Informe de Social Watch 2014

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Informe Social Watch 2014 “Medios y fines”
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SOCIAL WATCH

COORDINATING COMMITTEE

Leonor Briones (Philippines) and Tanya Dawkins (USA), co-chairs. Barbara Adams (New York), Abdulnabi h. Alekry (Bahrain), Gustave Benjamin Assah (Benin), Susana Eróstegui (Bolivia), Yao Graham (Ghana), Martina Mnenegwa Kabisama (Tanzania), Kate McInturff (Canada), Ziad Abdel Samad (Lebanon), Mirjam van Reisen (Brussels) and Roberto Bissio (Uruguay, ex officio).

The International Secretariat of Social Watch is based in Montevideo, Uruguay, hosted by the Third World Institute (ITeM).

Editor-in-Chief
Roberto Bissio

Editor
Karen Judd

Production Manager
Ana Zeballos

Translation
Richard Manning, Magdalena Padrón

Web design and development
Ernesto Rapetti

© Copyright 2014
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INFORMES TEMÁTICOS

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Prologue: Monitoring is only meaningful if the powerful are held to account

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2014

Some 4,000 years ago, King Hammurabi had the laws of his domain between the Tigris and Euphrates carved in stone and placed in front of his palace. The laws were written in the plain language of the people, not in the arcane idiom of the priests, so that everybody could understand them. They were not engraved on clay, so they could not be changed at will, and they were not hidden, so that all were able to access them and learn, for example, that even judges had a duty to adhere to the rules in their decisions.

Thus were created the basic principles of accountability. Much more recently, only 200 years ago, La Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen stated (Art. XIV) that every citizen has the right to check the need to pay taxes and that society has the right to hold every public agent accountable (Art.XV).

The idea that the people form the basis of a society and should be protected by justice is not new and is not the intellectual property of any specific region. It was articulated in the 14th Century by the Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldun, the father of modern sociology, who in his Muqaddimah quotes Aristotle as having established political wisdom in eight sentences:

"1. The world is a garden the fence of which is the dynasty (the state). 2. The (state) dynasty has the authority that defines proper behavior. 3. Proper behavior becomes policy when directed by the ruler. 4. The ruler is an institution supported by the soldiers. 5. The soldiers are helpers who are maintained by money. 6. Money is sustenance brought together by the subjects. 7. The subjects are servants who are protected by justice. 8. Justice is the harmony that makes the world a garden.”

If we translate “the garden” as “sustainable development” we have here all the elements that we need for a renewed agenda: policy and regulations, means of implementation (taxes) and compliance mechanisms (justice) which is what we really want to talk about when we talk about monitoring and accountability.

In the last decades all the rulers of the world have committed themselves to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948), that spells out the basic principles of human dignity, the Rio Declaration (1992) that formulates the rights of future generations, the Copenhagen and Beijing declarations (1995) that promise to eradicate poverty and achieve gender equality and the Millennium Declaration (2000) that commits them to ensure the simultaneous realization of a triangle framed by 1) peace and security; 2) democracy and human rights; and 3) development and social justice.

Those commitments were translated into every language and carved onto the Internet, television, radio and the printed page that all can access and are more difficult to hide and erase than a stone. Yet, the non-compliance with the formal promises, while morally condemned in all cultures and places, is difficult to address. The commitments made to society tend to be easily forgotten if organized citizens and communities are not constantly reminding their rulers.

Social Watch was created in 1995 to help governments remember their promises and to assist those governed to monitor their realization... or lack of it. The first Social Watch report, in 1996, included national reports authored by 13 non-governmental organizations in 13 countries. Today the Social Watch network has active coalitions of over 1,000 organizations in 80 countries. Each national alliance defines its priorities, its message and how to engage with their authorities. To participate in the global network they agree to be inclusive, to report honestly and to advocate to improve the quality of the policies and the openness of the mechanisms that define these. The global network will in turn amplify the national voices, help them use methodological tools, such as the innovative indexes on gender equity and on basic capabilities that Social Watch developed, and collectively hold international organizations accountable for their own commitments.

In doing that, we found something that probably Hammurabi already knew: accountability is only meaningful if includes the powerful, such as, in some cases, the landowner, the mayor and the chief of police. In today’s world the powerful are the rich countries, the intergovernmental institutions (particularly those dealing with trade and finances), transnational corporations and even some huge foundations and NGOs with budgets of billions of dollars.

Ultimately it is up to citizens to hold their own governments accountable. In exercising these rights, our member coalitions have managed in some countries to identify millions of dollars of “pork barrels” hiding in obscure budget provisions and to redirect them to support genuine social development. They have also helped avoid civil wars through the development of credible election monitoring mechanisms based on social networks.

Often, the Social Watch national coalitions have also found in practice that the smaller, poorer or more vulnerable a country is the more it is held accountable to foreign actors. All countries are obligated to report to their peers on their compliance with human rights legal obligations under the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Right Council. This is a major step forward. But developing countries also have to report on their compliance with WTO accession commitments; they are supervised by the IMF, even if they are not debtors, and they report to each of their bilateral donors individually and also collectively. When the recipient country government sits at a table with its 12-25 donors, who are frequently also its creditors, plus the World Bank, the IMF and the regional development banks this is called “mutual accountability!” But while it might be more efficient for recipient governments to report to all donors and creditors simultaneously, this is obviously not the best setting  to interrogate donors about not meeting their own development assistance commitments (0.7% of GDP) or about their unfulfilled promise to increase the voting power of African countries in international financial institutions.

In fact, our members observe that accountability to citizens is frequently postponed or denied by this accountability to the powerful in ways that weaken the role of parliaments and undermine democratic institutions. To make matters worse, over 2,000 bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements signed in the last few decades have created new rights for transnational corporations, including rights that humans don't have: corporations have acquired the right to settle anywhere they want and bring with them any personnel they decide they need, they are allowed to repatriate profits without restrictions and even to litigate against governments in demand of profits lost because of democratically decided national policies, not through local courts but via international arbitration panels shaped to defend business interests and where human rights do not necessarily prevail. ICSID, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, hosted by the World Bank, is a non-transparent tribunal that displaces national judiciaries and in essence creates its own law by ignoring human rights standards and environmental norms, even when they have been ratified as international treaties.

No single duty was created for corporations to compensate for this expansion of their rights, which may be one of the reasons for the current disproportionate share of capital in the capture of the benefits of growth and the symmetric reduction in the share of labour in those benefits that is so convincingly documented by Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Corporations have to be made accountable not only to their owners and consumers but to their workers and to the people affected by their operations. Corporate accountability requires rules set by governments, respect for human rights and environmental due diligence as well as reporting, ensuring access by those negatively affected to an effective remedy, tax transparency; proper land appropriation rules, and so on.

The Righting Finance coalition, of which Social Watch is a member, has elaborated a set of minimum criteria to be applied to all actors wanting to benefit from “partnering” with the UN, among them the mandatory declaration of any conflict of interest, and careful “vetting” of their human rights background and performance. Corporations in partnership with the UN should be subject to at least the reporting requirements already established for NGOs, which include regular reporting to ECOSOC, including on their finances and their origins, demonstrated adherence to Human Rights and UN principles, a description of initiatives undertaken to support the MDGs and demonstrated contribution to the work of the UN.

The mandate for this already exists, and has been approved by the UN General Assembly as part of the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These principles require, for example, an impact assessment of multilateral organizations, corporations and the trade and investment regime. This important mandate needs to be implemented. The Rio decision that created the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) clearly intended to empower this Forum to hold these reviews. To do so, the Forum needs to be properly assisted by a strong secretariat, informed by adequate reporting and carefully prepared by an active chair(s) that provides continuity and leadership.

Following the Rio+20 mandate on universality, all governments and multilateral organizations have to be accountable. The Global Partnership for Development, described in Goal 8 of the MDGs, not only has no timeline, but also no proper accountability mechanism. No wonder it lacked implementation. A new agenda for development has to be specific about Means of Implementation and also about the forum for review and the monitoring and accountability mechanism, which could well be a strengthened HLPF as described above, to which multilateral agencies, the Bretton Woods Institutions and any corporation or “partnership” wanting to use the UN name, logo or flag should be required to report.

Accountability doesn't happen without transparency and access to information. Corporations should report their accounts on a country-by-country basis and countries should keep public registers of company owners, among other basic information. In general, citizens should have access not only to corporate information but also to all government documents, along with those of multilateral organizations. In particular, the secrecy involving the work of arbitration panels in investor states disputes should be declared as contrary to basic accountability and human rights principles. Banking secrecy undermining the ability of countries to tax their citizens or corporations operating in their territories needs to be identified as a major obstacle to the achievement of human rights and development goals and this should be a major issue to address in the context of the Financing for Development debates.

Monitoring and accountability needs to be institutionalized, but ensuring an enabling environment for civil society is critical in order for accountability to "work," Civil society uses all available tools, including Internet-based social networks.  But the essential role of organized civil society cannot be substituted by easily manipulated web-based instruments.

The US National Council on Public Polls (NCPP), which includes the major TV networks and several universities, explains on its website that “unscientific pseudo-polls are widespread and sometimes entertaining, but they never provide the kind of information that belongs in a serious report.” Examples of those polls “include 900-number call-in polls, man-on-the-street surveys, many Internet polls....”

In a scientific poll, explains NCPP, “the pollster identifies and seeks out the people to be interviewed. In an unscientific poll, the respondents usually ‘volunteer’ their opinions, selecting themselves for the poll.” Ignoring this basic recommendation, serious UN reports quote web-based polls as if they were genuine consultations with civil society. This practice should be avoided.

Accountability is not the same as accounting. It cannot be left to accountants or other bureaucrats. Every development project and every “partnership” should have in its budget a provision to support independent civil society accountability mechanisms at least with the same amount as that devoted to auditing.

In 2012, the Rio+20 Summit decided to kick off a negotiation process towards an international agreement on a set of sustainable development goals that “should be action- oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries, while taking into account different national realities.” Universality was understood as meaning that developed countries should not just contribute to eradicating poverty abroad but also make an effort in areas to be agreed, such as for example reducing emissions that cause climate change, modifying unsustainable production and consumption patterns, reducing inequalities or ensuring adequate universal social protection.

These “goals for the rich” should have time-bound targets and monitoring mechanisms at least as effective as those that watch over the efforts of developing country governments. Yet, two years after Rio+20 the developed countries have still offered no hint on any new commitment on their side. In turn, developing countries are reluctant to commit themselves to achievements for which no means of implementation are made available.

Without the will there will be no transformation and the blatant unfairness of the current world can only become worse.

Seven centuries ago, Ibn Khaldun concluded that “injustice ruins civilization. The ruin of civilization has as its consequence the complete destruction of the dynasty (state).” Goals for the rich and effective monitoring and accountability of the powerful are essential. Without them there will be no credible development agenda and the multilateral system will lose its legitimacy.

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Means and Ends: The messages from the country reports

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The ends were agreed and clearly articulated, the means were (and still are) available. And yet something stands in the way. Among the many obstacles identified by Social Watch coalitions around the world, inequalities and its associated symptoms of inequity and injustice clearly emerge as the main reason why the common aspirations of humanity are not being achieved.

Every year the Social Watch national coalitions report on their countries' progress or regression towards the internationally agreed goals. As UN member states start negotiating a new development agenda and a new set of goals key “means and ends” questions must be addressed: Are the goals relevant? Are the means appropriate?

The country reports are available at www.socialwatch.org. Common themes that emerge are summarized here.

The “ends” are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 with its commitment to free people everywhere from fear and want. That common objective of humanity spelled out at the end of the Second World War and embodied in the United Nations soon was split into two by the Cold War: on the one side those that cherished civil and political rights, on the other side those that argued social, economic and cultural rights had to be achieved first. In the middle the Third World, the impoverished majority of humanity, successfully struggled for independence but did not manage to translate political self determination into a dignified life for its citizens.

At the end of the Cold War, in the last decade of the 20th century, the UN agenda was revised and updated by a series of world conferences establishing the rights of children (New York, 1990) and of women (Beijing, 1995). The concept of “sustainable development” was endorsed in Rio de Janeiro (1992), asserting that present needs should be met in a way that does not prevent future generations to meet theirs, while the Social Summit of 1995 in Copenhagen committed all governments to free the world from poverty and ensure decent work and “social integration” for all.

The challenge heads of states and governments expressed at that Summit was that “we are witnessing in countries throughout the world the expansion of prosperity for some, unfortunately accompanied by an expansion of unspeakable poverty for others. This glaring contradiction is unacceptable and needs to be corrected through urgent actions.”

At that moment, the “urgent need” was recognized “to address profound social problems, especially poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, that affect every country.” And the leaders understood as “our task” to address “both their underlying and structural causes and their distressing consequences.”

Yet, under pressure of the donors that provide the bulk of their budget and without inter-governmental negotiations similar to those of the big conferences of the previous decade, the UN development agencies and the multilateral financial institutions shrank their mandate to a minimal set of Millennium Development Goals focused exclusively on “extreme poverty” in low-income countries and its associated symptoms in health and education.

In his 2005 report to the General Assembly, then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan explained that the MDGs “do not directly encompass some of the broader issues covered by the conferences of the 1990s, nor do they address the particular needs of middle-income developing countries or the questions of growing inequality and the wider dimensions of human development and good governance.” Nevertheless, he argued, “the urgency of achieving the MDGs cannot be overstated.”

The analogy with an emergency was convincing: Let's focus on those at extreme risk first! But in practice that strategy was not effective. Foreign aid (known in development jargon as “official development assistance” or ODA) and particularly aid directed to the least developed countries, did not increase substantially as a result of that focus on the “poorest of the poor,” in spite of UN resolutions and an explicit mandate in that regard in the Lisbon Treaty, the unofficial constitution of the European Union.

ODA is not the only way in which richer countries can contribute to development (other options include technology transfer, fair trade terms, debt cancellation, etc.) and perhaps not even the most important. But as it implies direct budget decisions, ODA can be a good thermometer of the “political will” of the donor country. In 2013, which was a “record year,” net ODA from OECD countries stood at 0.3 percent of gross national income, exactly the same percentage as in 1992 and less than half of the longstanding UN target for an ODA/GNI ratio of 0.7 percent.

While the MDGs did not help to substantially improve the behaviour towards the emergency victims, governments of middle income countries did not feel major pressure from those goals to make extra efforts, as the benchmarks were set too low for them. They had basically achieved the goals before the start of the race. In Thailand, the national Social Watch reports how the country claimed to have achieved the MDGs long before 2015, even when those achievements are at risk due to threatened economic instability and “environmental sustainability is more difficult to fins than a needle in a haystack.” Similarly, huge problems of employment and social integration in the developed countries also fell off the UN radar, as no goal mentioned them.

The UN is, of course, a body of universal membership with a clear global mandate to maintain international peace and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. And yet, focusing exclusively on the MDGs created the notion that the organization should only focus on the poorest countries. Such a misrepresentation led the Canadian minister of Citizenship and Immigration to describe in May 2012 as “completely ridiculous” the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to his country. The envoy of the Human Rights Council, a body with universal mandate, was told that he should not get involved in “political exercises in developed democracies like Canada.”

Universality is practiced by the UN Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism for all countries, Canada included, to report regularly to their peers on their obligations to respect, protect and promote both civil and political rights as well as social, economic and cultural rights.

Further, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 emphasized that the “sustainable development goals” to be negotiated multilaterally should be “action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities.”

The logical conclusion is that all countries will have to report on actions taken towards those universal aspirations. For the Social Watch coalitions this is not new. They already bring together citizens from richer and poorer countries in all continents. The methodology of checking commitments against accomplishments is common, and the problems and obstacles faced are also surprisingly similar.

Impacts of the crisis

The feeling of crisis, frequently of catastrophic dimensions, permeates many of the national Social Watch reports in the last two years. In some cases the crisis is rooted in history. The report from the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, situates the origin of the crisis in the collapse of copper prices and the simultaneous increase of oil prices in 1974, forty years ago. This imbalance in trade was made worse by bad governance and strong demographic pressure from young people entering the labor market in search of jobs every year. Persistent armed conflicts and lack of social policies or job creating economic policies make the situation worse and currently there are 16 million people (out of 66 million total population) suffering malnutrition and a majority of the population without formal jobs or any social security protection.

The Social Watch report from Armenia also points to a prolonged crisis, in this case beginning 25 years ago when the Soviet Union (of which Armenia was a confederated republic) collapsed. The impact on Armenia was “catastrophic”: about 1,000 industrial enterprises ceased to function, agricultural associations were disbanded in 1020 agricultural formations, and more than 1 million people became unemployed. The country still faces a huge drain of the population that migrates abroad in search of jobs, plus “problems with monopolists, the shadow economy sector and corruption.”

The Czech Republic, previously seen as having performed a successful transition from the Warsaw Pact into the European Union, now faces severe hardships, with “unemployment at 10 percent, Government reforms undermining the economy, antisocial and anti-family policies, corruption among politicians and capital flight into tax havens, destruction of the instruments of environmental protection, inability of the media to aptly inform on domestic and foreign affairs and low level of cooperation to address the crisis among civic actors.”

In Italy, the Social Watch coalition reports on the deterioration of the living conditions of a large part of the Italian population, especially the "working poor. "Fifteen percent of total employed, or 3 million workers are poor, compared to 10 percent in Denmark or 6 percent in Sweden. Almost one third of Italians are at risks of suffering poverty or social exclusion and income inequality has widened. The richest 10 Italians own as much as the poorest 3 million. The proportion of Italians who cannot afford an adequate full meal at least every two days, doubled in 2013 and affects one in every eight Italians. Yet, in a context of strong and generalized reduction of public spending, the Ministry of Defence got a budget increase in 2013-2015, 25 times higher than that of social policies.

A similar frustration emerges out of the Portuguese Social Watch report, which denounces “increasing unemployment, impoverishment and increasing vulnerability of powerless groups and communities” as the major consequences of austerity policies. Given the high levels of unemployment and poverty already being experienced in Portugal, and the findings that early anti-crisis measures disproportionately affected poorer people, very serious impacts might be anticipated on vulnerable groups, putting at risk the more elementary economic, social and cultural rights. For these reason, the authors recommend “the implementation of a human rights based approach to national budget and welfare state reform, allowing the social protection of the powerless and dis-empowered groups.”

South Korea was hit both by the Asia financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis in 2008. According to the Korean Social Watch report, the impressive economic growth (GDP doubled between 2000 and 2010) helped hide “gaps between regions, industries, social stratums, and sectors” and dubious practices such as the concentration of funds in the hometowns of former presidents. In 2013, “the economy has recovered but inequality and polarization of poverty got worsened.” The lack of social protection transformed the working poor, the self-employed and small business owners into a new vulnerable group, joining the ranks of the traditional vulnerable groups: indigent children, female household, the disabled, and the elderly.

The federal government of Canada shares the obsession with deficit reduction at all costs. Federal programme spending as a share of the economy is at its lowest level since the 1950s and the lowest of any national government in the industrial world. Cuts to federal-provincial health, social, and equalization transfers alone will amount to USD 60 billion over the next decade. The result has been a reduction to health and social services for Canadians at the time when they need them most—during Canada’s slow recovery from recession.

While inequality in Canada may be less extreme than in the U.S., it is growing at a faster rate in Canada and it is also highly racialized and gendered. Women, Aboriginal peoples, new immigrants, people with disabilities and ethnic minority communities all carry a disproportionate burden of lower incomes and lower employment rates. For every dollar earned by white Canadians, racialized Canadian workers earned only 81.4 cents. For every dollar earned by men in Canada, women earn 76.7 cents (working full-year, full-time).

Inequalities

The ILO's June 2014 World Social Protection Report 2014-15 states that “contrary to public perception, adjustment measures are not limited to Europe. Since 2010, world governments embarked into premature expenditure contraction, despite vulnerable populations’ urgent need of public support. In 2014, the scope of public expenditure adjustment is expected to intensify significantly, impacting 122 countries, of which 82 are developing countries.

Thus, many countries experiencing fast economic growth are not seeing the benefits of that prosperity. The report of Social Watch Philippines offers this dramatic example:

In 2011, GDP increased by USD 17 billion; on the other hand, the collective wealth of the forty richest Filipinos rose by USD 13 billion in the same year (or a collective 37.8% jump). This means that the increased wealth of the country’s richest forty individuals is equivalent to the bulk —76.5 percent or more than three fourths— of the country’s overall increase in income last year, reinforcing perceptions of an “oligarchic” economy.

Philippines’ economic growth rates have averaged at 5.1 percent since 2000, so that now, the country is heralded as one of the more important emerging economies. In the meantime, poverty incidence has remained high, reaching 26.3 percent in 2009, 25.2 percent in 2012, and 24.9 percent in the first half of 2013.

Ghana is another “model country” that has seen sustained economic growth over the past decade and “graduated” from to the level of a lower middle income country. Yet the Ghanian Social Watch coalition reports that “despite the seemingly impressive growth recorded, income and regional income disparities continue to be an issue and in some instances have in some instances been exacerbated: 28 percent of the population according to the UNDP (2010) continue to live on less than a dollar a day and more than half of Ghanians live on less than USD 2 a day. Income disparities are compounded with gender inequities. Women in Ghana continue to be too heavily represented among the poor, with rural women in particular experiencing high levels of poverty.

In India, the economy has also been growing at phenomenal pace during the last decade, and yet employment in the organized sector has declined in absolute numbers from 28 million in 1999 to 27.5 in 2008. India’s dependence on international aid, especially for the financial resources is minimal. In fact India’ had declined bilateral aid from many countries, but it lags behind dramatically with respect to gender equity, poverty, hunger and infant and maternal mortality rates. The absence of inclusiveness in the development model is the primary cause, according to the report of the National Social Watch. Instead of enabling the people to acquire the basic needs such as food, sanitation, water, health care, the Government is promoting ‘non-inclusive growth’ and sought to provide the subsidized basic social services with associated problem of inefficiency, corruption, and so on.

Chile has claimed to be the best performing Latin American country in terms of meeting the MDGs, yet the Chilean Social Watch report argues that the deep-rooted inequalities have not been addressed and thus the public is not happy with the declared achievements. When the poverty reduction figures are disaggregated by age and gender it becomes obvious that women and children are lagging behind. In 2011 and 2012, massive mobilizations of students demanding free education were received with sympathy by the public, as the young demonstrators were clearly non-violent and creative in the streets. The struggle for better education became a symbol of discontent with the whole neoliberal model.

Similarly, in Dominican Republic the national Social Watch report concludes that two decades of economic growth “have not resulted in genuine human development,” with rural communities and women at a clear disadvantage. Lack of proper governance and access to state services is one of the causes (one fifth of the population lacks identity documents) and the informal economy another, as some half of the economically active population lack access to social security. Women comprise a majority of university students but their salaries are lower than those of their male colleagues and, contrary to expectations, that gap is increasing since 2000, despite improved education for girls.

Peru and Zambia, two countries rich in minerals, have also experienced high economic growth during the last years, but with diverse social impacts. Peru registers sustained economic growth of six percent a year since 2000, and in this case, yes, poverty has been reduced, through a substantial investment by the State in social assistance programmes, particularly the so called “conditional cash transfers” (where poor families receive money if, for example, they send their kids to school). Millions of households living in poverty now depend on those cash transfers and the Peruvian Social Watch report wonders if that is sustainable in case of a fall in commodity prices. Infant malnutrition has dropped significatively and maternal mortality decreased. Yet, Peru still has a high incidence of tuberculosis and disparities are blatant, between the three geo-ecological regions of coast, highlands and forest, between rural and urban and between rich and poor quarters of the same city. Discrimination based on race and gender is visible in the gaps between private clinics and public hospitals, elite universities and public education.

For the period 2006-2009 Zambia’s economy grew at an average of 6.1 percent per annum, pulled by Chinese demand for Zambian copper. Yet, due to tax incentives and holidays, the mining companies’ contribution to the treasury is quite low. Further, there is little transparency and accountability for the resources that government receives from taxes and royalties. As a result, the Gini coefficient that measures inequality increased from 0.64 in 2004 to 0.67 in 2008. The Zambian Social Watch coalition reports that “the (economic) gains have not been felt by the most vulnerable sections of society.”

Similarly, in Azerbaijan, where extractive industries have led to more revenue, employment remains high. While oil and gas account for half of GDP, the sector hires less than 1 percent of the work force. Construction, highly dependent on government spending, is responsible for most of the new jobs created. Prosperity has reduced poverty, but at the same time the share of the poorest quintile in national income also diminished.

Policies do matter and El Salvador provides a dramatic example. The country was severely affected by the global economic and financial crisis that started in 2008 with the fall of Lehman Brothers. The economy shrank 3.5 percent in 2009 and then stagnated and is now very slowly recovering. The Government of the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) executed several plans to support the historically excluded, such as senior adults, women, children and rural population. Those policies allowed it to continue reducing poverty in spite of the crisis and to achieve major improvements in health and education. The Salvadorean Social Watch report celebrates these achievements but wonders about their sustainability. Because of the high sensitivity of the economy to global volatility, structural changes are needed, argues the national Social Watch report, such as a fiscal reform that raises domestic resources to base social welfare in genuine domestic funding.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are among the few countries that managed to reduce poverty and inequalities at the same time. Uruguayan Social Development minister Daniel Olesker, in dialogue with Social Watch explained last February that “policies to ensure basic incomes improved the income of the poorest sectors and salary policies raised the income of workers faster than inflation, while at the same time we introduced fiscal policies that affected the distribution of wealth.” In 2005, when the current governing coalition arrived to power, Uruguay was still suffering the social and economic impact of a severe financial crisis that erupted in 2002. So we started fighting poverty in 2005... but already in 2007 we started with the tax reform,” explains Olesker. “And then came health reform to provide universal coverage and in 2008 the reform of education. While poverty was still an important problem, we started to do simultaneously structural reforms and anti-poverty policies. The link between the two generated a virtuous circle that allow for economic growth while poverty was reduced and income redistributed. This is the main lesson we learned.”

Official Development Assistance (ODA)

In this context of crisis in developed countries, and Europe in particular, ODA diminished in 2011 and 2012. It recovered in 2013, but in relative terms reached only 0.3 percent of total domestic product of donor countries, less than half of the 0.7 percent promised decades ago. The Belgian Social Watch report explains the political dilemma: “In times of crisis, when poverty is scaring the Europeans, businesses are closing and the welfare state is being dismantled, development cooperation needs to be redefined.” In fact, thanks to effective campaigning of civil society, Belgium has chosen to reinforce its UN contribution and in supporting UN development efforts it mainly contributes to the regular budget of the organization, instead of supporting pet projects with earmarked funds as is common practice among many donors.

Aid needs to be assessed on its quality and not just on quantity. Forty percent of Korean aid, for example, is “tied,” meaning that it can only be used to buy Korean goods and services, a limitation that reduces the effectiveness of aid and in some cases can be seen as a hidden subsidy to its own economy. Further, Korea prefers to assist middle income or low middle income countries rather than the least developed countries (LDCs) that need aid the most. According to the Korean watchers, this is because the purposes of Korea’s ODA are economic cooperation and energy resources of recipient countries rather than humanitarian.

Similarly, Malta, a “new donor” within the European Union, prioritizes bilateral aid over multilateral contributions. Civil society criticizes the Government for not being transparent in how ODA funds are being allocated and which organizations and initiatives are benefiting from it. The Government seemingly invests a great amount of ODA funds in the detention or repatriation of irregular migrants, including many asylum seekers. Further, scholarships to foreign students are also counted as ODA.

In Switzerland, pro-development civil society groups such as Alliance Sud have been campaigning on the return of “stolen assets.” In 2011, the Federal Cabinet arranged to block unlawful assets from Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, saying they are to be returned as soon as possible. “The goal nevertheless should be to prevent any more stolen assets from entering Switzerland,” says the Swiss Social Watch report. “To date, urgently needed tightening in anti-money laundering and the exclusion of dictators' funds is still pending.”

Contrary to the trend amongst OECD donor countries, in Switzerland civil society campaigning has succeeded in making the development budget grow by about 9 percent annually until 2015. However, Swiss contributions to climate funds are now coming from the increased ODA budget. The Government argues that this is all new and additional money, as requested by the climate agreements. Alliance Sud, the national Social Watch coalition, argues that this money is indeed newsince it was earmarked for climate finance recently, but it is not additionalas long as it comes from ODA.

This debate around the meaning of ODA related terms is generalizing, as the OECD has kicked of a process to re-discuss what constitutes “aid” and how to account for it. According to the current definition by the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, ODA comprises all flows by public institutions to developing countries aimed at promoting well-being and economic development. If these take the forms of loans, not grants, then in order to be listed as 'assistance,' they should be 'soft' loans (at below-market interest rates) and contain a significant concessional component.

A study now before parliament in the Netherlands proposes five different alternatives to redefine aid, all of which include 'innovative financial instruments' in the definition and more lax rules on loans, so as to count as ODA credits currently excluded. One proposal is to exclude 'middle-income countries' completely from the list and concentrate cooperation, reduced to 0.25 percent of GDP, in the lowest-income countries. Another is to target this same percentage to the poorest countries and reach the 0.7 percent figure by counting as ODA all types of financial flows to middle-income countries, including funds aimed at 'facilitating success for Dutch companies abroad'-- particularly in the water and sanitation sector where the Dutch are perceived as having a comparative advantage.

The report regrets that under the current rules “public funding for private initiatives is also omitted from the ODA statistics in the cases where fiscal measures (tax expenditure) applied by the government encourage private initiatives, even though they act as a lever to release private funding flows.” It notes that the Netherlands currently spends public monies on 'international public goods' such as mitigating climate change, global security and social assistance to refugees and migrants, and proposes to change the definition of ODA so that these can be recorded as such. This would add to Dutch ODA some 300 million euros per year spent on UN peacekeeping operations and 330 million euros budgeted as future contributions to combating climate change.

This changes in how aid is defined can result in many countries reaching the 0.7 percent target simply by counting as aid the activities of their corporations abroad, or worse, large corporations could access the aid budgets, privatize profits if their investments are successful and socialize the losses if they fail.

The report from the Dutch Government notes that these proposals “would in all probability raise objections from the G77”and could “compromise other policy discussions.” The reason is not difficult to guess. In 2009 the advanced economies pledged during the Copenhagen climate change conference to increase their contributions to mitigating climate change to USD 100 billion a year by 2020. This USD 100 billion would double current annual ODA. If the new OECD standard accepts climate funding as ODA and not as a separate and additional commitment, the Copenhagen promise would be met basically by relabeling present funds.

These changes in ODA have obvious implications in developing countries, as both governments and civil society organizations see funding from those sources diminish. In the case of Zambia, the local Social Watch reports a reduction in the contribution of ODA to the national budget; thus in the 2013 budget, “76.8 percent of expenditure will be financed through domestic revenues, 4.6 percent will be financed from grants from ODA, while the balance of 18.4 percent will be raised from external and domestic borrowing. Paradoxically, they add, this has a positive side-effect “as it means the Government must now focus on internal accountability to its citizens.” Yet, accountability remains an area of weakness. “Year after year the Auditor-General reports many cases of abuse, misuse and misapplication of colossal sums of money in the public service. But very little action is taken.” There is need to put in place measures to guarantee citizen participation such as effective decentralization” conclude the Zambian watchers.

Governance

Corruption emerges as a major obstacle in many countries. The Ugandan Social Watch report denounces that “the misappropriated resources would have contributed to poverty reduction, narrowing of gender gaps, improvement of health, education and other social services, access to safe drinking water, and addressing the environment sustainability.” But in neighbouring Tanzania the local Social Watch report identifies another form of wasting resources: tax incentives. After much effort inviting foreign companies to invest in the country, Tanzanians aren't seeing the expected results. Incentives and tax evasions are so high that little is obtained to enhance the national income.

A regressive tax system is also hindering Nicaragua from benefitting from the historic opportunity provided by democratic transition and the “demographic bonus.” The recent reduction of the fertility rate has produced a situation in Nicaragua where a majority of the population is young and of working age without having to care for a disproportionately big younger generation, as happened to their parents, or having a big older generation to care for, as will happen to their children. This “bonus” is being wasted because the few jobs generated by an economy based on agricultural exports are informal, badly paid and do not even allow workers to escape from poverty.

The art of living in peace

They suffer from extreme poverty, ill health, and hunger, but Afghans define the lack of security as their greatest problem. The Government of Afghanistan has added peace as a new goal to the eight global MDGs, recognizing its critical role in achieving all other development aspirations. “World communities have learned the art of living in peace and have developed foundations to sustain peace and security. Afghanistan after three decades of war and conflict also needs to learn the art of living in peace” argues the national Social Watch report. The key to that is seen lies in education... and in the fulfillment of Goal 8 of the MDGs, the global partnership for development.

While some countries, such as Italy, are reportedly following the path of "military Keynesianism," using public spending on defense to stimulate domestic demand for consumption and investment, war and conflict are nightmares for all countries suffering from them. In Lebanon, for example, the flood of Syrian refugees is a major humanitarian crisis. Official figures from Lebanon estimate the number of Syrians to be about 1 million while UNHCR estimates the number to be about 750 thousand. Most of them are living in very difficult conditions. Lebanese authorities have been reluctant to provide them with any support, limiting their role to organizing the registration process, thereby trying to hold the international community responsible for the refugees’ dire situation.

In addition, the polarization of the country politics and the sectarian nature of the regime makes implementation of development policies very difficult. In 2004 Prime Minister Hariri nominated a multi-ministerial committee for poverty eradication and MDG implementation, but he was assassinated in 2005 before taking any tangible steps in this regard. Another multi-ministerial committee was nominated in 2006 to suggest a national strategy for social development, which was never implemented owing to the Israeli war on Lebanon in that same year. In 2010, the Minster of Social Affairs proposed a national strategy for social development which was not presented to the council due to the resignation of Prime Minister Mikati’s Government and the delay until April 2013 in the formation of a caretaker government. Thus the main obstacle to true citizenship in the country is still the partition of state offices and institutions among the different religious confessions.

Conflict is bad for people and for business alike. Thus, the Social Watch report from Bahrein quotes the international credit rating agency Standard and Poor, in its lowering the country's rating because of "severe domestic political tensions, high geopolitical risks, stagnating real GDP per capita, and the fiscal dependency on sustained high oil prices." Many of these factors are self-inflicted by the ongoing stifling of democratic dissent and the intensification of racial and anti-religious practices. In 2012 and in the aftermath of the democratic movement starting in February 2011, officials increased employment discrimination against Shi'a seeking government jobs, expanding restrictions to include general government departments dealing with information and making it more difficult for them to be hired in education and health. The only explanation is that of punishing Shi'a for expressing their democratic wishes, concludes the report.

In the case of Iraq, the economic and social costs of the prolonged conflict are obviously enormous, but impossible to quantify because the national census has been postponed four times since 2007, under the pretext of security concerns. The survey is required by the article 140 of the Constitution to reach a settlement over the internal dispute areas, but according to the Iraqi Social Watch coalition, powerful political blocs have been delaying indefinitely the census because it will affect state budget allocations and the impact on provincial level quotas as well. This lack of a basic assessment tools leads to lack of transparency, corruption and mistrust among groups that further fuels the conflict.

The alternative plan proposed by civil society organizations requires the Government to design and implement comprehensive and smart policies to reduce poverty, improve the educational system and empower women. The government doesn't seem to be listening but voters did, electing more women to parliament in 2014 than the number stipulated by the legal quota, in a clear show of trust.

The active leadership and participation of women was key to the success of the January 25 Revolution, as Egyptians call the movement that ousted president Hosni Mubarak. It is the fourth Egyptian revolution in the last 130 years, explains the national Social Watch report. “The modern Egyptian national movement has consistently sought three goals: self-government in the basic sense of allowing Egyptians to be in charge of public offices; independence in the international community and effective domestic sovereignty, in particular with regard to the national economy and the ability to secure socio-economic justice in the distribution of national wealth and income.” Democracy is central to the movement, not just as a utopian goal—one whose practical implementation would be indefinitely deferred—but rather as the necessary foundation. The success or failure of Egypt’s transition will have a significant effect on the rest of the Arab world and civil society has a crucial role to play.

Having experienced conflict and political instability in their own country, the Social Watch report of Nepal concludes that “the root causes of the conflict include not only the severity of poverty and inequality but also the sense of entrenchment - that opportunities are limited or non-existent for the poor to climb out of poverty. Therefore, addressing constraints on the inclusiveness of development is critical in order to make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Nepalis and reduce the risks of instability. Systemic changes in the development approach must be undertaken to adequately address the needs and priorities of the excluded and marginalized sections of the society. A stable political structure upon which well-informed policies, institutions and mechanisms can function over time is a major determinant for people’s empowerment and strengthening Nepal’s peace and fragile democracy.”

Development is a complex process of transformations. Corruption and conflicts are obvious obstacles, but they can be understood as a consequence as much of as a cause. The Somalia Social Watch report formulates the difficult question: Why is progress is more or less the same in the stable areas of Somalia, where the situation is less complex and access is smooth, as in the conflict-ridden areas?

In searching for explanation, the Somaliland Millennium Development Report concluded that the direct implementation of programmes, without local coordination, resulted in inappropriate prioritization and increased delivery cost. Not utilizing the existing development expertise and obtainable facts and figures, and not taking into account the priorities of local beneficiaries turned aid into “rain, where no one has a say about when, where, and how much to rain.” In such cases the aid organizations themselves are perceived by the public as clouds that carry such rain.

The dozens of organizations that work in these stable areas conduct needs assessments prior to their interventions, as a practical way to discover the needs of destitute people. However, these assessments are seldom used to refine objectives, develop new strategies or design new interventions that are tailored to the needs of the targeted people. They are very often used for validating ideas of pre-decided objectives of a certain project.

Villages are visited and plenty of needs are discovered, including many dire needs that are not in line with the project in hand. If that project does not address the needs mentioned by the communities, such needs are ignored. Even worse, their needs are not shared with the concerned stakeholders. One rural villager, addressing a team commissioned in 2012 to conduct assessments in that area, stated: “Every month, two or three assessment teams come to our village enquiring about our needs. We tell them the challenges we face. They disappear and do not come back. I wonder what kind of needs these people look for that they are not seeing in our communities.” What the villager does not see is that intervention objectives are selected first and information to justify them is then searched for.

Things are much the same with respect to baseline studies, used to set up indicators to monitor activities and evaluate progress resulting from the intervention. Destitute people looking for any kind of aid exaggerate as the interviewers make clear from the beginning what kind of information the study is looking for it. Sometimes they point to other needs that they have, but they are told that the intervention is confined to only one need, and that the study is merely assessing its severity. The interviewees continue exaggerating, and as the interviewers are only hired for this task, the other needs are not reported back. As a result, organizations that do want to address these needs look in the wrong places, and the suffering continues.

In the process of setting new development goals for the international community, values such as democracy, civility or inclusiveness are extremely difficult to quantify and measure, and yet they are essential for well-being. The Venezuelan Social Watch report highlights that point. Since the turn of the century, income poverty has declined dramatically, falling from 54 percent of households in 1998 to 32 percent in 2011, while extreme poverty fell even faster, from 23 to 9 percent. However, violence and insecurity is on the rise and the rate of homicides more than doubled in that same period. “Public space and social activities are reduced during the evenings and generalized violence affects the enjoyment of rights by the more vulnerable sectors” observes the report. “Night classes are being reduced in secondary education, teachers are reluctant to attend schools in high delinquency areas, hospitals close night-time emergency services and intense therapy units are clogged with assault victims.”

The Social Watch report from Slovenia offers another illustration of civil society trying to make sense of optimistic official statistics that do not reflect the malaise perceived by citizens. Officially there were 936,000 active workers in 2011 and 111,000 registered unemployed. In November 2012 registered unemployed remained more or less the same, but the active workforce shrank to 807,000. As unemployment is one of the main causes of poverty and social exclusion, it is important to explain how within a period of just one year close to 130,000 people (more than the entire registered unemployed workforce) were deleted from the public register of employment seekers. Forty thousand of them may be explained by unpaid housework, but this still leaves up to 90,000 unaccounted for. Ten percent of the entire workforce became invisible!

Environment

Environmental destruction is, along with conflict, a major obstacle and, like conflict, it can originate from internal factors or be imposed from abroad. In the case of Costa Rica, the local Social Watch report takes pineapples as an example of how narrowly defined objectives can be counterproductive. In search of higher economic growth, the government sought foreign investors with tax exemptions for export-oriented pineapple producers. In a few years, this crop resulted in land erosion and agrochemical contamination of rivers and groundwater because of the mishandling of wastewater. It also produced loss of biodiversity and wildlife poisoning by pesticides, air pollution with fungicides, flies and pests due to poor waste management, as well as a high concentration of toxic substances in the hair and urine of pregnant women and children residents of communities near the pineapple plantations. As tax exempted pineapples replaced tax-paying banana production, the finances of local governments were affected and therefore their provision of social services. Finally, as a result of civil society pressure, in 2012 the municipality of Pococí declared a ban on pineapples on grounds of the water contamination.

In Bangladesh the national Social Watch report also finds efforts to reduce poverty undermined by environmental constraints, but in this case the cause is climate change over which local and national authorities have no say. Despite remarkable progress in primary schooling, gender parity in primary and secondary education, decreased extreme poverty, lower infant, child and maternal mortality, improved immunization coverage, and fewer incidence of communicable diseases, the country and the vulnerable people in particular suffer the impact of cyclones and monsoon floods directly related to climate change. The Government has earmarked more than USD 10 billion in investments for 2007-2015 to make Bangladesh less vulnerable to natural disasters. But despite this effort, the direct annual cost of natural disasters over the last 10 years is estimated to be between 0.5 and 1 per cent of GDP. “If Bangladesh is lagging in achieving MDGs due to climate change, who will be the responsible?” asks the report, emphasizing how climate change, “exaggerated by greed, steals from future generations, penalizes the poor and puts diversity at risk.”

In Sri Lanka, the Social Watch report looks for solutions to similar problems: Experiences of farmer organizations and people’s organizations over the last 15- 20 years show that ecological agriculture is a very effective way to overcome hunger and poverty and reduce ill health and ecological destruction caused by conventional chemical farming, which has also become very expensive since all chemical inputs are imported. Government has had to spend huge sums of money to provide chemical fertilizer at subsidized prices-- about USD 100 billion is spent annually on the fertilizer subsidy alone. It has now been found that chemical agriculture leads to severe health problems and death. In Padaviya in the North Central Province around 20,000 people have died of a mysterious kidney disease proved to be caused by arsenic or Cadmium poisoning due to chemical agricultural inputs. In the North Central Province the people affected by this disease is over 100,000.

Sri Lanka still has a very large percentage of small farmers who are concerned primarily with producing their food, growing mainly rice, vegetables, pulses, yams and potatoes. In the late 1990s, the government adopted World Bank policies that would push these people out of their land and agriculture, getting them to migrate into cities to find non-farm employment. This however, has not worked and still large numbers of people live in rural areas.

Young people have waged three armed rebellions that killed around 10,000 people in 1971, about 60,000 in 1988-90 and over several hundred thousand in the northern war that lasted for 30 years Trying to make the country attractive to foreign investment over the last 36 years has failed and only cost the country a tremendous increase in foreign debt.

“It is foolish to expect the very creators of these crises to find solutions” concludes the Sri Lankan Social Watch coalition. “In finding solutions it is necessary to find ways in which the poor and hungry people take over the tasks of overcoming hunger and poverty. Since they do not have capital and since borrowed capital cannot be expected to support a process that does not benefit capital such a strategy will have to depend on capital to a minimum and use the free gifts of nature to the maximum through non-chemical agriculture.”

What about the MDGs?

In his 2013 report to the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon optimistically stated that the Millennium Development Goals “have succeeded in placing people at the centre of the development agenda” and as a result “many countries — including some of the poorest — have aligned their policies and resources with the Goals to make unparalleled gains.”

Yet the reports from the civil society organizations working on the ground are more sceptical, not just about the progress they perceive but also about the usefulness of the framework. The international community is now actively engaged in discussing a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, as decided in 2012 by the Rio Summit, and a new development framework to substitute the MDGs when they “expire” in 2015 (the so-called post-2015 agenda). It is therefore interesting to cite the opinions of the protagonists of the anti-poverty struggle at the grassroots level directly:

In Zambia, for example, “The MDGs are too minimalist and quantitative, ignoring issues related to quality are not dealt with. In education, the good rates of primary school enrolment and completion hide the poor quality of education many children receive. Having good reading, writing and arithmetic skills is an essential part of quality.” And in Bangladesh: “The MDGs are seriously lacking of ownership, participation and partnership, which are the core principles in implementing pro-poor development strategies. The poor are the best experts on their own situation, but the goals and targets have been set with a top down approach. Those suffering from deprivation have not determined the priorities and have had no role in defining the concept of poverty and of what is needed to reduce poverty and suffering in the Bangladeshi context.”

As some of the MDGs are "non-universal" they promoted policies targeting populations located near the poverty line, the “low hanging fruit.” The people who were most distant from the line were often neglected and have seen their living conditions deteriorate. In Armenia, for example, programmes intended to eradicate poverty and achieve equality were sentenced to fail, since the interests of local oligarchs dominated over the national priorities. “We have not won poverty but poverty won us,” people say. Similarly in Benin, the MDGs have neglected sectors essential for the poor, such as agriculture, while three quarters of the poor live in rural areas and urban poverty is partly due to the lack of rural development. The MDGs do not take into account a multidimensional approach to poverty, overlooking the link between poverty eradication and inequality, which requires redistribution policies.

In Cyprus, where the MDGs failed to account for disparities in initial conditions, they also “exhibit an agenda and not a strategy for development. The MDG agenda does not present an overview of the structural causes of poverty and social exclusion. Thus, the emphasis placed on “outcomes” rather than on the actual “processes” that lead to development is perceived by many as the main weakness. And in Finland: “Several problems hindering the achievement of the MDGs are rooted in the structures of the global economic system, which discriminates against developing countries and in other structural biases based on such things as gender or ethnicity. Setting up a new agenda will be futile if these structures of impoverishment are not addressed. Other deficiencies have been a closed and donor-led formulation process, the impossible reduction of broad structural problems into eight goals, the inability to take into account the special needs of fragile states, and the lack of parallel goals for rich countries. Both extreme poverty and extreme levels of wealth hinder more equitable global development; in order to diminish inequality we need to address both poverty and wealth in their structural terms.”

In Paraguay, too: “The MDGs have a reductionist view, leaving aside goals of human life as well as international agreements and commitments such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the various summits and conferences on decent work, population and sustainable development. They focus on results and not on the structural causes; they do not address all the dimensions that make people poor or vulnerable. Nevertheless, on the positive side the Paraguayan coalition sees the MDGs as a “valuable tool for monitoring the few commitments made by the State towards Paraguayan citizenship.”

Protest and propose

Malaysia is one of the countries depicted as on track to achieve most of the MDGs by 2015. But the national Social Watch report concludes that “when the achievements are disaggregated and examined more closely, it is apparent that much more needs to be done.” Moreover, a proposed trade agreement, namely the proposed U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) now poses a risk to all efforts at improving the socio-economic welfare and future of all Malaysians, The proposed TPPA, which Malaysia is negotiating with 10 other countries, as well as the proposed European Union-Malaysia free trade agreement (FTA) pose a larger spectre of corporate-driven liberalization than previously seen or attempted.” These agreements threaten irreversible changes to the fabric of Malaysian public life by putting in place legally-binding mechanisms to tip the balance of policies, laws and regulations in favour of the protection of corporate interests.

The TPPA, in particular, would not only do away with nearly all tariffs among TPPA countries, but would also commit their governments to reforms and protections for foreign investors, such as enhanced safeguards for intellectual property (IP) holders which will impact on agriculture, technology-related industries, health, education, etc., freedom to carry out profit-making operations with minimal restrictions which raise environmental concerns, and limitations on state-owned enterprises, with implications for government-linked companies with socio-economic prerogatives. In addition, the TPPA’s investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism would allow private foreign corporations to sue governments in international arbitration tribunals for any act, policy or law – including those put in place to protect the environment or public health – that the corporations argue have “expropriated,” or threaten to expropriate, their investments, profits and even expected profits.

As the crisis lingers, in many countries a risks is perceived that citizens may become disillusioned with democracies that do not deliver on their promises. In Hungary, the Social Watch report dramatically denounces the development of “a system that has turned against the democratic ideals of the world.” This adds that “political life is characterized by a murderous policy divergence, confrontation and a dangerous ideology-based polarization. The majority of the society is struggling with unjust and unequal relationships without even the hope offered by mutual solidarity.” However, this is not happening without resistance and civil society organizations, progressive groups and individuals have already started to form new coalitions of civic groups, movements, trade unions and opposition parties. The CSOs of the Hungarian Social Forum Network actively participates in these new movements.

In Malaysia, a nascent ‘green movement' steered by grassroots civil society leaders is being empowered by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens who have not been cowed from rallying onto the streets of Malaysia to make their concerns known. The historic scale of the green movement has demonstrated that environmental issues, among other public interest concerns, can no longer be dismissed by invoking ‘Malaysia’s development’ aspirations as trumping over socio-economic, political and civic rights. The government must address them straight on as a systemic problem of lack of transparency, and disregard for people's rights and the environment.

Similarly, in Slovenia, high levels of corruption and the fraudulent behaviour of key figures of the economic and political elite, combined with a falling quality of life for the majority have led to mounting discontent. Resentment and outrage first exploded in Maribor, where a combination of national and local factors contributed to massive protests against the mayor and members of the town council. The Facebook group “Franc Kangler should resign as Mayor of Maribor” got more than 40,000 supporters (in a town that has a population of 95,000) and mobilized the first massive protests.

Inspired by the sheer force and scale of protests, other towns quickly followed suit. The banners of protestors and group statements carry divergent, yet clear messages. The revolt is both local (after the first uprising in Maribor, revolts took place in 27 other towns) and national, systemic and personal (against mayors and the current government). A minor yet important component was also the international dimension with some demands for withdrawal from NATO and protests against the EU.

While the revolt against political figures, joined under the common slogan “Gotof je!” (You are finished!) was predominant, protestors also called for systemic change – such as the end of party politics, corruption, theft of common goods, casino capitalism and exploitation of workers. The response from the political elite was not surprising. The ruling party called the protestors zombies from the socialist regime, mercenaries of the opposition and marionettes of “godfathers in the background.” A common criticism from government and often repeated in the subservient mass media was that the protests have no clear message and offer no solutions. While the demonstrations themselves were more contra than pro anything in particular the parallel insurgence of people’s initiatives and civic movements has introduced a plethora of highly constructive proposals spanning the full spectrum of necessary shifts in orientation. The message of the uprisings was clear – the revolt is much more than just a protest against the current government and mayors, it is a revolt against the entire establishment.

In a study titled "World Protests 2006-2013," economic policy analysts Isabel Ortiz and Sara Burke examined strikes, demonstrations, rallies, riots, road blockages, occupations and other protest actions in almost 90 countries worldwide. Those in 2010 were double the number in 2006 and doubled again in the first half of 2013, including 15 with over 1 million people participating. Between 2006 and 2013, there were 70 events with global demands, but nine out of ten were directed at national governments. These occurred worldwide, but were more numerous in the high-income countries as a result of the financial and economic crisis and its aftermath, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Arab world the greatest number of recorded protests took place before the Arab uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The majority of the violent riots happened in low-income countries, almost half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, mainly as a result of sudden increases in food and energy prices. The largest demonstrations happened in Egypt, where 17 million people took the streets against President Mohamed Morsi before his overthrow by the military, and in India, with a 100 million demonstrators against poverty and inequality. In some cases, demands grew, as was the case in Brazil, where huge marches against the price of public transport turned into protests against corruption.

The authors cataloged 843 protests in four categories. In over half the total (488), protests were motivated by issues of economic justice, against austerity measures, unemployment, poverty, taxes and inequality. Over 40 percent (376) were directed against the political system, protesting corruption, demanding democracy, justice and transparency. Global justice was the generic theme of 311 protests, directed specifically against the IMF and other international financial institutions, trade agreements or to protect the environment. Finally, 302 events aimed at gaining or defending rights, including ethnic/indigenous/racial rights; right to the Commons (digital, land, cultural, atmospheric); labor rights; women’s rights; right to freedom of assembly/speech/press; religious issues; rights of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered people (LGBT); immigrants’ rights; and prisoners’ rights.

The authors identify two "jumps" in the growing number of protests over five years. The first, in 2007, relates to the increase in fuel and food prices resulting from the global financial crisis and the second, in 2010, coincides with the expansion of the austerity measures worldwide. In 2013, at least 119 countries were experiencing cuts in government spending as a result of increased public debt (in many cases after rescuing failed banks) and lower economic growth. Globally, only two in five people of working age were employed and 900 million workers fail to escape poverty due to low wages. Austerity measures implemented in 2010 and 2013 include tax increases (mainly in socially unjust direct taxes like VAT), elimination of subsidies, reduction of wages of civil servants, labour flexibilization or reforms of the pension system.

"Protests that appear random are linked by a set of policies adopted by Ministries of Finance and generally advised by IMF surveillance missions," conclude the authors. In contrast, the second group of events is more subtly linked: "The occupation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid (calling for "¡Democracia Real YA!"), Syntagma Square in Athens ("Demokratia!") and Zuccotti Park in New York ("Democracy Now!") spread because the grievances in one place—frustration with politics as usual and a lack of trust in the usual political actors, left and right, coupled with a willingness even on the part of the middle classes to embrace direct actions—resonated in the other places. Frustration with politics as usual and politicians, coupled with a willingness even on the part of the middle classes to embrace direct actions, led thousands of people to occupy public spaces in large assemblies that became experiences of democracy and a new form of protest, based on principles of autonomy and solidarity."

Almost four in ten protests achieved some satisfaction of their demands. The "contagion" of examples and the non-satisfaction of the craving for real democracy and economic justice is likely to feed further movements.

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Core Principles, Universal Goals

Publication_year: 
2014

The debates on a post-2015 development agenda offer the opportunity to (re)address well-being and justice in societies in a holistic way. Given the economic, social and ecological challenges in the world, this is urgently needed.

The present framework centering on the MDGs and the related strategies does not provide adequate answers to the global problems, be they accelerated global warming, the growing gap between rich and poor, the financialization of the world economy or disrespect for human rights.

Reflection Group

The Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives is an alliance of civil society groups, networks and foundations, including Third World Network, DAWN, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Global Policy Forum, terre des hommes, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Social Watch.

The Group aims to assess conventional and alternative models of development and well-being, reconsider development goals and indicators, draw conclusions for future development strategies and provide specific policy recommendations to support a holistic, right-based approach of global development and well-being. The six Universal Sustainability Goals described here have been proposed by the Group, based on its analysis of the core common principles and values already approved by the international community.

The discussions about any Post-2015 Agenda must address the structural obstacles and political barriers that prevented the realization of the MDGs. Without an honest assessment of these obstacles and barriers any so called “new” development goals will remain a paper tiger.

The Post-2015 Agenda needs to be based on shared principles and values. The following eight principles can serve as a normative basis for a future development agenda:

1. Solidarity principle. Solidarity is a widely accepted principle to govern the relationship of citizens within a country. Central to this concept is the equality of persons and their shared responsibility for a common good. In the notion of solidarity, assistance is not an act of charity, but a right of every woman, man and child.

2. Do-no-harm Principle. Originally a key principle of medical ethics, this principle has been included in humanitarian principles of UNICEF since 2003, and it has been adopted by major humanitarian organizations in their codes of conduct. In essence, the commitment to implement policies in a way that they do no harm to people or nature should be regarded as a guiding principle in all policy areas and at all levels.

3. Principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. By acknowledging the responsibility developed countries bear in view of the pressures they place on the global environment, this principle goes beyond the principle of ‘special and differential treatment’ based on economic capabilities and needs. It applies at regional, subnational and even communal levels: those who can bear more burdens have to contribute more to the well-being of their communities – either through progressive taxation or practical action.

4. ‘Polluter pays’ principle. While this principle is widely acknowledged in international environmental law, it should be applied in other areas as well. In the context of the recent financial crisis, many –including European Commissioner Michel Barnier--asked for the ‘polluters’ – that is, the banks and the financial industry – to bear the costs.

5. Precautionary principle. In the absence of a scientific consensus on the impacts an action or policy has on people or nature, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on its proponents. policy. This principle is also laid down in the Rio Declaration, which says: “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing costeffective measures to prevent environmental degradation,” and is part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

6. Subsidiarity principle. Political decisions must always be taken at the lowest possible administrative and political level, and hence as close to the citizens concerned as possible. It recognizes the inherent democratic right to self-determination for people, communities and nations, but only as long as its exercise does not infringe on similar rights of others. Therefore, it must not be misused as an argument against central governmental action at national or international levels, but must always be applied in combination with the other principles, in particular the solidarity principle.

7. Principle of free, prior and informed consent. According to this principle, communities have the right to give or withhold their consent to proposed projects and actions by governments or corporations that may affect their livelihood and the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use.

8. Principle of peaceful dispute settlement. This is a core element of the UN Charter, which says in Article 2: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” Deriving from the most basic human right to a dignified life, this principle also applies to the relationships between states and people as well as among people themselves.

In the Millennium Declaration, governments committed themselves to the following values:

  • Freedom. Men, women and children have the right to live their lives in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice. Democratic and participatory governance based on the will of the people best assures these rights. But there are also limits to freedom – namely where the freedom of our peers is touched.
  • Equality. No individual and no nation or group must be denied the opportunity to participate in and to benefit from development. Equal rights and opportunities of women and men must be assured. Equality also includes the concept of intergenerational justice – that is, the recognition that the present generation shall only meet its needs in a way that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Diversity. Human beings must respect one another, in all their diversity of belief, culture, language, looks, sexual orientation and gender. Differences within and between societies should be neither feared nor repressed, but cherished as a precious asset of humanity. A culture of peace and dialogue in mutual learning should be actively promoted.
  • Respect for nature. Respect must be shown in the conduct towards all living species. This also applies to the use of natural resources and the ecosystems as a whole. But respect for nature means much more than sound management of the human environment: it means that all living species have intrinsic rights. They should not be regarded as objects but as subjects whose value goes beyond use and exchange.

Governments have generally given their approval to these principles and values. However, they need to be translated into legally enshrined rights and duties. Here, the universal system of human rights plays a key role, providing key principles such as progressive realization of human rights, maximum available resources, nonretrogression and extraterritorial obligations.

A rights-based social contract also requires the Rule of Law being more than the law by rulers or rule by law. In the 2012 Declaration on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels , member States reaffirmed their “commitment to the rule of law and its fundamental importance for political dialogue and cooperation among all States and for the further development of the three main pillars upon which the United Nations is built: international peace and security, human rights and development.”

Despite the commitment to achieve the international development goals, trade, investment and monetary rules and policies have too often exacerbated poverty and inequalities. The obsession with growth, backed up by the dominant economic regime, provides the drive to exploit nature, rely on fossil fuels and deplete biodiversity, undermining the provision of essential services.

Countries compete in a race to the bottom, offering lower taxes and cheaper labor so as to attract investments. Tax havens allow for tax evasion; global, bilateral and regional investment and trade agreements have undermined social, environmental and human rights standards and have reduced the policy space of governments. These policies have strengthened the power of investors and big corporations through deregulation, trade and financial liberalization, tax cuts and exemptions, and they have weakened the role of the state and its ability to promote human rights and sustainability.

No other sector in society has gained more rights globally and locally than ‘big business,’ be it national or transnational. The Post-2015 Agenda should lead to structural transformations instead of being led by players whose advice has taken us down paths that are unsustainable.

The realization of Universal Sustainability Goals requires more than money. It is the regulatory and institutional framework at national and international levels that counts. For example, it may accelerate or prevent processes of impoverishment, influence consumption and production patterns and promote or stifle democratization processes.

An Integrated System of Universal Sustainability Goals

The formulation of Universal Sustainability Goals should set out from a critical stocktaking of the strengths and weaknesses of the MDGs, and address the problems mentioned above. This ensures that the Universal Sustainability Goals capture an holistic development approach and reflect the scope of the Millennium Declaration; are valid for all countries of the world, not only the “developing countries”; consider regional, national and subnational differences; do not fall short of codified human rights, including the economic, social and cultural rights; address the planetary boundaries; define desired results, necessary (financial) resources, comprehensive technology assessment systems, and formulas for burden sharing and user rights. They should be based on meaningful indicators of socioeconomic disparities using alternative ways to measure well-being and societal progress beyond GDP.

An integrated system of Universal Sustainability Goals could comprise six dimensions, which overlap and are partly interdependent:

1. Dignity and human rights for all
2. Equity, equality and justice
3. Respect for nature and the planetary boundaries
4. Peace through disarmament, demilitarization and nonviolent dispute settlement
5. Fair economic and financial systems
6. Democratic and participatory decision-making structures

Absolute goals and boundaries

The internationally codified rights and obligations and the ecological boundaries are by their very essence absolute goals, universally valid and not time-bound. They apply to all people, not only to a section of the world population. Their achievement is premised on tackling and overcoming structural barriers. Thus the right to food implies that everyone in the world should have enough to eat and it is not acceptable to just reduce the proportion of people suffering from hunger by a certain year or ignore the impacts of the financial sector on food prices.

Differentiated targets

In the path towards reaching global absolute goals, differentiated targets should be defined in democratic decision-making processes at regional, national and local levels. Specific groups facing intersecting inequalities based on gender, age, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, abilities, and so on should be prioritized. In this manner, the different socioeconomic contexts and the specific social situation of a country are to be taken into account. Such targets should also be defined similarly for the global level with regard to global commons.

These differentiated targets should respect the human rights principles of progressive realization and non-regression. This means that instead of fixing a date when the goals have to be achieved, the variables are the degree and speed of progress in achieving the absolute goals. Rather than defining new “2015 Goals” that would subsequently be referred to as “2030 Goals” or “2050 Goals,” governments commit themselves to continuous progress defined for a shorter period of, say, five years. This can take place within the framework of a “pledge and review procedure” in which the individual states commit themselves to achieve specified targets at national level within a period of five years and subsequently have them independently monitored and assessed.

Any UN review process should address not only national performance but also global obstacles, for example, those posed by the intellectual property right regime in achieving the goal of universal access to medicines.

Meaningful indicators

Experience with the MDGs has illustrated how important are the choice of meaningful indicators and the limiting or threshold values. For example, the “one dollar a day” threshold does not accurately measure a country’s true state of poverty. This also applies to the exclusive use of national average values. The selection of suitable indicators will be crucial and should be chosen with a view to their universal applicability.

Indicators and public access to the data are influential in shaping policy priorities, budget allocation and holding authorities accountable; data collection and dissemination are per se an expression of political commitment to transformation.

Indicators of distribution and inequality should be designed to run like a thread through the system of goals. The Gini Coefficient and the Gender Equity Index developed by Social Watch could be possible indicators for the second goal dimension (promoting equity and justice). In addition, the indicators ought to be disaggregated according to income or wealth and gender. What is the quality of water supply for the poorest tenth of the population in comparison to the richest tenth? What differences are there between the “ecological footprint” or CO2 emissions of the poorest and the richest income groups? Violations of women’s rights could be identified more easily, too. What differences are there between men and women in terms of eligibility for social security systems in a country? How is landed property distributed among men and women? How do men and women differ in terms of participation in political decision-making processes?

In using the Universal Sustainability Goals as communication and mobilization tools, it might be useful to identify aggregated coefficients or indices for the six goal dimensions. Examples to explore are the Gross National Happiness Index and the Gender Equity Index, as well as the Ecological Footprint.

Universal Periodic Review on Sustainability

An integrated system of Universal Sustainability Goals is not limited to targets and indicators. Its political effectiveness also includes mechanisms for the monitoring of progress or regression in achieving the goals. Here, the monitoring mechanism that already exists in the form of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the human rights field could serve as a model. An extended UPR on Sustainability, complementary to the existing one, could be adopted that encompasses all dimensions of the Universal Sustainability Goals.

Its modus operandi could follow the IBSA (Indicators, Benchmarks, Scoping and Assessment) mechanism, which comprises four steps to check whether a country is fulfilling its obligation to comply with the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights: 1) the indicators for the assessment of progress are defined; 2) the country defines benchmarks that are to be achieved within the prescribed period; a review at UN level of whether reasonable objectives have been set; and 4) an assessment of the achievement of the goals. Then the cycle starts again.

The assessment procedure will be based on information provided by governments as well as civil society and other independent sources. A review of this kind offers a “coherence check” covering a country’s entire policies and would put to the test its compliance with universal sustainability principles and human rights as well as the extraterritorial obligations of the international community. The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development could be the appropriate body to implement the UPR and make this a meaningful body.

On the Way to the 2015 Summit

The proposed framework of Universal Sustainability Goals as part of a Post-2015 Agenda is comprehensive. Some have warned of a danger of overloading the Post-2015 Agenda and are calling for a limited focus on poverty eradication and social development in the countries of the South – and hence de facto for a continuation of the present MDG approach.

However, a reductionist approach of this kind would mean engaging in business as usual and holding out in the same patterns of dealing with problems sector by sector, which has so far prevented solutions to the global problems. This would be the wrong course to pursue and would not do justice to the “multiple crisis” with its interdependences. If the aim is a holistic development agenda, which is what both the UN and governments as well as civil society organizations have emphasized again and again, then this has to be reflected in the discussion and negotiation processes taking place up to 2015.

Note:

Core Principles, Universal Goals, is excerpted from a Civil Society reflection group paper entitled “Towards a Framework of Universal Sustainability Goals as Part of a Post-2015 Agenda,” 19 March, 2013, available at http://www.reflectiongroup.org/stuff/DraftTowardsaFrameworkofUSGs.pdf

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Means of Implementation

Publication_year: 
2014

There is almost no dispute that the worst performance of all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was registered on MDG 8, the Global Partnership for Development. The current deliberations to shape the post-2015 development agenda offers a high level political opportunity to correct that imbalance.

For that, it is important to avoid treading the same path as the MDG approach. The initial blueprint for the MDGs entirely neglected mention of the means of implementation necessary in the form of international support. Since it was clear that developing countries would never get on board with an agenda that would harshly judge their progress in improving certain quantifiable indicators without correlative commitments of support to help achieve them, one more goal was added, and this was Goal 8 on the Global Partnership. Accepting this approach condoned the methodological nonsense of putting means of implementation as a category equivalent to the goals they should serve. It condemned cooperation for development to the constraints of a format that required simplified, succinct, one-size-fits-all statements that could never capture the breadth, complexity and diversity of the support needed for development to work.

For a new set of goals to be credible and acted upon, therefore, they need a comprehensive and detailed set of goals that are systemic as well as specific, that address not only the global system but also the specific requirements of developing countries. Any discussion about sustainable development goals has to also talk about implementation; indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that the goals will stand or fall depending on this agreement on means of implementation.

The very notion of ‘means of implementation’ means that the mix of financial resources, technological development and transfers as well as capacity building and adequate global rules (the “enabling environment”) must be supported by actions from developed countries at the international level: such as time-bound financing targets; associated trade and economic policies; technology transfer and other resources to assist and enable developing countries efforts.

A commonly held position among many countries as well as much of civil society that the Monterrey and Doha conferences on financing for development are a strong foundation for the development financing strategy. As currently outlined, however, the Means of Implementation are defined in terms of operational issues like finance, trade and technology, while the Global Partnership for Development, as outlined in Goal 8 of the MDGs, is defined primarily as a process of engaging stakeholders and of reporting progress.

This dichotomy goes against the globally accepted and practiced concept and operation of the Global Partnership for Development which includes specific goals and targets dealing ODA, trade, debt, access to medicines, technology, and so on. The UN produces an annual detailed report known as the Global Partnership for Development, or GAP report, in which the gaps in implementation of these goals are described.

The meaning of Global Partnership for Development should not be distorted into the notion of Partnerships in the plural, which overwhelmingly refers to engaging with the private sector or civil society. Rather, the Global Partnership for Development is one that is principally between governments of developed and developing countries, with the developed countries taking the lead in providing resources and the means of implementation.

Thus “what is needed is a strengthened and enhanced Global Partnership for Development, firmly based on international cooperation on a broad range of key development issues, and primarily on a North/South basis” argues Third World Network (TWN), an influential alliance of Southern-based organizations and researchers. TWN has spelled out in detail what a renewed Global Partnership should include:

What targets would really promote development?

 Developed countries have proposed as a global partnership target to “promote open, rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading and financial systems.” This merging together of the trade and financial system is entirely inappropriate, because while an open and equitable multilateral trade system should be promoted, an open financial system is an entirely different matter and should not be promoted.

An open financial system is defined as a liberalized system of financial flows that allow funds, including speculative funds, to move in and out of countries. This has triggered many financial crises over the decades, and has led to significant outflows of illicit financial flows from developing countries, particularly through corporate tax evasion and avoidance, the use of offshore tax havens and transfer mispricing by transnational corporations.

The existing heading of “Finance and Debt Sustainability” should include instead the following targets:

  • Regulate capital flows to prevent or minimize destabilizing and volatile cross-border flows of short-term capital, including by encouraging reserve-issuing countries to impose controls over destabilizing capital outflows to developing countries;
  • Reform the exchange rate and international reserve system with a view to reducing systemic instability, improving the international governance of finance and supporting development;
  • Promote a stable, rules-based, equitable and international financial system, with equitable decision-making power, particularly within international financial institutions, and inclusive participation for all countries, developed and developing, that supports development and the real productive economy;
  • Control and regulate speculation in the commodities markets, including through ensuring favourable terms for commodity-dependent developing countries in contracts with transnational corporations to enable them to add more value to commodities and obtain more revenues from commodity-related activities; and,
  • Regulate systemically important financial institutions and markets, including international banks and rating agencies and markets for commodity derivatives with a view to reducing international financial instability and instability of commodity prices.

With regard to debt, the target should be amended to include “ensure debt sustainability, debt restructuring and debt relief, and this should take into account the country’s need to successfully implement the agreed SDGs.”

The targets on “trade ” should include:

  • Review multilateral rules and agreements as well as trade and investment bilateral agreements with a view to improving the policy space in developing countries in pursuit of national objectives;
  • Discourage the proliferation of bilateral Free Trade Agreements that encroach on policy space of developing countries and divert trade from the multilateral arena;
  • Reaffirm that agriculture is the sector where trade is most distorting, expressing concern that domestic supports in developed countries are maintained at very high levels (OECD data that this has now crossed the USD 400 billion level), and issue a call for the elimination or reduction of such domestic support in developed countries;
  • Reaffirm the prime importance of food security in developing countries and that trade rules and negotiations have to recognize and respect this priority, as well as to promote the livelihoods and incomes of small farmers in developing countries;
  • Eliminate exports subsidies for agricultural products and restrictions over transfer of technology in advanced economies; and
  • Refrain from promulgating and applying unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Human Rights Charter that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries (as stated in the Rio+20 outcome document, para. 26).

