Current Affairs December 2019 - International


1 - Global Migration Film Festival organised in Dhaka

Global Migration

The Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) was organised in Dhaka. The day-long festival screened 15 films on the theme of migration and its various aspects. The festival was organised by the International Organisation of Migrants (IOM) and Dhaka University Film Society with the support of the European Union.

The GMFF started in 2016 and this year it is being organised across many cities in the world between 28th November to 18th December. IOM is the UN migration agency established in 1951. It works to ensure orderly and humane management of the migration issue.

2 - NATO leaders gather in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the Alliance


Allied Heads of State and Government gathered in London on 3 December 2019 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The twenty-nine member alliance is the world's biggest military alliance. NATO's Secretary General is Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO was founded in 1949 for the collective defence of its members, linking the security of the United States with its European allies against the Soviet Union. It witnessed the end of communism, defeating the Soviet Bloc without firing a shot.

3 - Namibia's President secured second term

Hage Geingob

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob has won the country's Presidential elections securing a second term despite a recession and a corruption scandal that has fuelled popular discontent. However, the longtime ruling party South West Africa People's Organisation's (SWAPO) has lost its powerful two-thirds majority in its most challenging election since independence nearly 30 years ago.

President Geingob, received 56% of the votes while opposition challenger Panduleni Itula had 29%.The results showed a sharp decrease in support for Geingob, down from 87% in the previous election in 2014.

4 - Pritivirajsing Roopun elected as new President of Mauritius

Prithvirajsing Roopun

The National Assembly of Republic of Mauritius unanimously elected Prithvirajsing Roopun, as new President of the island nation. He was a Member of Parliament between May 2010 and November 2019. During this tenure, he has served as Minister of Arts & Culture and Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment.

In Mauritius, Prime Minister is head of government and holds most political power while the President is head of state but has no executive role and is considered guardian of the constitution.

5 - NATO Summit 2019 organized in Watford, United Kingdom

NATO Summit

The 2019 London Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the 30th formal meeting of the heads of state and heads of government of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was held in The Grove, Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. The NATO leaders’ meeting marked the 70th anniversary of the Alliance. It was chaired by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO leaders took a number of important decisions to increase the readiness of Allied forces, declared space as the fifth operational domain and committed to ensuring the security of telecommunications infrastructure.

6 - “International Seminar on Climate Smart Farming Systems” for BIMSTEC countries held in New Delhi


The three day ‘International Seminar on Climate Smart Farming Systems’ for BIMSTEC countries was held in New Delhi. It was organized by the Department of Agricultural Research & Education, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare and Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

The objective of this International Seminar was to have experience sharing to enable improvement of tropical small holder farming systems for greater productivity and resilience to climate change through ecological approaches.

7 - US, Mexico, Canada sign USMCA trade deal

USMCA Trade Deal

The representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada inked a revamped version of their regional trade pact after months of negotiations. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will now go to the countries' legislatures for final approval.

The USMCA is “NAFTA 2.0.” The agreement updates the North American Free Trade Agreement, the 1994 pact that governs more than $1.2 trillion worth of trade among the three nations, for the 21st century. There are a lot more rules in the USMCA on intellectual property and data, as well as labor and environmental protections.

8 - UAE, US joint military exercise 'Iron Union 12' concluded

Iron Union 12

The joint military exercise between the ground forces of the UAE and the United States, dubbed "Iron Union 12", concluded successfully. The two sides took part in joint military cooperation to enhance combat and tactical capabilities.

The "Iron Union 12" exercise lies within the framework of the joint exercises of the UAE Armed Forces with fraternal and friendly countries to enhance their combat skills in a manner consistent with the latest developments, and that reflects their readiness.

9 - Finland elects Sanna Marin, the youngest-ever Prime Minister

Sanna Marin

Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest prime minister after she was elected as the Prime Minister of Finland at the age of 34 years. She replaced outgoing leader Antti Rinne.

Rinne stepped down after several weeks of political crisis over a plan to cut wages for 700 postal workers. Elected to Parliament in 2015, Ms. Marin was re-elected in May 2019 and has served as the Minister of Transport and Communications.

10 - Worldwide arms sales rise by nearly 5% in 2018

Worldwide Arms Sales

According to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), worldwide arms sales rose by nearly 5% in 2018. US manufacturers alone accounted for 59% of the market, up 7.2% on the previous year.

