Issues

SC Contribution, August 2021

Comments on the STATEMENT ON A TWO-PILLAR SOLUTION TO ADDRESS THE TAX CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE DIGITALISATION OF THE ECONOMY

The BEPS Monitoring Group, 31 July 2021

On 1 July 2021 a statement was issued by the OECD outlining the agreement reached through the Inclusive Framework of the OECD/G20 base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project. These comments by the BEPS Monitoring Group (BMG) aim to contribute to a wider public understanding of the issues involved. The BMG is a network of experts on various aspects of international tax, set up by a number of civil society organizations which research and campaign for tax justice including the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Red de Justicia Fiscal de America Latina y el Caribe, Tax Justice Network, Christian Aid, Action Aid, Oxfam, and Tax Research UK. This report has not been approved in advance by these organizations, which do not necessarily accept every detail or specific point made here, but they support the work of the BMG and endorse its general perspectives. It is based on previous reports, and has been drafted by Sol Picciotto with comments and contributions by Abdul Muheet Chowdhary (Senior Programme Officer, South Centre Tax Initiative), Jeffery Kadet, Annet Oguttu, Sudarshan Rangan, Attiya Waris, and Francis Weyzig.

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SC Submission, August 2021

South Centre Submission to the 18th Session of the CGRFA

The South Centre presents its compliments to the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and is pleased to send to the Commission the following information on its programmes and activities relevant to the prioritized themes for the 18th session of the CGRFA.

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Policy Brief 100, August 2021

EU Proposals regarding Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

 By Nirmalya Syam

This Policy Brief presents an analysis of the proposal by the European Union (EU) with regards to Article 31bis of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), as part of a Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the circumstances of a pandemic. It discusses the EU’s proposed clarifications, why Article31bis does not provide an effective solution to promote access to pharmaceutical products and possible options.

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South Centre Report, August 2021

Virtual Consultation in support of the UN Working Group’s 2021 Report to the UN General Assembly on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements

South Centre, 23 June 2021

Foreign direct investment (FDI) should support States’ efforts to “bring the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement to life for all people, everywhere.” However, achievement of these objectives is slowed down in the current situation where investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are included in international investment agreements (IIAs). These mechanisms have increased the exposure of States to claims from foreign investors against regulatory measures taken to protect and guarantee a clean and safe environment, public health, human rights, social inclusion, and poverty reduction.

In the current scenario marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI can be a valuable source of financing a better and fairer recovery, including investment needed to achieve the full realisation of all human rights. But to achieve this potential, there is a need to reshape the international investment regime, including through the reform of its substantive rules and standards, as well as of the ISDS mechanisms embedded in existing IIAs.

The South Centre and the United Nations Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises convened a virtual consultation to identify and assess the different challenges developing countries face while negotiating or reforming IIAs in line with their international human rights obligations. The virtual consultation aimed at highlighting and discussing some of the most common concerns and challenges those developing countries face in the promotion of responsible investment practices, including an exploratory discussion about balancing the rights and obligations of investors in IIAs and safeguarding the sovereign right of States to regulate in the public interest for building back better and fairer in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discussed possible reforms of the ISDS mechanism.

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Book by the South Centre, 2021

Vacunas, medicamentos y patentes

COVID-19 y la necesidad de una organización internacional

Velásquez,  Germán: Vacunas, medicamentos y patentes. COVID-19 y la necesidad de una organización internacional. Vacunas covid-19: entre la ética, la salud y la economía. Desarrollo de la vacuna COVID-19; la inmunidad y el contagio; el nacionalismo de las vacunas; el mecanismo COVAX; licencias obligatorias; Acceso a medicamentos y vacunas: un nuevo actor. Medicamentos y propiedad intelectual: diez años de la estrategia mundial de la oms. Repensando la fabricación mundial y local de productos médicos tras el covid-19. Repensando la i+d para productos farmacéuticos después del covid-19. Propiedad intelectual y acceso a medicamentos y vacunas. Las reformas de la organización mundial de la salud en la época de covid-19.  2021. 244 pp. ISBN 978-9915-650-31-9.

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Policy Brief 99, August 2021

The TRIPS COVID-19 Waiver, Challenges for Africa and Decolonizing Intellectual Property

By Yousuf Vawda

The intellectual property (IP) regimes of African countries are a function of their colonial past, which imposed strong protections, and which have been entrenched through the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). This has had a devastating effect on their ability to access necessary health products both before and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to reflect on the challenges that African countries face, before considering the implications of the WTO TRIPS waiver on COVID-19 (henceforth, waiver). In assessing the challenges faced by these countries, as well as the possibilities of improving access, this paper argues that while the waiver offers the best available solution to overcome the current supply shortages of a range of COVID-19 health products, in the longer term a break from this past—the decolonization of IP regimes—is necessary.