Under “Technology transfer, technological capabilities,” explicit mentions should be made to ensuring affordable access to technology for developing countries. Rio+20 (para. 73) emphasized the importance of technology transfer to developing countries, as well as access to information and intellectual property rights.

A technology section of a new development agenda should include key substantive targets:

  • Implement measures to promote, facilitate and finance access to and the development, transfer and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies and corresponding know-how to developing countries, on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed, (Rio+20 outcome document, paragraph 73);
  • Continue and better focus implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building, adopted by the United Nations Environment Programme, (Rio+20 outcome document, para. 278);
  • Encourage and support developing countries to make use of Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities, and countries taking part in negotiations for free trade agreements and discourage other agreements from proposing TRIPS-plus provisions that limit access to medicines and knowledge and other technologies; and,
  • Reform the international intellectual property regime with a view to facilitating technological catch-up and improving health and education standards and food security in developing countries.

Multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships are being actively pushed within the UN as an implementation mechanism for the development agenda and cooperation in general.

However, such partnerships with the private sector raise serious issues about the UN, especially if they take place outside the purview of intergovernmental oversight, without regular and effective participation by Member States, be it under the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council.

If private participation is to be a new form of development cooperation, it must not substitute for or dominate over public financing. Transparency and accountability must be ensured ex-ante for all actions and initiatives, be they publicly or privately funded, and conflict of interest must be guarded against, particularly with regard to the UN Charter.

Note:

Means of implementation, is an updated version of the statement by TWN on behalf of the Women’s Major Group and other Major Groups on 30 April 2014; available at http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/8678muchhala.pdf

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Eradicating poverty by lowering the bar

Publication_year: 
2014

World Bank statistics, using a definition of poverty based only on income and with a very low extreme poverty line (currently estimated at USD 1.25/day) substantiates the claim that the first Millennium Development Goal was already achieved in 2010, primarily due to poverty reduction in China. Yet, while extreme poverty so defined is the key aspect in all assessments of the MDGs, 75 of the 161 countries categorized as “developing” lack available data to assess progress on this indicator. If the approach was successful, goes the implicit logic, it makes sense to continue it beyond 2015, the year in which the MDGs are meant to be reached, with a small set of goals centered around poverty eradication and a target of “zero poverty in a generation,” that is, by 2030. This is precisely what the World Bank has already decided it would do.

In fact, several studies show that the speed of progress towards several key indicators, such as reducing infant mortality or reaching gender parity on primary school enrollment, has slowed down since 2000, rather than being boosted by the political commitment expressed in the MDGs. Total world exports multiplied almost five times over the last 20 years, growing from a total value of USD 781 billion in 1990 to USD 3.7 trillion in 2010. Over the same period, the average income of the world’s average inhabitant more than doubled, from USD 4,080 per year in 1990 to USD 9,120 in 2010. Yet the growth in trade and wealth is not reflected in similar progress along social indicators. The Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) computed by Social Watch, which averages infant mortality rates, the number of births attended by trained personnel and enrollment rates in primary school, all key components of the MDGs, moved up only 7 percentage points between 1990 and 2010, which is very little progress. And over this period, progress was faster in the first decade than the second – increasing over four percentage points between 1990 and 2000 and of barely three percentage points between 2000 and 2010. This trend is the opposite of that for trade and income, both of which grew faster after 2000 than in the previous decade. Moreover, slowing progress on social indicators will only get worse as the impact of the global financial, economic food and energy crisis is gradually being registered in internationally comparable statistics.

The obvious explanation of this mismatch between a growing economy and slow social progress is increased inequalities, both between and within countries.

The distinction between “absolute poverty” in low-income developing countries and that of “relative poverty” in advanced economies was formulated in 1973 by Robert McNamara, then president of the World Bank, and the absolute poverty line was set at 30 cents of the US dollar per day. Adjusted for inflation, 30 cents in 1973 amounts to USD 1.60 in today’s dollars. Yet the current line, is now USD 1.25, hardly enough for “the elimination of malnutrition and illiteracy, the reduction of infant mortality, and the raising of life-expectancy standards to those of the developed nations” as envisioned in 1973. It might merely keep a person from starving, which is the new definition of “extreme poverty.”

According to the World Bank’s own projections, it is likely that the proportion of people under the USD 1.25 line will be less than 10% by 2030 if current growth rates are maintained and inequality does not worsen. The message to the governments of the world is, therefore, that nothing needs to change to win this war. So why are we not celebrating? People around the world do not rejoice because the poverty they experience and perceive is not the same at that measured by the Bank, one that remains fixed even as people rise above it.

The founder of modern economics, Adam Smith, wrote in the 18th century that “by necessaries I understand, not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without...” At a time when technological change occurs faster than it did 80 years ago, it makes little sense not to allow the poverty line to increase with actual wealth, but to freeze it at the levels established in 1973, adjusted below the inflation rate.

If the poverty line moved according to income, and if we assume that the very low USD 1/day line was correct in 1990 (the baseline date for MDG1), this line should currently be located far above USD 2/day, as the world per capita income has more than doubled between 1990 and 2010. Which means that a much larger proportion of the world's population than what the World Bank estimates lives below “essential decency.” Yet to substantially improve their lives would still be an achievable goal, since average global income now equals about USD 30 per day per person.

Does it make any sense to raise the bar of development objectives when the major advanced economies are in recession or growing very slowly? Won't the public in those countries reject the notion of spending more abroad when austerity is cutting down social expenditures at home? For a global agenda to obtain the public’s support, which is at the root of political commitment, both the poverty extremes and the inequalities that account for mass mobilizations from the “indignados” of Europe to the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement in the US, need to be addressed.

Will the global community today be able to agree on such an ambitious agenda? If the non-starvation level as defined by the “extreme poverty” line is inadequate, how can “essential decency” be defined internationally? As early as in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights combined both the aspiration of freedom from fear and freedom of want. With the exception of sustainability, which can be constructed as the rights of future generations, all other goals are already spelled out in the Human Rights instruments. This includes all civil and political rights, equality between women and men, rights of the child as well as the right to food, water, housing, health care, education, the right to work and rights at work, and the right to social security. Each state is responsible to progressively achieving those rights “to the maximum of available resources.” For a rights-based approach the question is not what the goal is, because the goals are already spelled out as rights, but when will they be progressively realized (and governments should ensure that there is no regression, even in times of economic crisis).

The road ahead: Monitoring and accountability

In a letter to the negotiators preparing for the Rio+20 Summit on sustainable development, two dozen special rapporteurs of the UN Council, the globally most trusted independent experts on Human Rights, expressed that “commitments will remain empty promises without effective monitoring and accountability.”

Such accountability should be both international and domestic. Moreover, monitoring should be carried out through the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council or a similar ad hoc mechanism. Nationally, independent monitoring bodies should be created or strengthened “that enable civil society participation not only in defining the indicators to measure progress, but also in providing information to evaluate implementation.”

In a highly unequal world, “mutual accountability” as defined in the aid agenda is not an appropriate mechanism. Monitoring developing countries’ performance should not be handed to donors or carried out within a donor-recipient framework. It should be the role of the carefully balanced human rights mechanisms. Unless a set of rigorous monitoring and accountability mechanisms are integrated into the new framework, we are likely to witness an ineffectual development agenda that fails to deliver.

Note:

Eradicating poverty, is excerpted from the Development Dialogue paper no. 1, by Roberto Bissio published by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation of Uppsala, Sweden in September 2013 and available at http://www.dhf.uu.se/publications/development-dialogue/putting-the-devel...

 


Serbia: A fast way to reduce poverty

According to the 2009 National Report on the Realization of MDGs, the poverty rate in 2007 was halved in Serbia in comparison to 2002 (14% vs. 6.6%) and the extreme poverty rate was close to zero. That would have been an overachievement in terms of the MDGs. Yet, the latest data have shown that this positive trend was only a result of the methodology used for measuring poverty. The 2012 Report, based on EU standards, shows that in 2010, 9.2 percent of the population lived below the absolute poverty line, up from 8.8 percent in 2006, while the Gini coefficient of inequalities rose from 32.9 to 33.0. The unemployment rate in Serbia is among the highest in Europe.

 

MEXICO: A human rights perspective is needed

The UNDP places Mexico among countries with the highest level of development, but ECLAC statistics on poverty and homelessness show that while Mexico was below the Latin American average on rural and urban poverty in 2000, this figure rose to 36 percent in 2010, way above the regional average of 29 percent. This means that of Mexico’s 112 million inhabitants in 2010, over 40 million were poor.

This figure is conservative when compared to the numbers provided by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval), which uses eight factors to measure poverty: income, education, access to health services, access to social security, quality of housing, basic services at home, access to food and social integration.
Coneval defines poverty as affecting the population whose income is less than the requirement of a well-being line (monetary value of a basket of food and essential goods and services) and lacking in at least one of six social deprivation areas. Extreme poverty is defined as affecting those that suffer deprivation in three or more of those areas and whose income is below the monetary value of the food basket. Thus, Coneval estimated that in 2010, about half of the Mexican population lived in poverty (i.e., 52 million people) and just over a tenth lived in extreme poverty (some 13 million people). Of the remaining population, nearly three in ten (32 million people) were considered vulnerable, as they had at least one social deprivation, even when their income was above the welfare line. Only a fifth of the population was not considered poor or vulnerable.

According to the Mexican Social Watch report, “to achieve significant and sustainable change in the lives of people and communities, and not only reduce gaps in statistics, it is essential to rethink current paradigms of social and economic development from the perspective of human rights.”

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Gender Roundtable: What are the key gender justice issues today?

Publication_year: 
2014

Kate McInturff (Research Associate, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Ottawa): There has been a lot of talk about ‘big data’ and how wonderful it is and I think it’s actually quite concerning that we’ve seen not only the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, on the SG’s High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Agenda, but now this new panel of private sector CEOs who will serve as a leadership advisory group for UN Women. Perhaps I’m being too cynical but I think the interests these corporations have in big data is not only to know more about gender inequality and address it, but in selling more soap and the like to more women.

The key with big data is to make sure that the data is open and transparent, and that it’s also being returned back to the people’s lives that are being described in the data. I’ve heard representatives of the high level panel talk about how they’re going to collect data on the poorest, most vulnerable, most marginalized people but there’s no talk about how we return the data to those people. I think that would be a note of caution going forward.


UN Women Announces Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council

The invitation-only Council is comprised of chief executives whose companies “demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting women and girls,” according to the UN Women press release. It will offer advice in three areas: accelerating women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and increasing funding for UN Women.
 
1. Mr. Jean-Paul Agon: Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, L’Oréal
2. Mr. Dominic Barton: Chief Executive Officer, McKinsey & Company
3. Mr. Lloyd C. Blankfein: Chairman & CEO, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
4. Ms. Maureen Chiquet: Global Chief Executive Officer, Chanel
5. Mr. Mark Cutifani: Chief Executive Officer, Anglo American plc
6. Mr. Rick Goings: Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Tupperware Brands Corporation
7. Mr. Christopher Graves: Global Chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy Public Relations
8. Ms. Sally Kennedy: Chief Executive Officer, Publicis Dallas
9. Mr. Muhtar Kent: Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
10. Mr. Paul Polman: Chief Executive Officer, Unilever 

 

 

Barbara Adams (Senior Policy Advisor, Global Policy Forum, New York): I think we have some crucial issues in terms of inequalities. We’ve been talking about gender inequalities from a gender justice point of view for a long time. This is now more and more on the agenda, but it tends to be there without specificity and it tends to be emphasized only from an income angle. We need to keep looking at how we measure inequalities, income and non-income, very specifically. What I think is at stake at the moment is the future of the approach to development and what is happening is that it is becoming more and more voluntary, more and more private, very short-term interventions where we can get immediate results. It is totally undermining the rights agenda. Even though we keep on saying rights, when you actually look at the practice, we’re increasingly just signing up for what you can do.

It is the same when it comes to inequalities among nations. In the UN debate on the Sustainable Development Goals, developed countries insisted that a stand-alone goal to ‘reduce inequality within and among countries’ proposed by developing countries to address such inequalities be merged into the goal on poverty, to read: “End poverty and reduce inequality in all their dimensions everywhere.” Despite the word 'everywhere' developed countries prefer to address inequalities within a goal on extreme poverty that does not commit them to reduce inequalities at home or help bridge the gap among nations.

Gigi Francisco (General Coordinator, Development Alternatives with Women for the New Era (DAWN), Manila: There is a tendency by states now to use ‘women’s rights’ versus ‘women’s human rights.’ And this totally negates the bodily rights and the sexual rights of women. ‘Women’s rights’ could mean anything under the sun. I also think it’s quite dangerous how governments play women’s rights vs women’s human rights in actual negotiations. This brings back everything that we had fought for in terms of the expansion of women’s human rights--particularly in the area of bodily rights. There is also backtracking in the area of discrimination against women and on the basis of sexual orientation and diverse gender identities. The concept of discrimination is now limited to women in terms of equality with men. And once again this is a very dangerous retrogression of not just women’s human rights but people’s human rights.

We also need to study the political economy of conflict--not just inter-state conflict, but also the increasing conflicts over natural resources, over energy resources as well as the impact on climate change and disasters. So, a big area for us at this point is looking at how the political economy of conflict affects women from all sides.

Zahra Bazzi (Programme Manager, Arab NGO Network for Development, Beirut): It is important to include women’s rights and gender inequality specifically in the Post 2015 process to boost all aspects of women’s rights. In the Arab region, women have always been at the heart of the civil society movement and have played key and active roles in the recent revolutions and uprisings. Arab countries signed and ratified all the international agreements on women’s rights, including CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action—albeit with important reservations which we are trying to get lifted. Yet discrimination is ongoing.

Hanaa Edward (General Secretary, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, Baghdad): Discrimination within the constitution and laws-- this is really what we are fighting against, especially in Arab states, where we are trying to review our constitutions and also to revolutionize personal status laws and the penal codes. These are really essential in the region, not only in Iraq. Recently, we have been fighting against the draft bill on Personal Status, which gives the legal right for a girl under nine years old to be married.

The breakdown in the rule of law is key at this time. We are seeing impunity for human rights violations, denials of access to justice, corruption and weak institutions of the state. The breakdown of peace and security leads to the increase of physical and sexual violence. This is now quite systemic, going beyond violence against individuals, already quite awful, to be part of deliberate efforts to dehumanize whole populations, and is a major priority for us.

The increasing power of tribes during unstable or transitional periods is also a priority. The tribes justify discrimination, polygamy and early and forced marriage by customs, traditions and religion. And even in Iraq we can speak about FGM in the Kurdistan region where about 72 percent of females are subject to this.

 

From the Social Watch national reports....

Afghanistan
UN estimates put school attendance in Afghanistan at about 6 million children, of which only one third are girls. Half of the school children attend classes in tents. Girls walking to or from school risk being assaulted with acid. Teachers have been killed and parents who allow girls to attend school have been attacked. Eighty-seven percent of Afghan women are illiterate.

Canada
Employment rates for working age Aboriginal men are 15 percent lower than for their non-Aboriginal counterparts in Canada. Aboriginal women’s employment rates are 5 percent lower yet. For every dollar earned by white Canadians, racialized Canadian workers earned only 81 cents. For every dollar earned by men in Canada, women earn 77 cents (working full-time).

Ghana
Despite free health care for pregnant women, maternal mortality ratios are still high in Ghana. According to the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs only one fourth of women in the lowest income quintile attend a health facility during childbirth. In rural areas, poor women, who tend to have large families (4-6 children) cannot access the free health services.

Iraq
Although they are illegal under 15 years of age and between 15 and 18 years require special authorization from a judge, early marriages are still frequent in Iraq. Many girls between 11 and 15 years old enter into marriages outside the court in religious communities. An estimated 5 percent of girls marry before they are 15 years old and 22 percent before 18 years. Those girls sink into an illegal status that deprives them of education and health. On the other hand, tribal leaders justify the usual practice of forced marriages on traditional and cultural grounds.

South Korea
The female share of government officers increased from 34 percent in 2003 to 42 percent in 2010 in South Korea, but only 2 percent of board members of listed companies are women and no company has at least three female directors. In 2007, 49 percent of college graduates were female. However, Korea registers a gap of 39 percent between men and women's salaries, double the OECD average.

Akua Opokua Britwum (Convenor, Network of Women's Rights in Ghana, Accra): Our main concerns have been around women’s leadership in institutions, including in government, such as the women’s machinery in terms of policy and monitoring the adherence of the state to women’s human rights commitments. We have been struggling with how to strengthen these institutions to play a policy monitoring role and also to deliver in terms of women’s concerns.

We perceive in Africa, and particularly in West Africa, the absence of consistent national policies to address women in the informal economy. Access to reliable income is one of the major ways to address inequality. When social protection and income support policies are linked to employment, women in the informal economy fall out. Most social protection is based on access to a consistent income. So we have to take on the issue of women in the informal economy, and place it squarely on the agenda.

We have been struggling with how cities can be developed in a way that recognizes the fundamental rights of women to carry out their activities in dignity, free from harassment. We are also struggling around security and the increased insecurity in West Africa--for example, how to stop the harassment of women at the border as a fall-out of trade policies that do not take women's activities into account.

Tanya Dawkins (Executive Director, Global-Local Links Project, Miami): In addition to these policies that have the potential to wipe out overnight the little access to funds and business that women have—is there a corresponding conversation about the social protection that women who were being placed in that situation would require?

Akua: There are conversations around social protection--in particular, around pension schemes and how they can provide for self-employed women. In Ghana there is a pilot scheme for the informal economy where workers can contribute to a pension. But what we are asking is that pension schemes be designed to protect those who are not able to make contributions.

Hanaa: In Iraq, which is an unstable situation, there is insecurity. But this is what I really feel so proud of: in the parliamentary elections in May, we elected 83 women. We have the electoral quota, which is in the constitution. But out of these 83 women, 22 of them were over the quota. They surpassed the quota. This is really a success for gender equality. Especially because they earned the trust of the citizens. We feel that this was the first step. Concerning executive power—it is still the case that women are missing there.

Tanya: I’ve heard a lot of resonance around the theme of security. Security at multiple levels: economic, personal/physical, and, it wasn’t articulated this way, but literally the security of democracy and democratic practices. There are assaults coming from so many different directions. For example, the changing face of civil society in places like the UN. And by changing face I mean the legitimation of multinational corporations, as just the same as civil society organizations working at the community level.

A subtext of what many have said is the issue of where accountability comes from, especially in this period when the trend is to move towards “let’s celebrate what we can do and the rest we will figure out in the future”--as opposed to having increasingly ambitious and binding commitments and having the adequate accountability mechanisms to measure them.  

Kate: One of the common themes is the adoption of the language of “women’s rights” in the place of the actual empowerment of women. I’ve seen that in Canada’s foreign policy. We’ve just had a huge global conference on Maternal and Child Health here in Canada. And our government has made another significant financial commitment and the government’s commitment of funds, while very welcome and it is going to some marvelous programmes, precludes any funding for access to abortion.

If you look at all of the money being spent thus far, which amounts to over USD billion, a tiny fraction of it, goes towards any kind of family planning; in spite of all the things we know, not only about the reproductive rights guaranteed in the Cairo Declaration, but just the basic science of reducing maternal and child mortality, which the WHO has stated very clearly requires access to reproductive health services, including family planning and abortion.

For me that is a very clear example of a kind of “we are here for women” rhetoric that is actually quite disempowering. It also puts civil society in the awkward position of having to say “we are against this, but we are for this.” Obviously, we are in favour of reducing maternal and child mortality, but doing it at the expense of sexual and reproductive rights is nonsense.

Barbara: We are seeing the erosion of the commitment to the rights approach, accompanied by a kind of agenda or narrative capture. The Canada example is a very interesting one, because the Canadian government pledge is actually not to a multilateral process that has any accountability mechanism attached to it, but is to another one of these “coalition of the willing” types of partnerships. It’s a very interesting way in which governments like Canada are actually moving public funds, accountable presumably at the end to Canadian taxpayers, into an initiative with corporate partners, self-selected participants. The accountability is only to that partnership and it is totally divorced (unless it is in the partnership agreement) from the UN, and human rights, CEDAW, the Cairo Declaration, the Beijing Platform for Action and so on.

It is a really good example of the slippage away from the commitment to rights, to a whole voluntary form of governance, where you are doing forum shopping and you have governments choosing which forum they want to be held accountable to. Basically the one in which, you know, there is no real monitoring or challenge.

Gigi: The issue of intergenerational leadership in the feminist or women’s movement is also a concern here. With the backlash and derogation in human rights we feel that there are perceived difficulties in terms of true feminist leadership in the women’s movement.

Akua: Women’s groups need to strengthen accountability, to build civil society and the women’s movement worldwide, to develop strategies to make national governmental and international agenda setting mechanism responsive and answerable to women.

Note: Gender Roundtable was transcribed from a conference call among the participants in June 2014 by Courtney Lockhart.

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Privatizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda

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2014

The increasing influence of corporations over the UN development agenda is already evident: from the redefinition of Official Development Assistance (ODA) that will put more public funds in the hands of corporations, to the lack of accountability in the various agreements between corporations and UN agencies, to the privileged access that big corporate players have gotten in the post 2015 development agenda and may get over international norm-setting.

According to World Bank and Fortune Magazine data, in 2011 of the 175 largest global economic “entities” 110 (over 60%) were corporations. The revenues of Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart were larger than the GDP of a hundred national economies, more than half the world's countries. In that list Royal Dutch Shell is on par with Norway and dwarfed the GDP of Thailand, Denmark or Venezuela.

At the same time, increasing market concentration has put great power in the hands of a small number of these corporations. A study of 43,000 transnational corporations by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology identified a small group of companies, mainly in the financial industry, with disproportionate power over the global economy. According to the study,  “transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and … a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions.” At the centre of the bow-tie, a core of 147 companies control 40 percent of the network’s wealth, while just 737 control 80 percent.

As they grow larger and more powerful, transnational corporations have become a major actor in global policy debates on poverty eradication, development, the environment and human rights. At a time when governments seem unable or unwilling to resolve pressing challenges in multilateral settings, business is positioning itself as an alternative solution, more flexible, efficient and un-bureaucratic than states. Corporations, governments and various civil society organizations are promoting multi-stakeholder initiatives and public-private partnerships as innovative models to tackle global issues.

Indeed, one of the most prominent features of the Secretary-General’s report on the Post 2015 Agenda is the high degree of trust and hope he puts on new so-called partnerships between state and non-state actors and corporations in particular.


Redesigning the World

The World Economic Forum’s report on the future of global governance, “Global Redesign,” posits that a globalized world is best managed by a coalition of multinational corporations, nation-states and select civil society organizations. The report argues that states no longer are “the overwhelmingly dominant actors on the world stage” and that “the time has come for a new stakeholder paradigm of international governance.” In terms of the environment, for example, it sees an “opportunity to achieve a step change in global environmental governance by focusing not on the traditional agenda (UN structure, new legal frameworks) but on a new agenda to build “practical, often public-private, mechanisms.”

The report's vision includes a “public-private” UN, in which certain specialized agencies would operate under joint state and non-state governance systems, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization through a “Global Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Redesign Initiative.” This model also assumes that some issues would be taken off the UN agenda to be addressed by “plurilateral, often multi-stakeholder, coalitions of the willing and able.”

Similarly, the “Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations,” an initiative designed to “identify ways to overcome today’s impasse in key economic, climate, trade, security, and other negotiations” and chaired by former World Trade Organization head Pascal Lamy, proposes to establish a “C20-C30-C40 Coalition” made up of G20 countries, 30 companies, and 40 cities that would work together to “counteract climate change.” Although this “coalition of the working,” based on “inclusive minilateralism,” would report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it would not rely on binding commitments.

 

 

The corporate sector has been active in several processes and initiatives influencing the Post-2015 Agenda, including the High-Level Panel (HLP), the Global Compact, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and, to a lesser extent, the Open Working Group (OWG) and the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).

High Level Panel

The HLP, which the Secretary-General set up in 2012 to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, includes “leaders from governments, civil society and the private sector, among them Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Betty Maina, CEO of Kenya’s Association of Manufacturers. Its 2013 report, “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development,” followed a series of consultations with “stakeholders,” including the chief executive officers of 250 companies in 30 countries, with annual revenues exceeding USD 8 trillion.

Global Compact

The UN Global Compact is a voluntary corporate responsibility initiative designed to “mainstream” a set of ten principles related to human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption in corporate activities. It is open to all businesses that commit to respect these principles, and the 7,000 participating companies are required to report on their progress in implementation. In early 2011, the Compact launched the Global Compact LEAD, which currently has 55 members (including Bayer AG, Heineken, Lafarge, Tata, Coca-Cola, and Vale), committed to implementing the “Global Compact Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability,” a roadmap to achieve the ten principles.

The Global Compact feeds directly into the post-2015 process through its report to the Secretary-General and promotes the active participation of its LEAD initiative members in the post-2015 discussions. It is considered one of the official “work streams” of the post-2015 process, which gives member companies a significant channel for influence.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Launched by the Secetary-General in August 2012 as a way to mobilize “scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector” to support  sustainable development problem solving,  the Network is another of the official “work streams” in the post-2015 process and the source of one of the four official reports considered in the Secretary-General’s MDG/Post-2015 report in 2013.

The Network has 12 expert Thematic Groups, one of which, led by Peter Bakker of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Klaus Leisinger of the Novartis Foundation, focuses on “Redefining the Role of Business for Sustainable Development.”  With 21 representatives of corporations and business associations in the Leadership Council (including Anglo American, Citigroup, Siemens and Unilever), the Network’s findings are heavily shaped by views from the corporate sector.

What is troubling about these two initiatives is that they were both launched by the Secretary-General, outside of  the inter-governmental process. The Global Compact began as a policy speech prepared for former Secretary-General Kofi Annan and as such, in the opinion of the UN watchdog, the Joint Inspection Unit, it lacked a “clear and articulated mandate” and moreover, in light of its extra-budgetary funding, it put the UN  in a risky situation where “any external group or actor(s) may divert attention from the strategic goals agreed to promote interests which may damage the reputation of the United Nations.”

Open Working Group and High-Level Political Forum

Although the corporate sector has not been prominently involved in the OWG and HLPF until now, business participates in consultations around these processes through the Major Groups format, which has also been used to facilitate interaction between civil society and the OWG. The International Chamber of Commerce, one of the “Organizing Partners” for the Business and Industry Major Group, has spoken several times on behalf of the group. Statements for the Business and Industry Major Group were also delivered by Norwegian fertilizer company Yara International (a member of the Global Compact LEAD group) on behalf of the Farming First Coalition (a multi-stakeholder initiative), and by One Acre Fund, an NGO which takes “a business approach to helping 130,000 smallholder farmers in East Africa increase their incomes and reach household food security.”

A significant number of companies involved in the post-2015 agenda process are active in the resource extraction, technology, chemical and pharmaceutical, and food and beverages sectors. Among the Global Compact LEAD group, for example, mining, oil and gas industries are well represented, with companies including Total, Vale and ENI. This is also true in the SDSN Leadership Council and Thematic Groups, which include representatives from Anglo American and AngloGold Ashanti (mining) and BG East Africa (oil and gas). The food and beverages industry is represented by Unilever, Nestlé and Heineken, and the pharmaceutical and chemicals industry by BASF, Bayer, Novartis and others.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman is perhaps the most prominent corporate figures in the post-2015 process, being a member of the HLP, the SDSN Leadership Council and the board of the Global Compact. Gavin Neath, Senior Advisor to Polman, is a member of the SDSN Thematic Group on agriculture. Unilever participates in the Global Compact LEAD group, in the advisory council to UN-Women and led the “private sector outreach for the post-2015 development agenda,” the outcome of which fed into the HLP report. In addition, Unilever is a member of both the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (of which Polman is vice-chair) and of the World Economic Forum, both involved in the post-2015 process.

Moreover, other private sector actors, such as “non-profit” business associations and philanthropic foundations may represent the concerns and interests of the corporate world or facilitate their participation in the post 2015 process. Many UN institutions and governments actively promote the increased involvement of business actors in the UN.

In 2008, UNDP launched the “Business call to Action,” aimed at engaging business in achieving the MDGs. Partners include companies involved in the post-2015 process through the Global Compact and/or the SDSN, including Anglo American, CitiGroup, Ericsson, Novartis and Yara International. UNDP’s Private Sector Division is also leading the “Growing Inclusive Markets” initiative, a “global multi-stakeholder research and advocacy initiative” that seeks to enable and inspire “the development of more inclusive business models around the globe.” Other parts of the UN have set up bilateral partnerships with corporate partners, including WFP, UNICEF and most recently UN Women.

What are the risks of growing corporate influence?

In a vision in which the corporate sector takes a central role in the future of development, the market-led economic system becomes the only way for individuals to relate to the world. Individuals are seen as consumers and entrepreneurs, but more rarely as citizens. In the HLP report, for instance, rural people are framed as workers and consumers, and not as full rights holders. When it mentions individual aspirations, it is by stressing “the potential for individual entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams” and how government “must give people the assurance of personal safety (and) make it easy for them to follow their dreams and start a business.” The report only mentions “dreams” in this entrepreneurship context, suggesting that these are the only “dreams” of value in the new development agenda.

Making the “business case” for sustainable development conveys a vision of the world in which everything becomes an instrument to achieve growth and productivity. The reports, for instance, sometimes promote an instrumental view of women’s rights, education and health, although their “intrinsic value” is at times reaffirmed. The HLP report suggests that gender discrimination should be abolished so that “women can inherit and own property and run a business.” And in a list of what women should have access to, “financial services” come first, before “infrastructure” and “the full range of health services.”

Business language permeates the evaluation of progress towards sustainable development, suggesting that progress must be monetarily quantifiable and provide a good “return on investment” to justify efforts. The HLP report, for instance, notes that “every dollar invested in stopping chronic malnutrition returns USD 30 in higher lifetime productivity. Expanded childhood immunization improves health in later life, with benefits worth 20 times the cost. The value of the productive time gained when households have access to safe drinking water in the home is worth three times the cost of providing it.” This begs the question of what to do when necessary efforts do not constitute a “good investment.”

Particularly worrying is the way in which the reports promote the use of public money. The HLP report notes “the huge potential to use public money to catalyse and scale up private financing for sustainable development,” while the Global Compact report promotes “the leveraging of development assistance for private sector development.” The use of public resources to leverage private sector investment may be seen as a way to channel funding to innovative sectors of the economy, especially in countries where credit is hard to come by. However, a 2012 report by Eurodad found that, in cases of international funding from the European Investment Bank and the World Bank going to the private sector, almost half of the money spent went to support companies based in OECD countries and tax havens, and only 25 percent of all companies supported were domiciled in low-income countries.

Letting corporations off the hook, limiting the role of government

The reports’ recommendations adopt a business-friendly view of corporate regulation, noting that governments should offer incentives to “encourage” the private sector to move towards sustainability rather than legally binding regulations. They promote a soft approach to corporate accountability, relying on the willingness of large corporations to report on their impact and the voluntary commitments they have made. As ACORD International points out in its review of the HLP report, “the report argues that many of the goals and targets can be met by the actions and efforts of the private sector, but has very little on how the private sector will be genuinely accountable to those living in poverty.”

The HLP report states that “accountability must be exercised at the right level: governments to their own citizens, local governments to their communities, corporations to their shareholders, civil society to the constituencies they represent.” It maintains that shareholders can disinvest if firms do not adhere to industry standards and worker safety issues. This is a limited form of accountability based on the assumption that market forces will favour companies committed to sustainability over those which are not.

Governments' role is limited in the report to building “enabling environments” in which business can thrive, with no recognition of the important role that governments play in holding corporations accountable. The Global Compact report similarly states that companies must pay attention to any negative impacts their operations may have on human rights, without mentioning that governments also have a responsibility to exert due diligence to prevent and provide remedy for human rights abuses. The soft approach to corporate responsibility does not only let corporations, but also governments, off the hook.

The UN Partnership Facility

How development is financed will shape the way that it takes place. Recognizing this, Brazilian Ambassador Guilherme Patriota deplored the "outsourcing of development responsibilities" in his statement to the General Assembly in February 2014 and announced his country opposition to the UN Partnership Facility (UNPF) proposed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The new facility is intended to "scale up UN capacity to engage in transformative multi-stakeholder partnerships with the private sector, civil society, philanthropists and academia across a broader range of issue areas." But as financing for the new institution will come from donors rather than from the regular UN budget (which is scrutinized by UN member countries), there are serious questions regarding its accountability and oversight.

Negotiations on a "new development agenda" to replace the MDGs are scheduled to begin in September 2014, allowing time for countries to study the issue. These will culminate in a Development Summit in 2015 attended by heads of state and government. But the creation of a "partnership facility," which is one of the key proposals in the new agenda, was included in the budget proposed for 2014 back in September 2013. The new facility would have a budget of USD 1.5 million a year, 90 percent of which would pay five senior officials, led by an under-secretary-general. "Extra-budgetary resources" (donations) are estimated to provide more than USD12 million a year. The proposed office is mandated to coordinate existing partnerships with the private sector (corporations, private foundations and civil society organizations) and encourage new ones to "significantly increase existing resources and expand the effectiveness of their use," globally and in developing countries.

At a time when many developed countries suffer recession and have cut their ODA budgets, the idea of using private philanthropy funds seems obvious and reasonable. However, an alliance of civil society networks has issued a policy statement warning diplomats about the possibility of precisely the opposite effect: "Contrary to the perception that leveraging actually draws in private resources to available public funds, increasingly it is about using public money (ODA) to cover the risks of private investment. Losses will be socialized while profits continue to be private – and too often untaxed. Recent experience in many countries shows that these ‘innovative’ mechanisms are often ineffective, poorly regulated, and can lead to corruption in borrowing and lending countries."

The official press releases are very optimistic. "Every Woman, Every Child" has purportedly "delivered” USD10 billion and "Sustainable Energy for All," an initiative launched just a year ago, "has seen pledges" of USD 50 billion. These amounts are impressive, considering that the total ODA of the richest countries is about USD100 billion a year and is falling. However, what these numbers actually mean is not easy to figure out. "Education First," chaired by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced with great fanfare "commitments" worth USD 1.5 billion a year ago. Of these, USD 1 billion would be provided by Western Union, a corporation specializing in channeling remittances from migrants, and USD 500 million by the credit card issuer MasterCard.

However, the MasterCard Foundation has a total grant making capacity for all its programmes of USD 100 million a year and the Western Union Foundation website reports grants of only USD 71 million since 2001. The small print of the “Education First” website says that MasterCard will provide scholarships for 15,000 African university students over ten years, while Western Union will “provide up to USD 10,000 per day in non-governmental organization grant funding.” At that pace, it will take 274 years to reach one billion dollars!

In either case neither the UN itself nor developing country governments receive any grant monies or in any way control or supervise them. There is no demonstrated additionality to ODA and other financial commitments made in inter-governmental fora, nor is there any proof that those monies add to what the foundations would have disbursed anyhow. Neither is there any clear link with the official objective of "Education First", which is to accelerate progress in primary education in the poorest countries.

On the other hand, big corporations do benefit in public image terms from the use of the blue UN flag, as well as improved access to privileged information and high-level contacts. In some African countries, for example, the alliance of big pharmaceutical companies with the UN has allowed them to win lucrative contracts with the state, to the detriment of local small and medium enterprises.

The UN Partnership Facility deserves careful discussion before it is approved in order to clarify who benefits from what. For a start, the following questions must be addressed:

  • Growing influence of the corporate sector in political discourse and agenda-setting: Do partnership initiatives allow corporations and their interest groups undue and unsupervised influence over agenda setting and political decision-making by governments?
  • Undermining accountable and transparent multilateralism: Will the proliferation of partnerships contribute to the continued institutional weakening of the UN system and hinder comprehensive development strategies?
  • Weakening democratic public institutions: If partnerships create the equivalence of equal rights among stakeholders, do they undermine the political and legal position occupied legitimately by accountable public bodies (governments and parliaments)? Given the inequality amongst participating actors, how can conflicts of interest be avoided and checks and balances amongst the participating actors be ensured?
  • Unstable financing – a threat to the sufficient provision of public goods: Will the funding of the Post-2015 Agenda become increasingly privatized, dependent on voluntary and unpredictable channels of financing through benevolent individuals or private philanthropic foundations? Are the financial resources committed in the existing partnership initiatives effectively increasing available resources? Do the financial commitments of governments constitute new and additional funding?
  • Lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms: What instruments are in place to guarantee that partnerships as well as the proposed UN Partnership Facility will be open, transparent, and accountable?

At a minimum, the UN should take steps to make business participation in UN processes and UN-business partnerships more transparent and accountable. If the ill-defined “multi-stakeholder partnerships” are to be at the centre of the post-2015 agenda, as the Secretary-General is calling for, governments have to adopt much more stringent criteria and rules for those who will enter these partnerships and how these actors will be held accountable. Basically, participants in all UN multi-stakeholder initiatives should be subjected to screening and monitoring by the UN and member states.

 

Note:

Privatizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda is based on “Smuggling corporations in,” a column by Roberto Bissio published in La Primera, Lima, Peru, 21 February 2014; available at http://www.socialwatch.org/node/1634 and “Fit for whose purpose?” a comment by the Civil Society Reflection Group, available at https://www.reflectiongroup.org/#content as well as excerpts from “Corporate influence in the Post-2015 process,” a January 2014 GPF working paper available at http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/252-the-millenium-...


Smuggling corporations in

A popular story has it that a customs officer was obsessed with finding out what the old man was hiding, as he crossed the border every day with a donkey loaded with hay. Never able to discover anything unusual in the forage, one day he announced:

- I have just retired and I have no authority any more, but I will not die in peace if I do not get to know what your business really is.

- It's easy, -replies the old man- I smuggle donkeys.

With a similar zeal, diplomats, international bureaucrats and NGO activists—meeting in a 30 country working group commissioned by heads of state and government are scrutinizing every line of the draft that summarizes months of preparatory "conversations" about how to define the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved in the next 15 years.  As negotiations continue it is important that they not, like the customs officer, lose sight of the essential: the great innovation proposed is not in the goals but on who bears the task of achieving them.

The SDGs could become the smuggler in legitimizing the irruption of corporations in global decision-making, implementation and monitoring. These "partnerships" dilute and weaken the responsibility of the states, which are no longer in the centre of the action, and reinforce power asymmetries. Corporations have already acquired through bilateral investment agreements the right to sue states in supranational tribunals (and not through the constitutional justice) and are now candidates to receive official development assistance and sit in the forums where rules are negotiated, at the expense of national (and popular) sovereignty, democracy and human rights.

In the MDGs, the eighth goal, A Global Partnership for Development, clearly described the responsibility of developed countries to contribute with aid, fairer trade rules, technologies, and a solution to the external debt problems. These promises were not dated and are far from being fulfilled, but at least they made clear what to claim and from whom. Now, with the systematic addition of a plural and obviating the capital letter this Global Partnership is transformed into multiple "partnerships" and they are not any more between rich and poor nations but between governments, multilateral agencies and large multinational corporations.

 

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Righting Finance

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2014

As part of the preparatory work for agreement on a Post-2015 Development Agenda, the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (known as “Rio+20”) called for the establishment of an intergovernmental committee of experts on financing for sustainable development tasked with preparing a report “proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy to facilitate the mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives.”

In this regard the Righting Finance Initiative issued a statement on “Co-Creating New Partnerships for Financing Sustainable Development,” which called for the post-2015 agenda, including means of financing it, to be aligned with the international human rights framework and sustainable development commitments.

It stressed that in view of the systemic market failures of the past decade, the need for an effective and capable government as a protector and guarantor of human rights in development rather than a mere enabler of private sector development is greater than ever. Moreover, there is enough experience documented in the literature on the negative impact of privatization on growing inequality and gaps regarding access to basic services, such as education, health, water, and energy. States in the end bear primary responsibility for international cooperation to achieve human rights, so the nature of the Global Partnership for Development as one driven by States should be reaffirmed.

The initiative states that while a number of partnerships can play a role in the post-2015 development agenda, those partnerships do not operate in a vacuum. As they are voluntary, opt-in and opt- out arrangements, they cannot by any means crowd-out States’ existing obligations of cooperation to achieve human rights. So, the international human rights framework takes primacy and precedence above any agreements with the private sector.

Ensuring such primacy and precedence will entail a number of consequences for the approach to partnerships, as follows:

  • Governments’ commitments on tackling global asymmetries in areas such as trade, debt, finance, ODA and taxation that represent the international enabling conditions and mobilize resources to achieve sustainable development and human rights should remain at the core of the agenda. Governments also should acknowledge and transform the unequal power relations between different multilateral organizations of global governance, between transnational corporations and States, and between the more and the less developed States.
  • States are required to use the maximum available resources to meet their human rights obligations. These include (1) government spending and revenue, (2) development assistance; (3) debt and deficit financing; and (4) monetary policy and financial regulation. A more realistic and long-term focus on strengthening public resourcing for development will lead to financing for development that is not only more reliable and sustainable, but also more democratic and open to scrutiny by the very people we claim to be “developing.” Consistent with the commitments made at the Rio + 20 Conference, new sources of financing such as public- private partnerships and South-South cooperation must be recognized as complementary and not a substitute for traditional means of implementation.
  • Private sector actors are essentially mandated to realize maximum profits for their shareholders, an aim that more often than not comes at odds with the public interest of home and/or host States. States, individually and in concert with one another, are duty-bound to ensuring the progressive realization of human rights for all, so guaranteeing equity and non-discrimination based on income, gender, race-ethnicity, location, sexual orientation, and age, among others. This means that only through strong regulatory and accountability frameworks can we hope that the private sector will be a useful contributor to the realization of sustainable development goals. It also means that governments, operating jointly or individually, can at any time declare there are areas that will remain off-limits for any form of partnership with the private sector.
  • In those areas where the private sector is potentially deemed a suitable partner, given the history of human rights abuses implicating private companies, especially transnational corporations, the following guidelines should be embraced:
  • The partners in these partnerships should act in abidance of the human rights framework, which imposes obligations and correlative duties. Consistent with the call by the High Commissioner for Human, governments are required to prevent and protect people against human rights abuses perpetrated by private actors, and people affected by breaches of those obligations have a right to effective remedy. It is also important to use a dose of healthy scepticism when projecting the extent to which, in practice, they will address human rights concerns raised by private sector behaviour. Study after study show that the private sector uses its transnational presence as a way to arbitrage, when not entirely avoid, the domestic laws of places in which it operates, and ultimately escape any accountability for its actions. Moreover, the economic power of these actors often means they have the level of access and capacity to lobby decision-makers to shape to their advantage legislative, regulatory and judicial environments. This way they can frequently rig access to remedies for victims, or pre-empt it altogether (examples are regulatory stability agreements and arbitration clauses that subject human rights controversies to investment tribunals).
  • Human rights principles call for full participation by, and transparency towards, those affected in the negotiation, implementation and monitoring of partnerships. Participation cannot be fully realized without civil society groups that independently evaluate whether objectives set by governments are met and shape public opinion in holding government agencies to account for failing to deliver. Partnerships should accord an institutionalized role for civil society, particularly with regard to priority-setting and accountability. Partnerships can only be truly effective if founded on full transparency and meaningful accountability of all partners involved. As a summary of post-2015 consultations observed, ̈the consultations consistently present human rights as a non-negotiable element to deliver accountability to the new commitments. ̈ Over and above public-private ventures, ensuring accountability of these key development actors to human rights will be the essential ingredient to making the new generation of goals transformative. Accountability cannot take place in the absence of a legal framework guaranteeing that civil society groups will not risk their safety and physical integrity for seeking to expose business’ misconduct – whether such misconduct was with or without State complicity.
  • There need to be clear criteria, in advance, to determine whether a specific private sector actor is fit for a partnership in pursuit of the post-2015 goals. This is not only in the interest of human rights, but in the interest of the UN, which might never recover from the reputational shock if chief private financiers it engages with are also chief violators of its most cherished principles. Such criteria should examine:

(a) whether the private actor has a history or current status of serious allegations of abusing human rights or the environment, including in their cross-border activities;
(b) whether the private actor has a proven track record (or the potential) to deliver on sustainable development, as articulated by the UN outcome by 2015;
(c) whether the private actor has previous involvement in acts of corruption with government officials;
(d) whether the private actor is fully transparent in its financial reporting and fully respecting existing tax responsibilities in all countries it operates, and not undermining sustainable development through tax avoidance;
(e) any conflicts of interest in order to eliminate potential private donors whose activities are antithetical or contradictory to the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the SDG framework.

  • Governments should commit to take immediate measures to ensure that businesses respect human rights and the environment, including by mandating independent, rigorous and periodic human rights and environmental impact assessments of large businesses.
  • Partnerships must not limit the capacity of governments to mobilize their maximum available resources and avoid retrogression in the enjoyment of rights, as defined by existing human rights legal commitments. Where fiscal support is provided to the private sector, such resources are being deviated from their potential use to support the fulfillment of economic and social rights. Fiscal resources should only be applied to support the private sector in instances where it can be demonstrated concretely that a) such allocation will advance certain rights, b) this is a more effective use of such resources than through public investment, c) mechanisms exist for the transparent and public participation of those affected by the use of those resources and d) performance in meeting the promised targets will be evaluated and monitored periodically, with lack of compliance credibly giving rise to a withdrawal of the fiscal support.

Note:

Righting Finance is taken from “Misdirecting Finances,” a Global Policy Forum paper, 21 February 2014, available at http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/252-the-millenium-... and a statement by the Righting Finance Initiative on “Co-creating new partnerships for Financing Sustainable Development,” 4-5 April, Helsinki, Finland, available at http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/252-the-millenium-...

 

Key questions on “outsourcing development”

  • As private finance follows market trends leading to a concentration of resources, what regulatory framework or policies could ensure that it delivers development objectives?
  • Analysis by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has shown that “leverage ratios do not have a one-to-one relationship with additionality.” How can we be sure that these mechanisms really leverage additional resources?
  • With private investment increasingly taking the decisions that determine development funding, how can the UN ensure transparency and accountability and regular reporting?
  • Should mechanisms be promoted when they may increase developing countries’ debt burdens to unsustainable levels?

 

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Crisis of confidence

Publication_year: 
2014

Social movements which emerged in the wake of the economic crisis are skeptical of the UN’s capacity to be a space to think of and enact the changes that are needed. The governance model proposed by the organization - and in particular the prominent role it gives to the corporate sector - and the type of solutions it is putting forward beg the question: is the UN up to task of building an alternative model, or even serving as a forum to discuss new models?

Some NGOs, seeing multi-stakeholder governance as an opportunity for more participation and influence in policy processes, have gone along with this model, while others are more critical.

As the UN enthusiastically embraces the corporate sector as “part of the solution” some are entertaining the idea that it may be very much part of the problem. By embracing transnational corporations as partners, the UN risks legitimizing the idea that “there is no alternative” to a free-market, privatised world. While one should be mindful of painting “the UN” with too broad a brush, this shift is affecting the system as a whole, including the Secretariat, the funds and programmes and the specialised agencies.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and multi-stakeholder governance models tend to favour well-established and well-resourced players and they often focus on technical solutions, allowing states to outsource their responsibilities and obligations to civil society and the private sector while pleading impotence. Although promoted as “complementary” to governmental efforts, multi-stakeholder partnerships often become replacements for intergovernmental initiatives, especially in areas where the difficulty of achieving international agreement is leaving governance gaps. These multi-stakeholder initiatives, however, often lack transparent reporting requirements; while they claim billions of dollars in pledges and investments, it is usually difficult to assess where money has gone, whether it is “additional,” and its impact on policy direction. PPPs act as “coalitions of the willing” but need to be answerable to agreed-upon frameworks, in particular international human rights instruments and environmental treaties.

If governance models promote “partnerships” and “consensus” without recognizing the power imbalances between “stakeholders” and the interests invested in the status quo, “consultations” and “dialogues” are likely to lead to more of the same with minor changes and reinforce the imbalance. While the UN has a good track record of developing spaces for the participation of civil society and social movements, UN processes also tend to put too much emphasis on input. Ultimately, the consultation / dialogue model is limited if it posits that, with enough information on the impact of their decisions, policymakers will come to a rational conclusion beneficial to all. It bears stating that economic policies are not implemented not because decision-makers do not realise their harmful effects; they are the result of very deliberate choices answering to powerful interests. “Having a voice” in the process, while key, is not enough to challenge these. The possibility to hold powerful interests accountable, not just to debate with them, is critical.

Is the UN still “the best thing we have” to achieve a more just and sustainable world? In 2010, the French activist organization ATTAC argued in favour of “Another UN for another world.” ATTAC stressed that the UN is the repository of human rights-based international legal instruments - a legal framework that powerful, ad-hoc fora such as the G20 do not possess.

In spite of its recent turn towards the corporate sector and its embrace of market-led solutions, the UN remains the international forum friendliest to groups seeking to challenge the global concentration of power. Some parts of the UN have proven open to and supportive of alternative concepts and models. The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the International Labor Organisation (ILO) and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) have all worked to promote the “Social and Solidarity Economy,” a development model based on cooperation, complementarity and mutual support that has gained traction in Brazil, Ecuador, France and other countries.

Time for an Ambitious Agenda

The post-2015 development agenda can be an opportunity to reclaim value-based multilateralism at the UN, to move beyond a development policy geared towards making the current system “better” to truly transformative change. The UN is the only place to hold all players accountable to universal standards and responsibilities, and to promote a value-based framework for sustainable development rooted in the UN Charter and human rights instruments.

This direction is possible if the UN stops favouring “stakeholders” whose interest is only to tinker at the edges of the system. The involvement of “stakeholders” who are not risk-averse and promote and defend a value-based, rights-based approach to development, including social movements, is crucial.

The UN has established many best practices for the participation of civil society and social movements. More consistent application of these best practices could help build a better institutional model for engagement, which would make clear that “multi-stakeholder dialogues” and “consultations” can challenge the status quo and would bring alternative policies forward. Such practices would help to:

  • Promote a diversity of views, including social movements and people most affected who have so far been marginalised. While these people cannot be automatically assumed to be democratic and progressive, they are often representatives of communities who can bring alternative views to the table. The experience of people on the ground is a form of “expertise” just as relevant to the post-2015 process as the expertise of the scientific and academic community.
  • Better feature local experiences to inform policymaking debates at UN headquarters. Contributions from CSOs and social movements do not only take the form of direct participation in processes, but their innovative experience at the local or national level is not recognized in processes that adopt a hierarchical, top-down interpretation of global decision-making.
  • Build an institutional environment that moves beyond “consultations” and “consensus” to allow the expression of dissent and alternative views. This would counter the worst aspects of the “multi-stakeholder” model, which tends to focus on weak areas of agreement rather than tackle difficult issues. The post-2015 process should give a space to and recognize the expression of alternative and confrontational views and not force “civil society” to speak in one consensual voice. Dissenting positions should be respected and clearly recorded into official proceedings and documents. This is especially necessary when “civil society” becomes a misnomer that includes representatives of the corporate sector and of private philanthropic foundations.
  • Recognize and address the power imbalances between “stakeholders.” Giving more time to people on the ground and social movements to speak, make their positions known and present alternative policies can rebalance the power dynamics. That time is especially important for groups that are looking for recognition of their constituency at the global level (such as Indigenous Peoples).

Accountability

Good modalities for engagement are a step in the right direction but not enough: a successful post-2015 development agenda also demands policy and political changes. The question is not only whether participation in policy processes reflects diversity and alternative views; the process must also be able to challenge power structures responsible for the status quo, and people at the local and national levels must ultimately be able to support its outcome. People on the ground and social movements support the UN when they see it as a credible forum to remove global obstacles to justice and sustainability that cannot be tackled nationally, and to set norms and standards that will help and support national level rights-based mobilization. Without necessarily directly participating in UN processes, these movements can play a key role in engaging their national government to push for change and implement policies negotiated at the global level. But they are not likely to do so if they see UN policies as one more barrier to achieve social justice and protect the commons.

A new accountability framework, rather than a new partnership for development, should be the priority on the post-2015 development agenda. Accountability can ensure that the interests of “stakeholders,” especially of the most powerful players, are truly aligned with the purpose they are claiming to be working towards and do not contradict the value-based standards of the organization. Transparency and accountability standards should of course also be applied to NGOs, CSOs and social movements. However, in the current context, the UN and member states have generally submitted “civil society” to more intense scrutiny than the corporate sector. While organizations applying for ECOSOC accreditation have to be approved by member states, there is no equivalent accreditation process for corporations independent of the business associations they may belong to. Further, many individual states have enacted draconian legislation that seriously limits the capacity of their citizens to organize as CSOs and to demonstrate, while transnational corporations rarely encounter the same difficulties.

To rebalance the power relations, the UN should focus on accountability for the corporate sector.
At the very least, it should establish better public disclosure and conflict of interest policies to regulate corporate sector engagement. In the current system, international business associations can participate in UN processes as “NGOs” on the ground that they are nonprofit, even though they represent the interests of their corporate members. Public interest NGOs have long called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify private-sector actors outside of its NGO category, to better make the distinction between Public Interest NGOs (PINGOs) and Business Interest NGOs (BINGOS). Such distinction could be made systemwide.

Better public disclosure and conflict of interest policies are also needed for the UN itself. The organization should disclose financial contributions from the corporate sector (including in the form of “extra-budgetary resources”) and establish a clear framework for interacting with the private sector and managing conflicts of interest, in particular by differentiating between policy development and appropriate involvement in implementation. Protection for whistleblowers would ensure that UN staff can speak out on practices that do not respect the mandate and values of the organization. Specific language in the code of ethics for UN employees could also help address the potential issues raised by the circulation of staff between UN entities and national governments, private foundations, corporations, lobby groups and CSOs.

Progressive NGOs, CSOs and social movements can advocate and lobby for such changes. They can also challenge the UN to rethink how it has adopted the language and worldview of the corporate sector. What does it mean when the organization promotes health, education and even people as good “returns on investment?” When it argues that sustainable development needs to be sold to the corporate sector as “more profitable” to save us from disaster?

Are there opportunities for member states and civil society to work together to build an alternative to a multi-stakeholder governance model that privileges the corporate sector? A recent initiative in the Human Rights Council, spearheaded by Ecuador and supported by more than 100 governments and dozens of CSOs, proposes to advance a binding instrument to regulate transnational corporations. Could this be an indication that the discourse on the role of the corporate sector is shifting?

The UN has so far seemed to assume that cooperation with large transnational corporations would help it regain relevance. This trend has accelerated in the context of discussions and negotiations around the post-2015 development agenda. The challenges that the UN addresses - poverty eradication, climate change mitigation and adaptation, a shift to sustainable production and consumption practices - require nothing less than radical changes. But the organizations’ corporate partners (and the powerful states that advocate in their favour) are generally happy to support UN efforts only as long as they fall into the realm of acceptable discourse.

The UN is reflecting, rather than driving, many of the trends in the current world order. But the organization has the potential to be a space where this order can be challenged, and the processes for the post-2015 development agenda offer a window of opportunity. The post-2015 agenda cannot be limited to allowing “stakeholders” to debate future goals and establish partnerships based on weak areas of agreement that avoid difficult issues. Rather, the post-2015 provides a moment to reclaim the UN’s value-based framework, challenge the powerful interests and politics that have led to the current situation and hold all players accountable.

Note:

Crisis of confidence is excerpted from a paper entitled “Whose Development, Whose UN?” by Barbara Adams and Lou Pingeot published by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, November 2013; available at http://fes-globalization.org/new_york

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“Big data’: threat or revolution?

Publication_year: 
2014

Steve Baccus, an American farmer and president of the Kansas Farm Bureau, made a trip to Washington in April 2014 as part of what he called “an educational effort” to make sure members of Congress know about data collecting and “the implications of the issue for our farmers and ranchers.”

The issue is the gathering of large swaths of data by large seed companies, Monsanto in particular, using sensors installed on tractors. The corporations argue that the sensors help crop yields by measuring and evaluating soil conditions and seeding rates, among other variables.

That information would allow them to give out seed prescriptions optimized for each farm's soil, disease history and pest evaluation in the area.

Monsanto calls this a "Green Data Revolution" -- a play on the so-called Green Revolution of the 20th century, based on intense use of fertilizers and pesticides and seeds adapted to resist them. To steer this revolution, Monsanto has recently purchased Precision Planting, a farm equipment manufacturer and Climate Corporation, a database analytics firm.

Similarly, biotech giant DuPont Pioneer has partnered with farm equipment manufacturer John Deere to provide “decision services” that allow farmers to upload data onto servers, which ultimately feed electronic data prescriptions of seed and fertilizer back to the tractor in the field. Tractors may be built with GPS systems or seed monitoring tablets that allow farmers to download information. In theory, this GPS technology serves as an information dragnet, analysing raw field data to provide farmers with industry-funded solutions.

The prospect of sharing intimate details of their operations with the companies has raised concerns with some farmers who are worried that the companies could tap the information for their own purposes or sell it to other entities, like commodity traders. By gathering information directly from the tractors in the moment of seeding, corporations could make estimates about harvests several weeks in advance (and with better accuracy) than the US Government itself. This information can then be used to speculate in commodity markets, resulting in price fluctuations that may hurt the very farmers that provide the data but do not control their use.

Yet, in reply to their concerns, Kansas Representative Lynn Jenkins expressed the prevalent view in Washington that “information and data utilization is the way of the future.” He did acknowledge privacy concerns and wrote plainly that “just as our federal government struggles with privacy concerns through records at the NSA and various health records, so too must we maintain appropriate privacy protection of individuals from corporations.”

A spokeswoman for DuPont said that the company abides by data-privacy laws, but urged farmers "to always read and understand the terms and conditions of any services they sign up for as each company maintains its own policies and provisions."

Governments should take this advice very seriously, since as part of the post-2015 development agenda, the UN Secretary -General has stated that advances in information technology over the past decade provide an opportunity for a “data revolution’’ that should enable countries to strengthen existing data sources and develop new ones.

This rather cryptic language echoes the observation of the High Level Panel (HLP) co-chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia that there have been “innovative initiatives to use mobile technology and other advances to enable real-time monitoring of development results.”

Earlier, in a Wall Street Journal piece, Cameron envisaged using aid “as a catalyst to unleash the dynamism of developing economies: from professionalizing cross-border customs services and enabling farmers to access price information by mobile phone, to using satellite photos to map plots of land that will facilitate the creation of property rights.”

In a book called Big Data, Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier explain that “big data” is about predictions that result from applying math to an enormous amount of information. Thus Google is able to predict an epidemic before people know they are sick by correlating searches for terms like “fever” and “headache” in a certain locality with similar search patterns in the days before the outbreak of previous epidemics. And soon it will include information gathered by your refrigerator or your car, not just your mobile phone, in light of the emerging "Internet of things." For individuals, they add, “this implies risks for their privacy.”

While “big data” has enormous potential, the potential is for evil as well as for good. In promoting a “data revolution” as part of any monitoring and accountability mechanism attention must be given to privacy and rights issues. Miniaturization enabled broad participation as shown by the use of mobile cameras to document human rights violations or convene demonstrations during the Arab uprisings. Independent producers can use cheap handheld cameras to create movies able to compete with those from huge Hollywood studios. But “big data” requires harnessing big computing capabilities, so big that they are out of the reach of most civil society organizations and even of most developing countries.

The Guardian blogger Anne Marie Cox published an “educated guess” of what a minimum list of restraints should include to guarantee basic rights:

Individual control: the right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.

Transparency: the right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.

Focused collection: the right to reasonable limits on the personal data that organizations collect and retain.

Accountability: the right to have personal data handled by organizations with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Bill of Rights and relevant human rights standards.

In her UN speech in 2013, protesting the electronic spying revealed by Edward Snowden, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff added an intergovernmental dimension: “The time is ripe to create the conditions to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage, and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries. The United Nations must play a leading role in the effort to regulate the conduct of States with regard to these technologies.”

Without adequate checks and balances, the “data revolution” could become Orwellian nightmare.

Note:

Big Data is based on a column by Roberto Bissio in La Primera, Lima Peru, 6 September, 2013, available at: http://agendaglobal.redtercermundo.org.uy/2013/09/05/big-brother-se-llam...

 

 

Social networks monitor elections, services

“Traditionally, the only role for citizens during elections is as voters. But citizens need to be a greater part of this electoral ecosystem and engaged in the entire process,” said Philip Thigo, programme director for Social Development Network (SODNET), the Kenyan chapter of Social Watch.

During the 2010 constitutional referendum SODNET partnered with others to implement Uchaguzi, an effort to “protect the vote” by allowing any citizen to text a message, send an e-mail or otherwise communicate complaints about the electoral process using a crowdsourcing software called Ushahidi (“witness” in Swahili). The key to the success of this system, unanimously credited as having contributed to the transparency and credibility of the electoral process, is the mechanism used to validate the communications, based on the social recognition of the originating source.

The example spread regionally and the mechanism was adapted and used in elections in Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania in the following years and was used again in the 2013 Kenyan general elections.

The positive results of Uchaguzi led the Kenyan Government to partner with SODNET in establishing Uhuma (“service”) a system enabling citizens to report on the quality of public services using the same technology.

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Challenges of the Arab Region: The difficult Arab transition

Publication_year: 
2014

Joël Ghazi, Ziad Abdel Samad
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)

Turmoil, transitions and trespasses

Arab countries that witnessed uprisings are currently at a pivotal phase. They are facing tremendous political, social and economic challenges. Indeed the different groups that took power failed to lead the transition period. They were unable to reach a consensus on the state’s new framework and to address the citizens’ immediate needs. More specifically, the objectives of the transitional period were supposed to be the elaboration of a holistic new social contract endowed with political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, as well means for implementing participatory, transparent and accountable governance.

However, due to decades of oppression and weak and unaccountable institutional structures, people in these countries have no previous experience and limited capacities to democratically manage diversities and differences; which are pre-conditions for engaging properly in political processes. Adding to that, remnants of the old regimes are still omnipresent among the political echelons and the state’s institutions: Corruption, nepotism, narrow-mindedness and grabbing of state’s institutions hinder a country’s ability to provide for citizens and to guarantee their rights.  On the other hand, violence and foreign interventions in certain countries, such as Bahrain, are preventing peaceful transition, while the turmoil in others, especially in Syria, Yemen and Libya, has taken a violent turn, one from which peace is hardly feasible and where the death toll is exponentially rising. It is also worth noting that while writing this report, tensions in Egypt and in Tunisia are on the rise and this threatens any potential consensual agreement. 

The process of writing the Constitution in Egypt is a very delicate matter that should be inclusive and that should reflect the concerns and protect the interests of all relevant stakeholders. Developments in the country, during 2013, clearly indicate that freedom of Assembly and freedom of expression and demonstration are under grave threats. The texts written are worthy of regimes living under emergency laws: they give the ministry of defense and the army a special role in public life and the Ministry of interior and the security apparatuses the right to cancel demonstrations on the basis that they are safeguarding “peace and security”. According to the same law, peaceful demonstrators can be jailed up to seven years. Unions were not spared, the law in question hampers on syndical work and the right to strike too. On the 14th  and 15th of January 2014, the Egyptians voted for a new constitution that protects political, civil, economic and social rights; however, the constitution gives both the armed and the interior forces autonomy from other state institutions. This is a danger for the country’s future and leads to a lack of democracy and the non-application of citizen’s rights guaranteed by this same Constitution.

Following the security void in 2011 after the Tunisian revolution, the democratically elected transitional council failed to draft a new constitution and organized public elections to properly reconstitute the state’s institutions within one year. Moreover, the successive transitional governments have failed to address the security issues in the country. Indeed, Jihadi attacks are on the rise and their shadow casts a dire slur on the country’s future. Leftist figures from the opposition, like Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi, along with several security and army officials were assassinated in the past few months. Borders and their permeability are also another problem in Tunisia. Hard drugs, quantities of military equipment and small arms are being smuggled from Libya. The security issue is being politicized by parties and used to political ends whereas it should not be instrumentalized and should be addressed accordingly. This infectivity in addressing the issue will only help foster what is being called islamo-gangsterism in Tunisia.  These security developments along with the issues of the formation of a new government are causing an increased polarization in the country. However, the latest version of the constitution issued by the council and the appointment of a new electoral commission are positively perceived. On the long run, only inclusivity and the respect of diversity among the different political components of the Tunisian scene will solve the political impasse and other questions related to security threats and borders.

Despite the findings of the “famous” report delivered by the independent commission of inquiry known as “Bassiouni” and its recommendations, the government of Bahrain is constantly denying its human rights violations and the crimes it is perpetrating against its people. Freedom of expression and opinion are being daily trampled and Human Rights activists are being jailed for their peaceful activities. With an increasingly more difficult social and economic situation in the country (results of years of inadequate policy that failed to guarantee equality and Rights), peaceful demonstrations were met with more repressive laws. Indeed, the measures adopted before the 14th of August include banning of protests in the capital Manama, toughened anti-terrorism laws, including  imposing longer prison terms and revoking citizenship .

Neocolonialist economic and trade approaches:

One of the main questions raised by the uprisings is the appropriateness of the economic choices and development models followed for decades in Arab countries. This highlights the importance of promoting a national debate focusing on these issues. In fact, over the previous decade, the Arab region has witnessed a regress in its productive capacities. This was coupled with a decline in decent job-generating activities, although high economic growth rates were noted in the past few years in countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia . Structural Adjustment programs were coupled with a decrease in social spending and the marginalization of developmental projects under a predominant macroeconomic framework. This later prioritized trade and investment liberalization and deregulation, as well as aimed at dismantling state-owned enterprises. In the framework of the existing economic model, Arab countries have struggled with the Balance of Payment and they thus witnessed increasing debt that was incurred through non-transparent borrowing from international institutions under the reign of undemocratic regimes. The increasing debt necessarily entailed a higher share of the gross domestic product (GDP) allocated to debt servicing which in turn affects the reallocation of national resources and funds away from projects that come to support the citizen and ensure that their social and economic rights are preserved. Moreover, the unequal redistributive mechanisms, including inadequate tax policies and the inefficient provision of services, increased social and geographical inequalities.

Given that for decades, countries in the Arab region have relied heavily on food and fuel price subsidies as a form of social protection, the IMF’s major austerity-related policy proposals include unwinding subsidies on food and fuel products while coupled with better poor-households targeting schemes, a step that the Fund describes as a doorway for achieving “economic recovery” . Adding to that, the Deauville partnership , depicted by the EU as their supportive response to countries that are witnessing change, is pushing for more trade liberalizations and the signing of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade agreements (DCFTAs). The DCFTA negotiations concern four countries: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan . The negotiations will include an expansion of the existing trade agreement between the EU and Morocco to include, in addition to tariff reduction, regulations on services trade, new investment framework aiming at protecting foreign investors, liberalization of public procurement, competition policy and intellectual property protection. These negotiations will address areas that are at the heart of the macro-economic structure and may directly affect the state’s policy space when it comes to regulating the economy in line with national development goals. These negotiations are being done without relying on any social and environmental impact assessment study of the results of the existing free trade agreement between the EU and Morocco, and without the discernment of the potential effects of the proposed regulations in the negotiated areas. Civil Society actors have already warned against potential negative effects on sustainability, development, human rights, and the future of productive sectors as a result of these negotiations and they also demanded full transparency in the negotiations course, which are yet to be disclosed.

Furthermore, starting 2011 and after the Egyptian revolution, revenues dramatically decreased and the budget deficit aggressively increased. Consequently, the IMF has been engaged in negotiations concerning a $3.2 billion loan (that was later raised to $4.8 billion) . The negotiations reached a deadlock due to the main condition related to the reduction of public expenditures by lifting subsidies on energy among others.  Moreover, No country has heeded the call of CSOs in Egypt in demanding fair and transparent debt audit mechanisms and an eventual cancellation of the country’s odious debts  , taken during the reign of the previous regime. Knowing that the country has a total of $35 billion of foreign debt , and that debt servicing has a larger share of the budget than social expenditure, such steps are much needed to ensure a viable transitional period and the realization of the Egyptian people’s social and economic rights.

The Sudanese government adopted in June 2012 an IMF package that includes austerity measures and subsidies cuts. However, the government has resisted pressure to totally cut down subsidies until it ceded in September 2013 . This incited 44% inflation in the country and prompted unrests that caused the death of 50 demonstrators according to Amnesty International . The subsidization of fuel costs the government around $1.7 billion per year , it might not be a very sustainable solution but given the fact that the 40% of the Sudanese people live under the poverty line and that the country has a foreign debt that amounts to $40 billion (82.2 % of total GDP according to 2012 numbers) , abruptly cutting it down is also not economically viable. On the other hand, around 75% of the country’s debt is owed to the Paris Club of creditor nations. What could be done is a transparent and fair audit that would finally result in the partial or total cancellation of the country’s debt. However the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan Edward Gemayel noted that “it will be near impossible for Sudan to secure debt relief even if it satisfied technical and economic requirements”. Indeed, he called to mind the fact that this process is entangled with political complications. In other words, he asserted that any debt relief deal with Sudan would require the unanimous consent of all 55 countries in Paris Club, which is highly improbable . Efforts towards reaching a political consensus in this matter should be undertaken instead of pressures to adopt austerity measures and other “neoliberal” trends.

Inadequate Development efforts undertaken so far and means for reshaping them

The Arab 2013 Development report published by the ESCWA indicates that “The Arab region has made impressive progress towards many Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in education” . By their own admission, the ESCWA stated that some of the countries that noticed nation-wide upheaval were considered as “best students” in liberalization efforts and MDGs, most notably Tunisia . The challenges identified by this report, are “good governance, quality and not just quantity of development empowering women and reducing inequalities”. This publication was supposedly aimed at assessing MDGs and learning from this process’ mistakes and not repeating them in the future. However, the approach in it is identical to the previous one; it is also fragmented and goal oriented. It indicates that 12 goals to be considered for the post 2015 agenda.

As it was noted in the CSO regional consultation organized by the UN-NGLS, that one of the main inherent problems of the MDGs approach is that it was a fragmented one .  Checking progress “in silos” induced misconceptions that shadowed true social and economic problems. Despite all this, the ESCWA report at hand still handles the different development sectors as separate and no mention is made of a comprehensive framework interlinking the different sectors within a new development paradigm.

