Global inequality has never been greater. For example, the wealth of the world's richest 62 people, who between them have more wealth than half of the world's population, rose by 44 per cent between 2010 and 2015. Over the same period the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent of humanity fell by approximately 38 per cent.
Very large numbers, perhaps the majority, of the world's labour force is poor. In 2010 there were approximately 942 million working poor (almost 1 in 3 workers globally living on under $2 [U.S.] a day). However, these figures are a significant underestimate.
New papers published today by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with more than a dozen news organizations in Africa, expose fresh details about the misuse of corporate secrecy and hidden wealth in Africa, the world’s poorest continent.
Today's publications also include an interactive quiz game, designed to test and expand your knowledge of Africa, and discover how the use of offshore companies impacts the continentThe investigations include new details about the middleman at the center of a probe into hundreds of millions of dollars in suspected bribes paid for oil and gas contracts awarded in Algeria, and also reveal the offshore assets, including a luxury yacht and jet, of a Nigerian aviation and oil magnate linked to a $1.8 billion oil scandal.
The gap or shortfall between pledged and delivered official development assistance (ODA) since 2002 equates to just over US$2 trillion and the ODA gap for 2014 alone came to more than US$192 million, according to a new report released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the UNCTAD-14 conference here.
UNCTAD said the developing countries would be better able to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if the developed countries were to meet their 2002 target to put 0.7 percent of their gross national income (GNI) into overseas aid.
Developing countries are losing up to 67% of their commodity export earnings due to misinvoicing of the true value of their exports. The losses come up to hundreds of billions of dollars. This was revealed in a new study by UNCTAD, which is holding its 14th Session in Nairobi. Below is a press release by the UNCTAD Secretariat summarising the study.
Some commodity dependent developing countries are losing as much as 67% of their exports worth billions of dollars to trade misinvoicing, according to a fresh study by UNCTAD, which for the first time analyses this issue for specific commodities and countries.
With just days remaining until Britain decides on its EU membership, the UK is at a crossroads. It has a historical choice to make, with various consequences attached to the decision on the 23rd of June on whether it becomes the first ever country to leave the EU. Those consequences could include undermining the leading role that Britain has taken in the global fight against corruption and transforming Britain into an even greater tax haven for multinationals.
According to a recent report by the British Treasury, £36 billion would be sucked out of the UK’s financial sector by 2030 due to the economic costs of pulling out from the EU. Taxpayers will be forced to pay 8p more in income tax on every pound earned, and the economy risks shrinking between 3.4 percent and 9.5 percent by 2030 depending on the exit strategy it chooses.
With these numbers in mind, how might a potential Brexit affect the global financial transparency agenda, particularly in terms of tackling tax avoidance?
UNCTAD14 will showcase an organization “with one foot rooted in history and both eyes looking to the future”, assures the communications and information unit of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Civil society organisations from around the world are however concerned at the prospect of UNCTAD moving toward forcing developing countries to take the role of engines to increase trade. This, they say, would tantamount to the organisation deviating from its mission to support the use of trade for development, the more it risks becoming redundant and irrelevant.
But official sources says that while the the six-day UNCTAD14, opening in Nairobi (Kenya) on July 17, has special historical significance, it makes important concessions to the future. Some 52 years ago, for example, Geneva hosted UNCTAD1, at that time the biggest conference ever, with 4,000 delegates from 120 countries.
The eyes of Africa are this week turned to Kigali, host of the African Union Summit, where a new Chairperson of the AU Commission will be elected. The Summit presents yet another opportunity for African Heads of State and Government to place the continental body on a new path that will genuinely respond to the needs and aspirations of the African people.
Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. It is for this reason, the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development together with other civil society organizations and networks has produced the first annual Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization. The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues.
What are currently the main obstacles to achieving the SDGs? Are there transnational spill over effects that influence or even undermine the implementation of the goals? Are the current policy approaches, as they are reflected, inter alia, in the 2030 Agenda, an adequate response to the challenges and obstacles (or are they part of the problem)? What has to be done? Which specific policy changes (at international level) are necessary?
Download the full report here (pdf)
Background note to the Asia Europe People’s Forum 11, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 4-6 July
‘At the level of people, the system does not work’ (J. Stiglitz)
When I started my research on poverty some twenty years ago, more particularly on the international poverty discourse of international organisations, I soon found out that this new focus in development had nothing to do with poverty, poor people or, for that matter, development. Ten years after the introduction of neoliberal structural adjustment programmes, it was mainly meant as a legitimation of these policies. Indeed, not only were there no worldwide poverty statistics, but the World Bank, who was the main proponent of this poverty approach, did not propose any change in its policies. From that moment onwards, 1990, neoliberalism was ‘sold’ in the name of poverty reduction.
A sign of the time is that Germany is raising a revolt against the President of the European Commission, Jeam-Claude Juncker, whom Chancellor Angela Merkel imposed in 2014 after a strong fight with David Cameron, then a powerful British PM. The group of Visograd, , formed by Poland, Hungary, Slovaquia and the Czech Republic, which resurged from ashes, to become an anti Brussels voice, has requested to bring back the Commission under the authority of the States. When Merkel organized a meeting of the leaders of the six original founders of the EU, in Berlin, she invited Donald Tusk, the President of the Council, but not Jean-Claude Juncker, who is the President of the Commission. And Wolfgang Schauble, the German minister of Finance, has launched an appeal: “it is time to bring back Brussels under the control of the states. “
A Dialogue on South-South Cooperation in the context of the Right to Development discourse and the launch of a new book India's Approach to Development Cooperation were held on the side-lines of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council at the UN in Geneva on Monday, 27 June 2016 on the occasion of the commemorations of the 30th Anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development.
Adopted thirty years ago, on 4 December 1986, the Declaration on the Right to Development recognized development as a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process aimed at the constant improvement of the well-being of all individuals and peoples, on the basis of their participation in development and in the fair distribution of its benefits. The declaration calls upon states to implement effective development cooperation and for the removal of barriers to development at national and international levels.
The event was jointly organized by the South Centre, the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in Geneva, the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and the Asia Foundation.
Below is a summary of the dialogue.