The old debate around ends and means usually deals with unacceptable procedures claiming legitimacy because of the intended results. Not any more. In the current international debate around development goals for the United Nations, the “ends” are set so low that no major effort is really required from anybody. “No means are needed if the goals are meaningless” commented report editor-in-chief Roberto Bissio at its launch.

The Social Watch Report 2014, launched on July 9th in New York during the ministerial meeting of the High Level Political Forum of the UN, is a summary review of fifty country reports and an analysis of global trends by civil society organizations. The report, titled “Ends and Means” and it monitors how government and international institutions are doing in implementing their solemn commitments to eradicate poverty, achieve gender justice and promote sustainable development.

The new government of Iraq, announced last September 8 by the new Prime Minister Haider al Abadi was resented by the major organizations of Iraqi women because it includes only one woman among its 25 members (22 ministers and three deputy Pms). The Iraqi Women Network expects more women in decision-making positions, as promised by politicians. “It is unfortunate, says IWN that women remain victims of patriarchal bargains in the distribution of ministerial positions and the consolidation of the policy of exclusion and discrimination against women”. The women activists agreed to continue demanding to increase the share of women in the ministries that still have not appointed ministers, as well as deputy ministers within the cabinet, in the chairmanship of the parliamentary committees and in the presidencies of the independent commissions and boards.

In July 2015, the international community will have the chance to change the future of finance development. Governments, civil society, trade unions and other actors will meet for the third UN conference on Financing for Development (Ffd) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to take concrete decisions for the future of development and how to finance it. In the run-up to this crucial meeting, two major reports have been released which are intended to inform the upcoming debates. We have had a report from the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance (ICESDF) and one from the Open Working Group (OWG) – a 30-member group nominated by the UN General Assembly to decide on the Sustainable Development Goals. Both reports should feed into future action. Disappointingly, both lack ambition and fail to present specific recommendations, something that CSOs - many in developing countries - and other actors have been calling for some time.   

The United Nations General Assembly on 9 September adopted by vote the crucial draft resolution of the Group of 77 and China, "A/68/L.57/Rev2: Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes."

A majority of 124 countries voted for the resolution, 11 countries voted against it, while 41 countries abstained from a vote. A total of 176 countries out of the UN membership of 193 were present.

My last blog post on budgeting for human rights explored the obligation for governments to use the maximum of available resources to realize rights enshrined under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Here we will examine what the obligation of progressive realization means for government budgets.

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