Some recommendations for the new paradigm were suggested during the two CSO regional consultations organized jointly by ANND and ESCWA (March 2013) and by the UN-NGLS (July 2013): 1) rebalance power relations for more justice, 2) ensure the fulfillment of human rights and overcoming exclusion, 3) ensure equitable distribution and safe use of natural resources and finally 4) establish participatory governance, accountability and transparency.

1) Rebalancing power relations for more justice highlights the need to move from undemocratic “rentier” economies to “Democratic Developmental States”. This transition induces the following: empowering productive capacities, reforming the trade and investment architecture, reforming the financial architecture and macroeconomic framework, enacting redistributive policies for equity and social justice, enhancing transparency, accountability and civic engagement in public policy making and establishing peace and security. In order to make this transition possible, it is necessary to foster fundamental changes at national and international levels. At the international level, trade partners and agreements should be reevaluated and rethought based on their contribution to development objectives and their respect to Human Rights. Moreover, imbalances in global trade relations and the financial architecture should be reformed based on the suggestions of the 2013 UNCTAD report on trade and development; whereby policy conditionality imposed by the IMF should be lifted. Moreover the increasing amount of odious debts that impede on a state’s space and nurtures injustice should be relieved or restructured.    

2) Well-being and dignity for all people must be the ultimate objective of sustainable development. In order to achieve this, the post 2015 agenda must adopt an unalienable rights-based approach. It must urge states to abide by international standards and fulfill economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights for all. In the Arab region, meeting these goals translates into: ending foreign occupation, reforming security policies to respect civil and political rights, fulfilling human rights toward equitable empowerment of all people, obligating the private sector to respect human rights. 

Furthermore, development should be fully inclusive and avoid exclusion and inequalities.  Accordingly, comprehensive development policies and programmes are essential to realize human rights such as: education, health care, decent work, social protection, based on equality and non-discrimination. Reforms are needed in the Arab region to empower people equitably, with particular attention paid to gender, youth as well as people with disability equality and their adequate inclusion.

3) The Arab region faces tremendous environmental challenges related to the use of natural resources. Indeed, issues like agricultural sustainability and sovereignty, extractive industries, energy and water shortages.  Food sovereignty is the cornerstone of agricultural sustainability in the region. To achieve sustainable agriculture, small-scale farming must be supported through the model of food sovereignty. Organic and agro-ecological practices must be promoted, and food production should be oriented to serve local consumption needs before export markets. Moreover, natural resources, especially water, are unevenly distributed in the Arab countries with some regions in rural areas lacking access to water services and clean drinking water; the same goes for energy, with some areas lacking electricity installations. The root causes of these issues are mainly structural problems characteristic of Arab states: corruption, bureaucratic obstacles, inefficient planning, and poor infrastructure. 

4) Fact remains that, participatory governance, accountability and transparency are essential to craft this new social contract. The responsibility of respecting these conditions is not limited to the national dimension; it also falls on international institutions embroiled in the region. Consequently, it is imperative to focus on the following priorities: Mutual Accountability based on the Human Rights Mechanisms and standards, accountability in Global Economic and Financial Governance, accountability to Extra-territorial Obligations, binding Corporate Obligations, participatory and Accountable National Governance, defining Post-2015 priorities and Benchmarks through A Bottom-up Process

To top it off, Social justice and developmental objectives cannot be realized without adopting a “new social contract between citizens and the State based on the human rights framework and protection of citizenship” in the post 2015 agenda. However, if it is intended, such a transformation would be taking place under a climate where violence and insecurity are increasing, exclusivity and extremism are on the rise. Furthermore, economic difficulties increase impatience among populations and thus political instability. Adding to that, the above-mentioned specificities of a renewed social contract do not carry short-term economic benefits.

Conclusion

People’s uprisings in the Arab region highlighted the challenges caused by inequalities and the continuous violation of Human rights. In fact, the increase in poverty, geographical and social marginalization and of unemployment rates particularly among young graduates were the main reasons behind the political unrests.

This was at the heart of the debate focusing on the nature of the transition; whether it should be limited to setting a new political framework for the state or should it also include economic choices and development models? From a civil society perspective, the main reasons behind inequalities are related to the decrease in productivity and thus in employability, as well as in the unfair redistribution of wealth.

It is therefore imperative to take into account economic transition in the agenda of change while discussing the new social contract and the framework of the state. In other words, this means a rights based developmental agenda and new economic and social choices based on the result of an inclusive, open and democratic national dialogue.

Notes:

For more information about the situation in Egypt, please visit:   http://www.annd.org/english/allNews.php?page=2

In November 2011 the independent mission of inquiry was called “Bassiouni, after the former Bahraini official who headed the commission

For more information on the Human rights situation in Bahrain, please follow: http://www.annd.org/english/data/latest/file/124.pdf  

Since the onset of the financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been adamant on following mainstream economic models in the Arab region that include pushing for more liberalization and deregulation policies and for a diminished government role. The Fund’s main policy proposals to alleviate economic burdens in the region include traditional austerity-oriented policies which aim at advancing investment by way of attracting foreign investors.

  The Deauville partnership was launched during the G8 summit held in the French town “Deauville” in 2011 as a response to the “Arab spring”

These 4 countries are part of the Agadir agreement aiming at creating a free trade zone within the Mediterranean    

http://www.dropegyptsdebt.org/ last checked 3/12/2013

For a full list of the goals, please visit:   http://www.escwa.un.org/sites/arabmdg13/  last checked 3/12/2013

http://www.escwa.un.org/sites/arabmdg13/   page 55,  last checked 4/12/2013

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La Agenda Post 2015 y la Participación Política de las Mujeres en Latinoamérica: Caminos recorridos y Nuevos Desafíos

Publication_year: 
2014

Documento elaborado por el Programa Urbano de UNITAS para el Informe de Social Watch.

En el año 2000, los Estados del mundo establecieron el objetivo de promover la igualdad de género y la autonomía de las mujeres. Los indicadores para medir el avance de este objetivo en los países refieren a la proporción de niñas y niños en la enseñanza primaria, secundaria y superior; la proporción de mujeres con empleos remunerados en el sector no agrícola y por último, la proporción de escaños ocupados por mujeres en los parlamentos nacionales .

El último informe de avance de los ODM publicado por Naciones Unidas (2013), indica que a nivel global, la paridad entre los géneros está a punto de alcanzarse en la enseñanza primaria, aunque sólo 2 de 130 países han logrado esa meta en todos los niveles educativos. Por otra parte, en todo el mundo, el 40% de los trabajos remunerados en sectores distintos del agrícola están ocupados por mujeres, aunque en empleos con baja remuneración y escasa protección social .

Los escasos avances en el campo educativo y laboral tienen su correlato en la persistente desigualdad sobre la toma de decisiones en el hogar, el sector público y privado y hasta en las más altas esferas del gobierno, lo que impide que las mujeres, participen de forma efectiva y real en las decisiones que afectan sus vidas.

Con base en la experiencia de algunos países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe, considerada en algunos informes internacionales como la región que más ha avanzado en el cierre de la brecha de género en el mundo, el presente documento expone algunos factores que propiciaron la creciente presencia de las mujeres en espacios de representación así como algunos obstáculos recurrentes que evitan que dicha presencia, muchas veces formal o funcional, se traduzca en una participación real y efectiva. Dichos obstáculos corresponden con la persistencia de mecanismos de discriminación y violencia estructural hacia las mujeres, para los cuáles la Nueva Agenda Global requerirá ir mucho más allá de los modestos y abstractos indicadores definidos en los ODM.

De las cuotas a la paridad: Luchas y nuevos desafíos

De acuerdo con el informe de NNUU, hacia finales del 2013, la proporción media de mujeres parlamentarias del mundo apenas superaba el 20% , cifra que no refleja la proporción real de hombres y mujeres en la población mundial. El establecimiento de un indicador cuantitativo tan abstracto como el mero incremento de la cantidad de mujeres en el parlamento pudo limitar mayores avances tanto en éste como en otros espacios de decisión del ámbito estatal y privado, contribuyendo muy poco al objetivo de la igualdad. Con ello, algunos países, establecieron metas minimalistas que terminaron estableciéndose como un máximo a alcanzar y marcaron un nuevo “techo de vidrio” para la participación de las mujeres.

Entre los años 2000 y 2013, la regiones que más habrían avanzado en la proporción de escaños ocupados por mujeres en las cámaras (baja o unicameral) de los parlamentos nacionales fueron África Septentrional (del 3 al 17%), Asia Meridional que subió en un 11,5 % (del 7 al 18,5%) y el Cáucaso - Asia Central en un 10.7% (del 7% al 17.7%). Por su parte, la región más cercana a la proporción del 30% es América Latina y el Caribe que avanzó en un 9.5%, pasando del 15 al 24.5% en el mismo periodo. Esto la sitúa por delante de las regiones desarrolladas que entre el 2000 y 2013 avanzaron del 16% al 23.8% en la proporción de escaños ocupados por mujeres en los parlamentos.

El informe de NNUU admite que los avances registrados a nivel global han sido mayores en los países en que han establecido sistemas de cuotas por medio de medidas legislativas que cuando dependió de la decisión voluntaria de los partidos políticos y fue mucho menor cuando los países no definieron ninguna política de cuotas.

En América Latina y el Caribe, desde 1991 se establecieron medidas afirmativas de género conocidas como leyes de cuotas, leyes diseñadas para alcanzar un nivel más equitativo en la distribución de los cargos de elección popular y representación entre mujeres y hombres. Desde entonces, catorce países de la región promovieron la participación de las mujeres en las cámaras legislativas a través de la promulgación de este tipo de leyes .

Por ello, es evidente que los avances registrados no responden a la implementación por parte de los Estados del abstracto indicador definido en el marco de los ODM, sino principalmente a la lucha de los movimientos de mujeres por la instauración de marcos normativos orientados a lograr la equidad en la representación política por medio del sistema de cuotas.

La aplicación de dichas leyes, aunque pocas veces ha estado acorde a las expectativas y tuvo una eficacia variable en diferentes contextos institucionales, socioculturales y momentos políticos, supuso el paso inicial para plantear la demanda de la paridad.

en adelante, solo algunos países de América Latina han sancionado normas de paridad política de género. Venezuela fue el primero en hacerlo desde el 2005 a través de resoluciones del Consejo Nacional Electoral, que se repitieron en sucesivas elecciones de distinto nivel. Ecuador (2008) y Bolivia (2009) han incorporado la paridad en sus nuevas Constituciones y normas electorales. En 2009, Costa Rica aprobó un nuevo Código Electoral que establece la paridad tanto en las estructuras internas de los partidos políticos como en las papeletas electorales .

A la luz de las experiencias y avances de la región, un nuevo marco para el logro de la igualdad política entre hombres y mujeres debería ser mucho más preciso y ambicioso en la formulación de indicadores que tendrían que estar dirigidos a alcanzar la paridad en la representación política y evitar así caer en el anacronismo con respecto a las luchas de las mujeres en la región.

La paridad en el caso Boliviano: mayor presencia, poca decisión

En casos como el de Bolivia , el efecto de la legislación de cuotas y paridad ha mostrado un incremento significativo de la presencia de las mujeres en cargos públicos. En la cámara de diputados se pasó de 3% en 1985 a 18% en 2002 con la aplicación de cuotas y luego a 23% en la proporción de mujeres con las medidas de paridad tras las elecciones de 2009. Mientras tanto, en la cámara de senadores se pasó de 0% en 1985 a 15% en 2002, proporción que subió a 47% en los comicios de 2009 gracias a la política de paridad. El incremento propiciado por ésta última se ha hecho efectivo también en otros niveles institucionales de decisión tales como los concejos municipales que actualmente llegan a un 43% en la proporción de mujeres, los concejos departamentales (28%), el Órgano Judicial (43%), el Tribunal Supremo Electoral (43%), el gabinete ministerial (35%). Sin embargo, resultan notablemente bajos en los principales cargos ejecutivos del país tales como los de las Gobernaciones Departamentales (0%), las Alcaldías (7%) y las carteras de presidencia y vicepresidencia del Estado (0%) .

El ejemplo de Bolivia, considerado como un país emblemático en la legislación por la igualdad, muestra que, pese a su importancia en el crecimiento de la representación de las mujeres en cargos públicos, la paridad no se ha alcanzado plenamente pues se enfrenta con los mismos obstáculos con los que lo hicieron en su momento las “leyes de cuotas”. Estos están vinculados al sistema electoral vigente, en especial a su aplicabilidad con respecto a cargos o circunscripciones uninominales parlamentarias, pero particularmente a la reticencia de los partidos políticos y las maniobras llevadas a cabo para franquear los requisitos de paridad , aspectos que en última instancia descansan sobre la vigencia de normas sociales discriminatorias que orientan la selección de candidaturas y el voto hacia personalidades masculinas, en especial en los principales cargos ejecutivos.

En varios sistemas o regímenes políticos latinoamericanos, ciertos rasgos de la cultura política como el presidencialismo, el caudillismo, el clientelismo y el patrimonialismo partidario influyen de manera negativa en la efectividad de los espacios de representación alcanzados por las mujeres. Los rasgos mencionados suelen coincidir con prácticas verticales de toma de decisiones que hacen que la presencia de las mujeres no sólo sea simbólica y subordinada a las jefaturas masculinas sino un recurso de legitimación de éstas últimas. Y en otros casos, imponga a las mujeres en espacios de decisión, formas de ejercicio del poder con rasgos patriarcales y autoritarios.

Por tanto, los indicadores en el nuevo marco de desarrollo, no deben conformarse con establecer la paridad como horizonte cuantitativo sino también orientarse a enfrentar las barreras que la cultura política impone a la participación de las mujeres. Esto incluye reformas profundas en el ámbito de las instituciones políticas y sus prácticas de ejercicio del poder.

El acoso político: Un viejo mecanismo, un nuevo frente de lucha

El fenómeno del acoso político no es nuevo, es y ha sido una manifestación recurrente de violencia estructural para restringir la participación de las mujeres en el ámbito público, sin embargo; se ha venido haciendo más evidente en los países de la región en la medida que las mujeres han ocupado más espacios de representación con la ayuda de las cuotas y la paridad . El acoso político, puede definirse como un conjunto de actos de presión, persecución, hostigamiento o amenazas, cometidos en contra de mujeres o de sus familias, con el propósito de acortar, suspender, impedir o restringir las funciones inherentes a su cargo, o para inducirlas u obligarlas a que realicen, en contra de su voluntad, acciones u omisiones en el cumplimiento de sus funciones o en el ejercicio de sus derechos .

Aunque países como Costa Rica y Perú discuten medidas para enfrentarlo, Bolivia, gracias a la lucha de la Asociación de Concejalas de Bolivia (ACOBOL) y otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil, es el único país de la región que ha promulgado una ley específica contra la violencia y el acoso político hacia las mujeres (Ley 243 de Mayo de 2012). La ley establece, de acuerdo a las faltas cometidas, diferentes procedimientos administrativos o judiciales para su procesamiento y sanción e introduce el acoso y la violencia política como nuevos tipos penales. Sin embargo, a dos años de aplicación e incluso tras dos muertes de concejalas aparentemente producidas por denunciar actos de corrupción en sus municipios, sólo se ha resuelto un caso de entre 154 denunciados en 2013.

Entre las debilidades de la ley, se encuentra que no otorgaba mecanismos de protección para el/la denunciante en casos de acoso y/o violencia política y adolecía de la falta de dispositivos legales que garanticen el acceso a la justicia de manera rápida y efectiva. De igual modo, era necesario establecer que las acciones de denuncia por la vía administrativa, ya sea en las instituciones públicas o privadas, podría sustituir los procesos por la vía judicial en los casos que así lo ameriten. Por otra parte, la ley requería mayor precisión conceptual con el fin de incluir, a las mujeres que actúan en el ámbito de las organizaciones sociales, sindicales, vecinales, instituciones de los pueblos indígenas, originarios y campesinos, entre otras.

Esto es particularmente importante en países con un denso tejido social, como varios de los de Latinoamérica puesto que el grado y capacidad de movilización de las organizaciones sociales se han constituido en una condición primaria para influir en el sistema político. La movilización social por encima y muchas veces a pesar de la representatividad de los partidos políticos se ha constituido en un rasgo relativamente estable de la cultura política y la “democracia” en la región.

Los ámbitos organizativos sociales son espacios de agregación de demanda social y de transición de las personas hacia la vida pública y política, pero pese a considerarse espacios de integración y realización personal y ser, después de la familia, los principales ámbitos de socialización y formación política, son también ámbitos donde las mujeres viven sus primeras experiencias de acoso y violencia política. En éstos, la discriminación se reproduce y “socializa” en función a representaciones sociales sobre los ideales de “hombre” y “mujer”, que tanto en ámbitos rurales como urbanos permanecen poco cuestionados.

En estas organizaciones sociales, las mujeres encuentran barreras para el acceso y ascenso a espacios de decisión. Los prejuicios machistas las repliegan a funciones accesorias, desplazándolas de las decisiones e incluso truncando su carrera dirigencial y su subsecuente participación en ámbitos estatales.

En base a esta experiencia, se puede decir que un nuevo marco global para la equidad en la participación debe establecer indicadores claros que den cuenta de normas y políticas orientados a prevenir y sancionar actos de violencia y acoso político contra las mujeres en el ámbito público en su definición amplia, definición que incluya los espacios de representación estatal pero también los de la sociedad civil y las organizaciones de base.

Conclusión: paridad no sólo con normas, sino transformando la cultura política

La experiencia de la lucha y conquistas de las mujeres en Latinoamérica así como los nuevos desafíos emergentes de las mismas, muestran que el nuevo marco global para el desarrollo con equidad e igualdad debe adecuarse al momento histórico y las necesidades del contexto actual.

En coherencia con dichos procesos, deben generarse indicadores más exigentes y específicos no sólo orientados a la promulgación de normas jurídicas para lograr la paridad sino también a transformar normas sociales discriminatorias, nociones y prácticas de la cultura política caudillista y patrimonialista estrechamente emparentadas con conductas patriarcales.

En el marco de los planes estatales, los indicadores deberían incluir por ejemplo la cantidad de recursos y disposiciones institucionales destinadas para la efectiva aplicación de las normas, pero también para la educación, la formación y la prevención de la violencia contra las mujeres en todas sus formas y ámbitos.

Mientras las mujeres sigan distanciadas de la toma de decisiones sobre aspectos clave de sus vidas, mientras su presencia sea sólo simbólica, asimilada a lógicas patriarcales o asediada por el acoso político, se continuará reproduciendo esquemas decisorios y políticas insuficientes o distantes de sus necesidades, sus contextos socioculturales y sus visiones particulares sobre el mundo y el ejercicio del poder, influyendo en forma cíclicamente negativa sobre otros aspectos como la salud, la educación, las condiciones laborales que los ODM buscaban alcanzar para el 2015.

Notas:

Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, Informe de 2013. Organización de Naciones Unidas. Disponible en: http://www.un.org/es/millenniumgoals/pdf/mdg-report-2013-spanish.pdf. Fecha de consulta: 25/05/2014

América Latina Cierra la Brecha de Género. News Release. The Global Gender Gap Report 2013World Economic Forum, 25 de octubre de 2013. Disponible en: http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2013. Fecha de consulta 02/06/2014.

Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, Informe de 2013. Organización de Naciones Unidas. Disponible en: http://www.un.org/es/millenniumgoals/pdf/mdg-report-2013-spanish.pdf. Fecha de consulta: 25/05/2014

Nélida Archenti y María Inés Tula, ¿LAS MUJERES AL PODER? CUOTAS Y PARIDAD DE GÉNERO EN AMÉRICA LATINA. Seminario de Investigación #9: 22 de febrero de 2013. Instituto de Iberoamérica, Universidad de Salamanca.

CEPAL. La política de paridad y alternancia en la ley electoral de Costa Rica. Un avance en la garantía de la autonomía en la toma de decisiones de las mujeres. Observatorio de Igualdad de Género de América Latina y el Caribe. Octubre 2012. Sitio web:http://www.cepal.org/oig/noticias/noticias/2/48212/PoliticaElectoral_CostaRica.pdf. Fecha de consulta: 01/06/014.

En 1997 el Código Electoral boliviano definió la cuota del 30% para las listas cerradas de las elecciones parlamentarias, que en 1999 se aplicó a las elecciones municipales. En 2001 una nueva normativa estableció cuotas para las elecciones de senadores, diputados y concejales. Por su parte en la Ley de Partidos Políticos (1999) se disponía la obligación de incluir al menos un 30% de mujeres en todos los niveles de dirección territorial y funcional de las organizaciones, mientras que en la Ley de Agrupaciones Ciudadanas y Pueblos Indígenas (2004) se estableció la obligación de un 50% de mujeres en las candidaturas con alternancia de género en las listas de candidatos. CEPAL. La política de paridad y alternancia de género en los órganos de elección del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia y en las instancias políticas intermedias: un avance en la garantía de la autonomía en la toma de decisiones de las mujeres. Observatorio de Igualdad de Género de América Latina y el Caribe. Abril 2013. Sitio web: http://www.eclac.cl/cgi-bin/getProd.asp?xml=/oig/noticias/noticias/3/49723/P49723.xml&xsl=/oig/tpl/p1f.xsl. Fecha de consulta: 01/06/014.

Síntesis de datos sobre la actual proporción de género entre autoridades de los Órganos Ejecutivo, Legislativo, Judicial y Electoral (Bolivia). Observatorio de Género. Coordinadora de la Mujer. Disponible en: http://www.coordinadoradelamujer.org.bo/observatorio/index.php/general2niv/mostrar/boton/2/sub/17/id/11/tem/2. Fecha de consulta: 02/03/2014.

Una de estas modalidades aplicadas en Bolivia ha sido la llamada “gestión compartida”, que se basa en acuerdos ilegales utilizado por los partidos para que el tiempo de gestión sea dividido entre la titular y la suplente. Con frecuencia este mecanismo afecta en mayor medida a las mujeres.

Machicao Barbery, Ximena. “Participación Política de las Mujeres: Acoso y Violencia Política”. Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe. Quito, 25 de Febrero de 2011. Disponible en: http://www.gloobal.net/iepala/gloobal/fichas/ficha.php?id=15617&entidad=Textos&html=1. Fecha de consulta: 03/06/2014.

Definición tomada de “Fundamentación Técnica de la Propuesta de Reglamentación de la Ley Contra el Acoso y la Violencia Política a las Mujeres. Mesa de Participación de las Mujeres, Bolivia. 2014 (Documento inédito).

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Social Watch: Promoting accountability

Publication_year: 
2014

This is the 17th global report published by Social Watch since 1995 on the implementation of international commitments to eradicate poverty and achieve gender justice. In this effort to voice independent assessments, the Social Watch reports have compiled and published 782 original country reports from civil society organizations.

The present issue, featuring contributions from 44 national Social Watch coalitions, carries forward the idea that brought the network into existence in 1995: the need to generate tools and strategies to rectify the lack of accountability mechanisms and ensure compliance with aspirational international commitments.

In 1995, the Social Summit (Copenhagen) and the Women’s Conference (Beijing) defined, for the first time, gender equality and the eradication of poverty as common universal objectives, setting concrete targets and timelines to achieve that goal, which was already implicit in the 1946 UN Charter promise to achieve “dignity for all.” To promote the political will needed for those promises to become a reality, Social Watch was created as a “meeting place for non-governmental organizations concerned with social development and gender discrimination.”

The Social Watch reports were formulated as tools for reporting on qualitative aspects of the issues addressed by social organizations working at a national level. The reports add an international dimension to local efforts and campaigns and they became the first sustained monitoring initiative on social development and gender equity at a national level, and the first to combine both in one international overview.

The first report featured contributions from 13 organizations in 1996; since then, the network has been growing steadily and currently, Social Watch has members (“watchers”) in over 70 countries around the world.

The local, the global and the report

Every  Social Watch report proposes issues under discussion on the international agenda that can be addressed from a local perspective. Through  national and regional reports member organizations contribute their perspectives. The global report, in turn, supports their advocacy work.

On several occasions, Social Watch spokespersons have addressed the UN General Assembly and other intergovernmental bodies on behalf of the network or wider civil society constituencies. The network has kept national coalitions informed about global decision making processes and enabled members to participate in these developments.

As the “meeting place” has grown, several aspects of it have evolved, but the founding ideas and objectives remain. In preparing for their participation in the Copenhagen Social Summit, civil society organizations adopted flexible and ad hoc ways of organizing as a network. No formal governing structure or steering committee was created and no stable coordinating group was established. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) preferred to inform each other and coordinate activities in horizontal open spaces, an approach that some analysts regard as a forerunner of the organizational format later adopted by the World Social Forum. Many of the NGOs that took part in the Social Summit later formed the backbone of Social Watch. As a result, the structure and functioning of the network preserves much of the original flexibility and openness.

In addition to national coalitions, the network is structured around three bodies: the General Assembly, the Coordinating Committee and the International Secretariat. In recent years, regional and sub-regional coordination structures were established as needed. In big countries like India, sub-national reports provide participation spaces at state level.

The Social Watch network is not an incorporated entity and it did not start by drafting its governing bylaws. Instead, a short Memorandum of Understanding between national groups and the network became the basic framework establishing mutual expectations, respecting both the autonomy of national coalitions and democratic, horizontal decision-making.

National coalitions organize the way they want – or can – according to the conditions in each country. The membership of Social Watch coalitions is very diverse, including research institutes or centres, NGOs, grassroots organizations, trade unions, women’s groups, rural organizations and others.

Global Assembly

The Global Assembly is the Social Watch network’s highest directive body. Policy discussion and medium- to long-term strategic planning happens in its realm, which serves as a decision-making forum. It is also a space for reinforcing the sense of belonging and strengthening the network’s identity and unity. In addition to setting medium- and long-term priorities and identifying potential alliances in advocacy strategy, the Assembly elects members of the Coordinating Committee to whom coordination and political leadership between assemblies are delegated. It has been held five times: in Rome 2000, Beirut 2003, Sofia 2006, Accra 2009, and Manila in 2011.

Coordinating Committee

The Coordinating Committee (CC) ensures the political visibility and participation of the network in relevant spaces and processes. Its composition endeavours to represent a geographical and gender balance, as well as considering the contribution, in terms of experience and capabilities, that members can provide to the whole network. In general, the CC’s decisions are adopted by consensus.

International Secretariat

The Secretariat is the main executive body of Social Watch. Its function was originally limited to the production of the Report, but as the network’s grew it incorporated new functions, including research, capacity building, campaigning, promotion of the network and its representation in international forums. In turn, as regional coordinations strengthen, they share these tasks.

Promoting accountability

The Accra Assembly, held in October 2009, endorsed the concept of “mutual accountability” among members and among the different bodies of the network (Secretariat, CC, members). Social Watch believes that the key action to achieve poverty eradication, gender equality and social justice happen primarily at the local and national level and, therefore, its international activities and structures should be accountable and at the service of national and local constituencies, and not the other way around.

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Desde las bases: INFORMES NACIONALES

Publication_year: 
2014
INFORME ANUAL: 
Yes
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A country in coma

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
As a whirlpool, the crisis that has been lasting for the past 5 years has hit Italy hard in 2012. The country was put under the "technical” government of Mario Monti, who acted as a commissioner and subjected Italy to a shock therapy of austerity policies, similar to the structural adjustment programs imposed by the IMF. While intended to reanimate the economy, it plunged the country into a real recession under the blackmail of two parameters: the "spread" between Italy and Germany, and the Public Debt, which has grown another 10%, reaching 127,3% of the GNP (3rd quarter of 2012, according to Eurostat). It is not by chance that the Prime Minister Mario Monti has been International Advisor to Goldman Sachs.

Social Watch Italy*

As a whirlpool, the crisis that has been lasting for the past 5 years has hit Italy hard in 2012.
The country was put under the "technical” government of Mario Monti, who acted as a commissioner and subjected Italy to a shock therapy of austerity policies, similar to the structural adjustment programs imposed by the IMF. While intended to reanimate the economy, it plunged the country into a real recession under the blackmail of two parameters: the "spread" between Italy and Germany, and the Public Debt, which has grown another 10%, reaching 127,3% of the GNP (3rd quarter of 2012, according to Eurostat). It is not by chance that the Prime Minister Mario Monti has been International Advisor to Goldman Sachs.

The deterioration of the living conditions of a large part of the Italian population concerned especially the "working poor": in Italy, according to OECD data, they are three million, about 15% of the total employed, compared to 10% in Denmark or 6% in Sweden. Eight million Italians live with less than one thousand euro per month. The crisis has seriously damaged the middle class.

Almost 30% of the resident population in Italy, according to Istat data, risks poverty or social exclusion, +6.3 % compared to 2010 (which is higher than the European average of 24.2%); the incidence of poverty increases especially in families with many children (Caritas Report 2012). The inequality between rich and poor has widened, with 20% of earners who receive 37.4% of the total income, and 20% of the poorest who get only 8%. The Bank of Italy, in its latest study on estates, reveals that the richest 10 italians own as much as the poorest 3 million. Furthermore, according to Coldiretti, in 12 months, the proportion of Italians who cannot afford an adequate full meal at least every two days, has doubled (now 12.3%).

The year 2012 has recorded a loss of 4 million jobs (ILO) and the closure of more than 100.000 companies (25% more than in 2011). Some entrepreneurs have even committed suicide. The officially registered unemployed rose to 2.875 million - with an official unemployment rate of 11.2% (compared to 9.4% of the previous year - 20% more), and youth unemployment rose to 36.6% with peaks over 50% in southern Italy (11% is the average in Europe). The increased insecurity and undeclared work have affected especially the younger generations. The hours of extraordinary redundancy payment almost doubled compared to January 2012: from 21,4 to 42.2 million euro (+97%).

All these negative data show a country that is falling down, and in this context, from a country sponsoring the MDGs, it could start benefitting from them as well.

2015 and after: another option for the fight against poverty after the MDGs?

Italian civil society is involved in the process promoted by the United Nations for the establishment of a new perspective and new commitments beyond 2015, mainly through the Italian GCAP, a coalition representing more than 60 organizations (NGO, Third sector, trade unions,) and that is part of the international initiative "Beyond 2015".

The first step in 2013 consists of a national consultation process, which aims to influence the official position that Italy will bring in the UN and in Europe. The UN meeting in September 2013 will begin the process of defining a new framework of commitment and global actions for the development and the fight against poverty, replacing the current goals.

On a national level the consultation between institutions and civil society could be an opportunity to give the country a role in the definition of the European position. Hopefully, the process Beyond 2015 will be an opportunity to build a new era of development and cooperation policies, that could be taken up by the new government.

Italy is unfortunately very far from contributing to its European commitments. Although many of Italian cooperation projects relate to the achievement of the Goals, in particular those on education, food security and health, no official reports have been made to evaluate what has been achieved by the Italian Cooperation for the MDGs.

Over the past four years Italy, is the only donor that has not paid its share of the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (around € 130 million per year), thus not participating, despite the promises made by the Berlusconi (G8 L'Aquila, 2011) and Monti (who did not include it in the Stability law for 2013) governments.

New perspectives for a relaunch of the Italian ODA

In 2012, Italy resulted as the bottom of the league in the EU-15, with with a ODA ratio below 0.20%: the ODA was reduced by 92 million of euro, 51% more than the already meagre funds of 2011. NGOs reported: "A country without development cooperation is a country with no prospect of recovery for the future."

The Minister for International Cooperation and Integration, Andrea Riccardi, a new post established by the Monti Government, took up the challenge and opened dialogue with ngos, institutions, universities and the nonprofit world, calling for an Inter-institutional table. This step was shared and participated by many stakeholders to identify tools and practices of our international solidarity in a systemic framework. In October 2012, Riccardi set up a Forum of Milan, which for a short time brought international cooperation at the center of foreign politics. The guidelines of Italian ODA for 2013 identify Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East as priority areas in support of the fight against poverty, of the strengthening of democratic processes, peace and dialogue.

Thanks to this positive climate, the work to re-draft the law on Development Cooperation was initiated, but it stopped right away with the anticipated end of the Legislation. Civil society will watch over so that the next government will enhance the path initiated by the new Minister, supported by an appropriate new law.

Drastic cuts in social spending. Increases in military spending

In a context of strong and generalized reduction of public spending, of resources available to the ministries and for services to citizens, thanks to the Spending Review and the Stability (pact) law, the Ministry of Defense, from 2013 to 2015, scored an increase in its budget. Twenty-five times higher than that of social policies – the defense budget passes from 19.962 billion in 2012 to 20,935 in 2013, up to 21.024 billion euro in 2015, significantly increasing the resources at its disposal. In addition, while all ministries reduced investment spending, the government confirmed for 2013 the Italian participation in the purchase of 90 airplane fighters F35 - whose total cost amounts to approximately € 14 billion in 15 years - and of two submarines U212 and two FREMM frigates, with a cost in 2012 of about 800 million euro. This growth in the Defense budget indicate the will of the Italian government to follow the path of "military Keynesianism", through the use of public spending in this sector to stimulate domestic demand for consumption and investment.

Environment and energy: disappointing politics, a mortgaged country

In the area of environmental policies and public works, the Monti government has tried to use the EU funds for the development of the South of Italy, stimulating small and medium-sized public works (construction of schools, hydrogeological instability of the territory). Nevertheless, at the end of 2012, the final decision to cancel the construction of the bridge between Calabria (mainland) and Sicily Island (€ 8.5 billion, more than half a point of the Italian GDP, for a useless public work, with a negative cost-benefit calculation) was postponed, the future of the South of Italy.

While the French Court of Auditors pointed to the Hollande Government that the high-speed train line Turin-Lyon, with a cost of 26 billion euro, is not validated by transport studies and financial credibility, the Monti Government has pushed for a political agreement with Hollande to revive the project, notwithstanding strong citizen opposition.

Finally, regarding Italy's energy policies, the Ministry of Economic Development Corrado Passera, after a long wait of 20 years, presented in November 2012 a National Energy Strategy. It is very disappointing because it has a very short breath (only 8 years) and it does not identify the strengths and solution towards a policy of exit hydrocarbon dependancy. Indeed the "strategy" is pointing to the "resumption of sustainable production of national hydrocarbons" (though Italian oil is scarce and of low quality: Italy extracts 0.1% of the world's oil) and to the maintenance of carbon research stations, turning the peninsula into a European hub for the distribution of gas.

Pension and labour reforms

The Monti government has worked since inception on two major reforms.
The pension reform, which was approved in early December of 2011 (enforced since 2012), has established a flexible retirement age, increased to 62 years old for women with a range that covers up to 70 years old, while for men the range of flexibility is between 66 and 70 years old. The urgency with which the measure was launched has created a serious problem for the hundreds of thousands of workers who, under the previous retirement age, agreed with and encouraged by their companies for early resignation from work in 2012; in fact, they were a response to the employment crisis reported by the companies themselves. Out of all this the phenomenon of "esodati" (income deprived early retirees) burst out- estimated at around 350,000 workers - who, without warning, found themselves suddenly without a job and no pension, therefore with no income. The government was totally unprepared to intervene. The reform will, however, have its real effects in 2013. From the 1st of January 2013, in fact, many of the measures to lengthen the stay at work on one side and to reduce the amount of welfare checks on the other, due to the method of calculating contributions and the adjustment of the coefficients of conversion, will become effective.

As far as the reform of the labor market - Law no. 92 of 28 June 2012 – it is early to make an assessment. The areas on which the new law insists are the entry and exit ways in the labor market. Following the discussions on rights and principles (eg. the suppression or reform of Article 18, against unjust layoffs), which has animated as well as divided the Italian unions, there have been no significant and official feedbacks on the implementation of the reform.

Migration control agreements between Italy and Libya

Italy has considered as a top priority the strengthening of borders, at the expense of its international obligations related to protecting refugees and asylum-seekers and saving life at sea and has strengthened its control measures over the border, regardless of the human costs. In 2012 almost 2000 men, women and children have drowned in the Mediterranean sea trying to reach Europe. On several occasions, Italy has pushed back people to Libya, where they were then arrested and subjected to ill-treatment.

Although this practice has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 (case Hirsi vs Italy) and despite substantial public evidence that migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers still face serious abuse in Libya, on 3 April 2012 Italy signed a new agreement with Libya on migration control. Amnesty International repeatedly asked the Italian authorities to make the content of the agreement public but the requests went unheeded. The text of the agreement was leaked to the Italian press on 18 June. The provisions in the agreement confirm that Italian authorities seek support from Libya in stemming migration flows, while turning a blind eye to the fact that migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are at real risk of serious human rights violations and abuses there. Through the agreement, Libya commits itself to strengthening control over its borders to prevent “unauthorized” departures from its territory, and Italy commits itself to providing training and equipment to enhance “border surveillance”. However, apart from a tokenistic mention of human rights, there is no indication of any concrete measures to prevent human rights violations and abuses from occurring in the context of this cooperation.

Italy must ensure adequate protection for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers and adopt fair immigration and asylum policies, including by granting access to the territory and fair and effective asylum procedures for people in need of international protection. The Italian Government should set aside any existing migration control agreements with Libya and it should not enter into any further agreements with Libya until the latter is able to demonstrate that it respects and protects the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants and has in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognizing claims for international protection.

* Jason Nardi (Social Watch Italy coordinator), Riccardo Moro e Francesco Petrelli (Italian Coalition against poverty-Oxfam Italy), Sabina Siniscalchi (Fondazione culturale responsabilità etica), Silvia Stilli (Arcs-Arci)], Federica Corsi (Oxfam Italy), Andrea Baranes (005 Campaign), Emilia Blasi (Arcs), Laura Renzi (Amnesty International), Soana Tortora (Solidarius Italia), Stefano Lenzi (WWF Italy) – Carmela Guarascio (Univ. Calabria).

 


BOX
Ilva: work vs health

The ownership of Ilva (ex Italsider), the largest steel industry in Italy, and the third largest in Europe, based in the city of Taranto, has been accused for manslaughter and environmental disaster, poisoning of food substances, intentional omission of precautions against accidents, damage of public goods, spills of dangerous substances and pollution.

In 2012, the experts appointed by the Public Prosecutor’s office of Taranto, counted a total of 11.550 deaths, mostly for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The report has assessed the correlation between the very high pollution, caused by Ilva, and the health damage provoked to workers' and inhabitants health.

The seizure of the plant puts at risk thousands of jobs. A Citizens' committee has asked for the stop to the "threat of unemployment" and the depredation of the Ionian area. The Citizens' committee does not accept the opposition "work vs health", because this dichotomy alters the reality of the situation of Taranto.

Meanwhile, the government tries to prevent the stop of production. The Minister of Environment, Corrado Clini, made a decree granting the right of use for the plant, which had been seized by the Judiciary on July 26, 2012 - thus neglecting to protect the health of citizens and workers and following the logic of profit over rights.

 


BOX

Italian Financial Transaction Tax

After years of denial, a financial transactions tax was introduced in December 2012. The Italian FTT however presents some gaps that significantly reduce its effectiveness in contrasting speculation, disappointing the expectations of the Campaign “ZeroZeroCinque”, which promoted it. The corrective measures are about the enlargement of the tax base to all derivative instruments; the review of exemptions; the application of the tax to individual transactions to discourage high-frequency trading; use the proceeds to domestic social politics, to international development cooperation and combating climate change. This could be a first political step to regulate the finance, but it is not enough. It is disappointing that the Government and Parliament have not been more courageous and ambitious in its definition, yielding to the interests of financial lobbies.

Corrections and enhancements are then delegated to the new legislature and to the Government that will take office in 2013. It will be also responsible for advancing the important process to an enhanced cooperation between the EU and 11 countries, which began in 2012 at the European level. It will come out with the introduction of a European FTT.

 

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Achieving the MDGs: Progress and Challenges

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
This report tracks the extent to which Zambia is making progress towards achieving the MDGs focuses on Goals 1 to 7 and assesses Zambia’s national development plans, the main tools for achieving economic and human development, particularly the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP). It also analyses problems in the way the MDGs are formulated, arguing that unless these are taken care of, the human development conditions of countries such as Zambia will remain poor for a long time. Finally, it makes proposals for post 2015 reform.

Emily Joy Sikazwe (Executive Director)
Women For Change

This report tracks the extent to which Zambia is making progress towards achieving the MDGs focuses on Goals 1 to 7 and assesses Zambia’s national development plans, the main tools for achieving economic and human development, particularly the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP). It also analyses problems in the way the MDGs are formulated, arguing that unless these are taken care of, the human development conditions of countries such as Zambia will remain poor for a long time. Finally, it makes proposals for post 2015 reform.

At the launch of the MDGs in 2000, Zambia’s human development indicators were weak, owing to the steady deterioration of the economic and social conditions since the mid-1970s, when prices of its main produce copper fell on the world market. From the late 1980s and 1990s Zambia implemented the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund inspired Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), under which significant cuts to public expenditure were applied, considerably weakening delivery of social services in the health, education and other sectors. This period is also when the HIV and AIDS pandemic hit Zambia the hardest.

After the deterioration in the 1990s, there has been a slight improvement in Zambia’s human development ranking: from 0.35 in 2000 to 0.395 in 2010, putting it at 150 out of 169 countries. Despite progress, human development is still low, and some of the goals will not be met. For the period 2006-2009 Zambia’s economy grew at an average of 6.1% per annum. Yet these gains have not been felt by the most vulnerable sections of society.

MDG 1: Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Extreme poverty has been on the decline, falling from 58% in 1991 to 51% in 2006. Extreme poverty in rural areas declined from 81% in 1991 to 67 % in 2006 while in urban areas it declined from 32 % in 1991 to 20% in 2006. However, the pace of change has been too slow to enable Zambia meet the target of 29% by 2015. The prevalence of children under the age of five who are underweight fell from 25.1% in 1992 to 14.6% in 2007, although stunting in children remains an area of major concern. To reach the target of 12.5% of underweight children under five, efforts will have to be greatly intensified.

MDG 2: Achieving Universal Primary Education

Net enrolment at primary education level increased from 80% in 1990 to 102% in 2009. The rate of pupils completing primary education rose from 64% in 1990 to 91.7% in 2009. However, major challenges remain with adult literacy, which fell from 79% in 1990 to 70% in 2004. Other challenges are the low completion rates at secondary school level despite the increase from 14.4% in 2002 to 19.4% in 2009. Tertiary education remains inaccessible to most and is poorly funded. At 1 to 57, the primary-teacher–pupil ratio is above the recommended standard.

MDG 3: Promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment of women

The ratio of girls to boys in primary education improved from 0.90 in 1990 to 0.96 in 2009. The 2015 target will be met. However challenges abound with secondary, tertiary education and literacy rates. In secondary schools the ratio of girls to boys decreased from 0.92 in 1990 to 0.88 in 2009. The ratio of girls to boys in tertiary education stood at 0.74 and for the ratio of literate women to men between the ages of 15-24 years old stood at 0.8.

Affirmative action, early marriages, teenage pregnancies and social and cultural attitudes and practices that undermine girls and women’s participation in public life all face huge challenges. For example, before the September 2011 elections, women’s representation in Parliament stood at 14%, but thereafter declined to 11%. In terms of employment in the formal economy, males accounted for 71%, compared to 29 % for females.

MDG 4: Reducing Child Mortality

The number of deaths to under-five children dropped from 190 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 119 in 2007. But this remains high and considerably far from reaching the 2015 target of 63.6%. Similarly, while infant mortality declined from 107.2 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 70 in 2007, this is far from the 2015 target of 37.5.

To accelerate progress towards these targets, greater effort will need to be exerted in increasing access to skilled birth attendance, mother’s education, nutrition for mother and child, child immunization and prevention of common childhood diseases.

MDG 5: Improving Maternal Health

Maternal mortality decreased from 649 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 591 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007, again far from the 2015 target of 162. Investment is needed to increase the number of trained mid-wives at birth, install basic health infrastructure and improve roads and transport systems, especially in rural areas, to ensure pregnant women get to health centres on time.

MDG 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases

The number of people tested for HIV increased from 234, 430 in 2006 to 1,050,000 in 2008. The prevalence of HIV declined from 16% in 2002 to 14.3 % in 2007. In 2009, HIV incidence was estimated at 1.6 % or 82,000 new infections. The number of people on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) increased from 30,112 in 2005 to 283,863 in 2009.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is a big challenge. Only 47% of pregnant women deliver their babies at health facilities, which presents immense challenges to ensuring completion of treatment to prevent transmission. More than 75% of the antenatal care facilities currently provide PMTCT services, but the majority of these facilities are mostly along the country’s main rail line and urban centres. Rural areas are inadequately covered.

While the indicators pertaining to HIV and AIDS are nevertheless on course to being met, much more effort is required to meet the indicators on malaria, a major cause of illness and death in both children and adults. The number of new malaria cases declined from 412 in 2006 to 252 in 2008. The tuberculosis notification rate decreased from 419 per 100,000 in 2007 to 408 per 100,000 in 2008.

MDG 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

The proportion of households without access to safe water declined from 51% in 1991 to 40% in 2006. The share of those without sanitation increased from 26% in 1991 to 36.1% in 2006.

Assessing the effectiveness of the National Development Plans

Zambia’s first national development plan was the transitional national plan (1964-1966). Several more followed until 1993 when national development planning was abandoned as the country focused on implementing the SAP and developing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers which many argued represented an effort by the World Bank and IMF to impose neo-liberal economic policies on poor countries. Beginning in 2006 these resumed, with the Fifth National Development Plan-FNDP (2006- 2010) and the current Sixth National Development Plan-SNDP (2011- 2015).

In terms of performance, the 2009 Annual Progress Report on the Implementation of the FNDP found that in 2006, slightly over half of the targets set were met. This figure dropped to 38.4% in 2008, then recovered slightly to 38.7% in 2009. The number of indicators which sectors have not reported on went up considerably over the same period. The report concluded that this may be a sign that the sectors are opting not to report, rather than confirm targets have been missed.

A mid-term evaluation of the FNDP was undertaken by the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) in 2008. The evaluation assessed a number of pro-poor programmes including agriculture, education and health. Some of the conclusions include:

  • The agriculture sector had not performed well enough to ensure food security, income generation, creation of employment opportunities and reduction in poverty levels. Performance in the education sector has shown steady improvement: for instance, the number of teachers being recruited has increased, although an acute shortage of teachers remains in rural and remote area schools.
  • In contrast to primary education, high school education faces greater challenges. The quality of high school education has not benefited from the same level of investment as basic education, resulting in deterioration in the quality of education in high schools.”
  • The health sector also faces important challenges. Human resource availability remains far below the recommended levels. In addition the health care system faces a lack of drugs, medical equipment and basic infrastructure. Therefore, the poor, especially those in rural areas, continue to suffer poor access to health care services. The incidence of diseases and mortality rates still remains high.

Gaps in the MDGs

The problem that countries are experiencing with the MDGs is that they are both minimalist and quantitative, failing to assess quality. For example, in the education sector, the good rates of primary school enrolment and completion hide the poor quality of education that many children receive, especially in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic. According to a study by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ), Zambian pupils have ranked among the worst in the region in mathematics and reading skills.

Because of the need for measurable targets, the goal of gender equality ignores many of the most critical issues women face, notably gender based violence (GBV) which is increasing in Zambia and negatively affecting human development. Despite the enactment of the Anti-GBV Act in 2011, there was an increase in reported cases. Rural areas are disproportionately affected by the lack of a mechanism to deal with issues of rape and defilement such as the presence of doctors to certify the incidences.

Inequalities are also growing between those benefiting from economic growth and those left out. The Gini coefficient, increased from 0.64 in 2001 and 2004 to 0.67 in 2008. The gains from general economic growth in the country are not helping close the inequality gap.

Similarly, although Zambia is well endowed in natural resources, it struggles with the management of its environment and few people have benefitted from the extractive industries. An example is the mining sector, which has been the major contributor to Zambia’s economy as a major employer, export and earner of foreign exchange. In recent years the industry has experienced new buoyancy. Due to tax incentives and holidays, the mining companies’ contribution to the treasury and overall development of the country is quite low despite historically high international copper prices. There is little transparency and accountability for the resources which government is receiving from the taxes and royalties generated.

The phenomenon of granting large tracts to foreign investors also known as “land grabs” is growing and more and more people are being displaced from their ancestral lands. According to Olivier De Schutter, the Special Rapporteur for the UN on the Right to Food, private investors and governments have shown growing interest in the acquisition or long-term lease of large portions of arable land in countries, mostly in the developing world. An estimate from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shows between 15 and 20 million hectares of farmland in developing countries have been subject to transactions or negotiations involving foreign investors since 2006. Zambia is a among the main target countries.

The impact of this on food security and other areas of human development are profound. Post 2015, issues pertaining to extraction must be addressed, or the opportunity for local communities to benefit from the exploitation of their natural resources may be lost forever.

In terms of the contribution of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to the national budget, the trend has been towards reduction. In the 2013 national budget, 76.8% of expenditure will be financed through domestic revenues, 4.6% will be financed from grants from ODA, while the balance of 18.4% will be raised from external and domestic borrowing.

This is positive in many respects as it means the Government must now focus on internal accountability to its citizens. Yet, accountability remains an area of weakness. Year after year the Auditor-General reports many cases of abuse, misuse and misapplication of colossal sums of money in the public service. But very little action is taken against the perpetrators. There is need to put in place measures to guarantee citizen participation such as effective decentralization.

Conclusion

Out of the 22 indicators reported on in the 2011 MDG progress report, only 6 (27%) are on track to being met, 12 (54%) need to be accelerated in order to be met and 4 (18%) will not be met. This suggests that the developments efforts are insufficient to meet the MDGs. Further, the fact that MDG 6 on HIV and AIDS is the only goal likely to be met suggests that global support, such as through the Global Fund on AIDS, Malaria and TB, is critical.

Clearly, post 2015 development goals and targets must be less minimalist and quantitative. Human development also requires looking beyond economic growth to the nature and impact of that growth especially on the poor.

Notes:

UNDP Zambia, Human Development Report 2011: Service Delivery for Sustainable Human Development, Lusaka, 2011.

Ministry of Finance, Republic of Zambia, Annual Progress Report, Sixth National Development Plan, Lusaka, June 2012.

UNDP Zambia, Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2011.

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid.

SADC Gender Protocol 2012 Barometer – Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance, 2012.

UNDP Zambia, HDR 2011.

UNDP Zambia, HDR 2011.

Ibid.

Alastair Fraser, “Poverty reduction strategy papers: Now who calls the shots?” Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 32, no. 104-105, 2005.

CSPR, Mid-term Evaluation of the FNDP, Lusaka, November 2008.

SACMEQ Policy Issues Series #2, September 2010. Available at: www.sacmeq.org

Ministry of Finance, Annual Progress Report, Sixth National Development Plan, June 2012.

Olivier De Schutter - Large-scale land acquisitions and leases: eleven principles to address the human rights challenge,” Briefing Note, 11 June 2009.

2013 Budget Address by Minister of Finance, 2013 Budget Address. Available at: www.zra.org.zm/Budget.php.

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Are MDGs an adequate mean to end poverty?

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Is Bangladesh responsible for its fate? <br> “The morality of global warming or climate change, or environmental degradation, is really quite simple. it steals from future generations, it penalises the poor, it is exaggerated by greed, it puts diversity at risk. Environmental pollution hurts all of life; it is in the interest of every living thing for human beings to do something about it”-Bishop George Browning, Convenor of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (2007).

Zahid Rahman and Choyon Kumar Saha, Unnayan Shamannay,
Md. Mujibul Haque Munir, EquityBD

Is Bangladesh responsible for its fate?

“The morality of global warming or climate change, or environmental degradation, is really quite simple. it steals from future generations, it penalises the poor, it is exaggerated by greed, it puts diversity at risk. Environmental pollution hurts all of life; it is in the interest of every living thing for human beings to do something about it”-Bishop George Browning, Convenor of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (2007).[1]

According to the World Risk Report-2012 of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the Alliance Development Works and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Bangladesh is one of the most natural disaster prone countries in the world, occupying the 5th position among 173 countries. Bangladesh scores 63.78 percent in vulnerability, 86.84 and 61.03 percent in lack of coping and adaptive capacities respectively[2]. Risk of natural hazards along with others (e.g. social, economic and technological) is gradually amplifying, and worsening the human conditions of more and more people in all parts of the country, frequently affected by tropical cyclones, flood, drought and earthquakes. Climate change impacts affect achieving the MDGs of Bangladesh, particularly Goal One – eradicating poverty and hunger. Climate change is likely to directly impact the poor’s livelihoods in many ways, their assets and resources, their employment, income, access to water and natural resources. The poor in Bangladesh will face more food insecurity, water stress and health problems because of the rapidly changing climate that also undermines significantly the efforts to reduce poverty.[3]

But a huge question can be raised here: if Bangladesh is lagged behind in achieving the MDGs due to climate change, who will be held responsible? Is Bangladesh itself responsible for this phenomenon? The answer is nowadays very well known and scientifically accepted: through their accumulated high level of carbon emissions, historically and presently, developed countries have created climate change. Bangladesh is not responsible for it, even when it is severely impacted by global warming.

 

Accomplishments in MDGs

Despite the continuous mounting of climate risk and Bangladesh’s struggle against unpredictable environmental challenges, the country has achieved remarkable progresses in some areas of the MDGs, particularly in primary schooling, gender parity in primary and secondary level education, decreasing extreme poverty, lowering the infant, child and maternal mortality, improving immunization coverage, and reducing the incidence of communicable diseases, according to various governmental and non-governmental reports. On MDG number 4 (reducing maternal mortality), Bangladesh is among the 16 countries[4] who have received UN recognition for being on track to achieve the targets. The areas that need further attention are environmental sustainability, malaria and other diseases prevention, employment generation, energy consumption, increasing girls’ attendance in tertiary education. Global partnership development (Goal 8) is also lagging behind in some areas. The table below summarizes the country’s achievements and deviations that need more attention.

Millennium Development Goals: Bangladesh Progress at a Glance[5]

Goals and Target

Base Year
1990/1991

Current Status

Target by 2015

Status of Progress

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty & Hunger

1.1 Proportion of population below national upper poverty line

56.6
(1992)

31.5
(HIES 2010)

29.0

On track

1.2 Employment to population ratio (15+),%

48.5

59.3 (LFS 2010)

For all

Need Attention

1.3 Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption (2122)

48.0

40

24.0

Need Attention 

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

2.1 Net enrollment in primary education , %

60.5

94.9 (BANBEIS 2010)

100

On track 

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

3.1 Ratio of girls to boys in primary education

0.83

1.02(BANBEIS 2010)

1.0

Goal met

3.2 Ratio of girls to boys in secondary education

0.52

1.14(BANBEIS 2010)

1.0

Goal met

3.3 Ratio of girls to boys in tertiary education

0.37

0.39(BANBEIS 2010)

1.0

Need Attention 

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

4.1 Under-five mortality rate (per 1000 live births)

146

50 (SVRS 2009)

48

On track

4.2 Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births)

92

39 (SVRS 2009)

31

On track 

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

5.1 Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births)

574

194 (BMMS 2010)

143

On track 

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

6.1 HIV prevalence among population, %

0.005

0.1 (MIS DGHS 2010)

Halting

On track

6.2 Prevalence of Malaria per 100,000 population

776.9

512.6 (MIS DGHS 2010)

310.8

Need Attention 

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

7.1 Proportion of land area covered by forest, %

9.0

19.33 (DoF 2011)

20.0

Need Attention 

7.2 Consumption of ozone depleting CFCs in metric tons per capita

195

128 (DoE 2009)

0

Need Attention 

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

8.1 Proportion of bilateral ODA of OECD/DAC donors

82

100 (ERD 2010)

100

Goal met 

 

MDGs: Necessary means do not lead to justified ends

The MDGs in Bangladesh are seriously lacking of ownership, participation and partnership. which are the core principles in implementing pro-poor development strategies. The poor are the best experts on their own situation, but the goals and targets have been set with a top down approach. Those suffering from deprivation have not determined the priorities and have had no role in defining the concept of poverty and of what is needed to reduce poverty and suffering in the Bangladeshi context. The definition of poverty of Bangladesh or of any other developing countries should be multi-dimensional and cut across a variety of issues. The MDGs define poverty only based on income, ignoring many intangible factors which characterize poverty in this country. To be valued, to be treated with dignity, to be free to participate politically culturally and economically in one's society are also basic needs for a human being. Powerlessness, voicelessness, dependency and humiliation are also some other dimensions of poverty. So, in a broader sense, poverty eradication should include empowerment of people to acquire the tools to meet their needs, to create alternative and parallel power structures, to participate in political processes and to demand accountability from state and non-state institutions.

The MDG poverty reduction target for Bangladesh was set at 29.4 percent, which is half of the proportion of people in poverty than in the benchmark year of 1990. Even if the nation achieves the target, the total number of poor people would still remain extremely large in 2015, at some 40-50 million. If 2000, the year of the Millennium Declaration, had been chosen as benchmark, the target for poverty reduction would be more relevant. Considering recent population growth trends, it is estimated that by 2015 the actual number of poor persons can be about 60-62 million. Those left behind in the race to eradicate poverty will certainly be a most desperate, frustrated group of humanity.[6]

 

Debt and MDG: Debt repayment is hindering the MDG’s attainment

To achieve the MDGs within the timeline, the annual requirements of aid for Bangladesh were estimated at US$ 3.5 billion per year.[7] In actual terms, Bangladesh received US$ 1.58 billion on average annually from the donors. Bangladesh is not getting the support promised by the international community. The developed countries’ commitment of providing 0.7 percentage of their GDP as aid was made in the seventies, but only Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg and the Netherlands can claim to have met the target so far. The contributions from other rich countries are way below.

In Bangladesh, aid statistics show a large gap between the flow of total foreign aid and net foreign aid, due to the increasing volume of payments (principal) over the years. During July-March FY 2011-12, total foreign aid increased by 4.55 percent over the same period of FY 2010-11 but it was 20.89 percent lower than that of FY 2009-10. During the same period, total payment (principal) and total net foreign aid increased by 11.91 percent and 0.03 percent respectively compared with the same period of FY 2010-11.

Total debt of Bangladesh in FY 2010-11 amounts USD 23,322.417 millions – that is 22.21 percent of GDP. Total external debt of Bangladesh amounts USD 21,347.44 millions – that is 20.24 percent of GDP. The per capita debt burden in FY 2010-11 in Bangladesh has increased by 8.41 percent than that of FY 2009-10 (USD 151). In FY 2010-11, per capita debt burden stood at USD 163 that is 22.99 percent of per capita GDP and it might increase to USD 171.83 in FY 2014-15.[8]

Each year a major portion of the budget expenditure goes to interest payment. In FY 2006-07, 11 percent of the total development and non-development expenditure has been paid on interest payment, while payment on social security and welfare was only 4.9 percent. In FY 2009-10, the interest payment has risen to 13.9 percent while social security and welfare was only 7.3 percent.  

 

Debt cancellation: Way of the repatriation

According to World Bank and IMF calculations the debt-export ratio for Bangladesh stands at 146 percent, which is below the official threshold of 150 percent. According to Jeffrey Sachs (2005), debt relief is not aligned with the Millennium Development Goals. The targets for debt relief are based on arbitrary indicators (debt-export ratios) rather than MDG-based needs. Bangladesh has regularly paid its debts and expanded exports, and is now being punished for its success (Bhattacharya 2006). The pace of MDGs attainment is largely dependant on its financing, which can be possible shifting the so called debt servicing finances to the MDG activities. So Bangladesh demands a full debt cancellation for effective utilization of its own finances to achieve the MDG targets by stipulated time.

 

Bangladesh deserves climate justice

As climate change impact is creating severe hindrance in achieving the MDGs, Bangladesh deserves climate justice. It should be recognized and addressed by the international community that Bangladesh is least responsible for climate change while it is experiencing the greatest impact of that change. Historical responsibilities of high carbon emitting countries should be determined, and there should be established legally binding obligations to ensure compensation for Bangladesh. The government has earmarked more than U$S 10 billion in investments for the period 2007-2015 to make Bangladesh less vulnerable to natural disasters. Despite this effort, the direct annual cost of natural disasters over the last 10 years is estimated to be between 0.5 and 1 per cent of GDP.[9] A World Bank report estimates that Bangladesh needs about U$S 5.7 billions as adaptation cost to face the increased risks of cyclones and inland monsoon floods in a changing climate by 2050 – U$S 3.3 billions for railways, road networks, embankments and drainage infrastructure, and U$S 2.4 billions to avert further damage and loss from cyclonic storm surge in a changing climate.[10] This amount should come from the countries which are historically responsible for the phenomenon. Apart from compensation, Bangladesh also deserves technology and capacity building support from the industrialized countries.

 

The structure of IFIs must be revisited

The rules of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and the IMF for the developing countries are full of controversies and confusions. In the name of poverty reduction in the developing countries, these IFIs are actually triggering more complexities. The World Bank and the IMF often attach loan conditionalities based on what is termed as the ‘Washington Consensus’, focusing on liberalization of trade, investment and the financial sector, deregulation and privatization of nationalized industries. Often the conditionalities are attached without due regard for the borrower countries’ individual circumstances and the prescriptive recommendations by the World Bank and IMF fail to resolve the economic problems within the countries. [11] Moreover there is in fact no participation in decision making by the developing countries as the voting power is determined by the ‘dollar’, not by the ‘membership’. Bangladesh is already facing various financial constraints by IMF-imposed conditions like expanding regressive taxes, such as the VAT, and by reducing subsidies in essentials sectors. Therefore, a strong reform of the IFIs structure is needed. Decision of these bodies should be participatory; there should be a "one member, one vote" policy. 

 

Setting new Goals, Keeping sustainability in mind

New, effective sets of goals are needed for Bangladesh to ensure a sustainable development. But this should be within a framework of sustainability, ensuring the preservation of Mother Earth and the life and livelihood of all human beings. The MDGs have a "one size fit all" approach, not directly related to sharing the resources with equity and justice. In fact, all the UN covenants are based on equal rights to life and livelihood. Today the rights framework has to be widened to consider our rights as well as those of our Mother Earth. As a country, Bangladesh needs to identify its goals according to its own needs and the needs and the solutions should be defined from within the country.

[1]              Excerpted from James S. Pender, Climate Change, Its Impacts and Possible Community Based Responses in Bangladesh, 2010.

[2]              United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNUEHS), The Nature Conservancy, Alliance Development Works, World Risk Report-2012: Environmental Degradation and Disaster.

[3]UNDP Human Development Report 2007 , Background Paper on Risks, Vulnerability and Adaptation in Bangladesh

[5]              GOB (Government of Bangladesh), 2012, The Millennium Development Goals: Bangladesh Progress Report 2011

[6]              Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, The Millennium Development Goals: A Panacea or yet another agenda

[7]              MDGs Need Assessment and Costing 2009-2015 Bangladesh report, 2009

[8]              Unnayan Onneshon, Bangladesh Economic Update, 2011

[9]              GoB and UNDP, Assessment of Investment and Financial Flows to Adapt to the Climate Change Effects in the Agriculture Sector, 2011

[10]             The World Bank, The cost of Adapting to Extreme Weather Events in a Climate Change”

[11]             http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/item.shtml?x=320869

Region: 
left

Avance hacia los ODM y demanda social insatisfecha

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Chile sigue siendo el país latinoamericano con el mejor comportamiento en términos de logro de las Metas de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM), de acuerdo con la Red Gubernamental Milenio[1], que proporcionó los insumos que sirvieron de base al tercer informe nacional ODM Chile. Este informe, publicado en diciembre de 2010, comprende principalmente cifras recogidas en 2008 y 2009, por lo que no incluye los potenciales efectos adversos del terremoto del 27 de febrero de 2010 sobre los indicadores reportados. No obstante este nivel de logro, que el propio informe estima en alrededor de un tercio del nivel establecido como meta para el año 2015, el profundo malestar social manifestado masivamente en las calles por la sociedad chilena en los últimos dos años en relación con el estado de la educación y la salud públicas; la depredación ambiental por parte de las grandes corporaciones y, sobre todo, la evidente profundización de la brecha de la desigualdad, plantean interrogantes respecto a lo que ello significa en la práctica para el país.

Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo (CENDA)

Chile sigue siendo el país latinoamericano con el mejor comportamiento en términos de logro de las Metas de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM), de acuerdo con la Red Gubernamental Milenio[1], que proporcionó los insumos que sirvieron de base al tercer informe nacional ODM Chile. Este informe, publicado en diciembre de 2010, comprende principalmente cifras recogidas en 2008 y 2009, por lo que no incluye los potenciales efectos adversos del terremoto del 27 de febrero de 2010 sobre los indicadores reportados.

No obstante este nivel de logro, que el propio informe estima en alrededor de un tercio del nivel establecido como meta para el año 2015, el profundo malestar social manifestado masivamente en las calles por la sociedad chilena en los últimos dos años en relación con el estado de la educación y la salud públicas; la depredación ambiental por parte de las grandes corporaciones y, sobre todo, la evidente profundización de la brecha de la desigualdad, plantean interrogantes respecto a lo que ello significa en la práctica para el país.

A nuestro juicio, el fracaso de las políticas y programas gubernamentales en abordar los problemas de fondo que impiden llegar a una sociedad más justa, relativiza los logros informados por Chile en alcanzar las metas de los ODM y hace que sigan apareciendo como insuficientes.

Asuntos como la falta de acceso igualitario a una educación pública gratuita y de calidad; a un sistema de salud pública que garantice  atención oportuna y accesible a todas las personas; a empleos y salarios decentes; la falta de participación efectiva de la ciudadanía en los procesos de evaluación de proyectos ambientales, que provoca la resistencia de las comunidades a la instalación de mega proyectos energéticos, mineros y otros en sus territorios, son todos parte de un modelo de desarrollo que no está centrado en las personas ni en sus derechos, sino en el crecimiento económico y la explotación de recursos naturales.

Ello ocurre en un contexto global donde el principal desafío para el futuro es justamente avanzar de manera sustancial de la consecución de las metas de los ODM hacia la erradicación de la pobreza y transitar más allá, en la dirección de un desarrollo socialmente justo y ambiental y económicamente sostenible.

En efecto, como resultado de la cumbre Rio+20[2], las Naciones Unidas han llamado a gobiernos, sector privado y sociedad civil a proponer un marco de desarrollo distinto. Para hacerlo, la sociedad civil se ha aliado en la campaña global “Beyond 2015” ('Más allá de 2015'), señalando, que “Ante la situación política y económica actual, las Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil (OSC), así como los gobiernos, las Naciones Unidas y otras partes interesadas deben trabajar duro para acelerar la consecución de los ODM en 2015. Sin embargo, no se puede dar por hecho que los ODM se alcanzarán completamente y se estima que, a pesar del desarrollo alcanzado en determinados sectores, en 2015 una de cada cinco personas seguirá viviendo con ingresos por debajo de 1,25 dólares al día. Es pues esencial que los esfuerzos presentes para alcanzar los ODM en 2015 empiecen también a tener en cuenta la necesidad de asegurar el establecimiento de un marco robusto para el desarrollo cuando alcancen su fecha límite acordada dentro de cuatro años.”[3]

El gobierno, por su parte, afirma en la introducción al Tercer Informe Nacional sobre los ODM que “Chile presenta una serie de metas cumplidas, y otras aún por cumplir, las que plantean desafíos importantes para los próximos años. El compromiso del gobierno con el avance hacia el desarrollo, se materializa no sólo en la implementación de acciones concretas sino que también en la instauración de lo que ha denominado “una nueva forma de gobernar”, que enfatice el cumplimiento de las metas concretas, que actúe en forma honesta y transparente, eficaz y con sentido de urgencia, y cuya mirada esté puesta en los desafíos que nuestro país enfrentará en el siglo XXI.”[4]

A continuación examinaremos someramente algunos de estos logros y desafíos, a la luz de las demandas sociales que se expresan crecientemente, y las propuestas y estrategias del gobierno chileno para avanzar hacia el desarrollo en las dimensiones de la reducción de la pobreza y la educación.

Menos pobres y más trabajo...pero depende del género y del tipo de trabajo

Según el informe del gobierno chileno ya citado, “considerando que si bien entre los años 1990 y 2006 se produjo una disminución desde 38,6% hasta 13,7%, esta tendencia decreciente se revirtió en el período siguiente, registrando en el año 2009 una tasa de pobreza de 15,7%, lo que indica que más de 2,5 millones de personas se encuentran en tal situación, de los cuales 636 mil viven en situaciones de extrema pobreza. Un problema adicional, y que no siempre se ve reflejado en las estadísticas, es la situación inestable en que vive un grupo importante de personas, quienes si bien no se encuentran en situación de pobreza, enfrentan una alta probabilidad de caer en ella si pierden su trabajo o padecen una enfermedad grave, entre otras situaciones críticas. El gobierno, consciente de la gravedad que revisten estas situaciones, se ha comprometido a terminar con la extrema pobreza el año 2014 y a sentar las bases para derrotar la pobreza antes del año 2018. Del mismo modo, ha adquirido el compromiso de terminar con las desigualdades excesivas.”

¿Cuánto se ha avanzado en este aspecto? Según la Encuesta CASEN -la principal encuesta socioeconómica en el país y fuente de las estadísticas oficiales de pobreza y distribución del Ingreso, elaborada por el Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, Microdatos de la Universidad de Chile y CEPAL- a noviembre de 2011 el porcentaje de la población viviendo en situación de pobreza fue de 14,4%, mientras un 2,8% permaneció en situación de extrema pobreza. Esto significa, en términos porcentuales, que la caída de la pobreza fue de 5%, y la disminución de la pobreza extrema de 24%. Al desagregar estas cifras por género, se comprueba que la disminución se da fundamentalmente en los hombres y que la pobreza sigue teniendo rostro de niño y de mujer.

El informe gubernamental asegura que los factores más importantes que han influido en esta evolución de la pobreza en estos últimos dos años son el alza del precio de los alimentos; el terremoto de febrero de 2010; el aumento del empleo; el incremento de sueldos; y las políticas sociales focalizadas.

Respecto a estas últimas, se mencionan como centrales para lograr erradicar la pobreza extrema en 2014, además del aumento del empleo: el ingreso Ético Familiar, el Bono al Trabajo de la Mujer, y el aumento de la cobertura en jardines infantiles y educación preescolar.

