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Global Social Policy Digest 11.3 (July 2011)

Type: Periodical
Date issued: 01 July 2011
Authors: 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).

Christine Lagarde was elected new head of the IMF from 5 July 2011. Before the election, an intensive debate took place, raising hopes about a non-European becoming IMF head for the first time in history, involving various governments and global actors. A report by the Bretton Woods Project and other organisations about the IMF head selection process is discusses by Nancy Birdsall from the CGD. Attac expects Lagarde to be worse than Strauss-Kahn (see also : http://www.politicalaffairs.net/should-we-get-rid-of-the-international-monetary-fund/, http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/art-568594, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/08/next-imf-boss-job). Others regard this decision as a breakthrough for women. The Bretton Woods Project ran a blog on the selection process, and the CGD a survey on who should be the next IMF head). In addition, more than 100 major NGOs sent a letter to the IMF’s Board of Governors, alerting that

current electoral laws discriminate against developing countries in favour of western economies. The NGOs argue that the next managing director of the IMF should be approved by a majority of the member countries, rather than the current system that favors select western economies.

(see also http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/5/23/focus/8737631&sec=focus).

In terms of the continuing role of the IMF in bailing countries out of the crisis with the much criticized pro cyclical economic policies see recent developments in Portugal and Greece. The IMF programme in Portugal highlights the heavy conditionality attached to loans. Meanwhile, a big, and very public, fight has brewed over overcoming the debt in Greece (see http://brettonwoodsproject.org/imfausterity76).

Similarly the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group faults the Bank’s International Finance Corporation’s poverty focus, and for failing to pay attention to how its promotion of private sector growth impacts the poor. Meanwhile, the CGD hosted a roundtable on “Program-for-Results” (P4R), a proposed new lending instrument by the World Bank.

Much less in focus was the re-election of Ban Ki-moon for another five-year term as UN Secretary-General. However, Ambassador Anwarul K.Chowdhury criticized the “opaque, non-democratic process”. Indeed a damning report on Ban Ki-Moon has suggested he is overly secretive, tries to censor criticism and allows backroom deals to dictate who gets some top UN jobs. Also the UN Human Rights Council elected the first women ever to serve as its President – Laura Dupuy Lasserre from Uruguay.

At a CGD event, Ernesto Zedillo diagnosed current global governance institutions and said they showed frightening failures. Speaking to this, the Global Policy Forum reports that only half a year after its creation, UN Women is significantly short of funding, and calls for NGOs to continue campaigning for support to the organization.

The UN ECOSOC convened in Geneva in July. The Annual Ministerial Review this year focuses on Education. The outcome document expressed the usual MDG and allied aspirations. Earlier at a UN convened meeting on Global Governance Pascal Lamy of the WTO had urged the raising of the UN ECOSOC profile.

The UN’s Global Compact held its inaugural Global Compact Week on 16-20 May 2011 in Copenhagen. It was convened to try to bring coherence to an increasingly large portfolio of Global Compact initiatives. There are now ten Global Compact issue-related working groups and special initiatives established at the global level including groups on human rights, and labour. However, the close relation between business and the UN exemplified in the Global Compact came under fire. In May 2011, NGOs complained about the corporate role in UN water policy. NGOs claim that the relationship between these corporations and the UN has become too intimate, and that private corporate interests exercise undue influence over UN water policies.

UNESCO takes over the chairmanship of the Global Migration Group (GMG) from July to December 2011 which will be on the theme: migration and global environmental change. A GMG joint statement on migration and global environmental change will be released during the period of the UNESCO chair.

On the occasion of the World Health Assembly, on 16 May 2011, Director-General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, reflected on the WHO’s role in global health. This is critically discussed in a post at the Center for Global Development website.

The OECD celebrated its 50th anniversary, 24-26 May 2011, presenting a new Vision statement, as well as a brochure over its activities.

The 37th G8 Summit took place in Deauville, 26-27 May 2011. Among the outcomes is a G8/Africa Joint Declaration: Shared Values, Shared Responsibilities. Little later, in June the ILO held its 100th annual conference (see also social protection).

Preparations for ECOSOC’s 2012 Development Co-operation Forum are under way. In May 2011, a High-Level Symposium, and an Istanbul LDC-IV Special Event on mutual accountability in LDCs were organized (a connected panel discussion in July was: ‘Building on Istanbul: Financial support for development efforts of LDCs, including through South-South and triangular cooperation’).

