Global Social Policy Digest 11.3
The GSP Digest has been produced under the editorship of Alexandra Kaasch with support from the University of Bremen Centre for Social Policy Research. It has been compiled by Bob Deacon (University of Sheffield, UK), Anja Jakobi (Peace Research Institute, Frankfurt, Germany) Alexandra Kaasch (University of Bremen, Germany), Sunil Kumar (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) and Falk Lenke (University of Bremen, Germany). This version of the Digest is available on http://www.icsw.org and http://www.crop.org (a shorter version reporting events from late 2010 and summer 2011 will be available as part of the Global Social Policy Journal issue 11 2/3). All the web sites referenced were accessible in August 2011. This edition of the Digest covers the period May to July 2011.
There has been little progress so far in translating the French G20 Presidency’s commitment to innovative development financing including a new tax on financial transactions (see GSP Digest 11.2) into practice. This may be because the main relevant Ministerial Meetings on Work and Employment and Finance do not take place till September and October respectively. There is, however, Neil McCulloch and Grazia Pacillo’s IDS Research Report concluding that “a Tobin tax is feasible and, if appropriately designed, could make a significant contribution to revenue without causing major distortions”.
Interestingly, at the world regional level, in both the European Union (EU) and Southern Africa there have been suggestions that regional bodies could be strengthened by such innovative taxes. Discussed by EurActiv, the EU Commission unveiling its draft budget for the seven years from 2014 proposed that much of the funds could come from new financial market taxes. Other possible resources include a charge on mobile text messages, or levies related to aviation, such as a departure tax or a kerosene tax. The EU announcement comes as a new Eurobarometer poll of more than 27,000 people shows Europeans are strongly in favour of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) (61%). Of those, more than 80% agree that if global agreement cannot be reached, an FTT should initially be implemented in just the EU (see also http://robinhoodtax.org/latest/european-commission-supports-eu-wide-financial-transaction-tax).
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) parliamentarians with NGOs at Kievits Kroon agreed that there was a “need to investigate the possibility of a tax on extractive industries to fund social transfers, preferably levied at regional level”.
In terms of traditional official development assistance (ODA) little changes. About the G8 Deauville Summit in May international aid agency Oxfam warned that the G8 is losing credibility:
Today the G8 made new promises in support of the Arab Spring, but unless they also deliver on their existing commitments to fight poverty, what’s to say this is not just another batch of empty promises?
The G8 has still not accepted the official OECD verdict on their aid figures, which shows that their $50 billion aid promise has been missed by a massive $19 billion. A recent update about Multilateral Aid was provided by the OECD. An evaluation of the Paris Declaration can be found here: http://pd-website.inforce.dk/. Another overview of international donors and expenditures has been provided by UNFPA.
This also relates to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2011, released 7 July 2011, stating that despite progress, the most vulnerable are not reached. Duncan Green (OXFAM) discusses the trouble with targets. AIDWATCH is presenting the Best and Worth of Official Aid 2011.
The OECD and WTO have produced Aid for Trade at a Glance 2011, drawing a positive picture: “aid for trade is bettering the lives of many men and women in developing countries”. Further contributions on the topic come from the WTO in the form of the Third Global Review on Aid for Trade.
The OECD released the outcome of the Meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level in Paris, 25-26 May 2011 – Framework for an OECD Strategy on Development.
As the world population approaches seven billion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that ending global poverty and inequality is the key to unleashing the great human potential for prosperity and peaceful coexistence, while protecting the planet and safeguarding the natural resources that sustain humanity. To mark the Day, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the “7 Billion Actions” campaign to promote dialogue on the challenges, opportunities and actions that will be needed to ensure a better future for humanity.