No obstante, en relación al aumento del empleo, desde la sociedad civil surgen voces que difieren acerca del éxito que el gobierno dice haber alcanzado en esta área y sostienen que si bien hay más trabajo, también hay más precariedad laboral. Un estudio de la Red de Territorios Ciudadanos y Fundación Sol[5] concluye que la disminución de la desocupación en Chile se explica principalmente por el aumento de formas de trabajo poco dignas y de mala calidad. De hecho, según los investigadores, el incremento de la subcontratación es el principal factor que habría permitido reducir el desempleo a nivel nacional y esto ha significado un grave estancamiento o disminución del empleo protegido en las regiones. Por lo mismo, sólo el 52% de los asalariados del país cuenta actualmente con un contrato indefinido, previsión, salud y seguro de cesantía. Las fuentes de la investigación son el sistema de indicadores de calidad de vida de la Red de Territorios Ciudadanos, los datos de la Nueva Encuesta Nacional de Empleo y la propia encuesta CASEN, entre otras fuentes oficiales.

El estudio cuestiona la pertinencia de la tasa oficial de desempleo nacional, que alcanza el 6,5%. En esta línea, los investigadores proponen un nuevo indicador para medir el desempleo en el país denominado “Tasa de Desempleo Integral”. Según este indicador, que considera la desocupación oculta, el subempleo y otros factores de precariedad laboral, la Tasa Nacional de Desempleo alcanzaría al 11,7%. Según esta medición, las cinco regiones más pobres del país -todas distintas a la Metropolitana- tienen elevados índices de desempleo integral.

Educación: jóvenes chilenos movilizados ¿por qué?

Los dos últimos años, pero especialmente el 2011, fueron de intensas movilizaciones estudiantiles, multitudinarias, creativas y mayormente pacíficas, que inspiraron a vastos sectores de la población, galvanizaron alianzas con otros movimientos sociales y se convirtieron en un símbolo, a nivel nacional e internacional, de la lucha contra el sistema de educación del modelo neoliberal chileno. Sus demandas se relacionan principalmente con la calidad de la educación, pero también con la necesidad de terminar con el lucro y fortalecer a la educación pública, aumentando sustancialmente la inversión del estado en esta área.

El gobierno de Chile, en el citado Tercer Informe sobre los ODM, reporta que “las cifras indican que aun cuando la cobertura de la educación se ha ido acercando a los niveles planteados como meta, la calidad no ha alcanzado niveles cercanos al de países de la OCDE (Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico). Con respecto a la cobertura, el análisis de la evolución de la Tasa Matrícula Neta de enseñanza básica entre los años 1990 y 2009 ha sido positiva, pasando de un 88% en 1990 a 93,3% en el año 2009. En tanto, en educación media, la Tasa de Matrícula Neta pasó de 54,6% a 84,1% durante este mismo periodo.”

Además, reconoce el Informe, “En relación a la calidad de la educación, los resultados de las pruebas PISA indican que, aun cuando hubo una mejora en los resultados entre los años 2000 y 2006, los puntajes de jóvenes de 15 años en ciencias, lectura y matemáticas se encuentran por debajo de los países de la OCDE. En forma adicional, los problemas de calidad de la educación replican y perpetúan las desigualdades existentes al interior de la sociedad, traspasándolas de generación en generación.”

Para hacer frente a un problema de la envergadura del que destacamos en el párrafo anterior, el gobierno propone una estrategia que “combina mejoras a la institucionalidad educacional, creación de cincuenta liceos de excelencia en las principales ciudades de Chile, el aumento en la subvención escolar (la que además será diferenciada), la creación de programas de apoyo a las escuelas con resultados insuficientes, el diseño de una nueva carrera docente y la entrega de mayor información a los padres para que puedan elegir el mejor establecimiento para sus hijos, entre otras medidas.”

¿Satisface esta estrategia la demanda social por una mejor educación pública? La Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios (ACES), en su “Propuesta para la Educación que Queremos”[6], señala  los tres ejes temáticos que consideran como la base para avanzar en un cambio radical de la totalidad del sistema educacional chileno. Los ejes son: a) Sistema nacional de educación estatal, gratuita, de excelencia y con control comunitario; b) Tarjeta Nacional Estudiantil (TNE) gratuita los 365 días del año; c) Reconstrucción de colegios, liceos y escuelas estatales sin privatizaciones.

Afirma la propuesta de los jóvenes agrupados en ACES: “En dichos ejes encontraremos ideas y conceptos claves como el rol fundamental y no subsidiario del Estado, con descentralización y control de la comunidad (poder social);gratuidad de la educación y fin al lucro; Educación Técnica Profesional al servicio de un proyecto de desarrollo del país definido por las mayorías y donde las regiones jueguen un rol relevante; aportes basales a la educación y fin a la subvención; implementación de una Jornada Escolar Completa con una visión integral del sujeto; fin a la segregación (apartheid escolar-social) que potencia el actual sistema de educación; una educación igualitaria e integral; control férreo de parte del Estado a los sostenedores, reposicionar el rol de la comunidad escolar en la definición e implementación de su proyecto educativo,  curricular, etc.”

Como se aprecia, hay escasa convergencia entre la estrategia propuesta por el gobierno y la demanda de los jóvenes estudiantes secundarios chilenos, quienes van mucho más allá del terreno de la educación y afirman que a través del movimiento estudiantil “se ha abierto la puerta para que el mundo social defina el tipo de sociedad que quiere. Nuestras movilizaciones han desnudado a un país injusto, desigual, inequitativo pero abundante en energía, creatividad, ideas y convicciones.” En este sentido, dicen, “No sólo nos movilizamos por nosotros, lo hacemos por el país, por las mayorías, por un proyecto de sociedad más democrática, participativa y justa.”

De este modo, las medidas que se ofrecen como solución a los déficit de la educación en Chile, parecen ser equivalentes a intentar tapar el sol con un dedo y errar completamente la puntería respecto al debate que se ha instalado en la sociedad chilena sobre este tema.

En conclusión, se observa una enorme distancia entre la capacidad de respuesta del gobierno de Chile y la demanda social -el aumento del empleo como factor de reducción de la pobreza frente a la demanda por empleos decentes y salarios justos; las medidas para solucionar algunos problemas de infraestructura en la educación, frente a la demanda por una educación pública de calidad y sin fines de lucro-. Todo ello en un marco de creciente desigualdad, a pesar de los avances de los ODM y del crecimiento económico del país.

La frustración que provoca esta respuesta insuficiente y mal direccionada, provoca una progresiva radicalización de los movimientos sociales, que comienzan a desbordar el ámbito sectorial (empleo, educación, salud...) y apuntan cada vez con mayor fuerza y claridad, hacia reformas estructurales y políticas de fondo, como cambios constitucionales y del paradigma de desarrollo. En este sentido, es probable que  los movimientos sociales chilenos se beneficien de la movilización global por un nuevo marco de desarrollo para el post 2015 y, a la vez, puedan realizar un importante aporte a su construcción.

Notas:

[1]Instancia permanente de cooperación y coordinación establecida a partir del año 2003, compuesta por: Ministerio de Educación; Ministerio de Salud; Servicio Nacional de la Mujer; Ministerio del Trabajo y Previsión Social; Corporación Nacional Forestal; Comisión Nacional del Medioambiente; Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanismo; Ministerio de Obras Públicas; Subsecretaria de Desarrollo Regional y Administrativo, y Superintendencia de Servicios Sanitarios.

[2] Nombre abreviado de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible   que tuvo lugar en junio de 2012 en Río de Janeiro, Brasil, veinte años después de la histórica Cumbre de la Tierra en Río en 1992

[3] Publicación conjunta del Llamado Mundial a la Acción contra la Pobreza (GCAP), Beyond 2015 y la Campaña del Milenio de Naciones Unidas, ‘El mundo que queremos – Más allá de 2015’ Manual para Deliberaciones Nacionales, <http://www.beyond2015.org/sites/default/files/Manual%20deliberaciones.pdfhttp://www.beyond2015.org/sites/default/files/Manual%20deliberaciones.pdf> (consultada en diciembre de 2012).

[4]Tercer Informe del Gobierno de Chile sobre los ODM, 2010.

[5]Red Territorios Ciudadanos y Fundación Sol, “Informe Territorial Red Chilena por Territorios Justos y Sustentables”, <http://issuu.com/territorios8/docs/informe_territorial_red_chilena_por_territorios_ju/1 > (consultada en enero 2013).

[6]Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios (ACES), <http://aces-chile.cl/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Aces-FF-Difusion.pdf > (consultada en enero de 2013).

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Bad governance and corruption frustrate achievement of MDGs

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
The government of Uganda has established national strategies and plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has continuously allocated resources to those schemes. Unfortunately, governance weaknesses against corruption have hampered the progresses. Only three out of the eight MDGs may be reached by 2015. The other goals would be missed due to stagnation or regression, particularly in sectors where corruption is highly concentrated and losses or misappropriations of public funds are endemic.

David Obot, DENIVA

The government of Uganda has established national strategies and plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has continuously allocated resources to those schemes. Unfortunately, governance weaknesses against corruption have hampered the progresses. Only three out of the eight MDGs may be reached by 2015. The other goals would be missed due to stagnation or regression, particularly in sectors where corruption is highly concentrated and losses or misappropriations of public funds are endemic.

The National Development Plan (2010), the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (1997), and other policies and programmes on education, health, environment, and HIV/AIDS, for example, have made significant contributions and provide useful lessons for the post 2015 sustainable development agenda. But for this new framework to be successful, the government must commit itself to eliminate corruption in all sectors an at all levels.

Adherence to the 1995 Constitution and the enforcement of laws, policies and regulations under strict accountability and transparency practices, coupled with punitive measures on the offenders, are needed to restore sanity in the use of public resources if economic and social transformation and the MDGs are to be met.

 National Context

After the promulgation of the Constitution in 1995, Uganda has achieved remarkable political and socio-economic progresses. Multiparty democracy enshrined in the Constitution has opened the competition between political parties in elections at the national and the local level. The annual economic growth averaged around seven percent in the past two decades. Yet, since 1986, the authorities have spent a substantial amount of resources fighting against the insurgent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which displaced around two million people in Northern Uganda.

The Constitution orders to take “all lawful measures (…) to expose, combat and eradicate corruption and abuse or misuse of power by those holding political and other public offices”. In addition, laws such as the Public Finance and Accountability Act (2003) mandate institutions including the parliament, the judiciary, the Office of the Auditor General, the Inspector General of Government and the police to take actions against corruption. Unfortunately, various limitations have turned these frameworks and strategies ineffective, thus, eroding governance.

 

MDG Status

Uganda has progressed towards some MDGs, and has stagnated or moved backwards regarding others. The debt relief initiatives allowed the country to free resources to support national development programmes. The alleviation corresponding to the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) increased from USD 77.7 million (2005/2006) to USD 126.7 million (2009/2010), while debt services were reduced from USD 117.4 million (2005/2006) to USD 60.8 million (2009/2010). The annual economic growth averaged 6.9 percent in the 1990s and 7.2 percent in the 2000s, according to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Uganda succeeded in addressing some problems remarked on the MDGs, such as low incomes and hunger, gender disparities in primary and secondary education, access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and cooperation with the private sector on information and communications.

According to the Uganda Poverty Status Report (2012) the number of the poor decreased from 9.9 million to 7.5 million between 1992 and 2009/2010. Thus, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line fell from 56.4 to 24.5 in the same period. The country had surpassed the MDG target of 35.7 percent by 2005. However, inequality measured by the Gini coefficient has increased from 0.365 (1992/93), 0.428(2002/2003), 0.408(2005/2006), to 0.426(2009/2010).

The MDGs Report for Uganda 2010 noted that the net enrolment ratio in primary education increased between 2001 and 2010 from 87% to 96% of the children aged 6-12 years, though completion rate to primary level 7 decreased from 63% to 54% in the same period. Besides, women’s empowerment is steadily making headway. There are more and more women engaged in active politics and representing citizens in the parliament and in the local councils, amidst challenges that include poor remuneration and motivation of female workers, poor infrastructure, limited skills and competence for job creation, high prevalence of household poverty that limit women’s support to government initiatives on gender equity, and early pregnancy among girls.

According to the report on HIV/AIDS submitted in 2010 by the government to the UN, 141,416 persons were receiving antiretroviral therapy by June 2008, up from 67,525 in 2005. The proportion of the population with access to safe water increased from 62.6 to 73.8 percent between 2002/2003 and 2009/2010, and 18.7 percent has improved sanitation, estimated the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2012), and the Uganda Demographic Household Survey (2011).

On the other hand, statistics show slow progresses in the MDGs related to child, maternal and reproductive health, the fight against malaria and other major diseases, and the loss of environmental resources and biodiversity.

The Uganda Demographic Household Survey reported that between 1995 to 2011 the under-five mortality rate decreased from 156 to 90 per 1,000 live births; the infant mortality rate decreased from 81 to 54 per 1,000 live births; the maternal mortality ratio decreased from 506 to 352 per 100,000 births; the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel increased from 38% to 59%; and contraceptive prevalence rate increased from 15% to 30%.

Meanwhile, HIV prevalence increased from 6.5% to 7.1%. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) global report on tuberculosis ranked Uganda 16th among the 22 high TB burden countries. Tuberculosis remains a major public health problem with an annual incidence of 330 cases out of 100,000 people and an estimate of 102,000 new infections per year.

To make things worse, pharmaceutical companies put the brake on the cooperation aimed to give Ugandan people access to essential drugs at an affordable price.

Besides, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) noted in 2010 that the environmental degradation had got worse, increasing the burden on the national economy as more resources must be allocated to stem outbreaks of diseases, to the treatment of drinking water, to resettle environmental refugees and to restore damaged ecosystems. NEMA also observed a decline in the percentage of the territory covered by forests, from 21.3 in 1990 to 18.3 in 2005.

 

Corruption effects on MDGs progress

Corruption in Uganda has reached unprecedented proportions and costs billions of shillings to the country, thereby affecting a significant portion of the national budget, according to various institutions. In 2005, the World Bank estimated Uganda loses to corruption at 510 billion shillings (USD 204 million), while the Global Integrity Report (2006) doubled the amount to one trillion shillings. The East African Bribery Index issued in August 2012 by Transparency International ranked Uganda first among the five countries of the region: 40.7% of the respondents said they encountered bribery incidents in the public sector.

The government newspaper Saturday Vision summarized in November 2012 some of the most remarkable cases:

■ Some 169 billion shillings (USD 63 million) earmarked for over 1,018 former East African Community employees were fraudulently paid out to non-beneficiaries between February and October 2011;

■ Some 69 billion shillings (USD 25.7 million) in donor funds meant for the post-conflict recovery of Northern Uganda were transferred to personal bank accounts of employees of the Prime Minister’s Office between 2009 and 2011;

■ The Microfinance Support Centre misappropriated 60 billion shillings (USD 22.34 million) meant to provide credits for micro-enterprises in 2011;

■ Non-pension beneficiaries received 169 billion shillings (USD 63 million) from social security funds through a sophisticated scam in the Ministry of Public Service;

■ An identity card project worth 150 billion shillings (USD 55.87 million) signed in February 2010 had produced only 400 cards so far;

■ Officials in the Ministry of Health did not account for 25 billion shillings (USD 9.3 million) given by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for buying medicines;

■ The Ministry of Local Government paid USD 1.7 million for 70,000 bicycles that were not delivered yet;

■ No one was found guilty after the spending of 500 billion shillings (USD 186.2 million) instead of the approved budget of 270 billion (USD 100.6 million) for the organization of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007.

Corruption has not spared management of natural resources, and the consequences include population displacement, migration and encroachment on fragile ecosystems of swamps and forests. Basically, all sectors are directly or indirectly affected by corruption, and such trends are likely to frustrate progress towards the MDGs.

 

Response to combat corruption

Uganda counts on constitutional provisions and laws currently in force to tackle corruption and with institutions entrusted with the task. The Parliamentary Accounts Committee has intensified discussions on the Auditor General’s reports and recommends actions to different bodies. However, legislation still poses some challenges regarding the recovery of embezzled public funds and other assets accumulated by illegal means.

Nonetheless, some cases have led to the interdiction of high executive officials, including ministerial permanent secretaries. The police have also put caveats on properties that may have been acquired by interdicted officials. Investigations and prosecutions in several districts are also in progress, led by the police and the Inspector General of Government.

However, the effectiveness of the institutions mandated to fight against corruption has been minimal. The failures are attributed to poor investigation, work overload in the police force and in the judiciary, use of sophisticated technologies by cyber criminals, political interferences, and lack of political will to take actions on “well connected personalities”.

Nonetheless, arising from the Auditor General’s report on misappropriation of donor funds in the Prime Minister’s Office, the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom suspended in November 2012 their aid to Uganda until the case is fully investigated, the embezzled money is recovered, and the authorities introduce control systems. The reduction or discontinuing of services due to the suspension of the aid will have profound effects on the population.

 

Recommendations post-2015

Considering the effects of widespread corruption, especially on public services, the Uganda post-2015 development agenda must emphasize good governance without compromising accountability and transparency. The adherence to these principles will enable the design of prudent plans matched with strategies for the mobilisation of resources, focused on clear and tractable indicators of progress, and with the government committed to tackle and eliminate corruption.

The new framework must also include the strengthening of the decentralisation system foreseen in the 1995 Constitution and detailed in the Local Government Act approved in 1997, as well as enhancing the participation of citizens and media in monitoring governance and service delivery in order to help curb corruption, channel resources to development priorities, and speed up socio-economic transformation.

It is also important to continue focussing on goals and targets that enable individuals to achieve their full potential. Addressing the problems associated with low household income will reduce poverty and will allow people to choose productive resources to improve their conditions of living. Small farm holders who produce the bulk of primary commodities in Uganda should benefit from government support to agriculture modernization, access to appropriate inputs, value addition through agro processing, and for marketing their outputs.

Increasing the protection of natural resources is also required to address the destruction of the ecosystems and to facilitate climate change mitigation. An emphasis on water security will help populations in different locations for purposes such as food production and livestock farming.

A continuous focus on universal and functional primary and secondary education and on skills enhancement would keep on narrowing gender gaps in education, employment and income.

Progress recorded so far in the promotion of child and maternal health should be enhanced to aim at the reduction of infant mortality, maternal health and to reduce HIV infections.

 

Conclusion

Progress made by Uganda in reaching the MDGs is commendable in several areas. However, corruption has affected the extent of achievements, which should have been more than those reached since the Millennium Declaration was agreed in 2000. The misappropriated resources would have contributed to poverty reduction, narrowing of gender gaps, improvement of health, education and other social services, access to safe drinking water, and addressing the environment sustainability. The post-2015 development agenda therefore demands good governance practices and appropriate actions in curbing corruption and mismanagement of the national resources to enable the realization of socio economic transformation of Uganda.

References

Global Integrity Report, 2006. See: http://www.globalintegrity.org/report

Government of Uganda (2010). Uganda UNGASS Progress Report, Jan 2008-Dec 2009, Kampala, Uganda AIDS Commission

NEMA (2010). State of the Environment Report for Uganda 2010. National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kampala.

Sunday Vision, November 18, 2012, Vol.18 No.55 (Special Report).

The Republic of Uganda (2012). Uganda Poverty Status Report: Poverty Reduction and the National Development Process - Reducing vulnerability, equalising opportunities and transforming livelihoods, Kampala, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

The Republic of Uganda (2010). Millennium Development Goals Report for Uganda 2010: Special theme: Accelerating progress towards improving maternal health, Kampala, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Developemnt.

The Republic of Uganda. National Planning Authority (2010), National Development Plan
(2010/11-2014/15), Kampala, National Planning Authority.
The Republic of Uganda (2003). Public Finance and Accountability Act (PFAA) 2003, Kampala, Uganda
Transparency International (2012). The East African Bribery Index 2012, Nairobi, Transparency International, Kenya.

Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) (2010). Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2009/10, Kampala, Uganda Bureau of Statistics. See: http://www.ubos.org
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and ICF International Inc. 2012. Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2011. Kampala, Uganda: UBOS and Calverton, Maryland: ICF International Inc.
Uganda Communications Commission. 2011/2012 Half Year (1H11/12) Post and Telecommunications Market Review. See: http://www.ucc.co.ug/ (Access 19.11.2012).
UN (2000) United Nations Millennium Declaration. See: http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm (Accessed 15.11.2012).
UNDP (2011). Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals, 2011, New York, UNDP.

 

 

 

 

 

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DES MOYENS ET DES FINS POUR UN CADRE DE DEVELOPPEMENT POST 2015 EFFICACE

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Les OMD n’ont guère induit les changements et résultats escomptés notamment au Bénin. …le modèle actuel de croissance alimentée par le haut ne bénéficie pas assez à la population. En effet, les bénéfices mesurés en termes de réduction de la pauvreté, santé maternelle, et survie des enfants sont bien loin de ce que les Africains sont en droit d’attendre . « Allons à un nouveau cadre de développement plus réaliste avec des objectifs réduits et efficaces ».

Les OMD n’ont guère induit les changements et résultats escomptés notamment au Bénin.  …le modèle actuel de croissance alimentée par le haut ne bénéficie pas assez à la population. En effet, les bénéfices mesurés en termes de réduction de la pauvreté, santé maternelle, et survie des enfants sont bien loin de ce que les Africains sont en droit d’attendre[1]. « Allons à un nouveau cadre de développement plus réaliste avec des objectifs réduits et efficaces ».

Insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle toujours grandissant au Bénin

La couverture des besoins journaliers en énergie ne dépasse guère, pour plus du quart de la population béninoise, 1300 kilocalories au lieu de 2400, minimum nécessaire à un adulte moyen de 65 kg pour une vie active (Ministère du développement, 2011). Il s’ensuit une sous-alimentation et malnutrition avec leurs corollaires de maladies chroniques ou invalidantes. La situation des différents ménages en insécurité alimentaire est aggravée par la faiblesse du financement du secteur agricole et son orientation vers la filière coton. Ce qui a pour conséquence le manque de financement pour les interventions nécessaires pour donner l’impulsion pour une meilleure augmentation en quantité et en qualité du disponible alimentaire, toute chose indispensable pour inverser la tendance actuelle. Il faut US$ 41,3 par tête d’habitant pour espérer assumer la sécurité alimentaire au Bénin[2]. La Prévalence (%) de l’insuffisance pondérale chez les enfants de moins decinq (5) ans reste encore critique.

Le logement, véritable casse tête pour les béninois

La proportion réelle de personnes vivant dans les taudis n’est pas connue au Bénin. Les dix dernières années sont marquées par la multiplication des problèmes de l’habitat. Les méthodes de planification urbaine ont très peu évolué; à vrai dire, elles contribuent souvent aux problèmes urbains au lieu d’être des outils d’amélioration de la condition humaine et de l’environnement. Les rares politiques de logement qui existent ont échoué en ce qu’elles ont mis l’accent sur les constructions de standing élevé, extrêmement chères et donc réservées à une minorité au détriment de la majorité qui subit une crise chronique du logement. Ces  politiques et programmes ne sont pas en adéquation avec les besoins du plus grand nombre. Dans les grandes villes, il est fréquent de rencontrer femmes et enfants mineurs errer à longueur de journée sans toit ni domicile fixe. Les tendances actuelles sont aux antipodes des prévisions des OMD.

Les OMD n’ont pas profités aux personnes démunies

La Déclaration du Millénaire souligne la nécessité de concentrer l’aide au développement sur les groupes et les pays les plus pauvres. Le constat est tout autre. Les OMD ont négligé des secteurs essentiels pour les plus pauvres, comme l’agriculture, alors que trois quarts des plus pauvres en vivent et que la pauvreté urbaine découle en partie de l’insuffisance du développement rural.

L’approche des OMD reste essentiellement quantitative. Ceci ne permet pas de prendre pleinement en compte une approche pluridimensionnelle de la pauvreté. L’interdépendance entre l’éradication de la pauvreté et la prise en compte des inégalités, notamment par des politiques de redistribution, est insuffisante dans les OMD.

Parmi les OMD certains sont « non universels[3] ». La logique des OMD a essentiellement favorisé l’essor de politiques ciblant les populations se situant à proximité du seuil de pauvreté et pouvant donc le plus rapidement le dépasser. Les populations qui en étaient le plus éloignées ont souvent été délaissées et ont vu leurs conditions de vie se dégrader. Dans le secteur de l’éducation, par exemple, la pauvreté reste le principal obstacle à l’atteinte l’objectif de scolarisation universelle et les principaux bénéficiaires des politiques menées depuis dix ans ont été les moins pauvres des plus pauvres. La réalisation des OMD est mesurée au niveau national sans prise en compte des disparités fortes qui existent en fonction du revenu ou du milieu de résidence (rural/urbain).

Lacunes et autres éléments du cadre des OMD ayant  posé problème

Le premier écueil des OMD est le caractère non participatif de son élaboration. Ils ont essentiellement été conçus par les pays développés sans la participation effective des pays pauvres concernés. Le cadre général perd en cohérence en mêlant et plaçant sur le même plan des objectifs  hétérogènes. Les OMD privilégient également une approche fragmentée qui élude nécessairement de nombreuses dimensions du développement. L’approche quantitative des OMD a également fortement influencé le cadre opérationnel mis en place pour atteindre ces objectifs, générant une forte dépendance externe en termes d’expertise. L’approche quasi exclusivement centrée sur une problématique d’accès s’est faite au détriment de la qualité dans certains secteurs comme celui de l’éducation. Les progrès[4] réalisés dans l’atteinte des OMD ne sont pas nécessairement à attribuer aux objectifs eux-mêmes, mais beaucoup plus aux stratégies de croissance.  Même si elles accentuent les inégalités, elles se sont avérés plus efficaces que les OMD, au regard des millions de personnes sortis de la pauvreté dans les pays émergents.

Certaines cibles sont obsolètes au regard des évolutions du contexte international pour le développement, caractérisées par une diversification des défis, des acteurs et des sources de financement. L’OMD 8 en particulier qui appelle au renforcement du Partenariat global pour le développement ne prend pas suffisamment en compte le rôle croissant joué par les pays émergents et les bailleurs privés. Les indicateurs de cet OMD ne permettent pas non plus d’intégrer les contraintes spécifiques (institutionnelles,  sécuritaires ou politiques) des pays fragiles, et s’avèrent ainsi fortement dépassés au regard des avancées récentes du débat sur la réduction de la vulnérabilité. Cet OMD occulte d’une manière générale l’importance d’un développement endogène. La dimension inclusive de l’agenda et la prise en compte des inégalités amène à repenser le cadre des OMD sous un angle plus qualitatif. Plusieurs autres enjeux sont absents du cadre des OMD. C’est le cas des maladies non transmissibles, l’énergie, etc.

Le cadre de développement post 2015 que nous voulons

Le futur cadre post 2015 doit conserver l’ambition de définir un cadre de portée universelle à la forte puissance mobilisatrice et le principe d’un agenda centré sur un nombre restreint d’objectifs, assortis d’indicateurs et de cibles permettant de répondre au mieux aux différentes situations de développement des pays pauvres. Son processus d’élaboration devrait être plus participatif que ne l’a été celui des OMD.

L’universalité du cadre post 2015 ne sera pas seulement utile, mais essentielle pour améliorer la redevabilité sur les politiques de réduction de la pauvreté dans les pays en développement. Il serait opportun de prendre précisément en compte la question de la qualité des services délivrés, au cœur de la problématique de la redevabilité, en introduisant des nouveaux types d’indicateurs visant à mesurer l’impact des politiques de réduction de la pauvreté. Sur le plan financier, il convient de renouveler profondément les instruments de suivi du financement du développement pour tenir compte de la diversité croissante des situations nationales.

Le champ d’application du programme futur

L’objectif prioritaire du cadre post 2015 doit reposer sur les trois piliers : l’économique, le social et l’environnemental. Ce cadre doit être assez précis pour constituer un mandat actualisé aussi clair et mobilisateur tout en étant assez souples pour permettre son adaptation aux futures évolutions du contexte international du développement. Il doit définir des objectifs universels pour un développement durable et partagé pour tous les pays. Les cibles et les indicateurs pourront être déclinés dans certains cas de manière distincte selon le niveau de développement des pays notamment les pays pauvres. Ce nouvel agenda du développement doit pleinement prendre en compte l’ensemble des acteurs qui mènent des actions pour le développement ou ont la capacité d’en mener : pays donateurs et acteurs émergents, acteurs privés, entreprises ou fondations. Les OSC mais aussi autant que possible les populations pauvres dépourvues de représentativité institutionnalisée devront être consultées en amont, en marge et en aval des négociations pour pleinement intégrer leurs préoccupations. Le cadre post 2015 pourrait enfin permettre de mieux intégrer la représentation des acteurs non étatiques dans la gouvernance mondiale.

Financement du développement

La promotion d’un nouveau consensus en faveur du développement durable et inclusif pour l’après 2015 devra s’articuler à une nouvelle vision stratégique du financement du développement.  La position de Social Watch Bénin est centrée sur la nécessité de diversifier les sources de financement du développement durable dans son ensemble. Il faut une plus grande mobilisation des ressources domestiques, par un appui notamment aux réformes fiscales, au développement des financements privés, et des financements innovants, à un plus large recours aux partenariats financiers ainsi qu’au développement de nouveaux partenariats multi acteurs impliquant les acteurs émergents.

Le suivi du cadre post 2015 doit être plus participatif et transparent que ne l’a été l’évaluation de la réalisation des OMD afin d’accroître la redevabilité des gouvernements sur leur politique de lutte contre la pauvreté et leurs efforts pour garantir une transition vers des modèles de développement durables. Le système de suivi mis en place par les Nations-Unies, reposant sur les rapports préparés par les parties et les observations des organisations onusiennes, devrait donc mieux prendre en compte les évaluations menées par les autres acteurs du développement (étatiques ou non), surtout les retours des populations concernées par l’intermédiaire des OSC.

Défis prioritaires pour Social Watch Bénin

  1. Promouvoir le droit à l’alimentation et assurer des moyens de subsistance viables aux producteurs agricoles dans les Pays en développement ;
  2. Promouvoir les droits des femmes et l’égalité des sexes ;
  3. Promouvoir la santé et l’éducation pour tous ;
  4. Préserver l’environnement et le droit au logement ;
  5. Appuyer la gouvernance démocratique et la citoyenneté mondiale ;
  6. Promouvoir des règles économiques équitables ;
  7. Optimiser et accroître et  l’aide.

[1] Caroline Kende-Robb, Directrice exécutive de Africa Progress Panel

[2] MAEP, 2010

[3] Il s’agit de ceux relatifs : à la réduction de moitié l’extrême pauvreté, à la réduction de deux tiers le taux de mortalité des enfants, et de trois quarts celui des mères

[4] Rapports du SGNU sur les OMD mars 2010 et mars 2011

Region: 
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Development cooperation strategy and more social protection is needed

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Since joining the Euro in 1999, Portugal has had the lowest growth in the Eurozone. Between 2001 and 2007 Portugal experienced only 1.1% average annual growth. The government deficit was -6.5% of GDP in 2005 and it was -3.1% in 2007. When the global financial crisis occurred, a drop in tax revenues and the money allocation to support commercial banks, led to further increases in the government deficit and in general gross debt. At 108.1% in 2011, Portugal had the third highest general government gross debt to GDP ratio in Europe (EU27), behind only Greece and Italy (Eurostat, 2012a). As debt continued to grow investors were unwilling to lend and in May 2011 Portugal was the third country to seek a ‘bailout’ from the EU-ECB-IMF troika. The austerity measures accorded between the Portuguese Government and troika, are responsible for major setbacks. Many basic economic and social rights that were guaranteed are now being either questioned or neglected. In this scenario, the development cooperation public policy that contributed significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) also suffered a major negative shift.

João José Fernandes, Pedro Krupenski
Oikos

Introduction

Since joining the Euro in 1999, Portugal has had the lowest growth in the Eurozone. Between 2001 and 2007 Portugal experienced only 1.1% average annual growth. The government deficit was -6.5% of GDP in 2005 and it was -3.1% in 2007. When the global financial crisis occurred, a drop in tax revenues and the money allocation to support commercial banks, led to further increases in the government deficit and in general gross debt. At 108.1% in 2011, Portugal had the third highest general government gross debt to GDP ratio in Europe (EU27), behind only Greece and Italy (Eurostat, 2012a ). As debt continued to grow investors were unwilling to lend and in May 2011 Portugal was the third country to seek a ‘bailout’ from the EU-ECB-IMF troika[1]. The austerity measures accorded between the Portuguese Government and troika, are responsible for major setbacks. Many basic economic and social rights that were guaranteed are now being either questioned or neglected. In this scenario, the development cooperation public policy that contributed significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) also suffered a major negative shift.

Policy Response to 2008 Financial Crisis

The policy response to the 2008 financial crisis, was the implementation of a progressive stringent set of austerity measures: freezing of nearly all insurance benefits and pensions, reducing the pensions tax allowance, reduction in means-tested unemployment assistance, family benefit and social assistance, increase in standard VAT rate (from 20% to 23%) including increasing the VAT on natural gas and electricity to standard rate, increase in income tax rates and reductions of tax credits, public sector pay cuts (up to 10%), reductions in numbers of employees in central Government and across public administration generally (Leahy, et al., 2013 ). According to OECD, in September 2011, the Portuguese Government announced an 11% reduction in the NHS budget for 2012, twice the budget cut under the EU/IMF bailout agreement. The actual figures of OECD indicate that spending in health for the year 2011 fell 5.2% compared to 2010 when the average of all countries of the organization was a growth of 0.7%. The objective for the Public spending on health, in 2013, is to achieve just over 5.1% of gross domestic product (GDP), while the average in the euro area is estimated to be approximately 7% (Morgan, et al., 2013 ).

Amongst the measures proposed for 2012/13 are: reductions in pensions (with different approaches to different levels: including cuts for those with pensions of between €600-€1,000 per month, and freezing of pensions below €600 per month, with potential marginal increases for those on the lowest levels), controlling costs in the health sector, reductions in costs in education by €380m, reductions in social transfers (other than pensions) of at least €180m by tightening eligibility criteria and decreasing some benefits, increasing personal income tax, reductions in numbers and in wages of government employees. In 2013, the Government and the EU-ECB-IMF Troika will decide a further permanent cut of 4 billion Euros in public expenditure, mainly related to the welfare state (heath, education, pensions and social protection) (Leahy, et al., 2013).

Economic and social setbacks

Increasing unemployment, impoverishment and increasing vulnerability of the powerless groups and communities are the major consequences of austerity policies.

Unemployment

Portugal unemployment rate estimated for the 4th quarter of 2012 was 16.9%. This value is up 2.9% from the same quarter of 2011 according to a release from the National Statistics Institute. There were 923.2 thousand unemployed people, which corresponds to a year-on-year increase of 19.7% (more 152.2 thousand of jobless people). There were 4.5 million employed people, which corresponds to a year-on-year decrease of 4.3% a (less 203.6 thousand of employed people) (Fontes, 2013 ).Portugal Youth Unemployment Rate in January 2013 is at 38.60%, compared to January 34.60% last year and 23,40% in January 2009. This is much higher than the long term average of 17.55% . These reported figures are missing the increasing number of emigrants (near 100 thousand in 2012, especially skilled young people) and the increasing number of long-term unemployed who have given up actively seeking employment.

Impoverishment

As common acknowledged there is a time-lag in the availability of data on comparable poverty measures across Europe. Figures are now published for Portugal for 2011 (with a 2010 reference period), but this still doesn't represent the full impact of austerity policies.  However, enough evidence exists to conclude that Portugal has a high rate of 'poverty and social exclusion', which is the combined indicator used under the Europe 2020 strategy. The rate of 24.4% in 2011 represents 2.6 million people (source, Eurostat, 2012b ). Portugal’s rate is higher than the EU27 average rate of 23.4% (2010) (Eurostat, 2012b). Portugal’s child poverty rate fell between 2004 and 2007, but there was a sizable increase between 2007 and 2008 and the rate has remained at about that level since. The 2010 rate is above the EU27 average: the average rate was 20.5%, while Portugal’s rate was 22.4% (2010 and 2011) (Eurostat, 2012c ). The risk of poverty rate for people aged 65+ in Portugal was 21% in 2010.This is higher than the EU27 average of 16% (2010). The rate of poverty in Portugal for working people who still do not earn enough to protect them from poverty (the working poor) is 10.3% (2011), which is above the 2010 EU27 average of 8.4% (in 2010). Beyond these official figures, there is a public perception of increasing impoverishment. Near 300 thousand people depend on Portuguese charities for their food security and more than 10 thousand children have their first meal at public schools.

Impacts on Vulnerable Groups

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe reported on concerns for vulnerable groups in Portugal following a visit in May 2012. Among these groups he highlighted the situation of children, older people and Roma people. The Commissioner drew attention to how the combined effects of unemployment, cuts in salaries, increased taxes and reduced social and unemployment benefits has resulted in growing poverty among many Portuguese families. The Commissioner (Muižnieks, 2012 ) noted that:

  • Child poverty is on the rise in Portugal, as a result of increasing unemployment and following the adoption of austerity measures in 2010 and 2011. Cuts in child care benefits in 2010 and 2012 were particularly severe and had a significant impact on the income of many families with children and consequently, on a range of children’s rights. The increasing prices of health care and public transportation as well as the increasing number of evictions as a result of nonpayment of mortgages have also had a particularly negative impact on children’s rights. Budgetary stringency is also affecting education, including higher education. For instance, the reduction in the number of scholarships for university students reportedly led to a number of students giving up their studies. All of these factors suggest the risk of a resurgence of child labor, notably in the informal economic sector and agriculture.
  • The elderly are vulnerable to poverty and are adversely affected by the fiscal austerity measures which have resulted in the lowering of incomes due to the freezing of pensions, cuts in social benefits, increases in costs of health care, public transport, gas, electricity and food, affecting especially those living in isolated rural areas.
  • Roma continue to suffer from social exclusion and various forms of discrimination, particularly as regards housing, education and access to employment. The Commissioner notes with concern that action taken by some local authorities, such as depriving Roma settlements of access to water, has been in breach of fundamental European human rights standards. The fact that many Roma pupils are taught in separate classes also remains of particular concern to the Commissioner who firmly believes that integration into mainstream education should be favored so as to ensure that all Roma pupils have equal access to quality education.

According to Charity groups, the Portuguese Government’s response, especially under the Social Emergency Program, is not able to deal with the suffering caused by the crisis and the austerity measures. The crisis is not well understood by many people leaving those affected without hope (Caritas Portuguesa, 2012).

MDG and Portuguese Cooperation for Development Policy

Portugal considered the MDG “one of the greatest international challenges facing the world (then)”. MDG were integrated in the 2005 five yearlong national cooperation strategy[2] and set as one of the top priorities for the Official Development Aid (ODA). In 2006, operational plans were discussed and approved on a national level to deliver the strategy and those goals.

According to the official assessment[3] that took place in 2009, the plans were successfully implemented, in order to make the architectural, instrumental and financial adjustments to deliver the strategy.

In fact, MDG were mainstreamed in all Portuguese Development Cooperation, the Portuguese ODA contribution to MDG was accurately monitored and strong public support to the MGD were some of the positive achievements.

In 2010 a Council of Ministers Resolution was issued[4] to promote policy coherence by consolidating the integration of the international commitments Portugal was bounded to and align all national policies that were related to developing countries with the cooperation for development policy, in order to “increase the national external policy visibility and the effectiveness of the Portuguese public role on the fulfillment of the MDG”.

In 2011, a new government was elected. Ever since, the public cooperation for development policy has been subjected to the economic diplomacy and the promotion of the Portuguese language demands. The alibi to this shift is the national need to capture foreign investment and internationalize the Portuguese economy as means to take Portugal out of the economic and financial crisis that is going through. There are no official documents that support these options. However, all the measures that have been adopted (like merging the former Development Agency with Instituto Camões, the former institute that promoted Portuguese language throughout the world) are eloquent about these political options.

The lack of openness and clarity about the current development cooperation policies also threatens some other commitments that Portugal assumed by signing the Forth High Level Forum for Aid Effectiveness outcome [5] like the transparency and predictability of aid as effectiveness of aid principles.

In what regards transparency, Portugal is on the 59th position among 72 donors on the 2012 Transparency Index[6] issued by Publish What You Fund (PWYF), thus being classified as 2poor” in terms of transparency.

A changing world and the fact that the 2005 had reached its self-established lifetime demanded a new strategy. So far no new strategy is in place. Deep changes are needed.

MDG and ODA

In 2002, Portugal was part of the Monterrey Summit where donors committed to allocate 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) to ODA.

Ever since, the Public Budget allocated to ODA suffered several fluctuations. An average of 0.28% of GNI has been allocated to ODA since 2002. However, if we dismiss the 561 million Euros effect of debt relief to Angola, made in 2004, the average goes down to 0.24% of GNI to ODA.

Thus, Portugal is below the average European ratio GNI/ODA witch is 0.34% after the enlargement of the European Union to the Eastern countries. Before that, the average was 0.52%, almost the double of the Portuguese average.

The “untying of aid” (aid that is not related to the obligation of the partner country to purchase products and/or services from the donor country) was a commitment that was included in the Millennium Declaration. DAC/ODCE issued a recommendation about the untying of aid to the development countries that was subscribed by Portugal in 2005. In this recommendation ODCE sets a list of criteria to define what is and what is not ODA and advises the donors not to cross a certain percentage of tied aid. Since 2009 the increase of ODA volume has been done partially through tied aid. 2011 data shows that 72.5% of ODA is tied aid, representing an increase of 15.1% between 2010 and 2011. This increase is officially justified with the relevant weight of the concessional loans from Portugal to Developing Countries and also with the recent requalification made by ODCE of aid to refugees and public awareness raising for development issues as means (in certain cases) of ODA.

Conclusions

Given the high levels of unemployment and poverty already being experienced in Portugal, and the findings that early measures disproportionately affected poorer people, very serious impacts might be anticipated on vulnerable groups, putting at risk the more elementary economic, social and cultural rights. For these reason, we highly recommend the implementation of a human rights based approach to national budget and welfare state reform, allowing the social protection of the powerless and dis-empowered groups.

In what concerns Development Cooperation Policy, and as a lesson learned from the financial crisis, we believe it should become a State Policy. As a government policy is subjected to all electoral and economic cycles and the respective changes that often occur despite the commitments made with partner countries, Civil Society and most important with the people in needs. It is also crucial that Portugal sets the means to meet the “untying of aid” commitments as by not doing so is deliberately stealing with one hand what gave with the other. It is highly recommended that Portugal aligns with Busan principles, namely with transparency and predictability, to allow fostering both accountability of its practices and strategic programing to its partners.

Notes:

[1] Troika is the name given to the Portugal creditors group composed by the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

[2] “A Strategic Vision for Portuguese Development Cooperation”
http://icsite.cloudapp.netdna-cdn.com/images/cooperacao/visao_estrategica_cp_ing.pdf

[3] “  Assessment of the Strategic Vision for Portuguese Development Cooperation”
http://icsite.cloudapp.netdna-cdn.com/images/cooperacao/balanco_visao_ingles.pdf 

[4] Published in Diário da República  on the 4th  of  November 2010 and available at http://www.ipad.mne.gov.pt//CentroRecursos/Biblioteca/Documents/0496504966.pdf

[5] The high level forum took place in Busan, South Korea in November 2011. The outcome document can be found at http://www.dev-practitioners.eu/fileadmin/Redaktion/Documents/Post-Busan_03_2012/Busan_FINAL_EN.pdf?PHPSESSID=676429f1ff11085f8399f01af656fbbc

[6] Pilot Aid Transparency Index 2012, issued by Publish What You Fund, available at http://www.publishwhatyoufund.org/files/2012-Aid-Transparency-Index_web-singles.pdf

Eurostat, 2012a. General Government Gross Debt, tsdde410 [Online] (Updated, 26.10.12). Available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=tsdde410  accessed 06 march 2013.

Leahy, A., Healy, S., Murphy, M. (2013). Caritas Europa Report: The Impact of the European Crisis. Report prepared by Social Justice Ireland for Caritas Europa.

Morgan, D. and R. Astolfi (2013), “Health Spending Growth at Zero: Which Countries, Which Sectors Are Most Affected?”, OECD Health Working Papers, No. 60, OECD. Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k4dd1st95xv-en

Fontes, N. (2013). Portugal Unemployment Rate Up to 16.9 percent in Q4. Analysis based data from INE. Available at: <http://www.tradingeconomics.com/portugal/unemployment-rate > Accessed on 05 March 2013.

Ycharts (2013). Portugal Youth Unemployment Rate:38.60% for Jan 2013. Available at: http://ycharts.com/indicators/portugal_youth_unemployment_rate_lfs  accessed on 06 March 2013.

Eurostat, 2012b. Headline Targets. t2020_50, 51,52,53 [Online] (Updated 8.11.12) Available at  http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/europe_2020_indicators/headline_indicators  accessed, 6 March 2013).

Eurostat, 2012c. At Risk of Poverty Rate by Detailed Age Group, tessi120 [Online] (Updated 9.11.12) Available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tessi120&plugin=1accessed, 6 March 2013.

Muižnieks, N., Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, 2012. Report following his Visit to Portugal, 7-9 May 2012. CommDH(2012)22. Strasbourg: 10 July 2012. Available at https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2134231&SecMode=1&DocId=1919090&Usage=2 accessed, 6 March 2013.

Caritas Portuguesa, 2012. Crisis in Portugal: Context, Challenges and Hopes.

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Ecological agriculture is the way out of poverty

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Experiences of farmer organizations and people’s organizations over the last 15 years show that ecological agriculture is a very effective way of overcoming hunger and poverty and of reducing ill health, and ecological destruction caused by conventional chemical farming. Over a hundred organizations of farmers, fishers, women, plantation workers and industrial workers have struggled in Sri Lanka for a more logical, workable and people friendly approach and strategy for economic improvement, reduction of poverty and hunger and for social justice. Today they are able to present a very workable alternative approach to the economy and development process in the country. It has succeeded in getting the Government to accept some aspects of this strategy at least as election promises. It is a strategy that is relevant to the current world situation and a strategy that can be worked out to a considerable degree.

Compiled by Sarath Fernando
MONLAR

This Sri Lanka National Report is based on the experiences of action and struggle in Sri Lanka for about 20 years for a more logical, workable and people friendly approach and strategy for economic improvement, reduction of poverty and hunger and for social justice.

Over a hundred organizations of farmers, fishers, women, plantation workers and industrial workers have joined and contributed to these activities. Today we are able to present a very workable alternative approach to the economy and development process in the country. It has succeeded in getting the Government to accept some aspects of this strategy at least as election promises.  It is a strategy that is relevant to the current world situation and a strategy that can be worked out to a considerable degree, even without active and honest support of government.

The main thesis

In order to face the current crisis of MDG failure to reduce hunger and poverty new strategies have to be formulated and new planners and decision makers are necessary. The failures of the present leaders of powerful countries and the international institutions they have set up to find effective solutions to the many crises that the world is facing shows that it is foolish to expect the very creators of these crises to find solutions.

Thus it is necessary to think of new strategies and new planners and decision makers to find effective solutions.

In finding solutions it is necessary to find ways in which the poor and hungry people take over the tasks of overcoming hunger and poverty. Since they do not have capital and since borrowed capital not be expected to support a process that does not benefit capital such a strategy will have to depend on capital to a minimum. Thus, free gifts of nature are utilized to the maximum

In Sri Lanka’s situation we have found that the most effective way of ending hunger and poverty is by allowing nature to make its maximum contribution to this process. Sri Lanka still has a very large percentage of small farmers who are concerned primarily with producing their food. Thus, they grow rice, main food, vegetables, pulses, yams and potatoes etc.

In 1996 the World Bank guided the government of Sri Lanka to adopt policies that would push these people out of their land and agriculture, getting them to migrate into cities and find non-farm employment.: (Ref: Non Plantation Sector Policy alternatives: WB report 1996). This however, has not worked in Sri Lanka and still large numbers of people live in rural areas. Youth in Sri Lanka have waged three armed rebellion that killed around 10,000 in 1971, about 60,000 in 1988 -90 (UN Committee on involuntary disappearances visiting Sri Lanka in 1991) and over several hundred thousand in the northern war that lasted for 30 years Trying to make the country attractive to foreign investment over the last 36 years has failed and only cost the country a tremendous increase in foreign debt. More recently the governments have declared various programmes for rural small farmers’ agricultural improvement. Programmes such as "Divineguma" (livelihood improvement), "Gamaneguma" (improvement of village), "Gemi Diriya" (courage of villagers, "Api Wawamu" "Rata Nagamu" (let grow and Build the Nation) have all being saying about utilizing the possibilities of rural small holders to grow their own food. However, these programmes have been influenced by agro chemical companies for their interests and thus the programs are not carried out with a right vision and approach.  Governments still continue in the same direction of improving massive infrastructure, building express highways, international airports and harbors, tourist zones etc which have failed to achieve the declared objective of expanding exports attracting foreign investment, achieving faster economic growth, expecting it to trickle down and reduce poverty. This is just to be able to get more and more foreign loans. The burdens of these debts are transferred to the poor while the rich and investors get very large tax holidays.

Experiences of farmers in Sri Lanka

Experiences of farmer organizations and people’s organizations over the last 15 to 2 years show that ecological agriculture is a very effective way of overcoming hunger and poverty and of reducing ill health, and ecological destruction caused by conventional chemical farming. Further this has become very expensive since all chemical inputs are imported. Government has had to spend huge sums of money to provide chemical fertilizer at subsidized prices (about a hundred billion is spent annually on the fertilizer subsidy alone). It has now been found that chemical agriculture leads to severe health problems and death. In Padaviya in the North Central Province around 20,000 people have died of a mysterious kidney disease proved to be caused by arsenic or Cadmium poisoning due to chemical agricultural inputs. In the North Central Province the people affected by this disease is over a hundred thousand. It is spreading to other areas too since this practice is island wide. Cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and many other diseases are caused by these.

Thus, it is definitely necessary and quite possible to transform chemical input dependent agriculture in Sri Lanka into a much more beneficial form of ecological agriculture.

In doing this it is necessary to give an emphasis to the necessary transformation in the hill country, which is almost entirely covered by tea grown as a monoculture plantation. There is a very important need to attend to in the hill country agriculture and land use.

When the British started tea plantations they brought cheap labour from India. Over a million people were thus brought and kept under conditions of semi slavery. They were kept under miserable conditions, very low conditions of housing, health, education etc. In 1947, they were deprived of citizenship since it was feared that they would vote for the left parties. When Sri Lanka got independence these workers did not get any independence and they are even today kept under the same conditions. Plantations today are a dying industry, the soil has got completely eroded and less productive. Therefore, people’s organizations demand that these plantation people should be given land ownership and they should be assisted and guided to do ecological agriculture. We have found that about 40 % of plantation youth have got some education now and are unemployed. They do not want to be employed as plantation labour under the present degrading conditions. Transforming the hill country into an ecologically sound form of agriculture, with the highest elevations reforested and rest of the land convered into diversified agriculture growing fruits, vegetables, timber and also animal husbandry can best be done by the plantation people themselves.

In the experience of rural farmer organizations such ecological agriculture can be tremendously productive and extremely beneficial. Overcoming the poisoning of the hill country with chemical farming is essential since the hill country is the major catchment area. Heaviest rainfall is in the hill country and this rainfall is carried to the plains right round by around 200 rivers. So storage of water in the hill country by improving the forest cover and overcoming erosion is essential for the whole country. Ecological agriculture can also provide nourishing and diversified food to the people, and plantation people are the most undernourished section of the population.

This transformation needs to be done in all other parts of the country.

The essential elements of ecological agriculture are:

  1. Protection and improvement of top soil be preventing erosion (building ridges and mulching)
  2. Making maximum use of sunlight by growing a variety of trees, growing to different canopies,
  3. Complete recycling of all organic matter and utilizing animal waste for increasing microbial activity for soil fertility improvement
  4. Avoiding the use of chemical pesticides (allowing insects to do their job),weedicides ( stopping the killing of microbes, allowing them to o their task of soil fertility improvement ) and avoiding the use of chemical fertilizer (allowing the enhancement of microbial activity and avoiding soil and water poisoning)
  5. Maximum diversity of plants to reduce pest losses and improve bio diversity
  6. Improving forest cover to reduce erosion and get other benefits.

These principles can be applied in all parts of the country. Farmer organizations and their networks have begun to do this over the last 10 – 15 years and there are about a thousand villages where the benefits and methods can be demonstrated.

How this can be further propagated

It is useful if all people’s organizations and NGOs understand and engage themselves in this strategy. It is very important to initiate dialogue with all political parties, development organizations, scientists and scholars and all those involved in development dialogue about the effectiveness and urgency of this strategy.

Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on right to food presented a paper several months ago that it is possible to overcome hunger by adopting ecological agriculture. Using examples of many countries, particularly in Africa when environmental conditions are difficult, that food production can be doubled within 3 to 10 years adopting ecological agriculture.

IAASTED (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) a very high level research done by 400 scientists, working for 4 years, studying many countries of the world said that there are very strong weaknesses in agriculture so far. They were that it was not sufficiently socially concerned and it was not environmentally concerned. These need to be corrected. This shows that the global trend has begun to change.

Youth

We suggest that in Sri Lanka, a country that has failed miserably to treat its youth justly and rationally should adopt a strategy of reorienting the entire field of youth education to help youth to develop ecological agriculture as a way of building a new scientific and dignified profession. Around 300,000 students sit for the GCE advanced level exam and around 120,000 pass with sufficient marks to enter universities. However universities absorb only less than 20,000. So, around a 100,000 most intelligent and hard working youth are stranded annually. This is the breeding ground for youth rebellion. This can be overcome by giving then opportunities to become new professional and experts playing a very useful role of transforming the country.

We have found that this can be done at very low cost. Using a small plot of land of (say ¼ acre) it is possible to get an additional output of around Rs. 3,000 or 4,000 a month at practically no other cost of production. A youth instructor who can be trained easily within a month in basic aspects of ecological home gardening can attend to about 30 home gardens visiting each of them weekly. If the beneficiary pays this instructor about Rs. 300 a month, he /she can get a remuneration of around Rs. 10,000 a month which is equivalent to a graduates staring salary. They can be provided higher education opportunities over the weekends and be given a diploma after some time. Thus government can do this with very little additional cost. The savings to the country in terms of health, environmental improvement, water improvement and more important a creative contribution from all people is possible.

We suggest that this process of transformation should be begun by people themselves with initiation by people’s organizations. When this is sufficiently built to a demonstrative scale people must begin to actively reject conventional chemical agriculture and eating such unhealthy food. This should be done ignoring Government, until they begin to accept this. We have to continue lobbying all the time.

Region: 
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El amargo sabor de la piña

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Costa Rica ha presentado hacia el exterior una imagen de país sostenible y comprometido con el medio ambiente, pero la realidad interna es muy distinta. La tensión entre la conservación y la actividad productiva provocan una creciente conflictividad social por el uso del territorio. Como un ejemplo del (in)cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio abordamos el caso de la producción agroindustrial de piña, que ha ido sitiando comunidades y zonas protegidas, y desplazando a cultivos tradicionales de importancia alimentaria. Causa gran preocupación, además, el paquete tecnológico agrotóxico utilizado sistemáticamente, que provoca la contaminación de fuentes hídricas. Entre 2003 y 2009 se presentaron más de 120 denuncias contra la producción piñera ante el Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo y el Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones.

Eva Carazo - Carlos Pentzke
CEP Alforja

Introducción[1]

En Costa Rica se dan dos tendencias que preocupan a los expertos de la cuestión ambiental. Por un lado, la creación de áreas protegidas y la agenda de conservación no son suficientes para manejar los territorios de manera sostenible, de manera que se reduzca el impacto que tienen las formas de producir en la calidad y disponibilidad de los recursos naturales. Por otro lado la manera en que la población utiliza los recursos, de forma insostenible, provocan que en el 2011 un 8% más del territorio disponible se use para satisfacer la demanda de recursos naturales. Además la tensión que se produce entre la conservación y la actividad productiva, desarrollan una creciente conflictividad social por el uso del territorio, dentro y fuera de las áreas protegidas.

En este escenario  el Estado costarricense ha  tomado la  posición de abandonar la prioridad política de los desafíos ambientales y se ha convertido más bien en generador de conflictos. El Estado es parte del problema, ya sea por lo que no ha hecho o por lo que ha hecho.

El año 2011 muestra que se profundizaron las principales tendencias en el ámbito ambiental: se recupero la cobertura forestal,  se ampliaron las áreas protegidas marinas, pero no se avanzó en la protección de humedales; persiste la utilización de hidrocarburos sobre todo en el transporte público y en el sector de producción de energía eléctrica; se produjo una reducción de la agricultura orgánica y no hubo reducción sustancial de la utilización de agroquímicos. Esto sucede en un contexto de ausencia de planificación del territorio y con un incremento, ya señalado, de la conflictividad social.

Uno de los principales conflictos ambientales ha sido el relacionado con el cultivo de la piña, que en abril de 2012, llevó a la Municipalidad de Pococí a decretar una moratoria en dicho cultivo por la contaminación de las aguas. Como un ejemplo de la situación costarricense de cara al (in)cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, en particular el relacionado con garantizar la sostenibilidad del medio ambiente, abordamos el caso de la producción agroindustrial de piña.

Dulce, amarillo y amargo[2]

Costa Rica se ha caracterizado por presentar una imagen internacional como un país sostenible y comprometido con el medio ambiente, sin embargo la realidad interna es muy distinta. La producción agroindustrial de la piña es un caso que vale la pena indagar.

De acuerdo con la Cámara Nacional de Productores de Piña CANAPEP, el área sembrada de piña en Costa Rica aumentó un 675% entre 1990 y 2009, pasando de menos de 10.000 a más de 50.000 has. Las empresas Del Monte y PINDECO concentran el 50% de la producción piñera en Costa Rica, y 31 empresas concentran el 96% de la producción total de esta fruta. El 4% restante está en manos de aproximadamente 1200 pequeños agricultores que venden su producción a las grandes empresas, especialmente Dole, Del Monte, Fyffes y Chiquita.

De forma simultánea a la expansión piñera, el área dedicada a la siembra de cultivos de importancia alimentaria como arroz, frijol y maíz ha caído significativamente. La piña ha ido desplazando la producción alimentaria en el país, e incluso sitiando zonas de protección como el Refugio de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro. Según el Área de Conservación Huetar Norte, las piñeras son las principales responsables del daño ambiental de los humedales de Caño Negro.

Además de la expansión del monocultivo de piña y el correspondiente desplazamiento de áreas protegidas, comunidades y formas tradicionales de agricultura alimentaria en el país, existe una gran preocupación por el paquete tecnológico agrotóxico utilizado sistemáticamente en la producción piñera agroindustrial. Por ejemplo, en esta actividad se consumen entre 30 y 38 kg/ha al año de plaguicidas, cifra superada únicamente en la producción de banano. En el cantón de Siquirres, las comunidades de Cairo, Luisiana, Milano y La Francia tienen más de cuatro años de recibir agua en camiones cisterna, porque las fuentes hídricas que utilizaban antes fueron contaminadas por el uso del herbicida bromacil en las plantaciones de piña que las rodean.

En la región Caribe costarricense, los gobiernos locales de los cantones de Guácimo (en 2008) y Pococí (en 2012) acordaron una moratoria que impide aprobar en sus territorios nuevas actividades derivadas o relacionadas con la siembra, expansión, industrialización, exportación, distribución y comercialización de piña. En este proceso han tenido el apoyo de las comunidades locales y de instituciones como la Universidad de Costa Rica y la Defensoría de los Habitantes.

Los principales argumentos utilizados para las moratorias son los impactos ambientales negativos que se han comprobado para la producción de piña, tales como la erosión y contaminación con agrotóxicos de zonas de recarga acuífera, ríos y aguas subterráneas, o el mal manejo de aguas residuales. También los casos de pérdida de biodiversidad y de envenenamiento de la vida silvestre por plaguicidas, la contaminación del aire con fungicidas, la aparición de moscas y plagas por el mal manejo de desechos, así como una alta concentración de sustancias tóxicas en los cabellos y la orina de mujeres embarazadas, niñas y niños habitantes de comunidades cercanas a las plantaciones de piña.

Se mencionan igualmente impactos sociales negativos como el aumento de problemas sanitarios (incidencia de dengue, enfermedades respiratorias y psicológicas), disminución de los indicadores de desarrollo social y aumento de la polarización entre grandes propietarios ricos y personas asalariadas pobres. Igualmente, la exención de impuestos a la exportación de piña, a diferencia de la producción bananera que era común en estas zonas, ha incidido negativamente en las finanzas de los gobiernos locales.

Entre 2003 y 2009 se presentaron ante el Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo y el Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones más de 120 denuncias contra la producción piñera en todo el país. Los motivos más frecuentes de denuncia fueron la tala de bosques, apertura ilegal de caminos, invasión y cambio de uso de tierras, invasión de zonas protegidas, ausencia de los debidos Estudios de Impacto Ambiental, manejo inapropiado de desechos, abuso de agroquímicos, contaminación y usurpación de aguas, problemas de salud, incumplimiento de derechos laborales y persecución sindical.

Los sectores turístico, ganadero y comunal de la zona norte de Costa Rica están procurando acuerdos de moratoria similares a los de Guácimo y Pococí, como la única vía para proteger sus territorios y formas de vida frente a la expansión indiscriminada del tóxico cultivo de piña.

Notas:

[1] La información de la introducción , ha sido elaborada en base al Programa Estado de la Nación en Desarrollo Humano Sostenible//Programa Estado de la Nación-17 ed.-CR: El Programa 2012, págs...65,66,71. Programa

[2] La información aquí indicada proviene de los acuerdos municipales de Guácimo y Pococí, y de las investigaciones desarrolladas por el programa Kioskos Socioambientales de la Universidad de Costa Rica. Todos estos documentos están disponibles en http://kioscosambientales.ucr.ac.cr
Para ampliar sobre este tema se puede consultar también el sitio web del Frente Nacional de Sectores Afectados por la Producción Piñera FRENASAPP, en www.detrasdelapina.org.
El documental “El amargo sabor de la piña”, que le da nombre a este informe, está disponible en: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR1xtokRnFc

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El cumplimiento de los ODM en peligro inminente

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
El cumplimiento de los ODM en Nicaragua está en inminente peligro debido a las serias dificultades que enfrenta en virtud de varios factores, como el escaso crecimiento económico, el aumento de la población que demanda alimentos y trabajo, y la creciente corrupción. Aunque hay avances en algunos de ellos, no son suficientes y no se acercan a la meta. El modelo agroexportador, que hasta hoy solo ha generado empleos precarios e informales que condenan a vivir bajo el umbral de la pobreza a las personas que los desempeñan, y un sistema tributario regresivo le están cerrando al país la posibilidad de aprovechar la oportunidad histórica de la transición democrática.

Organizado por: Licenciado Roberto Velásquez
Coordinadora Civil

Introducción

El informe que a continuación se presenta sobre el cumplimiento de los objetivos de desarrollo del milenio en Nicaragua, es una síntesis elaborada con información producida en documentos oficiales de la coordinadora civil, la cual refleja la visión y enfoque de derechos humanos que asume esta alianza de organizaciones. Igual se ha consultado a otros actores como medios de comunicación y naciones unidas. Este diagnóstico es un reflejo de la realidad en el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de desarrollo del milenio en Nicaragua.

En el año 2000, Nicaragua acordó ante Naciones Unidas los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, los cuales tienen como misión la superación de la pobreza en la cual está sumido el País, Identificado como el segundo país más pobre de América Latina.

Uno de los ocho objetivos se refiere a establecer alianzas mundiales, con el fin de mejorar las relaciones entre los países desarrollados con los menos desarrollados, en materia de políticas de comercio, inversión, ayuda externa  y condonación de la deuda externa, clave para alcanzar sin dudas los otros siete objetivos tales como: Erradicar el hambre, alcanzar la educación primaria universal, la equidad entre los géneros, bajar la mortalidad infantil, mejorar la salud materna, combatir el virus del Sida y otras pandemias, así como promover el cuidado ambiental.

A poco tiempo del 2015 para alcanzar esa meta, el cumplimiento de los ODM está encontrando serias dificultades, consecuencia de Varios factores. Primero: Porque aún se continúa siendo el segundo país más pobre de la región (con una población de 5,8 millones de personas, donde el 47 por ciento viven en la pobreza) con insuficiente financiamiento y poca capacidad de gestión para lograrlo, y Segundo: Porque el país se encuentra enfrentando serios problemas de gobernabilidad, entre ellos los más determinantes han sido la suma de tres fraudes electorales en los años 2008, 2011 y 2012 dejando al País condenado a un Régimen Autoritario que ha venido Desmantelando la débil institucionalidad y el Estado de Derecho, atropellado los más elementales derechos humanos de las y los Nicaragüenses.

El plazo se está venciendo y el compromiso para combatir la pobreza y las desigualdades es vinculante para todos los y las nicaragüenses, sin embargo estamos muy distantes de su cumplimiento. Además se plantea el reto de que no solo se trata de cumplir por cumplir dichos Objetivos (del Milenio), sino también que nuestro pueblo tenga verdadera y equitativamente acceso a mejor educación, salud, Alimentos nutricionales y programas de educación. Que por un lado ayuden eficazmente a combatir el Sida, la Mortalidad infantil y que por otro ayuden a Proteger el Medio ambiente.

Para ello el Gobierno tenía el compromiso de cumplir con dichas  Metas del Milenio, pero en el proceso se dieron enormes dificultades y Compromisos que están inconclusos. Razón por lo cual la ciudadanía se ha organizado de distintas y diversas formas (a pesar de que en el País no existe un ambiente habilitante) para contribuir al desarrollo de los mismos, asumiendo a la vez los principios de Estambul recientemente aprobados y en ese accionar Coordinadora Civil ha tomado posiciones si bien es cierto críticas, pero a la vez ha hecho importantes propuestas en relación con el fortalecimiento del Estado y la reducción de pobreza y un ejemplo de ello es la reciente propuesta de Justicia Fiscal impulsada entre 2012 y 2013 en el País, denominada “Hacia un sistema Tributario más justo y equitativo”, la cual se llevó a cabo en conjunto con la Alianza Tributaria, mediante un proceso de 400 talleres en todo el País, de Consulta, análisis y fortalecimiento de la misma con la participación de más de 10,000 ciudadanos, Diversos representantes de Organizaciones sociales, Empresa privada, Universidades, Diputados e inclusive funcionarios de Gobierno.

La imperdonable decisión de no invertir el 7% del PIB en educación

Nicaragua debería llegar a 2015 con una cobertura de 100 por ciento de la educación primaria para cumplir el segundo ODM, partiendo de una base de 75% de niños matriculados en 1998.

Según uno de los últimos reportes de cumplimiento de los ODM en Nicaragua, la matrícula escolar era de 80%, y por cada 10 niños y niñas que ingresaban a primer grado, sólo cuatro lograban egresar en sexto grado.

Por otro lado Según cifras del Ministerio de Educación (MINED) señalan que la tasa de culminación de la educación secundaria es del 44%; esto significa que apenas 4.5 jóvenes de ambos sexos de cada 10 en edad de asistir a secundaria se matriculan en este nivel educativo yque solo 4.4 de cada 10 que logran matricularse en secundaria logran completarla.

El hecho de que un porcentaje importante de niños, niñas y adolescentes no logren culminar la educación primaria, que menos de la mitad de los que deberían asistir a secundaria lo hagan, y que de ellos menos de la mitad logre culminarla, determina que los jóvenes nicaragüenses se incorporan al mercado laboral con niveles de escolaridad extremadamente bajos y dada la alta correlación que existe entre niveles de escolaridad y el ingreso laboral que las personas lograrán alcanzar, esto condena a gran parte de estos jóvenes a percibir ingresos laborales durante su vida adulta, que los mantendrán bajo el umbral de la pobreza. Pues se requieren al menos 11 años de escolaridad – la secundaria completa – para obtener un ingreso laboral que comience a superar el umbral de la pobreza. Y la mayor parte de los jóvenes no logra alcanzarese nivel de escolaridad. Es así que las repercusiones del bajísimo nivel de escolaridad de que adolece la mayor parte de la fuerza de trabajo, son extremas. El análisis de la estructura del mercado laboral nicaragüense muestra además que casi 7 de cada 10 empleos en Nicaragua son empleos precarios en el sector informal.

Mayoritariamente, se trata de empleos en los que predominan el auto empleo y los empleos sin remuneración, desempeñados principalmente por familiares, y asalariados de micro unidades informales. Estos empleos generan unos ingresos muy bajos, que mantienen a quienes los desempeñan bajo el umbral de la pobreza,  Una razón fundamental del predominio de este tipo de empleos es que la economía nicaragüense está generando, mayoritariamente, el único tipo de empleos que puede absorber a una fuerza de trabajo con las características de la nicaragüense.

En cierto sentido, el modelo económico-político agro exportador y con un sistema tributario regresivo es entre otras cosas lo que está cerrando la oportunidad a Nicaragua de aprovechar la oportunidad histórica de la transición democrática (BONO DEMOGRÁFICO). Este modelo agro exportador lo único que hasta hoy ha generado es Empleos precarios e informales que condenan a quienes los desempeñan a sobrevivir bajo el umbral de la pobreza.

Nicaragua está invirtiendo cinco veces menos presupuesto que algunos países del área con economías muy similares a los nuestros.

Con la cantidad de recursos que Nicaragua ha venido destinando desde hace más de una década en educación y que según los últimos dos años 2012 y 2013 promedia menos del 3% del Presupuesto General no se cumplirá jamás la meta, y por el contrario, se ampliará la brecha de niñez fuera del sistema escolar.

La inversión anual por persona en educación que alcanza el País, es de una inversión anual en educación de sólo 42 dólares por persona, lo que lo ubica en la cola de los países Centroamericanos. Por lo que dicho Sistema es incoherente para cumplir con dicho Objetivo, en tanto no se concrete en la asignación presupuestaria una base de al menos el 7% del PIB, lo cual parece estar lejos de ser considerado por el actual Gobierno, quien cuenta con los medios suficientes como ningún otro Gobierno para disponer de fondos suficientes para lograr dichos compromisos. Mismos fondos que provienen de la Cooperación Venezolana pero que lamentablemente no pasan por el presupuesto de la Nación.

Mientras tanto el sistema educativo diseñado para alcanzar los Objetivos del Milenio, por sí mismo ha quedado descalificado, puesto que apuesta a una educación obediente a lineamientos partidarios, más que a mejorar la calidad y por tanto el mismo no resulta efectivo para evitar las deserciones, ni mucho menos a mejorar  las capacidades intelectuales de los estudiantes quienes para pasar el año escolar tan solo deben estar afiliados al partido de gobierno e involucrarse en actividades partidarias.

