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The "refinement" of the SDG indicators by experts can dilute the goals agreed by the governments, said civil society representatives as preparations advance to the 48th session of the UN Statistical Commission in March 2017. For example, under target 10.5, to improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets, the proposed indicator #10.5.1: “Adoption of global financial transaction tax (Tobin tax)” was changed to “Financial Soundness Indicators”, developed by the IMF.

Trade unions representatives at the United Nations consider it "positive" that "the indicators can still be improved" but warn that in not totally transparent processes, the targets can be distorted in the choice of indicators.

Monitoring of the SDGs is to begin in 2017, and the Inter Agency Expert Group (IAEG-SDG) held its fourth meeting at the United Nations Grounds in Geneva on 17-18 November. The discussion was not conslusive. Trade unions analyse what is at stake.

The "unprecedented pressure" being placed on international human rights standards risks unravelling the unique set of protections that have been set in place after the end of World War II, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, in the run-up to Human Rights Day on 10 December.

In a UN news release, the UN human rights chief Mr Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein announced that on Human Rights Day, the UN Human Rights Office will launch a campaign entitled "Stand up for someone's rights today."

"As feminist, women’s rights and gender equality advocates we reaffirm our vision of a world where aid is no longer necessary. Where unequal power relations and undemocratic distribution of wealth and structures of injustices all forms of violence and war are transformed to create new forms of relations based on equality, dignity, respect and human rights that enhance solidarity, equity, inclusion, non-subordination and justice for all." Read here the statement by the Feminist Constituency at the High Level Meeting on the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation that was held in Nairobi, Kenya, 28th November to 1st December 2016.

The role of private sector in development is currently one of the most debated issues in international cooperation. It is inscribed in a wider context where financial resources for official development assistance (ODA) are shrinking, development cooperation is evolving beyond the traditional ‘aid’ concept, and the actors/entities that can be key players in development are growing. Fortunately, development is seen more and more as a holistic process that should be supported by integrated global policies (such as trade, investments, etc.), bringing about improvements in terms of both economic and social progress, the latter being based on the full respect of human rights.

The pivotal role of business in development discourse is based on the equation between economic growth and sustainable development, (voluntary) corporate social responsibility (CSR), enabling business environment provided by states, and finally public-private dialogues (private sector involved in policy making). The role of business has also been recognised in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

“While there was some small cause for optimism at Marrakesh, the major issues were shuffled off, either never to be seen again or put aside for further ‘negotiation’ in the future. Overall, a disappointing result”, said Azeb Girmai, LDC Watch Climate Lead.

On the positive LDC Watch welcomes the Renewable Energy initiative for Sustainable Development (REEEI) which was launched on the last day of the conference. This will scale up the provision of renewable energy to Least Developed Countries, particularly helping development in rural areas.

Opening of the Marrakech
Conference, 7 November 2016. (UN)

The Marrakech climate talks, which began on 7 November, closed on 19 November, with developing countries making a strong plea for pre-2020 climate action and for developed countries to fulfill their pre-2020 commitments.

This call was made at the joint closing plenary of the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22), the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) and the first part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1).

A letter for governments regarding the need for an intergovernmental tax body to be established under the United Nations. The aim of this letter is to support the forces trying to bring this issue back on the agenda, and get as many countries as possible to speak out in favor. 

Ecuador has recently supported the idea of establishing a global UN tax body, and this creates new opportunities. However, this is not a "support Ecuador"-campaign, but rather an attempt to use the opportunity to get many more governments to speak out in favor of establishing an intergovernmental tax body. 

This is an effort to promote the creation of a Global Tax Body within the United Nations. Such an international tax body would help fight corruption and tax evasion and thus make more resources available for health, education and social services.

A United Nations human rights expert has called on newly elected United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres to convene a world conference to discuss the issues of tax avoidance and evasion, the abolition of tax havens as well as the protection of whistleblowers.

In a UN news release, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr Alfred de Zayas (United States), said: "The choice of Mr Guterres as the next UN Secretary-General offers a unique opportunity to advance the fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows, at a moment where the world is paying increasing attention to these crucial issues".

Corporate reporting can provide an essential contribution to monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This conclusion was highlighted in an UNCTAD Secretariat Note titled "Enhancing the role of reporting in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals: Integration of environmental, social and governance information into company reporting" prepared for a meeting of UNCTAD's Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR).

ISAR, comprising accountancy experts, is holding its thirty-third session from 4-6 October.

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