National reports

In March 2018, after examining Mexico’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights approved among its final observations a recommendation on the priority of human rights and social participation when implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the national level. The Committee also stressed that the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals are not an end in themselves, but tools for the ultimate goal of realizing human rights, and asked the Mexican State to integrate the final observations into the work of the National Council of the 2030 Agenda. If the Mexican Government takes these recommendations seriously, it could trace an effective implementation route for the 2030 Agenda, but current policies are far from what is needed, as can be seen from the following analysis.
The Czech Republic (CZE) is divided. The liberal political right, which has more or less dominated public discourse since 1989, reiterates that we are living in the best of times. It forgets that a large part of the society gained little from the transition to a market economy, or was put directly at a loss. The loss is mainly connected to the erosion of social security and a fall into social degradation. A large part of the scholarly and scientific community and the cultural elites have been unable to pay attention to growing social problems. The church organizations and key non-governmental organizations mainly focused on giving paternalist assistance to the most vulnerable in the population and did not contests the view of social problems as a phenomenon that is determined individually. Such a reality of socially unequal development was also expressed by a growing distrust of vast sections of the society towards politics in general. This reality is exploited by a number of so-called new political movements that are closely connected to the oligarchic circles. On a programmatic or ideological level, they mostly promise guarantees – or mere promises – of a more dignified status of the lower and middle classes while increasing their attention to the population living outside of the main cities.
According to UN estimates, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require an investment of the order of US$ 5,000 to 7,000 billion – annually!1 The need for financing seems enormous, but is put into a certain perspective if we remember that annual global economic output (measured as the combined gross domestic products of all countries) is estimated by the World Bank at around US$ 76,000 billion. The need for funding must also be set off against the funds that are looking for investment opportunities. These naturally include pension fund assets, which by their nature have a long investment horizon. In 2014, the assets under management at the 300 largest public and private pension funds in the world totalled US$ 15,400 billion. And in 2016, assets invested by Swiss pension funds alone stood at CHF 823.9 billion. Enormous sums of money pass through Switzerland’s financial centre overall. For example, in 2018 there is more than CHF 6,170 billion held in securities in customer accounts with Swiss and Liechtenstein banks – assets that are used in investment advisory and/or asset management services.
The Government of India presented its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to United Nations in 2017. Despite VNR guidelines urging countries to inform on “progress and status of all SDGs”, India reported on only seven goals. This is surprising as India’s VNR claimed its national development goals are “mirrored in the SDGs” and as Government had asserted 11 of 17 SDGs were already being worked on even before the SDGs were adopted. Given the consensus that SDGs’ success largely depends on India’s achieving them, an appraisal of its performance in critical social sectors, including those associated with the SDGs left out of VNR, becomes necessary.
Inequality in the UK is projected to rise in the coming years. A historically low unemployment rate means that more households are earning a living from the labour market. At the same time, tax changes 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. The UK is well known for its strong legislation on equalities. The Equality Act 2010 was a significant contribution in this regard. However, eight years since its adoption, the Act has not yet been implemented in full. Successive governments have failed to bring into effect the socio-economic duty, which requires public authorities to have due regard to the desirability of reducing material inequality.
In this world, 800 million people go hungry every day and 2 billion suffer from some form of malnutrition. In this same world, according to the FAO, as of 2011 more than a third of the adult population is obese and a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. Though it is said that hunger doesn’t discriminate, the poorest nations are suffering the most. This year’s Global Health Index (GHI) has put a lot of priority on how inequality of all forms determines food insecurity in a country. It is very important to discuss this correlation because everyone needs to be aware and empathetic towards what continues to happen. It is the people or group with the least social, economic or political power - those who are discriminated against or disadvantaged-- who are most affected by food and agricultural policies, but have little say in policy debates dominated by powerful governments and multilateral corporations. With continuing globalization, land grabbing is rampant. LDC countries often face pressure to shape their agricultural policies to suit the preferences of large corporations looking to control the world’s food supply.
Gross inequalities, arising from and seriously compounding the obscene accumulation and concentration of wealth, have become the defining issue of our time. In some quarters, particularly those inhabited by die-hard market fundamentalists, contrary to the existential threats it invokes, it is believed to be a universal default setting of human society – ordained by Fukuyama-ist end-of-history normalcy, leave alone, finality. As a critical element of the ever- deepening crisis, it is producing a toxic political-economic and ecological situation, the adverse historical implications to which neoliberal political dispositions remain unresponsive, if not utterly oblivious. No wonder it has become the single most important challenge facing humankind, particularly in respect to the accompanying deficit in democratic governance and peaceful coexistence between different sections of societies and even between nations.
As controversial as it may still be for some, the historical involvement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the development of Arab world countries over the past three or four decades—Jordan included—is a perfect of representation of the chronic foreign dependency of many of region’s (e.g., modern Levant) countries in the new millennium: A seemingly insurmountable dependency on support from bilateral and multilateral partners, under an almost permanent state of domestic or regional tension.
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