Japan pledges ¥1.5 billion to support peace and democratization of Afghanistan

Japan has committed ¥1.5 billion (US$13.5 million) to support the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Afghanistan election support program. Afghanistan plans to hold national elections between 2018 and 2019. The Afghan government, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), and the Electoral Complaints Commission (EEC) are working to ensure the elections will be transparent and fair.

Japan’s funding will support the work of the IEC and the EEC, a community education campaign; increased women’s participation, election supplies; and safety during the elections.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)


President Macron announces launch of Asian initiatives stemming from One Planet Summit

While hosting a Chinese New Year reception in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron detailed a range of areas in which France has cooperation with Asian countries, singling out collaboration in the fight against climate change following the US' announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. One specific example of a commitment from the One Planet Summit was the establishment of a carbon market in China.

Macron expressed full support to China in the organization of the Conference of Parties on Biodiversity in 2020 and announced that several projects will be launched in the fall of 2018 as part of the framework of the French-Chinese year of ecological transition. He also announced he will accompany Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the founding summit of the International Solar Alliance, which will be the first concrete implementation of One Planet Summit's commitments to make solar energy accessible to all and to deploy it in developing countries.

Speech - Elysée (in French)


DFID and USAID launch Humanitarian Grand Challenge

The Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have co-announced a new Challenge fund to drive technological innovation in humanitarian response. The fund will award inception grants up to £150,000 ($230,000) for innovative technology projects. The fund will also award further grants of  £600,000 ($920,000) to take successful projects to scale.

DFID and USAID are both committing £5.5 million ($8.4 million) to the initiative. The fund will be administered by Grand Challenges Canada.The fund is expected to also attract significant private- sector funding. 

Press release - DFID

United Kingdom United States

French think tank publishes policy brief on the renewal of the Cotonou Agreement

French think tank IDDRI published a policy brief on the renewal of the Cotonou Agreement, noting that since 2000 it has been the framework for the European Union's relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP). Considering that in 2020 the agreement comes to an end, the European Commission made in December 2017 a proposal to open negotiations for a renewal of the partnership. The policy paper evaluates what has been achieved by the agreement so far, providing an overview of successes and challenges, and issuing recommendations for its subsequent renewal. 

Policy brief - IDDRI (in French)

EU France

Dutch NGO umbrella organization gives recommendation on development policy

Dutch NGO umbrella organization Partos has contributed written advice to the upcoming Ministry of Foreign Affairs' development policy with the goal of influencing the new policy framework. The advice, including key recommendations and requests, has been delievered to Minister Sigrid Kaag, the acting minister for foreign trade and development cooperation. The recommendations are grouped under the headings of migration, humanitarian help, trade, shrinking civic spaces and human rights, and climate financing.

To gather further input from civil society, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will organize online consultations in the second half of February 2018. The details of these consultations will be made public in the coming days.

Press release - Partos (in Dutch)


Swedish payment for OECD DAC chair faces criticism at home

Swedish financial support for the candidacy of Charlotte Petri Gornitzka for chairman of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has come under fire from development actors in Sweden, including parliamentarians, government officials, and civil society. Critics argue that the OECD members should share the cost of the chairmanship instead of awarding the position to the highest bidder.

In 2016, the Swedish government paid SEK12.4 million (US$1.4 million) for Ms Gornitzka's candidacy and an additional SEK4.8 million (US$560,000) for an advisor in the OECD secretariat. Sweden's Minister for Development Cooperation, Isabella Lövin, says that this was in line with regular procedure at the OECD. Gornitzska was elected as chairman of the OECD DAC in the summer of 2016 for a two-year commission.

News article - Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish)


Japan highlights commitment to end violence against children at ‘2030 Agenda for Children’ Summit

At the 2030 Agenda for Children Summit ‘End Violence Solutions’ held in Sweden, the Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Manabu Horii gave a speech highlighting Japan’s commitment to ending violence against children and announced three initiatives that support this goal.

Horii announced a commitment of US$6 million to the ‘Fund to End Violence Against Children’, its intention to deepen talks with civil society about ending child violence, and that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono, will take up a board seat on the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children.

Speech – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)


Canada imposes targeted sanctions in response to human rights violations in Myanmar

The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, has announced targeted sanctions against Major-General Maung Maung Soe of Myanmar.  The sanctions are a direct response to the significant role the Major-General has played in violence and persecution against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar that has forced more than 688,000 people to flee. 

Press release – Global Affairs Canada


Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs resigns

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Halbe Zijlstra, has resigned following his admission of falsely claiming to have been present at a gathering with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006.  

Zijlstra previously claimed that he himself had overheard Putin talking of expanisionist ambitions at the gathering but admitted  on Monday that he did not meet the president in person and had borrowed the information from a source.

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, will take on the responsibilities of the Minister of Foreign Affairs until a new appointee is named.

Press Release - Dutch government

News article - Politico 


Spain's foreign ministry approves development master plan amid strong criticism

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation’s Inter-territorial Committee for Development has approved a final draft of the 'Master Plan for Spanish Co-operation 2018-2021'. The new plan is aimed at steering development policy for the next five years. It will pave the way for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and continuing to tackle poverty and inequities worldwide, underlined Spain’s development agency AECID in a press release.

In response, the Spanish Co-operation Council, a consultative body that convenes development officials, NGOs, and academics presented an assessment report with several points of criticism. The report includes recommendations that the new Master Plan be more concrete, include budgetary estimates for ODA spending and a methodology for tracking results, and better align itself with the long-term SDG 2030 Agenda. 

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Press release – CONGDE (in Spanish)