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Aung San Suu Kyi, 77, was detained on February 1, 2021, when the military seized power from her elected government.

A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on two more corruption charges on Wednesday, with two three-year sentences, to be served concurrently, added to previous convictions that now leave her with a 26-year total prison term.

Suu Kyi, 77, was detained on February 1, 2021, when the military seized power from her elected government.

She has denied the allegations against her in this case, in which she was accused of receiving USD 550,000 as a bribe from Maung Weik, a tycoon convicted several years ago of drug trafficking.

She had already been sentenced to 23 years' imprisonment after being convicted of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching the country's official secrets act, sedition, election fraud and five other corruption charges.

Supporters and independent analysts say all the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military's seizure of power while keeping her from taking part in the next election that the military has promised in 2023. Source : ht

 

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Sitharaman, Yellen discuss global economy, G20, energy

Written by Thursday, 15 February 2018 06:10

Yellen said the India-United States (US) partnership was “critical” to addressing the world’s most important global economic challenges.

Washington: On the first day of her visit to Washington DC, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman met her American counterpart, secretary of treasury Janet Yellen, and discussed global macroeconomic conditions, India’s G20 presidency, supply chains, clean energy, and ways to deepen bilateral economic collaboration.

Yellen said the India-United States (US) partnership was “critical” to addressing the world’s most important global economic challenges. She said that the food and energy crises caused by recent global shocks had created challenges for both countries, appreciated India’s participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), and expressed American support for India’s G20 presidency.

Sitharaman is in Washington DC to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. She also has a range of bilateral engagements lined up, particularly with G20 finance ministers. Her first official bilateral engagement was with Yellen.

In a tweet after the meeting, the ministry of finance said, “The two leaders discussed current global #Macroeconomic situation among other issues of mutual interest. The two Ministers also discussed various issues of significance with a view towards India’s upcoming #G20 Presidency.”

In her opening remarks, Yellen said that the India-US partnership was not only vital to their core economic interests, but also demonstrated to citizens and the world that democracies deliver. “It illustrates the close bonds between our two countries, from the Quad partnership to our strong bilateral economic relationship, and the cultural ties from the Indian diaspora in the US.”

Yellen added that the US and India were “both extremely important” to the world economy, and must continue to work together on economic development and cooperation. She acknowledged that both faced “shared headwinds stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s unjust war against Ukraine”.

“Those global shocks have raised energy and food prices in both of our countries, and they have underscored the importance of the efforts both of our countries are undertaking to make our economies more resilient.”

Yellen said she also looked forward to discussing efforts to strengthen supply chains and invest in clean energy, in addition to steps that she said the US was taking to “keep global oil markets well-supplied”. “That is particularly important given how high energy costs have affected consumers in both of our countries – and in emerging markets globally.”

G20 prominently figured in the discussions. As Indonesia struggles to engineer a consensus among G20 economies given the deep geopolitical rifts between the West and Russia, India has been carefully watching developments in the run-up to the Bali meeting.

Yellen said that India’s assumption of the G20 presidency in December was an opportunity for more concerted global cooperation and told Sitharaman, “I look forward to discussing India’s priorities for their host year and how the United States can best support you as you take on this important role.”

The US also lauded India’s participation in the IPEF, with Yellen saying that through the framework, the US and its partners will “deepen economic bonds, strengthen supply chains to avoid costly disruptions, and help develop the guiding standards and rules for technological innovation in the years and decades to come”.

In what will be her first trip as Secretary to India, Yellen said she was looking forward to attending the US-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting next month. Sitharaman said the meeting, to be held on November 11 in New Delhi, will give them an opportunity to take stock of the global economy; discuss India’s G20 presidency; collaborate on financial, technical, and regulatory issues. Other issues on the agenda for the next meeting include infrastructure investment and climate policies. Source : ht

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Jaishankar said the relationship between India and the United States is deeper than the politics of the day and all 5 US Presidents, including Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, have been consistent on this issue, despite the differences among them.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said the ties between India and the United States are beyond the politics of the day and starting from Clinton, all 5 US Presidents have been consistent on the subject of the India-US relationship. Praising Biden's presidency, Jaishankar said it is not easy when you are the most powerful country, and he also clarified that he did not say this in any disrespectful way. One of the reasons the Quad is working effectively is the United States -- the US is showing flexibility and understanding, Jaishankar said. Also Read | ‘Dictatorship preferred’: Jaishankar’s recent remarks that drew wide attention.

