Speakers were: Sarah Cook, Director, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD): Bargaining for fiscal space: mobilizing domestic resources for social development.
Germania Montás: Deputy Director, Dirección General de Impuestos Internos, Dominican Republic: GFDD/FUNGLODE collaborator: Best practices in tax administration to achieve sustained revenue increase for social development. See presentation here »»»
Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network and SocDevJustice: Mobilizing domestic resources through higher wages and employment. See presentation here »»»
Moderator: Gemma Adaba, Social Justice in Global Development (SocDevJustice)
Discussant: Michael Lennard: Secretary, UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters
The Human Rights Council of the United Nations organized a Social Forum to foster dialogue between governments, experts and civil society. It took place from 1 to 3 October 2012 in the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
As requested by the Council the Social Forum focussed on “People-centred development and globalization”, and in particular:
(a) People-centred development and global governance in an era of multiple challenges and social transformation;
(b) Promoting measures and actions for participatory development and democratic governance, including through the role of civil society and social movements at the grass-roots, local and national levels;
(c) Enhancing a globally enabling environment for development, including through the international financial system, which should support sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, sustainable development and hunger and poverty eradication in developing countries, while allowing for the coherent mobilization of all sources of financing for development.
United Nations United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights provided a OHCHR background paper on these issues, see paper here >>>
See full agenda and all presentations at OHCHR website here »»
Moderator: Eva Hanfstaengl, Executive Director, Social Justice in Global Development
François Mercier, Desk Officer at Fastenopfer for Financing for Development and on the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Gemma Adaba, Advisory Board Member, Social Justice in Global Development and Representative, Peoples Movement for Human Rights Learning:
Jean Saldanha, Policy and Advocacy Officer on Resources for Development, CIDSE, a Catholic NGO Network:
See abstract on Taxing financial markets as if peoples’ rights mattered more than money here>>>
Moderator: Ms. Jean Saldanha, Policy and Advocacy Officer on Resources for Development, CIDSE, a Catholic NGO Network
Collins Magalasi, Executive Director, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD):
See abstract: Towards a lasting solution to sovereign debt problems: promoting responsible lending and borrowing through fair transparent debt arbitration
Isabel Ortiz, Associate Director, UNICEF: Abstract on a Recovery for All- There are Alternatives.
See full PowerPoint presentation on A Recovery for All - There are Alternatives See abstract here
Manuel Montes, Senior Adviser on Finance and Development, South Centre: See abstract here
See full presentation on the international financial system and enhancing a globally enabling environment for development.
SocDevJustice Advisory Committee Meeting
The side event was co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the NGO Committee on Financing for Development and Social Justice in Global Development.
About 50 people participated in this informal lunch-time panel discussion that took place on the occasion of during the annual meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions, WTO and UNCTAD. Panelists underlined the importance of addressing youth unemployment and the need of young workers for decent and productive jobs. Another important factor for an enabling environment is a macroeconomic situation that “gets the prices right” for wages, interest rates, exchange rates. The main challenge of politicians today is that of rebuilding strong and concrete leadership. Good ideas are needed as well as political pressure from NGOs.
Human rights and development make up a self-reinforcing virtuous circle. This is especially important today, when the global financial and economic crisis triggers serious threats to realizing a wide range of basic rights, including the rights to work, health, education, housing, food, and even the right to life. What began as a financial crisis has rapidly turned into a global human rights crisis. Yet states’ responses so far do not appear to be guided by the need to avoid social disruption as a result of from budget cuts so detrimental to the enjoyment of human rights. Many governments are cutting back on social services, just at the time they are most needed. More dramatically, the right to decent work is under threat, as wages are ramping down and working conditions are becoming more hazardous.
The rights of women are also particularly at risk and the situation of young people is critical as they become the human face of unemployment and poverty. There is a need to shift macroeconomics towards people-centred development and to assess economic policy using the ethical lens of the human rights standards. The starting point should be the expansion of well-designed public expenditure, through delivery of public services, income transfers and infrastructure, and through supporting human rights compliant patterns of economic growth. Very importantly, projects geared to generating employment must be subject to a human rights impact assessment or audit. According to the High Commissioner for Human Rights: “The Right to Development, which embodies the human rights principles of equality, non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability as well as international cooperation, can guide our responses to a series of contemporary issues and challenges.”