Y este es tan solo uno de los motivos por los cuales se afirma que de no cambiar drásticamente el sistema educativo, difícilmente esa meta se va lograr al 2015 para acercarse al objetivo, Además la realidad impone que el presupuesto asignado a educación tendría que duplicarse.

Disminución de la pobreza y desnutrición: un sueño inconcluso

Nicaragua, acordó reducir el porcentaje de la población que vive en pobreza extrema, partiendo de una base de 19.4 por ciento de pobreza extrema de 1993, hasta alcanzar el 9.7 por ciento de la población en 2015. La meta que se estableció fue reducir a la mitad, entre 1990 y 2015, el porcentaje de personas cuyos ingresos fueran inferiores a un dólar por día.

En cuanto al hambre, el objetivo era reducir el porcentaje de niñez menor de 5 años con bajo peso y desnutrición global, partiendo de una cifra de línea de base de 1993, de 11.5 por ciento, y alcanzar bajarla a 5.9 por ciento en 2015. La meta era reducir a la mitad el porcentaje de personas que padecen hambre. Así mismo entre 2009 y 2010 la desnutrición infantil pasaría de 27 por ciento, reportado en 2006, a 38 por ciento de los niños de hasta cinco años de edad.

No obstante  de cada cinco niños y niñas, uno padece desnutrición crónica en este país, según el informe Estado Mundial de la Infancia 2008, presentado en Managua en junio de 2008 por el Unicef.  Y de acuerdo al documento de Unicef (Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia), 12 por ciento de los recién nacidos presentaban bajo peso, y 30 por ciento de los menores de cinco años tenían una talla inferior a la que les correspondía por su edad.

Un reciente estudio reveló que de una población actual de 5,8 millones de habitantes el número total de personas en situación de pobreza en Nicaragua aumentó en cifras absolutas, por el crecimiento natural anual de la población. En 2005 vivían en pobreza 2,48 millones de los 5,4 millones de los habitantes del país ese año, mientras que en 2009 las personas en esa situación eran 2,56 millones, de una población total de 5,7 millones.

Así mismo aproximadamente 186 mil ciudadanos económicamente activos se encuentran en desempleo y 885 mil están en empleos precarios. Siendo así la tasa de desempleo formal el 8.2 por ciento de la PEA. De la cual en 2010, el 38.8 por ciento PEA (885 mil personas de una masa humana de 2.28 millones) están subempleadas, sin ingresos fijos, sin respaldo de seguro social y sin beneficios laborales.

Programas de gobierno: Para clientelismo partidario o para combatir de verdad la pobreza

Nicaragua según el Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Forestal (MAGFOR) Posee unas 550 mil manzanas con vocación agrícola y agropecuaria, las cuales no se usan por falta de financiamiento, capacitación e incentivo a la producción. Siendo esta una de las causas de que dichos programas sean fallidos para tales propósitos. Así mismo  se ha aumentado el área de producción y la productividad por área solamente en productos de agro exportación y no en alimentos que pueden disminuir el hambre de los nicaragüenses.

Otro factor es que quienes producen alimentos básicos no reciben financiamiento ni privado ni estatal y que lejos de ello, lo que ha habido es una campaña de carácter partidaria- estatal- electoral del programa Hambre Cero, el que no se enmarca dentro de una política pública, pues es ejecutado sin visión de largo plazo, sin planes de auto sostenibilidad y con lineamientos más políticos para ganar clientelismo partidario.

Seguimos así dependiendo  del sub-empleo, y contrario a eso la tasa de desempleo abierto aumento de 5,2 por ciento a 8,3 por ciento del 2006 al 2009. En contraste con la tasa de crecimiento económico promedio 2007-2010, que fue de 2.1 por ciento, menor a las tasa de crecimiento que tuvo el país de 2000 a 2006 y mucho menor a la tasa de crecimiento de 3.8 que según PNUD, Nicaragua requería de manera permanente desde 2001 al 2015 para alcanzar las metas. De tal forma que el País para cumplir con los ODM, necesita un mayor crecimiento económico superior al 5 por ciento anual.

Conclusiones

Según un estudio denominado “Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio Nicaragua 2006”, elaborado por el Sistema de las Naciones Unidas, la comunidad internacional había venido apoyando a Nicaragua para su desarrollo con más de U$ 4,600 millones entre 1997 y 2005 en concepto de ayuda externa, ya fuera en donaciones, préstamos concesionales y créditos a largo plazo, sin embargo con el retiro de la Cooperación argumentando que el País ha dejado de ser pobre, pasando supuestamente a ser un País de Renta media, el Panorama resulta sombrío.

Desde entonces se establecía que para alcanzar los ODM, a partir de un estudio realizado por PNUD en 2004, el gasto social en salud, educación, agua y saneamiento debería crecer un mínimo de 3.8 por ciento anual entre 2001 y 2015. Lo cual nunca ocurrió.  Se necesitaba crear 90 mil nuevos empleos productivos para una población Económicamente activa de 15 a 60 años lo cual tampoco ha ocurrido. De esta manera, el denominado ‘bono demográfico’, en vez de aprovecharse, está creando las condiciones para que se continúe reproduciendo la pobreza de la mayor parte de la población, y para que se generen crecientes niveles de precariedad laboral, descomposición social, inseguridad y violencia, y niveles masivos de emigración.

El peligro en el País de no cumplir con los ODM es inminente, en virtud de varios factores vinculados al poco crecimiento económico, Falta de inversión suficiente que genere empleo formal, Crecimiento de la población que demanda alimentos y trabajo,  Incremento de la corrupción en el Gobierno y falta de voluntad política del mismo para Dialogar con las diferentes fuerzas sociales, económicas y productivas de la nación. Entre otros.  Hay avances, en algunos más que en otros, pero no son suficientes y no se acercan a la meta.

“El ex Ministro de Educación (Miguel De Castilla), en su momento, había reconocido que ‘al paso que marchaba la educación en el país, necesitábamos un milenio más para poder cumplir’” los Objetivos del Milenio”.

Bibliografía

  • Documento. Estudios posicionamientos oficiales de la Coordinadora Civil.
    Exposición del coordinador de la comisión económica de la CC.- “Adolfo Acevedo”. 21-09-2011.
  • Propuesta a la Nación Actualizada Coordinadora Civil. 2011.
  • Nicaragua y las inalcanzables Metas del Milenio.
    ONU en los medios 18.12.2010
  • Los Derechos Humanos y las Violaciones en Nicaragua Coordinadora Civil
  • Fraude electoral nos sacó de la solidaridad mundial.
    El Nuevo Diario. 6 de febrero de 2011.
  • Lejos de las Metas del Milenio. El Nuevo Diario. 13 de junio de 2010.
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El tortuoso camino hacia el cumplimiento de los ODM

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Lentos avances hacia los ODM <br> Como firmante de la Declaración del Milenio, el Estado paraguayo está comprometido a cumplir con los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio para 2015. El hoy ex presidente Nicanor Duarte Frutos (2003-2008) reiteró ese compromiso, y su sucesor Fernando Lugo (2008-2012) lo incluyó explícitamente en sus dos principales programas: el Plan Estratégico Económico y Social 2008-2013 y la Política Pública para el Desarrollo Social 2010-2020.

Dra. Verónica Serafini Geoghegan, Economista
Lentos avances hacia los ODM

Como firmante de la Declaración del Milenio, el Estado paraguayo está comprometido a cumplir con los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio para 2015. El hoy ex presidente Nicanor Duarte Frutos (2003-2008) reiteró ese compromiso, y su sucesor Fernando Lugo (2008-2012) lo incluyó explícitamente en sus dos principales programas: el Plan Estratégico Económico y Social 2008-2013 y la Política Pública para el Desarrollo Social 2010-2020.

Si bien no ha existido un plan específico que guíe las acciones públicas hacia los ODM, muchos programas sociales nuevos o con cobertura ampliada de la última década tienen objetivos alineados con sus metas. Estas iniciativas, además de su baja cobertura, presentan problemas de diseño, por lo cual las posibilidades de cambiar en el corto o mediano plazo la trayectoria de los indicadores han sido mínimas. No obstante, las tendencias de la última década se muestran lentas pero constantes, a diferencia de décadas anteriores en que la evolución de los indicadores era inestable y sus mejoras casi espasmódicas.

Una gran ausente en el discurso público paraguayo hasta entrado el siglo XXI fue la protección social. Mientras en Europa constituía uno de los principales proyectos del siglo XX y en América Latina cobró fuerza desde su segunda mitad, Paraguay se mantenía al margen de este avance, excepto por el hecho de contar con un sistema de seguridad social de carácter contributivo, pero de baja cobertura y gran inequidad al estar limitado su alcance a los trabajadores en relación de dependencia.

A partir de 2005, los documentos del gobierno de Paraguay comienzan a hacer referencias a esta política, sobre todo por la preocupación ante la amplia franja de población que quedaba excluida del sistema de seguridad social. Desde entonces surgieron programas que procuran, por un lado, afrontar los riesgos derivados de las condiciones de vulnerabilidad que sufre gran parte de la ciudadanía, dirigidos a sectores específicos como la niñez campesina en situación de pobreza extrema o de áreas urbanas en situación de calle, la niñez y las mujeres embarazadas desnutridas, los adultos mayores en situación de pobreza. Por el otro lado, se establecieron planes para ampliar progresivamente las políticas de salud y educación.

El impacto de esos programas será mínimo si su cobertura es baja y si las políticas de salud y educación son de mala calidad y están lejos de la universalidad. La política de protección social afecta a varios ODM, entre ellos el de erradicar la pobreza y el hambre, el de alcanzar la universalidad de la educación primaria, el de reducir la tasa de mortalidad de la niñez y el de mejorar la salud materna.

Otros programas ya vigentes fueron dotados de mayores recursos, que, sin embargo, resultan aun así insuficientes para lograr el cumplimiento de las metas, y también para reducir las desigualdades que esconden los promedios nacionales de las estadísticas entre la población de áreas urbanas y rurales, entre la indígenas y la no indígenas y entre la pobre y la no pobre.

Los cuatro informes nacionales realizados en el país sobre los ODM dan cuenta de la lentitud de los avances y de las escasas posibilidades de cumplir con la mayoría de las metas.

ODM

Posibilidad de cumplimiento

ODM 1: Erradicar la pobreza y el hambre

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 2: lograr la enseñanza primaria universal

Progreso compatible

ODM 3: Promover la equidad de género y el empoderamiento de la mujer

Progreso compatible

ODM 4: Reducir la tasa de mortalidad de la niñez

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 5: Mejorar la salud materna

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 6: Combatir el VIH/SIDA, el paludismo y otras enfermedades

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 7: Asegurar la sostenibilidad del medio ambiente

Progreso insuficiente

Fuente: Sistema de Naciones Unidas (2005). Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio. Informe de Paraguay. Asunción.

 

Principales críticas a los ODM en Paraguay

Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio han recibido numerosos cuestionamientos. En el informe de la sociedad civil de 2005 “Paraguay-Sin excusas contra la pobreza”, las principales críticas fueron:

• Su visión reduccionista. Por un lado, limita las metas a pocas dimensiones de la vida humana, y por el otro, deja de lado otros acuerdos y compromisos internacionales de gran envergadura como el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW), los planes de acción de diversas cumbres y conferencias sobre medio ambiente y desarrollo sustentable, población y asentamientos urbanos y las convenciones sobre trabajo decente, entre otras. Al sintetizarse los objetivos en indicadores de alcance mundial, se invisibilizan y se reducen derechos ya conquistados desde los años 90.

• Al concentrarse los ODM en los resultados y no en las causas estructurales, quedó debilitada la atención del Estados en los factores que permiten el avance de las personas al mejorar sus capacidades y oportunidades. Esto podría sugerir a las autoridades nacionales la implementación de acciones para cumplir con las metas que, por su alto costo, resultan insostenibles a largo plazo, por lo que sus efectos son coyunturales.

• Por su falta de integralidad, el conjunto de ODM no permite abordar en todas sus dimensiones los factores que determinan la pobreza y la vulnerabilidad de las personas. Esta visión parcial puede llevar a la construcción de un Estado mínimo, con compromisos y deberes reducidos, en vez de un Estado social responsable de garantizarle a la ciudadanía la universalidad de sus derechos.

• Falta coherencia interna entre los objetivos, metas e indicadores. Alcanzar las metas planteadas no siempre lleva a cumplir con los objetivos. Los indicadores incluidos en las metas tampoco permiten recoger la esencia de la Declaración del Milenio.

Estas críticas fueron acordadas por consenso, luego de un amplio análisis, por representantes de 50 organizaciones paraguayas de derechos humanos, campesinas, barriales, indígenas, sindicales, juveniles, de mujeres, que en 2005 se aliaron en la Plataforma Paraguay sin Excusas contra la Pobreza, que a su vez integró el Llamado Mundial a la Acción contra la Pobreza (GCAP, por sus siglas en inglés).

 

Potencialidades de un mecanismo de seguimiento a la gestión pública

El débil y fragmentado Estado paraguayo parece ir en retroceso. Un punto de inflexión para el proceso político, económico y social paraguayo lo constituye el juicio político por el que se destituyó el 22 de junio de 2012 al presidente Fernando Lugo, quien había asumido con 41 por ciento de los votos y contaba en 2011, al llegar a los tres años en el gobierno, con la aceptación de 50 por ciento de la población. El procedimiento fue claramente ilegal en su procedimiento e ilegítimo para un importante sector de la sociedad. El contrato social se rompió.

Como resultado del “golpe parlamentario”, el presupuesto para 2013 mostraba, incluso mientras lo estudia el Poder Legislativo, relevantes cambios en los principios rectores de la política pública.

El gasto social, que en la última década había aumentado persistentemente, detuvo su tendencia en la propuesta del Poder Ejecutivo entregada al Congreso en octubre de 2012. En dos meses de discusión en el Congreso, la asignación a la Policía y las Fuerzas Armadas se elevó 30 por ciento, y los fondos para la burocracia vinculada con el aparato electoral de los partidos políticos con representación parlamentaria, 40 por ciento.

En los poco más de 20 años transcurridos desde la restauración democrática, la ciudadanía no ha logrado fortalecer lo suficiente su capacidad de demandar el cumplimiento de sus derechos y de exigir resultados y rendición de cuentas a funcionarios y dirigentes políticos. La debilidad del Estado es cada vez más palpable. Entre otras cuestiones, se manifiesta en su incapacidad para cumplir con los ODM. La mayoría de sus metas podrían haberse alcanzados se hubieran implementado políticas de calidad y con la cobertura necesaria.

Los partidos políticos y la mayoría de sus representantes, que deberían funcionar como mecanismo de transmisión entre la ciudadanía y el sector público, carecen de legitimidad, por lo que crece y se profundiza en la juventud la desconfianza y la desafección hacia ellos.

Las instituciones del Estado son insuficientes para responder eficazmente a las necesidades y demandas de la ciudadanía. Por eso, la influencia de particulares, a menudo teñida por conflictos de intereses, supera el peso del interés general en las políticas públicas.

La asignación de los recursos públicos (que determina a quién benefician las políticas estatales, con qué criterios, para qué) se maneja con discrecionalidad, al amparo de la insuficiente información pública sobre los programas que se implementan, su debilidad y la falta de criterios claros sobre los sectores de la población a los que se dirigen, los resultados esperados y las actividades y recursos disponibles para lograrlos. De ese modo, las políticas públicas se convierten en instrumentos de prebendas y de clientelismo político.

En este escenario, los ODM constituyen un poderoso instrumento de seguimiento al escaso compromiso del Estado hacia la ciudadanía paraguaya. El reconocimiento de este aspecto tiene importantes implicancias para la ciudadanía organizada que busca el cumplimiento de los ODMs:

• Alcanzar estos objetivos debe entenderse como una obligación. Por lo tanto, constituyen un mecanismo de exigibilidad.

• En un sector público institucionalmente débil, su seguimiento permite garantizar su progresividad, de manera que los avances no dependan de funcionarios ni gobiernos coyunturales, sino de estrategias de mediano y largo plazo.

• Al no existir instancias y mecanismos de rendición de cuentas sistemáticas y de calidad, los ODM permiten a la ciudadanía exigir información y transparencia no solo sobre la evolución de los indicadores sino de los programas públicos que se implementan para su cumplimiento. Por lo tanto, las posibilidades de ejercer ciudadanía y de tener una participación organizada aumentan en la medida en que es posible darle seguimiento a la acción pública en lo concreto, es decir, de controlar los objetivos de los programas, su cobertura, las garantías de acceso y los instrumentos de focalización.

• Frente a la fragmentación social, los ODM propician alianzas en torno a un objetivo común, claramente delimitable y fácilmente consensuable.

 

Los desafíos futuros

• Reconstituir el contrato social a la luz del cumplimiento de los derechos humanos (civiles, políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales), incorporando a los ODM como piso sobre el cual partir. ¿Qué aspiraciones puede tener una sociedad en la que no se garantiza el derecho a la vida, hoy pendiente, dadas las todavía altas tasas de mortalidad materna e infantil? ¿Cómo proyectar el ejercicio pleno de los derechos a la educación, al trabajo, los derechos políticos con niños y niñas que pasan hambre y cuyo futuro está determinado hoy por circunstancias fuera de su control?

• Fortalecer las capacidades de la ciudadanía y de las organizaciones para estructurar sus demandas, incidir en la construcción de las plataformas de gobierno de los diferentes partidos y participar activamente en todo el proceso de las políticas públicas: la construcción de la agenda, el diseño e implementación de los programas, la evaluación y la rendición de cuentas.

• Mejorar sustancialmente el diseño y la gestión de los programas públicos, con la mirada puesta en los resultados. Eso implica, por un lado, que las estrategias y acciones deben estar sustentadas en la intervención sobre las causas de los problemas, y por otro, en los resultados que afectan la calidad de vida de las personas y no en los medios para lograrlos.

• Instalar mecanismos eficaces de transparencia y rendición de cuentas: no hay posibilidades de lograr un Estado garante de los derechos humanos y procesos de profundización de la democracia sin retroalimentación entre el sector público y la ciudadanía. Las dinámicas sociales y económicas exigen dinamismo y capacidad de reacción de las políticas, lo cual requiere, a su vez, de una interlocución activa entre todos los involucrados.

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Energy inequity making Thailand’s national development unsustainable

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Thailand’s approval of the Power Development Plan (PDP 2010-2030) will not only promote energy inequality among its people and burden the poor with heavy environmental costs of power plants, coal plants and even nuclear reactors, but also undermine most of the MDGs’ achievements the country claimed to have already made long before 2015. Academics, civil society and local community organizations are expressing their opposition to the approved plan, proposing a new PDP based on a holistic approach to energy planning, and urging the country to move from heavy reliance on fossil fuels, use energy more efficiently, and convert to renewable energy sources for the interests of the majority Thai people.

Prasart Meetam and Suntaree Kiatiprajuk
The Social Agenda Working Group

Thailand’s approval of the Power Development Plan (PDP 2010-2030) will not only promote energy inequality among its people and burden the poor with heavy environmental costs of power plants, coal plants and even nuclear reactors, but also undermine most of the MDGs’ achievements the country claimed to have already made long before 2015. Academics, civil society and local community organizations are expressing their opposition to the approved plan, proposing a new PDP based on a holistic approach to energy planning, and urging the country to move from heavy reliance on fossil fuels, use energy more efficiently, and convert to renewable energy sources for the interests of the majority Thai people.

Energy is globally recognized as central to the issues of development, global security, environmental protection and sustainability and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). developing countries are urged to expand access to reliable and modern energy services if they are to reduce poverty and improve the health of their citizens. The UN even declared 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. But current energy systems are seen as inadequate to meet the needs of the poor and are jeopardizing the sustainable achievement of the MDGs.

Thailand’s Eleventh National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016) states that “The issue of energy security is vital, and requires that more clean energy be used and alternative energy sources be developed, leading to overall improvement in energy efficiency.” In principle, this may be considered the national development direction. But in practice this is not the case , the country’s latest PDP (2010-2030), formulated mainly by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and influenced heavily by the demands of such industries as automobile and smelting will direct the country’s national development plan for the next 20 years. Under this latest PDP, Thailand will have an annual spending of about 200 billion Baht (USD 6,510.41 million/USD 1 = 30.72 Baht) for power plants construction. Moreover, Thailand’s electricity generation sector is a monopoly business, with absolute ownership of and control over the transmission systems. More importantly, today’s construction of power plants tends to be of large-scale size and these power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide released into the area around them and the atmosphere. Thus, the construction of new power plants in almost all areas are often opposed by local communities while those existing power stations continue to make negative impacts on the communities’ health and livelihood.

Lack of good governance and public participation

On 6 June 2012, Miss rosana Tositrakul , chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on Good Governance Promotion held a press conference at the press conference room of parliament criticizing the third-revised PDP the Ministry of Energy was about to present to the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) meeting on 8 June 2012 for contradicting to the government’s previously approved Energy Efficiency Development Plan (2011-2030), lacking active participation of the public, and tending to unreasonably favour natural gas, coal and nuclear power sectors that will impose undue investment burdens on the country whereby the public will be made to shoulder them via electricity rates. Not to mention potential social conflict over the construction of power plants in various areas in the future.

The content of the latest PDP, in Rosana’s view, is incompatible with the cabinet resolution approved on 27 December 2011 to achieve the targeted 96,653 ktoe of energy conservation by 2030. In the draft PDP, such previously-set target was reduced to only 20% of it and that would result in increasing electricity fees of at least 4.56 baht per unit by 2030. In addition, the formulation of the Plan had been hurriedly conducted so that it could be presented to the NEPC meeting by 8 June 2012 and submitted for cabinet approval the following week. The social activist senator suggested that “the Ministry of Energy should suspend its presentation of the PDP to the NEPC for the time being and allow the people to be thoroughly informed and voice their views; otherwise its act may violate the constitution.”

In fact, only one hearing was held in Bangkok on 5 June 2012. Invitation letters were sent to concerned participants five days while relevant information was disclosed only three days in advance of the scheduled date of the hearing. In the southern province of Trang on 7 June 2012, 20 representatives of the People’s Network of Trang held a meeting at the community centre in Kan Tang district, expressing their opposition to the third-revised PDP. Mr Trairong Kuaseng, member of the Network, said, “The Ministry of Energy held only one public hearing for half a day in Bangkok. Its invitation letters were sent on 30 May 2012 with very little information on the draft PDP to be considered in the hearing. This lack of respect for active participation of the people sector could cause greater injustice against consumers as the PDP could lead to the construction of more large-scale power plants and the people will be made to bear the burden of their construction and production costs.”

He also pointed out that if the 80% of the energy conservation previously targeted was not cut from the latest PDP, no coal-fired power plants would be built in Trang and other regions of the country. “Local conflict will be lessened,” he added.

At odds with reality but in alliance with vested interests

In late 2011, the cabinet of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra government approved the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2012-2021(AEDP) and the Energy Efficiency Development Plan (EEDP). Both Plans show how Thailand could produce more energy from renewable sources, providing as much as 25% of the nation's total energy needs in 2021 and reduce its energy consumption in 2030 by 20%, basically through demand-side management. The EEDP even says that technically it could exceed its targets and achieve even higher efficiencies. This means that the unnecessary annual spending of over 200 billion Baht could be saved while the unnecessary emission of 49 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year could be reduced.

But the 20-year-long PDP still predicts a massive hike in electricity demand from 2012’s peak of 26,355 MW to a forecast of 70,847 MW in 2030, which means at least an additional six coal plants, seven natural gas plants, two nuclear power plants and the purchase of power from several controversial dams in neighbouring countries, according to an article written by members of the Thai Working Group for Climate Justices. An assessment by energy analysts Cheunchom and Chris Greacen, published in April 2012 pointed out that multiple revisions of the PDP have had a persistent tendency to overestimate projected demand.

“By selecting excessive amounts of controversial, expensive, risky and polluting power plants, over cheaper, cleaner and safer alternatives,” the report states, “the PDP is at odds with both Thai energy policy as well as the interests of the vast majority of Thai people.”

It is not difficult to see why this recommendation is difficult to swallow for those with a financial stake in energy production in Thailand. Giant energy companies make profits from building new plants and selling more electricity. When the latest PDP was approved, the minister of energy confirmed a new round of bidding for six new power plants, which sent the stock prices of the main three independent power producers in Thailand shooting up. A small elite of Thai businessmen and politicians have an interest in keeping demand for energy production up, even to excessively high levels.

Yingluck’s cabinet, on 19 June 2012, approved this PDP and PTT Public Company Limited, Thailand’s national energy company, was assigned to propose its natural gas supply plan (2012-2030) in line with the PDP and present to the NEPC for further approval. Not surprisingly, PTT reported to the NEPC meeting on 4 October 2012 that to be congruent with the PDP, the country’s overall demands for natural gas for the electricity.In 2007, 49% of electricity was consumed by industrial sector, followed by commercial sector, 25%, and households, 21%. In 2010, the fuels used for electricity generation ranged from natural gas, 71.8%; coal, 17.6 and renewables, 6.3 (hydropower 4.8% and others,1.5%/the ministry of Energy categorized hydropower as renewable), industrial and transportation sectors would increase from 4,167 million cubic feet per day in 2011 to 5,331 million cubic feet per day in 2016, an average increase of 5.1% annually. In the long term, the demand could increase to 6,999 million cubic feet per day in 2030. And also the retail price of electricity fee will become at 4.95 baht per kWh, which is still within the range of 4.47-5.0 baht per kWh anticipated by the Energy Regulatory Commission. No sooner had the PTT proposed plan been approved than this energy company was also given the go-ahead by the Ministry of Energy to build its second phase of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal worth USD 698 million for the two million tonnes of LNG the company was also authorized to buy from Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited for 20 years starting from 2015.

Two very influential organizations involving in Thailand’s energy sector are PTT and EGAT. Both of them are state enterprises whereby the Ministry of Finance has 51% and 100%, respectively, shareholding in them. But when these organizations established their subsidiaries and affiliates (about 100 of them), the status of state enterprises will be maintained only if their parent organizations have no less than 66.67% in those subsidiaries. Otherwise, they are private companies. But the subsidiaries of PTT and EGAT can have the best of both worlds. As state enterprises, they can have access to loans from various sources with the Ministry of Finance as their guarantor. When they are prosecuted, the General Attorney will represent them in court and the Council of State Office will give them advice if they have any legal problems. As private companies, they are not subject to the rule and regulations of the Ministry of Finance but entitled to privileges given by the Board of Investment. It is interesting to note that the three electricity state enterprises – EGAT, Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and Provincial Electricity Authority – employ about 100,000 employees or not more than 110,000 workers if the employees of private power producers are included. But these 110,000 workers take part in producing around 500 billion Baht (USD 16,276.04 million/USD 1 = 30.72 Baht) of the country’s GDP. It means that Thailand’s substantial income concentrates on this electricity sector, this is of course an origin of inequity.

At the same time, high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Energy that are responsible for designating and supervising energy policies for the interests of the people are appointed by the government or those state enterprises as committee members to oversee the policies of such companies or energy businesses. These officials are given huge benefits, 10 times higher than the amount given by the civil service system. Therefore, it is very difficult to expect these officials to protect the people’s interests.

Opposition and complaints falling on deaf ears

Existing power plants are inflicting adverse impact on local people’s health and environment while many current plans for new power plants, especially the most polluting, are proposed in environmentally-sensitive locations, in particular along the southern coastline and next to major rivers, threatening the livelihoods of countless communities and sparking vehement public opposition. Not to mention huge environmental, social and economic costs to be created.

One latest case in point is the protest of the Network of Small-scale Fisherfolk of Tha Sala district of the southern province of Nakhon Si thammarat. On 22 November 2012, representatives of the Network submitted their letter opposing the approval given by Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning’s (ONEP) panel of experts to the final environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) of the deep-sea port and chemical storage site to be built by Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, reported Woralak Sriyai of the Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism. Representatives of the Network pointed out, in their letter, that the approved EHIA report was flawed in terms of local facts and information: the selection of the project site did not include local people’s participation; the scope of the assessment did not include the areas and people to be actually affected by the project; and the operation of the project will have negative impacts on Tha Sala’s marine ecosystem and coastal areas, which is one of Thailand’s fishery sources and plays a very critical role in fishing communities, but the issue was not mentioned in the EHIA report.

“We can make money from selling fish - at least 1,000 Baht a day, especially in November. We could make money up to 10,000 Baht a day if we get mantis shrimp in Golden Bay,” said Mu Toh-Intae, one of the fisherfolk living off Golden Bay off Tha Sa La, on the edge of the Gulf of Thailand. That was why Mu and his fisher friends said they were really worried that the construction would create huge impact on their marine resources and their fisher’s way of life would be totally destroyed by the port construction and related development.

In fact, the EHIA report is said to cover only a 5-kilometre radius of the construction site when in reality at least 10,000 fisherfolk living outside that area will be affected, according to Somporn Pengkam, the National Health Commission's HIA coordinating unit director. Somporn added that the ONEP expert panel had been studying this report since 2010 before approving it on 11 September 2012 but what the local fisherfolk and villagers wanted to know was the exact criteria used by the panel. Both the villagers to be affected and the NHC believe activities related to the deep-sea port and construction of the chemical storage site would affect marine life as well as the livelihoods of local fisherfolk.

Piyanant Sophonthanaporn, director of ONEP's Environmental Impact Assessment Bureau, said the expert panel had approved this EHIA report because Chevron had taken additional measures to mitigate the impacts after the panel rejected it seven times. “We have asked ONEP several times for the final EHIA report so we can see for ourselves what measures will be taken. However, we were always refused," said Somporn.

Renewable energy development is more sustainable

To avoid being tragically caught in the energy trap set up in the 20-year-long PDP, now is the time Thai society and its individual members took renewable energy seriously. A number of people have already realized how inexhaustible, cheap, and sustainable renewable energy is and shifted to it. The problem is how to make those who are ignorant of the sustainable benefits of renewable energy better informed, learn their lessons and all together turn to renewable energy.There are concepts and good practices concerning renewable energy development from abroad that can be applied to Thailand. Take Germany’s success in shifting to renewable energy development for example. Dr Hermann Scheer – German parliamentarian for 30 years, environmentalist, and economist – named by Time magazine as “Hero for the Green Century” as saying in his interview: “The sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means the doubting if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies is ridiculous. There is by far enough.”

In addition, the details contained in Thailand’s already approved AEDP, the EEDP as well as the recommendations made by the Greacens’ report all point to the country’s possibility and availability of approaches to renewable energy development that could lead to sustainable development where the social and economic welfare and quality of life of the majority people can be improved.

However, if the actual performances so far of the current administration are anything to go by, the call for the government to adopt a more holistic approach to energy planning by shifting to renewable energy development will be ignored. So the mobilization of the wider Thai society and individuals is the most important thing, as pointed out by Dr Scheer: “as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters.” And such realization should come in time.

Otherwise several MDGs, including eradicating poverty and hunger , providing all children with primary education, promoting gender equality, halting the spread of AIDS, reducing the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation, elevating the quality of life of slum-dwellers, and being in development partnership with global community, Thailand claimed to have achieved long before 2015 could be back to square one. And environmental sustainability the MDG Thailand has never achieved will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Notes:

National Economic and Social Development Board, prologue to the Eleventh National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016), by Office of the Prime Minister (Bangkok), xv.

Prasart Meetam, “Tragedy in the Thai Power Sector,” presented at the workshop held by Chulalongkorn Social Research Institute and the Social Agenda Working Group, 29 November 2012.

Surapong Paisitpattanapong, “FTI to push Thai car production goal to 2.3 million units this year,” <http://www.chiangmai-mail.com/Update2012-Bisiness/business_Sep3.shtml>, 24 September 2012.

The first three sectors (out of eight) that produce most carbon dioxide are power plants, 29.5%; industrial processes, 20.6%; and transportation, 19.2% <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Greenhouse_Gas_by_Sector.png>.

She is a social activist senator (Bangkok) and former NGO worker with long experiences in development work, social justice and traditional medicine for self-reliant healthcare

Rosana Tositrakul, press release document, “The dubious good governance of the draft PDP 2010 third revision and unfair electricity costs,” 6 June 2012.

Prachayakiat Waroh, “Network against coal-fired power plant in Trang opposes PDP 2010,” <http://prachatai.com/node/40922>, 8 June 2012.

Rebeca Leonard, Jacques-chai Chomthongdi and Faikham Harnnarong, “Thai power development plan is at odds with reality,” <http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/313708/thai-power-development-plan-is-at-odds-with-reality>, 24 Septmeber 2012.

Chuenchom Sangarasri Greacen and Chris Greacen, introduction to Proposed Power Development Plan (PDP) 2012 and a Framework for Improving Accountability and Performance of Power Sector Planning, April 2012, 7.

Op cit, Rebeca Leonard et al.

National Energy Policy Council, proceedings of the 143th meeting of the NEPC on 4 October 2012 <http://www.eppo.go.th/nepc/kpc/kpc-143.htm#2>.

Ministry of Energy's National Energy Policy Office, cited by the Reuters’ report that was posted on the Natural Gas Asia website, < http://www.naturalgasasia.com/ptt-gets-nod-to-build-second-phase-of-lng-terminal >, 4 October 2010.

Noppanun Wannatepskul, lecture <www.thaipublica.org>.

Op cit, Rebeca Leonard et al.

Woralak Sriyai, “Tha Sala villagers meet ONEP’s secretary general to protest against Chevron deep-sea port, vowing to protect their Golden Bay,” website of TCIJ News Centre <http://www.tcijthai.com/tcijthai/view.php?ids=1569>, 23 November 2012, (Accessed 27 November 2012).

Pongphon Sarnsamak, “Fishermen fear chevron port project will ruin livelihoods,” The Nation <http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Fishermen-fear-Chevron-port-project-will-ruin-live-30194123.html>, 12 November 2012, (Accessed 28 November 2012).

Pongphon Sarnsamak, “NHC demands final report on Chevron project,” The Nation < http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/NHC-demands-final-report-on-Chevron-project-30193813.html>, 7 November 2012, (Accessed 28 November 2012).

Ibid, Pongphon Sarnsamak.

Ibid.

A report published in the Bangkok Post, 15 December 2011, said that in Thailand, the richest 20% made almost 60% of the income, the highest among Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Phillippines and Vietnam in 2009. In addition, the poorest 20% garnered only 4% of the income, also the lowest among the group.

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Es impostergable revisar el paradigma de desarrollo desde el enfoque de los derechos humanos

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
El Informe gubernamental de avance 2010 sobre los ODM en México subraya que la mayoría de los indicadores asociados a los ODM y a sus metas mejoraron significativamente, afirmando haber cumplido con la mayoría y previendo cumplir el resto para 2015. No obstante los avances, el Informe indica que aún queda un largo camino por recorrer: persiste la desigualdad en el ingreso y las condiciones de pobreza y vulnerabilidad en que aún viven muchas familias; es necesario reducir la mortalidad materna, consolidar la equidad de género; sigue pendiente el reto vital del medio ambiente y un mayor crecimiento económico. Desde la perspectiva de organizaciones civiles y sociales el panorama nacional de pobreza, desigualdad y violaciones a los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales, pone en cuestión la efectividad de la política social que se ha venido implementando y revela las limitaciones del enfoque de los ODM. La administración federal que regirá al país de 2013 a 2018 tiene una oportunidad inmejorable de redefinir el rumbo.

Areli Sandoval Terán (DECA Equipo Pueblo)[1]
Adherentes: Espacio DESC[2], ADOC y Convergencia de Organismos Civiles[3]

Reflexionar sobre la futura agenda desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas “más allá del 2015”, cuando el plazo para alcanzar los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) habrá vencido, requiere revisar el grado de cumplimiento del marco de desarrollo actual, conformado precisamente por esos Objetivos. El anterior gobierno federal incluyó en el Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2007-2012  algunos indicadores y metas para avanzar en el cumplimiento de los ODM en México. Como medida adicional, el gobierno estableció en 2010 un Comité Técnico Especializado del Sistema de Información de los ODM para la coordinación interinstitucional y el seguimiento. En su Informe de avance 2010 al respecto, el gobierno presenta resultados optimistas al considerar que a pesar de la crisis internacional de 2008-2009, y “gracias a la red de protección social construida con políticas y programas durante la última década…así como al manejo de las finanzas públicas”, la población en situación de pobreza en el país no aumentó en la misma proporción que en crisis anteriores, y que al mismo tiempo mejoraron significativamente la mayoría de los indicadores asociados a los ODM y a sus metas; de esta manera afirma haber cumplido ya desde 2010 con la mayoría de las metas, al tiempo que plantea poder cumplir con el resto en tiempo, alcanzando los ODM para 2015.[4] Para ilustrar, a continuación se presentan en resumen algunos indicadores de este Informe oficial:

Cuadro resumen sobre el Informe de avances 2010 respecto a los ODM en México

ODM

Avance de algunas metas e indicadores a nivel nacional

1: Erradicar la pobreza extrema y el hambre

-  Entre 1989 y 2010, disminuyó la desigualdad en el ingreso.
-  El índice de Gini registró su nivel más bajo en 2010.
- Se contuvo el crecimiento de la pobreza y la desigualdad, pese al repunte por crisis económica de 2008-2009.
- Entre 1992 y 2010, disminuyó casi a la mitad la proporción de población ubicada por debajo del nivel mínimo de consumo de energía alimentaria.

2: Lograr la enseñanza primaria universal

-Se incrementó la tasa neta de matriculación en primaria a la par del crecimiento de la población, en edades de entre 6 y 11 años.
-Disminuyó a menos del 1% la deserción escolar.
- La tasa de alfabetización de personas entre 15 y 24 años llegó a 98.1% en 2009.
-Se duplicó la tasa neta de matriculación en educación preescolar, alcanzando 80.9% en 2010.

3: Promover la igualdad entre los sexos y el empoderamiento de la mujer

-Desde 2009, prácticamente se ha eliminado la diferencia de inscripción por sexo en todos los niveles educativos.
-Las mujeres se han incorporado al mercado de trabajo de manera creciente, aunque se requiere que cuenten con todas las prestaciones de ley y salarios equitativos respecto a los masculinos.
-Existe tendencia ascendente en la proporción de escaños ocupados por mujeres en el Poder Legislativo.

4: Reducir la mortalidad infantil

-Se redujo la tasa de mortalidad en niños menores de cinco años, llegando 17.3 defunciones por cada mil nacidos vivos en 2009.
-Se redujo también la tasa de mortalidad en menores de un año a 14.6 muertes por cada mil nacidos vivos en 2009.

5: Mejorar la salud materna

-Más del 90% de los partos cuentan con asistencia de personal sanitario capacitado, pero la tendencia en la reducción de la Razón de Mortalidad Materna (RMM) en el periodo 1990-2010 no parece suficiente para alcanzar la meta en 2015. De 1990 a 2010, la RMM pasó de 89.0 muertes por cada 100 mil nacidos vivos, a 53.5
-El promedio de consultas prenatales por embarazada, atendida en instituciones del Sistema Nacional de Salud, aumentó de 4.44 en 2000 a 4.79 en 2009, y los promedios por entidad federativa reflejan una disminución en la desigualdad regional.
-Entre 1992 y 2009, la prevalencia de uso de anticonceptivos en mujeres unidas en edad fértil aumentó a 72.5%, mientras que en el ámbito rural pasó a 63.7%.

6: Combatir el VIH/SIDA, el paludismo y otras enfermedades

-La prevalencia del Virus de Inmunodeficiencia Humana (VIH) resulta relativamente baja comparada con la internacional (tasa de prevalencia de 0.38 enfermos por cada 100 personas, en el grupo de 15 a 49 años en 2010).
- Desde finales de 2003 se alcanzó el acceso universal y gratuito a Tratamientos Antirretrovirales para personas con VIH/SIDA.
- Se logró detener  y comenzar a reducir el paludismo y la tuberculosis; las tasas de prevalencia son relativamente bajas y se concentran en las zonas con mayor grado de marginación.

7: Garantizar la sostenibilidad del medio ambiente

-Se han logrado mejoras sustantivas al: incrementar las Áreas Naturales Protegidas con el fin de reducir la pérdida de biodiversidad; disminuir el consumo de Sustancias que Agotan la Capa de Ozono; avanzar en el abastecimiento de agua potable y la cobertura de saneamiento de aguas residuales (en  2010, el 90.9% de la población cuenta con agua entubada y 89.6% con servicios de saneamiento); disminuir la proporción de población urbana que habita en viviendas precarias.
-Persisten retos en la agenda ambiental, como la disminución de la superficie cubierta por bosques y selvas, la reducción de las emisiones de dióxido de carbono (CO2) y la presión sobre los recursos hídricos.

8: Fomentar una asociación mundial para el desarrollo

-En la meta dirigida a que un mayor número de personas aproveche los beneficios de las telecomunicaciones, el número de líneas de teléfonos fijos se triplicó en las últimas dos décadas; el número de suscripciones de teléfonos celulares se sextuplicó en los últimos diez años y, la penetración del servicio de Internet pasó de 5.1 a 31.0 usuarios por cada 100 habitantes en el mismo periodo.

Fuente: elaboración propia con base en Presidencia de la República. Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio en México. Informe de Avances 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No obstante los avances reportados, el Informe también indica que aún queda un largo camino por recorrer, y señala retos que requieren de coordinación entre los Poderes Ejecutivo, Legislativo y Judicial, los órdenes de gobierno federal, estatal y municipal, y la sociedad civil organizada, para lograr hacer frente a: la persistencia de la desigualdad en el ingreso y a las condiciones de pobreza y vulnerabilidad en que aún viven muchas familias en México;  la necesidad de redoblar esfuerzos hacia las metas de reducción del índice de mortalidad materna, la consolidación de la equidad de género y el establecimiento de otros objetivos y metas que favorezcan un desarrollo más equitativo y justo; al reto vital del medio ambiente y al de un mayor crecimiento económico. Asimismo, ubica la necesidad de un diagnóstico que profundice en las causas estructurales de la pobreza y la desigualdad, para avanzar en su solución eficiente, integral y a un ritmo más acelerado, mejorando el diseño de las políticas públicas con un enfoque multidimensional.

Por otro lado, organismos como el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), también dan cuenta de la problemática del desarrollo nacional. El PNUD ubica a México en el umbral de los países de más alto nivel de desarrollo, pero registra grandes disparidades en el Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH) entre regiones, entidades federativas y municipios del país. Por su parte, las estadísticas de la CEPAL sobre la evolución de la pobreza y la indigencia de 1999 al 2011, en áreas urbanas y rurales de 19 países latinoamericanos,[5] reflejan que mientras en el año 2000 México se ubicaba por debajo del promedio regional tanto de pobreza como de indigencia rural y urbana, para 2010 ya rebasaba la media de 29.4% de pobreza con un 36.3% de su población viviendo en tales condiciones, destacando el incremento en la indigencia urbana.[6] En ese año, México tenía 112 millones 336 mil 538 habitantes,[7] lo que significaría que la CEPAL estimaba que alrededor de 40 millones 778 mil 163 personas vivían en la pobreza y la indigencia.  Esta cifra resulta conservadora al compararla con la medición de la pobreza por ingresos realizada por el Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social (Coneval) para el mismo año, pero aunque los valores cambien, la tendencia que revelan es la misma: entre 2008 y 2010, el Coneval reporta la reducción en el ingreso real de los hogares en áreas urbanas, al tiempo que constata el aumento de la pobreza alimentaria[8] a 18.8% de la población (21.2 millones de personas), de la pobreza de capacidades[9] a 26.7% (30.0 millones de personas), y de la pobreza de patrimonio[10] a 51.3% (57.7 millones de personas).[11]

Dado que el indicador de pobreza por ingresos solamente da cuenta de uno de los ocho factores que estipula la Ley General de Desarrollo Social (LGDS) para medir la pobreza en México -ingreso, rezago educativo, acceso a los servicios de salud, acceso a la seguridad social, calidad y espacios de la vivienda, servicios básicos en la vivienda, acceso a la alimentación y grado de cohesión social- el Coneval desarrolló una metodología multidimensional de medición, por la que actualmente considera en pobreza a la población cuyo ingreso es inferior a la línea de bienestar (valor monetario de la canasta alimentaria y de bienes y servicios básicos) y que padece por lo menos una de seis carencias sociales (rezago educativo, acceso a los servicios de salud, acceso a la seguridad social, calidad y espacios de la vivienda, acceso a los servicios básicos en la vivienda, y acceso a la alimentación). Asimismo, considera en situación de pobreza extrema a la población que  padece tres o más carencias sociales y que cuenta con un ingreso inferior a la línea de bienestar mínimo  (determinada por el valor monetario de la canasta alimentaria).

Bajo esta perspectiva, el Coneval identificó que en 2010, cerca de la mitad de la población en México (46.3%), vivía en condiciones de pobreza; esto es, 52.1 millones de personas. De esta población, una de cada tres personas (34.9%) vivía en pobreza moderada (39.3 millones de personas); y poco más de una décima parte (11.4%), en pobreza extrema (esto es 12.8 millones de personas). El 53.7% de la población restante (60.5 millones de personas) fue considerada por el Coneval como no pobre, pero entre la cual casi tres de cada diez personas (28.8%, equivalente a 32.4 millones de personas) eran vulnerables por carencias sociales, esto es, tenían al menos una carencia social, aunque su ingreso se ubicara por arriba de la línea de bienestar. Asimismo, una de cada diecisiete personas (5.7%, equivalente a 6.4 millones de personas) era vulnerable por ingresos ya que no presentaba carencias sociales pero su nivel de ingresos era inferior a la línea de bienestar. Por último, casi una quinta parte de la población (19.3%, esto es 27.1 millones de personas) no era considerada pobre ni vulnerable. Cabe mencionar que respecto a la incidencia de carencias sociales a nivel nacional, la mayor la tuvo la de acceso a la seguridad social: el 60.7% de la población (equivalente a 68.3 millones de personas) carecían de ella. Por su parte, la carencia de acceso a los servicios de salud incidió en el 31.8% de la población (35.8 millones de personas). El 24.9% de la población (28 millones de personas) presentó carencia en el acceso a la alimentación; el 23% (25.9 millones de personas) carencia en el indicador de servicios básicos en la vivienda; el 20.6% de la población (23.2 millones de personas) presentó rezago educativo, y finalmente, el 15.2% (17.1 millones de personas) tuvo carencia en la calidad y espacios de la vivienda.[12]

Todo este panorama nos lleva a cuestionar la efectividad de la política social que se ha venido implementando en nuestro  país, así como las limitaciones del enfoque de los ODM, que desde su establecimiento consideramos como parte de un “piso” básico para el desarrollo social y no como un “techo” por encima del cual ya no hubiera necesidad de construir. Para alcanzar cambios significativos y sostenibles en la vida de las personas y las comunidades, y no solamente reducir brechas en la estadística, es indispensable replantear los actuales paradigmas de desarrollo social y económico desde el enfoque de los derechos humanos, concebidos éstos integralmente. Tanto los derechos civiles y políticos -entre los que se encuentran no sólo las libertades fundamentales sino los derechos de acceso a la información, a la consulta y a la participación en los asuntos públicos- como los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales - que incluyen el derecho a un nivel de vida adecuado y el derecho de los pueblos a la libre determinación para proveer a su desarrollo económico, social y cultural así como su derecho a no ser privados de sus medios de subsistencia- son esenciales para lograr un verdadero desarrollo, sustantivo, equilibrado y sostenible, en donde los fines son tan importantes como los medios.

No obstante algunos importantes avances, como la reforma constitucional en materia de derechos humanos de junio de 2011, los derechos humanos en México lejos de avanzar en su realización, se encuentran en franco retroceso producto de acciones y omisiones del Estado; por ejemplo, al impulsar medidas legislativas regresivas, o acciones y proyectos de “desarrollo” que en muchas ocasiones resultan social y/o ambientalmente irresponsables –represas, monocultivos,  minería a cielo abierto, parques eólicos, corredores industriales, desarrollos inmobiliarios, comerciales, y turísticos, infraestructura carretera, privatización de servicios, entre otros- lo cual obedece en gran medida a una agenda corporativa y a una lógica de liberalismo comercial y de inversiones, que en aras de multiplicar ganancias, se distancia de los objetivos del desarrollo sostenible y equitativo. Asimismo, la imposición de tales medidas desmantela cualquier avance democrático en nuestro país, debilita los canales institucionales de diálogo y debate, al tiempo que victimiza doblemente a la población que al verse afectada en sus condiciones de vida y sus derechos, se organiza, protesta y luego es criminalizada por ello por el propio Estado que la afecta directamente, o no la protege, como es su obligación, frente a la afectación de actores no estatales.

Estando México al comienzo de una nueva administración federal que regirá al país de 2013 a 2018, la oportunidad de redefinir el rumbo es inmejorable. Lo reconoció incluso la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE), al firmar con el Presidente electo de México, en septiembre de 2012, una Declaración de Intenciones para establecer un Acuerdo Marco para la Colaboración Estratégica entre México y la OCDE, y hacerle entrega de un análisis de los principales desafíos y recomendaciones de política pública en 21 temas prioritarios bajo el título “México: mejores prácticas para un desarrollo incluyente”, señalado como una modalidad de cooperación en procesos de transición y como insumo para la preparación del plan sexenal de gobierno y la identificación de fuentes de financiamiento. En dicho documento la OCDE también expresa preocupaciones en torno a diversos indicadores sobre la realidad del país, por ejemplo: la ocupación de México del segundo lugar en desigualdad, evidenciado en que el decil más pobre de la población recibe el 1.3% del total del ingreso, mientras que el decil más rico obtiene el 36%; el segundo lugar en obesidad y la incidencia más alta en diabetes; el nivel más alto de pobreza relativa, así como una mortalidad infantil tres veces superior al promedio de la OCDE; y un gasto social muy inferior al promedio en la organización, de 7.5% del PIB frente a 24%.[13]

A inicios del presente año, en el marco del “Foro México 2013: Políticas públicas para un desarrollo incluyente",[14] convocado por la OCDE, el BM, el BID y la CEPAL, la OCDE hizo entrega al Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto de otro documento, titulado “Getting It Right. Una agenda estratégica para las reformas en México”,[15] que incluye análisis y recomendaciones para concretar los planteamientos del llamado Pacto por México, el cual es mencionado más de 80 veces a lo largo de ese documento. La importancia del Pacto por México, más allá de la polémica que causó su firma por los principales partidos políticos, radica en que anticipa, a través de 95 compromisos divididos en 5 grandes temas,[16] lo que será la agenda política, económica y social del nuevo gobierno nacional, aún antes de la elaboración -supuestamente participativa- del Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2013-2018. También es importante señalar que algunos de esos compromisos consisten en propuestas o iniciativas que entrañan acciones que impactan no siempre favorablemente el ejercicio de los derechos humanos, y por tanto debieran ser analizados y discutidos antes de implementarse. El compromiso 6, por ejemplo, anunció la creación de un Sistema Nacional de Programas de Combate a la Pobreza que debería garantizar la alimentación como un mínimo fundamental; en ese marco, el 21 de enero de 2013, inicia la “Cruzada Nacional contra el Hambre” (SINHAMBRE)[17], encabezada por la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social, que se plantea -sin contar con presupuesto específico para ello- atender a la población en pobreza extrema y carencia alimentaria, así como disminuir la desnutrición infantil aguda, entre otros objetivos. Desde el enfoque de derechos humanos la preocupación surge no en torno a los fines sino a los medios que se emplearán, por ejemplo, para incrementar la producción de alimentos en el país, y si esto implicará movilizar recursos y esfuerzos del sector privado agroindustrial -encabezado por la trasnacional Monsanto- que tiene intereses específicos en la producción de transgénicos. Al respecto, diversas organizaciones civiles y campesinas han señalado que, entre otras cuestiones, debe evitarse que a partir de las donaciones de las agroindustrias esta Cruzada sea utilizada para la promoción de los cultivos transgénicos con falsos argumentos, o para promover el consumo de alimentos industrializados ajenos a la cultura alimentaria de la población.[18]

Desde el mismo enfoque preocupa el compromiso 67 del mencionado Pacto por México, el cual plantea acciones de la Estrategia Nacional para el Desarrollo del Sur-Sureste, que incluyen:  “la ampliación y modernización de la red carretera y ferroviaria, la integración digital, el mejoramiento de la infraestructura educativa y de salud, la creación de polos de desarrollo industrial, turísticos, portuarios, agrícolas, pesqueros y de energías de fuentes renovables, con especial énfasis en las cuencas de los ríos Usumacinta, Grijalva, Balsas y Papaloapan. Todo lo anterior, mediante una coordinación del Ejecutivo Federal con los ejecutivos estatales del sur-sureste, y el impulso a las reformas necesarias en el Congreso de la Unión.” Es necesario subrayar que los planes y proyectos de “desarrollo” anteriores para esta misma región, desde el inicial Plan Puebla Panamá hasta el Corredor Pacífico -que fue considerado en el informe del Panel de Alto Nivel del G20 como un proyecto con potencial de involucramiento del sector privado para integrar la región mesoamericana y facilitar el transporte de bienes y personas para el comercio intrarregional- han sido ampliamente cuestionados por no tomar en cuenta los derechos de las comunidades de la región a la información, a la consulta y a la participación; por no evaluar adecuadamente los impactos sociales y ambientales que entrañan las obras; por no analizar y discutir con oportunidad, transparencia y profundidad las alternativas de desarrollo de proyectos con menor impacto; y por no acordar posibles medidas de reparación en caso de afectación de los derechos humanos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales de esas comunidades.[19]

No se trata de desacreditar todas las medidas sociales implementadas, ni de dejar de reconocer  algunos logros y cambios operados en la política social que desde la academia y la sociedad civil veníamos demandando años atrás; tampoco de cuestionar anticipadamente las políticas, programas y acciones que plantea el nuevo gobierno federal, sino de identificar, desde el enfoque de derechos, aquello que no abona a su realización y por el contrario, impone obstáculos o afecta su ejercicio, así como de reconocer que de no cambiar seriamente el rumbo, nuestro país acumulará rezagos y una diversidad de problemas que le impedirán consolidar su desarrollo. En este sentido, sostener una mirada acrítica y triunfalista acerca de la “tarea cumplida” respecto de los ODM, sin reparar en las limitaciones de ese enfoque, ni en las contradicciones de la política social y económica vigentes, terminará minando los avances sociales que se pretenden reportar en 2015.

Por todo lo anteriormente expuesto, resulta impostergable la revisión del modelo de desarrollo nacional desde el enfoque de derechos humanos. Esta revisión debe considerar los avances y los obstáculos en materia de desarrollo, incluyendo las brechas sociales y de género, y realizarse tanto a nivel nacional como global, en aras de promover un nuevo marco de desarrollo post-2015 basado en la agenda integral y sustantiva  plasmada en los diversos instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos, incluidos el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, y la Declaración sobre el Derecho al Desarrollo. Una agenda que es además dinámica, constantemente revitalizada, enriquecida y actualizada desde las perspectivas y luchas de pueblos originarios y de comunidades rurales y urbanas que, en contrapartida a los embates del modelo de desarrollo actual, proponen y construyen otra relación con el entorno y la sociedad, un modo de vida digno, sostenible, responsable, solidario, incluyente, con justicia social, paz y equidad.

Notas:

[1] DECA Equipo Pueblo, A.C. es el punto focal de Social Watch en México desde 1996.

[2] El Espacio de Coordinación de Organizaciones Civiles sobre Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (Espacio DESC), es el grupo de referencia para Social Watch en México y está integrado por 17 organizaciones: Casa y Ciudad; Cátedra UNESCO de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio de Montesinos (CAM); Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh); Centro de Investigación y Promoción Social (CIPROSOC); Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral de Fomento Cultural y Educativo (CEREAL-DF); Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH); Consultoría Especializada en Justiciabilidad de los DESC (CEJUDESC); Desarrollo, Educación y Cultura Autogestionarios Equipo Pueblo (DECA Equipo Pueblo); Defensoría del Derecho a la Salud (CCESC-DDS); Food First Information and Action Network México (FIAN Sección México); Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ (IDHIE); Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia (IMDHD); Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC); Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH); Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe de la Coalición Internacional para el Hábitat (HIC-AL); Radar-Colectivo de Estudios Críticos en Derecho (RADAR).

[3] La Alianza Democrática de Organizaciones Civiles (ADOC) y Convergencia de Organismos Civiles, son dos plataformas mexicanas encargadas de coordinar en 2013 las consultas nacionales sobre el marco de desarrollo post-2015, impulsadas por Naciones Unidas con el apoyo de Beyond 2015 y GCAP bajo convenio con la Mesa de Articulación.

[4] Presidencia de la República. Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio en México. Informe de Avances 2010. México, agosto 2011, disponible en: http://www.objetivosdedesarrollodelmilenio.org.mx/

[5] Argentina, Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haití, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, República Bolivariana de Venezuela, República Dominicana y Uruguay.

[6] Más información en: Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), Anuario Estadístico de América Latina y el Caribe, 2012 (LC/G.2554-P), Santiago de Chile, 2012, pp. 65, 143 y 144.

[7] Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI). Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010, México. Disponible en: http://www.censo2010.org.mx/

[8] Población con ingresos insuficientes para acceder a una canasta básica de alimentos.

[9] Población con ingresos insuficientes para acceder a alimentación, salud y educación.

[10] Población con ingresos insuficientes para cubrir los requerimientos básicos de  alimentación, salud, educación, vivienda, calzado y transporte público.

[11] Coneval. Comunicado de prensa No.007, México, Distrito Federal a 29 de julio de 2011.

[12] Estimaciones del CONEVAL con base en el Módulo de Condiciones Socioeconómicas de la Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares 2010 (MCS-ENIGH 2010), tomadas de: Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social. Informe de Pobreza en México 2010: el país, los estados y sus municipios. México, D.F., CONEVAL, 2012, pp.14, 23-25. Este informe constituye la primera vez que se cuenta con información sobre la pobreza en México basada en la Ley General de Desarrollo Social. Disponible en:
http://web.coneval.gob.mx/Informes/Coordinacion/INFORMES_Y_PUBLICACIONES_PDF/Informe_de_Pobreza_en_Mexico_2010.pdf

[14] El Foro se realizó en la ciudad de México los días 9 y 10 de enero 2013; más información en:
http://www.oecd.org/centrodemexico/aperturadelforomexicopoliticaspublicasparaundesarrolloincluyente.htm

[16] Acuerdos sobre: 1) sociedad de derechos y libertades; 2) crecimiento económico, empleo y competitividad; 3) seguridad y justicia; 4) transparencia, rendición de cuentas y combate a la corrupción; y 5) gobernabilidad democrática, que pueden consultarse en:   http://pactopormexico.org/acuerdos/

[17] Mayor información sobre SINHAMBRE en: http://www.sedesol.gob.mx/

[18] Más en: Conferencia de prensa de la Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo (ANEC), la Campaña Sin Maíz no hay País, el Centro de Orientación Alimentaria (COA), FIAN México, el Foro Nacional para la Construcción de la Política Alimentaria y Nutricional de México (FONAN), el Grupo de Estudios Ambientales (GEA), El Poder del Consumidor, Semillas de Vida, Slow Food y OXFAM México, del 30 de enero de 2013. Boletín de prensa disponible en: http://cencos.org/node/30584; y en: Rodrigo Olvera (CEJUDESC/Espacio DESC) “SINHAMBRE, una primera mirada desde la perspectiva de Derechos”, 23 de enero de 2013, en el Blog DESContando, en:http://rolveradesc.blogspot.mx/2013_01_01_archive.html

[19] Areli Sandoval (Equipo Pueblo / Espacio DESC). “Pacto por México: Observaciones y recomendaciones desde la perspectiva DESCA. Documento de trabajo y discusión”. Mimeo, 10 de diciembre de 2012.

Region: 
left

Facing the Abyss

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
In Hungary a system has developed that is disrespectful to both the rule of law and constitutionalism. Hungary has turned against the democratic ideals of the world, civil liberties are restricted and today it is on a declining economic path. Political life is characterized by a murderous policy divergence, confrontation and a dangerous ideology-based polarization. The majority of the society is struggling with unjust and unequal relationships without even the hope offered by mutual solidarity. Hungary's international prestige, integrity and credibility are now at its lowest point.

Social Watch Hungary
Matyas Benyik

Political situation

At the parliamentary elections held in Hungary on 6th April 2014 the ruling right-wing populist Fidesz party won a landslide victory over its opponents and retained its two third majority. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's policy has been justified by a strong nationalist course in order to catch the wind from the sails of far-right Jobbik.

Jobbik increased its share to nearly 21%, and reached a significantly better outcome compared to 2010, so no doubt we will see more of its paramilitary Hungarian Guard rallies, and Arrow Cross nostalgia in the future.

Fidesz has transformed the electoral system and electoral districts (constuancies) according to its own political interests. However, independently of the electoral system, Jobbik has definitely become stronger as it gained not only more votes, but it has become the second force in the countryside. In many places Jobbik thoroughly has beaten the left-liberal coalition. In other words, the citizens – seeing no alternatives - clearly rejected the liberal left. If democratic opposition had not appeared so well in Budapest, the far right party clearly have become the second force. However, neither the Fidesz's nor Jobbik's results were particularly influential to the electoral result of the green party LMP.

It was not a surprise that Jobbik increased its share, because the party refrained from adopting hard extremist tones in the electoral battle, concealing its antisemitic behaviour and its hatred against the Roma. However, there is no doubt that Jobbik will continue its previous course.

In Hungary, the political situation is now ever more shifting to the right: Fidesz owns a similar proportion of the seats in the Parliament as prior to the election, and the right became stronger.

On the one hand, all this shows is that the people perceive how horribly the Fidesz government has run the country in the past four years, and also the dependence and the attendant fear of the people. It turned out, on the other hand, that the present opposition is no alternative, so the new electoral system could not have brought different results.

Since the system change in Hungary, and in Central Eastern Europe (CEE), new authoritarian regimes have been emerging. Indeed, the so-called new capitalism were unable to stabilize civilian democratic institutions and instruments in this semi-periphery of the world. The reasons are well known: the impoverishment, the long-term downward pressure on wages, maintaining high levels of unemployment, the sacrifice of millions of people require the establisment of new ruling class from the top. The historical roots of the second edition of capitalism are inseparable from the „traditions” of the interwar Horthy regime. The traditions of the new ruling class partly go back to the gentry „family tree”, thus demonstrating - mutatis mutandis - the second edition of the Horthy regime. The social structure of today's Hungary is showing the same „caste” character as the system of Horthy.

The aim of Viktor Orban is to establish a new national bougeoisie and by this to create a stable voting base. Until now this was partly successful, because the new elite has purchased the lands, brought institutions and the people into a highly dependent position. Directly or indirectly the destiny and the existence of masses are much more dependent of the new ruling class.

It became clear as well that the Left following the neo-liberal dogmatism sank and suffered an historical defeat. In addition, Socialists' untalented careerism and corruption was a more serious problem and it seems that liberal democracy is unworkable in Hungary. It turned out again that the Hungarian people do not ask for market oriented and global utopias which contradicts to their whole culture. Since Fidesz’ authoritarian system, with the help of the Liberals, closed almost all the left-wing options of political orientations, it is clear that large masses of people are behind the winners, despite the fact that only 60.2% of those entitled took part in the elections.

The result of the 2014 elections did not depend at all on the election campaign, or the party programs and the debates. Neither of these had almost any influence on the outcome of the general elections. Moreover, the result is a direct consequence of Orban's policy in the past four years.

Fidesz gained also an overwhelming victory in the EP elections on 25th May 2014: the ruling party acquired 51% of the votes in the low, only 29% turnout and 12 MEPs will be sent to the EP out of Hungary’s total seats of 21. The ruling party improved its outcome by almost 8 percentage points compared to the results in the national elections last April, while Jobbik reached second place with about 15%, which means three seats in the European Parliament.

The real surprise is the appearance of the left-liberal forces: the MSZP reaching 11% of the votes slipped to the third place, which means only two EP-seats, while the Democratic Coalition led by ex-PM Ferenc Gyurcsany causing serious surprise reached almost 10%, which means also two EP seats. Immediately behind them the party of ex-PM Gordon Bajnai, the Together 2014-PM has 7%, which represent one EP-seat.

Power relations within the left-liberal Unity have thoroughly been changed since the MSZP lost the previous leading position, the dismembered Gyurcsany fragmented the left voters. MSZP party chairman, Attila Mesterházy has offered his resignation to the Presidency of the Socialist Party National Board. After Mesterházy’s resignation chaos prevails in the MSZP and Bajnai’s party reached the limit of disintegration. Meanwhile, more and more disappointed socialist sympathizer joined Gyurcsany’s DK party.

Summary of the EP elections in Hungary

1.) Many citizens believe that on April 6 at the general elections they have fulfilled their obligations. Therefore, many asked the question why the EU Parliament and the national election was not held at the same time. If it is held in two different Sundays, the people could easily reply that they do not sacrifice their two rest days.

2.) The EU is very far from the vast majority of the 8 million Hungarian eligible voters. There is a widely spread belief that mainly the elite will benefit from the EU fundings, which are spent on new urban centers, fountains, decorative coatings.

3.) EU funding has not created new jobs, and the EU has not proved very effective in crisis management. The EU clearly followed an austerity policy, and it could not elicit any particular sympathy for the Hungarians. The EU election was in no way about the future of the EU and Hungary's 21 seats can have little meaningful influence on the functioning of the EU Parliament. In addition, there was no information on what the parties want to achieve when the mandates become reality.

4.) Thus, many citizens tend to think that domestic policy is more at stake. Low turnout is also an immediate judgment on how things are going in Hungary. Behind the massive absenteeism a rebellion against the existing order may also be discovered.

5.) The anti-EU rhetoric of Fidesz leaders who are constantly speaking about freedom struggle against the EU because „Brussels limits Hungary’s national sovereignty and interferes into our country’s internal affairs.” It would have been a miracle if under such government rhetoric more people would have gone out to vote.

6.) The low participation explains almost total lack of EP elections campaign, as well.

According to an expert, namely Balazs Böcskei the Left's electoral defeat in 2014, among other things, happened due to the lack of dealing with the important real situations facing the country today. Regarding Public Policy programs the Left only dusted off the views of the 2000s. The Left was both populist and technocratic. This means that they were unable to respond authentically to the question how the citizens' perception has changed in Hungary since 2010 or what factors could affect the former, but now broken socialist-liberal coalition, or the potential voter block after a period of eight years, four of which they ruled in actual legitimacy crisis. Regarding ​​personnel and eligibility issues, or handling the public and the civilians, as well as the relationships with their own illelectuals and the green LMP, the Left also missed the irrevocable exploration of the root of the problems.

By 2012, when we turned to the „unity” discourse, we might have guessed already that these problems can not be fixed by spring 2014 - the expert stressed. Although there was very high proportion of undecided voters, a kind of objective need arouse to introduce a new narrative on the Left to get out of the stagnation. This was the time for Gordon Bajnai’s entry into party politics. In 2012 the Democratic Coalition (DK) was in a slump, the MSZP was in a state of already familiar stagnation over four years. One thing, however, was not calculated by Bajnai, namely that in power technology he cannot overcome the MSZP in the midst of the present balance of power, since the Socialists have always been one step ahead of him.

The Orban government builds a new socio-economic model, of which contours and in some cases serious difficulty tracks for the opposition are quite visible. The role of the state, the legal environment, the relationship with the multinational firms as well as relationship between the individual and the community are under serious transformation. System-wide transformation is taking place against which only hesitant denial of the Left exists. Despite the thouroughly elaborated center-left program of the Together 2014-PM, there was no action plan on the Left represented by all other actors, but suggestions to bring back the earlier followed neoliberal system. It was too little political and public policy self-reflections perceivable by the voters in the midst of continuous weakening of the anti-Orbanism.

The left part of the Hungarian voters is still waiting -  in vain - for a savior, because in the foreseeable future no man of such type is available. While Bajnai showed only the competence of an expert and the traits of the depoliticized politics, Mesterhazy seemed a conflicting person having an ego hiding his competency. In order to be competitive against the right wing, personal and public policy quality guarantees are needed. The Left has to approach a number of policy areas, sphere of interest in a different way, and should align its organization and staff basically to its moral preferences. The facing is more difficult than it may be interpreted in terms of political communication, but only an unity can defeat the ruling Fidesz. There is no other option for 2018 elections, but to explore the strategy of a wide coalition of democratic opposition parties.

Economic situation

Since 2010 the Orban government has implemented a range of unorthodox economic reforms which have drawn criticism from economists and financial analysts alike. To break down the public debt the social benefits were abolished, private pensions funds in USD 14 billion were nationalized. Orban has introduced the biggest tax in Europe on banks and financial companies and imposed large levies upon energy, retail and telecommunications companies. VAT was raised to 27%, which is the highest in the EU. In addition, Orban has announced plans to fix the exchange rate for loans taken by individuals in CHF. Further unorthodox policies included interfering with Central Bank independence.

Prior to the 2014 parliamentary elections the Orban government re-introduced social measures, among other things, launched the so-called „overhead-battle”, which forced the utility providers of gas, electricity and water to reduce their prices by 20% in two steps: 10% in January and 10% in October 2013.

After 4 years of Fidesz rule, Hungary has not even reached the economic performance it had before the crisis. Cohesion is not moving forward either: in 2009 the country had about two thirds of the EU average purchasing parity, and the gap has been growing each year. As a result of the unorthodox economic policy Hungary’s potential economic growth has shrunk from 3% to 0-1%.

However, recent statistical reports indicate that the Hungarian economy may have finally exited of negative growth. The GDP of Hungary increased by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. According to the first release of Eurostat, the total GDP of EU-28 increased only by 0.3% and the GDP of Germany was up by 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter.

Despite first quarter GDP-growth the recent IMF report warns the Fidesz government: „Based on current policies, the medium term growth prospects––although somewhat improving––remain subdued and below that of Hungary’s peers. While the drag from the private sector’s deleveraging is projected to gradually diminish over the medium term, policy unpredictability and persistent interventionist government policies are likely to continue depress private investment. At the same time, labor market performance, while gradually improving, is held back by the low participation rate, weak labor productivity, and skill mismatches. Although estimations are subject to high uncertainty, they suggest that, under current policies, potential output growth is likely to accelerate modestly to 0.9 –1.7 percent in 2019 from just above zero in 2013.”

Regarding the expansion of Fidesz’s public works program IMF is on the opinion that it is too expensive and resembles rather a traditional social program, as well as it does not focus on the retraining and it is inefficient, too. Only 13% of the participants in the program was able to get jobs in the labour market after exiting the public works program.

