Social Watch news

In an unprecedented and historic move, the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly recently granted observer status to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The resolution was submitted by France, Albania, Colombia, the Netherlands and Tunisia and was adopted during the seventy-first session of the General Assembly. The resolution sets out the ICC’s position as observer in the General Assembly from 1 January 2017 on.

Global real wage growth has decelerated since 2012, falling from 2.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent in 2015, its lowest level in four years, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

In its latest Global Wage Report 2016/17, the ILO said if China, where wage growth was faster than elsewhere, is not included, real wage growth has fallen from 1.6 per cent in 2012 to 0.9 per cent in 2015.

"The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development identified decent work for all women and men, and lower inequality, as among the key objectives of a new universal policy agenda. The issues of wage growth and wage inequality are central to this agenda," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, in a preface to the report.

Last International Human Rights Day, December 10th, marked the 4th anniversary of the launch of the RightingFinance (RF) website.

Human rights is one of the areas of public interest where the disconnect with the representation in financial regulation becomes most evident. The choices on global and domestic financial regulation carry critical consequences for the ability of governments to comply with their human rights obligations. For an extreme and recent illustration of this one needs only examine the impacts of the 2008-09 global financial crisis. It prompted the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to state that “As a result of the crisis and the threat posed to national economies by the potential collapse of systemically important financial institutions, . . .  the ability of individuals to exercise their human rights, and that of States to fulfil their obligations to protect those rights, has been diminished.”

Since the of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the UN has continued to address global issues such as external debt sustainability and development, promotion of international cooperation to curb and recover illicit financial flows, raising domestic and foreign public and private investment, reaching commitments to official development assistance, critical analysis on proliferation of public-private partnerships for development, domestic resource mobilisation and tax justice, and sectoral financing (education, health, agriculture, etc...).

Over the past decade, sub-Saharan African countries have been issuing sovereign bonds at an unprecedented rate and many are now facing new repayment difficulties. A recently-released report, Bond to Happen Recurring Debt Crises in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Rise of Sovereign Bond Issuance, explores the economic and financial situation of a selection of African countries, with a focus on the role of sovereign bonds. It finds that although there are substantial opportunities associated with sovereign bond issuance, there are also substantial risks.

The report asks the question: Is there a debt crisis waiting to happen on the subcontinent? And how can we improve our international system for responsible lending and borrowing? As financing for development is central to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the question of whether the existing frameworks for and practices of contracting debt are likely to be pro-development is of particular concern.

The importance of global cooperation on tax issues is becoming more and more evident. The sums lost amount to hundreds of billions annually. While steps to curb the losses are underway, gaps in global tax governance remain both in the institutional setting and with regard to substantive issues. For example, there is still no body with universal membership that could discuss issues that are of particular importance to countries in the Global South. In order to fill these gaps, either existing institutions need to be further developed, or new ones established, or both. In any case, a new body would have to perform certain functions and meet particular criteria with regard to composition. A new paper formulates options for achieving this.

When gender equality was universally adopted as Sustainable Development Goal 5, “gender equality matters to economic growth” became the party line of global institutions. The floodgates well and truly opened after McKinsey & Company published its 2015 flagship report finding USD 12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. A cascade of “killer facts” soon followed from unlikely gender champions, from the likes of Goldman Sachs estimating a 12 per cent increase in per capita income could be created by 2030 by closing the gender credit gap, to the G20 recognizing their economies stand to gain significantly from increased female labour force participation in the context of widely ageing populations and low fertility rates. Even the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, ranking countries according to how favorable their business environment is and frequently criticizedfor having a very narrow approach, has now included gender dimensions in three of its indicators, signaling that “gender equality matters!” It seems the message might even have slowly trickled its way up to finance ministries, as the World Bank now hosts a semi-annual “Community of Practice” for finance ministers on gender equality.

Following the adoption of the draconian associations law in Egypt, six Political parties and 22 civil society organizations issued a joint statement to condemn and reject the proposed law. The groups noted that the new law effectively eradicates civil society and defers its administration to the government and security apparatus. They condemned parliament’s treatment of civil society as an enemy to be defeated through secret laws. In the statement, they reiterated that the state has already taken real steps to eliminate Egyptian civil society organizations by prosecuting case no. 173/2011 on foreign funding, and several organizations and their current and former directors have been banned from travel and have had their assets frozen. This new law, however, would pave the way for the eradication of any sort of civic action geared to development, charitable activities, and services. The operation of local development associations throughout Egyptian villages and hamlets, which provide services to local residents, will become nearly impossible.

In October the World Bank launched the first of what it says will be a series of annual reports on Poverty and Shared Prosperity, for tracking progress towards two key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): reducing extreme poverty and inequality. The theme of the first edition is “Taking on Inequality.”

The report’s findings that “between 2008 and 2013, the number of countries experiencing declining inequality was twice the number exhibiting widening inequality” quickly made it onto the press.

Opening of the Marrakech
Conference, 7 November 2016.
(UN)

Parties at the climate talks on 17 November supported the call issued by the President of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC entitled the ‘Marrakech Action Proclamation for our Climate and Sustainable Development'.

The President of the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP22), who is also the Foreign Minister of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, introduced the document to the plenary evening of 17 Nov.

Describing it as a new source of inspiration, he said that the ‘proclamation' for our climate and sustainable development received the support of all Parties and invited Moroccan Ambassador Aziz Mekouar to read it out.

Syndicate content