Strengthening United Nations Actions in the Field of Human Rights through the Promotion of International Cooperation
Geneva, 24 February 2023
The South Centre submits the following written contribution to the United Nations Secretary General’s Report on ‘Strengthening the United Nations’ action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation’, in line with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution A/RES/76/164, adopted on 16 December 2021. The resolution recognises the need for respecting the political, economic and social realities of each society in compliance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. The report to be presented by the Secretary-General to the UNGA represents an important opportunity to recognise that global challenges do not affect all societies equally, and that they require a broader consideration of policies and innovative solutions that can cater to the unique realities and specific needs of each society.
Leading and Coordinating Global Health: Strengthening the World Health Organization
By Nirmalya Syam
The World Health Organization (WHO) should act as the directing and coordinating authority in global health but it has been steadily marginalized over time by design, through criticism as an inefficient organization, the reduction of assessed contributions and consequent impoverishment, and the proliferation of “new” international health agencies to which WHO has been compelled to cede operational space. This paper discusses how such marginalization of the WHO is in the interest of the dominant actors in global health, and leads to the neglect of health as a development issue. Today the global health system is more fragmented than it was when the WHO was established in 1948. Rich donor countries and corporations dominate multistakeholder governance structures in health partnerships, marginalizing most of the WHO membership and, notably, the Global South, in their decision-making. A consequence of this fragmentation in global health governance is that the space of the only multilateral organization where developing countries have an equal presence in terms of participation and decision-making as sovereign States –WHO– has been marginalized. Consequently, the development dimension of health is also marginalized and only the development assistance aspects of it receive major attention through vertical programmes and agencies addressing limited health needs without effectively addressing the basic need of strengthening health systems. Therefore, for developing countries it is imperative that WHO is effectively retooled to act as the leading and coordinating authority on global health with adequate legal powers, as well as institutional and financial capacities to do so without undue influence from donor countries and entities that have interests in the private sector. This would enable WHO to ensure that the interests of all countries are fairly addressed in its normative and operational activities. Such a transformation of WHO would require action both within and outside the organization. The paper proposes some suggestions in this regard.
Technology Transfer and Climate Change: A developing country perspective
By Nicolás M. Perrone
The role of technology transfer in climate change negotiations is vital. If technology is to help us mitigate and adapt to climate change, the international community needs to ensure sufficient innovation and technology transfer. One of the main challenges of the technology transfer regime for environmentally sound technologies is that a private and market-led model may not meet global technology transfer needs. This policy brief suggests that governments should explore market, hybrid and non-market approaches to accelerate the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Developing countries’ governments should also explore cooperative approaches to improve their bargaining power, reduce costs and ensure adaptation and innovation capacity in the developing world.
International Taxation from Global South Perspectives
By Badr Mandri, Sebastien Babou Diasso, and Aaditri Solankii
South Centre (SC) in collaboration with the Policy Center for the New South (PCNS) organized on October 13, 2021, a webinar on the issue of International Taxation from the Global South perspectives.
Tax revenue mobilization plays a key role in financing the economic and social development of countries. When well designed and implemented, tax policy can help developing countries raise revenue and increase their spending, especially in the social sector. Indeed, tax revenue as a share of GDP represent only 15% to 20% in low and middle-income countries, because of obstacles such as the imbalanced and complex international standards designed for developed countries, and the difficulties in collecting taxes in developing countries.
STATEMENT BY DR. CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MINISTERS AND GOVERNORS MEETING OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF TWENTY-FOUR (G24)
The world economy is showing signs of recovery, yet very uneven, and is facing a multitude of challenges including rising inequality within and among countries, vaccine nationalism in the face of raging COVID-19 variants, escalated debt burden for many developing countries, ravages of climate change and weakening multilateralism.
Now, we are at a pivotal moment to mend and fix the global systemic problems so that we can recover better, greener, more inclusively, and more resiliently. It is time to address root causes of the fragility, instability, divergence and asymmetries of the global economy.
Statement during the Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development
The South Centre, as an intergovernmental organization composed by developing countries, welcomes the Report prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development considering Climate Action at the National Level. Read our statement below.
The purpose of this report is to analyse the vaccines industry under the focus of Industrial Economics as an input for the design of the pertinent instruments to promote development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 in sufficient amounts to immunize all countries as soon as possible. We also need to be prepared for future emerging infectious diseases with the potential of global expansion.
The report shows that the vaccines industry is – and has been for a long time – far away from the competitive market paradigm with notorious market failures. As a result, the industry is underperforming with shortages and stockouts, exit of firms from the industry, underinvestment in research and development (R&D) and manufacturing, even an “anaemic development pipeline”, all signs of market failure.
After a brief review of policies implemented to tackle these problems we conclude that after the COVID-19 pandemic there is a need to implement a profound overhauling of the industry and to fundamentally reformulate and extend global public policies to stimulate R&D, manufacturing, distribution and access.
Issues in Financing Education as a Human Right: Central principles for public policy responses
by Kishore Singh
The realization of the right to education requires adequate financing of education. Public policy responses to the need and importance of financing education remain inadequate. And now there is a trend towards decreasing public investment in education. Not only should States shoulder the primary responsibility for education under human rights law, but non-State actors should also invest in education because of corporate social responsibility. Besides, the need and importance of preserving education as a public good and public interest in education should be kept in the forefront as regards multi-stakeholders and provision of education through public-private partnerships. The role devolves upon the parliamentarians in shaping regional and global architecture. In the conclusion, the author proposes ten central principles for a Global Alliance to do the task of world-wide advocacy in support of the architecture for financing education.
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.
Vaccination inequalities and the role of the multilateral system
By Carlos M. Correa
The COVID-19 crisis has evidenced the fragility of the multilateral system to address a global health challenge. There are multiple reasons behind it. Since donations are not enough, a global solution to the pandemic would have required concerted actions in several fronts. The author suggests that, while examining how the proposed “pandemic treaty” might contribute to a global solution in future health emergencies, immediate actions are needed.
Submission to the Special Session of the General Assembly on Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation
South Centre, 28 May 2021
The South Centre submission to UNGASS2021 highlights the need for strong inter-institutional and cross-sectorial coordination and more effective and open government tools. The UNGASS2021 should support the implementation of the FACTI Panel recommendations as means to enhance States’ effort to combat corruption.
Financing for development from the perspective of the right to development
Summaries of two reports by Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development
In 2020, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Saad Alfarargi, submitted two reports, one to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and the other to the UN General Assembly, on the issue of financing for development (FFD) from the perspective of the right to development (RTD). The first report (A/HRC/45/15) analyzed national-level FFD, while the second report (A/75/167) focused on the international dimension of FFD. In both reports the Special Rapporteur highlighted relevant challenges, with a particular focus on how to ensure the meaningful participation of rights-holders.