In the general election on 6 April 2014, voters said „yes” to the Orban government’s new economic policy, whose goal is to build an economy on the foundations of „labour rather than speculation”. Orban has promised a continuation of his economic policies, which include boosting industrialization, lowering energy prices – and more controversially, increasing the level of Hungarian ownership in the agriculture and banking sectors. Orban and Hungary’s Central Bank governor György Matolcsy want to see more than 50% of bank assets held by Hungarian institutions, up from the current 42%. Taxes have also been increased on sectors dominated by foreign investors. The officialy declared goal is that the multinationals should not acquire „intermediate illegal profit”. „Hungary and the Hungarian land are for the Hungarian people”.

Domestic critics say that Fidesz’s reforms benefit local businesses close to the party, while liberals say that Fidesz is actually implementing socialist measures. Hungary’s currency has come under serious pressure in the past few months as investors have backed away from emerging markets. Hungary was dubbed one of “shaky six” developing economies particularly vulnerable to capital flight.

The main problem we are facing now is that - as a result of a dysfunctional economic model - the greater part of Europe, including Hungary reached an impasse. Unfortunately, many policymakers still believe that combining foreign capital and cheap labor is equal to catching up, which is a serious mistake. It is also a big problem that among the proponents of this erroneous economic idea – with a slight difference – we can find both major parties of Hungary. The neo-liberal economic policies are spiced on the right by Fidesz and its traditional runic and Turul bird elements, and by MSZP on the Left with uncritical adoration of Europe. It goes without saying that there might be a constructive role of the capital, but it has already crossed the borders, leaving behind a socially unacceptable situation. In addition to the classical bargains and fights between the antagonistic labour and capital, the knowledge as a third factor also entered into the productive scene. However, the Hungarian leadership of the last 25 years has been ignoring this change and deteriorated Hungary into a low productivity. It will be interesting to observe whether Fidesz economic policies will pay off in the long run. If so, it would be interesting to see how the economic community accounts for the success of a number of policies which have aimed to boost consumption at the expense of inward investment.

Social situation

According to a recent survey made by the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, there are dramatic social inequalities in Hungary, the middle class is almost missing and there is a vast gap between the capital or major cities and small town or villages. The members of the upper classes typically are living in metropolitan or urban residential areas and are highly educated, while the life of lower class determined by debt and they live in rural small towns or villages, lacking of education. Every fifth Hungarian is hopelessly lost. Impoverishment and weakening of the middle class during the second term of the Orban government has accelerated dramatically.

The Hungarian society pulls down to the lower layers and it is very difficult for the lower layers to move up. The society is pear-shaped with a thin neck, at the bottom widens, the lowest part of the fruit separated from the fruit body. The leaf, however is small, and has almost no contact with the pear.

200,000 people (2%) belong to the leaf of the pear (i.e. the élite). The upper middle class is  about one million people (10.5%). The narrow middle layer (7%), belong to the rural intelligentsia. One and a half million (17%) is considered as „Kadarist small existence” while 1.7 million (18%) belong to the so-called „drifters”. One and half million workers represents 16.5% and 2 million people (23%) is in the giant camp of the fallen.

Like most of the CEE region, Hungary’s employment rate has remained far below EU average. Youth unemployment is 30%, almost half of 18-35 year olds are forced to live with their parents, 75% of them are unable to save, and those who can save, save about EUR 32 per month.

The productivity difference from Western Europe has grown since EU accession, as had the wage difference. In these aspects, Hungary again resembles almost all of the CEE region. Hungarian average wages (at around 30% of EU average) provide a standard of living that is comparable on purchasing power parity to the lowest fifth of Western European society. Yet some two thirds of Hungarians live below this average income level! Some 4 million of them have incomes that do not meet the subsistence minimum of basic physical needs according to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. Roughly another 3 million of them survive from one month to the next.

The Orban government has radically revamped Hungary’s education system. Municipalities have been deprived of their functions in primary and secondary education, and the autonomy of universities has been reduced. A central government agency has become the employer of all teachers in Hungary, and the choice and provision of school books has been centralized as well. The centralization of education has been accompanied by increasing political-ideological pressure on teachers and students and by drastic cuts in funding. The budget for higher education is now around only 0.5% of GDP, less than half of the EU average. In December 2012, the government declared its intention to further cut spending on tertiary education. The planned reduction in the number of state-funded study grants from 30,000 to 10,000 has triggered a wave of student protests. The cuts in funding of higher education have partly been compensated by increased spending for vocational education. A further important change has been the increasing role of churches in education. As a result of these reforms, the quality of education, the access to education and the efficiency of the education sector have worsened.

The basic social message of Fidesz in the 2010 election campaign was that a Fidesz-led government would struggle for upward mobility in Hungarian society and represent the interests of the middle class and of low-income earners. In fact, however, the impoverishment of people in the lower-income deciles and the fragmentation and weakening of the middle classes have continued. The poorest strata of the population, first of all the Roma, have become more isolated from other strata and more dependent on state support. The plight of the hundreds of thousands of individuals holding foreign currency debt testifies to the struggle of the middle classes. The Orban government has provided some relief by shifting part of the debt burden to foreign banks, but has done little for the poor. The government has also failed to reduce the significant gap in economic and social development between Western and Eastern Hungary.

The family policies of the Orban government have not aimed at improving opportunities for women to combine parenting and employment, but instead have worked to strengthen traditional family models. The new constitution defines only married couples with children as a family. As a result, non-married couples have lost entitlements. The Orban government has introduced a new family tax allowance and has extended the maximum period for parental leave from two to three years, thereby luring women away from the labour market. There are still only a few part-time jobs for highly skilled women, and the female employment ratio is one of the lowest in the OECD and the EU.

Health care has been one of the most conflicted policy fields in Hungary. Policy-making has suffered from the lack of a separate ministry dealing with health care concerns. The Orban government’s organizational reforms have been largely confined to the nationalization of hospitals, which were previously run by municipalities. This move has made it easier to reduce overcapacity and to reduce regional and local disparities, but has also raised the danger of over-centralization. The Orban government has failed to tackle mismanagement and corruption in the health sector, the discretionary refusal of services and the increasing brain drain of doctors to other countries. The severe cuts in public spending on health care have further aggravated these problems.

Sources:

http://valasztas.hu/en/ep2014/422/422_0_index.html

http://valasztas.hu/en/ogyv2014/416/416_0_index.html

http://nol.hu/belfold/padlorol-padlora-1466707

http://nol.hu/belfold/a-fennallo-rend-ellen-tiltakoztak-a-tavolmaradok-1464201

http://www.sgi-network.org/2014/Hungary/Social_Policies

http://visegradrevue.eu/?p=2465

http://nol.hu/gazdasag/mocsarban-beleragadva-1467859

http://www.ksh.hu/apps/shop.kiadvany?p_kiadvany_id=34835&p_lang=EN

http://www.ksh.hu/more_key_figures

http://nol.hu/belfold/gyengulo-kozeposztaly-1467843

http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20140612_GfK_Eltunt_a_magyar_kozeposztaly_vagy_tan

http://brandtrend.hu/2014/06/13/magyarorszagon-nincs-igazi-kozeposztaly/

http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20140612_letminimum_szegenyseg_minimalber

Region: 
left

Good targets, out of sight

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Serbia’s lack of any long-term vision or commitment as well as any comprehensive development strategies, make it difficult to counter the negative impact of the global economic crisis and establish a solid basis for economic growth, including increased jobs and livelihoods. In this context, with weak democratic institutions and lacking the rule of law, that the MDGs are unlikely to be achieved by 2015. There is thus a strong need to change the current neoliberal economic development paradigm to one that will focus on achieving human development for all.

Mirjana Dokmanovic, PhD
Danica Drakulic, PhD
Association Technology and Society

Lack of long-term visions, commitment and comprehensive strategies, as well as the economic crisis, jeopardise achievements of MDGs in Serbia.

Serbia’s lack of any long-term vision or commitment as well as any comprehensive development strategies, make it difficult to counter the negative impact of the global economic crisis and establish a solid basis for economic growth, including increased jobs and livelihoods. In this context, with weak democratic institutions and lacking the rule of law, that the MDGs are unlikely to be achieved by 2015. There is thus a strong need to change the current neoliberal economic development paradigm to one that will focus on achieving human development for all.

In 2005, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the first MDG review, assessing progress and trends for each goal. In 2006, it set up a multisectoral task force to customize MDG targets and indicators to the specific needs and problems of the citizens. The process involved CSOs, professional organizations, the business sector and the media. The task force developed the MDG Monitoring Framework for Serbia, whereby targets and indicators are aligned with national priorities, strategies and legislation.

One of the main challenges in tracking progress towards development goals is the existence of multiple strategies prepared according to sectorial criteria. The MDG Monitoring Framework takes into consideration priorities expressed in the only two multi-sectorial strategies, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), adopted by the Government in 2003, and the European Union Integration Strategy . The Republic of Serbia was granted the status of EU membership candidate country in March 2012, and consequently, the issues of social inclusion and poverty reduction has become a mandatory component of EU integration policy. This fact has contributed to start establishing a system for monitoring indicators of social inclusion and poverty reduction agreed at EU level.

In 2012, Serbia was selected as one among, then 56 countries, in which national consultations about UN post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were held. As concluded, there are no sufficient new data, neither available reliable sources for all indicators, but there enough information as to derive conclusions about main tendencies and critical gaps in achieving of MDGs .

Goal 1: Poverty and employment – Not achieved

The unemployment rate is among the highest in Europe and poverty is increasing. Accordingly to the 2009 National Report of the Realization of MDGs , the total poverty rate in 2007 was halved in comparison to 2002 (14% vs. 6.6%), and the extreme poverty rate was close to zero. The latest data have shown that this positive trend was only a matter of the used methodology for monitoring poverty reduction.  The 2012 Report , based on a different, newly established methodology and system for monitoring indicators of poverty reduction harmonized with the EU standards, shows increasing trend of poverty. In 2010, 9.2% of population lived below absolute poverty line, in comparison to 8.8% in 2006, while Gini coefficient rose from 32.9 to 33.0 . Majority of the poor live in rural areas, in multimember families, have a low level of education, and are unemployed. Poverty is very high in some groups and regions (Roma, South Serbia, rural areas), and a large number of citizens is just above the poverty line. The number of children living in poverty is growing (11.6% in 2006 vs. 13.7% in 2010).

 

The first research on homeless in Serbia done in 2012 has turned the attention to this publicly invisible and hidden issue. Although there is no credible data about the number of homeless, the capacity of existing shelters in 12 municipalities and cities, mainly established after 2004, are insufficient, especially in winter. The research identified structural and systematic causes of homelessness, as unavailability of flats at market rates, insufficient capacity of social housing, absence of social measures, the growth of structural unemployment and poverty, and the complete disregard of the prevention of homelessness and possible resources of support. With the exception of the residents of the Roma settlements, the majority of homeless are those who lost the job due to economic restructuring and who have retired. Generally, they are excluded from the social welfare and health care system. The NGO Housing Centre opened a wider debated on homelessness in Serbia and proposed policy changes at the first conference on this issue in May 2012.

Due to the low level of demand for jobs, frequent dismissals, high level of bankruptcies and low salaries, almost a half of citizens perceive themselves at risk of poverty . From the latest National Report on the MDGs published in 2009, the unemployment rate increased from 16.4% to 26.1% in September 2012, while trends related to employment are negative. Almost one third of young aged 25-34 are without a job. The percentage of long-term unemployment is 61.8%.

On the other hand, the budgetary support of the active measures of employment has been reduced from 0.18% of GDP in 2011 to 0.10% of GDP in 2012. It is in contrary to the National Employment Strategy 2010-2020 that demands increasing of this budgetary line to 0.4% of GDP in 2013 up to 0.5% of GDP in 2020.

The UN report on the MDG Barometer 2013 indicates that it is employment and economic growth that should be put at the top of priorities in order to initiate a new cycle of development. The new Government, formed after the elections in March 2014, has announced to launch a Program of Structural Reforms 2015-2017. Unfortunately, it is not realistic to expect that this will accelerate progress towards full employment under Goal 1, as there is no sign that the current neoliberal economic context will be tackled.

Goal 2: Primary school enrollment and completion – Not achieved

The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia guarantees the right of mandatory and free education to all - preschool (nine months before starting school) and an eight-year-long primary education.

The number of school-aged children not enrolled in primary schools is increasing (2.1% in 2008/9 vs. 3.9% in 2010/11) , as well as the pupil drop-out rate in the eight class of primary school (0.56% in 2002/3 vs. 0.79% in 2009/10) . Indicators of coverage and primary school completion are much less favourable when it comes to rural and Roma children . In the next period, special attention should be paid to measures that will make education system more accessible to children from vulnerable groups.

Goal 3: Gender equality and empowerment of women – Partially achieved

An overview of the situation and trends indicates some positive steps concerning the realization of Millennium Development Goal 3. The National Strategy and the Action Plan for advancement of women address the key issues related to improving the position of women and achieving gender equality. The area of economic participation is one of the key social spheres that not only reflects, but also redefines and transforms the gender regimes. Although some progress was achieved, economic gender inequalities are still rather pronounced. They are manifested in the unequal position of men and women in the labour market, unequal awards for performance at work, and less opportunities for women to advance to positions of economic power and decision making .

The difference in the employment rate between women and men of working age (15 - 64 years) did decrease in recent years, but it is still pronounced. In 2005, the employment rate for men stood at 52.4% and 32.9% for women, while in 2010 the employment rate for men stood at 45.3% and 31.1% for women . The key elements of de iure system foundations for the improvement of gender equality have been established, but there are still many tasks to be completed.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality – Partially achieved

This goal has almost been met, but the trend has been turning to stagnation in last couple of years .

In 2008, mortality of children under the age of five in the Republic of Serbia stood at 7.8 deaths per 1000 live births. Mortality rates are significantly dropping both among children under the age of five and among infants, in the perinatal and in neonatal periods. This is certainly due to better coverage by modern antenatal and postnatal health care, but also due to improvements in immunization coverage. Vaccination coverage is growing and reaching high values. Even with these improvements, there are significant disparities to be noted, according to regional level and socio-economic status. There is an opposite trend of decrease in percentage of exclusively breastfed infants, particularly among Roma population .

Research indicates that among the Roma, the mortality rate of children under the age of five is up to three time s higher than the Serbian average , while vaccination coverage is substantially lower. Indicators are especially unfavourable for the population living in Roma settlements.

Goal 5: Maternal and reproductive health – Partially achieved

Promotion of women's health in the reproductive period does show some improvements, such as a reduction in mortality of women of reproductive age from all causes of death, as well as from cancer . Almost all childbirths are happening in the presence of a medical worker . Figures also show a reduction in the abortion rate and an increase in the use of modern contraceptive methods, even though there are certain reservations related to a possible incomplete registration of abortions . Special attention should be paid to the continuously decreasing fertility rate and adequate health support to mothers.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases – Almost achieved

This Goal has been met to a great extent, especially with regard to HIV/AIDS incidence . In 2008, the AIDS incidence rate was 5.1 per one million people, while the AIDS mortality rate in 2008 stood at 3 per one million people. There are three times more men than women among the AIDS patients and persons who died from it and the majority of them were in the age group between 30 and 39 . AIDS incidence and mortality rates are decreasing. The incidence rate has dropped from 10.4 in 2000 to 5.1 in 2008, and the mortality rate has dropped from 5.6 to 3 deceased persons per one million people . The new National Strategy for response on HIV and AIDS  for the period 2011 – 2015 aims at preventing of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections, and providing treatment and support to all people living with HIV.

The tuberculosis incidence rate in 2011 was 24 per 100,000 people, and the percentage of successfully treated patients for 2010 was 86 . Considerable results were achieved in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases. The activities implemented with significant support of international institutions have resulted in the reduction of AIDS and tuberculosis incidence, as well as the reduction of mortality related to AIDS.

Goal 7: Environmental sustainability – Partially achieved

Adoption of the National Sustainable Development Strategy and a whole set of laws in line with EU legislation in recent years created a solid basis for the prevention of loss of resources, protection of nature, waste management and encouraging recycling, reduction of air pollution and chemicals management. Certain progress has been achieved in the supply of water to the population from the public waterworks system and the improvement of drinking water quality. Besides, a progress was made in the area of providing access to the public sewage system. However, communal wastewater treatment and waste management infrastructure remain the key challenges. There is room for improvement in energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, which is now mostly reduced to hydro energy and biomass .

Goal 8: Global partnerships for development – Not achieved

The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals entails a dynamic and sustainable growth of GDP by 2015. Between 2005 and 2008, Serbia has achieved an economic growth, and the average GDP growth rate in this period was 6% . Unfortunately, the macroeconomic trends in recent years are not favourable. GDP per capita dropped from 5,507 USD in 2009 to 5,279 in 2012 . The public debt has increased from 29.2% of GDP in 2008 to 62.3% of GDP in March 2014 . The share of indebtedness and foreign trade deficit in GDP are above critical limits. The foreign debt reached 76% of GDP. Fiscal deficit increased to more than 2.4 billion USD. Exports, which were already considerably lower than imports, were reduced to 17% of GDP in the first half of 2012, as a consequence of the drop in export demand.

Under these circumstances, it should be assessed that public expenditures for health care, social care and education would continue shrinking.

Conclusion

The latest phase of the Serbian transition to the market economy, started in 2001, was not modelled with a clear vision of achieving economic prosperity of the country and livelihoods of all, but solely of livelihoods of a minority holding economic and political power. Instead of promised economic prosperity, privatization of socially-owned enterprises led to destroying of the national economy, closure of factories, mass dismissal of workers, fading of domestic products, and uncontrolled import of foreign goods. Due to the high level of corruption and crime, increasing indebtedness, the lack of effective economic and social policy, and the absence of long-term visions and multisectoral strategies, Serbia cannot counter the consequences of the economic crisis and establish a solid basis for economic growth, and increase of employment, salaries, livelihoods and quality of life. In this economic context, with weak democratic institutions and in absence of the rule of law, it is clear that the MDGs cannot be achieved.  Therefore, there is a strong need for changing the current economic and development paradigm, and for creating the new one that will focus to achieving a human development for all. There are a lot of initiatives with this respect coming from civil society, women’s groups, trade unions and independent experts, but their voices are still not heard by those who take decisions and shape policies.

Notes:

MDG Monitor Report http://www.mdgmonitor.org/factsheets_00.cfm?c=SRB&cd=688 (accessed 10 October 2012)

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 1. http://www.srbijakakvuzelim.rs/index.php/mdg/index/en (accessed 3 June 2014)

Gordana Krstic et al., Progress of the Realization of Millennium Development Goals of the Republic of Serbia, (Belgrade: UNDP, 2009), 35.

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and Republic Statistical Office, Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia: Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on Monitoring European and National Indicators 2006-2012, (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia, 2012)

Ibid. p. 26.

Ibid. p. 27.

Branislava Zarkovic et al. Without a house, without a home: Results of the research on homelessness in Serbia (Belgrade: Housing Center, 2012).

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and Republic Statistical Office, Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia: Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on Monitoring European and National Indicators 2006-2012, (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia, 2012) 29.

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. http://www.srbijakakvuzelim.rs/index.php/mdg/index/en (accessed 3 June 2014)

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and Republic Statistical Office, Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia: Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on Monitoring European and National Indicators 2006-2012, (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia, 2012). p. 52.

Ibid. p. 53.

Gordana Krstic et al., Progress of the Realization of Millennium Development Goals of the Republic of Serbia, (Belgrade: UNDP, 2009), p. 136.

National Statistical Office, Women and Men in the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: National Statistical Office, 2011); Republic of Serbia. Gender Equality Directorate web site <www.gendernet.rs> . United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 7-8.

National Statistical Office, Labor Force Survey 2010 (Belgrade: National Statistical Office, 2010).

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 10-12.

Ibid. p. 12.

Ibid. p. 10. ; “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, Country Progress Report January 2010 – December 2011 < http://www.unaids.org/en/dataanalysis/knowyourresponse/countryprogressreports/2012countries/ce_RS_Narrative_Report%5B1%5D.pdf> (accessed 6 November 2012).

National Statistical Office, Women and Men in the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: National Statistical Office, 2011), 106-112.

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 14.

United Nations Development Programme Serbia web site  <http://www.undp.org.rs/?event=public.mdgTargets5>  (accessed 3 October 2012)

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 17.

Public Health Institute of Serbia, Report on Contagious Diseases in 2010. In the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: Public Health Institute of Serbia, 2011)

“Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, Country Progress Report January 2010 – December 2011, < http://www.unaids.org/en/dataanalysis/knowyourresponse/countryprogressreports/2012countries/ce_RS_Narrative_Report%5B1%5D.pdf> (accessed 6 November 2012).

United Nations Development Programme Serbia web site <http://www.undp.org.rs/?event=public.mdgTargets7>  (accessed 3 October 2012)

United Nations Development Programme Serbia web site <http://www.undp.org.rs/?event=public.mdgTargets8>  (accessed 3 October 2012)

Ministry of Finance. Current Macroeconomic Tendencies – May 2014. http://www.mfin.gov.rs/UserFiles/File/tabele/2014%20maj/Tekuca%20makroekonomska%20kretanja%20mfin%2021.pdf (accessed 3 June 2014)

Ibidem.

Region: 
left

Gotovi ste! - You’re finished!

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member apart from Greece, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. The new Government has indicated that it will continue to avoid a bailout by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. However, poverty has increased and many people are no longer able to meet basic needs; without state assistance, the poverty rate is estimated to rise to 24%. Those who can’t find work have dropped out of the labour force. As a result, Slovenia has joined countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law.

društvo Humanitas
Ajda Pistotnik
Rene Suša

Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member apart from Greece, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. The new Government has indicated that it will continue to avoid a bailout by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. However, poverty has increased and many people are no longer able to meet basic needs; without state assistance, the poverty rate is estimated to rise to 24%. Those who can’t find work have dropped out of the labour force. As a result, Slovenia has joined countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law.

At the end of 2011, Slovenia’s shaky centre-left coalition of Social Democrats (SDs) and their partners led by Prime Minister Borut Pahor collapsed and after the elections in early 2012 a new right wing governing coalition was formed, led by the Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) with Prime Minister Janez Janša. The post-election bargaining began rather surprisingly as the largest party, Positive Slovenia (PS), led by the mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković, failed to assemble a coalition. The new Government quickly began to show its leanings towards a more aggressive, neoliberal economics. Prime Minister Janša cited Slovakia’s neo-liberal Dzurinda governments (1998-2006) as a model to follow and has stuck to his word. However, the proposed structural adjustments are facing stiff resistance from many sides.

Apart from Greece, Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. Moreover, the country's finance minister, Janez Susteršič, told CNN that Slovenia will be able to avoid a bailout despite the shrinking economy by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. Similar policy reforms were suggested to the Slovenian Government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in their annual visit in early October. Yet Slovenia, an EU member that is believed to be even “more radical than the IMF when it comes to imposing cuts in public spending, lowering wages and reducing worker’s rights, can hardly be considered a guardian of the welfare state.”

At the end of 2012, Borut Pahor, the former Prime Minister, was elected President. Interestingly, the turnout was a record low (only 41.5%), while public protests against the political eliteas well as corruption and austerity measures, have been very strong, not only in the capital of Ljubljana, but also in smaller towns, particularly Maribor.

Family law referendum

On 25 March 2012 a referendum was held on a new family law that would represent the first comprehensive overhaul of family law. Rather than focusing on measures involving the protection of children’s rights, the opposition campaign focused on the rights of same-sex couples, to which many groups connected with the Catholic Church and the political right were opposed. The Archbishop of Ljubljana spoke about the "irreplaceable role of the family" and others argued that the law was against traditional family values and that gay couples should not be allowed adoption rights. As Slovenia had allowed the official registration of same-sex relationships in 2006, the negative outcome of the referendum was a definite step backwards in terms of protecting the human rights of vulnerable groups.

Increasing levels of poverty

According to the Statistical Office of Slovenia, in 2011 273,000 people, or 13.6% of the population, lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, an increase of 19,000 over the previous year. Their net monthly disposable income was less than EUR 600 per adult household member. Moreover, the material deprivation indicator showed that many could not afford some basic needs, such as adequate heating, or were late paying mortgages, rent, bills and so on or had inadequate resources to cope with unexpected expenses. The material deprivation rate was 9% higher than the year before. Without the redistributive function of the welfare state, which through social transfers mitigates the distress of low-income households, the at-risk-of-poverty rate would grow to 24.2%. Moreover, 32% of households already face difficulties making ends meet. Generally speaking, the main reasons for poverty and social exclusion are lack of jobs and low income.

Erasing the unemployed

In midst of a global questioning of current social, political and economic paradigms, Slovenia has joined the many countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law. It is currently difficult to measure the actual health of the country’s economy as many of the official statistics present a highly biased view, especially when it comes to employment figures. A stark example is the fact that in 2011 there were 936,000 active workers and 111,000 registered unemployed. In November 2012 the number of registered unemployed remained more or less the same, but the active workforce shrank to 807,000! This means that within a period of just one year close to 130,000 people (more than the entire registered unemployed workforce) were deleted from the public register of employment seekers. About 40,000 of those may be accounted for by unpaid housework, which is no longer counted as it was previously, but this still leaves up to 90,000 unaccounted for. This is significant as it represents about 10% of the entire workforce.

Corruption of high-ranking politicians

At the beginning of 2013, the Slovenian Independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) announced the findings of a year-long investigation into the heads of parliamentary parties in relation to their declarations of assets and financial disclosure laws. The investigation revealed that two party leaders – Prime Minister Janša (head of the ruling SDs) and the Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković (head of the main opposition party – PS), had systematically and repeatedly violated the law by failing to properly report their assets to the CPC. The investigation uncovered private expenses and use of funds from unknown origins (Janša) and potential channelling of public resources through private companies (Janković) that exceed their official income and savings. Prime Minister Janša then launched a political counter-attack, discrediting the staff and the work of the CPC. It is clear that in Slovenia politicians and officials are unwilling to accept any responsibility for their actions and try to shift the blame elsewhere.

Protests, protests, protests

High levels of corruption and the fraudulent behaviour of key figures of the economic and political elite, combined with declining quality of life for the majority of the population have led to mounting discontent that was just waiting for a final spark. Resentment and outrage first exploded in Maribor, where a combination of national and local factors contributed to massive protests against the mayor and members of the town council. Inspired by the sheer force and scale of protests other towns quickly followed suit. There are several dimensions to this popular uprising. The protest banners and public statements from various groups that formed during the final months of the year carry divergent, yet clear messages. The revolt is both local (after the first uprising in Maribor, revolts took place in 27 other towns) and national, systemic and personal (against mayors and the current Government). A minor yet important component was the international dimension with some demands for withdrawal from NATO and protests against the EU.

While the revolt against key political figures, joined under the common slogan “Gotof je!” (You are finished!) was the predominant mobilizing factor, protestors also called for systemic change – such as the end of party politics, corruption, theft of common goods, casino capitalism and exploitation of workers. The response from the political elite was not surprising. The ruling party went on twitter to call the protestors zombies from the socialist regime, mercenaries of the opposition and marionettes of “godfathers in the background.” The opposition tried to capitalize on the uprisings but has not endorsed the movement beyond affirming the right to protest. The message of the uprisings was clear – the revolt is much more than just a protest against the current government and mayors, it is a revolt against the entire establishment.

A common criticism expressed by the Government and frequently repeated in the subservient mass media was that the protests have no clear message and offer no solutions. While the demonstrations themselves were more contra than pro anything in particular the parallel insurgence of people’s initiatives and civic movements has introduced a plethora of highly constructive proposals spanning the full spectrum of needed shifts in orientation. Several newspapers (including the mainstream media) and other web portals have opened up special websites where these proposals are gathered and discussed in the public arena. At the time of writing, the website of the main national newspaper Delo offers 53 articles on the transformation of the political system, 26 on the economy, 14 on the legal system and 26 on other topics. Many authors from very different professional and social backgrounds have shared their suggestions and analyses. And this is only one of the many forums where such an exchange is taking place: an ever increasing number of legal proposals are being put forth – mostly calling for anti-corruption measures, public control mechanisms and for participatory democracy. Some proposals go as far as the level of constitutional amendments and drafts of a completely new constitution are even being introduced.

Maribor – an exercise in participative democracy

The protests in Maribor were the first example of a successful self-organized popular movement that began on Facebook. The Facebook group called “Franc Kangler should resign as Mayor of Maribor,” which mobilized the first massive protests, currently has more than 40,000 supporters, not all of them residents of Maribor (the town has a population of 95,000). While the group has distanced itself from any other official demands or a political programme, other social networks quickly began to form, where people organized themselves in order to prevent the future corrupt conduct of municipal officials and their stooges. Some of these groups may in future form political parties or local alliances for elections and provide their own candidates for the position of mayor, while others seek to reform the system itself, looking for ways to bypass party political representation and reground political decision-making in town and district assemblies. The first such assemblies should start in the spring of 2013.

The impetus for this action came from one of the groups called “iniciativa Mestni zbor” (Town Assembly Initiative). Its membership is fluid and in a press releasethe group called for residents to organize themselves in local/district initiatives. Two parallel processes are happening at same time – the first are the protests against the town council, corruption and nepotism in the municipality and its subsidiaries which are assuming different, yet creative forms of dissent. Complementary to all that is a more deliberative, strategic process where members of the initiative are analysing the current state of affairs (reviewing existing/planned projects, the municipal budget deficit, social and communal issues, and topics related to the potential for locally based economic activities) and possibilities for empowerment of local citizens.

The idea behind both of these processes is to facilitate a grassroots approach to municipal self-governance and self-reliance. The general level of political participation is very low, which indicates disenchantment with existing ‘democratic’ models and a need for new ways of more direct democratic participation. While it is too early to tell whether these efforts will have a long-term impact, at least the first symbolic victory was achieved on 31 December 2012, when the mayor of Maribor resigned, thus becoming the first politician in Slovenia ever to step down due to a people’s uprising.

Notes

CNN Wire Staff, “Minister: Slovenia can avoid bailout despite shrinking economy,”20 November 2012. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/20/business/slovenia-finance-minister-sustersic/index.html (accessed 12. February 2013).

Marja Novak, “IMF says planned Slovenia reforms can avert bailout,” Reuters, 2 October 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-slovenia-imf-idUSBRE8910MS20121002 (accessed 12 February 2013).

Mirovni inštitut, “The Double Crisis of European Integration.” Available at: http://dpu.mirovni-institut.si/index-e.php (accessed 10 February 2013).

Joachim Becker, “Social protests and electoral apathy in Slovenia.” Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/116306748/Joachim-Becker-Social-Protests-and-Electoral-Apathy-in-Slovenia (accessed 12 February 2013).

“Family Law Struck Down,” STA, 26 March 2012. Available at: http://www.sloveniatimes.com/family-law-struck-down (accessed 12 February 2013); “Slovenians reject gay adoption law in referendum,” The independent, 26 March 2012. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/slovenians-reject-gay-adoption-law-in-referendum-7585060.html (accessed 10 February 2013).

SURS – Statistical office of the Republic of Slovenia, “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2012.Available at: http://www.stat.si/eng/novica_prikazi.aspx?id=5070 (accessed 10 February 2013).

SURS, “Statistične informacije št.13, 16.oktober 2012.“ Available at: http://www.stat.si/doc/statinf/07-si-008-1204.pdf (accessed 10 February 2013).

SURS, “Aktivno prebivalstvo, Slovenija, november 2012 – končni podatki.” Available at: http://www.stat.si/novica_prikazi.aspx?ID=5263 (accessed 10 February 2013).

A change in the retirement legislation that entered into force on 1 January2013 (higher age/work years limit) has led to some earlier retirements, but the figures of retired people from November 2011 (594,000) and November 2012 (598,000) show only a modest increase as evidenced by ZPIZ (Institute of pension and invalidity insurance) database. See: http://www.zpiz.si/wps/portal/cognos/msp/upokojenci/prejemniki_pokojnin (accessed 10. February 2013).

  KPK – Commission for the prevention of corruption, “Slovenian commission for the prevention of corruption found a number of violations of financial disclosures obligations by the prime minister and the head of the opposition.” Available at: https://www.kpk-rs.si/en/the-commission/news/-/01/2013/slovenian-commission-for-the-prevention-of-corruption-found-a-number-of-violations-of-financial-disclosures-obligations-by-the-prime-minister-and-the-head-of-the-opposition (accessed 10 February 2013).

Društvo Integriteta - Transparency International Slovenia, “Zero integrity in Slovenian politics.” Available at: http://www.integriteta.si/gradiva/clanki/271-zero-integrity-in-slovenian-politics (accessed 15 January 2013).

In addition to the cases mentioned above, several MPs were found to possess fake diplomas and degrees and there are on-going investigations of international arms dealing by several high level people.

Delo, “Protesti,”2012. Available at: http://www.delo.si/zgodbe/interaktivno/protesti (accessed 10 February 2013).

The slogan »Gotof je!« is a slang transliteration of the slogan »Gotov je!« used in Serbia during the Milošević regime.

See Delo, “Revolt,”2012. Available at: http://www.delo.si/revolt/ (accessed 10 February 2013).

It should be noted that the existing constitution was never approved by a people's referendum and is in fact heavily based on the German original.

Iniciativa mestni zbor, “Da nam znova ne ukradejo Maribora,” Pekarna Magdalenske Mreže, 10 December 2012. Available at: http://www.pekarna.org/web/index.php?page=novice&subpage=novica&id=1284 (accessed 10 February 2013).

Region: 
left

La pobreza y las inequidades persisten, a pesar del compromiso

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Para acabar con la pobreza, las autoridades de República Dominicana deben impulsar un reparto equitativo de la riqueza, ampliar y mejorar la calidad de la educación, la salud, el empleo y la seguridad social, e implementar políticas en beneficio de los más vulnerables. El Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo aprobado para los próximos dos decenios son una buena herramienta en ese sentido. Si bien el gobierno que asumió en agosto de 2012 se declara a favor de la inversión social y de políticas de desarrollo humano, su discurso se contradice con la reducción de gastos sociales y el aumento de impuestos que responden a condiciones del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

Licenciada Ruth Helen Paniagua
Licenciado Elvis Ml. Soto
Periodista Rolando Arias
Licenciada Elizabeth Castro
Apóstol Manuel Almonte
Licenciado William Charpantier

Instituciones participantes: Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer y los Jóvenes (Adimjo), Fundación Étnica Integral (FEI), Fundación Monte de Dios -FUMODI, Fundación Almuerzo Infantil - FAI, Grupo de Investigación para la Acción Comunitaria (Gripac), Movimiento Socio-Cultural para los Trabajadores Haitianos (Mosctha), Red Nacional de Emergencia (RNE), Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones y Refugiados en República Dominicana (Menamird)

Para acabar con la pobreza, las autoridades de República Dominicana deben impulsar un reparto equitativo de la riqueza, ampliar y mejorar la calidad de la educación, la salud, el empleo y la seguridad social, e implementar políticas en beneficio de los más vulnerables. El Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo aprobado para los próximos dos decenios es  una buena herramienta en ese sentido. Si bien el gobierno del Lic. Danilo Medina Sanchez cuando  asumió la presidencia en agosto de 2012 se declara a favor de la inversión social y de políticas de desarrollo humano, su discurso se contradice con la reducción de gastos sociales y el aumento de impuestos que responden a condiciones del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

A pesar del constante crecimiento económico de los últimos 20 años en Republica Dominicana, 34,8% de los habitantes viven en condiciones de pobreza y 9% sufren miseria extrema, porcentajes similares al año 2000. Los planes para avanzar hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio no han tenido en cuenta la extensión de la economía informal, el predominio de las micro, pequeñas y medianas empresas, las desigualdades en el acceso  a servicios y en la calidad de vida  como  la educación, la salud y el empleo,  siendo mas perjudicada las mujeres, jóvenes y comunidades rurales asentadas en las áreas azucareras conocidas como bateyes. El desamparo y la inequidad alimentan la violencia y la criminalidad, lo cual complica aún más el logro de las metas en un círculo vicioso.

Introducción

La pobreza y la desigualdad social golpean de frente y se acentúan cada día en República Dominicana, a pesar del crecimiento económico de las últimas décadas y el compromiso asumido por sucesivos gobiernos con el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM). El país se encuentra en una situación muy similar a la del año  2000, con 34,8% de la población en condiciones de pobreza y alrededor de 9% en la pobreza extrema. La desigualdad se constata en todos los ámbitos. Jóvenes y mujeres carecen de oportunidades y el desarrollo humano es muy limitado. Cerca de 20% de la población dominicana no cuenta con documento de identidad, y 12,7% son jóvenes de 10 a 24 años. A esto se le suma una baja escolaridad y la mala calidad de la educación que ha recibido la gran mayoría de los habitantes.

La falta de oportunidades de la población y la elevada vulnerabilidad de los jóvenes y mujeres tienen como consecuencia el aumento de la violencia y la criminalidad, que representan retrocesos en materia de desarrollo humano. La erradicación de la pobreza, la igualdad de género y el acceso de la población a servicios básicos como la educación y la salud requieren, más que de crecimiento económico, de desarrollo humano. Se trata de considerar a las personas como un recurso primario para llegar luego a atender lo productivo.

Para establecer estrategias, es preciso tomar en cuenta la juventud de la población (más de la mitad de los habitantes tienen entre 10 y 34 años), que la mayor concentración de pobreza se registra en las comunidades de origen bateyano (de bateyes, asentamientos rurales precarios e irregulares, en medio de plantaciones de azúcar), y que la principal fuente de empleos son la micro, pequeñas y medianas empresas, más de 60% de las cuales operan de manera informal.

La elevada informalidad reduce el alcance de la seguridad social: más de 50% de la población económicamente activa carece de cobertura.

Desarrollo nacional, mito o utopía

El crecimiento promedio anual del producto interno bruto por habitante de República Dominicana ha sido de 3,5% en los últimos dos decenios[1] . Pero ese crecimiento no ha sido acompañado por desarrollo humano. Eso es evidente en la pobreza, la falta de servicios básicos y la ausencia de un Estado de Derecho en comunidades de origen bateyano, como las de Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macorís y Barahona.

República Dominicana se ubica en el nivel medio de la lista de 169 países evaluados según el Índice de Desarrollo Humano por el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), en el lugar 88. De acuerdo con ese estudio estadístico anual, el desarrollo humano es un proceso en formación y de consolidación de valores sociales y culturales de alcance nacional, que debe ser inducido por el Estado a través de políticas sociales integrales y equitativas.

Desigualdad social

Las mujeres dominicanas sufren hoy mayor desempleo que los hombres y reciben menores ingresos. En 2010, la tasa de ocupación de la fuerza de trabajo masculina ascendió a 61%, y la femenina, a 33%, con lo cual la brecha fue de 27,81%[2] . En 2011, en promedio, el salario femenino equivalía en promedio a 79% de masculino[3] . La brecha salarial se ensanchó en los 15 años transcurridos entre 1992 y 2007, según evaluó el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID)[4] .

De acuerdo con el Índice de Equidad de Género de Social Watch en materia de participación económica (que pondera los indicadores de ingresos y empleos) es de 0,71 sobre un máximo de 1,0, que marcaría una igualdad perfecta (e hipotética, pues no fue alcanzada por ninguna nación del mundo) entre mujeres y varones. En lo que refiere a empoderamiento (las brechas en los empleos altamente calificados, los cargos parlamentarios y las cúpulas económicas), el índice de Social Watch cae a 0,44; a pesar de que 60% de los estudiantes universitarios son mujeres, ellas apenas ocupan 17% de los escaños legislativos. Por otra parte, alrededor de 32% de los hogares son encabezadas por madres solteras, situación aun más evidente en las comunidades bateyanas y en los sectores marginados[5] .

También ha aumentado la violencia contra las mujeres y dentro de las familias. Entre 2009 y 2012 murieron a manos de sus parejas más de 429, y fueron más de 100 en los primeros 10 meses de 2012. La tasa de embarazo de adolescentes se mantiene elevada, en alrededor de 18%[6] , situación que se agrava aún más entre las que viven debajo de la línea de pobreza y con pocos estudios. Al mismo tiempo, las mujeres más jóvenes son tres veces más proclives que las adultas a morir como consecuencia de complicaciones en el embarazo y el parto, con una tasa de mortalidad materna que se aproxima al 19%[7] , por diversos factores entre los que figuran hipertensión, abortos y cesáreas.

Por otra parte, las deficiencias del sistema de enseñanza agravan las inequidades ya presentes en la sociedad. Alrededor de 36% de los estudiantes no completan el ciclo de educación básica[8] , la mayoría de ellos pertenecientes a los sectores más pobres, pues se ven obligados a trabajar para aportar dinero a sus hogares, o a cuidar a miembros de sus familias, o a realizar tareas domésticas no remuneradas.

Estas situaciones afianzan una pobreza que se contradice con el elevado crecimiento económico de los últimos años. El 34,8% de los habitantes son pobres, y más de 9% viven en condiciones de pobreza extrema[9] . El producto interno bruto se expande pero no se distribuye de manera equitativa.

El informe gubernamental de 2011 sobre los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, presentado por el Ministerio de Economía y Planificación, admite la gran dificultad para alcanzar las metas planteadas para 2015 y sugiere que eso sería posible sólo para 2020. El pronóstico oficial apoya sus excusas en las consecuencias de la crisis bancaria de 2003-2004, y establece como condición para lograr los ODM una reducción aun mayor del gasto público[10] .

Las autoridades del nuevo gobierno, que asumió en agosto de 2012 con Danilo Medina Sánchez como presidente, han declarado públicamente su interés en la inversión social y en la promoción de políticas integrales de desarrollo humano. Sin embargo, argumentan al mismo tiempo en favor de los ajustes fiscales como una supuesta necesidad para amortiguar las consecuencias de la crisis financiera, así como proponen aumentar la presión tributaria por considerarla baja en comparación de otros  países  cercanos. En noviembre de 2012, el ex presidente Leonel Fernández Reyna recordó que el año anterior, su gobierno acordó con el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) ajustes equivalentes al 3,5 por ciento del producto interno bruto.

Conclusiones

Los ODM fueron acordados por la comunidad internacional con el propósito de resolver problemas comunes de los países. Para cumplir con el compromiso de reducir la pobreza, República Dominicana debe tomar medidas tendentes a que el crecimiento de la riqueza se distribuya de manera equitativa, implementando políticas que mejoren la calidad en la educación, Salud y  que creen empleos decentes e incluyan programas de protección sociales dirigidos a los pobres y a los más vulnerables.

El Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo, aprobado en 2011 para los siguientes 20 años, constituye una buena herramienta hacia el logro de avances a  largo plazo. Pero es preciso consolidarlo ampliando el acceso a los servicios básicos, mejorando la calidad de la educación y de la salud, promoviendo el registro de los habitantes a la seguridad social, la integración social equitativa y la consecución de los ODM.

El 2013   fue  propicio para analizar el camino tomado hacia el cumplimiento de los ODM y del Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo y para ejercer presión, involucrando a la sociedad civil, con el objetivo de que el Estado asuma mayores compromisos, cree nuevas políticas sociales y mejore sus estrategias hacia la reducción de la pobreza y las restantes metas.

También será necesario estimular la inversión social para mejorar la calidad de vida de más de un millón de personas mediante la construcción de viviendas y la creación de empleos decentes, así como mejoras en educación, salud, y valores culturales, de modo de establecer un ambiente propicio para su empoderamiento y desarrollo.

Notas:

[1] Estadistica CEPAL 1990-2011

[2] . Boletín Mensual Panorama Estadístico n.° 46  “Brecha de género en la tasa de ocupación en República Dominicana”. (Oficina Nacional de Estadística, ONE, diciembre de 2011, en http://www.one.gob.do/index.php?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=3429)            

[3]   “Las mujeres en el mercado laboral dominicano. “ Consuelo Cruz Almánzar, Santo Domingo, noviembre de 2012. Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, enhttp://www.slideshare.net/intecsocial/vii-conferencia-dominicana-de-estu....

[4]   “New Century, Old Disparities “ (BID, 2012). Enhttp://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=37204140

[5] Informe sobre Pobreza en la República Dominicana, Banco Mundial y Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. 2005

[6] Publicado por Agencia EFE octubre 2012

[7] ENDESA 2007

[8] Informe de Desarrollo Humano PNUD 2008

[9] Estadistica CEPAL 1990-2011

[10] Republica Dominicana, Ministerio de Economía Planificación y Desarrollo, Objetivo Desarrollo del Milenio, Informe de Seguimiento ODM 2010

Region: 
left

Lebanon in the heart of the storm

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
One cannot discuss policy priorities and challenges in Lebanon without first addressing the dangerous developments the region is currently experiencing. Oppression, backwardness and the shortcomings of democracy in the region as a whole are serious hindrances that could turn the tide and reverse the more positive trends. Despite the challenges they raise, the current developments clearly demonstrate the potential for change in the region: people are no longer willing to stand idle in the face of tyranny, poverty, unemployment and marginalization. Lebanon is still facing the systemic challenges of the political confessional system. The state must be an institutional and constitutional expression of democracy and people’s rights. Genuine citizenship cannot be achieved without the rule of law, without a system that gives citizens their rights and duties towards both society and the state, which are also preconditions for an effective civil society. Thus the main obstacle to true citizenship in the country is still the partition of state offices and institutions among the different religious confessions.

Ziad Abdel Samad and Joel Ghazi

One cannot discuss policy priorities and challenges in Lebanon without first addressing the dangerous developments the region is currently experiencing. Oppression, backwardness and the shortcomings of democracy in the region as a whole are serious hindrances that could turn the tide and reverse the more positive trends. Despite the challenges they raise, the current developments clearly demonstrate the potential for change in the region: people are no longer willing to stand idle in the face of tyranny, poverty, unemployment and marginalization.

Lebanon is still facing the systemic challenges of the political confessional system. The state must be an institutional and constitutional expression of democracy and people’s rights. Genuine citizenship cannot be achieved without the rule of law, without a system that gives citizens their rights and duties towards both society and the state, which are also preconditions for an effective civil society. Thus the main obstacle to true citizenship in the country is still the partition of state offices and institutions among the different religious confessions.

The main challenge that Lebanon is currently facing is the immense flood of Syrian refugees, who are escaping the escalating violence and dramatic deterioration of the situation in their country. Official figures provided by the Lebanese authorities estimate the number of Syrians to be about 1 million while UNHCR estimates the number to be about 750 thousand. Most of them are living in very difficult conditions. Lebanese authorities have been from the beginning reluctant to provide them with any support, limiting their role to organizing the registration process. In so doing, the authorities were trying to hold the international community responsible for the refugees’ dire situation. However, as the number of the refugees drastically increased and their living conditions deteriorated seriously, the lack of support led to turmoil.

Last September, the UN Secretary General called for a meeting of “the International Support Group for Lebanon” at UN headquarters to discuss the assessment conducted by the UN and the World Bank and to adopt an emergency plan in response to the situation. It is obvious that the spillovers of the Syrian conflict in general and of the refugees issue in particular are causing tremendous pressures on the Lebanese economy.

The financial and banking systems are traditionally the backbone of the Lebanese economy, along with the tourism and services sectors. During the last decade, the Lebanese economy became vulnerable due to the constant internal political crisis since the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005, followed by the Israeli attacks in 2006. Popular uprisings in the region, particularly in Syria, deepened the political divides between the different Lebanese groups and prevented the country from conducting the 2012 parliamentary elections—to select the government as well as the chief commanders of the army and the internal security forces-- on time. The mounting political tension led to enormous economic and social challenges, including economic stagnation and increasing prices for food as well as essential commodities.

The Lebanese political crisis had a direct impact on the implementation of development policies in general and more specifically on efforts to meet the country’s development goals. Furthermore, the success of any social, economic or cultural endeavor is highly dependent on the political climate. Clearly, sectarian divisions must be separated from state institutions, which have to be unsoiled by political disputes; political figures have to stop grabbing and treating public institutions as their own private backyard. In structural terms, the main reforms needed in Lebanon are the following:

Reforming the Lebanese economy by adopting a new paradigm to enhance productive capacity and shifting from “a rentier state economy” towards a real economic system.  This must also be coupled with a reform of the laws governing both parliamentary and municipal elections, and with administrative decentralization.

Planning and implementing programs to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees: the main concern is about their lack of economic and social rights and the absence of any law governing their situation. The same goes for non-Palestinian refugees, with the exception of their right to register and get official papers through the UNHCR process.

Ensuring respect for human rights by lifting reservations to CEDAW Articles 9 and 61 governing the personal status of women and children as well as the CEDAW optional protocol and by adopting adequate measures to respect the rights of people with disabilities. Journalists too face many obstacles, even more than last year, according to Reporters without Borders. Needed are adequate judicial protection and an end to prior censorship, along with eliminated the hold of economic and political elites on media outlets.  The right to access to information is also a must for transparency and for monitoring state expenditures.

Social and economic difficulties

Economic and social rights in Lebanon are all subject to policy-related violations. The consequences of economic and social policies originating from the national reform agenda known as “the Paris III” are made worse by the absence of a budget as well as of a comprehensive development agenda. Adding to that, security and political turmoil has led to backsliding, particularly regarding unemployment, poverty and social and geographic disparities. The main issues focused on here are: labor, social security, decent living standards, health, education, social protection and the impact of trade on social and economic rights.

Common to the frequent violation of all these rights are the following structural needs:

  1. The administrative and structural reforms of all ministries in order to improve their effectiveness and efficiency, especially in implementing laws and issuing decrees;
  2. The de centralization of services and the elimination of geographic disparities and inequalities that span all of the social and economic problems in the country.

Right to an adequate standard of living

The lack of reliable statistics regarding economic conditions is a serious problem. Inadequate measurements lead to inappropriate policies. However, it is well established that women are hardest hit by poverty and that in terms of income and growth, Lebanon fairs poorly in comparison with neighboring countries. Health issues, tax policies, environmental degradation can all be added to the list of problems impeding adequate living standards in Lebanon. In order to address this reality, the following priorities must be met:

  1.  Enhancing the public administration for more accurate  statistics
  2. Reforming the taxation system to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth
  3. Adopting decent work generating strategies with particular regards to women
  4. Adopting a law for administrative decentralization that enlarges the mandate of the local elected authorities
  5. Reorganizing the energy and water sectors to provide services to all regions in the short, medium and long terms.
  6. Establishing laws protecting the environment in all regions of the country
  7. Applying UN conventions relative to fighting corruption and its consequences.

Right to work

The Lebanese labour market is characterized by the absence of any form of justice, equal opportunities or meritocratic hiring. While statistics are barely reliable, they indicate that youth unemployment constitutes some 48.4% of total unemployment, and that women and people with disabilities are the least represented in the labour force, as only 28% of the workforce are women while 83% of people with disabilities are unemployed. Reforms should include:

  1. Revision of the current labour legislation in order to: develop the country’s productive sectors, improve laws protecting workers from work-related accidents, establish an unemployment fund and improve social security in general.
  2. Abolishment of the sponsorship system for domestic foreign workers and ensure the protection of their rights.
  3. The signature and ratification of ILO Convention # 87 on the right to organize and amendment of current laws in line with this, including raising the legal working age to 14; and the implementation of a quota of 3% employment for people with disabilities in accordance with Lebanese law 2000/200.

Right to education

The right to education is ostensibly guaranteed by the Lebanese Constitution. However, the qualitative chasm between private and public institutions continues to be a major challenge, leading to the segregation and marginalization of students unable to pay the exorbitant fees of private institutions and universities. Another glaringly obvious fact is the absence of mechanisms for implementing universal free education. In spite of the fact that this was adopted as a law by parliament, no executive steps have been taken so far. It is worth mentioning that this does not include any provisions for people with disabilities. With regards to education, the following benchmarks should be prioritized:

  1. Improve the quality of public education and adopt a unified program
  2. Insert values of citizenship and environmental awareness in curriculums and transform religious education into “religious culture”
  3. Ensure the development of research and planning in universities and improve links with state consultancy needs
  4. Adopt programs to improve the performance of teachers in elementary and secondary education as well as in higher education.

Right to health

Owing to structural distortions in the country’s sanitary system, about half of the population lacks access to adequate public health care. Although public hospitals have been improved in some regions, they remain inadequate, while most people cannot take advantage of private health services owing their steep price. The following reforms are therefore critical:

  1. Reform the public health system in order to ensure universal coverage to all citizens
  2. Guarantee appropriate access to information on health issues
  3. Improve cooperation between the private and public sectors in the field of health
  4. Reactivate the National Bureau of Medications.

Right to social security

Notwithstanding a recent increase, social spending in Lebanon is not based on a comprehensive national policy, and does not provide the basis for the gradual realization of universal social security for all citizens. Indeed, the biggest portion of social spending is devoted to social safety net programs targeting the poorest. The following reforms are needed:

  1. Enshrine a comprehensive policy for social development 
  2. Provide a comprehensive plan for the elderly
  3. Amend the Social Security Act to eliminate discrimination against women
  4. Allow foreign workers to benefit from social security coverage.

Trade liberalization

Each time the Government negotiates trade liberalization agreements, it totally neglects its national and international commitments. These negotiations are undertaken without any impact assessment on economic and social rights or social and sustainability consequences. The most dramatic illustration of this was the great damage done to the industrial sector after the unilateral removal of tariffs in 2000. Furthermore, the process of trade liberalization in the agricultural sector is seriously threatening food sovereignty, food security and the right to work.  Further liberalization of services will most likely weaken the sector’s competitive capability and limit its local and national organizational ability. Such considerations are all the more vital when it comes to liberalizing the provision of essential services such as education and health. As bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements continue to be negotiated, full impact assessments become critical, as they seriously limit state policy space for improving the productive sectors. On top of all that, they render the state unable to respect and protect human rights and social security. Therefore, the following measures are vital:

  1. Examine Lebanese trade policy to align it with a comprehensive development strategy that is not confined to economic aspects
  2. Ensure that trade liberalization agreements do not lead to greater social and economic discrimination. Particularly, ensure that trade liberalization in agriculture does not hamper food security and food sovereignty
  3. Exercise the right to use safeguards in the case of rising waves of unexpected imports
  4. Ensure respect for the right to work when negotiating trade liberalization agreements
  5. Provide basic services to all citizens with respect to a decent living
  6. Conduct social and economic impact studies of free trade agreements before their signature
  7. Commit to a participatory approach encompassing all concerned sectors when negotiating free trade agreements
  8. Reactivate the Lebanese National Commission concerned with the country’s membership in the World Trade Organization.

Conclusion

Lebanon is facing alarming challenges stemming from regional situation, especially the escalation of the armed conflict in Syria. At the same time, Lebanese society is highly polarized, which has direct implications on public decision-making. Clearly therefore, the new challenges caused by the deteriorating situation in neighboring countries, plus the old challenges arising from the structural and sectarian nature of the regime, necessitate serious and immediate measures and interventions.

It is worth mentioning that successive Lebanese governments have taken many decisions to implement the MDGs. In 2004 Prime Minister Hariri nominated a multi-ministerial committee for poverty eradication, although he was assassinated in 2005 before taking any tangible steps in this regard. Another multi-ministerial committee was nominated in 2006 to suggest a national strategy for social development, which was never implemented owing to the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. In 2010, the Minster of Social Affairs proposed a national strategy for social development which was not presented to the council due to the resignation of Prime Minister Mikati’s government and the formation of a caretaker government in April 2013.

Lebanese citizens, refugees (including the Palestinians and Syrians), as well as migrant workers are all living under enormous and increasing economic and social pressures. These challenges require immediate measures at the policy level as well as adequate resource allocations. However, the country is not able to address these challenges properly due to the deep political divide which render Lebanon a frail state under tremendous threat.

Notes:

Ziad Abdel Samad is Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and Joel Ghazi is research officer.

 See: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=122  ( accessed  30 September 2013).

Reporters without Borders ranked Lebanon 93rd in its 2012 report, a fall of 32 ranks compared to 2009; see: http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

The Paris III agenda was signed in January 2007 to provide support for Lebanon’s post-war reconstruction. It aims at stimulating growth, creating employment, reducing poverty and maintaining social and economic stability as well as increasing “Lebanon’s role in the free trade system,” and speeding up the negotiations regarding Lebanon’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). See: http://www.socialwatch.org/node/11084   (accessed 28 September 2013).  

http://www.undp.org.lb/WhatWeDo/MDGs.cfm ( accessed 29 September 2013).

See: http://www.annd.org/arabic/data/publications/pdf/46.pdf (accessed  29 September 2013). 

Region: 
left

Les cibles nationales des OMD sont loin

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Les cibles nationales des OMD au Cameroun sont loin d’être atteintes d’ici à 2015. Nous recommandons des efforts soient dans le sens de: la transparence dans la gestion des ressources publiques; l’amélioration de la qualité du système éducatif; la fourniture en quantité de l’énergie qui va renforcer le programme élargi de vaccination et la réduction des maladies de l’enfant, et l’introduction des programmes de développement durable, notamment par une bonne législationfoncière et l’introduction des normes de gestionenvironnementaledans la stratégie de la croissance.

Jean Mballa Mballa (Membre de Dynamique citoyenne)
Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement endogène et Communautaire (CRADEC)

Introduction

Ce rapport s’inscrit dans la continuité des efforts faits par la société civile camerounaise en général et du CRADEC (Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement Endogène et Communautaire) en particulier dans le suivi des politiques publiques, comme membre de Dynamique citoyenne et de Social Watch. Il est la contribution pour le rapport annuel de Social Watch d’un certain nombre d’acteurs sur la présentation des progrès réalisés dans l’atteinte des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement au Cameroun.

Au plan national, les OMD ont été alignés sur le Document de Stratégie pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté (DSRP-2006/2009) et sur le Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi (DSCE-2010/2020), ceci dans l’optique de traduire la volonté du gouvernement camerounais à respecter la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme, le Pacte International relatif aux Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels.

Le rapport présente brièvement la caractérisation sociale, économique et politique de l’économie camerounaise dans son ensemble. Cette  caractérisation met l’accent sur un certain nombre de secteurs parmi ceux considérés comme pro pauvres par Dynamique citoyenne. Pour les besoins du rapport de Social Watch, l’analyse a accordé l’attention sur des secteurs pro pauvres et considérés prioritaires. Il s’agit de : l’Agriculture, la santé, l’éducation et l’emploi. Ce choix se justifie par le fait  qu’ils sont porteurs du développement humain d’une part et de la croissance d’autre part. De plus, ils sont incontestablement, les secteurs qui influencent directement la majorité de la population.

Les progrès réalisés dans ces différents secteurs sont présentés sur la base des informations collectés auprès de différentes sources, tant institutionnels qu’empiriques. Nous concluons le rapport par des recommandations.

Rappel du DSCE et des OMD

Afin d’atteindre les OMD adoptés en 2000, le gouvernement du Cameroun s’est doté d’une politique de référence à long terme pour un Cameroun émergeant à l’horizon 2035, jalonnée dans sa première décade 2010-2010 par une stratégie pour la croissance et l’emploi. Le Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’emploi (DSCE) qui croise avec les OMD s’est fixé comme objectifs (i) Porter la croissance à environ 5,5% en moyenne annuelle dans la période 2010-2020 ; (ii) Ramener le sous emploi de 75,8% à moins de 50% en 2020 avec la création de dizaines, (iii) Ramener le taux de pauvreté monétaire de 39,9% en 2007 à 28,7% en 2020. Il s'agit là d'un décalage mesuré de l'objectif du millénaire.

De milliers d'emplois formels par an dans les dix prochaines années (iv) Réaliser à l'horizon 2020, l'ensemble des objectifs du millénaire pour le développement (OMD).

Tableau : Quelques indicateurs économiques clés



Années

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013-2015

2016-2020

Croissance du PIB réel

2,9

2,4

3,1

4,8

5,3

6,1

5,9

PIB pétrolier

-1,8

-10,2

-10,4

13,0

9,8

2,8

0,3

PIB non pétrolier

3,2

3,1

3,8

4,5

5,1

6,2

6,2

Croissance du PIB réel par habitant

0,0 

-0,5

0,2

1,9

2,4

3,1

2,9

Croissance du PIB réel hors pétrole par habitant

0,3

0,2

0,9

1,5

2,2

3,2

3,2

Le ratio des recettes non pétrolières sur le PIB

12,3

12,6

12,6

12,5

12,5

12,4

12,8

Taux d’investissement

17,5

17,5

18,6

19,0

19,3

19,7

22,0

Taux d’investissements publics

2,4

2,3

2,4

2,4

2,4

2,4

2,2

Solde primaire hors pétrole (% du PIB)

-5,8   

-4,2

-4,6

-4,8

-4,9

-5,0

-3,7

Source: (DSCE, 2009); basée sur les données du MINEPAT.

Les progrès réalisés sur le plan national

OMD 1 : Réduire l'extrême pauvreté et la faim

En 2001, la proportion de la population vivant en dessous du seuil de pauvreté s’évaluait à 40,2%. En  2007, une légère baisse de 2  points est enregistrée portant ce seuil à 39,9%. Pour ce qui est de la faim, la prévalence de l’insuffisance pondérale évaluée  à 19% en 2007 doit être ramenée à 8%. Pour atteindre l’objectif de 28,7% du taux de pauvreté fixé par le gouvernement à l’horizon 2020, les politiques de croissance doivent porter le taux du PIB à plus de 5,7% en moyenne annuelle à partir de 2010, date de début de la mise en œuvre du DSCE, à travers la création d’un environnement favorable au développement du secteur privé et la création d’emplois décents, la mobilisation de financements extérieurs et une réduction des inégalités. L’augmentation de la production agricole face à la crise alimentaire de 2008 qui a entrainé les  émeutes de la faim est un impératif pour la sécurité alimentaire du pays.

Une estimation faite sur la base de 2 points sur 6 ans, nous situerait à un taux de 37 % en 2012. Les 2.260 cal/hb/jour  situent le Cameroun parmi les moins performants des pays en voie de développement en matière de sécurité alimentaire. Cet état des lieux présage de la non atteinte de l’objectif de 20% à l’horizon 2015. La projection nationale qui situe à 28,7% ce taux à l’horizon 2020, suppose que les efforts sont faits pour faire reculer de 10 points.

Nous recommandons une bonne gestion des ressources allouées pour la réalisation des projets structurants devant soutenir une accélération du calendrier d’exécution des grands chantiers d’infrastructures pour un développement du secteur privé considéré comme moteur de la croissance. Ceci peut participer à diminuer considérablement le chômage des jeunes. , Bien que le taux de chômage des jeunes de 15-24 ans aient considérablement baissé allant du 14,4% à 4,5%, le sous-emploi de ceux-ci reste prononcé. Sur 10 jeunes, 7 jeunes sont sous-employés.  De plus, les efforts de mobilisation annoncés dans la recherche des financements externes doivent aussi s’intensifier sur les ressources internes par le biais d’une fiscalité juste et efficace et l’exploitation optimale des ressources naturelles. Parmi celles-ci, la terre doit faire l’objet d’une réforme juridique qui préserve et favorise la sécurité et la souveraineté alimentaire  en réaction à la forte demande des multinationales.

OMD 2 : Assurer l'éducation primaire pour tous

L’accroissement de la population implique une forte demande de l’éducation au Cameroun. Pour faire face à cette demande, la stratégie de l’éducation vise l’amélioration de l’offre de l’éducation à travers entre autres la construction de plus de salles de classe, le nivellement du personnel enseignant à travers la contractualisation des instituteurs vacataires et le paiement des arriérés de la subvention accordée à l’enseignement privé laïc et confessionnel.

Le rapport d’analyse des données dans les zones d’intervention de l’UNICEF de 2009 , indique un taux net de scolarisation  de  82,85%. A l’école primaire, il est de 88,43% pour les garçons et 77,31% pour les filles. Entre 2001 et 2007, il connait une légère hausse de 0,3 point. Le taux brut de scolarisation au préscolaire chez les enfants de 3-5 ans est de 20,71%. L’indice de parité filles/garçons est évalué à 0,88 pour le taux de scolarisation à l’école primaire. Le ratio Elève/Maître à l’école primaire est de 53/1. Le taux de passage de l’école primaire au secondaire est de 60% alors que le redoublement y est à 30%. La base de données de la Banque Mondiale évalue en 2010, à 120% le taux brut d’admission.

Si de manière générale, les indicateurs sont encourageants, il est à relever que de fortes disparités existent entre les différentes régions du pays. Les raisons culturelles sont la cause de cette situation dans les 3 régions septentrionales (Adamaoua, Nord et Extrême-Nord) ou zones d’éducation prioritaires (ZEP). Cette situation invite à plus d’efforts dans les ressources à allouer dans les infrastructures, notamment l’augmentation des salles de classe et le recrutement des enseignants dans les écoles primaires des zones d’éducation prioritaires où les disparités sont criardes. Ceci aura pour effet l’amélioration  des conditions d’éducation dans les ZEP. Pour un enseignement de qualité, le statut des enseignants doit être amélioré. Ceci aura pour conséquence la stabilité du personnel enseignant au sein des ministères en charge de l’éducation primaire et secondaire.

OMD 3 : Promouvoir l'égalité des sexes et l'autonomisation des femmes

La femme représente plus de 50% de la population nationale, d’après le Recensement Générale de la Population et des Ménages. Elles sont confrontées à plusieurs difficultés : faible scolarisation de la jeune fille, faible insertion dans le circuit formel de l’économie, violation des droits humains et civiques, etc. Les engagements internationaux auxquels le gouvernement a souscrits l’ont amené à prendre un certain nombre de mesures allant dans le sens de la promotion de la femme et de la famille. En dehors des régions du Nord, de l’Adamaoua et de l’Extrême-Nord, qui présentent  des disparités, le rapport de scolarisation filles/garçons est passé de 0,83 à 0,88 entre 2001 et 2007. Par ailleurs, l'alphabétisation des femmes des 15- 24 ans est restée stable à environ 0,88. Cependant l’autonomisation de la femme camerounaise affiche de pauvres indicateurs tant sur le plan économique que sur le plan politique. Seules 64 femmes siègent aux conseils municipaux sur 360 sièges. Il en est de même de la représentation nationale où 25 femmes sur 180 sont dans le parlement pour la législature 1997/2012 contre 19 pour la législature 1992/1997. De plus certaines régions n’ont pas de députés femmes comme l’Adamaoua, le Nord et le Nord-ouest.

Cette situation, loin des objectifs, recommande une volonté politique plus hardie notamment dans l’amélioration du statut socio juridique de la femme à travers le code de la famille en préparation depuis plus de 10 ans.

OMD 4,5 et 6 secteur de la santé

La problématique de la santé repose sur le nécessaire équilibre entre la prévention, l’offre de soins de sante de qualité et la disponibilité du médicament essentiel.  Pour réduire la mortalité infantile, améliorer la santé maternelle et combattre le VIH/SIDA, le paludisme et les autres maladies, la stratégie sectorielle de la santé repose sur  l’amélioration de l’offre de soins de santé de qualité, la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA, la tuberculose et la maladie, la participation communautaire au financement et à la gestion des formations sanitaires.

OMD 4 : Réduire la mortalité infantile

Entre 1998 et 2004, le taux de mortalité des moins de cinq ans est passé de 150,7‰ à 144‰, la cible nationale pour 2015 étant de l'ordre de 75,8‰. Pour atteindre cet objectif, la stratégie sectorielle de la santé  a développé un programme élargi de la vaccination (PEV) avec des actions de mise en place de la chaîne de froid, l’installation des incinérateurs,  l’externalisation du système de maintenance des équipements. L’extension de la campagne de dépistage du VIH/SIDA participe au contrôle de la transmission du virus de la mère à l’enfant.  Malgré des efforts consentis dans le domaine de la santé, la cible nationale risque de ne pas être atteinte à l'horizon 2015.  L’évolution de ce taux (151‰ en 1998 et 144‰ en 2004) montre que pour atteindre cet objectif, des efforts intenses doivent être fournis pendant les six prochaines années. D’après les résultats de l’EDS-2004, bien que 85% d’enfants de 12-23 mois aient été vaccinés contre la tuberculose avant l’âge de 12 mois, seuls 48% étaient complètement immunisés contre les maladies cibles du PEV.

L’amélioration des performances du PEV et la facilitation de l’accès et l’utilisation des moustiquaires imprégnées pour un plus grand nombre d’enfants de moins de cinq ans constituent des défis en prévention pour atteindre l’objectif national. L’amélioration des conditions d’hygiène dans les ménages et de la nutrition des enfants constituent également des facteurs importants de la santé des enfants.

OMD 5 : Améliorer la santé maternelle

L’objectif  national d’amélioration de la santé maternelle est de ramener la mortalité maternelle de 430 décès enregistrés pour la période 1991-1998 à 344 décès pour 100 000 naissances vivantes en 2015. L’EDS-2004 estime à 669 décès pour 100 000 naissances vivantes le taux de mortalité maternelle au Cameroun pour la période 1998-2004, en augmentation par rapport aux 430 décès estimés par l’EDS-1998 pour la période 1989-1998, montrant ainsi que l’on s’éloigne plutôt de l’objectif

Au regard de l’évolution de la proportion d'accouchements assistés par un personnel de santé qualifié (passée de 52% en 1998 à 62% en 2004), on était en droit de s’attendre à une amélioration conséquente du niveau de mortalité maternelle au Cameroun. D’autres facteurs doivent être pris en considération, comme une insuffisante qualité des soins, ou encore l’absence de toute assistance lors des accouchements, dont le taux est passé au Cameroun de 2,3% à 5,4% entre 1998 et 2004.

Pour améliorer les indicateurs en vue de l’atteinte de l’OMD5, il faut réduire les trois retards à l’origine de nombreux décès maternels : (i) retard au dépistage des complications, (ii) retard à l’arrivée de la femme enceinte au centre de santé, et (iii) retard à l’administration de soins appropriés.

OMD 6 : Combattre le VIH/Sida, le paludisme et d'autres maladies

La troisième enquête démographique et de santé réalisée en 2004, a révélé une prévalence globale du VIH/SIDA de 5,5% au niveau national avec 6,8% pour les femmes contre 4,1% pour les hommes de 15- 49 ans. D’après les résultats de la quatrième enquête, la prévalence globale a diminué à 4,3% en 2011 . Cependant, cette tendance à la baisse n’est pas aussi significative chez la femme affectée à 5,6% que chez les hommes où elle est à 2,9%.  Il convient de noter par ailleurs, que la prévalence du VIH est plus faible en milieu rural (3,8 %) qu’en milieu urbain (4,8 %) et surtout qu’à Yaoundé/Douala où 5,5 % des femmes et des hommes de 15-49 ans sont séropositifs.

