stepping up mitigation measures

Measures should be applied to further reduce the risk of transmission linked to the means of travel, such as hygiene and distancing measures in vehicles and terminuses.

All non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged until the epidemiological situation has considerably improved.

Proportionate travel restrictions, including testing of travellers, should be maintained for those travelling from areas with a higher incidence of variants of concern.

Ensuring European leadership and international solidarity

To ensure early access to vaccines, the Commission is to set up a Team Europe mechanism to structure the provision of vaccines shared by Member States with partner countries. This should allow for sharing with partner countries access to some of the 2.3 billion doses secured through the EU’s Vaccines Strategy, paying special attention to the Western Balkans, our Eastern and Southern neighbourhood and Africa.

The European Commission and Member States should continue supporting COVAX, including through early access to vaccines. Team Europe has already mobilised €853 million in support of COVAX, making the EU one of COVAX’s biggest donors.

Members of the College said:

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Vaccination is essential to get out of this crisis. We have already secured enough vaccines for the entire population of the European Union. Now we need to accelerate the delivery and speed up vaccination. Our aim is to have 70% of our adult population vaccinated by summer. That could be a turning point in our fight against this virus. However, we will only end this pandemic when everyone in the world has access to vaccines. We will step up our efforts to help secure vaccines for our neighbours and partners worldwide.”

Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, responsible for Promoting our European Way of Life, said: “The emergence of new variants of the virus and substantial rises in cases leave us no room for complacency. Now more than ever must come a renewed determination for Europe to act together with unity, coordination and vigilance. Our proposals today aim to protect more lives and livelihoods later and relieve the burden on already stretched health care systems and workers. This is how the EU will come out of the crisis. The end of the pandemic is in sight though not yet in reach.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Working together with unity, solidary and determination, we can soon start to see the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Now in particular, we need swift and coordinated action against the new variants of the virus. Vaccinations will still take time until they reach all Europeans and until then we must take immediate, coordinated and proactive steps together. Vaccinations must accelerate across the EU and testing and sequencing must be increased – this is show we can ensure that we leave this crisis behind us as soon as possible.”

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Africa Today

‘Complex’ emergency unfolding in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

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A group of people, having fled violence in several districts of Cabo Delgado, arrive in the provincial capital, Pebma. IOM/Matteo Theubet

UN agencies voiced deep concern on Wednesday over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where attacks by armed groups have forced more than 565,000 to flee their homes. 

According to the agencies, growing insecurity and poor infrastructure are making it increasingly difficulty to reach families “completely reliant” on humanitarian assistance, amid fears that imminent rains and threat of cyclones could further compound the challenges. 

“Coupled with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has become even more complex”, regional heads of UN agencies in east and southern Africa said in a joint statement

“The crisis is a complex security, human rights, humanitarian and development emergency, underscoring the imperative of continuing to provide life-saving assistance while collectively supporting Government-led long-term resilience building”, the statement added. 

Crisis worsening 

In December, the UN officials visited Mozambique to assess the needs of the displaced populations as well as of the host communities.  

They heard extremely moving accounts from displaced men, women and children in the city of Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado, and in the districts of Ancuabe and Chiúre – people whose lives have been upended by conflict and insecurity. 

While acknowledging that much has been done to help victims of the crisis, the UN officials stressed that with displacement increasing daily, the lack of adequate food, water, sanitation, shelter, health, protection and education, was exacerbating an already dire situation, which could be further complicated by on-going torrential rains.  

Urgent support needed 

The UN agencies also raised concerns over the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which is keeping most schools closed. 

There is an urgent need to expand protection, healthcare, food and nutrition programmes, vaccination efforts and psychosocial counselling, and to aid displaced farming and fishing families to re-establish sustainable livelihoods, they added. 

They also urged support for adequate resettlement of uprooted families straining the already limited resources of impoverished host communities, and Government efforts to effectively register and assist the displaced. 

The senior officials are urging the Government of Mozambique and the international community “to step up efforts to end all forms of violence in the country, including gender-based violence and child marriage, and to invest more in women and girls as agents of progress and change,” the statement said.

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Human Rights

Over 1.9 billion people in Asia-Pacific unable to afford a healthy diet

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A child is tested for malnutrition at a UNICEF-supported health clinic in Bangladesh. According a UN report, malnutrition among young children and infants remains a pervasive problem in South Asia. UNICEF/Siegfried Modola

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and surging food prices are keeping almost two billion people in Asia and the Pacific from healthy diets, United Nations agencies said on Wednesday.

According to the 2020 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, the region’s poor have been worst affected, forced to choose cheaper and less nutritious foods. The report is jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“The outbreak of COVID-19 and a lack of decent work opportunities in many parts of the region, alongside significant uncertainty of food systems and markets, has led to a worsening of inequality, as poorer families with dwindling incomes further alter their diets to choose cheaper, less nutritious foods,” the agencies said

“Due to higher prices for fruits, vegetables and dairy products, it has become nearly impossible for poor people in Asia and the Pacific to achieve healthy diets, the affordability of which is critical to ensure food security and nutrition for all – and for mothers and children in particular.” 

As a result, progress is also slowing on improving nutrition, a key target for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of 2019, over 350 million people in the region are estimated to have been undernourished, with an about 74.5 million children under five stunted (too short for their age) and 31.5 million suffering from wasting (too thin for height). 

‘Impact most severe in first 1,000 days’ 

The UN agencies went on to note that while nutrition is vitally important throughout a person’s life, the impact of a poor diet is most severe in the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy to when a child reaches the age of two. 
“Young children, especially when they start eating their ‘first foods’ at six months, have high nutritional requirements to grow well and every bite counts,” they said. 

The agencies called for an integrated systems approach – bringing together food, water and sanitation, health, social protection and education systems – to address underlying factors and achieve healthy diets for all mothers and children. 

‘Changing face of malnutrition’ 

They also highlighted the “changing face” of malnutrition, with highly processed and inexpensive foods, readily available throughout Asia and the Pacific. Often packed with sugar and unhealthy fats, such food items lack the vitamins and minerals required for growth and development and also increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

The report urged governments to invest more in nutrition and food safety to promote healthy diets, as well as regulate sales and marketing of food for consumers, especially children. It also highlighted the need for action within the private sector, given the sector’s important role in the food system and its value chains for achieving healthy diets. 

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