Russia was second in the rankings for arms production, with 8.6% of the market, United Kingdom on 8.4% and France on 5.5%. The world's largest arms maker remains the US firm Lockheed Martin, as it has been since 2009. Its sales alone account for 11% of the world market.

11 - 8th edition of Embassy’s annual film festival held in Riyadh


The Indian Embassy in Riyadh hosted “Ambassador’s Choice: Screening of Films,” an annual diplomatic film festival where movies from a number of countries are screened every evening. The 8th edition of the festival was inaugurated on Dec. 5 at the embassy’s auditorium.

The two-week festival began with the screening of three Saudi short films titled “The Swan Song” by Hana Alomair, “A Colorful Life” by Abdurahman Sandokji and “Jaleed” by Abdurahman Sandokji. The festival concluded with the screening of “Queen”.

12 - World's 1st fully electric commercial aircraft takes inaugural test flight in Canada

Electric Aircraft

The world's first fully-electric commercial aircraft took its inaugural test flight, in Vancouver, Canada. Australian engineering firm magniX designed the plane’s motor and worked in partnership with Harbour Air. The technology would mean significant cost savings for airlines and zero emissions.

The e-plane – a 62-year-old, six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane retrofitted with a 750hp electric motor – was piloted by Greg McDougall, founder and chief executive of Harbour Air.

13 - Dell Technologies partnered with UNESCO to boost quality of education


UNESCO MGIEP (Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace) partnered with Dell Technologiesto enable school teachers to use technology while teaching in classrooms by using ICT tools, developed by Dell Aarambh and FramerSpace platform.

The training provided on FramerSpace, a digital platform will help teachers in providing quality education, as outlined under Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SGD 4) by the member-states of the United Nations. Dell Aarambh has already provided ICT training to more than 85,000 teachers across 4,530 schools of India.

14 - Exim Bank provided USD 500 mn credit to Bangladesh for defence procurement


Exim Bank has entered into an agreement with the Armed Forces Division, Bangladesh for making available supported Line of Credit (LoC) of USD 500 million for the purpose of financing defence related procurement, in the Republic of Bangladesh.

Under the arrangement, financing of export of eligible goods and services from India would be allowed subject to their being eligible for export under the Foreign Trade Policy of the Government of India and whose purchase may be agreed to be financed by the Exim Bank under this agreement.

15 - Israeli student’s made satellite “Duchifat-3” to be launched from Sriharikota


The "Duchifat-3", Israeli student's made satellite will be launched from ISRO's Sriharikota launch site. Duchifat 3, designed to serve children from across the country to "observe the Earth", is the third in the series of Israeli student-made satellites. Herzliya Science Center and Sha'arHanegev High School students have jointly designed the satellite.

Israeli students created a satellite image processing mechanism, which includes selecting the relevant images, compressing them and sending them to Earth so as to build appropriate communication systems and build software for managing satellite.

16 - US and China reach trade agreement

US and China

The US and China have announced the phase one trade agreement. This brought a big breakthrough after over 18-month-long bruising trade war between the world's two largest economies threatening to roil the global economy.

The phase one of the deal requires structural reforms and other changes to China's economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange.

17 - US House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump

US House

The US House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The final charges against Mr. Trump are - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This makes him only the third President in the US history to be impeached.

The President is accused of betraying the public trust by withholding 391 million dollars in military aid to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to announce an investigation of former Vice President and one of his top political rivals, Joe Biden.

18 - Boris Johnson won parliamentary majority in UK election

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson returned to power as Prime Minister of United Kingdom with a big majority win. The Conservatives won 365 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. The Opposition Labour party secured 202 seats.

The snap election had been called by Johnson in a bid to win a majority for his Conservative Party and break the Commons deadlock over Brexit. Mr Johnson became prime minister in July without a general election, after the Conservative Party elected him as leader to replace Theresa May.

19 - Maldives signed contract with joint venture of Indian companies

Maldives India

Maldives government signed a contract with a joint venture of Indian companies for preparation of project report and development of Addu, second biggest city in the island nation. The contract was signed by L & T engineering limited and Lea associates south asia for the Addu Road and Reclamation Project.

The scope of the project includes land reclamation, construction of roads and storm water drainage system in Addu. It will be financed through 800 million US dollars line of credit extended by EXIM bank of India for strengthening of Indo-Maldives development cooperation.

20 - Sri Lanka formally released ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’

Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor

Sri Lankan government released its new National policy Framework meant to guide the government ministries and departments in implementing their policies. The framework titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’ is aimed at achieving fourfold outcome of being a prosperous nation.

