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Good morning, this is Paula. Ahead of the World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month, ironing out the final details on a new fishing subsidies agreement may provide a shimmer of hope – albeit at an environmental cost – in what are expected to be otherwise complex trade talks.

In Geneva, top officials at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development will talk shop, and the former boss of the UN’s Geneva headquarters will suggest a path forward for multilateralism, as it faces its biggest crisis in decades.

photo journaliste

Paula Dupraz-Dobias


On our radar

Photo article

Fishing vessels in the Netherlands (Pixabay)

Race to the bottom: can countries strike a second deal to reel in fisheries subsidies? Two years after striking a historic trade deal to end subsidies driving a depletion of the ocean’s fish populations, countries are hammering out a second agreement to tie the loose ends. With just a few weeks before the World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi, the pressure is on. As countries cling to their handouts and tax exemptions, conservation experts warn of a race to the bottom.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

What to watch this week

🚢STATE OF TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT. Conflicts, climate and debt will provide an underlying threat to discussions at this tri-annual board meeting of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) board.

The meeting comes amid the latest strains to global supply chains, such as restrictions in shipping transit through the Red Sea following attacks by Houthi militias and the Panama Canal, where climate effects have reduced water levels, further threatening development in the Global South. Plans for Unctad’s first supply forum, to be hosted in Barbados in May, are in the works.

In November, the UN office’s latest report on least developed countries highlighted a stagnation in transitions by nations away from that status, as debt service payments by the poorest of nations soared.

⚖️RIGHTS CONUNDRUM. This year’s efforts to uphold human rights from the Palais des Nations kicks off this week with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) discussing abuses in a number of countries.

The committee will begin a three-week session to consider reports on Mauritania, Romania and Sweden over the coming days. Clashing interpretations of socio-economic well-being and geopolitical spites have often animated the discussions.

Swedish rights defenders have warned of rising Islamophobia, following incidents of Quran burning and hate crimes, which led to demonstrations and Turkey suspending talks with Stockholm on Nato membership.

Meanwhile, in Romania, civil society groups report that transgender persons lack access to healthcare, while people with HIV/Aids are also discriminated against when seeking medical care. A lack of comprehensive sex education in schools and access to contraception as well as safe and legal abortions for women prevails ahead of elections later this year, which sees right-wing fundamentalist populism on the rise.

The rights session which will extend until 1 March, will overlap with the start of the upcoming Human Rights Council. Civil society groups have again pressed for better access in discussions.

Also on the agenda

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