The India-US relationship started changing from Clinton's second term, Jaishankar explained. Referring to his 2000 visit to India, Jaishankar said Clinton started something moving which was taken forward by the following presidents. Terming it interesting, Jaishankar said he couldn't think of five people more different from each other like Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden but they all have been consistent on ties with India. "When you look at that kind of consistency, you realize that in many ways - this is deeper than the politics of the day, this is structural, where there is a kind of establishment consensus," Jaishankar said at a discussion with Michael Fullilove, Executive Director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

US President Joe Biden, in many other capacities, remained engaged in the development of the US-India relationship and saw it evolve. "There is a larger point about the Biden administration. In one way, the Biden administration is an extraordinarily experienced administration if you look at the Secretary of State, the NSA, and the CIA - these are people who work with multiple organisations - they know the world, and they are not new on the job - if put together you are looking at 100 plus years of experience."

"Collectively, this is an administration (Biden) which is very determined to get along with the world and is willing to make adjustments - in many ways, to find, maintain and develop partners. And I do not mean it in any ways disrespect -- it's not easy to be if you are the most powerful country in the world -- to be necessarily sensitive and necessarily adjusting," Jaishankar said. Source : ht

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Hindus and other minorities, who constitute just 3.5 per cent of Pakistan's population as per CIA data, continue to face persecution in the Islamic Republic. In October last year, a parliamentary panel rejected a bill against forcible conversions.

A Hindu girl has been reportedly abducted in Hyderabad town of Pakistan's Sindh province.

According to the girl's parents, Chandra Mehraj was kidnapped from Fateh Chowk area of Hyderabad while she was returning home. According to reports, a police complaint has been filed but the girl is yet to be found.

This comes days after three women from the minority Hindu community were kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam, bringing into light the atrocities committed against minorities in Pakistan.

On September 24, A 14-year-old girl named Meena Meghwar was abducted from Nasarpur area and another girl was kidnapped while returning home in Mirpurkhas town.

In the same town, a Hindu man named Ravi Kurmi alleged his wife Rakhi was kidnapped and later showed up after she allegedly converted to Islam and married a Muslim man. However, the local police claimed Rakhi converted to Islam and married Ahmed Chandio of her own will.

In recent times Pakistan has witnessed a string of atrocities against Hindus. In June this year, a teenage Hindu girl Kareena Kumari testified before court that she was forcibly converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.

The incident took place three months after three Hindu girls named Satran Oad, Kaveeta Bheel and Anita Bheel also met the same fate.

On March 21, a Hindu girl named Pooja Kumari was shot dead outside her home in Sukkur after she refused the marriage proposal of a Pakistani man.

In October last year, a parliamentary committee in Pakistan had rejected a bill against forced religious conversions with then religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri saying the environment was not favourable to enact a law against forcible religious conversions. The minister had even gone on to claim that a law against forcible conversions could disturb peace in the country and make minorities more vulnerable, Dawn had reported.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency's Factbook, the Hindus, Christians and other minorities constitute just 3.5 per cent of Pakistan's population as per 2020 data. Source : ht

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22 September 2022 Human Rights

Ethiopia’s people are once again “mired…in the intractable and deadly consequences” of conflict between Government troops and forces loyal to Tigrayan separatist fighters, who are all likely responsible for war crimes, top rights investigators said on Thursday.

In their first, extensive report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said that they believed that crimes against humanity had also been committed in the on-off war that erupted in the northern region in November 2020.

Worst rights violations

Serious rights violations in Tigray were “ongoing”, the report maintained, noting that fighting resumed last month, breaking a five-month ceasefire.

“Extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence, and starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare” have happened in Ethiopia since the earliest days of the conflict, the Council heard.