Special Event at the UN Commission for Social Development on 3 February 2012:
Presentation by Eva Hanfstaengl, Social Justice in Global Development
The global financial architecture has proven inadequate to meet the needs of the majority of the world’s population. It is producing more inequality than prosperity, more insecurity than progress. There is no shortage of proposals for potential effective measures and policies. Instead, we see a shortage of political will. With austerity programs comes a widespread global attack on public sector workers who provide those social services. Whereas the numbers of employees in the social sector are shrinking in some places, the workload of the remaining social workers is growing. Instead of state support, we see an effort to weaken public-sector unions. Working people, particularly, women are being forced to pay the bill for a system that has increasingly concentrated wealth and economic control in the hands of a few and that continues to deepen the vulnerability and impoverishment of the majority.
The swift and massive response of governments of the richest countries to bail out banks and other private financial institutions with several trillion US dollars stands in stark contrast to their failure to respond decisively to the financial crises that has afflicted many countries, including in the so-called developed world. The idea that "we" cannot afford nurses in hospitals nor teachers in schools nor fire fighters is not the right policy. Our thinking needs to change and policies have to be adopted that protect and enhance essential social expenditures.
Therefore, it is high time to
A combination of financing efforts and structural reforms is needed to promote social development. Poverty can be eradicated. All actions require a framework of good governance domestically and a reformed international governance structure which is re-distributive and pro-poor.
Civil society statement to the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, United Nations, New York, 7-8 December 2011
By Eva Hanfstaengl (SocDevJustice) and Kevin Dance (Chair of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development)
There is an urgent need to strengthen the role and effectiveness of the UN system in economic governance and to define what the relationship should be between the UN and the G20. Civil society therefore recommended that the UN General Assembly start an open, inclusive and transparent dialogue on a strengthened international economic and financial system and architecture. To this end, the GA should hold a review conference on financing for development in 2013 that includes consideration of current global economic and financial challenges as well as the impact of the world financial crises on the financing of development. The Economic and Social Council should be strengthened, especially the annual special high-level ECOSOC meeting with the BWIs, WTO and UNCTAD to foster more focused dialogue, outcome oriented discussion and decision making.
The General Assembly should establish an ad hoc panel of experts on the world economic and financial crisis and its impact on Development and strengthen capacity for greater cooperation and sharing of information between all countries to prevent and overcome tax avoidance and tax evasion, including by replacing the International Committee of Tax Experts with a UN intergovernmental body. Civil society also demanded the General Assembly to create a comprehensive framework for sovereign debt restructuring. This need has become more acute with the sovereign debt crises in European countries. Also the growing importance of private and official non-Paris Club creditors requires new debt restructuring mechanisms to ensure adequate overall relief and comparable treatment of all creditors.
Another important area is the introduction of innovative sources of financing, including a financial transactions tax, carbon tax and other progressive taxation. This revenue must be used for development, the promotion of global public goods, poverty eradication and achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Read full civil society statement here »»»
In October, SocDevJustice experts and members of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development discussed with representatives of the German Mission to the United Nations in New York issues of social development and financing for development, i.e. the social protection floor, the financial transaction tax and the role of the UN in global governance.
HOW TO RESOLVE SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISES IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
By Barry Herman, Visiting Senior Fellow, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School, New York
Initiatve for Policy Dialogue input to GIZ conference on Sovereign Debt Management and Beyond – Identifying Policy Options to Prevent and Resolve Future Debt Crises, Berlin, June 27, 2011
SocDevJustice experts meeting in October 2011 in New York
They decided on their activities at the occasion of the upcoming United Nations high-level dialogue on Financing for Development. They made proposals for the NGO Forum on 6th December and discussed the draft of a civil society declaration, which was based on the Doha CSO Declaration of 2008.
