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.
As world leaders gear up for the first ever UN Summit on refugees and migrants, civil society organisations already expect the summit to fail to agree any concrete steps for governments to share the responsibility for dealing with the escalating crisis. That is why calls for putting the equitable sharing of responsibility into practice will continue well after the Summits, reports Josephine Liebl of Oxfam International.
As the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flore (CITES) gathers in Johannesburg for its 17th Conference of the Parties, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) releases new estimates on the link between wildlife trafficking and the global shadow financial system. From a forthcoming report, to be published in November 2016, GFI finds that wildlife trafficking generates an estimated US$5 to $23 billion in revenues each year.
At this year's UN General Assembly, world leaders launched an unprecedented effort to roll out universal social protection in countries all around the world. Heads of state, the World Bank Group and the International Labour Organization convened on Wednesday 21 September to launch the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection, which aims to make pensions, maternity, disability and child benefits, among others, available to all persons, closing the gap for hundreds of millions currently unprotected worldwide.
The Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection brings together the African Union, FAO, the European Commission, Helpage, IADB, OECD, Save the Children, UNDP-IPC, UNICEF and others, along with Belgian, Finnish, French and German cooperation.
At a conference in Berlin on 29 June, the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, when asked about the situation of Deutsche Bank, said he was more concerned with the situation in Portugal. He added that if Portugal does not comply with EU budget rules, a new rescue program will be needed. It is not the first time that Schäuble has made this kind of statement about Portugal when questioned about Germany’s leading bank.
Read the article about how the German banks are saved ...
Memo to accountants: In the future, there are going to be fewer shadows and more sunlight in your world. Even investors are fed up with the opaque system in which you’ve thrived.
For much of the past 10 years, a mixture of espionage, intrepid journalism and political pressure has exposed financial practices that thrived in the dark but don’t do nearly as well when made public. Tax minimization schemes. Deals with low-tax governments. Complex legal structures that obscure ownership.
Now, a mixture of investor activism and public shaming is turning the international tax and financial system, which all but invites companies to move and stash money all around the world, into an agenda item for federal regulators, lawmakers — and perhaps prosecutors — in the coming years.