Citing information from “credible sources”, Commission chairperson Kaari Betty Murungi – who like the two other members of the panel is an independent UN-appointed rights expert - said that there had been an “escalation” in drone attacks by Government forces that used explosive weapons “with wide area effects in populated areas”, since hostilities resumed.

“Our investigation indicates that their use has exposed civilians to new and heightened risks,” she said. “We have received reports of drone strikes in Tigray in the last four weeks, which have allegedly killed and injured civilians, including children.”

Turning to Tigrayan forces, Ms. Murungi insisted that they had also likely committed serious human rights abuses “which amount to war crimes”.

These included “large-scale killings of Amhara civilians, rape and sexual violence, and widespread looting and destruction of civilian property in Kobo and Chenna in August and September 2021.

“During their searches of homes in Kobo, for example, Tigrayan forces looked for weapons and pulled many men from their homes, executing them, often in front of their families.”

Desperate conditions

Today, international humanitarian access into Tigray continues to be blocked, despite the dire situation there, Ms. Murungi said.

There were reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government and its allies “looted and destroyed goods indispensable for the survival of the civilian population in Tigray, killing livestock, destroying food stores, and razing crops while also implementing severe restrictions on humanitarian access to Tigray”, she added, noting that for more than a year, six million people had been denied access to electricity, internet, telecommunications and banking.

This denial and obstruction of access to basic services, food, healthcare and aid relief “amount(ed) to the crimes against humanity of persecution and inhumane acts”, the Commission chairperson insisted.

Starvation ‘tactic’

“We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government is committing the war crime of using starvation as a method of warfare,” the top independent rights expert continued, noting that Tigrayan forces had reportedly looted humanitarian aid.

According to the latest dire humanitarian data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), conflict and displacement in northern Ethiopia has left more than nine million people in need in Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, while severe drought is affecting millions more in the south.

Citing OCHA, Ms. Murungi said that that the combined effect of the Federal government’s measures had left 90 per cent of the population in acute need - an 80 per cent increase since the beginning of the conflict.

“Most of the population in Tigray must now survive on limited and nutritionally inadequate diets,” she said, adding that there had also been “an increase in child marriages and child labour, human trafficking, and transactional sex as desperate means for survival”.

Tigrayan women and girls not spared

According to the Commission chairperson, rape and crimes of sexual violence had happened “on a staggering scale” since the earliest days of the conflict, “with Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and regional militias targeting Tigrayan women and girls with particular violence and brutality”.

Tigrayan forces had also committed rape and sexual violence against Amhara women and girls and Eritrean refugees, Ms. Murungi said, highlighting the devastating long-term impacts for the survivors that included trauma, unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection.

‘Unfair and biased scrutiny’

Rejecting the report’s findings, the Ethiopia delegation repeated its claim that the federal government had been subjected to “unfair and biased scrutiny” at the Council for more than a year.

Addis Ababa was engaged in responding to an “insurrectionist armed group that has endangered the territorial integrity of the country”, the Council heard.

The international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia was established after the Human Rights Council adopted resolution S-33/1 on 17 December 2021.

It mandated a panel of three human rights experts - appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council - “to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict”. Source : un.org

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22 September 2022 Climate and Environment

Worldwide employment in the renewable energy sector reached 12.7 million last year, a jump of 700,000 new jobs in just 12 months, despite the lingering effects of COVID-19 and the growing energy crisis, according to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in collaboration with the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO).

Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2022, identifies domestic market size as a major factor influencing job growth in renewables, along with labour and other costs.

Solar growing fastest

Solar energy was found to be the fastest-growing sector. In 2021 it provided 4.3 million jobs, more than a third of the current global workforce in renewable energy.

With rising concerns about climate change, COVID-19 recovery and supply chain disruption, countries are turning inwards to boost job creation at home, focusing on local supply chains.

The report describes how strong domestic markets are key to anchoring a drive toward clean energy industrialization. Developing renewable technology export capabilities is also dependent on this, it adds.

‘Just transition for all’

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, said that “beyond the numbers, there is a growing focus on the quality of jobs and the conditions of work in renewable energies, to ensure decent and productive employment.