The World Health Assembly (WHA) convened for its 64th session at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, 16-24 May 2011. The meeting discussed, amongst other things, the future of financing for the WHO, health-related MDGs, health systems strengthening (see also: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA64/A64_12-en.pdf), and a draft WHO HIV/AIDS strategy 2011-2015.

The World Bank Group’s IFC organised its fourth international health conference in Washington D.C., 25-27 May 2011. Under the heading of ‘The Road Ahead: What Next for Emerging Market Private Healthcare?’, it discussed the expansion of the private health sector across emerging markets. A recent World Bank publication is entitled: ‘How Governments Can Engage the Private Sector to Improve Health in Africa’.

At the UN, the 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS took place 8-10 June 2011. The draft resolution ‘Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS: Intensifying our Efforts to Elimiate HIV/AIDS’ was adopted by the General Assembly. UN Women suggested a number of key recommendations, including empowering HIV positive women as “agents of change”; facilitate better access for women to prevention, treatment and care services; ensure adequate financing for women’s needs and priorities, and address violence against women.” UN Women also organised a number of side events to the meeting.

The health of women and children was in the focus of a speech by Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro, to the GA at their discussions about the MDGs of eliminating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. She said it was important to continue investing in the future and that

healthy women delivery healthy children who can attend school and become part of a healthy workforce. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce able to do its rightful part in building cohesive, prosperous societies.

Connected to this, we find amongst the outcomes of the G8 Summit in Deauville a document of G8 Commitments on Health and Food Security that states: “the G8 will work in coordination with a range of stakeholder involved in the global Strategy for Women’s and Children Health. The G8 acknowledges the recent Commission’s recommendations and will work to support the WHO to contribute to implement them.”

The annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded its 100th session on Friday 17 June 2011 after taking a number of steps aimed at moving toward what ILO Director-General Juan Somavia called “a new era of social justice”. The government, worker and employer delegates at the Conference adopted a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide - the Convention on Domestic Workers. The new ILO standards set out that domestic workers around the world who care for families and households, must have the same basic labour rights as those available to other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

In terms of social protection policy the conference had before it the Report VI - Social security for social justice and a fair globalization. Discussion of this lead most importantly to the agreement to

place a standard-setting item entitled “Elaboration of an autonomous Recommendation on the Social Protection Floor” on the agenda of the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference, 2012, with a view to the adoption then of a Recommendation

This means that assuming such a recommendation on the Social Protection Floor is agreed in 2012 that the ILO will have resolved, in effect, on a standard that all countries should adopt not just for workers but for citizens and residents. Interesting is the report of the discussions of the Committee for the Recurrent Discussion on Social Protection that recommended this course of action. It highlights the tension between those who regard the SPF as a desirable end in its own right and those (mainly workers representatives) who regard it as stepping stone to the wider ratification of the social security based Convention 102. Subsequently the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Trade Union Programme organised a seminar in Berlin on the topic ‘No Social Justice Without Social Protection: What can international development cooperation do to make the Social Protection Floor Initiative work?’

The UNICEF Social and Economic Policy Update June 2011 focussed on social protection, including contributions on the MDGs and equity, children’s rights, and HIV/AIDS. UNICEF has also published its Social Protection Floor Costing Tool, which allows estimating the costing of different social protection measures and helps examine the affordability and sustainability of increasing the scope and extent of social protection coverage by providing concrete quantitative figures over a 20 year period. The tool can be used to analyse both existing and planned social protection benefits.

In the latest newsletter by the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) Katja Hujo reports on sustainable financing for social policies

Policy debates on implementing and expanding social policies in developing countries often revolve around costs and affordability. Some contend that poor countries cannot afford to provide public social services due to a lack of fiscal resources. Yet UNRISD research shows that universal social policies are not only more cost-efficient but also have better delivery with regard to social development.

Katja Hujo was also one of the several UN agency representatives (e.g. from ILO, IMF, World Bank, UNICEF) at an ODI Financing the Cost of Social Protection Workshop on 26 - 27 May 2011 in London.

