The year 2019 is starting full of uncertainties and also of hopes. In a fast changing and unpredictable world, our voice and the voices of the people that we try to express and amplify need to be heard. Our governments and the powerful of the world need to be made accountable.

In 2019, as we have been doing since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, the Social Watch network will contribute to the global Spotlight report and we will help disseminate the independent reporting of civil society and bring those findings to the United Nations' High Level Political Forum (HLPF).

The HLPF is the United Nations body mandated by the 2030 Agenda to have a “central role in overseeing a network of follow-up and review processes at the global level.” The HLPF will meet at ministerial level in New York, next July 9 to 18 for an in-depth review of Goals 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17 (the so called “political goals”, including inequalities, governance and implementation). The theme will be "Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality".

The statement of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, was submitted to the UN Financing for Sustainable Development Office as a stakeholder input to the 2019 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development. A major part of the statement is about social protection, which is a theme this year in the Commission on Social Development, Commission on the Status of Women, and the Financing for Development Follow-up Forum.

Lebanon presents an interesting case when it comes to social policy. In fact, when the developmental state model was being implemented all over the world, Lebanon was adamant in its laissez-faire economy. The developmental state has brought about welfare regimes and what was called welfare states in advanced capitalist economies in Europe. In parallel, except for a few years, Lebanon has opted for minimal state intervention in public policy, and social protection in general. This has been exacerbated in the reconstruction period where the private sector and non-state actors dominated the realms of social services and protection, such as health and education. In recent years, and with social protection gaining momentum on the international level, the discussion on social protection and social security resurfaced in Lebanon. This has been accentuated as studies and reports on alarming poverty rates, inequality and unemployment in the country became recurrent.

Human rights must be an integral component of policymaking to ensure economic reforms help advance societies, rather than hinder people’s lives, an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council said. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, published the Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments of Economic Reforms to assist States, international financial institutions, creditors, civil society and others to ensure that economic policies are embedded in human rights.  They will be presented to the Human Rights Council on 28 February 2019.

“The thrust of the Guiding Principles is that States cannot shy away from their human rights obligations in economic policymaking at all times, even in times of economic crisis,” said Bohoslavsky. 

Human rights are the departure point for the civil society critique of official policies in Mexico. Mexican civil society organizations demand coherence between the 2030 Agenda and governmental policies in economic and energy matters. They claim that the ongoing reform of the energy sector prioritizes business activities of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons over any other activity in the territories and without the necessary safeguards that effectively protect water, biocultural heritage, health of people and communities.

As a result of the examination carried out in March 2018, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommends that the Mexican State takes full account of its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and ensures the full enjoyment of the rights recognized in it in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level. It also encourages the State to establish independent mechanisms to monitor progress and treat beneficiaries of public programmes as holders of rights to which they may be entitled.

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