Policy Briefs

Policy Brief 56, October 2018

Setting the pillars to enforce corporate human rights obligations stemming from international law

The release of the Zero Draft of the Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the Activities of Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises by the Chairperson of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Business and Human Rights (OEIGWG), is likely to revive discussions on the recognition of corporate entities as subjects of international law. The present brief examines corporate entities’ human rights obligations in the context of the Zero Draft, taking into account the views and comments presented during the first three sessions of the OEIGWG and the need to advance the discussion on those entities’ obligations under international law.

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Policy Brief 55, October 2018

Advancing international cooperation in the service of victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities

A zero draft of a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, is the subject of discussions in an inter-governmental open ended working group under the auspices of the Human Rights Council (15-19 October 2018). The draft aims at harnessing international cooperation among home and host states of business enterprises in order to address barriers  to get remedies to victims of human rights violations  in the context of business activities of transnational character. This brief discusses the approach to States’ role and obligations as proposed under the zero draft.

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Policy Brief 54, October 2018

The Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for the Access to Hepatitis C Treatment

In late 2013, a new Hepatitis C treatment called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) was introduced in the market at unaffordable prices. The eradication of the disease is possible if medicines can be purchased at AFFORDABLE prices within health budgets. IF THIS IS NOT THE CASE, governments should consider the use of the TRIPS flexibilities to facilitate access to the treatment.

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Policy Brief 53, September 2018

Considerations for the Effective Implementation of National Action Plans on Antimicrobial Resistance

Effective design and implementation of national action plans (NAPs) is critical for the response to the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).  This policy brief describes the messages that the South Centre has transmitted to the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR in the context of its public consultation, towards shaping its recommendations that will be submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General in the second half of 2019.

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Policy Brief 52, September 2018

The Causes of Currency Turmoil in the Emerging Economies

Many emerging economies and developing countries are facing strong economic headwinds. Currency depreciation pressure is mounting for some countries. Argentina and Turkey are coping with currency crises, massive capital outflows and hyperinflation. To say their crises are completely self-inflicted is not correct. The exogenous shocks have played an important role.  Other emerging economies and developing countries as a whole should be vigilant and try to defend their currencies and maintain financial stability. It is also high time to try to fix the flaws in the international financial system.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 4, September 2018

Exchange of Information: Indian Experience, Developing Country Implications

Exchange of tax-related information between countries is a critical tool for addressing information asymmetries between governments and taxpayers that facilitate tax evasion/avoidance. However, the existing system of information exchange has been essentially designed and implemented by the OECD, without the participation of developing countries. This policy brief thus discusses India’s experience with implementing information exchange for tax and other purposes, with lessons being drawn for other developing countries grappling with base erosion and profit shifting.

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Policy Brief 51, September 2018

US Claims under Special Section 301 against China Undermine the Credibility of the WTO

The US action to place China in the Special 301 ‘Priority Watch List’ is unjustified and in contravention to the WTO rules. The claims made against China are based on standards self-determined by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), not on international standards. This is an example of a systemic problem that requires a concerted response. WTO members should unite to firmly oppose the imposition of unilateral measures that undermine the multilateral trading system and the credibility of WTO as a ruled-based institution.

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Policy Brief 50, August 2018

The International Debate on Generic Medicines of Biological Origin

The debate on generic medicines is not new. What makes it different today is that attacks levelled against biological generic products are couched in even more “technical” and abstruse language. The high price of biological drugs stems mainly from the introduction of barriers to the entry of generics into the market. In any debate on the feasibility of producing biological generic products identical to the ‘original’ ones, it should be made clear that what are at stake are not identical products but therapeutic equivalents.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 3, August 2018

Interaction of Transfer Pricing & Profit Attribution: Conceptual and Policy Issues for Developing Countries

Till 2010, model tax conventions treated profit attribution to permanent  establishments  and transfer  pricing under  different  articles,  and  profit  attribution under Article  7  allowed sales to be taken into account both in the direct accounting method as well as the indirect apportionment  method.  However,  the  revised  Article  7  in  the  2010 update of the OECD Convention approximated profit  attribution  with  transfer  pricing  and  omitted  the option  of  apportionment,  thereby  undermining  sales  and contributions   made   by   market   jurisdiction   to   business profits. When a tax treaty retains Article 7 based on the UN Convention  or  the  earlier  OECD  Convention,  Contracting States  can  take  sales  into  account  and  also  opt  for  apportionment.  Developing  countries  need  to  fully  understand these implications of  Article  7 in their tax treaties, and opt for informed choices for transfer pricing and profit attribution  to  permanent  establishments,  including  apportionment that takes sales into account.

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Policy Brief 49, July 2018

Major Outcomes of the 71st Session of the World Health Assembly of WHO

The 71st session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) took place from 21 to 26 May 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Assembly adopted several decisions and resolutions including the adoption of the General Programme of Work (GPW) of WHO for the period 2019-2023, as well as decisions on addressing access to medicines and vaccines and their global shortage, and the recommendations of an overall programme review of the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA-PHI).   (more…)

Policy Brief 48, June 2018

Collaboration or Co-optation? A review of the Platform for Collaboration on Tax

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT), launched in April 2016, is an effort to intensify cooperation on tax issues among the staff of the OECD, IMF, World Bank and the United Nations.  The PCT’s stated objectives include the production of joint outputs, strengthening interactions between standard setting, capacity building and technical assistance and sharing information. PCT has since produced toolkits on issues such as tax incentives, transfer pricing, and taxation of offshore indirect transfers. The PCT also held its first global conference in February 2018 at the UN where a concluding ‘conference statement’, negotiated among the four secretariats, was produced.

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Policy Brief 47, June 2018

Renewed crises in emerging economies and the IMF ‒ Muddling through again?

As recognised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global financial safety net including international reserves, Fund resources, bilateral swap arrangements, regional financing arrangements is “fragmented with uneven coverage” and “too costly, unreliable and conducive to moral hazard”.  Given the aversion of emerging economies to the IMF and unilateral debt standstills and exchange controls, the next crisis is likely to be even messier than the previous ones.  Some countries may seek and succeed in getting bilateral support from China or some reserve-currency countries according to their political stance and affiliation.  In such cases, crisis intervention would become even more politicised than in the past and a lot less reliant on multilateral arrangements.  By failing to establish an orderly and equitable system of crisis resolution, the IMF may very well find its role significantly diminished in the management of the next bout of crises in emerging economies.  In other words, multilateralism, however imperfect, could face another blow in the sphere of finance after trade.

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