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Analysis

Has organised civil society, bound up in internal bureaucracy, in slow, tired processes and donor accountability, become simply another layer of a global system that perpetuates injustice and inequality?

How can civil society organizations (CSOs) build a broad movement that draws in, represents and mobilises the citizenry, and how can they effect fundamental, systemic transformation, rather than trading in incremental change?

This kind of introspective reflection was at the heart of a process of engagement among CSOs from around the world that gathered in Johannesburg from Nov. 19 to 21 for the “Toward a World Citizens Movement: Learning from the Grassroots” conference.

This article reviews a number of developments that occurred between 2000 and 2014 related to the debt issue, various aspects of the international crisis |1|, international financial institutions, the scope of attacks against social and economic rights, and CADTM priorities.

 

Several changes have occurred since the end of the 1990s.

Less than a week after everybody celebrated the historical agreement on Nov. 17 between the United States and China on reduction of CO2 emissions, a very cold shower has come from India.

Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal has declared: “India’s development imperatives cannot be sacrificed at the altar of potential climate change many years in the future. The West will have to recognise we have the needs of the poor”.

After years of debate and effort, the fight against corruption is beginning to overcome its perception problem. This is that rich countries are honest and poor ones are not. A turning point may have come at the recent G20 summit in Brisbane, where world leaders agreed to share tax information of “shell” companies that help shield illicit earnings from scrutiny.

As intergovernmental discussions commence on a major financing for development conference to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015, differing priority issues between developed and developing countries are already seen.

The process for the International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) commenced in the New York headquarters of the United Nations on 17 October 2014.

The third FfD conference, which will be held in Addis Ababa, from 13 to 16 July 2015, will gather high-level political representatives, including heads of state and government, ministers of finance, foreign affairs and development cooperation, as well as all relevant institutional stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and business sector entities.

G20 leaders met this past weekend in Brisbane, Australia for their annual summit, issuing a communiqué full of ambitious proposals for growing the global economy, but noticeably lacking in responses to illicit financial flows, one of the largest drags on development worldwide. Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, expressed its disappointment at the underwhelming result.

With the world still battling the Ebola outbreak, the evidence of a clear link between the inability of affected countries to deal with the crisis and the collapse of public health systems is becoming stronger. Extreme poverty in the affected region, engendered by neo-liberal policies, further created the conditions for the rapid spread of the epidemic.  This is the context that informs the contents of the 2014 Global Health Watch (GHW) report that was released today.

As world leaders gather in Australia this week, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) called on the G20 to take strong action against illicit financial flows by embracing simple corporate transparency measures.  Specifically, the Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization urged G20 leaders to endorse the creation of public registries of beneficial ownership information as well as require all multinational corporations to publicly report their sales, profits, and taxes-paid on a country-by-country basis, as necessary tools to detect and deter crime, corruption, and tax dodging.

The Third UN Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), set to take place in Addis Ababa next year, will be a crucial opportunity to discuss two of the hottest topics in development finance today: the use of scarce public resources to leverage the private sector, and the fight against international tax avoidance and evasion. Both topics come together in Eurodad’s new report, Going Offshore, though probably not in the way you might expect.

In a recently-released human rights audit of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance’s report (hereinafter “the Report”), RightingFinance (RF) evaluated from the perspective of international human rights law principles such as equality, participation and maximum available resources, the portions of the report devoted to private finance. The emphasis placed on “blended finance,” alongside investment climate issues and regulation of private investments were important issues that the response by RightingFinance addressed.

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