Meanwhile the World Bank’s new Director of Social Protection, Arup Banerji continues to pursue his own consultations towards the drafting of the new “three Ps” Social Protection and Labour Strategy 2012-2022.1 The first round of consultations have been completed and a new draft will appear in September. The Social Protection & Labor Strategy Advisory Group also held its First Meeting in Paris, on 27-28 April 2011.

Regarding the global labour market the OECD Economic Outlook has been released, including special chapters on high unemployment, and an OECD Economics Department Policy Note asks Persistence of High Unemployment: What Risks? What Policies? The Second Conference on Regulating for Decent Work was held at the ILO in Geneva, with the theme of ‘Regulating for A Fair Recovery’. Some 300 participants, including academics, economists, lawyers and representatives of governments, trade unions and employers’ organizations from around the world examined the state of labour market regulation in the wake of the global economic crisis and how to forge a fair recovery for workers, with a special focus on wage and income inequality. A new report by the ILO on the topic ‘The Global Crises. Causes, Responses and Challenges’ shows how well-designed employment and social policies can now play a crucial role in both boosting job creation and making economic growth more solid and equitable.

The Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) conference took place in Paris 30 May to 1 June 2011, dealing with topics such as inequality, job creation, social protection and gender equity.

In July 2011, the IMF released a new panel database on the labour market regulation in low-, middle- and high-income countries, including information on unemployment insurance systems, minimum wage regulations, and employment protection legislation.

Constantly changing conditions of labour markets in the context of globalization and the growing scale of international migration has generated significant concerns about the social rights and social protection available to people outside their countries of origin. Heads of social security organizations from Europe and Eurasia have recognized the urgent need to strengthen the social protection of migrant workers in the region, and have committed to develop common principles for social security systems to cover this group, at an international meeting in Baku, Azerbaidjan, that concluded on 29 June 2011. The proposal to develop a common framework guidance document was proposed by seminar participants, who agreed to establish a working group jointly between the ISSA and the International Association of Pension and Social Funds (IAPSF).

The OECD Better Life Initiative and the work programme on ‘Measuring Progress’ allow understanding what drives well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done to achieve greater progress for all. Your Better Life Index, designed to let you visualise and compare some of the key factors – like education, housing, environment, and so on – that contribute to well-being in OECD countries.

At the OECD Ministerial Meeting on Social Policy in Paris on 2-3 May 2011, Ministers exchanged views on the serious short- and long-term challenges citizens are facing today and on what they could do to address them. They discussed the social impact of the global economic crisis and compared approaches to adapt social policy to support the recovery. Under the broad umbrella of family policies, they discussed good practices in removing barriers to family formation, enhancing the well-being of children, promoting gender equality in employment, and innovative approaches to improve service delivery for vulnerable families. The final session focused on social policy strategies to balance the needs of different generations, the fiscal and social impact of pension reforms, and caring for children, adults with long-term health conditions and /or disabilities, and for an increasing number of vulnerable older persons.

On pensions, the OECD released its 2011 edition of OECD’s Pension Markets in Focus report on 25 July 2011; reflecting some uncertainty about the future of pensions funds in the Euro zone. Just a month earlier, though, the Government at a Glance 2011 data let the OECD suggest

Unsustainable fiscal positions in many countries will require a reduction in public expenditures, and in some cases revenue increases. But future fiscal consolidation efforts will also offer the opportunity to rethink and reform the public sector to improve its performance.

Still, another OECD report “Help Wanted? Providing and paying for long-term care” predicts that

Spending on long-term care in OECD countries is set to double, even triple, by 2050, driven by ageing populations. Governments need to make their long-term care policies more affordable and provide better support for family careers and professionals

There is also an on-going public consultation of the OECD and International Organisation of Pensions Supervisors (IOPS) inviting comments on draft Good Practices on Pension Funds’ Use of Alternative Investments and Derivatives.

In the last months, UNESCO presented its global monitoring report 2011 in different countries. The report, officially launched in New York in March, assesses that most countries are unlikely to reach the MDGs in 2015. On-going armed conflicts are one main reason for this lack of implementation, and this year’s annual report focuses on this theme. Also, in early July the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that condemned attacks to schools, an issue that has first been put on the agenda by UNESCO some years before. Education International welcomed the resolution as an important step in clarifying that violence against schools is not tolerated.

