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".

Peaceful protesters in Sudan continue to face systematic and gross human rights violations. Since the first day of protests their legitimate and peaceful demands for economic, social and political reforms, which came in response to the dire austerity measures implemented, widespread corruption and social injustices have been faced by excessive use of force, killing by live ammunition, mass arrests and detention of critical voices by government security forces and allied militia. Thus far between 40 and 75 have been reported killed according to national and international human rights groups (the government admitted killing 24).

Thousands of protesters have been arrested including the Arab NGO Network for Development Sudanese member, National Civic Forum Secretary General Hasan Abdel Ati. Furthermore, through internet disruptions, censorship of media the Sudanese authorities try to block access to information and cut off the Sudanese civilians, activists and human rights defenders from international observation.

Around 40 protesters were shot dead, dozens were injured by live fire used as well as tear gas and rubber bullets in Sudan in one week of demonstrations. The protests started on December 19th, in the northern Sudanese city of Atbara, spread to many other cities and reached to the capital Khartoum. Sudanese government response to these protests has been excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detention.

Chants calling for President Omar Al-Bashir to step down reflect people’s voices of frustration for the dire economic and social conditions, social injustices and widespread corruption.

For about 12 hours there was a target on education financing in what was about to become the 2030 Agenda. It was proposed in the very last round of negotiations of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and it did not take long before it was shot down; Member States said it was not feasible to prescribe percentages of public spending to the different goals, and that it would place the goals in competition with each other. Subsequent Financing for Development negotiations saw Member States reject the proposed commitment to “setting nationally appropriate spending targets on essential services, including education…”, shocking the Norwegian co-facilitator, who said he thought education financing was uncontroversial.

Yet, at the end of the MDG era, it was clear that the lack of financing was one of the main reasons behind lagging progress in achieving universal primary education. Aid to education has dropped many years in a row, amounting to 6.9 percent in 2015, and only 2.7 percent of humanitarian aid is directed to education.

Iraqi Women Network proposes to Iraqi leadership the creation of the National Council for Women’s Empowerment, as an independent national mechanism for women’s affairs in Iraq. The proposal was discussed with the President Barham Saleh. Since long time, Iraqi Women Network has been advocating to create an active partnership between various state authorities and along with CSO’s, media and gender studies and research centres to improve the status of women in Iraq and increase the role of women in realising stability, security, peace building, justice and development.

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