S’agissant du paludisme, le taux de prévalence est passé de 40% en 2004 à 15% en 2005, soit un recul de 25 points. Cette tendance baissière ne doit pas cacher les spécificités de certaines régions comme le Littoral (50% à 21%), l’Ouest (44,5% à 28%), et le Sud (31,1% à 21%). Ces spécificités s’expliquent entre autres par la promiscuité et l’insalubrité. La lutte contre le paludisme et les autres maladies ont connu des difficultés dans la mise en œuvre de la campagne de distribution des moustiquaires imprégnés et du programme élargi de vaccination.

Si la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA, le paludisme et les autres maladies semble afficher des progrès substantiels, il reste que l’atteinte de l’objectif invite à plus d’efforts, notamment dans la sensibilisation pour la prévention par l’abstinence et l’utilisation des préservatifs dans les zones où le tabou sur le fléau est encore présent et l’amélioration de l’offre des soins. Pour ce qui est du paludisme, une meilleure gestion des ressources pour la promotion et la distribution des moustiquaires imprégnés et surtout le renforcement des campagnes de salubrité sont à redoubler.

OMD 7 : Assurer un environnement durable

Malgré l'augmentation des aires protégées pour préserver l'environnement (13% en 2000 contre 18,8% en 2008), l'objectif que la proportion de la population utilisant les combustibles solides atteigne environ 42,2% ne serait vraisemblablement pas atteint. En effet, il s'est stabilisé autour de 82%. En matière d'accès à l'eau potable, la proportion de la population ayant accès à l'eau potable passe de 40,6% en 2001 à 43,9% en 2007, soit un peu plus de la moitié de la cible (72,1%) à atteindre en 2015. La situation d’un cadre de vie décent n’est guère favorable, même si elle est passée de 8,5% en 2001 à 31,7% en 2007 pour une habitation à matériaux définitifs.

Des efforts considérables sont à faire pour une intégration des programmes de développement durable dans les politiques, afin de faciliter la mise en place des programmes de partenariat avec les institutions d’une part et en faire profiter aux populations d’autre part .

OMD 8 : Mettre en place un partenariat mondial pour le développement

Le partenariat à mettre en œuvre vise, notamment la maîtrise et la réduction du taux de chômage des jeunes, surtout dans les centres urbains, la mise à la disposition des couches les plus défavorisées des médicaments essentiels dont elles ont besoin, la vulgarisation de l'utilisation des technologies de l'information et de communication. Les résultats enregistrés montrent que le chômage des jeunes a baissé entre 2001 et 2007, passant de 14,3% à 8,2%.

Sur le plan institutionnel, des réformes ont permis tant bien que mal au gouvernement de remplir quelques conditions pour un partenariat plus efficace, permettant au pays de bénéficier de la réduction de la dette multilatérale après le point d’achèvement en 2006. Ceci a permis une réactivation du service de la dette extérieure vis-à-vis des partenaires créanciers du Cameroun.

Cependant il reste que des efforts sont encore  à faire sur des questions transversales telles que : la gouvernance, l’efficacité du service public, la collecte et le traitement des statistiques, etc.

Recommandations :

Le rapport relève que les cibles nationales des OMD au Cameroun, sont loin d’être atteintes d’ici à 2015. Nous recommandons des efforts soient dans le sens de :

  • La transparence dans la gestion des ressources publiques. La réduction de la pauvreté et de la faim passe par une efficacité dans la gestion des ressources pour l’amélioration des infrastructures, notamment dans le domaine de l’énergie, en vue d’une amélioration de l’environnement des affaires.
  • L’amélioration de la qualité du système éducatif. Celle-ci invite à l’amélioration des infrastructures et celles des conditions des enseignants pour plus de stabilité et de rendements de ceux-ci dans les établissements.
  • La fourniture en quantité de l’énergie qui va renforcer le programme élargi de vaccination et la réduction des maladies de l’enfant. S’agissant de la santé maternelle, une meilleure prise en charge de la mère et un contrôle de transmission du VIH/SIDA de la mère à l’enfant réduire considérablement le taux de mortalité maternelle.
  • L’introduction des programmes de développement durable, notamment par une bonne législation foncière et l’introduction des normes de gestion environnementale dans la stratégie de la croissance.

Bibliographie

INS, Enquête Démographique et de Santé  et à indicateurs multiples, 2011.

BAD,  Evaluation des progrès accomplis en Afrique pour la réalisation des  Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement. Rapport OMD 2011

MINEPAT, Rapport du suivi des OMD par régions, septembre 2010

MINEPAT/PNUD, Rapport national de progrès des OMD,  2010.

UNICEF, Education de base, Cameroun, Fiche de synthèse, 2009.

MINEPAT/PNUD, Rapport national sur le Développement Humain 2008/2009, le défi de la réalisation des OMD au Cameroun,

Kamdem Kamdem Maxime, L’apport de l’énergie dans l’atteinte des OMD.

Liste des abréviations

BAD : Banque Africaine de Développement

CRADEC : Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement endogène et Communautaire

DC : Dynamique citoyenne

DSCE : Document de stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi

DSRP : Document de Stratégie pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté

EDS : Enquête Démographique et de Santé

INS : Institut National de la Statistique

MINEPAT : Ministère de l’Economie, de la Planification et de l’Aménagement du Territoire

OMD : Objectif du Millénaire pour le Développement

PEV : Programme Elargi de Vaccination

PIB : Produit Intérieur Brut

PNUD : Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement

ZEP : Zone d’Education Prioritaire

Notes :



[1] 2009-Education de base, Cameroun, Fiche de synthèse UNICEF.

[2] Enquête Démographique et de Santé  et à indicateurs multiples, 2011, INS.

[3] Des études d’impact environnemental ont été à l’origine des retards de certains projets de grande envergure au Cameroun.

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Lifelong learning and the post-MDGs agenda

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
The main problem with the MDGs, globally, is that the overall approach towards development they represent is quite narrow, limiting countries’ incentives to institute structural changes that would foster development. This is particularly evident in the case of Goal 2: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education,’ which excludes economically active people in developing countries who are in need of further education, re-skilling or vocational training. Using the case of Cyprus, we can examine how the Lifelong Learning strategy it adopted made the link between LLL and sustainable development, and ask whether the Cyprus model provides a potential model for developing countries in the post-MDG agenda.

Centre for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational Technology (CARDET)
Sotiris Themistokleous (Assistant Director)
Chrysovalanti Charalambous
Charalambos Vrasidas

The main problem with the MDGs, globally, is that the overall approach towards development they represent is quite narrow, limiting countries’ incentives to institute structural changes that would foster development. This is particularly evident in the case of Goal 2: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education,’ which excludes economically active people in developing countries who are in need of further education, re-skilling or vocational training. Using the case of Cyprus, we can examine how the Lifelong Learning strategy it adopted made the link between LLL and sustainable development, and ask whether the Cyprus model provides a potential model for developing countries in the post-MDG agenda.

It is evident by now that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 are facing many challenges in terms of implementation, as well as limitations in mobilizing universal support. The eight goals that United Nations (UN) identified as the most critical objectives to be attained by 2015, range from the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger to provision of universal primary education.

The main problem with the MDGs, globally, is that the overall approach towards development they represent is quite narrow, limiting countries’ incentives to institute structural changes that would foster development. This is particularly evident in the case of Goal 2: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education’. It can be argued that this specific goal is restrictive for large sections of the population, excluding people in developing countries who are of economically productive age and who are in need of further education, re-skilling or vocational training. These persons could be immensely benefited by an all-embracing approach towards education aiming at developing a Lifelong Learning (LLL) and knowledge-based society. Using the case of Cyprus, we can examine how the Lifelong Learning strategy it adopted was able to make the link between LLL and sustainable development, and ask whether the Cyprus model provides a potential model for developing countries in the post-MDG agenda.

Lifelong Learning and development

As a concept, LLL is relevant to all educational and skills levels as well as all phases of life. The concept, and the aspirations that derive from it, posits that citizens are endowed with tools that allow their personal development, as well as social integration and contribution to the knowledge economy. It is evident that knowledge constitutes an effective tool in the efforts to build a sustainable future, in social, economic and political terms. Especially for developing countries, investment in education constitutes one of the main tools in the fight against poverty. Therefore the notion of knowledge societies should not be restricted only to the developed North but should also be extended to the developing South. Despite the fact that for many developing countries basic education is a priority, adult education as well as LLL should also be prioritized since they both have been identified as very important conditions for development.

Lifelong Learning in Cyprus

In recent years the Republic of Cyprus has emphasized the value of LLL through the implementation of various initiatives designed to boost access to the programmes offered through LLL. The support for LLL in Cyprus can be seen by looking at the percentage of the people who participated in LLL education and training, which has increased by 1.6% in a period of six years, reaching 7.5% in 2011. This improvement can be attributed to the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Strategy for Cyprus, 2007-2013.

Broadly, the goal of the Lifelong Learning Strategy for Cyprus is to support formal, non-formal and informal education as well as training for all citizens, throughout their lifetimes, as an imperative contribution to their individual success and completion, and their ability to adjust to ongoing changes. Essentially, these changes derive from the rapid substitution of new knowledge and technology for existing forms, ongoing demographic transformations, as well as the need for the acquisition of new skills for new jobs. It is imperative to stress at this point, the value of LLL especially in the rapidly changing environment that we all live in today. LLL has become a vital determinant of people’s prospects to work, integrate, and flourish in society as well as an essential factor in the country’s potential for social as well as economic sustainability and development in a time of global financial and social crisis. The importance of LLL for Cyprus and its connection to sustainable development is also highlighted in the Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2011-2015), where it is also stressed that LLL is a vital instrument to foster and sustain development.

LLL for Cyprus follows the European Union (EU) vision, based on which lifelong learning constitutes a process that includes every learning person’s activity during his/her lifetime, and which aims at strengthening their competence to face the challenges that can arise in the market and the society. Thus based on these premises, Cyprus aims to establish a system which guarantees that everyone will have the motivation, support, and the resources to participate in training activities throughout their lives, with the objective of creating a society in which every citizen will be socially and economically active and contribute to the overall development process of the country.

It is important at this point to specify, that Cyprus in its National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2007-2013 addresses the EU recommendations for specific key LLL competences. These recommendations constitute a reference instrument for Cyprus to guarantee their full integration into the strategies as well as the infrastructures of the country in regards to LLL. There are many opportunities for LLL in Cyprus that go hand in hand with the specific key competences specified by the EU and which can nurture development and sustainability within Cyprus and constitute a path to be followed by developing countries.

As an illustration, Cyprus in its LLL Strategy 2007-2013 as well as in its Digital Strategy 2012-2020, places considerable importance on issues such as digital competence which entails the acquisition of basic skills as far as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are concerned. Furthermore, the integration and use of ICT in every critical sector of the country’s economy such as education, health, tourism, transport and more generally in the exercise of every business activity, is considered immensely important to the development of the country into a regional service centre, with the potential to attract foreign investment. The use of ICT constitutes a medium through which productivity and economic growth can be boosted. For instance, the digital strategy promotes themes such as digital entrepreneurship which essentially means the use of ICT by businesses for increasing their productivity and for boosting their competitiveness in relation to the domestic as well as the international market. In addition, the use of ICT has also a direct effect on the increase of GDP, the improvement of productivity, the enhancement of transparency and the endorsement of democracy. Moreover, through the use of ICT in the field of public administration, the government will become smart, sustainable, innovative, and more efficient. When public services are provided electronically, there will be a decrease in the bureaucracy, which will benefit citizens and businesses, and there will be a reduction in business’s cost as well. Through the use of ICT the realization of a smart, sustainable as well as inclusive economy and society can be facilitated not only for Cyprus but for every society that implements a similar agenda.

Among other issues, financial and environmental education as well as social and civic education, are highlighted through LLL. Social competence includes personal, interpersonal, as well as intercultural skills that provide individuals with the knowledge necessary to take part effectively and constructively in social and working life. Furthermore, through civic competence and the knowledge of social and political ideas and structures, such as democracy, equality and citizenship, individuals are provided with information that can potentially allow them to actively participate in democratic processes. Thus through the acquisition of civil and social competences, as well as of ICT skills, citizens will be able to have better access to information and actively participate in civil society.

Nevertheless it should be noted here that more things should be done, so as to promote the LLL Strategy 2007-2013, as well as the Digital Strategy for Cyprus 2012-2020. Even though there is a basic infrastructure for the promotion of the ideals presented in both strategies, there is a need to infuse a learning culture in the society which will promote access both to digital mediums and LLL opportunities.

LLL opportunities in Cyprus and the engagement of civil society

As stated, Cyprus’ vision for LLL aims at improving the competences of every learning person throughout their lifetimes. Therefore it should be noted at this point that there are several opportunities for people in Cyprus to take part in LLL activities, since there is a wide LLL system which covers individuals of different ages, and comprises formal, non-formal and informal learning. The Ministry of Education and Culture, the Human Resource Development Authority, the Cyprus Productivity Centre as well as other organizations, offer several opportunities for people that are interested in participating in LLL activities. Even though the results of the country’s performance are encouraging in terms of LLL participation, it should be noted that more stakeholders should be involved. It would be encouraging to see more partnerships at the level of public administration not only at national but also at regional or local level; partnerships among suppliers of educational services, as well as at the civil society level which means between social partners, businesses, local associations, and the local community.

Cyprus has extensive knowledge and experience in the provision of public as well as private education, which has been essential to its economic and social development in the past 20 years. This accrued experience as well as the technical capacity which has been enormously developed over the years should be disseminated. The introduction of local civil society in the National Development Policies could constitute an immense development for both the Republic of Cyprus and local CSOs, given that there is still mistrust by the public authorities towards the CSOs’ expertise and experiences in the area of development. Furthermore, it would be beneficial for the Republic of Cyprus to broaden the public dialogue and invite civil society to present its proposals and have a more active role in drafting and formulating policies for development. Civil society constitutes an important actor as far as development is concerned and a valuable medium for education and training services. International civil societies as well as CSOs also have the potential to become a medium for solidarity and social justice. It is important to note at this point that Cypriot CSOs have direct involvement and experiences in fields such as civic education, digital literacy and social justice, among others.

MDGs Critical Assessment and Post-MDGs Agenda

One of the problems with the MDGs is that they failed to account for disparities in initial conditions; another is that they represent an agenda rather than a strategy for development. For instance, the MDG agenda does not present an overview of the structural causes of issues such as poverty and social exclusion, nor with respect to the strategies as well as policy actions essential to tackle those issues. Thus, the emphasis placed on “outcomes”, rather than on the actual “processes” that lead to development is perceived by many people as the main weakness in relation to the effectiveness of this approach. Furthermore, in some cases, the overemphasis of MDG 2 on primary education has had a negative effect on secondary as well as post-secondary education, a fact that consequently has significant implications for economic growth and development. Such a limited target for MDG 2 essentially excludes a vast portion of the population which are in a work/labour productive age/condition and could potentially set the foundations for development in a more timely and effective manner.

It is therefore for all of these reasons that we propose that LLL should be one of the core pillars of international efforts for development in the Post-MDGs era. It is obvious that LLL is an element which is missing from the MDG agenda and it is something which could immensely contribute to growth and gradual development of developing countries. Through its own LLL strategy Cyprus can aid developing countries, especially through partnerships with civil society organizations that have extensive experience in social and service sectors, such as education, healthcare and tourism. Cyprus can export its own model of LLL, which encourages learning in every stage of the individual’s life, and through this approach, local communities in developing countries can acquire the necessary skills as well as the necessary motivation to engage in this learning process which ultimately will trigger the development cycle. Furthermore, the empowerment of local societies which is a prerequisite for development will be further aided through the export of LLL to these countries through the contribution of government departments as well as civil society organizations that can constitute a major player in the development process and in the effective allocation of aid and education related services.

Notes:

United Nations, “We Can End Poverty 2015: A Gateway to the UN System’s Work on the MDGs,” New York. Available at: <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml> (accessed 29 November 2012).

Europa, “Lifelong learning.” Available at: <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/lifelong_learning/index_en.htm> (accessed 4 December 2012).

UNESCO, Towards Knowledge Societies,Paris, 2005. Available at: <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001418/141843e.pdf> (accessed 4 December 2012).

Government of Cyprus, Ministry of Education and Culture, Interim Report on the Implementation of the Strategic framework for European cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020), Nicosia, 2011. Available at: <http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc/natreport11/cyprus_en.pdf> (accessed 29 November 2012).

Eurostat, “Life-long learning Statistics”, 3 October, 2013. Available at: <http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tsdsc440&plugin=1>, (accessed 4 December 2012).

Ministry of Education and Culture, 2011.

Government of Cyprus, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development, Nicosia, 2010. Available at: <http://www.moa.gov.cy/moa/environment/environment.nsf/69E3B0E74C4A5110C225793C002CD199/$file/NSDS_revised.pdf> (accessed 29 November 2012).

Planning Bureau Cyprus, National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2007-2013 in the Republic of Cyprus – Summary Text, Nicosia, 2008.

Ibid.; Government of Cyprus, Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Electronic Communications, Digital Strategy for Cyprus, Nicosia, 2012. Available at: <http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/dec/dec.nsf/all/0BACA0B7B7848D2CC22579B500299BFA/$file/Digital%20Strategy%20for%20Cyprus-Executive%20summary.pdf?openelement> (accessed 4 December 2012).

Europa, “Key competences for lifelong learning.” Available at: <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/lifelong_learning/c11090_en.htm> (accessed 5 December 2012).

Planning Bureau Cyprus, 2008.

Europa, “European area of lifelong learning.” Available at: <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/lifelong_learning/c11054_en.htm>, (accessed 4 December 2012).

Reinhart Kössler and Henning Melber, “International civil society and the challenge for global solidarity,” Development Dialogue, 2007. Available at:<http://www.dhf.uu.se/pdffiler/DD2007_49_civ_soc/development_dialogue_49_art_2.pdf> (accessed 4 December 2012).

UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, Review of the Contributions of the MDG Agenda to foster development: Lessons for the post-2015 UN Development Agenda, New York, 2012. Available at: <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/mdg_assessment_Aug.pdf> (accessed 4 December 2012).

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Living cutbacks

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Canada’s economic policy continues to take reduction of the debt and deficit as its primary end. The means to this end include cuts to social infrastructure spending, public sector employment and the health and welfare institutions that used to put Canada near the top of most international measures of well-being. Under cover of deficit reduction, the Government of Canada continues to withdraw funding from the civil society organizations and research institutions that measure the effectiveness of those government policies and provide alternatives to them. On the international stage, Canada has championed austerity measures for countries facing economic crisis, Canadian foreign aid has been in decline while the Government's criticism of multi-lateral institutions for international cooperation increases.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

The federal government of Canada continues to prioritize deficit reduction at all costs. Federal program spending as a share of the economy is at its lowest level since the 1950s and the lowest of any national government in the industrial world. Cuts to federal-provincial health, social, and equalization transfers alone will amount to $60 billion over the next decade. The result has been a reduction to health and social services for Canadians at the time when they need them most—during Canada’s slow recovery from recession.

The impact of the government’s austerity measures are beginning to become evident in rising inequality. While inequality in Canada may be less extreme than in the U.S., it is growing at a faster rate in Canada. By 2011, the average after-tax income of the richest 10% of non-elderly households was 21 times that of the average incomes of the poorest 10%, higher than at any point on record since 1976.

Income inequality in Canada is also highly racialized and gendered. Women, Aboriginal peoples, new immigrants, people with disabilities and racialized communities all carry a disproportionate burden of lower incomes and lower employment rates. For example, employment rates for working age Aboriginal men are 15% lower than for their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Aboriginal women’s employment rates are 5% lower yet. For every dollar earned by white Canadians, racialized Canadian workers earned only 81.4 cents. For every dollar earned by men in Canada, women earn 76.7 cents (working full-year, full-time).

Social assistance rates for Canadians living below the poverty line have remained virtually unchanged across most of Canada. Most social assistance incomes in Canada remain well below the low income measure (LIM). Poverty as measured by the LIM was 12.6% across Canada in 2011, slightly higher than before the recession. While poverty has modestly declined in recent years for children, likely reflecting some success of provincial poverty reduction plans, this measure captures a disturbing re-emergence of poverty among seniors.

The National Council of Welfare, now itself defunct as a result of federal funding cuts, has demonstrated that investing in programs aimed at eliminating or alleviating poverty “costs less than allowing it to persist.” They point out that “the money it would have taken to bring everyone just over the poverty line—was $12.3 billion [in 2007]. The total cost of poverty that year was double or more using the most cautious estimates.”

As individual Canadians struggle under austerity measures, corporate Canada is flush with cash, hoarding a new high in 2013 of $572 billion, an amount that is equivalent to 92% of the entire federal government debt. In other words, corporate Canada’s cash holdings could pay off all but 8% of the federal debt. Despite already strong balance sheets, Canadian corporations continue to pad their bank accounts instead of investing in Canada’s economy, socking away an additional $38 billion dollars more than they had at this time last year.

At the same time the federal government continues to make minimal investments in addressing a problem that is currently costing Canada’s economy over $9 billion dollars a year: violence against women and girls. Status of Women Canada, the government body tasked with addressing violence, spent just over $14 million in 2011-2012—a wholly inadequate response to a problem that directly affects an estimated one in six Canadians.

The federal government has consistently refused to institute an inquiry into the persistently high levels of violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. A recent report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reveals that nearly 1200 Aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing over the past thirty years. The level of violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada has been condemned internationally and spurred visits by two United Nations expert bodies in the past year.

At the same time, Canada has become increasingly critical of the United Nations, particularly its human rights monitoring mechanisms.  The visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to Canada in May 2012 was described by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration as “completely ridiculous.” The Special Rapporteur was told that he should not get involved in “political exercises in developed democracies like Canada.” This characterization of UN special mechanisms and monitoring bodies is not unique.

Canada accused the Committee Against Torture of engaging in “bureaucratic mission creep” when it posed questions about violence against women and human trafficking. When the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples expressed concern about conditions in the First Nations’ community of Attawapiskat, where the Red Cross had intervened to provide adequate shelter, food and water, the office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development characterized that statement as a “publicity stunt.” Yet by the government’s own account, 89 First Nation’s communities are without safe drinking water. A 2011 evaluation of on-reserve housing concluded: “despite ongoing construction of new housing on-reserve, the shortfall still exists and appears to be growing rather than diminishing.”

Canada’s record on environmental sustainability earned it the ‘fossil of the year’ award from environmental organizations and criticism from other state governments during the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change. Since Copenhagen, Canada has actually lowered its emissions targets for 2020. Domestically, greenhouse gas emissions are rising. Those living in northern Canada have seen significant impacts on their environment and their well-being. According to a 2011 report by the Pembina Institute: “Canada’s Arctic has already experienced a warming of more than 1.7°C and an increase of 4 or 5°C is projected.” Inuit communities report the decline in access to their traditional sources of food and an overall degradation of their environment and well-being. This degradation is further exacerbated in northern and rural regions of Canada by the mining and extractive industries.

Canada’s mining industry has a strong presence internationally as well as domestically. Canadian-based companies make up over 40% of the world’s extractive industry. Although Canadian civil society is playing a leading role in monitoring the industry through initiatives such as Publish What You Pay, the Kimberly Process and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Regional Certification Mechanism for conflict minerals, Canada has not yet agreed to adopt a system of regulation similar to the U.S. Dodd-Frank Act or to comply with the guidelines set by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

On the international stage, Canada’s rate of international assistance is set to decline for the next three years: “between fiscal year 2011/12 and fiscal year 2014/15, the International Assistance Envelope for Canadian aid is set to decrease by 7.6%, from $5 billion in 2011 to $4.66 billion in 2014/15. Between 2011/2012 and 2015/16, when the time period to reach the MDGs will have elapsed, Canada will have reduced Canadian ODA by close to $1.2 billion.” According to the Canadian Centre for International Cooperation, these cuts will bring Canada’s level of ODA from “0.34% of Gross National Income (GNI) in 2010 to 0.25% of GNI by 2014/15,” well below the global target of .7%.

The Canadian Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (2008) requires that Canadian development assistance “contribut[e] to poverty reduction, tak[e] into account the perspectives of the poor and [be] consistent with international human rights standards.” Many civil society organizations see the Act as a very promising mechanism for integrating human rights concerns into international development policy and programming. However, a report from the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, a civil society coalition, suggests that there has been little or no implementation of the Act by the Government.

The economic crisis has pushed civil society to renew its engagement with economic policy debates. Governmental and non-governmental actors alike are grappling with the question of how to achieve their goals within a constrained fiscal environment. But the question of how best to stimulate economic growth and ensure economic stability is a question of means, not ends. Ultimately, the focus must remain on the society being built by that growth. Just as social justice organizations have had to grapple with the economic implications of their goals, those responsible for economic policy must face the human and environmental cost of their choices.

Notes:

 

The Alternative Federal Budget 2014: Striking a Better Balance. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014

“World Income Inequality: Is The World Becoming More Unequal?” Conference Board of Canada. 2011. Online at: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/files/hcp/pdfs/hot-topics/worldinequality.pdf

Custom tabulated data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Block, S., and Grace-Edward, G. (2011). Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market: The Gap for Racialized Workers. Ottawa: CCPA and Wellesley Institute.

“CAN SIM Table 202-0102: Average female and male earnings, and female-to-male earnings ratio, by work activity, 2011 constant dollars.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

“CAN-SIM Table 202-0802: Persons in Low Income Families, Annual.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty. Ottawa: National Council of Welfare, 2011.

The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty. Ottawa: National Council of Welfare, 2011.

“CAN-SIM Table 378-0121: National Balance Sheet Accounts.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

“CAN-SIM Table 378-0121: National Balance Sheet Accounts.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

McInturff, Kate (2013). The Gap in the Gender Gap: Violence Against Women in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/gap-gender-gap

  Mahony, Tina Hotton (2011). “Women and the Criminal Justice System.” Women in Canada: A Gender-Based Statistical Report. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview. Ottawa: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2014. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/mmaw-faapd-eng.pdf

  Scoffield, Heather. “Ottawa shrugs off UN warning on hunger and nutrition.” Globe and Mail, May 16 2012.

“Presentation of Canada’s Sixth Report to the Committee Against Torture.” (Ottawa: Government of Canada, May 21, 2012).

“Attawapiskat a 'deep concern' for UN rights official.” CBC News, Dec 20, 2011.

First Nations and Inuit Health: Drinking Water and Waste Water. Health Canada. Online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/water-eau-eng.php#s2d

Evaluation Performance Measurement and Review Branch Audit and Evaluation Sector (2011). Evaluation of INAC’s On-Reserve Housing Support. Ottawa: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Environment Canada, “Canada Lists Emissions Target Under the Copenhagen Accord,” (Environment Canada, February 1, 2010).  http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=EAF552A3-D287-4AC0-ACB8-A6FEA697ACD6

Morgan, Alexis (2011).Canadian Index of Well-being Environment Report. Canadian Index of Well Being. http://ciw.ca/Libraries/Documents/Environment_Full_Report_EN.sflb.ashx

Nickels S. et al, Unikkaaqatigiit – Putting the Human Face on Climate Change: Perspectives from Inuit in Canada. (Joint publication of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments at Université Laval and the Ajunnginiq Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization, 2005).

Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 2009. http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/ds/c...

“International Development.” Alternative Federal Budget 2014. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014

“International Development.” Alternative Federal Budget 2014. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.  Minister of Justice, 2008. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/O-2.8/index.html

A Time to Act – Implementing the ODA Accountability Act: A Canadian CSO Agenda for Aid Reform. Ottawa: Canadian Council for International Co-operation, 2010.

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Long-run policies towards social and economic development

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Despite that the poverty level in Azerbaijan decreased by 1.5 % and amounted to 7.6 % in 2011, share of poorest quintile in national income also diminished. Most recently several projects (among them, “State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of the Regions of Azerbaijan (2009-2013)”, “State Programme of Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development of the Republic of the Azerbaijan”, “State Programme of Ensuring Reliable Population in the Republic of Azerbaijan in food provision”) were launched, the main priority is social and human development.

Kenan Aslanli
PFMC

Long-run policies towards social and economic development should have the following three objectives :

  1. To increase the availability and widen the distribution of basic life-sustaining goods such as food, shelter, health and protection;
  2. To raise levels of living, including, in addition to higher incomes, the provision of more jobs, better education, and greater attention to cultural and human values, all of which will serve not only to enhance material well-being but also to generate greater individual and national self-esteem;
  3. To expand the range of economic and social choices available to individuals and nations by freeing them from servitude and dependence not only in relations to other people and nation-states but also to the forces of ignorance and human misery.

In September 2000, the 189 member countries of the United States at that time adopted 8 “Millennium Development Goals” (MDG) in order to commit themselves to making substantial progress toward the eradication of poverty and achieving other human development goals by 2015. All transition economies have identified poverty as a major development problem. Millennium Development Goals (MDG) was promising tool to solve this problem. Emanating from the Millennium Declaration, the eight Millennium Development Goals bind countries to do more and join efforts in the fight against poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, child and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation.

The Goals offer the world a means to accelerate the pace of development and measure results. But during last decade governments of resource-rich transitional countries including Azerbaijan could make only limited progress towards achieving the MDG. Azerbaijani government tried to meet all of its commitments under the Millennium Development Goals that run until 2015, though 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory is occupied by neighboring Armenia and there are up to a million Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs. Despite that the poverty level in Azerbaijan decreased by 1.5 % and amounted to 7.6 % in 2011, share of poorest quintile in national income also diminished .

Indicators/Years

2008

2009

2010

2011

Population below national poverty line (%)

13.2

10.9

9.1

7.6

Share of poorest quintile in national income or consumption (%)

17.3

13.5

14.2

14.2

Source: www.azsta t.org

Most recently, “State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of the Regions of Azerbaijan (2009-2013)”, “State Programme of Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development of the Republic of the Azerbaijan”, “State Programme of Ensuring Reliable Population in the Republic of Azerbaijan in food provision” (2008-2015) and other projects were launched . One of the leading priorities in these programmes was social and human development. Efforts were being made in the country to reduce maternal and child mortality rates. Due to official statistics the rate of child mortality has decreased three-fold and that of maternal deaths halved in the past five years, but still Azerbaijan lags behind many neighboring countries including resource-poor Georgia and Armenia.

The government is also working to deter the spread of the HIV virus in the country and is placing an emphasis on environmental protection. Also revenues from the oil sector could be allowed financing projects required to reach those aims by 2015. But interestingly that even in Azerbaijan receiving large revenues from oil, there wasn’t rapid increase in public funding for the social sector. The Government rather prefers to accumulate the surplus in the special oil fund and plan to use it to push forward big infrastructure projects. According to calculations of the experts of the National Budget Group (civil alliance for public finance monitoring), if to take 2013 budget of Azerbaijan in the equivalent of 100 USD, then out of every 100 USD, 45.80 USD will be spent for capital investments to main foundations, 14.20 for labor remuneration, 11.40 USD for other expenditures, only 8.80 USD for pensions and social benefits, 1.60 USD for subsidies and transfers, 1.50 USD for procurement of food products, 0.90 USD for medicines, winding accessories and materials . Anyway, under such general resource ceiling and current spending pattern, public funding for education, health, and environment may not be sufficient in order to achieve MDGs.



Source: World Bank Metadata, author’s calculation

Azerbaijan government strengthens the tendency of earlier years for next year as well, and considers state administration and law-enforcement system as a higher priority than social sector for providing budget support. Even if the necessity has been reiterated on official level for long years, the government does not make any changes in 2013 for transit to student-financing in secondary education and application of compulsory medical insurance system in the health sector. It is crucial to define optimal level of the share of education and health expenditures in the state budget, and to keep the same level during forecasts of budget expenditures for next years.

Social policy achievements and challenges

Regarding to World Bank’s country report, higher wages over the last decade are likely to have contributed to poverty reduction, although more research is needed to assess the size of the impact and whether increases larger than the rise of the average wage may have slowed job creation. Minimum wages were last increased by 10 % from January 2012 to the equivalent of $118 a month. Social transfers, including a well targeted social assistance program, have also contributed to declining official poverty rate. Job growth seems to have plateaued. According to official statistics, employment rose 1.1 % in 2011, about the same as in 2010 (and in the 2000s on average). Anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the gross employment is created in construction, a sector that is highly dependent on public spending. Brisk non-oil GDP growth and sharp increases in public spending do not appear to be accelerating the pace of job creation.

The oil sector is unlikely to generate enough employment for Azerbaijan’s young and growing population. Further progress on diversification towards sectors with higher growth elasticity of employment would help foster a more dynamic labor market and create new jobs, especially if the impressive gains in poverty reduction are to be preserved. Agriculture and services remain the major employers in the economy, together accounting for more than 85 % of total employment. Mining-including oil and natural gas production - accounts for less than 1 % of employment but almost half of GDP. Lower job creation is accompanied by a sharp drop in labor force participation and in the unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate fell from 96.5 % in 2000 to 78 % in 2011, reflecting decisions to drop out of the job market. Since these people are not part of the labor force, they do not count as unemployed. The unemployment rate has also declined steadily over the same period, falling to 5.4 % by the end of 2011, apparently largely driven by the fall in labor participation .

Deep structural reforms will be crucial to develop a competitive private sector led non-oil economy able to foster exports, create jobs, and sustain diversification. Another major area of improvement was the targeting of social benefits. As a result of a 2008 reform, social benefits are now given only to poor families and not to all as was previously the case. General pension levels still remain low in country.

IDP vulnerability as a constraint in social policies

Azerbaijan has one of the highest concentrations of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) per capita in the world. Most of these IDPs were forcibly displaced in the years 1988-94 during conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The IDPs were settled into new locations in Azerbaijan. IDPs are a vulnerable group whose impoverishment in the immediate aftermath of their forced movement was an economic shock that has been hard to overcome, especially since they lost access to significant assets.

They have had to adapt to a new context, but still suffer from loss and trauma. IDPs are particularly vulnerable in a range of areas: they are more likely to be poor, suffer worse living conditions, and display lower employment rates and higher work inactivity rates than the non-displaced. Poverty rates among IDPs are 25.0 % compared to 20.1 % among the non-displaced. 42.5 % of IDPs live in one-room accommodations compared to only 9.1 % of non IDPs. IDP families have an average of 36 square meters of living space compared to 74 square meters for local families.

In spite of all taken measures by State Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Deals of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, the humanitarian and social condition of refugees and IDPs is still complicated. At present 87631 refugees live in hostels, more than 25550 of them live in camps, 28 thousand are in Finnish type houses, and the rest live in state buildings, incomplete buildings, sanatoriums, boarding houses and in other places under insufferable circumstances, which do not meet sanitary norms . Rates of access to electricity, hot water, and bathrooms are worse among the displaced than non-displaced. Employment rates among IDPs are 40.1 % compared to 57.4 among the non-displaced. Work inactivity rates among IDPs are 54.3 % compared to 36.2 % among the non-displaced.

According to the World Bank’s report, there is also a widespread sense of social marginalization and hopelessness among the IDP population. They express despondency and anxiety, likely a result of their uncertain situation. This feeling is combined with a dependency syndrome and expectations that the solution to all their difficulties lies with the actions of government. The links between ill health and poverty are more pronounced for IDPs than for non-IDPs - the poverty rates for those re­porting as being in poor health are 30.7 % among IDPs and 19.7% for non-IDPs. Calculated using the global standard used by the World Bank for assessing a poverty line, which involves calculating the amount required to sustain an intake of 2,267 calories per day. In Azerbaijan, this is estimated to require a per capita monthly consumption of USD 60. Use of this methodology results in a slightly different poverty level among IDPs than Government of Azerbaijan statistics, which puts the poverty rate among IDPs at 23% . IDPs and refugees still receive free education, free electricity and gas, and monthly food allowances .

Notes:

Michael P.Todaro, Stephen C.Smith, “Economic Development”, 11th edition, 2012.

Summary of the National Budget Group (NBG) 2013 state budget review (http://www.nbg.az).

“Azerbaijan: switching the drivers of growth”, World Bank, Azerbaijan regular economic report, no. 1, 2012.

World Bank Report No: AAA64 – AZ, “Building Assets and Promoting Self Reliance: The Livelihoods of Internally Displaced Persons in Azerbaijan”, October 2011.

Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2012, Azerbaijan Country Report.

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L’aide publique en temps de crises : se replier ou coopérer ?

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
La coopération internationale est en péril. En Europe, qui reste malgré tout le premier donateur mondial, les montants de l’aide publique au développement (APD) ont baissé pour la première fois depuis 2007 . La Belgique ne fait pas exception. En temps de crises, la tendance est à la restriction budgétaire, au recul. Le spectre de la pauvreté plane sur les européens également. Les fermetures d’entreprises et la remise en cause des acquis de l’État-providence sont autant d’arguments pour dire combien les temps sont difficiles. La coopération au développement doit être redéfinie, en tenant compte aussi de la place qu’occupent les pays émergents dans les débats globaux, leur forte croissance économique et leur présence accrue sur le terrain de la coopération.

Par Oumou Zé, Chargée de recherche au CNCD 11.11.11

La coopération internationale est en péril. En Europe, qui reste malgré tout le premier donateur mondial, les montants de l’aide publique au développement (APD) ont baissé pour la première fois depuis 2007[1]. La Belgique ne fait pas exception. En temps de crises, la tendance est à la restriction budgétaire, au recul. Le spectre de la pauvreté plane sur les européens également. Les fermetures d’entreprises et la remise en cause des acquis de l’État-providence sont autant d’arguments pour dire combien les temps sont difficiles. La coopération au développement doit être redéfinie, en tenant compte aussi de la place qu’occupent les pays émergents dans les débats globaux, leur forte croissance économique et leur présence accrue sur le terrain de la coopération.

Dans un contexte des relations internationales en profonde mutation, les défis globaux s’accentuent et les crises locales s’approfondissent. Ces dernières années, à l'échelle mondiale, l’effort politique et l’implication financière pour la coopération au développement ont été mis sous pression. La coopération au développement belge est soumise aux arbitrages internes au gouvernement, dans une ambiance d’austérité. « Aider nos pauvres d’abord », la formule jusqu’alors si peu politiquement correcte, commence à se décomplexer, pendant que l’ambiance est à la peur et le sentiment d’insécurité est renforcé.

Du point de vue politique, le dialogue international est difficile. Les dernières rencontres et sommets internationaux ont peiné à aboutir sur des accords ou engagements mutuels. Que ce soit pour le commerce, le climat, l’aide ou le développement durable, l’entente est difficile, et l’échec des négociations quasi-systématique. Dès lors, le plus grand défi posé à la communauté internationale en proie aux crises multiples, sera de démontrer sa capacité à poursuivre le dialogue et la coopération. La capacité à ne pas céder aux tentations de repli.

La coopération et la logique de la lutte contre la pauvreté

Analyser la coopération au développement, ses politiques et ses instruments c’est un travail continu sur les moyens mis à dispositions par un pays, en vue d’atteindre des objectifs de développement déterminés. Au-delà des moyens, financements et modalités, la société civile doit pouvoir jouer son rôle de veille et d’interpellation, en questionnant les visions et les objectifs qui façonnent les politiques de coopération.

La Belgique, comme bon nombre de pays donateurs du Comité d’Aide de l’OCDE (CAD), inscrit son action de coopération au développement dans une logique de lutte contre la pauvreté. Au tournant du millénaire, et dans la foulée de l’engouement pour un set d’indicateurs synthétiques et symboliques, la stratégie adoptée par la Belgique fut l’actualisation d’une note politique sur le sujet. Cet engagement pour la lutte contre la pauvreté se situe d’ailleurs dans  une période particulière. On assiste à l’institutionnalisation pour la première fois, du consensus sur la nécessité d’éradiquer la pauvreté [2]. Se pose dès lors la question de savoir s’il est pertinent, nécessaire et efficace d’institutionnaliser des accords internationaux, comme condition pour avancer sur des défis communs. Il est évident que ce ciblage collectif de la pauvreté comme objectif central de la coopération au développement a marqué les choix stratégiques de la plupart des pays donateurs.

En Belgique, la loi formulée en 1999 qui encadrait l’action du gouvernement en matière de coopération internationale se fondait en effet sur cet objectif. La « loi relative à la coopération au développement » adoptée le 19 mars 2013 met à jour la vision politique en la matière. Désormais, le « développement humain durable », basé sur la défense et le respect des trois générations de Droits humains tels que définis dans les pactes des Nations Unies en la matière, constitue l’objectif général de la Coopération belge au Développement.

Si la priorité de la lutte contre la pauvreté fait l’objet d’un consensus dans l’esprit de la Déclaration du Millénaire, des critiques ont toutefois été rapidement formulées. Très vite, les organisations de développement de la société civile se sont exprimées[3] : une des premières limites des OMD résidait justement dans le fait d’isoler chaque objectif en fonction de la thématique, et de les assortir de cibles purement quantitatives. En effet, la plupart des domaines identifiés sont en réalité dans une relation systémique. Les réussites dans l’un doivent pouvoir soutenir les progrès dans l’autre, et inversement les freins ont un effet domino quasi systématique.

Ainsi le set d’OMD faisait le pari d’avancer sur des objectifs sociaux essentiellement, en quantifiant l’atteinte de résultats dans les pays en développement. La stratégie pour atteindre ces objectifs ne faisant quant à elle pas l’objet d’une vision partagée [4]. C’est pourquoi une erreur fondamentale a consisté à faire de l’outil qui doit mesurer les actions une fin en soi. Le ciblage sur quelques indicateurs quantitatifs, notamment dans le cas de l’OMD 1 (éliminer l’extrême pauvreté et la faim, et réduire de moitié, à 2015, la proportion de la population mondiale dont le revenu est inférieur à un dollar par jour, qui souffre de la faim et qui n’a pas accès à l’eau potable) et de l’OMD 2 (assurer l’éducation primaire pour tous), ne doit en effet pas être découplé d’une dimension politique forte, de principes partagés sur la vision du développement.

Comment, par exemple, se donner pour objectif la diminution de la proportion de personnes sous le seuil de pauvreté absolue, sans considérer la question des inégalités qui maintient dans une pauvreté relative ? De la même manière que l’éducation doit être considérée comme un moyen d’apporter une émancipation et de contribuer au développement, la batterie institutionnelle mise en place pour atteindre l’OMD 2 ne doit pas constituer la fin en soi.

Dans une étude diagnostique sur les Objectifs du millénaire et l’éducation en Afrique, réalisée pour le Conseil Wallonie-Bruxelles de la coopération internationale (CWBCI), le CNCD-11.11.11 mettait déjà en évidence en 2006 le biais qui consiste à se concentrer sur la réalisation quantitative (construction de classes, décompte du nombre d’enfants scolarisés par exemple), au détriment de l’objectif qualitatif individuel et collectif (améliorer l’offre éducative afin que le parcours de scolarité contribue aux perspectives de développement)[5].

Ce nouveau cadre international va pourtant fort influencer la façon dont les gouvernements des « pays donateurs » vont penser, mettre en œuvre et justifier leur coopération au développement. Le caractère synthétique, et compréhensible d’un large public ayant contribué pour beaucoup à cet engouement. En Belgique, cela s’est traduit par la mise en place d’un exercice de suivi et d’évaluation des résultats atteints, qui utilise le cadre de référence des OMD.

Mais en amont, un certain engagement politique est formulé dans des notes de politiques intermédiaires, en 2009 et en 2010. Ainsi depuis 2006 un rapport annuel est élaboré et présenté devant le Parlement fédéral, afin de rendre compte de la « contribution belge à la réalisation des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement ». Il se trouve que cet exercice de rapport constitue l’un des seuls moments de bilan plus transversal, qui soit produit par la coopération belge. On y prend alors connaissance d’une certaine auto-évaluation de la coopération belge, même si cela n’en n’est pas le lieu officiel et attitré.

Sont ainsi épinglées la contribution accrue pour l’agriculture et l’alimentation, avec l’objectif d’atteindre 15% de l’APD consacrée à cette priorité sectorielle en 2015, et la concentration sur l’éducation et la formation au niveau supérieur en priorité, avec 12% du budget[6].Toutefois, la contribution belge pour l’OMD 7 relatif à l’environnement durable n’est pas à la hauteur des ambitions déclarées. Alors qu’elle s’est engagée à contribuer pour 150 millions d’euros à l’alimentation du mécanisme de financement rapide « Fast Start », elle n’en a engagé que 90 millions au bout des trois années de la période initialement prévue.

Parallèlement, la Belgique a opté pour un renforcement de son rôle dans la concertation au sein des organisations multilatérales. Ainsi les contributions belges aux agences des Nations Unies, par exemple, sont quasi systématiquement faites aux budgets généraux. Ce faisant, la Belgique désire pouvoir jouer un rôle accru dans les discussions stratégiques. Toutefois une interpellation constante de la société civile belge consiste à rappeler l’importance d’améliorer la cohérence de l’ensemble des décisions politiques belges, au-delà de la seule politique de coopération.

En effet, déjà lors de la revue par les pairs du CAD de l’OCDE en 2010, des recommandations allaient dans ce sens[7]. Aux côtés des différentes initiatives qui visent à améliorer l’efficacité de son aide, il est impératif que le gouvernement belge dans son ensemble se donne les moyens de rendre tous ses domaines d’action cohérents entre eux. Ne pas contrecarrer l’atteinte des objectifs de la coopération au développement par des mesures commerciales, financières ou migratoires par exemple. Ne pas reprendre d’une main ce que l’on a donné de l’autre. Il est d’ailleurs marquant que ledit rapport belge sur la contribution aux OMD ne s’arrête qu’à la coordination entre les différents canaux de l’aide publique (cohérence interne), en lieu et place d’une mise en question de la cohérence entre les différentes compétences, au-delà de la coopération (cohérence pangouvernementale).

Penser l’efficacité du développement en ces termes de cohérence des politiques, c’est inévitablement se soumettre à un exercice d’autocritique et de dialogue sur l’ensemble de ses pratiques. Dès lors, le défi majeur posé à la communauté internationale, sa capacité à rester en dialogue constitue certainement la priorité. De plus en plus d’analyses et de propositions commencent à émerger de toutes parts quant à la vision du développement au-delà de 2015 : organisations internationales, gouvernements, organisations de la société civile. Une des questions fondamentales sera celle d’arriver à maintenir une vision commune, à la traduite en accord, au moyen de mesures opérationnelles et à s’adresser à tous dans un esprit de responsabilités partagées. Une autre limite souvent relevée au sujet des OMD était la limitation aux pays en développement. Depuis lors, et notamment dans le cadre des réflexions qui ont entouré le sommet de Rio+20, il est évident que les défis globaux appellent à ce que des objectifs communs soient identifiés. La Belgique a d’ailleurs montré une forte implication dans les négociations sur le développement durable. Il est à espérer qu’elle maintienne ses ambitions pour la défense d’une dimension sociale forte pour le futur cadre international d’après 2015.

Engager la discussion, accepter de coopérer en vue d’entamer véritablement une transition socio-écologique juste et équitable. Telle est l’alternative qui s’impose, en permettant à chaque partie prenante, individuelle ou collective, de participer et prendre ses responsabilités. Pour ce faire, « l’éradication de la pauvreté et des inégalités sociales et de genre, la remise en question de nos modes de production et de consommation et la préservation des ressources et des services »[8] sont les composantes incontournables du futur cadre international de développement en devenir.

Notes :

[1] Développement : l’aide aux pays en développement fléchit sous l’effet de la récession mondiale, Communiqué de presse du CAD de l’OCDE, 4 avril 2012

[2] Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Should global goal setting continue, and how, in the post-2015 era ?, (New York: United Nations DESA, July 2012), 24 p.

[3] Voir notamment à ce sujet : Aurélie Leroy, Potentialités et limites des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement. Tour d’horizon dans six pays du Sud, (Louvain-la-Neuve, Septembre 2006), 35p.

[4] Ibidem

[5] Arnaud Zacharie, Marta Ruiz, Oumou Zé et Francisco Padilla, Les Objectifs du millénaire et l’éducation en Afrique : Etude diagnostique sur la République démocratique du Congo, le Rwanda, le Sénégal, le Burkina Faso et le Maroc, (Bruxelles : CWBCI, 2006), 175p.

[6] Rapport annuel 2010, (Bruxelles : DGD, 2011), 112 p.

[7] Oumou Zé, Arnaud Zacharie et al. L’aide en temps de crises : repli ou coopération ? Rapport 2012 sur l’aide belge au développement, (Bruxelles, CNCD-11.11.11 : 2012), 45p.

[8] Véronique Rigot, Rio+20 : L’abîme ou la métamorphose ?, IN Point Sud N°6, (Bruxelles, Mai 2012), 44p.

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Menos pobreza, igual calidad de vida

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Los logros en la lucha contra la pobreza que las estadísticas por ingreso atribuyen al gobierno de Venezuela desde 1999 se ven opacados por la violencia y la inseguridad, que impiden el ejercicio pleno de los derechos a la educación, a la salud, al esparcimiento y al goce de los espacios públicos. Las reformas constitucionales y legales que se han sucedido desde 2008 suponen otro retroceso tras los avances de los derechos básicos en el primer periodo de Hugo Chávez en la presidencia, al centralizar el poder político, restringir la participación y las libertades democráticas y el pluralismo, y aumentar la militarización de la sociedad. Al mismo tiempo, las autoridades insisten con la criminalización de la protesta social.

Rafael Uzcátegui
Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)

Los logros en la lucha contra la pobreza que las estadísticas por ingreso atribuyen al gobierno de Venezuela desde 1999 se ven opacados por la violencia y la inseguridad, que impiden el ejercicio pleno de los derechos a la educación, a la salud, al esparcimiento y al goce de los espacios públicos. Las reformas constitucionales y legales que se han sucedido desde 2008 suponen otro retroceso tras los avances de los derechos básicos en el primer periodo de Hugo Chávez en la presidencia, al centralizar el poder político, restringir la participación y las libertades democráticas y el pluralismo, y aumentar la militarización de la sociedad. Al mismo tiempo, las autoridades insisten con la criminalización de la protesta social.

Al alcanzar en 1998 la Presidencia de Venezuela por voto popular, Hugo Chávez inauguró un proceso político inédito denominado “V República”, a cargo de una coalición de fuerzas distintas a las que ejercían el poder desde 1958 y en medio de gran expectativa. Su gobierno, que se proponía refundar las instituciones democráticas, promovió la Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (CRBV), elaborada por una asamblea constituyente y aprobada por referéndum el 15 de diciembre de 1999. Desde ese momento, lo que Chávez denominó “la mejor constitución del mundo” se convirtió en la base de su proyecto social y político, del cual el Poder Ejecutivo fue el principal difusor.

Diferentes organizaciones sociales que participaron activamente en el proceso constituyente reconocieron los avances y garantías que ofrece el texto para el disfrute de los derechos humanos. El artículo 2 establece como obligación del Estado garantizar “la vida, la libertad, la justicia, la igualdad, la solidaridad, la democracia, la responsabilidad social y, en general, la preeminencia de los derechos humanos, la ética y el pluralismo político”. El artículo 19 afirma: "El Estado garantizará a toda persona, conforme al principio de progresividad y sin discriminación alguna, el goce y ejercicio irrenunciable, indivisible e interdependiente de los derechos humanos". La CRBV, además, le dio rango constitucional a los tratados globales sobre derechos humanos, estableció la preeminencia de los órganos internacionales de justicia por sobre los nacionales, obligó al Estado a investigar y castigar las violaciones, excluyó a la justicia militar de esos procesos, y ordenó la reparación a las víctimas, así como prohibió la amnistía y el indulto en casos de delitos de lesa humanidad, violaciones graves de derechos humanos y crímenes de guerra.

Apenas seis años después de la promulgación de la CBR, y tras la reelección presidencial de Hugo Chávez en diciembre de 2006, su gobierno la sustituyó como base por denominada “transición acelerada al Socialismo del siglo XXI” (1). Al año siguiente, propuso reformar la Constitución mediante referéndum. Organizaciones de de derechos humanos advirtieron que la iniciativa pondría en riesgo la participación democrática y el pluralismo. La derrota por escaso margen de la propuesta oficialista reflejó que amplios sectores de la sociedad, muchos de ellos identificados con el gobierno, rechazaban o no terminaban de comprender los planes del presidente Chávez. Esa corriente crítica dentro del “movimiento bolivariano” cuestionaba la desviación del consenso social alcanzado alrededor del proyecto que consagró la Constitución de 1999.

El gobierno insistió, y, en diciembre del 2008, la ciudadanía aprobó finalmente una enmienda en la Carta Magna que admitía la reelección indefinida del Presidente de la República y de otros funcionarios designados por el voto popular. Por otra parte, mediante la denominada Ley Habilitante (2) aprobada en el 2010, que le permitió prescindir del control parlamentario, el Ejecutivo promulgó por su sola iniciativa 54 leyes, algunas de ellas para modificar la estructura del Estado, centralizando el poder, restringiendo libertades democráticas, aumentando la militarización de la sociedad y reduciendo la posibilidad de convivencia plural. Por la vía de los hechos, Venezuela terminó con una Constitución diferente de la aprobada en 1999 (3).

En la campaña rumbo a las elecciones presidenciales del 7 de octubre de 2012, Hugo Chávez describió en su plataforma por la reelección, titulada Programa para la Gestión Bolivariana Socialista 2013-2019, un modelo de organización estatal de tipo comunal no prevista en la CRBV, que modificaría incluso el ordenamiento territorial del país y restaría competencias a diferentes instancias de poder local y regional. Al lograr en las urnas 55% de los votos y su tercer período presidencial, el proyecto comunal de Chávez, a pesar de haber eludido los canales institucionales democráticos establecidos, contaría con una relativa legitimidad (4).

Menos pobreza, igual calidad de vida

Los gobiernos del presidente Chávez han logrado una significativa disminución de la pobreza según el Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) (5). En 1998 el 54.48% de los hogares se encontraban en situación de pobreza, de los cuales el 23.37% estaba en la categoría de pobreza extrema. Para el año 2011 los hogares en situación de pobreza habían disminuido al 31.62%, de los cuales el 8.53% eran pobres extremos. Pobreza es una condición definida como un ingreso menor al necesario para comprar los bienes y servicios que componen una canasta alimentaria indispensable para subsistir y satisfacer necesidades básicas.

Esta manera de medir la pobreza es útil para evaluar el impacto de políticas sociales en los sectores de menores recursos, pero resulta insuficiente para concluir si una mejora en esos indicadores representa mejoras reales en la calidad de vida de la población. Una serie de dimensiones no monetarias de la pobreza afectan la vida cotidiana y son imposibles de ponderar mediante esos parámetros.

En el caso venezolano, la violencia y la inseguridad en las principales ciudades han afectado la calidad de vida de la población en general. La cantidad de homicidios se más que duplicó de 5.968 en 1998 (25 por cada 100.000 habitantes) a 13.400 en 2011, según el oficial Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas (CICPC). La cifra se eleva a 18.850 si se incluyen los casos calificados de homicidio “por resistencia a la autoridad”. Aproximadamente una persona es asesinada cada media hora.

Además de reducir el espacio público y las actividades recreativas de toda índole en horarios nocturnos, la violencia y la inseguridad generalizadas socavan el disfrute de los derechos sociales de los sectores más vulnerables. Setenta y tres por ciento de los estudiantes encuestados para un informe del Centro Gumilla han presenciado situaciones violentas dentro de las escuelas, lo cual afecta el goce del derecho a la educación, así como los permanentes robos de equipos y mobiliario de sus instalaciones. A la reducción de las horas de clase nocturnas en la enseñanza media y en la superior se suma la renuncia de educadores en centros educativos de zonas con alta delictividad.

También se clausuran servicios nocturnos de emergencia de la red hospitalaria nacional y se restringen los horarios de consulta médicas en centros privados de salud. Por otra parte, gran cantidad de personas heridas con armas de fuego colapsa las salas de terapia intensiva, lo cual dificulta la prestación de servicios a otros pacientes que igualmente requieren atención de emergencia.

En el segundo período presidencial de Hugo Chávez (2007-2013) se estancó la reducción de la pobreza, que había sido de 16,4% entre 2004 y 2006 (en apenas dos años), y de apenas de 1,8% en los cuatro años siguientes. (6)

Criminalización de la defensa de derechos humanos

Venezuela inició el proceso para retirarse de la jurisdicción de la Comisión y de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. La Comisión lamentó la decisión: “Si el Estado lleva a término el procedimiento iniciado, los y las habitantes de Venezuela perderán una instancia de protección de sus derechos humanos, quedarán más vulnerables a los abusos y tendrán menos recursos disponibles para defenderse” (7).

La decisión responde a una política que desconoce y criminaliza tanto a instancias de protección internacional de los derechos humanos como a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil que recurren a ellas. El presidente Chávez ha liderado los ataques, acusando a la Corte de “brazo imperialista para agredir a Venezuela”, anunciando que el país se retiraría “por dignidad” (8). En su reporte sobre 2011, la Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de la Arquidiócesis de Caracas contabilizó 76 agresiones a defensores y defensoras de esos derechos, con 92 víctimas en total (9). Según el informe, 28 sindicalistas murieron a manos de sicarios, en conflictos por empleos en el sector de la construcción. El órgano eclesiástico registró también la muerte violenta de cinco defensores del derecho a la tierra, y advirtió que el Estado es omiso en sus obligaciones “de garantizar la seguridad de los dirigentes campesinos” y de “investigar y sancionar las violaciones a los derechos humanos de este sector, que permanecen en la impunidad” (10).

El 30 de abril de 2012, el Foro por la Vida, que reúne a 18 organizaciones nacionales de derechos humanos, rechazaron “los ataques (…) a través de redes sociales y medios de comunicación” contra Humberto Prado, del Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, y Carlos Nieto Palma, de Una Ventana a la Libertad, en un caso de clara criminalización.

Los ataques han sido particularmente severos en el caso de Prado, acusado en junio de 2011 por el Ministro del Poder Popular para las Relaciones Interiores y Justicia, Tareck El Aissami, de ser “parte y cómplice de las masacres que hubo en el pasado”. El Aissami también afirmó que el Observatorio “es una caja chica del Departamento de Estado” (cancillería de Estados Unidos) con la “función es desestabilizar el sistema penitenciario” (11).

El 1 de noviembre de 2012, tras una audiencia en la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), la ministra del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario, Iris Varela, declaró que Prado, Nieto y Rocío San Miguel, de la organización Control Ciudadano, participaron en la instancia para “justificar su sueldo y seguir obteniendo el financiamiento que reciben del gobierno estadounidense a través” de la oficial Agencia para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID, por sus siglas en inglés) y de la Fundación Nacional para la Democracia (NED), institución privada con sede en Washington que recibe fondos presupuestales.

En 2012 comenzó el juicio contra el secretario general del sindicato Sintraferrominera, Rubén González, cuya audiencia fue diferida tres veces. Tras apoyar a los trabajadores en huelga para pedir el cumplimiento del contrato colectivo, González había sido condenado el 28 de febrero de 2011, en la ciudad de Puerto Ordaz, a siete años, seis meses, 22 días y 12 horas de prisión por los delitos de “instigación a delinquir”, “restricción de la libertad del trabajo” y “violación del régimen especial de zonas de seguridad”. Apenas tres días después, la Sala Penal del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia anuló la sentencia y ordenó un nuevo juicio oral y público en la ciudad de Caracas, sustituyendo detención provisional por la presentación cada 30 días ante tribunales y la prohibición de salir del país.

Según el estudio de la Vicaría, únicamente en el estado Bolívar (donde vive Rubén González), 72 sindicalistas estaban en 2010 sujetos a proceso penal por ejercer acciones de reivindicación laboral. Para el primer trimestre de 2011, la cifra se había elevado a 95. A partir de la reforma del Código Penal de 2005, se ha venido estructurando un marco legal restrictivo del derecho a la manifestación pacífica, reflejado en la represión policial y judicial de actividades asociadas tradicionalmente al ejercicio de la acción sindical, como lo son la manifestación pública, la protesta en oficinas públicas y lugares de trabajo y el ejercicio de la huelga. Este marco legal punitivo está estructurado sobre los artículos 191, 218, 283, 285, 286,357, 358 y 468 del Código Penal: los artículos, 47, y 56 de La Ley Orgánica de Seguridad de la Nación, los artículos 139 y 141 de la Ley para la Defensa de las Personas en el Acceso a los Bienes y Servicios, así como los artículos 24 y 25 de la Ley Especial de Defensa Popular contra el Acaparamiento, el Boicot y Cualquier otra Conducta que Afecte el Consumo de Alimentos o Productos sometidos al Control de Precios.


CUADRO 1
PROPUESTAS DE LA SOCIEDAD CIVIL

El 01 de octubre del 2012 el Foro por la Vida, coalición de 18 organizaciones de derechos humanos venezolanas, presentó una serie de propuestas tituladas “Agenda de tareas urgentes para garantizar los derechos humanos en Venezuela”. Algunas de estas eran la derogación de toda legislación restrictiva de la libertad de asociación en cualquier ámbito; Garantizar la suspensión de funcionarios de cuerpos policiales y militares indiciados de participar en la muerte, tortura o desaparición de un ciudadano o ciudadana; Eliminar la facultad del Ejecutivo de nombrar y destituir los fiscales y jueces militares; Erradicar todas las formas de discriminación en la investigación y administración de justicia; Acatar las sentencias de los tribunales internacionales de protección a los derechos humanos, cumpliendo de manera expedita sus decisiones así como promover un debate y diálogo nacional con todos los actores sobre normas y políticas públicas para afrontar la criminalidad de manera democrática y con respeto a los derechos humanos. El documento completo puede consultarse en http://www.derechos.org.ve/2012/10/02/foro-por-la-vida-agenda-de-tareas-...

 

 


CUADRO 2
CRISIS POLÍTICA Y DIÁLOGO NACIONAL

Tras las elecciones presidenciales del 14 de abril en Venezuela, que mostraron un país dividido políticamente en dos partes prácticamente iguales, Provea y otras organizaciones de derechos humanos exhortaron a un diálogo entre la oposición y el gobierno para dar una salida pacífica y democrática a la crisis política.

La polarización que vive Venezuela constituye un escenario adverso para la paz social y el respeto a los derechos humanos. El resultado electoral evidencia un país dividido en torno al modelo social, económico y político. Es un paso positivo el acuerdo alcanzado en la Asamblea Nacional para establecer un diálogo constructivo que permita adoptar leyes que urgen en el país. Pero esa actitud dialogante debe extenderse a toda la gestión institucional del Estado, reconociendo a los otros y respetando los preceptos constitucionales, en especial los derechos humanos allí establecidos.

Notas:
1. http://www.scielo.org.ve/pdf/rvecs/v14n3/art05.pdf
2 La llamada Ley Habilitante le confiere facultades extraordinarias al Presidente de la República para aprobar leyes sin que sean debatidas en la Asamblea Nacional.
3. Algunas de estas leyes son la Reforma del Código Penal, la Ley del Consejo Federal de Gobierno, la Ley de Conscripción y Alistamiento Militar, la Ley de la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, la Ley de los Consejos Comunales, la Ley de Pesca, la Ley de Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre, y la Ley para la Defensa de las Personas en el Acceso a los Bienes y Servicios, entre otras.
4. La Ley de los Consejos Comunales define esos órganos como instancias de participación para la construcción del socialismo, lo cual obstaculiza la participación de otras opciones políticas.
5. En 1998, según el ingreso por familia, 2.068.736 de los hogares venezolanos (11.212.273 personas) vivían en condiciones de pobreza. De ellos, 803.476 hogares (4.524.392 personas) sufrían pobreza extrema. En contraste, para 2011 los hogares pobres eran 1.836.227 (9.080.941 personas), entre ellos 482.636 (2.450.621 personas) soportaban pobreza extrema.
6. En el segundo semestre de 2007, había 1.804.628 hogares en condiciones de pobreza. Cuatro años después esa cifra se elevó a 1.836.227, es decir que se sumaron 31.599 hogares.
7. Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, “CIDH lamenta decisión de Venezuela de denunciar Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos”, <http://www.oas.org/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2012/117.asp>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2012).
8. El Mundo Económico: “Chávez: La Cidh es un brazo del imperio para agredir a Venezuela”, <http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/tuvoto/chavez--la-cidh-es-un-brazo-del-imperio-para-agred.aspx>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
9. Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de la Arquidiócesis de Caracas: “Informe 2011 sobre la Situación de los Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Venezuela”, < http://www.slideshare.net/espaciopublico/informe-2011-sobre-la-situacin-..., (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
10. Foro por la Vida, “Foro por la Vida rechaza criminalización de ONG que trabajan el tema penitenciario”, <http://foroporlavida.blogspot.com/2012/05/foro-por-la-vida-rechaza.html>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
11. José Antonio Velásquez Montaño: “Este señor estuvo preso por Atraco, Robo a Mano Armada y por Homicidio”, Aporrea, <http://www.aporrea.org/ddhh/a125846.html>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
12. Prensa-Ministerio del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario: “Ministra Iris Varela, durante el programa de radio ‘No te prives’: ONGs venezolanas fueron a la CIDH a justificar el financiamiento que reciben de la USAID y la NED”, <http://www.mppsp.gob.ve/index.php/noticias/540-ministra-iris-varela-durante-el-programa-de-radio-no-te-prives-ongs-venezolanas-fueron-a-la-cidh-a-justificar-el-financiamiento-que-reciben-de-la-usaid-y-la-ned>, (consultado el 3 de noviembre de 2012).

Region: 
left

New global development agenda should shake the structures of impoverishment

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
The Finnish government wants to be an accountable member of the international community, but its political will to be so does not always transpire. Finland has not, for example, been able to reach the 0.7 % target for its development funding. On the other hand Finland's current Development Policy Programme is positively founded on a rights-based approach. The challenge for Finnish civil society is to compel the government to improve its international performance.

Outi Hakkarainen
Kepa

Although the Millennium Development Goals will not be fully achieved by 2015 we should still work hard for them. Another global task is to critically assess the MDG process in order to lay a solid foundation for a better global development agenda. Several problems hindering the achievement of the MDGs are rooted in the structures of the global economic system which discriminates against developing countries and in other structural biases based on such things as gender or ethnicity. Setting up a new agenda will be a futile effort if structures of impoverishment are not addressed and proper development enablers identified and enhanced.[1]

Finland is a North European nation with its own socio-economic challenges, but globally it belongs to well-off countries responsible for engaging in the global development agenda. The Finnish government wants to be an accountable member of the international community, but its political will to be so does not always transpire. Finland won´t, for example, reach the 0,7 % target by 2015 which is a deadline year agreed in the EU. On the other hand Finland's current Development Policy Programme is positively founded on a human rights-based approach and democratic ownership [2]. The challenge for Finnish civil society is to compel the government to improve its international performance. There are several challenges in which Finland could be met to create a more active and courageous role in order to further global progress. Some of these challenges will be discussed in this article but first some thoughts on the MDGs.

Progress has been made towards the MDGs and development would most certainly have been slower without them. However, several shortcomings have been recognised, e.g. the absence of certain important themes, too modest objectives, narrow definition of poverty instead of focusing on the inequality gap, restricted attention on employment issues, limited perspectives on environmental and human rights, loose formulation of the goal of global partnership, lack of accountability mechanisms, and change towards a more equitable world pursued through a very limited toolbox, i.e. development cooperation.[3] In addition, the MDGs have not met the standards of existing international commitments. The target of halving the number of people living in poverty, for example, was less ambitious than the one agreed at the 1996 UN World Food Conference in Rome.[4] Other deficiencies have been a closed and donor-led formulation process, the impossibility to reduce broad structural problems into eight goals, the inability to take into account the special needs of fragile states, and the lack of formulating parallel goals for rich countries.

Emerging actors and limits of development cooperation

The world has changed since the Millennium Declaration and the geography of poverty has undergone a fundamental transformation. The fact that majority of people living on less than 1.25 US dollars a day live in middle-income countries need to influence the selection of tools to eradicate poverty after 2015. Development co-operation will continue to play an important role incountries with the highest levels of poverty and the lowest levels of domestic resources.

 But strong commitment from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies is also required. It is essential to ask how to make their national development sustainable and to ensure that emerging business activities benefit the entire society. These countries are themselves responsible for their own development but international co-operation may help them. For example, support for democratization can be crucial as it usually correlates with fairer income distribution.

Another dilemma is their involvement in Africa where especially China, India and Brazil are creating South-South partnerships, asking for diplomatic support, and searching for resources and markets. The trade between the emerging actors and Africa has more than quadrupled from 2000 to 2009 and a similar growth surge is happening in investments and aid. Their share is still relatively moderate (e.g. 20% of the Africa’s foreign trade) but the reason why these actors have caused such a stir is the rapid and continuing rise of their engagement and negative influence they are commonly thought to have in the African societies by breaking deals with political elites with little attention paid to democracy, good governance, transparency, accountability or civil society participation, and their eagerness to exploit oil, land and other natural resources in the African continent.[5]

However, despite the drawbacks for example of China’s presence, its activities are often seen in Africa as more positive than Europe’s long involvement in their continent. For example the research on China, southern Africa and extractive industries argues that there can be a ‘win-win partnership’ if southern African governments' policies are based on achieving long-term socio-economic and development goals. In the case of the extractive industry this kind of impact could mean effective mining public administration, competencies to run extractive industries, appropriate tax regimes, functional linkages between the extractive industries and local economies and social responsibility demands for Chinese companies.[6] Finland and other donor countries should support the African governments in achieving these objectives and such cooperation with any foreign actor which do not hinder the development of the African societies. Crucial is also to acknowledge the role of multinational corporations which are increasingly shaking the playground. There is an urgent need for comprehensive corporate accountability rules.

Sustainable policies for lending, trade and tax collection

The turn of the millennium was characterised by debates about the debt problems of developing countries, the loan terms and conditions used by development finance institutions and the unfair rules of international trade. Nevertheless, progress has remained modest. International trade rules still fail to support the reduction of global poverty and effective long-term solutions to the debt problems of developing countries have not been found, despite promises. The new global framework should be equipped with incentives for sustainable lending policies and for trade policies supportive of developing countries. It is especially crucial to ensure coherence between these goals and the politics of international trade, investments and taxes. In the investment politics it is essential to take into consideration the special needs of the poorest countries and to create explicit and binding rules for the private sector as in addition to the state as it has lot of influence on developing countries and ecological carrying capacity of our planet.

