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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.

Major developed countries on Saturday succeeded in foisting, in the final G20 Leaders' Declaration from Buenos Aires, "reforms" at the World Trade Organization ostensibly to salvage the multilateral trading system from "falling short of its objectives", trade envoys told SUNS.

Despite the writing on the wall that the multilateral trading system is being subjected to trade wars launched by the United States for pursuing its "America First" trade policies, the G20 Sherpas meekly agreed to the US demand to shift the blame for the current crisis in global trade to the multilateral trading system and the WTO, said a trade envoy, who asked not to be quoted.

During the crucial negotiations among the Sherpas of the 19-member G20 in Buenos Aires on 30 November, the developing countries, especially South Africa and India among others, resisted the use of the term "reforms" at the WTO, and its negative effects on the developing and poorest countries, said a trade envoy, who asked not to be quoted.

Food is the axis of the civil society report on the SDGs in Nepal, where “transnational corporations are grabbing land, monopolizing seeds and food markets, and marginalizing small holder farmers more”. As visible evidence, “now in Nepal packed foods are common not only in the urban townships but also in remote and hard to reach areas, replacing indigenous food consumption patterns. Farmers rely heavily on seed markets rather than preserving their own seeds, which was common practices in Nepal even a few years back.”

Food quality is degrading as farmers are using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This creates health problems, and even when food availability has improved, the supply is inadequate to meet the surging food demand. Cereal import dependency has been rising, while Nepal's capacity to export food has been falling. This can also be linked with the huge out-migration among youth for work in foreign lands in the absence of opportunities in the country.

In the United Kingdom, a consultation process coordinated by the UK network of Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) concludes that “inequality is projected to rise in the coming years”. Paradoxically, the unemployment rate is reaching an historical low, but “at the same time, tax and social security cuts introduced since 2012 have had a particularly severe effect on people on lower incomes. Black and ethnic minority households, families with at least one disabled member, and lone parents (who are overwhelmingly women) have suffered disproportionately”.

A member of the network, Just Fair, led the drafting of the civil society chapter on SDG 10 on the reduction of inequality at the national level and highlights the fact that, thanks to the Equality Act of 2010, “authorities gather and transparently report useful disaggregated data”. Yet, successive governments have failed to implement this Act. The duty is in force in Scotland since April 2018, Wales has the power to follow suit, some councils are voluntarily implementing it and 78 Members of Parliament from five different parties are calling on the government to bring the duty into effect.

The third annual Synthesis Report of the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) is now available. The report was coordinated by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The third annual Synthesis Report of the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) is now available. The 'Voluntary National Reviews 2018: Synthesis Report' synthesizes some of the findings of the 46 VNRs presented at the HLPF in July 2018. The report was coordinated by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

A strong and dynamic World Health Organisation (WHO) is critical for the achievement of the SDGs, especially SDG 3 on health and well-being. The WHO constitution mandates the organization "to act as the directing and co-ordinating authority on international health work”. However, its ability to fulfil this mandate is circumscribed by the nature of its financial resources. WHO’s biennial budget for 2018-2019 is US$ 4.42 billion, 2 just over a quarter of the total sales of the top-selling medicine Humira (Adalimumab) in 2016 (US$ 16.08 billion).

In part this is because many of the organization’s donors share the view that WHO may not need a huge budget to carry out its constitutional mandate, which mainly consists of setting norms and standards in the area of public health. However, a large part of the organization’s spending in 2016-2017 went to activities related to service delivery rather than to norms and standard setting. For example, US$ 1.16 billion (25.67%) was spent on its polio eradication programme.

Widespread privatization of public goods is systematically eliminating human rights protections and further marginalising the interests of low-income earners and those living in poverty, a United Nations human rights expert has said.

In a recent report to the UN General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Mr Philip Alston (from Australia), said that existing human rights accountability mechanisms are clearly inadequate for dealing with the challenges presented by large-scale and widespread privatization.

"Privatizing the provision of criminal justice, social protection, prisons, education, basic healthcare and other essential public goods cannot be done at the expense of throwing rights protections out of the window," Mr Alston said.

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