by David Hillman/ Stampout Poverty and Eva Hanfstaengl/ SocDevJustice
After the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other important dialogues by both Governments and NGOs it has become apparent that costs of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation will run into tens of billions of dollars each year. At present these costs threaten to swallow development budgets. Unprecedented choices now need to be made between, for example, protecting forests or building schools. Both are necessary - we must protect the environment and we have to develop the skills of future generations. Additional sources of finance derived from Innovative Instruments are a relatively recent phenomenon. They have been on the sidelines boosting ODA in certain strategic areas such as Immunisation and HIV/AIDS treatments. They now need to move to centre-stage. Years of research into various initiatives has set the scene for the introduction of powerful untapped income streams worth billions of dollars. With the new budgetary pressure of Climate Change, Innovative Finance Instruments need to be introduced. Additional budgetary demands require additional resources. Without them, how can the Millennium Development Goals possibly be met?
Stamp Out Poverty campaigns for additional sources of finance to bridge the massive funding gap required to bring the world’s poorest people out of poverty. It is a network of more than 40 UK organisations, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and War on Want, pioneering initiatives such as UNITAID, which has already raised $1 billion for healthcare in developing countries. Additional, long-term finance is needed to pay for the millennium development goals to provide clean water, healthcare and education to the poorest parts of the world. A situation compounded by the financial crisis squeezing traditional aid budgets. Stamp Out Poverty is a leading member of the Robin Hood tax campaign.
Check out the campaign's film written by Richard Curtis and starring Bill Nighy click link here >>>
by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network, September 2011, New York
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) negotiations held at the UN in Geneva in July on the creation of an ad hoc panel of experts was postponed to December of this year, when the UN General Assembly in New York will conclude its discussions and events on global economic governance. While this is not an optimal result, it preserves the space for a continuing dialogue on a panel of experts which would offer economic policy opinions from a different lens than that of the G20.
In July 2011, Social Justice in Global Development initiated a letter, signed by more than 100 civil society organizations and NGO networks, to the ECOSOC in Geneva calling for the adoption of a G77 resolution to establish an expert panel on economic issues at the UN. This resolution on the “establishment of a panel on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development” was finally adopted at the ECOSOC at the end of July. But the EU and the US succeeded in weakening it a lot. They reduced it to 3 paragraphs and postponed the decision to establish the panel to December, when the UN General Assembly concludes in New York, after all those UN discussions and events on global economic governance referred to in the resolution have taken place. A copy of the resolution is also attached.
by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network June 2011, Geneva
As stated in the report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, published on September 21, 2009, the recent crisis should be seen as an opportunity to engage in necessary reforms. It is thus of utmost importance that the United Nations member states take charge of its rightful mandate of global economic governance through the strengthening of the ECOSOC apparatus, the actualization of the follow-up processes to the June 2009 UN financial crisis conference, as well as through other means.
A Seminar was organized by SocDevJustice and the Nordelbian Mission Center, Hamburg 1 July 2011 on
Speakers: Barry Herman (New School, New York/ former UN staff), Verena Winkler (former Eurostep) and Eva Hanfstaengl (SocDevJustice).
Millennium Development Partnership Goals are not on track in 2011, in particular in aid and trade. In addition, many countries remain vulnerable to debt crises, including in Europe. An international mechanism for comprehensive, timely and fair debt workouts is needed and can be created if governments are willing. Not having such a mechanism is part of an overall global economic governance problem. There are various reform proposals and initiatives which could improve the situation. See link to a PowerPoint presentation by Barry Herman first presented to NGO groups in Hamburg and later to NGOs in Berlin, organized by the NGO "ONE":
See presentation >>>
by Barry Herman, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School, New York
This paper asks how the world of sovereign countries should arrange itself to address global and international economic, financial, social or environmental problems. The current system of institutions and arrangements, informally led by the Group of 20, as convoked by the United States, is hardly ideal. The paper proposes a “pragmatic” alternative with multiple checks and balances, but able to reach timely and effective decisions on the full range of international policy issues. The paper concludes noting that dissatisfaction with current arrangements has reopened intergovernmental debate; it is not the same as undertaking reform, but it is a start.
New York 10 - 11 March 2011
The Economic and Social Council held its Special high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, WTO and UNCTAD on 10 and 11 March 2011 in New York. The overall theme of the meeting was “Coherence, coordination and cooperation on Financing for Development”. Also the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon addressed the meeting.
