The WTO faces an existential crisis, despite a reasonable outcome at the Twelfth Ministerial Conference. The one way by which the WTO can resuscitate itself is to make sure that the negotiating agenda is anchored in the SDGs rather than in the narrow interests of its most powerful members. The changing role of the State must also be factored in by the WTO.
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.
Illicit Financial Flows and Stolen Asset Recovery: The Global North Must Act
by Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sebastien Babou Diasso
Domestic resource mobilization is essential for developing countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the deadline of 2030. Concomitantly, Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), which also lead to asset theft, are major means through which these countries are losing resources. This research paper analyzes the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR) database and shows that countries from where assets have been stolen are mostly developing countries, and countries where the stolen assets have been hidden are developed countries. The paper also shows that regarding the pending or ongoing asset recovery cases, there is a clear pattern where the majority of countries waiting to have their assets returned are developing countries, and those who must return them are developed countries. There is an unexplained and unjustified delay by developed countries in the process of returning the frozen assets to developing countries which needs to be addressed as soon as possible. There is also an evaluation of international legal reforms which can be implemented to accelerate the asset recovery process. However, all these will need the full commitment of Global North countries where most of the stolen assets are hidden and which bear the brunt of responsibility for returning them to the developing countries.
Combating Illicit Financial Flows : “Now or Never”
Statement of H.E. Thabo Mbeki, Chairperson of the African Union High Level Panel on IFFs
“I fully support the creation of a globally inclusive, intergovernmental process at the UN. I urged all international organisations and Member States to resist attempts to block this important step forward, and thus call into question our global commitment to fighting illicit financial flows and corporate tax abuse in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
* H.E. Thabo Mbeki is also the Chair of the Board of the South Centre.
Webinar: Exploring Linkages between Climate Change, International Investment and the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights
27 September 2022
Time: 15:30 – 17:00 CEST
Facilitated by the South Centre, this webinar is an opportunity for participants representing developing country governments, civil society and academia to exchange views and discuss the linkages between Climate Change, International Investment reforms and the Legally Binding Instrument, and how to harness their common elements to recover better, build resilience against future crises and achieve the UN 2030 Agenda & the SDGs.
The Human Right to Science: From Fragmentation to Comprehensive Implementation?
By Peter Bille Larsen and Marjorie Pamintuan
In times when the role of science in society is more debated than ever in polarized, politicized and partial terms, what is the role for the human right to science and rights-based approaches? The right to science remains poorly understood and neglected in both national and global human rights processes. Beyond defending the freedom of scientific expression, upholding the right to science is arguably fundamental to resolving key sustainability challenges of our times from climate change and the biodiversity crisis to global health and pandemics. The global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed persistent global inequalities not least in terms of how the privatization of science and current intellectual property regimes hinder just and equitable responses to access science and its benefits. This prompts the need for a shift from single-issue approaches to comprehensive and systematic treatment of the right to science as a bundle of human rights across multiple arenas to counter fragmentation and silo-tendencies.
Statement by the South Centre to the 2022 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO
The South Centre is the intergovernmental organization of developing countries based in Geneva that supports developing countries’ efforts to build up a fair and inclusive multilateral system conducive to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are of the view that a central objective of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as part of the United Nations (UN) UN system should be to support the achievement of such goals through the promotion of a balanced international intellectual property (IP) system that reflects the interests of countries at different levels of economic and technological development, and in line with the WIPO Development Agenda.
Addressing Food Insecurity and Climate Change for Poverty Reduction in the Horn of Africa
By Ali Issa Abdi
This article provides an assessment of the impact of food insecurity and climate change on poverty reduction in the Horn of Africa (HoA), which is one of the most affected regions in the world by these interlinked challenges. The region is confronted by these interconnected and mutually reinforcing negative conditions, which are compounded by institutional constraints, insecurity and scarce financial resources. Consequently, to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative to implement urgent and radical transformation of food production systems, and to adopt accelerated and scaled up global actions to strengthen resilience and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes.
