Does BRICS still offer an alternative model of development that can address the current global crisis? Is this grouping of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa actually challenging the hegemony of the old powers for the benefit of the rest?
These were the main questions raised in the recently held two-day “People’s Forum on BRICS,” held in Goa on October 13 and 14, attended by more than 500 representatives of various mass organizations, people’s movements, community-based, and social justice groups from 10 countries and around 25 states in India.
Marking the beginning of new geopolitics in 2006, BRICS has managed to maintain its relevance on global matters. The BRICS coalition represents about 40 percent of the world’s population and 17 percent of world trade.
Troubled with widening inequality, each of the BRICS countries continue to lose revenue through tax evasion and avoidance practices. Global Financial Integrity reported that in 2013 alone, developing countries lost $1.1 trillion to illicit financial flows.
Illicit financial flows (IFFs) (or black money) are funds that are illegally earned, transferred and utilised and are exploited by corporates to move their profits to low tax jurisdictions (more popularly known as tax havens) requires concrete international and regional cooperation.
The 2016 annual meetings in Washington took place in a context of continued slow world economic growth and trade, with the IMF and World Bank presenting themselves as the saviours of the economic order by supporting increased global trade. Given memories of the IMF and Bank’s push for trade and growth in the 80s and 90s, many were wondering ‘trade and growth for whom?’ Certainly the unquestioning belief that the private sector will discover its development mandate and become instrumental in ensuring the SDGs are achieved was alive and well in DC during the week. President Kim’s curt dismissal of community concerns at the town hall meeting seemed to validate concerns raised by staff throughout his first five-year term about his competence and indicate that the Bank will continue to push its agenda with little concern for the opinions of the communities it is mandated to serve.
The South Centre recently published Research Paper No. 71: "Recovering Sovereignty Over Natural Resources: The Cases of Bolivia and Ecuador," authored by Humberto Campodonico.
This document analyzes the renegotiation process of oil and gas contracts in two Latin American countries, Bolivia and Ecuador, from 2003 to 2010 and the measures taken for sectorial policy reform in the hydrocarbon sector and our conclusions are that it has been favourable.
The challenge of transforming natural resource rich economies and moving away from heavy dependence on commodities is not a short-term process. In spite of the advances made by these economies, they still rely heavily on commodities, a process that will have bigger problems now that the super cycle of high commodity prices has come to an end.
‘Social Europe’ has followed a very bumpy road since the inception of the European Community. This is not only a consequence of the lack of competences at the European level, or the lack of ‘political will’ at the level of Heads of State and Governments, but also and mainly of the ideological tendencies that have permeated all policies for the past six decades.
Since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, most social movements in Europe have been demanding a ‘social and democratic’ Europe. However, never has it been clarified what this could or should mean. Even today, there are no clear demands on what precisely the European Union should do or not do. This article is meant to shed some light on the past, the present and the possible future of ‘social Europe’.
On Wednesday 21st September 2016, we heard the apparently joyous news that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and World Bank had launched the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection which “aims to make pensions, maternity, disability and child benefits, among others, available to all persons.” Does this send hope to developing countries that the World Bank is changing its approach to social protection, dropping its support for low budget, poverty targeted social assistance schemes and, instead, embracing inclusive lifecycle social protection while committing to realising the right to social security for all?
On Thursday 29th September 2016, we had our answer. In an article for the Guardian, Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, exhorted developing countries to implement conditional cash transfers (CCTs), the antithesis of universal social protection. CCTs target households living in poverty – rather than all persons – and, by using poor quality targeting methodologies such as the proxy means test, exclude the majority of their intended beneficiaries, while often causing division and conflict within communities. For example, Mexico’s famous Oportunidades programme has been found to have exclusion errors of around 70%, while the World Bank itself estimated exclusion errors of 93% in Indonesia’s Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH) CCT (Alatas et al 2014). And, as we should all know by now, there is no robust evidence on the value of implementing conditions, since all positive impacts on beneficiaries appear to come from the cash they receive (see this paper for further discussion).
Since CCTs are the World Bank’s social protection programme of choice, perhaps Jim Yong Kim was just showing consideration for his own staff. World Bank staff claim that their institution cannot give loans for unconditional programmes so entitlement schemes for all persons do not fit their business model. The last time the World Bank announced its support for universal social protection – in 2015 – we expressed our concern about the danger of unemployment for the World Bank’s social protection team and the need to provide them with a safety net (see blog by Nick Freeland). Kim’s support for CCTs is perhaps a signal that they are, in fact, in no immediate danger of losing their jobs. Indeed, like any good used car salesman, Kim used the Guardian interview to try and drum up business for his organisation: “We’re willing to provide financing for these conditional cash transfers,” he announced. There was no mention, though, of an offer to finance more effective, inclusive social protection schemes, of the type he appeared to agree with the ILO.
Fifteen years after the World Bank put poverty on the international agenda with its World Development report in which inequality was totally ignored, it now recognizes the fight against inequality has to come first!
Samsung workers have shed light on the working conditions throughout the multinational’s supply chains. The International Trade Union Confederation and IndustriALL global union have released a new report, Samsung - Modern Tech Medieval Conditions.
“From denying justice to the families of former employees who died from cancers caused by unsafe workplaces, to dodging tax and engaging in price-fixing cartels, one thing is constant: Samsung’s corporate culture is ruthlessly geared towards maximising profit to the detriment of the everyday lives of its workers,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
The 133-member Group of 77 (G77), joined by China, unanimously endorsed a Ministerial Declaration strongly reiterating its support to the UN's post-2015 development agenda, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the Climate Change agreement.
The Declaration, which was adopted at the 40th annual meeting of G77 Foreign Ministers on September 23, reaffirmed "the overarching objective of eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions," describing it as "the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development."
Reiterating that poverty eradication is a central imperative of the UN's Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Ministers emphasized "the need to address poverty in all its forms and dimensions in order to truly leave no one behind."
The power of corporations has reached a level never before seen in human history, often dwarfing the power of states. That is why civil society organisations are backing the new UN initiative for a legally binding global treaty on transnational corporations and human rights.
Imagine a world in which all of the main functions of society are run for-profit by private companies. Schools are run by multinationals. Private security firms have replaced police forces. And most big infrastructure lies in the hands of a tiny plutocratic elite. Justice, such as it is, is meted out by shady corporate tribunals only accessible to the rich, who can easily escape the reach of limited national judicial systems. The poor, on the other hand, have almost no recourse against the mighty will of the remote corporate elite as they are chased off their land and forced into further penury.
The Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve a world free from extreme poverty by 2030, as well as a reduction in inequality within countries. Although presented as two separate issues, these goals are interrelated in a fundamental way. In fact, the key finding of new research is that three-quarters of global poverty could be eliminated by addressing inequality and redistributing existing resources within developing countries.