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International investment and trade agreements are legally binding international treaties which give investors an additional layer of legal protection on top of the host country law and contract law.  However, little efforts have been made in ironing out the interface between these different laws and treaties. Inconsistencies and even contradictions have emerged in dispute settlement decisions, sometimes at the expense of public good, sovereignty and financial and economic stability. An asymmetry seems to exist in the allocation of risks and benefits between investors and recipients of investments. 

The policy responses to the recent financial crisis have revealed a deep-seated structural neglect of human rights in economic policy formulation, insufficient protection of the most vulnerable and a lack of attention to participation, consultation, transparency and accountability, a United Nations human rights expert has said.

"That neglect is the driving force behind the development of guiding principles for assessing the human rights impact of economic reform programmes and the development of analytical and methodological tools to assess human rights impacts."

The first session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Financing for Development at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has focussed on the challenges faced by developing countries and international community with regard to mobilising domestic public resources, as well as on international development cooperation.

Photo: South Centre

The third meeting of the open-ended inter-governmental working group (OEIWG) for the elaboration of a treaty to make transnational corporations accountable for their human rights violations was held at the United Nations in Geneva last October. 101 countries attended the meeting, the largest number since the discussions started two years ago.

After the 3rd session of the OEIWG, the process will continue moving towards developing a negotiating text for a draft legally binding instrument on business and human rights. The Chairperson-Rapporteur had stressed that “the mandate from the UN Human Rights Council is clear…the working group should continue working until it reaches a legally binding instrument…there is absolutely no ambiguity as to the nature of the mandate”. He underlined the historic nature of the process, pointing out that it “addresses one of the major problems of the global social contract in the 21st century”.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) should change its priorities and finally let go of the outdated conditionalities of privatization, deregulation of markets, and "austerity" in social services, which in the past have engendered human rights violations, and instead make loans subject to a new set of conditions.

This is the view of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr Alfred de Zayas (of the United States), in a report presented to the seventy-second session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Peace is the main issue to be highlighted this October 17 during the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, explains Donald Lee, president of the international committee that is organizing simultaneous activities in Manila, Dublin, Dakar, New York, Paris and Guatemala.

Thirty years ago Father Joseph Wresinski launched a Call to Action declaring that “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated.

Tax dodging happens because wealthy nations let it. It’s time for poorer countries to shape the rules. Tax dodging and illicit financial flows began to emerge as a major source of concern for civil society organisations around the year 2000. Since then, revelations that big multinationals such as Google and Starbucks have not paid their fair share of taxes – even in rich nations – have gone from a trickle to a flood. It is now common knowledge that tax dodging affects both industrialised and developing countries alike. Thankfully, tax now takes high priority on regional, national and multilateral policy agendas – a significant step forward. But we still haven’t found a global solution to this most global of problems. International tax rules are in dire need of reform, but to be effective, developing countries need to be involved in shaping them.

Growing global interdependence poses greater challenges to policymakers on a wide range of issues and for countries at all levels of development.

Yet, the new mechanisms and arrangements put in place over the past four decades have not been adequate to the growing challenges of coherence and coordination of global economic policymaking. Recent financial crises have exposed some such gaps and weaknesses.

While commending the institutions of the European Union for their gradual achievements in the field of safeguards and remedies over sanctions, these steps need to be further reinforced, a United Nations human rights expert has said.

This recommendation has come in an end-of-mission statement by Mr Idriss Jazairy, UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

On the 19th of June the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released its annual report on “Global Trends on forced displacement” for 2016. The  report  collects the yearly data on  the different categories of people affected by forced displacement:  refugees, returned refugees, asylum seekers, Internal Displaced People (IDPs), returned IDPs, stateless people and other persons  of concern to UNHCR.

Forced displacement worldwide at its highest in decades. UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report says an unprecedented 65.6 million people were uprooted from their homes by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016, which is an increase of 300,000 from 2015. This is a record number, higher than the previous record set in 2015. The distribution of this number among the categories of the report shows that that 22.5 million are refugees, 40.3 million are IDPs, 2.8 million are asylum seekers, and finally 3.2 million reported stateless people – however, the total number of stateless people is estimated to be 10 million.

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