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Indo-US COMCASA Agreement

Relevancy

  • GS Mains Paper-2
  • International Relations, Bilateral Agreements

Why in news?

  • A U.S. team visited India to sort out difference regarding “Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement” (COMCASA).
  • The agreement would facilitate transfer of high-end U.S. technology to India, but there is feared that it would compromise on India’s defence secrecy.

What is COMCASA about?

  • COMCASA is going to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the U.S. to India.
  • This would facilitate “interoperability” between the forces and potentially with other militaries that use U.S. origin systems for secured data links.
  • Importantly, the U.S. has already made some tweaks from its conventional template for agreements in this regard, for accommodating Indian concerns.
  • COMCASA is said to be part of a set of 3 agreements that the U.S. considers vital for a functional military relationship.
  • Previously, India and U.S. signed the “Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)”, for mutual logistic assistance between their militaries.
  • Negotiations on the third agreement, “Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA)”, have not yet begun.

Why U.S. pushing for COMCASA?

  • S. officials state that India’s armed forces are currently dependent on less secure, commercially available communication systems for surveillance.
  • These platforms are a hindrance in real time data sharing with friendly militaries, and seamless interoperability during joint missions.
  • Hence, they argue, COMCASA will facilitate the Indian military to use of high-end secured communication equipment from the U.S.
  • Additionally, COMCASA is also said to be imperative if India is to get the armed version of the Sea Guardian drones from the US.

What are the benefits and risks involved?

  • S. granted India the status of “Major Defence Partner” during the Obama’s time, to facilitate transfer of high-end defence technology.
  • Signing of the 3 foundational agreements would underline that status, besides making the transfer of American defence technology possible to India.
  • New Delhi is believed to be concerned about intrusive access COMCASA would grant the U.S. to Indian military communication system.
  • The violation of Indian sovereignty due to visits by US inspectors to Indian bases to inspect the COMCASA-safeguarded equipment weighs heavy.
  • There is also a fear that a lot of Russian-origin and indigenous Indian military platforms may not be compatible with COMCASA.
  • Also, such comprehensive agreements is politically risky for the ruling BJP as even the previous LEMOA (signed in 2016), created a political storm.

UNCITRAL- United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

 

Relevance:

  • GS Prelims 2019, GS Mains paper II
  • International Organisations, International Relations, UNCITRAL- United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

Why in News?

  • The deliberations at the UN Commission on International Trade Law will facilitate legal reform to ease dispute resolution
  • India will be participating in deliberations at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in New York on an important issue concerning resolution of commercial disputes.

What is UNCITRAL?

  • The United Nations Commission for International Trade Law – UNCITRAL has been recognized as the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.
  • UNCITRAL was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966.
  • It plays an important role in developing that framework in pursuance of its mandate to further the progressive harmonization and modernization of the law of international trade, by preparing and promoting the use and adoption of legislative and non-legislative instruments in a number of key areas of commercial law.
  • Commercial disputes can be resolved wither through the courts or arbitration or mediation.

About the draft that will be discussed at UNCITRAL:

  • The draft has introduced mandatory pre-litigation mediation in international commercial disputes.
  • The adoption of the convention will address a policy gap on outcomes from the mediation process involving cross-border disputes.
  • In an number of international commercial disputes, India has lost substantial earnings because the cases had to be taken to other countries for resolution.
  • Strengthening the dispute resolution policies will encourage dispute resolution in India, where the commercial relationship once began.
  • UNCITRAL has formulated principles on which countries should recognise and enforce mediation agreements arising from cross-border disputes.
  • Once formalised, countries will have a consistent framework for enforcing mediation agreements made in other countries.
  • Mediated settlement agreements typically don’t need court assistance for enforcement since the terms of settlement have been chosen and determined by the parties.
  • However, with this convention comes the certainty that settlement agreements through mediation will be acknowledged as a resolution of the dispute, and will be respected and enforced.
  • Further, if the court were to decline enforcement, this will be done on grounds that are known to international parties.

UNCITRAL- United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

  • Arbitrationis like the court process as parties still provide testimony and give evidence similar to a trial but it is usually less formal.
  • In mediation, the process is a negotiation with the assistance of a neutral third party. The parties do not reach a resolution unless all sides agree.

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