The International Discourse on the Right to Development and the Need to Reinvigorate its Implementation
By Yuefen Li, Daniel Uribe and Danish
The world is currently at an ebb for realizing the Right to Development (RtD). Weakening of multilateralism, de-globalization, the scars left by the COVID-19 pandemic, misinterpretation and dilution of the RtD, and inertia to reform international governance are among the multitude of reasons for this phenomenon. However, the need for a better, more inclusive and greener recovery, and the efforts necessary to attain the 2030 Agenda, have provided the international community an opportunity to reinvigorate the realization of the RtD. These efforts have shown the great relevance of RtD to promote a people-centred and fairer development process and the need for an international enabling environment in order to promote the kind of development we want.
This paper reviews the history of international discourse on RtD including major milestones, main divisive issues between the global South and the North, the evolution of voting patterns on intergovernmental outcomes, existing legal and political issues currently being discussed, the various mechanisms on the RtD, and recommendations on the way forward to revitalize the implementation of RtD at the 35th anniversary of the Declaration on Right to Development.
Taux Minimum d’Impôt Mondial : Détaché des réalités des pays en développement
Par Sébastien Babou Diasso
Sous la direction des pays du G20 et de l’organisation de Coopération et de Développement Economique (OCDE), le Cadre Inclusif sur la réforme de la fiscalité internationale a adopté le 8 octobre 2021 une solution à deux piliers visant à résoudre les défis auxquels sont confrontés les pays dans le système fiscal actuel au niveau international. Cependant, le moins que l’on puisse dire, c’est que ces solutions n’apportent pas de réponses aux préoccupations de nombreux pays en développement, en particulier le taux d’impôt minimum de 15%, dans un contexte où la plupart des pays en développement membres de Centre Sud et du G-77+Chine ont déjà des taux effectifs bien au-dessus de ce minimum. Cette note vise à informer sur les niveaux actuels des taux d’imposition effectifs dans les pays en développement, pour lesquels les données sont disponibles, et à montrer pourquoi il ne serait pas pertinent de prendre en compte le taux minimum adopté dans le cadre inclusif. Mobiliser plus de ressources fiscales des entreprises multinationales est important pour les pays en développement pour la réalisation des Objectifs de Développement Durable. Nous recommandons donc que les pays en développement ignorent simplement le pilier deux et maintiennent leurs taux d’imposition actuels, ou les augmentent à des niveaux plus adaptés à travers l’application de mesures unilatérales plutôt que d’accepter d’être soumis à la procédure indiquée dans le pilier deux s’ils décident de l’appliquer.
Global Minimum Tax Rate: Detached from Developing Country Realities
By Sebastien Babou Diasso
Under the umbrella of the G20 and the OECD, the Inclusive Framework adopted on 8 October 2021 a two-pillar solution to address tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy. However, these solutions do not respond to the needs of many developing countries, in particular the global tax minimum rate of 15%, in a context where most developing countries, defined as Member States of the South Centre and the G-77+China, have an average effective tax rate higher than the adopted rate. This policy brief provides information of the current effective tax rates in some developing countries, and highlights why the minimum rate of 15% in Pillar Two is insufficient for them. Tax revenue mobilization is important for developing countries to achieve the sustainable development goals. It is thereby recommended that developing countries simply ignore Pillar Two and maintain their current higher rate or increase their rate to an appropriate level and enforce it through unilateral measures rather than the rule order under Pillar Two, which they will have to follow if they decide to implement it.
Jamaica’s Perspective on Reform of the Global Investment Regime
By Omar Chedda
The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the world economy, and in particular, Jamaica’s economy, due to supply chain bottlenecks and reduction of tourism, on which Jamaica is heavily dependent. This is the context in which Jamaica is now reviewing its investment regime to ensure that investments contribute to recovery, building resilience and sustainable development, while improving investor rights and obligations in line with global trends.