The old debate around ends and means usually deals with unacceptable procedures claiming legitimacy because of the intended results. Not any more. In the current international debate around development goals for the United Nations, the “ends” are set so low that no major effort is really required from anybody. “No means are needed if the goals are meaningless” commented report editor-in-chief Roberto Bissio at its launch.

The Social Watch Report 2014, launched on July 9th in New York during the ministerial meeting of the High Level Political Forum of the UN, is a summary review of fifty country reports and an analysis of global trends by civil society organizations. The report, titled “Ends and Means” and it monitors how government and international institutions are doing in implementing their solemn commitments to eradicate poverty, achieve gender justice and promote sustainable development.

Serious developments regarding the violations of rights in Egypt are becoming more evident, as the Ministry of Social Solidarity proposes a new law, which would constitute a dangerous escalation in the framework of systematic targeting of civil society activists and the increasing restrictions imposed upon them.

On 26 June 2014, the Egyptian ministry in charge of regulating civil society organization proposed a new draft law, causing shockwaves among civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country. For six months, they had carried out negotiations with former Social Solidarity Minister Dr. Ahmed el-Boraei, which led to a proposed law to be presented to forthcoming parliament soon after the elections.

The UN General Assembly has passed a landmark resolution that mandates the UN to create a “multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring”. Promoted by the G77 countries and triggered by the aggressive vulture funds lawsuits against Argentina, this resolution could be a game changer for the way future debt crises are managed. First and foremost, it has shifted the forum for political debate away from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) towards the UN. However, shamefully the EU’s vote was split over this crucial decision. 

Photo: Social Watch Philippines

Social Watch Philippines challenged Congress to reclaim the power of the purse from the Executive at the SWP-Alternative Budget Initiative’s critique of the proposed 2015 budget at the House Committee on Appropriations CSO consultation last Wednesday, September 10, 2014. SWP-ABI also presented their alternative budget proposals for 2015 in the same meeting.

SWP Lead Convenor Prof. Emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones presented with a summary of the organization’s analysis of the 2015 proposed budget. She focusing on salient issues Congress faces with the current public finance system, such as congressional scrutiny, debt servicing and stark disparities in regional allocations of the budget.

We are at a crossroads in defining the future of sustainable development. Over the summer, UN member states hashed out some agreement on a proposed set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets, and simultaneously devised a ‘menu of options’ for financing these universal goals. The UN Secretary General’s office is at the grind now to synthesize these proposals and many more into a workable set of recommendations for what the post-2015 sustainable development framework could and should look like.

As the post-2015 process now starts to harden and faultlines become more pronounced, experts and activists from the development, environmental and human rights communities are converging around a fairly straightforward argument.

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