The sheer size and scope of corporate power, when compared to nation states, can be difficult to comprehend. Research shows that 63 per cent of the top 175 global economic entities are transnational corporations, not countries.

Up until now, the ability to sue corporations for human rights violations and environmental damage has depended on national governments’ capacities, political will, and resources to pay the exorbitant amounts of money to sustain such international lawsuits, to hold corporations accountable and demand compensation.

The United Nations Human Rights Office has launched an appeal of nearly US$253 million in extra-budgetary funding for its work programme in 2017, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights lamenting that his Office is "dramatically and chronically underfunded".

The UN Human Rights Office described this extra-budgetary funding as its most ambitious funding appeal yet, and that it would be in addition to the UN regular budget funding of US$107.56 million that is provided to the Office.

One of the 11 areas that the World Bank’s Doing Business Report include in ranking a country’s business environment is paying taxes. The background study for the Doing Business Report 2017 (DBR 2017), “Paying Taxes 2016” claims in the foreword that its emphasis is “on efficient tax compliance and straightforward tax regimes.”  The aim is to aid developing countries enhance the administrative capacities of their tax authorities, reduce informal economy and corruption, while promoting growth and investment.

The very noble intention and much needed support for developing countries from the World Bank, at least on paper, deserves accolades. But, in practice, it is not what it proclaims to be.

Austerity-related labour market reforms promoted by multilateral and regional financial institutions in many developed and developing countries have been shown to not help economies recover after crises, and have instead inflicted substantial harm on working people, which will be felt for many years.

This is one of the main findings of the UN Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the enjoyment of all human rights, Mr  Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (from Argentina), in his latest report to the thirty-fourth session of the UN Human Rights Council, which meets here from 27 February to 24 March.

In his report, the rights expert observed that many States with unsustainable levels of debt or experiencing a financial crisis have implemented austerity policies and labour market reforms with a strong deregulatory impetus, either on their own initiative or at the behest of external creditors, including international or regional financial institutions.

On November 29, 2016, the Egyptian parliament approved the draft law regulating the activity of civil organizations and institutions submitted by MP Abdul Hadi al-Qasabi on September 6, 2016.

This was tantamount to a declaration of war on civil society and an attempt to crack down on all active and supportive human rights organizations.

For more than 20 years now, the state has been committing a number of practices aimed to suppress and restrict these organizations and their members, but the recent parliament decision surpassed all previous practices.

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