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US withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

The Trump administration has announced the US' withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, accused the body of harboring a "cesspool of political bias". She cited the council's inclusion of members with a record of human rights violations, as well as chronic bias against Israel, as the chief reasons for US withdrawal.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein voiced dismay at the decision, and emphasized the need for US engagement in combating human rights violations. Haley nonetheless stated that the move was "not a retreat from our [the US'] human rights commitments". 

News article - RTE News

Global United States

Sweden's stance on Mexico City Policy challenged in new report

The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) has published a report finding that civil society organizations with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) projects are having to decide between Swedish or US funding, following the Trump administrations' expansion of the global gag rule, the Mexico City Policy. 

The Swedish government has decided it will not finance organizations which agreed with the policy, in an effort to safeguard access to safe abortions. However, the report finds that in the cases of Zimbabwe and Mozambique this restriction of funding is harming local health projects. 

Report- CHANGE  

News article - Swedish radio (in Swedish)

Global Sweden

Coordination SUD welcomes OECD DAC peer review of French ODA

French NGO umbrella organization Coordination SUD welcomed the newest peer review of French official development assistance (ODA) issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), saying it largely echoes the recommendations of NGOs. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) applauded France's commitment to increasing ODA and particularly its multilateral priorities of climate and health. They noted in particular that NGO action and value-added are recognized at the highest level of government, although assistance to NGOs remains low. The review also flagged issues related to security and migration-tied development assistance, as well as a low level of gender-equality related funding.

Press release - Coordination SUD (in French)

France Global

Swedish State Secretary appointed Assistant Secretary General at UNDP bureau

The United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres has appointed Swedish Secretary of State, Ulrika Modéer, as Assistant Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy.

In her new role she will be part of the UNDP's management team and lead strategic work on financing issues and external communications. Modéer advocates for UN reform, aid effectiveness, and increased core funding to the UN. She will begin her new position in the coming months. 

Press release - Swedish government

Global Sweden

140 international personalities alert world leaders about women's rights in the poorest countries

In an open letter, 140 personalities from around the world, including Juliette Binoche, Emilia Clarke, Oprah Winfrey, Déborah François, the founders of the Times' Up movement, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Amy Poehler, and Meryl Streep call on politicians around the world to commit to gender equality in the poorest countries. This issue will be on the agenda of the G7 Summit to be held in Canada June 8-9, 2018. The letter calls this an opportunity for leaders of the seven most industrialized countries to move forward on the issue and is part of the mobilization of more than 220,000 citizens around the world who are supporting the ONE Campaign's movement "Poverty is sexist". They call on world leaders to seize multiple national and international political opportunities to take concrete action to address gender inequalities in developing countries.

Press release - One Campaign (in French)

France Global

President Macron calls on President Putin to work with Europe and multilateral institutions

During a state visit to Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to work with Europe on a wide range of subjects, and defended the multilateral framework as essential to international cooperation.

Macron discussed topics including economic cooperation between Europe and Russia, the crisis in Ukraine, and the Iran nuclear deal. The meeting also addressed the situation in Syria, with Macron proposing to Putin they work together to increase humanitarian engagement in the country. Macron will invest up to €50 million (US$45 million) to finance non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Syria, and hopes to coordinate with Russia to also reach areas under the control of the Syrian regime. 

Press conference - Elysée (in French)

France Global

Dutch NGOs concerned about strength of business interests in new Dutch development cooperation policy

Partos, the Dutch umbrella organization for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has published a reaction to the country's new development policy, released by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag.

While generally positive, Partos raises concerns that the interests of the Dutch business community seem to trump the interests of civil society. While the policy document recognizes the shrinking space of civil society organizations (CSOs), it fails to articulate in detail the importance of CSOs to development in the coming years. Partos is also critical that the goal of achieving 0.7% official development assistance (ODA) to gross national income (GNI) target is relegated to 2030, the year by which all sustainable development goals (SDGs) must be achieved. 

News article - Partos (in Dutch)

Policy document - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

The Netherlands releases new development policy

The Netherlands has released its new development policy, titled ‘Investing in Perspective: Good for the World, Good for The Netherlands’. The policy was spearheaded by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Sigrid Kaag, and approved by the Cabinet and the Parliament. 

The policy stresses that development cooperation, as an integral part of foreign policy, is aimed at combating root causes of poverty, migration, terrorism and climate change. According to the strategy, sectors to receive additional funding include education, climate change, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), with new contributions to the Global Financing Facility (GFF). 

With the new policy, the government is working on four closely linked main objectives: 1) preventing conflict and instability, 2) reducing poverty and social inequality, 3) promoting sustainable inclusive growth and climate action worldwide, and 4) strengthening the international earning capacity of the Netherlands.

Policy document - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

French NGOs welcome President Macron's decision to host Global Fund replenishment conference

French non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have welcomed France's decision to host the Sixth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in 2019. Global Health Action, Aides, Equipop.org, One, Oxfam France, Family Planning, Sidaction, Solidarité Sida, Solthis, Doctors of the World, Coalition Plus, and Friends of the Global Fund Europe issued a press release noting that since France also holds the 2019 G7 presidency, it will be well-positioned to build political and financial commitments to global health. The group of NGOs called on the government to work in close collaboration with French civil society during the lead up to the conference.

Press release - Oxfam France and partners (in French)

France Global

France to host Global Fund 2019 replenishment conference

France has announced it will host the sixth replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in 2019. Members of the international development community and the private sector are expected to attend the conference, which aims at raising funds for the period 2020 to 2022.

France is a founding member of the Global Fund and its second-biggest contributor, having given €4.2 billion (U$3.8 billion) since 2002. It is the first time the country is hosting the replenishment conference. France considers the event part of the 'revival' of French international development policy, which has now made health, education, and gender equality its main priorities.

Press release - Elysée (in French)

France Global Global health