In terms of tax competition, there have been some developments. At a high-level conference “Challenges in Designing Competitive Tax Systems”, Angel Gurria (OECD Secretary-General), amongst other things, highlighted that better analysis was needed on how globalisation and economic integration impact tax systems, to limit the scope for tax avoidance, and to renew the international dialogue on international arrangements, including the OECD Model Tax Convention and Transfer Pricing Guidelines. The OECD also made public an OECD Model Tax Convention for discussion. At the UN, on 9-10 June 2011, the Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on “2011 Update of the UN Model Double Taxation Convention” took place, and the UN ECOSOC, for its substantive session 4-29 July 2011, prepared a report ‘Strengthening of institutional arrangements to promote international cooperation in tax matters’.
In May 2011, the OECD also updated its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (see also here). The OECD is further concerned about how to deal with future financial shocks, and presented the report of a two years’ project ‘Future Global Shocks’ in June 2011.
The OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2011 was released in July. A new study by the IOM calls for International Cooperation on Migration in Response to Economic Crisis, and argues that “an agreed multilateral framework on migration management would make human mobility more orderly and predictable”. The UNESCO has announced a new major publication entitled Migration and Climate Change.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women convened for its 49th session, 11-29 July 2011 in New York. The first major report by UN Women is entitled Progress of the World’s Women – in Pursuit of Justice, and “aims to inspire bold action by governments and civil society to meet their commitments and also accelerate the achievement of women’s rights worldwide,” Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women said. Meanwhile, a UN committee tasked with ensuring compliance with the global treaty to end discrimination against women noted: “there has been progress towards improving the lot of women in some countries, but discriminatory practices continued to limit their human rights”. Also, UNICEF and UNFPA launched a joint publication ‘Women’s and Children’s Rights: Making the Connection’, with a panel session of the CSW focusing on tensions and synergies between the rights of women and children. The rights of women were also addressed at the Human rights of women addressed at Indigenous Permanent Forum, 16-27 May 2011. Connected is also a report Equality at Work discussed at the ILO’s 100th International Labour Conference.
On 16 June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) endorsed John Ruggie's ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’, a set of standards outlining the connection between business and human rights. This Human Rights Watch statement argues that
Ruggie’s principles do not adequately scrutinize global business practices and asserts that the UNHRC missed a crucial opportunity to protect human rights. As the number of business-related human rights violations increases, the UNHRC must advocate for a set of global “rules” that require corporations to abide to human right protections.
More concretely with regard to children’s rights, a three-month consultation period – facilitated by Save the Children, UN Global Compact and UNICEF - launched the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) Initiative. Pauline Warui, Safaricom Chief Customer Care Officer said: “It is not expensive or difficult to business to commit to the seven principles on children’s rights – it is more expensive not to do so.” The World Day against Child Labour (12 June) raised these issues, too. Further, the OHCHR Committee on the Rights of the Child convened 30 May to 17 June 2011.
Meanwhile the OECD updated its guidelines to protect human rights and social development. The 42 governments adhering to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises adopted the 2011 update of the Guidelines at the recent 50th Anniversary Ministerial Meeting (see also regulation section).
The second session of the new open-ended working group on the rights of older people (see digest 11.2) took place in New York, 1-4 August 2011. The discussions included topics like the right to health and social protection, as well as discrimination and social exclusion of older persons. Also, UN DESA News is concerned with the protection of human rights of older people.
On the right to water, UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon said
Let us be clear, a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free. Rather, it means that water and sanitation services should be affordable and available for all … and that States must do everything in their power to make this happen.
Somewhat connected was an international convention adopted by the ILO in June 2011 focusing on the rights of migrants, particularly domestic workers. Abdelhamid El Jamri, Chairperson for the UN Committee on Migrant Workers welcomed the convention, stating that “women migrant domestic workers, in particular, face additional risks related to their gender, including gender-based violence.”
Another resolution by the UN Human Rights Council on 17 June 2011, narrowly adopted, “expressed grave concern at the violence and discrimination experienced by people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and called for a global study to document the suffering they face.” This should include consideration on “how international human rights can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity”.