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Research Paper 133, August 2021

Malaria and Dengue: Understanding two infectious diseases affecting developing countries and their link to climate change

By Mirza Alas

Developing countries will face more complex challenges as infectious disease patterns transform due to climate change and climate variability. These challenges include how to reduce the incidence of malaria (including the significant challenge of resistant malaria), dengue, and other vector-borne and water-borne diseases that are likely to experience alterations in geographical range and lengthening of the transmission seasons due to changing temperatures and rain patterns. Climate extremes, e.g., heat and floods, are implicating the spread of climate-sensitive infectious diseases such as dengue and malaria transmitted by vectors like mosquitoes. In the context of growing financial pressure on governments due to COVID-19, the ensuing fiscal challenges may severely limit the capacity to effectively respond to health challenges in countries already affected by malaria and dengue. Other countries that have made gains in controlling vector-borne infections could also be vulnerable to rising disease burden. This research paper aims to analyze how changes in malaria and dengue pose a challenge for developing countries as they prepare mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate health. The paper will also provide some general recommendations on the importance of integration of health in national climate change strategies.

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Policy Brief 98, July 2021

The Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas: what is next?

By Luis Fernando Rosales Lozada

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) was adopted in December 2018. However, its application seems challenging. The South Centre organized a virtual meeting to discuss the implementation of the UNDROP on 4th June 2021, aiming to promote a debate about future actions to move forward the implementation of the UNDROP. The meeting provided an opportunity to listen to the views of government representatives, peasants’ associations, civil society organizations and academia. During the meeting, different questions were discussed such as how the current health and social crisis, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has impacted the situation of peasants, the role of the UNDROP in promoting and protecting peasants’ rights, the latest developments in the realization of the rights of peasants under the UNDROP and what steps are needed to promote its implementation.

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Policy Brief 97, July 2021

The WTO TRIPS Waiver Should Help Build Vaccine Manufacturing Capacity in Africa

 By Faizel Ismail

The current global health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has re-focused our attention on the inadequacy of the TRIPS agreement and the patent system to address global public health crises. This time, developing countries must ensure that the TRIPS waiver succeeds in creating the impetus for the building of manufacturing capacity in the poorest countries, especially in Africa, for vaccines, pharmaceuticals and other health technologies. This is the only effective way in which African countries can reduce their dependence on imports of essential medicines and build their health security, contributing to the achievement of the sustainable development goals, for the poorest countries.

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SC Submission, July 2021

Written Contribution to the United Nations Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Draft General Comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

As mentioned by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the purpose of the general comment is to clarify the specific obligations of States parties relating to land and the governance of tenure of land under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In line with such an objective, the South Centre is keen to submit the following written contribution to the draft general comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (draft general comment). It will consider some of the concerns that developing countries have raised in relation to their development realities and needs, mainly arising from the challenges they face due to the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis and the need for a fair and inclusive recovery.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 17, July 2021

An Albatross Around the Neck of Developing Nations – MFN Clause in Tax Treaties

By Deepak Kapoor, IRS

The Most Favoured Nation (“MFN”) clause in double taxation avoidance conventions epitomises the basic principle of non-discrimination and intends to bring parity in business and investment opportunities among treaty partner countries and jurisdictions. Inclusion of provisions like MFN and non-discrimination clauses in tax treaties are intended to promote equity among treaty partners. In the context of tax treaties between developed and developing countries, the MFN clauses also act as negotiating tools to bargain for better treaty tax rates.

However, lately these clauses have started demonstrating disadvantageous effects for the source countries, which are mostly developing countries. The MFN clauses generally do not appear to be creating potential risks if they are operational between two equally developed countries but when the relationship is between a developed and developing country, where one partner receives more investments from the other than it makes, such risks are inevitable. Lately, problems have started arising due to various interpretations of the MFN clauses by the courts forcing the source countries to extend benefits of reduced rates and restricted scope to treaty partner countries under the MFN rules. Such beneficial interpretations have gone beyond the basic objective and purpose of the MFN clauses.

In light of recent court cases in South Africa and India, it appears that the MFN clauses are creating opportunities for “reduced taxation” and leading to unintended erosion of tax base of source countries. The problem also lies with the ambiguous drafting and formulations of the MFN clauses, which eventually leads to unexpected negative outcomes for countries who have bound themselves with the future commitments. Therefore, a comprehensive review of existing MFN clauses in tax treaties, their cross connections and possible negative spill over effects to other treaties is the urgent need of the hour for the source jurisdictions.

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Informe Sobre Políticas 96, Julio 2021

Precios justos para la cobertura sanitaria universal: El impacto de la judicialización de la salud

Por Silvina Andrea Bracamonte y José Luis Cassinerio

En el presente trabajo se describen las principales directrices y recomendaciones sobre políticas de precios para ayudar a los países a desarrollar estrategias efectivas, como herramientas para lograr el acceso equitativo a los productos sanitarios con precios asequibles, desechando el creciente fenómeno de la judicialización de la salud como vía adecuada para abordar con un enfoque sistémico esta problemática compleja.

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