Issue XXXVII | February 2021
Global Development Update is a monthly bulletin that informs readers about the events, ideas, and people that are shaping an emerging world community. It is produced by The Global Citizens' Initiative- a non-profit working to help develop a sustainable world community for all. Click below to sign up for a free Global Development Update subscription.
The Political Significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

With its entry into force on January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has become binding international law for 51 countries. However, it will also affect the world's nine nuclear nations that didn't ratify it yet. Thomas Hajnoczi, the former Director of Arms Control at the Austrian Foreign Ministry and a negotiator of the TPNW, explains why in this op-ed. Read On.
US moves to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council 
In line with the commitment of the Biden administration to return to a foreign policy with roots in multilateral institutions, United States will rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, which Trump withdrew from nearly three years ago. Initially, the US will have only nonvoting observer status. Full membership will be assessed later in the year. "We know that the council has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world," said a senior State Department official. "By being present at the table, we seek to reform it and ensure it can live up to that potential." Read on.
President Biden revoked anti-abortion "Global Gag Rule"
As part of a series of executive orders aimed to improve access to affordable healthcare, President Joe Biden revoked the "Global Gag Rule", a harmful anti-abortion policy that banned US funding for organizations that facilitate or promote abortion overseas. "The Biden administration took an important first step towards righting the Trump administration's tremendous wrongs impacting access to reproductive health, rights, and justice," commented Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Data show that the "Global Gag Rule" caused an increase in maternal deaths, unsafe abortions, and incidents of HIV and AIDS in developing countries. Read on.
Biden inauguration: The US rejoins the Paris climate agreement

On January 20, a few hours after he was sworn into office, President Biden signed an executive order to re-enter the Paris agreement on Climate Change. UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed this decision and expressed commitment to work closely with the US President and other international leaders to overcome the climate emergency. "The climate crisis continues to worsen", declared Guterres in a statement, "and time is running out to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build more climate-resilient societies that help to protect the most vulnerable." The Biden administration also committed to addressing income and racial inequalities and jump-starting the Covid vaccination campaign. "We will press forward with speed and urgency," said Biden during his inauguration speech. Read on.
Covid-19 lockdowns hit hard global fisheries and aquaculture 

As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens people's health, many parts of the global economy are also experiencing significant disruptions. According to a recent report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global fisheries and aquaculture are among the hardest hit sectors, as demand and supply have seen an abrupt decline and could face further disruption in 2021 due to lockdown restrictions. "The impact has been significant in developing countries, especially those with large informal sectors, where small-scale and artisanal workers and communities depend on fisheries for their food security, livelihoods. They have borne the brunt of restrictions," said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo. Read on.
Overcoming vaccine inequities while enabling a global just recovery 
The world spent much of 2020 waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine. Now that vaccines are finally here, the end to the pandemic remains out of sight for many countries. While wealthy nations have reserved doses that outnumber their populations, positioning themselves for a successful economic recovery from the pandemic, developing countries struggle to secure enough doses and risk being left behind. The inequality of vaccine distribution will worsen global economic disparities. The post-covid world that will emerge will be more unequal than ever, with developing countries still overwhelmed by the pandemic, forced to expend their stretched resources and grow more debts. "The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world's poorest countries," warned WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Read on.
Ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

As well as a public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on inequality, pushing people further into poverty, especially in lower- and middle- income countries. A just recovery from the pandemic will require global coordinated efforts to secure equal access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. "We must strengthen international cooperation and ensure development assistance and debt relief to reduce inequalities within and between countries," said UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris during an online event on human rights and the 2030 Agenda. "Recovering better will require concerted efforts to rebuild trust in the institutions of governance, with a renewed commitment to eliminating discrimination, promoting meaningful participation and accountability, and protecting fundamental freedoms." Read on.
The key role of G-77 in helping shape the UN's socio-economic agenda
The Group of 77 (G-77) is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations. It plays a crucial role in helping shape the UN's socio-economic agenda, and it's actively involved in negotiations on a range of global issues that are often part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - like climate change, poverty eradication, healthcare. In this piece, IPS's Thalif Deen explains why the G-77 remains "the only viable and operational mechanism in multilateral economic diplomacy within the UN system". Read on.
Treaty banning nuclear weapons takes effect without the world's nuclear powers

The international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force on January 22 and has been ratified by 51 countries. The world's nuclear powers - including the US, Russia, and the UK - have not signed it or ratified it yet. "Giving up our deterrent without any guarantees that others will do the same is a dangerous option," said Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of Nato. "A world where Russia, China, North Korea and others have nuclear weapons, but Nato does not, is not a safer world." Read on.