Civil society representatives, two of them from SocDevJustice, speaking at the ECOSOC meeting: See more photos at http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/ecosoc/springmeetings/2011/photos.htm .
Following a short opening plenary with brief statements by the President of ECOSOC and the President of the Trade and Development Board, the meeting consisted of four informal thematic debates on the following topics:
1. “Follow-up to the 2010 MDG Summit outcome: building the global partnership for development, including in response to new challenges and emerging issues”;
2. “The role of the UN system in global economic governance”;
3. “Financial support for development efforts of Least Developed Countries: development finance, including innovative mechanisms, aid for trade and debt relief”;
4. "Financial support for development efforts of Middle-Income Countries: development cooperation, trade, capital flows, policy space and reserve system".
The thematic debates on the above topics were held consecutively in an informal plenary meeting, in order to facilitate greater engagement of all participants and to promote an open exchange of views and experiences among all stakeholders, including the business sector and civil society.
See here the summary by the UN secretariat: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/ecosoc/springmeetings
See further documents on the UN website: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/ecosoc/springmeetings/2011/index.htm
Four members of our organization “Social Justice in Global Development” participated and spoke on behalf of civil society:
Intervention by Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network, on “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Requires Fundamental Reforms in the International Financial Architecture and Trade Agreements”
The MDG strategies, through the framework of the 8th goal to “develop a global partnership for development,” should strive to reinforce the importance of national development strategies which build the productive capacities and social and economic infrastructure of developing countries through pro-active and strategic policies. Only then can the massive scaling up of public spending and investments necessary to achieve the MDGs take place. There are three key areas in the international economic and financial architecture that impede the realization of MDG Goal 8 of developing global partnerships, and thereby the realistic achievement of the MDGs, by blocking the ability of developing countries to implement policies that prioritize domestic revenue creation, public spending, and investments for broad-based and equitable development.
The first constraint is that of the pro-cyclical and deflationary macroeconomic framework that has dominated policymaking both globally and nationally. This framework, institutionalized and promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), capital markets, and many aid agencies, has obliged policymakers to focus on macro-stability.
The second obstacle to scaling up investments for national development strategies that can achieve the MDGs is that of debt sustainability in developing countries and the palpable absence of an international debt resolution mechanism able to guarantee a speedy and fair solution to sovereign debt crises. The United Nations has proposed the creation of a sovereign debt resolution mechanism for a number of years, also echoed by academics and policymakers in the wake of the current crisis. The Stiglitz Commission (2009), the South Centre (2009), and the Group of 77 (G77) proposal to the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis in June 2009, all stress the need for an independent and fair debt arbitration court that can provide a single statutory framework for debt relief by ensuring that both creditors and debtors cooperate to restructure sovereign debt, with respect to a country’s unique economic conditions.
A third impediment to development in the international financial architecture is that of capital account, or financial, liberalization which allows for the free cross-border mobility of capital, and the liberalization of financial services.
After the financial crisis people around the world are faced with low and even deteriorating economic situation. It is already clear, that the Millennium Development Goals will not be met in many countries. At the same time, we see today the highest and still growing number of billionaires. More than ever, civil society therefore sees the need for substantial improvement in the global economy. Policies are need that can build just, participatory and sustainable societies. This requires far-reaching reforms of the international financial architecture, which cannot be decided by the G-20 alone, but needs response from the entire international community.
Legitimacy and proper governance are the first requisite for a proper financial architecture and any necessary expertise can be built accordingly. Expertise alone, as in the Bretton Woods institutions, cannot replace political decision-making. Chile mentioned the proposal made by the UN Expert Commission in 2009 to set up a Global Economic Council with similar status as the Security Council. It would have a rotating membership on the basis of equitable geographic representation and receive expertise from a new International Panel of Experts. This Global Council within the UN would constitute a globally representative forum to address problems and areas of concern in the global economy in a comprehensive way. In any case, such new bodies within the UN could be as effective and would be more legitimate than the G20. Civil society organizations welcome this proposal and think that one major task of such a Council should be to develop a “Charter for Sustainable Economic and Social Development” as the overall normative framework of global economic governance. It should establish principles for the world economy and for mechanisms of international cooperation. So far, only the G20 has started to work on a "Charter on Sustainable Economic Activity”, which is not the same.
