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The Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD on Monday held a discussion on the Least Developed Countries Report 2016 which amongst others had argued that graduation of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is "not the winning post of a race to cease being an LDC, but rather the first milestone in the marathon of development."

The number of new countries becoming LDCs, the near doubling of the size of the group in the last 45 years in part reflects the small number of countries graduating out of the category - just four in the 25 years since the principle of graduation was established (Botswana in 1994, Cabo Verde in 2007, Maldives in 2011 and Samoa in 2014).

Sovereign debt restructurings, as can be seen from examples like Greece and Argentina, are difficult, often traumatic experiences for the sovereign debtor and its citizens. It is invariably the case that in a sovereign debt restructuring (SODR), the sovereign, because it either has lost access to financing or can only obtain it on more expensive terms, will be forced to reduce its expenditures in order to try and meet its renegotiated debt payments.

On March 9, the OECD's  Development Assistance Committee will decide on how to include what are known as ‘private sector instruments’ (PSI), in aid. This could mean a dramatic increase in the use of aid to invest in or give loans to private companies, or to agree to bail out failed private sector projects, through guarantees. However, without strong safeguards and transparency standards there is a real risk that aid could be used as a backdoor subsidy for corporations with powerful lobbies in donor countries. 

TUDCN has undertaken three national case studies in Ghana, Indonesia and Uruguay to analyse social dialogue within the countries in its various forms, with particular focus on the formalisation of these dialogues at different administrative levels and its contribution to development. The studies are authored by national trade union specialists and include examples of good practice as well as of limitations of the different contexts.

The global unemployment rate is expected to rise modestly to 5.8 per cent in 2017, representing an increase in the number of unemployed globally of 3.4 million compared with 2016, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

In its World Employment and Social Outlook - Trends 2017 report released recently, the ILO said that this will bring total unemployment to 201.1 million in 2017.

The ILO further said that the global unemployment rate is then expected to hold relatively steady in 2018, as the economic outlook improves, although the pace of labour force growth will still outstrip employment creation, resulting in an additional 2.7 million unemployed people.

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.

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