“The increasing share of female employment suggests that dedicated policies and training can significantly enhance the participation of women in renewable energy occupations, inclusion and ultimately, achieve a just transition for all.”

Mr. Ryder encouraged governments, organized labour and business groups “to remain firmly committed to a sustainable energy transition, which is indispensable for the future of work.”

Resilient and reliable

IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera, said that in the face of numerous challenges, “renewable energy jobs remain resilient, and have been proven to be a reliable job creation engine. My advice to governments around the world is to pursue industrial policies that encourage the expansion of decent renewables jobs at home.

“Spurring a domestic value chain will not only create business opportunities and new jobs for people and local communities. It also bolsters supply chain reliability and contributes to more energy security overall.”

Joining the renewable revolution

The report shows that an increasing number of countries are creating jobs in the renewables sector - almost two-thirds of them in Asia.

China alone accounts for 42 per cent of the global total, according to the report, followed by the EU and Brazil with 10 per cent each, and the US and India with seven per cent each.

Regional trends

Southeast Asian countries are becoming major solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing hubs and biofuel producers, while China is the pre-eminent manufacturer and installer of solar PV panels and is creating a growing number of jobs in offshore wind.

India added more than 10 Gigawatts of solar PV, generating many installation jobs, but remains heavily dependent on imported panels, the report notes.

Europe now accounts for about 40 per cent of the world’s wind manufacturing output and is the most important exporter of wind power equipment; it is trying to reconstitute its solar PV manufacturing industry.

Africa’s role is still limited, but the report points out that there are growing job opportunities in decentralized renewables, while in the Americas, Mexico is the leading supplier of wind turbine blades.

Brazil remains the leading employer in biofuels but is also adding many jobs in wind and solar PV installations. The US is beginning to build a domestic industrial base for the budding offshore wind sector. Source : un.org

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COVID-19: Don’t underestimate Omicron, WHO chief warns

Written by Saturday, 16 September 2017 12:31

14 December 2021 Health

The Omicron variant is “probably” now present in most of the world’s countries and it would be a mistake to dismiss the COVID-19 strain as “mild”, said the head of the UN health agency (WHO) on Tuesday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, told reporters from WHO headquarters in Geneva that the variant was now present in 77 countries.

"Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. We’re concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild”, he said. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril.”

“Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems. I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis. Countries can – and must – prevent the spread of Omicron with measures that work today.”

‘Do it all’

The United Kingdom’s top health adviser warned on Tuesday that Omicron infections could reach one million per day there, by the end of this month, adding that the National Health Service would face significant pressure if only a fraction of those newly infected need to be hospitalized – a troubling scenario in a country where some 70 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.

Tedros warned that making choices about strategies to halt the pandemic, was the wrong approach: “It’s not vaccines instead of distancing. It’s not vaccines instead of ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well.”

He said in the past 10 weeks, the international vaccine rollout initiative, COVAX, has shipped more vaccines than in the first 9 months of the year combined, with most countries using vaccines as fast as they get them.

“A small group of countries are facing challenges rolling out vaccines and scaling up rapidly, and WHO and our partners are working closely with those countries to overcome bottlenecks”, he added.

“Although we expect further improvements in supply, there are no guarantees, and the hard-won gains we have made are fragile.”

Boosters, for some

Tedros said “evolving evidence suggests a small decline in the effectiveness of vaccines against severe disease and death”, noting that booster rollouts for all over-18s to fight Omicron in some countries, had begun despite a lack of evidence that they will be effective.

“WHO is concerned that such programmes will repeat the vaccine hoarding we saw this year, and exacerbate inequity…Let me be very clear: WHO is not against boosters. We’re against inequity. Our main concern is to save lives, everywhere.”

The WHO chief said that giving boosters to groups at low risk, simply endangers the lives of those facing higher risk, who have not yet got their primary doses, due to supply constraints.

On the other hand, giving additional doses to people at high risk can save more lives than giving primary doses to those at low risk, he reasoned.

Prioritize the most vulnerable

“Together, we will save the most lives by making sure health workers, older people and other at-risk groups receive their primary doses of vaccines.