Given the current lack of inclusive alternative forums for debate, the case for strengthening the Financing for Development (FfD) process has never been stronger. Although the FfD process has two days of discussion now, the follow-up process is still too weak and does not produce substantive outcomes. Strengthening the follow-up requires a permanent mechanism tasked to produce concrete negotiated conclusions and resolutions. We therefore see the need to establish a functional ECOSOC Commission on Financing for Development, as an intergovernmental body, to ensure concrete outcome and action oriented follow up. Such a FfD Commission would be a platform for debating global economic governance reform, and address lack of coherence and inequality in the global economic system.
In 2002, Financing for Development had strong political momentum. The government leaders, finance and foreign affairs ministers and heads of all the major international financial and trade institutions were sincere when they promised to stay engaged in a collective effort to forge coherent international policies for development. They were comfortable saying this in Monterrey because political momentum had built behind realizing a shared vision. While an interesting discussion has taken place today on financial and trade policies, I frankly do not see much political momentum. I see a focus on tactics, not strategies to bring bold visions to life. And the world does not wait for the UN. Decisions on global economic and financial policies are made in other forums after limited debate behind closed doors among members of restricted clubs, or they are not made at all.
The UN can help find stronger solutions. It is THE global forum where – if they so choose – the powerful players and the not-so-powerful players can exchange views. The UN can structure discussions so it is safe for government representatives to try out ideas, and see which ones gather support, which are premature. The UN can be the place where good ideas from small countries can get heard and where political momentum can grow around good ideas from whatever stakeholder corner.
Developing and emerging economy countries have been experiencing a surge of capital inflows from the advanced economies, which are threatening their macroeconomic and trade growth and stability. These capital flows, which are primarily speculative and short-term in nature, are transmitting destabilizing effects through their impact on exchange rates and asset, credit and commodity markets. The trigger for these flows is found in the continued monetary policy expansion in the US and other advanced economies, which involves injecting considerable sums of liquidity into the economy (e.g. quantitative easing) and close-to-zero interest rates.
The Federal Reserve’s creation of $600 billion in liquidity in early November 2010 stimulated the dollar carry trade, where investors borrow cheaply in the US and invest in higher-yielding currencies and assets in emerging market economies. A key problem of asymmetry is seen in how the quantitative easing pursued in the US is unable to establish stable and rigorous growth, demand and jobs nationally, and yet has critical structural impacts in developing countries across the world.
In order to manage the various risks associated with the surge in inflows, middle-income countries across Asia, Latin America, and the Arab region have employed some form of capital account regulation, or capital controls… Earlier this year, over 250 economists signed a petition letter addressed to the US Treasury, Trade Representative and Secretary of State, urging the US government to re-think provisions in US FTAs and bilateral investment treaties that strictly limit the ability of other countries to deploy capital controls, in light of the altered international consensus that capital account regulations are an important policy tool for protecting the economic and financial stability of countries. The economists state that given the severity of the global financial crisis and its aftermath, nations need all the possible tools at their disposal to prevent and mitigate financial crises.
Even the most powerful governments failed to have the right policies in place to prevent excessive risks taken by the financial industry. The damage done has been contagious. We’ve all been affected though not equally. Many of the problems spoken of here are global, but policies to address them are national. There is still much disagreement on basic long-term issues such as trade, climate change or financial stability. We can’t continue to think exclusively in terms of national effort. We need to be working towards an overarching global structure that can help moderate the risks, balance the benefits and respect the right of every country to take an active role in shaping the policies that affect its citizens and its prosperity.
As we face global challenges beyond the resources of any one country to meet, we need an overarching instrument that can help us look to longer term rather than just short term solutions; that can provide a second opinion to balance the decisions of more technical and less representative bodies; that can coordinate the development of policy and planning to minimize the variety of risks that will be a continuing part of our future and make it possible to share the benefits.