Among the main objectives are maintaining a 6.5% or higher GDP growth rate under the macroeconomic programme, achieving a per capita income exceeding 6,500 US dollar during 2020 to 2025. The policy further elaborates to keep the unemployment rate below 4% and the inflation rate below 5%.

21 - UN Medal awarded to Indian peacekeepers to support the people of South Sudan

UN Medal

About 850 Indian peacekeepers serving in South Sudan were awarded the prestigious UN medal for their dedication and sacrifice. Indian peacekeepers have been recognized for their strong contribution to building peace in conflict-affected South Sudan as well as for going above and beyond their duties to support local communities.

India is among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations. Currently, 2,342 Indian troops and 25 police personnel are deployed with the UNMISS.

22 - Former PM Abdelmadjid Tebboune elected as the President of Algeria

Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected as the President of Algeria, succeeding Abdelkader Bensalah. He served as the PM from May 2017 to August 2017, under the governance of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He has served as Minister of Housing (2001-2002) and Minister of Communication and Culture (1999-2000).

Abdelmadjid Tebboune was recently honored with the National Order of Merit from the acting President Abdelkader Bensalah.

23 - India and US signed defence tech transfer pact during 2+2 dialogue

India and US

India and the US signed an agreement to facilitate the transfer of defence technology. During the 2+2 dialogue, a new annual exercise called Tiger Triumph was launched, which will enhance tri-service coordination and involve exchange of knowledge and expertise. New agreements on space exploration and defense industrial collaboration were signed during the meeting.

The Industrial Security Annex (ISA) agreement was signed during the second round of 2+2 dialogue between the two countries. India and the US signed three agreements under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.

24 - World’s New Nation Bougainville gained independence from Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

The autonomous region of Bougainville voted to become independent from Papua New Guinea, paving the way for the group of islands to become the world's newest nation. Almost 98% of people (176,928 people) voted for independence and less than 2% (3,043 people) voted to remain as part of Papua New Guinea but with “greater autonomy”.

Buka town on Buka island is the capital of the region, and houses the government headquarters. The estimated population of the territory is 300000. John Momis has served as the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea since 2010.

25 - First ever Global Refugee Forum held in Geneva

Global Refugee Forum

The first ever Global Refugee Forum was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The event was co-hosted by United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) along with Government of Switzerland. Global Refugee Forum was an opportunity for countries to take stock of situation and to strengthen the international response.

The Global Refugee Forum is a unique occasion for States and others to come together and announce bold, new measures they will take to ease pressure on host countries, boost refugee self-reliance, and search for solutions. It enables host countries to tap into additional development cooperation.

26 - Afghanistan first country to recognize Indian Pharmacopoeia

Indian Pharmacopoeia

Afghanistan became the first country to recognize Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) after it was formally recognised by the its National Department of Regulation of Medicines and Health Products of the Ministry of Public Health. It will also be used based on the requirement as reputable pharmacopoeia in the laboratory of medicines and health products quality.

IP is an officially recognized book of standards as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 thereunder. The IP specifies the standards of drugs manufactured and marketed in India in terms of their identity, purity and strength.

27 - US, India announce establishment of annual Parliamentary exchange

India US Exchange

The US and India have announced the establishment of an annual Parliamentary Exchange to discuss issues of strategic importance to the bilateral relationship. The Parliamentary Exchange was announced as a part of the final joint statement of the India-US 22 Ministerial Dialogue.

The exchange is expected to begin in 2020. The Parliamentary Exchange will feature members of the India Caucus in the US and Indian parliamentarians travelling to each other's countries every other year to discuss issues of strategic importance to the bilateral relationship.

28 - Sheikh Hasina elected Awami League President

Sheikh Hasina

The 21st National council of the ruling Awami League of Bangladesh has elected Sheikh Hasina for the next three years as Party President for the ninth consecutive term. She has been leading the Awami League since 1981. It also elected Obaidul Quader as general secretary for second term.

The number of women in the central committee is expected to be increased from the current level of 15 as the Bangladesh Constitution requires that women representation in all political parties must be at least 33% by 2020.

29 - US President Trump officially launched US military 'Space Force'


President Trump has signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and with it directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force (USSF) as the sixth branch of the armed forces. The Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force.

The launch of the Space Force will be funded by an initial $40m for its first year. The Space Force is not intended to put troops into orbit, but will protect US assets - such as the hundreds of satellites used for communication and surveillance.

