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Increasingly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is claiming a role for itself as a central player in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and has positioned itself as an important actor on SDG 10 and tackling inequalities (economic and gender-based). However, in practice this commitment has been patchy at best, with little evidence of any meaningful policy realignment. Drawing on the examples of Egypt and Brazil, Kate Donald and Mahinour El-Badrawi, from CESR, and Grazielle David from the University of Campinas, show how IMF governance has led to deepening of social and economic inequalities, and threats to human rights enjoyment.

Paraguay has a history of “very low government revenue, generalized reluctance to pay taxes in a climate of corruption and strong opposition by enterpreneurs and high income earners to any increase in their fiscal contributions”, reports Decidamos, Campaign for Citizens' Expression.

One of the few tax increases that the public accepts are the taxes on tobacco, as they generate revenue but also address a public health problem. Yet, a proposed law to increase taxes on tobacco to 40 percent was vehemently opposed by the producers and by former president Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who owns the biggest tobacco company in the country.

Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

The official Lebanese VNR report of 2018 blames the Syria crisis for the economic deficits that increased the debt, as well as for economic stagnation, the doubling of unemployment and worsening poverty rates. Yet, according to the alternative civil society report by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), “this exclusively negative narrative about Syrian refugees does not distinguish between the huge impact of the Syrian crisis/war on the economy and political situation in Lebanon, and the diversified impact of the presence of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This latter allowed financial flow of aids to increase, as well as the domestic consumption that produced around 1 -1.5 percent of GDP growth, and provided a cheap labour force that prevented the bankruptcy of many small businesses.”

Official development assistance (ODA) and blended finance alone are insufficient in both quantum and nature to enable the finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This is one of the main conclusions highlighted by UNCTAD in a Secretariat Note presented at the third session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development taking place from 4-6 November.

Between partnerships and regulation – two diverging ways to tackle the problem at the UN

The new briefing paper “Extractive Industries and Women’s Rights: Between partnerships and regulation – two diverging ways to tackle the problem at the UN”, by Karolin Seitz and published by AWID, DAWN, Global Policy Forum and Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, presents how women are disproportionately affected by negative social and environmental impacts of extractive industries. The briefing also explains why a new partnership between UN Women and BHP Billiton, launched in June 2018, is very problematic. Similar to UN Women, other United Nations (UN) entities are trying to attract partnerships with the corporate sector. As the case of UN Women shows, potential risks and side-effects of such partnerships are often not properly addressed.

Inequality is a major concern for civil society in Bangladesh. The report by the Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD) quantifies rising inequalities. The Palma ratio (between the income of the richest 10% and that of the poorest 40%) grew from 1.68 in 1964 to 2.93 in 2016. Inequalities are addressed in the official plans but EquityBD considers that implementing them “will be a tough job for the Bangladesh government due to lack of good governance in some cases. The financial sector is still in a need of special attention since illicit financiale flows and huge amounts of non- performing bank loans are still in force. Decentralization of development is another crucial issue.”

The 2030 Agenda aims at “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity…of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity”. But in what instances and in what ways is governance — as the mechanisms by which a government weighs and evaluates competing claims and chooses a path — itself a confounding factor that undermines the aspirations articulated in the 2030 Agenda?

This analysis, by Marina Lent, of the Global Policy Forum (GPF), examines the role of governance in maintaining the obvious chasm between aspiration and reality through the experience of the loss of indigenous peoples’ territories.

The 5th session of the open-ended working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG) met in Geneva on 14 to 18 October 2019.

This marked the beginning of intergovernmental negotiations on the basis of a revised draft legally binding instrument (LBI) published in July 2019.

Kinda Mohamadieh, from Third World Network, says the 5th meeting of the OEIGWG was a success in advancing the discussions and clarity on various elements of the revised text. Yet, some core issues continue to generate different approaches in the working group, including the scope of the proposed treaty, the extent of new obligations that the proposed treaty should impose on States, the possibility and ways of addressing direct obligations of business enterprises, and the scope of human rights law to be covered under the LBI.

The UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) is in the final stages of preparing its proposals for the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the global indicator framework of the SDGs, to be submitted to the Statistical Commission by 30 November.

The IAEG-SDGs was established by the UN Statistical Commission to identify a set of indicators by which to measure progress on the SDGs. The resulting global indicator framework was debated at the Commission meeting in March 2016 and accepted subject to refinements as methodologies improved. Thereafter the framework was submitted for an extensive online consultation and the process of revising it has continued through nine biannual IAEG-SDGs meetings—attended by agencies and member states as well as civil society.

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