“In most countries, those being hospitalized and dying are those who have not been vaccinated. So, the priority must be to vaccinate the unvaccinated, even in countries with most access to vaccines.”

He said the priority in every country, for the sake of the global effort to halt the pandemic, “must be to protect the least protected, not the most protected.”

Some 41 countries have still not been able to vaccinate even 10% of their populations, and 98 countries have not yet reached 40%.

“If we end inequity, we end the pandemic”, he emphasised. “If we allow inequity to continue, we allow the pandemic to continue.” Source : ht

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An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders could be deported if the administration goes ahead with the proposal which is aligned with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision.

The Trump administration is considering a proposal that could potentially lead to large-scale deportation of foreigners on H-1B visas for high-speciality workers waiting for their Green Card — mostly Indians — and drastically alter the way high-tech companies operate in the United States.

The proposal circulated in the form of an internal memo in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees citizenship and immigration, intends to end the provision of granting extensions to H-1B visa holders whose applications for permanent residency (Green Card) had been accepted.

An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders could be sent home if the administration decides to go ahead with the proposal which is aligned with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision to boost manufacturing and protect local jobs for Americans.

“If implemented this could lead to large-scale deportations, mostly of Indians, throwing hundreds and thousands of families into crisis,” said an official of Immigration Voice, an advocacy body in San Jose. Immigration Voice is planning to mount a challenge through outreach and sue when a decision is announced, he added.

“The idea is to create a sort of ‘self-deportation’ of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States to open up those jobs for Americans,” a US source briefed by homeland security officials told McClatchy DC Bureau, which first reported the proposal.

A response to Hindustan Times requests to both DHS and the US citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) was awaited, but the existence of the memo was confirmed by sources in the US and Indian governments, industry and those that are likely to face action under the new rules.

An H-1B visa is granted for three years, with the provision of three more with one extension after which visa holders return to their countries. If approved for Green Card, they wait in the US using extensions.

For Indians, that wait could stretch for years given the massive backlog caused by the system of per-country annual cap on the number of permanent residencies.

The proposal is based on the power of discretion given to USCIS officials to decide on extensions to be given to H-1B holders waiting for Green Card. They could choose to extend from one to three years, and often chose the maximum of three, and granted some visa holders as many extensions as needed.

“If it has been left to their discretion,” said a lobbyist. “They can theoretically decide not to grant any extension at all.”

The Indian government is watching the development with mounting alarm as it had the administration’s previously announced plans and decisions to tighten H-1B rules and regulations with the objective of preventing its abuse to replace American workers with lower-paid foreigners.

One of the plans in February 2017 was to roll back H-4 EAD — a regulation introduced by President Barack Obama to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers by granting work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders awaiting Green cards. That will impact mostly Indians again.

The administration also plans to redefine high-speciality professionals for the purpose of H-1B visas. And there is a general review of the programme ordered by the President.

The United States grants 85,000 non-immigrant H-1B visa every year — 65,000 to foreigners hired abroad and 20,000 to foreigners enrolled in advanced degree courses in US schools and colleges. An estimated 70% of these visas go to Indians — hired mostly by American companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google and some by American arms of Indian tech giants Infosys, Wipro and TCS.

The US companies, which are large employers of foreign workers but escape the scrutiny facing Indian firms, will be hit the hardest as they are more likely to apply for Green Cards for their H-1B workers than their Indian counterparts, who tend to rotate their workers home at the end of the stipulated period.

These big companies can be expected to push back as well, as could the chamber of commerce. A response was awaited to a request for comments from Compete America, a trade body representing Silicon Valley high-tech firms in Washington DC. Source : ht

 

 

 

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GENEVA (AFP) - The UN human rights chief voiced alarm on Monday (Sept 11) at widespread rights abuses in Venezuela, warning of possible "crimes against humanity" in the crisis-wracked country.

"My investigation suggests the possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed," Mr Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said at the opening of the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, calling for an international probe.

Venezuela's crisis has caused food and medicine shortages, deadly unrest and calls for President Nicolas Maduro to quit.

Clashes with security forces at anti-government protests left 125 people dead from April to July.