30 - Trump became third US president in history to be impeached

US President

The US House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The final charges against Mr. Trump are - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This makes him only the third President in the US history to be impeached.

The President is accused of betraying the public trust by withholding 391 million dollars in military aid to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to announce an investigation of former Vice President and one of his top political rivals, Joe Biden.

31 - India-Iran 19th Joint Commission meeting held in Iran

India Iran

The 19th Session of the India-Iran Joint Commission was held in Tehran. It was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Foreign Minister of Iran Dr. Mohammad JavadZarif. Various issues such as connectivity, trade and commerce, cultural and people-to-people contacts were discussed. They also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Both sides reiterated support for strengthening bilateral trade and commerce. It was agreed to take humanitarian approach in dealing with issues related to fishermen and sea-fearers. It was agreed to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the bilateral Treaty of Friendship in 2020.

32 - UAE and Oman sign MoU to enhance trade & economic cooperation

UAE Oman

The UAE federal export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Export Credit Guarantee Agency of Oman (Credit Oman) to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The signing took place during the 10th AMAN UNION General Assembly, held in Muscat.

AMAN UNION is a professional forum assembling Commercial & Non-commercial Risks Insurers & Reinsurers in Member Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.

33 - Eight West African nations rename common currency to Eco

Currency Eco

Eight West African countries have agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco and severed their earlier currency CFA Franc's links to former colonial ruler France. Eco usage will come in to force in 2020. It will be pegged to the Euro.

The CFA Franc was initially pegged to the French franc and has been linked to the euro for about two decades. Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo currently use the currency.

34 - Manuel Marrero Cruz appointed as Cuba's first PM in more than 40 years

Manuel Marrero Cruz

President Miguel Díaz-Canel has appointed Manuel Marrero Cruz as Cuba’s first Prime Minister in more than 40 years. It was reinstated under the rules of a new constitution for the communist-run island passed earlier in 2019.

Marrero, who has served as tourism minister for 16 years, helped boost Cuba's economy by making tourism one of the engines of growth. The post of prime minister was scrapped in 1976 by the then-revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

35 - UNGA approved resolution on initiating drafting of new treaty to combat cyber-crime


The UN General Assembly approved a resolution for drafting a new treaty to combat cyber-crime. The Assembly also approved a resolution strongly condemning human rights abuses against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims and other minorities. It calls on Myanmar government to take urgent measures to combat incitement of hatred against minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.

The Russian-drafted resolution to combat cyber-crime establishes an expert committee representing all world regions. It will elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.

36 - Russia inducted first Avangard hypersonic missiles into service

Hypersonic Missiles

Russia inducted first Avangard hypersonic missiles into service. The first missile regiment equipped with latest strategic missiles with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle entered service at 10 am Moscow time.

Avangard hypersonic missiles have a "glide system" that affords great maneuverability and could make them impossible to defend against. The Avangard system could penetrate current and future missile defence systems. The Avangard is invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defence means of the potential adversary.

37 - China successfully launched largest carrier rocket

Largest Carrier Rocket

China successfully launched the largest carrier rocket Long March-5, from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China's Hainan Province. The rocket, also known as CZ-5, blasted off with more than 1,000 tonnes of thrust.

It was the country's third attempt to launch the rocket. The first attempt was made in 2016. However, during the first attempt, the rocket failed to reach the speed required for the early phase of the flight. Long March-5 carried Shijian-20 satellite which entered into its designated orbit and the mission was declared as successful.

38 - United Nations adopted 3.07 billion USD budget

USD Budget

The General Assembly has adopted a budget of 3.07 billion dollars for the United Nations in 2020. The budget for the first time includes funding for the investigation of war crimes in Syria and Myanmar.

Budget highlights:

  • Budget increased by $8 million w.r.t initial announcement.

  • The increase is due to additional missions assigned to the UN Secretariat, inflation and exchange rate adjustments, according to diplomats.

  • It marks the first time since 1973 that the UN is adopting an annual budget instead of a two-year one.

  • It is focused for entry into the Decade of Action for SDG implementation.

39 - UAE extended 300 million US dollars of development aid to Jordan


The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) announced to provide 300 million US dollars as development aid to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Thousands of refugees have been pouring into Jordan to escape Syria’s civil war. The move comes following the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Syria shares the northern border with Jordan. According to an UN estimate the Hashemite kingdom hosts about 630,000 Syrian refugees while Jordan claims that the number is over 1.4 million.