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Analysis

One week before the International Council of the World Social Forum organised its meeting in Tunis, Pope Francis organised his own social forum in Rome: a World Meeting of Popular Movements!

A large  number of social movements from all over the world gathered in the Vatican, some of them ‘faith-based’, though not all catholic, others not even religious. There were landless farmers, informal sector workers, waste pickers, homeless people …

 

The landlocked European duchy has been called a “magical fairyland” for brand-name corporations seeking to drastically reduce tax bills.

Pepsi, IKEA, FedEx and 340 other international companies have secured secret deals from Luxembourg, allowing many of them to slash their global tax bills while maintaining little presence in the tiny European duchy, leaked documents show.

For the first time in its seven-decade-long history, World Bank staff staged a work stoppage earlier this month. Staff are unhappy about the “Change Process,” aka the ongoing internal reorganization that President Kim initiated on his arrival at the bank now more than two years ago. A Staff Association update of October 9 says: “We are riding a bicycle as we build it, and staying upright is getting harder and harder.”*

The reorganization process is the first of my two big worries about the World Bank.

The second is more troubling: The bank is well past its heyday as a major supplier of funds to developing countries. Short of a new vision, it faces an existential threat of growing irrelevance and obscurity as rising incomes in big emerging markets reduce the demand for and logic of the bank’s country loan model. I believe the world still needs a World Bank. But it needs a World Bank built for the development challenges of the 21st century, not the 20th.

It is imperative that a Human Rights-based approach to food security is adopted in order to eliminate hunger and provide access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food for all, the new UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms Hilal Elver, has said.

In her first report to the UN General Assembly (A/69/275), which is holding its sixty-ninth session in New York, the rights expert, who is from Turkey, said that in order to advance the implementation of the right to adequate food, renewed political commitment is essential and stakeholders must look to those countries that have made significant progress in adopting policies and legislation in this regard.

Campaigners and citizens groups are questioning why the World Bank is still planning to release its Doing Business Report (DBR) tomorrow (Wednesday) even though officials have failed to fix ‘strong flaws’ which undermine its goals to eliminate absolute poverty and promote shared prosperity.

While noting significant progress today in the global effort to curb tax evasion, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) expressed concerns that the OECD/G20 movement toward automatic exchange of financial information was excluding the world’s poorest countries from reaping any benefits while failing to deal with the issue of illicit financial flows in a comprehensive manor.

After six weeks in office, the new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein of Jordan launched a blistering attack on member states for insufficient funding, thereby forcing operations in his office to the breaking point “in a world that seems to be lurching from crisis to ever-more dangerous crisis.”

The Argentine parliament has just passed legislation for launching a debt audit commission. It will look into the debts contracted by the country since the military junta took over in 1976. The Commission, which is yet to take off, is supposed to submit its report within 180 days. The audit can genuinely serve the interest of the people. Thus, CADTM urges the Argentine government to follow the example of Ecuador which set up a commission in 2007 for an audit of the debt incurred between 1976 and 2006.

A few years ago, Richard Anker, a former ILO official, wrote an important paper on the historical evolution of the notion of ‘living wages’ and different ways of measuring them. This paper is one example of a growing realization that mandated minimum wages, however effectively enforced, can diverge significantly from ‘living wages’ that can sustain a worker and his/her family. Not surprisingly, the notion of the ‘living wage’ is embedded in the ILO’s normative framework. The 2008 Declaration refers to a ‘minimum living wage’. The 1970 convention on minimum wages demonstrates flexibility and pragmatism by suggesting that a policy on minimum wages should strike the right balance between the need to meet the living expenses of workers and their families and national goals pertaining to employment and economic development.

This year’s annual meeting of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on October 10-12, coincided with the 70th anniversary of both institutions. But it was not a happy party with global economic storm clouds looming, a growing Ebola pandemic and major internal problems at both institutions. The threat of a return to economic crisis and recession, now including Europe's largest economy Germany, also weighed heavily during discussions.
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