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Rethinking Bretton Woods | Mon, May 9, 2016

Applying human rights to tax policy-making and assessment

Last April, the “Panama papers” — more than 11 million documents leaked from a secretive law firm in Panama – exposed the tax evasion and avoidance maneuvers of companies and high net worth individuals. Some experts say that what the leak exposed represents just the tip of the iceberg. But the human rights impacts that come as a result of depriving States of public revenue are the even bigger iceberg and deserve urgent attention.

The first two in a series of advocacy tools by the RightingFinance Initiative offer guidance on how human rights obligations are relevant to the process of designing and evaluating tax policy.

The publications, “Equality and Non-discrimination in Tax Policy” and “Maximum Available Resources, Non-retrogression and Minimum Essential Levels in Tax Policy,” lay out legal foundations for the human rights principles featured in their titles, applications to tax policy, and guiding questions for reflection.

Click here to read a blog on these publications.

Public Private Partnerships: Can they be held accountable?

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Tue, Apr 12, 2016

Public Private Partnerships: Can they be held accountable?

As part of a trend to assign a greater role to the private sector in development finance, the importance of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) in policy discourse has been growing. But PPPs suffer of a checkered track-record regarding environmental and human rights, as well as fiscal and poverty impacts. A recent World Bank evaluation recognized available evidence to promote them is scattered at best. What standards should be in place to suppress, or at least, mitigate some of their negative outcomes? Policy documents recently drafted by Center of Concern and other colleague organizations, offer some proposals.

Read submission to World Bank PPPs Disclosure Framework.

Read letter to UN Economic Commission for Europe.

Center of Concern | Mon, Apr 11, 2016

CoC featured at Spring meetings of World Bank, IMF, UN Financing for Development Forum

On April 15-17 2016, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund hold their Spring meetings in Washington DC. The Center of Concern is involved in several events, addressing the accountability of infrastructure finance and Public-Private Partnerships.

The following week, on April 18-20, the first follow-up Financing for Development Forum will be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This meeting provides follow up to the Financing for Development Conference outcomes and Means of Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and governments will be negotiating a statement on the status of implementation. Center of Concern has played an active role in drafting inputs for the forum. RBW Project Director will moderate a side-event on reforms of the international financial system to finance sustainable development.

On April 21 and 22, the Center of Concern is pleased to co-sponsor, together with the Columbia University’s Institute for the Study  of Human Rights, Natural Justice, International Development Initiatives and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, a workshop on “The Future Development Finance and Accountability Landscape.” The meeting will be held at Columbia University campus in New York. It will bring together civil society, academic and intergovernmental organizations’ experts and practitioners with accountability and finance backgrounds to discuss the trends in financing of infrastructure, who are the emerging players and what all of it means for strategies to ensure development finance institutions are accountable for their human rights and environmental and social impacts.

CoC speaks at international legal scholars gathering on austerity measures and human rights

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Mon, Mar 28, 2016

CoC speaks at international legal scholars gathering on austerity measures and human rights

On March 31 2016, RBW Project Director Aldo Caliari will speak at the panel “Economizing Justice in Times of Debt and Austerity.” The panel is part of the 110th American Society for International Law Annual Meeting, held in Washington DC from March 30 through April 2. Looking at the experience of countries that have recently undergone financial crises and implemented bank bailouts and austerity measures the panel will explore issues such as: how was the debt incurred and is it legitimate, how should the burden of adjustment be shared, what human rights obligations do the various international creditors have, and what should be expected of sovereign debt restructuring processes moving forward?

Debt relief campaigners decry Argentina’s payment to holdout creditors

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Mon, Mar 14, 2016

Debt relief campaigners decry Argentina’s payment to holdout creditors

Argentina’s agreement in principle to pay out claims to creditors that had stayed out of the sovereign debt restructurings of 2005 and 2010 triggered widespread expressions of concern from debt justice advocates.

“The settlement validates a predatory and exploitative business model,” said Eric LeCompte, Director of Jubilee USA network. According to a spokesperson from the European Network on Debt and Development,  “Now Argentina needs to borrow even more money to pay the vultures – a huge sum for a country struggling to finance many essential services. This disgraceful situation is allowed because no insolvency regime exists that can enforce all creditors’ participation." In a statement, the Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights said “From leading a worldwide struggle against illicit financial flows and the pirate economy of vulture funds . . . [Argentina] is now sitting at the table with the vultures, renegotiating a payment of a debt that had already been acknowledged as illegitimate.” The deal “will increase moral hazard and encourage disruptive hold-out litigation worldwide,” said the UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, warning of the negative human rights consequences of such actions.

RBW Project Director Aldo Caliari said “It is a sad day for those seeking a fairer approach to handling  sovereign debt crises. At the same time, the senselessness of how Argentina’s saga played out has helped galvanize opinion that a sovereign debt workout mechanism is urgently needed.”

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Tue, Mar 1, 2016

CoC present at Rome retreat on Financing for Development

On March 3 -4, 2016, in the city of Rome (Italy), CoC team member Aldo Caliari will participate of a retreat on Financing for Development being held by the Addis CSO Facilitation Group. In April, the first Financing for Development Forum, mandated to provide follow up to the Third Conference on Financing for Development held in Addis Ababa last year, will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York. The groups meeting in Rome will discuss main trends, strategies and positions on taxation, debt, trade, financial regulation and other policies to mobilize resources through such follow up process in the short and long term.  They will also address proposals on how the process can best contribute to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted last year.

CoC at meeting to discuss human rights due diligence in the financial sector

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Mon, Feb 22, 2016

CoC at meeting to discuss human rights due diligence in the financial sector

On February 23, 2016, CoC team member Aldo Caliari will attend an Expert Working Session on Responsible Business Conduct and Investment. The meeting is held in New York City by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and co-sponsored and hosted by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB). Participants will discuss the potential implications of the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and expectations of due diligence with regard to environmental, social and human rights impacts for select categories of financial services.

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Wed, Feb 10, 2016

Aligning the financial system with sustainable development

With the objective of exploring how to align the financial system with sustainable development, the United Nations Environmental Program recently released its Financial Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System report. In a blog appeared on RightingFinance, Center of Concern team member Aldo Caliari says that “there is a lot to welcome in the document that crowns this impressive exercise, starting with its systematic ambition.” But he also argues the report suffers of weaknesses, not the least of them its neglect of human rights. (Photo credit: UN Photo Library/ Logan Abassi. Check here for photo conditions of usage).

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Tue, Jan 26, 2016

CoC attends Mexico-convened retreat on Financing for Development

On January 28-29, 2016, CoC team member Aldo Caliari will be in Mexico City to attend a retreat of the “Friends of Monterrey”, an informal group of countries convened by the Mexican government to support the follow-up and implementation of the Financing for Development Conference. The name of the group alludes to the first conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey (Mexico) in 2002. The most recent one took place last year in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and this year the first meeting of the renewed and strengthened follow up mechanism will take place in New York.

The day before, January 27, in Washington DC, he will be on a panel part of a consultation on the Situation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. At that occasion he will address impacts of US financial and investment policy.

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