So far, the year has mainly been marked by new strategies and the beginning of their implementation: The World Bank has started to implement its new strategy, decided in late April 2011, and focussing on learning as overarching theme. This also implies a shift away from education systems to diverse learning environments, including private provision. The ILO has started to implement its skill development programme, focusing on the G20 countries. It is to be seen how far the focus on these countries is transferable to other ILO members. Also the OECD has started intensified work on skills, expecting to deliver the first skill strategy in 2013.

Food policy has become even more important, given that the general high food prices have now been overshadowed by the hunger crisis at the Horn of Africa. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that two million children are malnourished as a result of the drought in the Horn of Africa, and half a million could soon die or suffer long-lasting mental or physical damage. The agency appealed for nearly $32 million to assist millions of children and women in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, which are all facing a crisis that is being called the worst in 50 years. High food prices and prolonged drought are worsening an already dire situation for thousands of families in need of food and water, according to UNICEF. Also the FAO calls the international community to extend all the necessary political, moral and financial means required to comprehensively address the worsening crisis now affecting the Horn of Africa and help nations in the region to secure food.

In June the WTO and other organizations published a report develops “options for G20 consideration on how to better mitigate and manage the risks associated with the price volatility of food and other agriculture commodities, without distorting market behaviour, ultimately to protect the most vulnerable”. The report was requested by G20 leaders at their summit meeting in November 2010 and submitted to the French Presidency of the G20 on 2 June 2011. The report, which was undertaken by FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, WFP, the World Bank, the WTO, IFPRI and the UN HLTF, states that “trade is an essential component of any food security strategy”. General Ban Ki-moon underlined the importance of promoting food security, saying that ensuring everyone has enough to eat has a positive spill-over effect on health, education and the empowerment of women, key catalysts for progress towards internationally agreed poverty eradication targets. International organizations and the G20 leadership should also work together to limit excessive food price volatility, and governments must be encouraged to expand and improve food-based safety nets that safeguard nutrition.

In July 2011, UN-HABITAT called for National Urban Policies to face the increase of urban population, poverty and inequality. The Executive Director noted that:

We need to re-think the urban agenda and to adopt a new approach to the huge urbanization challenge. It is time for urban policies beyond housing policies we have had in the past years. Our future cities must generate wealth, equity and freedom.

The need for urban policies to go beyond housing is not new.2 The real challenge for UN-Habitat is how to get nation states to formulate and implement urban policies that go beyond housing.

The 2011 World Habitat Day is 3rd October and will be launched in Mexico with the theme of ‘Cities and Climate Change’. The 2011 World Water Week will be hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute, 21 - 27 August; its theme is ‘Responding to Global Changes: Water in an Urbanising World’.

The Cities Alliance open-access grant facility has been replaced by the Catalytic Fund (CATF). This is a ‘funding instrument which provides grant support for projects that strengthen and promote the role of cities in poverty reduction and in sustainable urban development. Priority for Catalytic Fund support is given to cities, local authorities, associations of local authorities and/or national governments’. Since its launch in January 2011, 174 concept notes were received under CATF, of which seven have been approved at a total cost of US $1.6 million.

The Urbanization Knowledge Partnership of the World Bank aims to ‘provide the world’s “go to” hub for creating, sharing, and trading knowledge on urbanization. This means moving beyond a static repository, and beyond conferences and workshops, towards an open-source knowledge exchange -- a global nexus of urban stakeholders, that evolves over time’.

‘Planning for Climate Change: A strategic values-based approach for urban planners’, was published by UN-Habitat. ‘Climate change, disaster risk, and the urban poor: Cities building resilience for a changing world’ by the World Bank notes that:

‘Poor people living in slums are at particularly high risk from the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. They live on the most vulnerable lands within cities, typically areas that are deemed undesirable by others and are thus affordable … This study examines the inter-linkages between climate change, disaster risk, and the urban poor, underscoring four key messages: the urban poor are on the front line; city governments are the drivers for addressing risks through ensuring basic services; city officials build resilience by mainstreaming risk reduction into urban management; and that significant financial support is needed’.

Tags: globalization, economy, finance, trade

Regions and countries covered: Global

Unit responsible: Policy Integration Department

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Global Social Policy Digest 11.3 (July 2011)

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