"There is a very real danger that tensions will further escalate, with the government crushing democratic institutions and critical voices," Mr Zeid warned.

He said an investigation by his office had noted the widespread use of "criminal proceedings against opposition leaders, recourse to arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force and ill-treatment of detainees, which in some cases amounts to torture".

Late last month, Mr Zeid echoed international concerns that Venezuela was slipping into dictatorship, cautioning that democracy in the country was "barely alive, if still alive".

His office has previously criticised Venezuela's all-powerful constituent assembly and its "truth commission", which has been tasked with investigating several opposition leaders for treason.

On Monday, Mr Zeid said he supported the concept of a truth commission, but stressed that "the current mechanism is inadequate".

"I therefore urge that it be reconfigured with the support and involvement of the international community," he said.

He urged the UN rights council "to establish an international investigation into the human rights violations in Venezuela".

Mr Zeid also pointed out that Venezuela currently holds one of the 47 rotating seats on the Human Rights Council, and thus has a particular duty to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights".

Without naming Venezuela specifically, he also called on the council to consider "the need to exclude from this body states involved in the most egregious violations of human rights."

 

 

 

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The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on Monday afternoon on a watered-down U.S.-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test, diplomats said, but it was unclear whether China and Russia would support it. The draft resolution appears to have been weakened in a bid to appease North Korea’s ally China and Russia following negotiations during the past few days. In order to pass, a resolution needs nine of the 15 Security Council members to vote in favor and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

The draft, seen by Reuters on Sunday, no longer proposes blacklisting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The initial draft proposed he be subjected to a travel ban and asset freeze along with four other North Korea officials. The final text only lists one of those officials. The draft text still proposes a ban on textile exports, which were North Korea’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totalling $752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. Nearly 80 percent of the textile exports went to China.

The draft drops a proposed oil embargo and instead intends to impose a ban on condensates and natural gas liquids, a cap of two million barrels a year on refined petroleum products, and a cap crude oil exports to North Korea at current levels. China supplies most of North Korea’s crude. According to South Korean data, Beijing supplies roughly 500,000 tonnes of crude oil annually. It also exports 200,000 tonnes of oil products, according to U.N. data. Russia’s exports of crude oil to North Korea are about 40,000 tonnes a year.

The draft resolution also no longer proposes an asset freeze on the military-controlled national airline Air Koryo. Since 2006, the Security Council has unanimously adopted eight resolutions ratcheting up sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. The Security Council last month imposed new sanctions over North Korea’s two long-range missile launches in July. The Aug. 5 resolution aimed to slash by a third Pyongyang’s $3 billion annual export revenue by banning coal, iron, lead and seafood.

FOREIGN WORKERS

The new draft resolution drops a bid to remove an exception for transshipments of Russian coal via the North Korean port of Rajin. In 2013 Russia reopened a railway link with North Korea, from the Russian eastern border town of Khasan to Rajin, to export coal and import goods from South Korea and elsewhere. The original draft resolution would have authorized states to use all necessary measures to intercept and inspect on the high seas vessels that have been blacklisted by the council.

However, the final draft text calls upon states to inspect vessels on the high seas with the consent of the flag state, if there’s information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the ship is carrying prohibited cargo. The Aug. 5 resolution adopted by the council capped the number of North Koreans working abroad at the current level. The new draft resolution initially imposed a complete ban on the hiring and payment of North Korean laborers abroad.

The final draft text to be voted on Monday by the council would require the employment of North Korean workers abroad to be authorized by a Security Council committee. However, this rule would not apply to “written contracts finalized prior to the adoption of this resolution” provided that states notify the committee by Dec. 15 of the number of North Koreans subject to these contracts and the anticipated date of termination of these contracts.

Some diplomats estimate that between 60,000 and 100,000 North Koreans work abroad. A U.N. human rights investigator said in 2015 that North Korea was forcing more than 50,000 people to work abroad, mainly in Russia and China, earning between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year. The wages of workers sent abroad provide foreign currency for the Pyongyang government. There is new political language in the final draft urging “further work to reduce tensions so as to advance the prospects for a comprehensive settlement” and underscoring “the imperative of achieving the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”

 

 

 

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