Sweden becomes largest donor to UNESCO

Sweden has become the largest donor to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s core programs, after signing a cooperation agreement that voluntarily allocates SEK430 million (US$48 million) to the organization over a four-year period. This funding comes in addition to Sweden's regular contributions to UNESCO's budget.

Focus areas of the new cooperation agreement include education, freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, promoting fundamental freedoms and diversity of cultural expressions, and data collection. In total, Sweden has pledged close to US$100 million in voluntary contributions to UNESCO's programs. 

Press release - UNESCO 

Global Sweden Education

Development cooperation transparency: Italy's IATI rating raised from 'very poor' to 'fair'

For the first time Italy has been included in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) report, following joining in March 2017. IATI is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparency of development and humanitarian resources in order to increase their effectiveness in tackling poverty.

In this year's report, Italy has moved out of the the 'very poor' category to enter the 'fair' category with 45 points out of 100.

Full report - IATI

Brief on Italy - IATI

News article - Repubblica (in Italian)

Global Italy

Sweden provides additional US$34 million in humanitarian assistance to countries in crisis

Sweden has announced a SEK300-million (US$34 million) commitment in additional humanitarian assistance for the following countries:

  • Yemen: SEK60 million (US$7 million)
  • South Sudan: SEK50 million (US$6 million)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: SEK 50 million (US$6 million)
  • Ethiopia: SEK30 million (US$3 million)
  • Burundi crisis: SEK25 million (US$3million)
  • Syrian crisis: SEK20 million (US$2 million)
  • Nigeria: SEK20 million (US$2 million)
  • Central African Republic: SEK20 million (US$2 million)
  • Afghanistan: SEK15 million (US$1.7 million)
  • Iraq: SEK10 million (US$1.1 million)

The funds will be disbursed through Sida, the Swedish Development Agency. They come in addition to other humanitarian contributions made by Sweden this year, such as SEK2.3 billion (US$263 million) to 15 major and 15 minor crises worldwide and SEK305 million (US$35 million) to worsening humanitarian situations such as the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

Press release - Sida (in Swedish)

Global Sweden

Richard Feecham calls for re-engineering ODA at ANU's Mitchell Oration

Director of the Global Health Group at UCSF, Richard Feecham, called for a rethinking of development assistance at the recent Mitchell Oration held at the Australian National University (ANU). Key issues he raised were the important role of major global development funds, the failure of development assistance to achieve growth and sustainability in many sectors, and dramatic changes in the donor landscape following the emergence of China as a donor.

Feecham was previously the director for health, nutrition, and population at the World Bank and founding executive director of the Global Fund.

Video of speech - Development Policy Centre, ANU

Swedish Government publishes new country reports on human rights

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has published new reports on the current state of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in 19 countries in America, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. These kinds of reports have been published by the MFA since the beginning of the 2000s and are an important foreign policy tool to promote greater respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.  Country reports are produced twice a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, for countries in which Sweden has a permanent presence.

In general, though progress has been made in certain areas, other areas of development are lagging behind particularly regarding gender equality. Commenting on the reports, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, said "More people are better off today than ever before, but gender equality is still a vision - not reality. Therefore, we must continue to promote the full enjoyment of human rights for all women and girls, including by counteracting all forms of violence and discrimination and the overall impunity of these crimes". 

Reports - Swedish government (in Swedish)

Press release - Swedish government (in Swedish) 

Global Sweden

Oxfam report finds that food supply chains exacerbate global inequality

A report published by Oxfam has found that international food supply chains create inequalities across the global economy, particularly with regard to commercial supermarket policies and the agro-food sector. The report includes a case study on labor exploitation of migrant workers in Italy's agriculture sector. It urges both governments and consumers to demand change and enforce protections for small-scale farmers and workers. 

Publication - Oxfam

Global Italy Agriculture Nutrition

Global Fund appoints three new senior managers

Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, recently announced the appointments of three new members of senior management. 

  • Françoise Vanni will become the Global Fund’s new head of external relations, having previously been the director of external relations and communications for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East (UNRWA). 
  • Jacques Le Pape, former advisor to successive ministers in the French government, and former manager at French Treasury, will be the Global Fund’s new chief financial officer.
  • Michael Johnson, a leader in information technology with experience in both the public and private sectors will become the new chief information officer at a time when the Global Fund is building greater capacity for managing and synthesizing data with a focus on an enhanced digital agenda.

Press release - Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Global Global health

Publish What You Fund and Brookings release 2018 Aid Transparency Index

Publish What You Fund and the Brooking Institutions have released the '2018 Aid Transparency Index', ranking the transparency of 45 of the world's largest donors of development finance, with the Asian Development Bank coming in top position. The index was launched with a panel discussion, which tackled the need for transparency in all forms of development finance, including humanitarian assistance.  George Ingram, chair of the event and senior fellow at Brookings, has also written  a recap of the index results and the challenges ahead for transparency.

Index website - Publish What You Fund

Blog - Brookings  


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 signs record multi-annual core funding agreement with UNHCR

The Swedish government has announced plans to provide core support to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, worth a total of SEK3.5 billion (US$389 million) for the four-year period 2018 to 2021. 

This is the largest multi-annual core support contribution any country has contributed to the UNHCR to date. Providing core support means that the money is not earmarked for specific purposes, allowing organizations to decide how, where, and when to use the money, as most needed. Sweden has been the largest core donor to the UNHCR for several years and is a strong advocate for increased core funding to UN agencies from other donors.

The announcement came in conjunction with the UNHCR presenting numbers of 68.5 million displaces people worldwide, an increase of 2.9 million from 2017, as a consequence of ongoing, new, or escalating crises. These crises taking place, for example, in Syria, DR Congo, and Myanmar.

Press release - Swedish government (in Swedish)

News article - Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish) 

Global Sweden