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Austerity policies pushed by international financial institutions have weakened public health systems, despite current financial support packages, condemning many people to die.

As health systems of East Asia, Europe, and the Americas buckle under the strain of coronavirus, developing countries are expecting an even higher human toll. Decades of austerity promoted by international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and regional development banks have weakened public health systems, impeding the ability of governments to respond to the pandemic.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 25 March launched a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight against COVID-19 across South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The launch was held virtually in UN headquarters in New York, with the Secretary-General being joined by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

According to the UN, COVID-19 has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide, and there are nearly 400,000 reported cases.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, warned that the region’s economies will suffer the pandemic’s negative consequences via numerous channels.

The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, warned today that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have devastating effects on the global economy that will certainly be more intense than and distinct from those felt during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, adding that Latin American and Caribbean countries will not be spared since they will be affected through numerous channels.

Ollivier de Sutter, former Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the Right to Food (2008 to 2014) was voted by the Human Rights Council in its March 13 session as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, from May 1 on.

Commenting on his appointment, De Sutter wrote: “Ironic turn of history: in May 2008, I inaugurated my mandate as Special Rapporteur on the right to food in a context of unprecedented crisis, with an explosion in food prices linked both to a barrel of oil at the highest and speculation on the markets, as well as restrictions on exports of food products ... Twelve years later, this new appointment comes at a time when a major economic recession is coming, with business closings chain, massive job losses, and an increase in poverty in the face of exhausted social protection systems.

An initial assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the global world of work says the effects will be far-reaching, pushing millions of people into unemployment, underemployment and working poverty, and proposes measures for a decisive, co-ordinated and immediate response.

Input from the Civil Society Financing for Development Group in response to the announcement by the Presidents of the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly, regarding the establishment of a High-level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Integrity and Transparency for Achieving the 2030 Agenda.

High individual and household debt, which accounts for a significant portion of private debt in most countries, has been associated with inequality, macroeconomic instability, unsustainable sovereign debt and financial crises.

This is one of the main conclusions highlighted by Mr Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN has announced the launch of a Food Systems Summit in 2021. This is to be welcomed as the world urgently needs more inclusive and sustainable food systems tackling the challenges of climate change. Yet, the World Economic Forum, representing powerful companies, is expected to be behind the organization of the Summit, as strategic partner of the UN. In addition, the UN Secretary-General has appointed the current President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as Special Envoy for the Summit.

Corporations in the global industrial food chain alone are the biggest drivers of ecological destruction and increasing hunger and malnutrition rates. And yet, the UN is turning to them to solve the world’s crises?! The UN should build instead on the successful innovations in democratic food governance. These are the result of the work of civil society organizations and social movements representing those most affected by hunger and malnutrition.

The WORLD Policy Analysis Center and University of California Press are thrilled to announce a new, freely downloadable book, Advancing Equality: How Constitutional Rights Can Make a Difference Worldwide. This resource pairs a quantitative analysis of the constitutions of all 193 U.N. member states with case law from more than forty countries. By systematically examining protections against discrimination on the basis of sex/gender, race/ethnicity, religion, migration status, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity, alongside guarantees of the rights to health and education, Advancing Equality offers insights into the range and implications of different constitutional and judicial approaches to ensuring equal opportunities.

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.

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