The significance of taxation to financing developing countries is being gradually understood in the international community. Research has revealed a strong correlation between successful tax collection and human development. States dependent on tax revenue fare usually better when measured by good governance and democracy when compared with developing countries living on revenue from oil, for example.[7] The terms and conditions of loans granted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have contributed to bringing about a situation where developing countries have been forced to shift the focus of taxation towards consumption taxes in recent decades, as customs revenue has plummeted as a result of trade liberalisation.
People have also come to realise that curbing tax evasion practised by major companies plays a key role as developing countries try to get rid of their dependence on aid. The revenue lost by developing countries due to tax evasion by major companies may even exceed the amounts they gain in the form of development assistance many times over.[8] Taxation of foreign companies is also a key issue for middle-income countries. The taxes payable by companies bring needed revenue to the efforts of these states and enabling them to carry out their own development plans. The sustainability and fairness of tax systems should be included as part of the new development agenda. Internationally, it is crucial to control the tax havens and uproot tax avoidance, and to develop tax administration nationally and enhance the decrease of aid dependency.

Climate justice

The current economic growth model does not rest on a sustainable foundation. The biggest problem to the Earth’s carrying capacity [9] is posed by rich countries, which bear the brunt of responsibility for climate and environmental protection, and by big companies which cause the majority of man-made emissions. Environment and climate aspects should be integrated into the new development agenda so that they force rich nations to pay attention to their consumption habits and companies to be ecologically responsible. Furthermore, the new agenda should demand sustainable use of natural resources, include both global and national goals according to each country's responsibilities and capabilities, respect developing countries' right to development and emphasize climate justice. To achieve these objectives, developing countries need international support, such as climate finance, for their mitigation and adaptation activities. Climate finance should be new and additional to current ODA commitments.

In addition to supporting ambitious global goals Finland should enact a strong national climate law. A coalition of civil society actors has fought for an ambitious, just and forward-looking climate law since 2008. In June 2014 the government introduced Finland's first Climate Change Act, which sets a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050. The bill is yet to be proposed to the parliament, but is expected to be passed in 2015.

Challenging the growth imperative

The development discourse is largely based on seeing economic growth as an undisputed condition for development although growth-driven economic policies have not shown to be a way to ensure decent livelihood for all, the trickle-down does not happen. Critical voices and alternative visions are rising up in different corners of the world. Approaches of 'buen vivir' (living well) and the solidarity economy have, for example, emerged especially in Latin America while commons-thinking and de-growth discourse are widening largely in the global North. These all challenge the simplified growth paradigm and enhance people-centred economics.[10]

The concept of the green economy is another story as it has been adopted so widely that its definitions are even contradictory. In the very best-case scenario, it may promote fair and just trade relations, help developing countries to skip the fossil fuel industry stage and raise the prices of dwindling natural resources to match their real value but in practice the use of the concept has widely caused suspicion. Some developing countries have expressed fears that more stringent environmental standards may exclude high-emission products from Western markets or may open a door to making aid and debt relief conditional. Quite different concerns rise from the people's movements, which are not able to see how the label of the green economy makes a difference to current unsustainable economic practices, and estimate the concept primarily as a tool for “green-washing”. These different approaches need to be recognized when formulating the new global development agenda and the social movements' voices based on local experiences to be carefully listened.

The debate on economic growth is also linked to the criticism on the gross domestic product (GDP) as an adequate indicator. Complementary instruments include e.g. the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) that notice human and environmental well-being more broadly. Indicators such as the ecological footprint draw attention to consumption habits. For the new global development agenda, it is imperative to ensure that the benefits of different indicators can be used instead of making them compete against each other.

Towards another world

Despite the enormous problems and injustices we currently face in the world, we should continue to believe that another world is possible. We can reduce poverty and boost social development either by burdening or preserving the environment. The key question is how to get future goals to acknowledge the structures of impoverishment.

In the light of current knowledge, it is possible to provide the poorest part of the world’s population with adequate food, energy and subsistence in a sustainable manner. For instance, bringing electricity to the almost one fifth of the world’s population currently without it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions. Providing the additional calories needed by the world’s population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply.[11]

Furthermore, we can combat inequality in its multiple manifestations. Child benefits, pension schemes, health care accessible to everyone and other instruments of comprehensive social policy have been the cornerstones of poverty reduction for decades in rich countries, in particular in Finland and in the other Nordic countries. However, it has taken a long time for comprehensive social policy to break through onto the development agenda.

It is important that Finland will continue working on the themes which have successfully been at the core of its agenda, e.g. gender equality, but as underlined at the beginning, it is time for Finland to make a bigger difference and putting also its own house in order, for example by achieving sustainable consumption and production and by giving up harmful subsidies In the context of new development agenda Finland should contribute to ensuring that the agenda is prepared in a fair, equitable and inclusive manner. Responsibility for the goal-setting process should rest with the UN and its member states as the UN is the only body with broad enough representation and acceptance for this purpose. Planning should be co-ordinated between states, local governments and civil society, and here the dilemma of enabling environment for civil societies needs to be acknowledged.

Other dilemmas are policy coherence between policy sectors and securing the resources for implementing the new development agenda. The old promise of 0.7 % target of development financing must be kept and in addition new public sources of financing are needed. Besides more resources these sources may contribute to reducing carbon emissions, such as greenhouse gas taxes, or reducing harmful short-term speculation like the financial transaction tax.

The most important challenge for Finland and the entire international community is to fight against inequality. Global inequality has increased during recent decades so hugely that both extreme poverty and extreme levels of wealth hinder egalitarian and stable development of the world. In order to diminish inequality we need to address both poverty and wealth in their structural terms.

Notes:

[1] See Kepa's publications: What Kind of World Do We Want to Live In? From the Millennium Development Goals to the Post 2015 development agenda, Kepa Current Issues Report 14 (November 2013). http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/kepa_ajankohtaiskatsaus_2013_en_f.... Is development sustainable? – The world beyond the Millennium Development Goals, Kepa Current Issues Report  10 (March 2012). <http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/is-development-sustainable.pdf>

[2] Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland's Development Policy Programme (Helsinki: 2012), <http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=251855&nodeid=15452&contentlan=2&culture=en-US>

[3] See, for example: A. R. Khan, Employment and Millennium Development Goals: Analytics of the Linkage in the Context of an Accelerated Effort to Achieve the MDGs (2007), <www.azizkhan.net/EmploymentMDG.pdf>; S. Amin, the Millennium Development Goals: A Critique from the South, Monthly Review 2006, Volume 57, Issue 10. <http://monthlyreview.org/2006/03/01/the-millennium-development-goals-acritique-from-the-south>; Amnesty International, From Promises to Delivery: Putting Human Rights at the Heart of the Millennium Development Goals (Amnesty International Publications 2010).

[4] M. Loewe, Introduction: What is good about the MDGs and what is bad… A seminar paper presented at the Millennium Goals and Beyond: Reflections on an International Development Policy Agenda after 2015 seminar held in Bonn, 21–22 November 2011, <http://www.die-gdi.de/CMS-Homepage/openwebcms3_e.nsf/(ynDK_contentByKey)/MPHG-8JB9BB?OpenDocument&nav=active:Ver anstaltungen%5CMPHG-8JB9BB>

[5] J. Nuutinen, China and other emerging actors in Africa, Kepa's Working Papers n:o 34 (2012) www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/china-and-other-emerging-actors.pdf; I. Taylor, China’s New Role in Africa. (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc, 2009).

[6] G. Shelton and C. Kabemba (eds.), Win-Win Partnerships? China, Southern Africa and the Extractive Industries, (Johannesburg: Southern Africa Resource Watch SARW 2012), <downloadable at www.sarwatch.org>

[7] J. Marshall, One Size Fits All? IMF Tax Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa, Christian Aid Occasional Paper No. 2, April 2009), <http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/imfoccpaper.pdf>

[8] Kepa, Laiton pääomapako kehitysmaista: ”Kehitysapua” köyhiltä rikkaille, <http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/laiton-paaomapako.pdf> [Illegal capital flight from developing countries: ‘Development assistance’ from the poor to the rich. English translation available at: http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/illegal-capital-flight.pdf]; D. Kar and S. Freitas, Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries Over the Decade Ending 2009, (Global Financial Integrity: 2011), <http://www.gfintegrity.org/storage/gfip/documents/reports/IFFDec2011/illicit_financial_flows_from_developing_countries_over_the_decade_ending_2009.pdf>

[9] WWF International, Living Planet Report 2010: Biodiversity, biocapacity and development (2010), <http:// www.worldwildlife.org/sites/living-planet-report/WWFBinaryitem18260.pdf>

[10] See, for example, M. Ulvila and J. Pasanen, Sustainable Futures. Replacing Growth Imperative and Hierarchies with Sustainable Ways (Helsinki: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2009). <http://www.ymparistojakehitys.fi/susopapers/Sustainable_Futures.pdf>

[11] K. Raworth, A safe and just space for humanity: Can we live within the doughnut?, (Oxfam discussion papers, February 2012), <http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/asafe-and-just-space-for-humanity-can-we-live-within-the-doughnut-210490>

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No sustainable development without access to quality education

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
In September 2000, when the Millennium Summit was held at the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan was suffering from conflict and could not participate in the formulation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Government endorsed the Millennium Declaration as well as the MDGs only in March 2004. However, having lost over two decades to war, it has had to modify the global timetable and benchmarks to fit local realities. The rest of the international community defined the MDGs to be attained by 2015, against a baseline of 1990. Because of its lost decades and the lack of available information, Afghanistan has defined its MDG contribution as targets for 2020 from baselines of 2002 to 2005. Despite extreme poverty, ill health, and hunger, Afghans define the lack of security as their greatest problem. Hence the Government of Afghanistan has added this new goal to the eight global MDGs recognizing the critical role of peace and security in achieving the other MDGs.

Abdul Sami Zhman, Social Watch Afghanistan
Watch on Basic Rights Afghanistan Organization (WBRAO)
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA)
Sanayee Development Organization (SDO)
Cooperation for Peace and Development (CPD)
Organization of Human Resource Development (OHRD)
Saba Media Organization (SMO)

In September 2000, when the Millennium Summit was held at the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan was suffering from conflict and could not participate in the formulation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Government endorsed the Millennium Declaration as well as the MDGs only in March 2004. However, having lost over two decades to war, it has had to modify the global timetable and benchmarks to fit local realities. The rest of the international community defined the MDGs to be attained by 2015, against a baseline of 1990. Because of its lost decades and the lack of available information, Afghanistan has defined its MDG contribution as targets for 2020 from baselines of 2002 to 2005.

Despite extreme poverty, ill health, and hunger, Afghans define the lack of security as their greatest problem. Hence the Government of Afghanistan has added this new goal to the eight global MDGs recognizing the critical role of peace and security in achieving the other MDGs.

Afghanistan and the Post-2015 Agenda

Achieving the MDGs by 2015 is challenging but possible. Much depends on the fulfillment of MDG-8—the global partnership for development. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated, the current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made.

Although the MDGs will not be achieved by 2015, the goals are still valid and are to be considered as part of Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 Agenda. While the MDGs are not wrong, the strategies to achieve them need critical reflection. In Afghanistan, our people still suffer food insecurity, poor or no access to primary education, gender inequality, high rates of maternal and child mortality and morbidity, environmental problems, a fragile route to stability and sustainable development, all of which remain priorities.

World communities have learned the art of living in peace and have developed foundations to sustain peace and security. Afghanistan after three decades of war and conflict also needs to learn the art of living in peace. The key lies in education.

The Right to Education

Education has proven to be the foundation of every society and good news for its bright future, and access to education is a certain and fundamental right of all human beings, children in particular. It is famously said, "Where the gate of a school opens, the gates of ignorance are closed."

The right to education is enshrined in various verses of the Holy Quran: “Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught by the pen. He has taught human beings that which he knew not.” This statement is Allah's swearing and alerting His creatures to what He has favored them with by teaching them the skill of writing, through which knowledge is attained.

The right to education is also enshrined in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the States parties to the Covenant have recognized every person's right to education. Primary education should be compulsory and made available for all, free of charge. And Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) emphasizes that the right to education is essential for every child and points out that this right should be provided based on equality of opportunity.

The Afghan Constitution has embraced the right to free education for all Afghan nationals in the state educational institutions up until the Bachelor's degree; it obliges the state to develop education in a balanced manner across the country, provide compulsory intermediate education, design and implement effective programmes, and provide the ground for teaching in mother tongues where such tongues are spoken.

As per Article 44 of the Afghan Constitution, the state has the duty to design and implement effective programmes in order to create educational balance and develop education for women, improve the education of the Kuchis and eliminate illiteracy. Article 3 of the Law on Education also has specified: "The nationals of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have an equal right to education without any kinds of discrimination."

Access to and Quality of Education

Student enrolment in Afghanistan has increased eight-fold in the last nine year, from less than a million in 2001 to over 7.3 million in 2010, with a current enrolment of 38 percent girls. Over 9,000 new schools have been established to facilitate easy access to education and over 12,500 general and Islamic schools are operational in all parts of the country. To cater for enrolment of new students, over 200,000 new teaching and support staff have been recruited and deployed to schools over this period.

Despite significant progress, Afghanistan still has a large number of out of school children (4.5 million, mostly girls). Strategies to increase enrolment and retention of students, particularly girls, include public awareness activities and advocacy for girls’ education, community-based schools, school food programmes, recruitment of female teachers from urban centres and relocation to rural schools, and expansion of teacher education colleges to provinces and districts with provision of incentives to female teacher trainees.

UN estimates put school attendance in Afghanistan at about 6 million children, 35 percent of whom are girls. Of the children who are able to attend school, half have no real school buildings but go to classes in tents. Girls walking to or from school risk being assaulted with acid. Teachers have been killed and parents who allow girls to attend school have been attacked and only 30 percent of girls have access to education. A public call for education for women is considered blasphemous.

With reference to adult literacy, more than 10.5 million people, are illiterate throughout the country; 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate.

Insecurity in some provinces has resulted in closing some of the schools and depriving a large number of students of education. In the current year, 502 schools in 71 districts of 10 provinces (Farah, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Paktika, Helmand, Khost, Paktia, Badghis and Nimroz) were or remained closed and as a result approximately 114,000 students are no longer able to continue to their education.

According to Ministry of Education planning norms the average student teacher ratio is 35:1. In 1389/2010 the average student teacher ratio was 43.7:1. In 1390/2011 the increase in students’ enrolment was 14% while the increase in total number of new positions provided by Ministry of Finance (MoF) to education was only 4.6% (10,000) including teachers and administrative staff. It is clear that this number is not adequate and negatively affects education quality. Moreover, 68% of the general education teachers do not meet the standard qualifications for a trained professional teacher (grade 14 graduate of Teacher Education Colleges), or their qualification is lower than grade 12.

 In addition, there are no qualified female teachers in 230 districts out of 412 rural and urban districts. As a result, retention and continuation of girls’ education in secondary grades is seriously restricted; there is no girl in upper secondary grades in 159 districts.

Education Financing

The Government of Afghanistan is not in a position to fund all operating budgets from its revenues and has been dependent on international assistance to fill the gap. The expectation is that Afghanistan will continue to need international assistance for the coming three to five years to fill the shortfall in the operating budget. The development budget has been funded 100 percent by the international community, a situation that will continue into the future.

Indeed, the progress in access to education in Afghanistan so far has been made possible with the generous support of the donor community, the amount of which has increased over the past years. Due to lack of internal resources, donors’ contributions to education are preconditions for success in achieving the Education Interim Plan objectives and MDG and Education for All (EFA) goals. In order for the National Education Interim Plan to be successfully implemented, USD 3.25 billion is required (1.42 billion for the development budget and 1.83 billion for the operating budget over the next three years). The development funding should be fully aligned with the Interim Plan. If education does not receive the necessary resources, Afghanistan will face delays in achieving its commitments to the MDGs and EFA goals.

The demand for education in Afghanistan has increased significantly, and the Government of Afghanistan has taken a multifaceted approach to meet this demand. This includes the provision of education by the private sector, which now provides pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary, and vocational training. Afghan businesses are also paying for construction of schools and provision of school supplies. Communities have also contributed by providing land or free labor for the construction of school buildings. A cross sector approach has permitted communities to prioritize education and direct development funds from other areas, for example, accessing funds through the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) National Solidarity Programme, the Afghanistan Stabilization Programme or the counter narcotics fund.

In March 2011, Afghanistan became a developing country partner of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which represents significant international endorsement of the Government’s plans and capacity to achieve the Education for All goals and is seen as a critical milestone in the development of its education sector. The  Global Partnership for Education fund will provide USD 55.7 million for the Afghan Government to promote education quality in the war-torn country. The programme targets 55 districts in 13 provinces that are characterized by high rates of poverty, remoteness, harsh terrain, low population density, insecurity, and conservative social attitudes, particularly towards the education of girls. Gender disparities are particularly pronounced in all of these districts. As such, the GPE Programme focuses on the most disadvantaged children in Afghanistan and is aligned with GPE strategic areas.

Promoting Peace through Quality Education

For the first time in the history of Afghanistan textbooks on Life Skills were developed for grades one to three in 2004- 2006. These textbooks cover issues related to peace with oneself such as emotional intelligence and peace with others such as problem-solving, decision-making, conflict resolution and reconciliation skills. Also, peace, psycho-social well-being, non-violence and reconciliation-related topics were incorporated into language, social and religious textbooks. The teacher education package on pedagogy includes sessions on diversity, fear-free classrooms and justice in the classroom.

Through these initiatives, over 7 million children are being provided with awareness and education on importance of peace building and living in peace; and through children, peace awareness is being raised in nearly all families in Afghanistan. Schools have been serving as the platform for bringing together people from different social groups to discuss the education for their children, and meanwhile have facilitated dialogues and interactions among community members on peace and security in the community.

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to promoting peace by providing quality education to all children and teaching them tolerance, mutual respect, and how to live peacefully with each other.

Notes:

UNDP Afghanistan, Afghanistan MDGs overview. Available at: <http://www.undp.org.af/undp/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=68>

UN, MDG Report 2012, Foreword, New York, 2012, p.3.

Ministry of Education, Afghanistan, Response to EFA Global Monitoring Report – 2011.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Fair access of children to education in Afghanistan, Kabul, September 2009.

The Holy Quran, Surat Al-Alaq, Aya 3-5. See: www.alseraj.net/maktaba/kotob/english/quran/TheLight/.../96_1-5.htm

Ministry of Education, Response to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report – 2011, Kabul, 2012.

Ibid.

Ministry of Education, 1390/2011 Annual Progress Report. Kabul, 2011.

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ministry of Education, Response to EFA Global Monitoring Report - 2011

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ministry of Education, Response to EFA Global Monitoring Report - 2011

Ibid.

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Perú avanzó algo, pero no lo suficiente

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
La inequidad reina en Perú, donde la riqueza crece y la pobreza se maquilla <br> El avance de Perú hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio no ha sido suficiente para cumplir con todas las metas ni para afianzar su sustentabilidad, señala la coalición peruana de Social Watch en su evaluación sobre las políticas públicas y los compromisos internacionales.

CONADES

La inequidad reina en Perú, donde la riqueza crece y la pobreza se maquilla

El avance de Perú hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio no ha sido suficiente para cumplir con todas las metas ni para afianzar su sustentabilidad, señala la coalición peruana de Social Watch en su evaluación sobre las políticas públicas y los compromisos internacionales.

Si bien el crecimiento económico ha sido importante en lo que va del siglo XXI, la falta de un seguimiento y monitoreo adecuado por parte de la ciudadanía hace que las políticas antipobreza no tengan el mismo dinamismo y no ataquen los problemas de fondo, como la concentración en la propiedad de la tierra rural y urbana y los impuestos regresivos.

Si bien, se han reducido la desnutrición y la mortalidad infantil y la materna, entre otros progresos, estos avances deberían ser mayores si se toma en cuenta que el presupuesto del Estado se ha triplicado en un decenio. "Millones de hogares pobres dependen de las transferencias estatales; y aunque es evidente que se ha logrado mejorar ciertos indicadores sociales, la perdurabilidad de esos resultados es dudosa".

Mientras las reivindicaciones de corto plazo abrevan la conflictividad en los sectores más pobres y la riqueza de grandes empresarios y latifundistas se expande, el gobierno ha limitado su programa social al asistencialismo y ha carecido de una política de empleo, así como de voluntad para enfrentarse con los grupos económicos más poderosos, escribió la experta Martha Milagros Varela Gómez, integrante de la red peruana de Social Watch y autora del informe nacional.

Varela Gómez indicó que “las reservas internacionales crecen sin cesar”, hay “mucho dinero en circulación”, se expanden “los bancos, el comercio minorista, el crédito y el dinero plástico”, lo cual “alienta la adicción al consumo” entre los pobres, “al tiempo que la delincuencia y el tráfico de drogas y personas se incrementan”. Perú es hoy “el mayor productor mundial de cocaína” y “los casinos, la minería informal y el contrabando son negocios exitosos que le abren paso a una nueva burguesía”.

El informe destaca un “crecimiento (económico) sostenido desde el año 2000 con un promedio de 6% anual y una disminución estadística de la pobreza, también sostenida” de 52% en 1990 a 27% en 2011, así como “la caída significativa de la desnutrición crónica infantil (hoy en 19,5%) y también la disminución, aunque modesta, de la mortalidad materna”. Millones de hogares pobres dependen de las transferencias estatales; y aunque es evidente que se ha logrado mejorar ciertos indicadores sociales, la perdurabilidad de esos resultados es dudosa.

Sin embargo, “después de Brasil, Perú es el segundo país con mayor incidencia de tuberculosis en la región (…)”, mientras la “abismal” desigualdad económica y social “se mantiene y profundiza” entre “regiones pobres y no pobres; entre costa, sierra y selva, ciudad y campo; o entre barrios ricos y pobres de las mismas ciudades. La riqueza se sigue concentrando. La discriminación étnica, racial y de género persiste, separando clínicas privadas para ricos y hospitales para pobres, escuelas y universidades privadas y escuelas y universidades públicas”, sostiene el informe.

“Los éxitos han sido logrados gracias a una expansión de los servicios públicos de salud y de asistencia social. No se puede afirmar lo mismo de la educación, donde la precariedad de la escuela pública continúa siendo un problema lacerante (…). El presupuesto del sector público, que ascendía a 10.000 millones de dólares en 2000, sobrepasa ahora los 30.000 millones. (…) Emergen nuevas clases medias y grupos empresariales nacionales”, agrega Social Watch.

“Pero las tareas grandes, aquellas que pueden hacer este crecimiento sostenible, están abandonadas”, según el informe. “Las políticas ambientales existen solo en los documentos oficiales, no hay políticas de empleo, la producción agrícola de alimentos continúa abandonada. El pragmatismo de políticos y gobernantes incapaces de enfrentarse con los privilegios que custodian con agresividad los ricos conservadores es el obstáculo más grande para que se discutan realmente los temas de fondo relativos a la justicia económica y social.”

Entre las tareas pendientes, Varela Gómez resaltó “una distribución de la propiedad rural y urbana (hay nuevos latifundios formados para producir biocombustibles que sobrepasan las 50.000 hectáreas); una distribución de los ingresos actualmente concentrados en grandes empresas y sus ejecutivos; una reforma tributaria basada sobre impuestos directos universales y la reducción de los indirectos; el apoyo sostenido a las más de tres millones de microempresas. Y, en general, un ordenamiento del país bajo normas de sostenibilidad ambiental.”

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Political rows, insecurity and lack of data hinder development efforts

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
During the last 10 years, Iraq has undergone dramatic changes of rulers, but the much-expected transition to democracy failed to pave the way for development. Although the government issued in 2009 a strategy for poverty reduction, the efforts, resources and following-up have not been enough to see noticeable results on the ground.

Manal J. Putros Behnam
Iraqi Al Amal Association

During the last 10 years, Iraq has undergone dramatic changes of rulers, but the much-expected transition to democracy failed to pave the way for development. Political disputes, security challenges, and corruption have hindered the stability required for development. Quality of life has fallen: poverty stays firmly, the educational system draws back and women are becoming more and more vulnerable. The inequities persist between cities and rural areas and between men and women. Although the government issued in 2009 a strategy for poverty reduction, the efforts, resources and following-up have not been enough to see noticeable results on the ground.

To get on the right track, the Iraqi government must conduct the census that has been delayed since in 2007, to collect reliable information for the design of comprehensive, effective and appropriately funded development plans.

Poverty, a multidimensional phenomenon

Iraq is not a poor nation, but much of its population suffers poverty. The standard of living of this middle-income country declined over the last 25 years. There is a wide gap between the economics at a national level and the social reality experienced by Iraqi citizens. Anyway, the gross domestic product per person declined by a third between 1980 and 2006, from about USD 3,000 to USD 2,000, according to the World Bank. But the most “striking” data “is not just the decline, but also that reversal in growth stands in contrast to every other country in the Middle East and North Africa region,” remarks the World Bank report “Confronting poverty in Iraq”. As an example of this fall, the study also notes that “primary school enrollment, an area in which Iraq once led the region, declined over the past 25 years in Iraq while rising in every other countries of the region.”

The National Strategy for Poverty Reduction (NSPRI) issued in 2009 at the same time of the National Development Plan covers crucial points of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is aimed to promote the well-being of the Iraqi poor, with the general goal of reducing poverty rate from the current 22.9% to 16% in 2014 by achieving the following six basic outcomes:

1. Achieving a higher income from work for the poor
2. Improving the health standard of the poor
3. Dissemination and improving education of the poor
4. Achieving a better housing environment for the poor
5. Effective social protection for the poor
6. Less inequality between poor women and men

But the government institutions failed to implement appropriate policies and measures to reach those goals. There were no clear indicators to achieve the required outcomes so government has extended the work in some of these strategies up to 2017.

NSPRI planners stated that although two-third of the population live in cities, half of the poor people reside in rural areas. There are other relevant gaps between governorates, notes the NSPRI: over 40% of the inhabitants of some of them are poor (Muthanna, 49%; Babil, 41%; Salahuddin, 40%), while the proportion falls to 10% in the Kurdistan Region. Disparities in expenditure are lower than disparities in income: the richer quintile of households gets 43% of the total national income and the poorer quintile gets 7%, while the richer households spend 39% of the total expenditure and the poorest spend 9%.

The planners also noted a weak correlation between poverty and unemployment. Poverty rate has reached 39% in rural areas and 16% in urban areas, but unemployment gets to 11% in the countryside and to 12% in the cities. This gap can respond to the links between poverty and low salaries, because of the fact that workers constitute 89% of the labor force in rural areas due to the drop in productivity [1].These figures based on pilot sample survey, the real figures are expected to be higher than that.

Education draws back

One out of five Iraqis between 10 and 49 years old cannot read or write, according to the Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit established by the UN to improve the impact of the humanitarian and development response in Iraq. “Literacy impacts every facet of life”, and affects critically “employment, health, civic participation and social attitudes,” reads a report issued by the Unit in 2010.

In this matter there are also “significant disparities” between women and men (24% to 11%) and between rural and urban areas (25% to 14%), and in the countryside the gender gap is even wider [2] . Further, these figures could be doubled as did not include the percentage of people who cannot read and write easily, according to Iraqi Alamal Association in 2010(Survey to non formal education assessment in Iraq).

Decades of wars and years of humiliating blockade(1990-2003)against Iraqi citizen (not against the Saddam Hussein’s regime), followed after that for the persistent political instability, insecurity(especially displacement) , low standards of living and corruption have made up an accumulated process of decline that feeds illiteracy.

UN agencies and the government run various programs to promote literacy among children, young and adult persons, as well as other schemes that offer training for working and life skills. But those programs need following up and sustained support from the Iraqi educational institutions to achieve a visible decline in illiteracy rates. Local NGOs have also implemented many programs all over Iraq, but they are pilot projects, poorly funded or lacking of a proper networking.

 Women’s vulnerability increases

As a result of the wars fought by the former regime and what followed aftermath after the 2003 terrorist attacks, violence and displacement, the number of women who lost their breadwinner, either to imprisonment or loss, the percentage hitting, according to the report of the Ministry of Human Rights on the situation of Iraqi women to 10.7% of the proportion of households headed by women in Iraq . In addition the labor market indicated in the Iraq- Knowledge Network Report 2011(IKN) decrease in women’s participation in period 2003 to 2011, from 14.2% to 13% which show low participation for women in the economic activities. 

The statistics of government institutions, international agencies and civil society organizations defer. This unclearness makes the national census a very important task to evaluate women’s conditions of living. The International Organization for Migration confirmed in 2011 critical situations related to the access to work, food security, and housing conditions which make women headed households vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

The Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit [3]  stated in 2012 that early marriages “remain prevalent”, although they are illegal under 15 years of age and require special authorization from a judge between 15 and 18. But many girls between 11 and 15 years of age enter into marriages outside the court in religious communities. According to the integrated survey social and health conditions for Iraqi women 2011 (I Wish) , indicated that the children girls married under 15 years is 5% and children girls married under 18 years is 22%.Those girls sink into an illegal status that deprives them of education and health. On the other hand, tribal leaders justify the usual practice of forced marriages on traditional and cultural grounds.

Key information remains unknown

The lack of reliable information about the living conditions of the population put a brake on the development process, but the national census has been postponed four times since 2007 under the pretext of security concerns. The powerful political blocs have been delaying indefinitely the survey, although it is required by the article 140 of the Constitution to reach a settlement over the internal dispute areas, this will affect state budget allocations and the impact on provincial level quotas as well.

 In any case, the delay has prevented to reach an accurate assessment of the numbers of orphans and widows who need urgent help. Even so, there is no date scheduled for conducting the survey [4] ,

 Although all the technical and logistics preparation completed with spend large sums of money, but census stopped by a political will.

The scourge of financial and administrative corruption in Iraq is a critical issue to be highlighted as it is demolishing the rebuilding process and development, although there is a national strategy to combat corruption but still needs to be in harmony with the changes in social and political circumstances and the international standards.

Recommendations

In order to get on the right track towards achieving sustainable development, Iraq must focus in the following tasks in the short term:

- At the political level, the government institutions should design and put into practice comprehensive and smart policies to reduce poverty, improve the educational system and empower women. It is also needed to allocate appropriate budgetary resources to the development programs.

- The authorities must fight against corruption using well planned strategies.

- The census should be held as soon as possible, and its planners must set out specific questions to collect useful information for the design of development plans.

- Civil society must participate in the design of policies and strategies and be engaged in their implementation and following-up.

Notes:

[1] National Strategy for poverty Reduction,2009

[2] Literacy in Iraq, Fact Sheet, 2010

[3] Women In Iraq, Fact sheet 2011

[4] http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2010/12/iraqs-census-put-off-again-for-fourth.html

the reality of Iraqi women since 2003 - Ministry of Human Rights for the year 2012

Men and women in Iraq - statistics development- Central Statistical Organization- Iraq

Central Statistical Organization- Iraq

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Poverty and Inequality: After the rhetoric of the past, a look into the future

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
The Philippines’ economic growth rates have averaged at 4.7 per cent since 2000, but only the elite few are benefiting. In the meantime, poverty has increased, reaching to 26.5% in 2009. It is not so much the size of the economic growth, but its nature that matters. This Southeast Asian country must craft a post-2015 development agenda that reclaims human rights as the normative framework, especially ensuring the right to education, health and decent work, and addressing the long-standing inequalities. This includes completing the agrarian reform, imposing a progressive taxation system and revitalizing the manufacturing sector to ensure the creation of quality jobs. A new international financial architecture is required to provide adequate policy space for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda.

By Marivic Raquiza

Social Watch Philippines

The Philippines’ economic growth rates have averaged at 5.1 per cent since 2000, but only the elite few are benefiting. In more recent years, economic growth has ranged from 6-7% so that now, the country is heralded as one of the more important emerging economies. In the meantime, poverty incidence has remained high, reaching 26.3% in 2009, 25.2% in 2012, and 24.9% in the first semester of 2013. As many analysts have argued, it is not so much the size of the economic growth, but its nature that matters. This means that if high growth rates are not accompanied with the creation of quality jobs, this means that the gains of economic growth only benefit a few. This Southeast Asian country must craft a post-2015 development agenda that sets human rights as the normative framework, especially ensuring the right to decent work, quality basic social services and addressing long-standing inequalities. This includes completing agrarian reform, developing a progressive taxation system and supporting the revitalization of the manufacturing sector for the creation of decent jobs. Furthermore, a new international financial architecture is required to provide adequate policy space for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda.

The aspirations and the reality that unfolded

When the Philippine government signed the Millennium Declaration in 2000, the clear mandate was to significantly reduce poverty, improve access to social services and promote global cooperation along these lines. Furthermore, the overarching framework of the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan is ‘inclusive growth’, defined as ‘sustained, high growth that generates mass employment and reduces poverty’. According to President Aquino, this is to be accomplished by “improving transparency and accountability, strengthening the macro-economy, boosting the competitiveness of industries, facilitating infrastructure development, strengthening financial sector and capital mobilization, improving access to quality services, enhancing peace and security for development and ensuring ecological security.”

However, twelve years since the signing of the Millennium Declaration and three years into the Aquino presidency, the above stated goals generally remain elusive. With just about two years to go before the expiry date of the MDGs, no less than the United Nations has described the Philippines’ performance in that respect as dismal, an observation that hews closely to the views of civil society and social movements (see Social Watch Report, 2010). Despite these assessments, the government claims that the country is generally on track to achieving most of the MDG goals.

In particular, poverty incidence for the first time increased from 2003 at 24.9% to 26.6% in 2006 and then slightly decreased in 2009 to 26.3% and lowered a bit to 25.2% in 2012.

Self-rated poverty and hunger, as measured by the Social Weather Station, a private survey outfit, have registered peak levels in the first quarter of this year. According to the 2009 Small Area Poverty Estimates, poverty worsened in the Philippines in the years 2006 to 2009 for young people, migrants and formal sector workers (each with 1% increase), and children and individuals in urban areas (with 0.3% increase). The poorest people today are fisherfolk (41.4%), farmers (36.7%) and children (35.1%). This means that development in the last decade has not benefited those who need it most.

However, economic growth rates have remained fairly respectable, averaging at 5.1% per cent since 2000. Today, government is proud of improved assessments from international ratings agencies about its competitiveness. This leads us to certain conclusions. In the first place, it is not so much the size of the growth, but the nature of the growth that matters. In particular, it is clear that only the elite few are benefiting from economic growth. In 2011, GDP increased by US$17 billion; on the other hand, the collective wealth of the forty richest Filipinos rose by US$13 billion in the same year (or a collective 37.8% jump), as former government official Cielito Habito recently observed.

According to Habito, this means that the increased wealth of the country’s richest forty individuals is equivalent to the bulk —76.5 per cent or more than three fourths— of the country’s overall increase in income last year, reinforcing perceptions of an “oligarchic” economy. Little wonder why the country’s Gini co-efficient —at .44— is among the highest in the region.

Second, it is a kind of growth that is unaccompanied by the creation of jobs, much less decent work. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) (2010) argues that employment is the single biggest source of income for most people. It is what keeps most individuals and families alive, and determines their ability to access a good life.  Unfortunately in the Philippines, employment, much less quality employment is not the reality for the majority of Filipinos.

According to the ILO Global Employment Trends , the Philippine unemployment rate in 2013 stood at 7.3%, the highest compared to neighboring countries like Thailand at 0.8%, Vietnam at 1.9%, Malaysia at 3.2%, and Indonesia at 6%.

Furthermore, the 7% unemployment rate has stagnated in the last five years, underscoring the fact that this indicator is not sensitive to changes in labor trends because the country’s labor force is significantly composed of self-employed workers and unpaid family workers (Raquiza, 2010). In countries like the Philippines where most people do not have adequate access to social protection, the majority of people have no recourse but to work in order to survive (ibid).

It is in this context that the underemployment rate is the more meaningful indicator. The underemployment rate has generally been high in the Philippines, registering a high average of 19.25% in the last ten years. In October of 2013, it still posted a considerably high 18.1% which means that Filipinos are working doubly, or triply harder, in order to make ends meet. The underemployed constitutes a significant part of the working poor in the country as of the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), and can mostly be found in the agriculture, forestry and hunting sector.

However, it is not just access to jobs but quality jobs that allows people to combat poverty. One can have a job but be part of that category referred to as the ‘working poor.’

Because of the bleak employment scenario, some eight million Filipinos have opted to work overseas. Their earnings, sent back to the country in the form of remittances at around USD 20 billion annually, drive consumption spending in the country. Overseas remittances benefit families at the higher end of the economic ladder, underscoring how overseas labor migration exacerbates inequalities in the country (Raquiza, 2010). Furthermore, it must be noted that there are social costs implications with the exodus of labor from the country (e.g., children growing up without a parent), as well as the creation of a brain drain to the economy. 

The long-time phenomenon of jobless growth has continued under the Aquino administration.

What went wrong?

Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap’ (‘if no one is corrupt, no one will be poor’) was the battlecry of the Aquino administration as it came to power in June 2010. Three years after, the vaunted anti-corruption campaign of the Aquino administration is now seriously in doubt in light of recent corruption scandals that have been exposed in media, implicating the closest allies of the President, if not the President himself. How this will play out remains to be seen as President Aquino has less than three years left in office.

However, providing access to decent work remains as elusive as ever. The manufacturing sector is generally seen as being able to provide decent work. Indeed, the labor-intensive nature of the manufacturing sector has high employment potential, including for the less-skilled workers. Yet, a look at the structure of the Philippine economy point to a shrinking agriculture sector (from 25.1% of GDP in 1980, to 13.1% in 2009 to 12.8% in 2011), a declining manufacturing sector (from 25.7% of GDP in 1980, to 21.3% in 2009, and 19.4% in 2011) and a burgeoning services sector (from 36.1% of GDP in 1980 to 55.2% in 2009, and 55.7% in 2011).

The Philippines saw the dismantling of the manufacturing sector in the eighties due to the debt crisis that made it very difficult to import inputs needed by local industries. Furthermore, the manufacturing sector has been on a decline because it “has not benefited from intra-regional trade because the country is stuck in low-value added industries such as semiconductors and assembly-type activities”, according to Rafaelita Aldaba of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS). Simply put, the Philippines generally imports parts and reassembles these for exports with low value-added in the process. Joseph Yap, also of PIDS, further states that “while trade in parts and components in manufacturing goods has been increasing in the Southeast Asian region, the contribution of the country’s manufacturing sector to the total economic output has deteriorated”(ibid). Citing UN data, he observed that the share of manufacturing in the Philippine GDP declined to 21.4% in 2010 from 27.7% in 1980. For Filipino women, this means that the manufacturing sector, unlike in the 70s and 80s, ceased being a source of employment for them and they have since turned to trade and services, as well as domestic work in households (Raquiza, 2010). In 2013, there was a reported increase in the output of the manufacturing sector but whether this can be sustained, especially in light of the upcoming ASEAN integration by 2015 remains to be seen.

The President, in his 2012 State of the Nation Address, points to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs), or more specifically call centers and allied industries, as important sources for job creation. The reality though is that, while providing much revenues into Philippine coffers (to the tune of USD 9 billion in 2010), call centers only contribute one percent to Philippine employment given its focus on skilled labor.

Generally speaking, the government’s development strategy is essentially “business as usual” which is to say, that of re ‘growing the pie’, so to speak, with the implicit assumption that when this happens, jobs will be created, and poverty will be reduced. In such a scenario, privatization is the preferred mode of the delivery of goods and services so that the role of the private sector is enhanced through public-private partnerships (PPP).  This has been the case since the post-Marcos regime and the evidence point to a weakened public sector in the delivery of goods and services like in health and education, and that the provision of basic utilities like electricity, fuel and water, are privatized, and remain expensive.

In terms of social policy, the government has placed a premium on the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (Pantawid Pamilya), a conditional cash transfer program patterned after those implemented in Mexico, Brazil and other countries. The lion’s share of social protection spending in the national budget is devoted to Pantawid Pamilya, where allocation has been dramatically increasing every year since the program started in 2007, while the budget for other pro-poor programs has suffered by comparison.

The Pantawid Pamilya is a demand-side intervention to increase access to education and health services to poor children and pregnant mothers. A study conducted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) however shows that the majority of health and education centers in Pantawid Pamilya sites do not pass the quality benchmarks imposed by the Department of Health and Department of Education, raising serious questions about the quality of services provided in CCT areas. For as long as the supply-side aspects are not addressed, investing huge amounts of funds constitute a huge resource leakage and waste of public resources on the part of the national government. Furthermore, part of Pantawid Pamilya’s funding are loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which raises questions about its financial sustainability.

A small study conducted by Social Watch Philippines (SWP) among Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries reveal that while the latter are grateful for the conditional cash grants, they believe that what will generally get them out of poverty is access to jobs. Indeed, in an attempt to respond to the popular critique of Pantawid Pamilya that it is de-linked from job provision, program planners are currently linking it up with livelihood programs. However, the efficacy of these programs bears watching. As of this writing, program planners of the Pantawid Pamilya admit that they have yet to finalize a clear exit strategy to this five year program. The main question remains: after five years, will beneficiaries exit from poverty or merely from the program? For as long as access to sustained employment in general, and decent work in particular, is not part of the equation of Pantawid Pamilya, public skepticism abounds about its effectiveness as a pro-poor program. Indeed, this very expensive program which has been in existence since 2007/2008 has yet to make a dent in reducing poverty.

In the meantime, universal access to quality education and healthcare remain elusive goals, especially given the perennial problem of underinvestment. It is worth asking: would education and health outcomes be better served by significantly increasing the budgets of the departments of education and health rather than simply through CCT?

Finally, promoting the progressive realization of universal social protection needs to be amplified in light of government’s pre-occupation with narrow targeting approaches which are riddled with exclusion (those who should benefit are not targeted and are therefore excluded from pro-poor programs) and inclusion (those who should not benefit are targeted and are therefore included) errors, and other attendant problems.

The Post-2015 development agenda: another chance at getting it right

The starting point in crafting a post-2015 Philippine development agenda l is in using human rights as the normative framework in the articulation of policies, strategies and programs. And grassroots movements for social change comprised of poor and marginalized women, men and children, regardless of age, ethnicity, (dis)ability, sexual orientation, and geographic location should be one of the key drivers in developing the post-2015 Philippine development agenda. At the core of people's participation is building their potentials and capacities —whether they be children, youth or adults.

To address long-standing inequalities in the country, redistribution and affirmative action must take center stage. This includes the long-standing quest for social justice by completing the agrarian reform program. Unfortunately, this quest is beyond reach more than ever as the newly created Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA) recently scored the current administration’s dismal performance on agrarian reform, charging that it has the worst implementation rate, accompanied by rampant land conversion from agricultural to commercial lands. Asset reform, including the need to reform the tax system to make it more progressive, are urgently needed. Financing these reforms must come from revenues generated from more progressive taxation system—meaning prioritizing direct over indirect taxation, and taxing more affluent spending, to name a few measures.

Consistent with the demand of poor women and men for sustained access to decent jobs, there is an urgent need to make job creation central in the development agenda and to revitalize the manufacturing sector. This underscores the need for structural change in favor of the more dynamic sectors and that will help ensure the creation of quality jobs (United Nations Institute for Social Development, 2010). This also means pushing for reforms in the international economic and financial architecture so that adequate policy space will be opened up for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda. In terms of climate change, while acknowledging that the Philippines’ contribution to greenhouse gas emissions lies in the vicinity of 1%, any forthcoming industrial policy must be consistent with a low-carbon path of development.

Furthermore, it must be recognized that the majority of poor women and men remain in the agricultural sector. As such, considerable investments must be made to increase the incomes and productivity of small producers through credit facilities, irrigation, farm to market roads, and the like. It is also important for farmers and fisherfolk to have access to non-farm incomes. Also, rural women must be provided with the necessary support facilities (e.g., daycare centers) and capacity-building activities in order to have greater access to sustainable livelihoods and employment.

Finally, as the poorest peoples are those located in conflict areas, and are socially excluded due to differences in culture, language, and the like, the post-2015 development agenda must include peace building and the promotion of cultural diversity. In real terms, this means addressing the historical injustice committed against indigenous peoples and the Muslims, and respecting their right to self-determination.

References:

Habito, Cielito (2012). Economic Growth for All, in No Free Lunch column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://opinion.inquirer.net/31439/economic-growth-for-all. Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5 (2012). Manufacturing revival key to Philippine economic growth - ADB report. http://www.interaksyon.com/business/29747/manufacturing-revival-key-to-philippine-economic-growth---adb-report  Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

International Labour Organization (27 May, 2014). Where is the unemployment rate the highest? http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/2014/WCMS_233936/lang--en/index.htm. Retrieved on June 4, 2014.

Raquiza, Marivic (2010). On Poverty, hunger and employment: Off-track but not without hope. in Winning the Numbers, Losing the War’, the other MDG Report 2010, Social Watch Philippines: Quezon City.

United Nations Institute for Social Development (2010). Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics. UNRISD: Geneva, Switzerland.

Habito, Cielito (2012). Economic Growth for All, in No Free Lunch column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://opinion.inquirer.net/31439/economic-growth-for-all. Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

International Labour Organization (27 May, 2014). Where is the unemployment rate the highest? http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/2014/WCMS_233936/lang--en/index.htm. Retrieved on June 4, 2014.

Note that the average unemployment rate from 2002 to first half of 2012 is 8.76%

InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5 (2012). Manufacturing revival key to Philippine economic growth - ADB report. http://www.interaksyon.com/business/29747/manufacturing-revival-key-to-philippine-economic-growth---adb-report  Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

Region: 
left

Poverty reduction initiatives continue questionable

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Tanzania is endowed with abundant natural resources but lacks mechanisms for utilizing them effectively for micro and macro development. Invitation to foreign and local companies to invest in key economic sectors is yet to yield expected results. For instance, incentives and tax evasions are so high. The government is therefore urged to diversify the economy and find more viable and alternative sources of revenues for economic development.

Adv. Armando Swenya and Martina M. Kabisama (SAHRiNGON Tanzania Chapter)
Adv. Clarence KIPOBOTA (LEDECO Advocates)
Jaba Shadrack (Asst. Lecturer, School of Law, University of Dar es Salaam)

Since early 2000s, the United Republic of Tanzania signed and therefore committed itself to implement the eight MDGs.  Implementation of these Millennium Development Goals has been made at different levels by formulating and adopting initiatives and strategies aimed at reducing poverty and to improve living standards. These initiatives include the adoption of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) popularly known as “Mpango wa Kukuza Uchumi na Kupunguza Umasikini Tanzania (‘MKUKUTA’)”, this is mainly for Mainland Tanzania and Poverty Reduction Strategy for Zanzibar popularly known as “Mpango wa Kupunguza Umaskini Zanzibar (‘MKUZA’. Other initiatives for poverty reduction in Tanzania includes Development Vision 2025 (for Mainland Tanzania), Vision 2020 (for Zanzibar), Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture first) and The Five Years Development Plan 2011/2012-2015/2016. These strategies were mainly adopted to promote growth and reduce income poverty among Tanzanians, also to enhance social wellbeing, the quality of life, governance and accountability.

Thus, this report makes analysis of challenges that Tanzania face in implementing the adopted initiatives against causes for [the] challenges and suggesting alternative solutions to be taken in reducing or eradicating poverty in Tanzania.

Economic Background in Tanzania

The Tanzania Gross Domestic Product (GDP) experienced a slight increase between 1998 and 2008. Per capita GDP increased from USD 323 in 2001 to USD 440 in 2008. Despite the slight GDP growth recorded, the country’s poverty margin is still enormous as about 75% of Tanzanians are poor farmers living in rural areas. Again, 1/3 of Tanzanians still live below the basic need poverty line i.e. spend less than 1 USD per day. Generally, poverty rates is higher in rural areas (37.6%) compared with large cities like Dar es Salaam (16.6%).

Poverty Reduction Initiatives

The government of Tanzania has undergone different policies including the NSGRP, popularly known as MKUKUTA was approved by the Cabinet in February 2005 for implementation in five years. Essentially, the MKUKUTA strategy is designed in three clusters, namely MKUKUTA I, II and III. The MKUKUTA clusters’ envisaged outcomes are:

  1. Growth and reduction of income poverty;
  2. Improvement of quality of life and social wellbeing; and
  3. Good governance and accountability.

The MKUKUTA is informed by Vision 2025 and committed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MKUKUTA aims at fostering greater collaboration among all sectors and stakeholders. It has mainstreamed cross-cutting issues i.e. gender, environment, HIV/AIDs, disability, children, youth, elderly, employment and settlements. The strategy seeks to deepen ownership and inclusion in policy making processes, paying attention to address laws and customs that retard development and negatively affect vulnerable groups. It requires increased resources and the national budget be aligned to MKUKUTA with direct links to the public expenditure review.

Rudimentary Agriculture

The Tanzania agriculture sector is dominated by small scale farmers. About 70% of farming is dependent on hand hoes, 20% on ploughs, and only 10% on tractors. Notwithstanding the exposed weakness, the agriculture sector has been identified as a growth driver or the backbone of Tanzanian economy.

Tanzania has diverse climatic zones and large size of arable land potential for crops cultivation, livestock and forestry products and sufficient water bodies for irrigation. Thus, given agriculture sector’s role in supporting the rural poor and in reducing malnutrition, if prioritized, it would have been a driving force in lifting Tanzanians out of poverty.

The Kilimo Kwanza Strategy

The Kilimo Kwanza initiative is a green revolution strategy that was launched in August 2009. Basically, it aims at spearheading government efforts in bringing about Agriculture revolution in the country.

Basing on contribution to the economy, agriculture is one of the leading sectors in Tanzanian economy. It contributes substantially to the GDP to about 1/5 of foreign earnings and support livelihoods of more than 2/3 of the population.

3.1. Ten Pillars of Kilimo Kwanza

The Kilimo Kwanza was designed to be implemented on the basis of ten pillars namely; (i) political will to push agricultural transformation, (ii) enhanced financing for agriculture, (iii) institutional reorganisation and management of agriculture, (iv) paradigm shift to strategic agricultural production, (v) land availability for agriculture, (vi) incentives to stimulate investments in agriculture, (vii) industrialisation for agricultural transformation, (viii) science, technology and human resources to support agricultural transformation, (ix) infrastructure development to support agricultural transformation, and (x) mobilisation of Tanzanians to support and participate in implementing Kilimo Kwanza.

The Kilimo Kwanza policy vision is to achieve agricultural development through; policies and institutional reforms, infrastructure development especially rural roads, use of modern technology, extension services, irrigation systems, market access, reform of the land laws and advocating for investment in agro-processing sector/industry.

3.2. Challenge Facing Kilimo Kwanza

3.2.1 Rudimentary Agriculture

Agriculture is still dominated by small scale farming. About 70% of farming is dependent on hand hoes, 20% on ploughs, and 10% on tractors. Notwithstanding the exposed weakness, the agriculture sector has been identified as a growth driver.

NB: see, item 2.3.8 (p.15, above)

Fig 1: Distribution of Equipment Used in Agriculture in Tanzania



Source: KILIMO KWANZA, Annual Policy Dialogue, Dar es Salaam, November, 2009

3.2.1 Poor Agricultural Technology

Low level of technology, excessive reliance on rain-fed agriculture, insufficient agricultural extension services, low labour productivity, deficient transportation and marketing infrastructure and facilities are the major constraints impeding rapid growth of the sector. Tanzania uses only 9Kg fertilizer per hectare and only 10% of farmers use improved seeds.

Again, the total Livestock population reared by smallholders in Tanzania is 37.06 million of which 18.8 million are cattle, 13.1 million goats, 3.56 million sheep and 1.6 million pigs. The poultry population is estimated at 33.3 million. The current challenges in the sector include animal diseases, poor infrastructure and lack of reliable markets, investments and processing industries.

Fig 2: Quantities of Fertilizers Consumptions in Some Selected Countries Compared with Tanzania



Source: KILIMO KWANZA, Annual Policy Dialogue, Dar es Salaam, November, 2009


3.2.4. Limited Capital and Access to Financial Services

Farmers engaging in Kilimo Kwanza initiative face the problem of financial capital; this is due to hierarchical loan processing among financial institutions. Farmers fail to access loans from financial institutions, especially banks, due to difficult conditions and exploitative loan interest rate.

Fig. 3: Banks – Domestic Lending from Dec 2004 - 2008 (Billions of TZS)

Source: KILIMO KWANZA, Annual Policy Dialogue, Dar es Salaam, November, 2009

3.3. Indicators for the Failure of the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative

  1. Low productivity of land, labour and other inputs.
  2. Underdeveloped irrigation schemes.
  3. Inadequate agricultural technical support services.
  4. Poor rural infrastructure hindering effective rural-urban linkages.
  5. Infections and outbreaks of crop, animal pests and diseases.
  6. Erosion of national resources base and environmental degradation.
  7. Lack of entrepreneurial skills to turn non-farm activities into viable sources of livelihoods and foreign exchange.
  8. Land conflicts due to poor enforcement of land laws and policies.

3.4. Proposed Way Forward for Kilimo Kwanza

Productivity and growth in agriculture may be boosted by:

  1. Improvements of rural road networks and irrigation infrastructure, including rain water harvesting;
  2. Improvements of storage facilities for agricultural crops and livestock products;
  3. Assistance of farmers in identifying reliable markets;
  4. Strengthening the capacity of the Strategic Grain Reserve to buy and store sufficient grains consistent with national food requirements;
  5. Ensuring timely availability of inputs for arable agriculture and livestock farming, including improved seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and veterinary medicines, and to ensure that the Agricultural Input Fund is sufficiently funded;
  6. Giving priority in the allocation of farm implements and other inputs to the major food crop production regions i.e. Mbeya, Ruvuma, Rukwa, Iringa, Morogoro and Kigoma;
  7. Identifying and surveying land for large-scale food crop farming so as to take advantage of existing opportunity in both local, regional and world markets’ demands;
  8. Supporting research institutions to develop improved/genetic-modified seeds and encourage other institutions to scale-up seed production;
  9. Reduction of unsustainable forest harvesting;
  10. Establishing or reviving agro-processing industries, with private sector participation;
  11. Improving access to credit and fast-track setting up of a special window for lending to agricultural ventures through the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB); and
  12. Establishment of Agricultural Development Bank.

Recommendations and Concluding Remarks

Tanzania is endowed with abundant natural resources but lacks mechanisms for utilizing them effectively for micro and macro development. Invitation to foreign and local companies to invest in key economic sectors is yet to yield expected results, for instance, incentives and tax evasions are so high. Therefore, little is obtained to enhance the national income. The government is therefore urged to diversify the economy and find more viable and alternative sources of revenues for economic development.

Region: 
left

Programas sociales exitosos, pero económicamente insostenibles

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Ya transcurrieron más de tres años desde el inicio del primer gobierno de izquierda en El Salvador, a cargo del Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN). Su eje ha sido la ejecución de diversos planes de apoyo a sectores históricamente excluidos, como los adultos mayores, las mujeres, las niñas y niños y la población rural. Las mejoras en materia de salud y de educación son notorias, pero también lo es la necesidad de cambios estructurales, como una reforma fiscal que permita financiar con recursos propios programas sociales que dependen de fondos procedentes del exterior. Es un desafío clave para dotar de sustentabilidad a los avances logrados en este país tan sensible a los vaivenes económicos internacionales.

Social Watch El Salvador
Mario Paniagua

Scarlett Cortez
Ana María Galdámez
[1]

En El Salvador, ya finalizó el primer gobierno de izquierda, a cargo del Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN). Su eje ha sido la ejecución de diversos planes de apoyo a sectores históricamente excluidos, como los adultos mayores, las mujeres, las niñas, los niños y la población rural. Las mejoras en materia de salud y de educación son notorias, pero también lo es la necesidad de cambios estructurales, como una reforma fiscal que permita financiar con recursos propios programas sociales que dependen de fondos procedentes del exterior. Es un desafío clave para dotar de sustentabilidad a los avances logrados en este país tan sensible a los vaivenes económicos internacionales.

La Educación avanza

Uno de los programas más exitosos en la rama educativa ha sido el Plan Social Educativo “Vamos a la Escuela” implementado desde el año 2009, este ha representado importantes avances en la calidad y el acceso a la educación para todas y todos. [2]

El principal logro que se puede destacar de este Plan es el Programa de Paquetes Escolares, que beneficia a 1,386,767 estudiantes desde parvularia hasta 9º grado  y que además dinamizan la economía de la población, al generar actividades productivas para 5,000 MIPYMES y 50,000 empleos. Otros programas importantes en esta línea educativa de equidad son la ampliación del Programa de Alimentación y Salud Escolar (PASE) a nivel de educación media y de los Centros Educativos de las zonas urbanas del país, este programa ha beneficiado a 1,339,726 estudiantes con alimentos de 4,960 Centros Escolares y 233 Centros de Atención Inicial del ISNA. A esto hay que agregarle la realización del Programa Presidencial del “Vaso de Leche” que durante el 2012 beneficio a 500,000 estudiantes de 1,490 escuelas del Occidente, Centro y Norte del país, con un vaso de leche líquida 2 veces por semana.

Otro logro importante es la creación y la expansión del modelo de Escuela Inclusiva de Tiempo Pleno (EITP) que se ha convertido en el eje articulador y coordinador de todos los programas educativos que orienta la nueva propuesta organizativa de Sistemas Integrados, que aglutinan Centros de Estudios de una zona definida para optimizar recursos y ampliar la oferta de 9º y Bachillerato. Desarrolla un modelo pedagógico basado en metodologías activas más allá de las aulas y promueven un aprendizaje significativo a nivel de la ciencia y la tecnología, ayuda a construir una visión crítica y transformadora de la realidad, promueve actividades artísticas y deportivas que contribuyen a prevenir la violencia y a cohesionar las comunidades de entorno.

El modelo EITP ha tenido avances sustanciales, este modelo se inició en el 2011 con 22 Escuelas, en las modalidades Clásico y Post Escuela, hoy en el 2013, se tiene la participación de 145 Centros Escolares en experiencias “piloto” bajo el enfoque de EITP, que permite configurar los primeros 8 Sistemas Integrados de EITP en 3 municipios del país (85 Centros Escolares) y beneficiar a 50,608 estudiantes con metodologías activas en tiempo extendido en 55 municipios del país; el MINED se proyecta incorporar 1,369 escuelas a nivel nacional, configurando 159 sistemas integrados en 57 municipios.

El presupuesto para educación en estos últimos años ha tenido incrementos significativos, para este años 2014 se asignó un presupuesto de $885.5 millones, $21.6 millones más que el año anterior que fue de $863.9, para el 2012 fue de $790.8 millones. Esos recursos fueron orientados a impulsar el acceso equitativo y la permanencia de niñas, niños, jóvenes y adultos en el sistema escolar, a adecuar el currículo con aprendizajes significativos, a impulsar la investigación, la ciencia y la tecnología, a potenciar la formación permanente de la población y a dignificar al magisterio, entre otras tareas.

Las cifras de acceso a la educación ha aumentado, en el año 1991 la tasa neta de cobertura de educación primaria era de 75.5% de la población, mientras que el año 2012 se ubicó en un 93.7%, se avanzó en casi 20 puntos porcentuales en todos estos años. [3]

En 1991 el 85.2% de la población en edad productiva estaba alfabetizada, en el año 2012 esta tasa se ubica en 97.1%. Durante los últimos cuatro años, el Gobierno logró reducir en cinco puntos porcentuales el analfabetismo.

En cuanto a la tasa de supervivencia al Sexto grado, es decir la finalización de la educación primaria, se observa un incremento significativo, pues el porcentaje de alumnos que inician Primer grado y finalizan Sexto grado aumentó de 52.6% en 1991 a 83.9% en 2011.

Al analizar estos datos es necesario reconocer los avances logrados en los ODM 1 y 2 pero, si bien se ha reducido el nivel de pobreza (según los estándares actuales de medición) y mejorado la cobertura en educación, hay que seguir apostándole a estos indicadores, así como a mejorar la calidad educativa y tener mejores resultados en los indicadores de erradicación de la pobreza para lograr un crecimiento de país que sea justo e integral.

Las y los estudiantes han sido blanco de la violencia que afecta el país, según datos del Ministerio de Educación en los últimos cuatro años se reportaron 289 homicidios de estudiantes.

En el 2010, de acuerdo a cifras presentadas por Educación, hubo 55 estudiantes asesinados. En 2011, los casos aumentaron a 139. En 2012, año de la tregua entre pandillas, bajaron a 67 y el año 2013 fueron 28.
Las autoridades también informaron que en 2013 se reportaron 83 casos de agresiones a miembros de la comunidad educativa: estudiantes, docentes, directivos y padres de familia. Específicamente, se trató de ocho amenazas, dos desaparecidos, seis detenciones, 28 homicidios, seis hurtos, cinco casos de lesiones, un robo y un caso de violación.

La salud, desfinanciada

Aunque en 2011 se registraron mejoras en los indicadores oficiales de cobertura de los servicios de salud, muchas de las estrategias implementadas no tienen garantizada su continuidad, ya que dependen de fondos externos.

En los últimos años, el presupuesto asignado al Ministerio de Salud (MINSAL) ha tenido una tendencia al alza. En el año 2013 el presupuesto asignado fue de $565.6 millones, en el año 2014 fue de $570.70 millones.

Acciones como el incremento del presupuesto en salud ha permitido implementar la gratuidad en las consultas de salud, lo que contribuyó al incremento del 40% en la demanda de dichos servicios y a aumentar el abastecimiento de medicamentos en hospitales y unidades de salud de la red pública.

El Programa Nacional de Salud tiene como principales dificultades el déficit histórico en infraestructura, las barreras geográficas y la asignación de un presupuesto insuficiente para los requerimientos de sus servicios. De todos modos, la implementación de los Equipos Comunitarios de Salud Familiar (ECOS Familiares) por parte del gobierno ha permitido ampliar el acceso a este derecho básico a zonas que nunca antes habían contado con atención médica.

En lo últimos 4 años se instalaron 517 ECOS, 481 Ecos Familiares y 36 Ecos Especializados, de estos hay un Ecos Especializado en Salud Sexual y Reproductiva en cada una de las cuatro sedes de Ciudad Mujer que se encuentran en los municipios de Colón, Usulután, Santa Ana y San Martín, con un total de 80 recursos humanos. Los Ecos atienden a 1,894,866 personas en 164 municipios. [4]

Por otra parte, la mortalidad en menores de 5 años ha disminuido de 52 por cada mil nacidos vivos en el quinquenio 1992-2008 a 19 por cada mil nacidos vivos en el quinquenio 2003-2008. [5]

La epidemia del VIH-sida es en El Salvador tanto un problema de salud pública como una crisis de desarrollo. El VIH afecta por lo general a personas en sus años más productivos, perjudicando a las familias y a las comunidades y profundizando la pobreza.  En El Salvador desde 1984 hasta el 6 de junio del 2013 se han contabilizado 29.788 casos de VIH y VIH avanzado.

A pesar de que las tendencias siguen a la baja año con año (2008, 2,114; 2009, 1,814; 2010, 1,897 y 2011, 1,713 casos registrados) los principales sectores afectados siguen siendo los mismos: sobre todo niños, luego jóvenes en edad productiva y adultos. [6] 

Según el informe del PNUD la meta de detener y comenzado a reducir el VIH para el 2015 es difícil de dimensionar en el tiempo, ya que se tienen problemas de subregistro y todavía se está trabajando en definir la metodología de medición más apropiada. [7]

Para afrontar los desafíos en materia de salud es preciso obtener financiamiento a través de la recaudación dentro del país para dotar de sustentabilidad a los programas hoy implementados con fondos externos; transversalizar las cuestiones de género, de derechos humanos y del VIH en todos los sectores del sistema y en todas las etapas de la vida; diseñar e implementar una política de salud sexual y reproductiva; lograr la disminución de la mortalidad neonatal y de menores de cinco años y mantener la tendencia a la baja de la mortalidad materna, aunque ya haya cumplido el ODM al respecto.

El cuarto país más vulnerable del mundo

Según el último Censo de Población y Vivienda, este país contaba en 2007 con 5,7 millones de habitantes, mientras cerca de 2,9 millones de salvadoreños vivían en el extranjero. Es la nación más densamente poblada de la América continental y el más deforestado de todo el continente después de Haití.

El Equipo de Naciones Unidas de Evaluación y Coordinación en Caso de Desastres (UNDAC) ubicó en 2012 a El Salvador en el cuarto lugar entre los países más vulnerables del mundo por sus problemas ambientales y por los efectos del cambio climático que sufre.

El 88,7% del territorio nacional es vulnerable a eventos climáticos, y 95% de la población vive en condiciones de vulnerabilidad.

El cambio climático agrava la ya difícil situación de la agricultura y la falta de soberanía alimentaria. El país importa la mayor parte de alimentos que consume. La falta de producción local y nacional afecta la salud de la población, en especial la de niñas y niños, mujeres embarazadas y personas adultas mayores[8] .

El gobierno presentó en 2012 la Política Nacional de Medio Ambiente, pero es preciso diseñar e implementar un plan estratégico exhaustivo y financieramente sustentable para disminuir la vulnerabilidad y garantizar la habitabilidad del territorio. Es una asignatura pendiente de este gobierno, al que le quedan apenas dos años para desarrollar planes de ordenamiento territorial, educación ambiental y combate a la pobreza que permitan reducir los riesgos.

Leve crecimiento y una relativa disminución de la pobreza

Se estima que El Salvador ha tenido avances en materia de eliminación de la pobreza y el hambre. Se estima que el porcentaje de personas en pobreza extrema medida con la línea nacional disminuyó de 32.62% a 11.3% entre los años 1991 y 2012.[9]

A nivel nacional un 34.5% de los hogares se encuentran en pobreza; de estos el 8.9% se encuentra en pobreza extrema; mientras que el 25.6% están en pobreza relativa. En el área urbana el 29.9% de los hogares viven en pobreza de estos el 6.5% se encuentran en situación de pobreza extrema y el 23.4% en pobreza relativa. En el área rural un 43.3% de hogares se encuentran en pobreza, de los cuales el 13.6% están en pobreza extrema y el 29.8% en pobreza relativa. Uno de los principales factores de pobreza es el desempleo que afecta a 165,439personas lo que representa una tasa de desempleo a nivel nacional de 6.1% que en el área urbana es de 6.2% y en el área rural de 5.8%; el desempleo afecta  mayormente a los hombres con un índice de desempleo de 7.3% que a las mujeres con un 4.3%. [10] .

El Salvador ha sido el país más afectado por la crisis económica en América Latina. En 2009, el PIB se contrajo 3,5%, las remesas (que representaban casi 18% del PIB) cayeron 9,9%, y la deuda pública pasó de 42,5% en 2007 al 53% en 2009. En los últimos años la economía salvadoreña ha comenzado a recuperarse a un ritmo lento: en 2011 registró un crecimiento del 2%, del 1.6 en 2012 y del 1.9% en 2013. Según datos oficiales se estima que en 2014 crecerá un 2.1%. 

Un indicador positivo son las exportaciones hacia Centroamérica, el segundo mercado más importante para el país después de Estados Unidos, y por segundo año consecutivo El Salvador le vende  más a la región de lo que le compra. Otro importante factor que mantiene a flote la economía del país son las remesas, que en 2013 cerraron con un crecimiento del 5.1 % en comparación con 2012, con un ingreso total de $3,969 millones. Solo en enero de este año, el país recibió $289 millones de remesas de los hermanos lejanos la mayoría residentes en Estados Unidos, este ingreso es el mayor registrado desde 2008, previo a la crisis económica global.

Conclusión

Al inicio del segundo período del FMLN en la presidencia del país, se vuelve imperiosa la necesidad de consolidar e institucionalizar los programas gubernamentales que han permitido mejorar el acceso a la salud y a la educación.

En esta etapa de transición política es importante que para garantizar el desarrollo integral y equitativo de la población salvadoreña se garantice la continuidad de los programas sociales en salud, educación y las ayudas solidarias que fortalecen la producción agrícola y económica de los sectores que históricamente fueron excluidos del desarrollo del país. Pero para esto las reformas fiscales se vuelven cada vez más urgentes y necesarias con el objetivo de controlar con efectividad la elusión y la evasión de impuestos y ampliar así la recaudación para financiar estos programas y superar el déficit estatal. También es preciso que las empresas privadas y las principales gremiales que las aglutinan se comprometan con los proyectos que impulsa el gobierno, de modo que prime el bien común sobre los intereses particulares.

Notas:

[1]  Integrantes de las organizaciones que conforman Social Watch El Salvador(CIDEP, MEC, ASAFOCAIS, FCS, FNV) Agradecen el apoyo para esta publicación de: César Artiga, Miguel Ángel Dueñas, Omar García)
[2]Informe Rendición de Cuentas Institucional, Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador, mayo 2012- junio 2013; http://www.mined.gob.sv/administrator/components/com_docestandar/upload/documentos/RENDICION%20DE%20CUENTAS%20jun2012-may2013.pdf
[3]Informe de la Agenda de Desarrollo Post 2015 “El país que queremos”, El Salvador 2014
[4]Informe de Rendición de Cuentas, Ministerio de Salud 2013-2014.
[5]Encuesta Nacionald e Salud Familiar, El Salvador 2008.
[6]Ministerio de Salud, MINSAL 2013
[7]Informe de la Agenda de Desarrollo Post 2015 “El país que queremos”, El Salvador 2014
[8]http://audienciaclimaticaelsalvador.blogspot.com
[9]  PNUD EL Salvador,  Informe de la Agenda de Desarrollo Post 2015 “El país que queremos”,  abril 2014.

[10] Ministerio de Economía, Dirección General de Estadísticas y Censos, “Encuesta de Hogares y Propósitos Múltiples 2012”

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Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals 2015

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Unlike many developing countries, India’s economy has been growing at a fast pace, enabling the government to mobilize the necessary resources internally for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Its dependence on international aid, especially for financial resources is minimal; in fact it has declined bilateral aid from many countries. Despite this, however, the country has failed to achieve most of the goals and targets. The main reasons for this are inadequate funding, inappropriate administration and ignorance of policy and governance issues. Ultimately however, the failure is due to the absence of inclusiveness in the development model. Instead of enabling people to acquire basic needs such as food, sanitation, water, health care, the government is promoting ‘non-inclusive growth’ and has sought to provide basic services through subsidies with the associated problems of inefficiency and corruption. The organized sector, which provides quality employment, employs only 12% to 13% of the workforce. The remaining 87% are relegated to agriculture and the informal sector with low and uncertain earnings. The crisis in agriculture, seen in the millions of farmers’ suicides, is now being exacerbated by climate change. Although the government has prepared an ambitious climate change action plan, the focus so far in implementing the plan is limited to investment and technology, ignoring critical issues such as equity, institutional capacity and good governance.

Bhaskara Rao Gorantla, Research Director, National Social Watch, India[1]
Ajay Kumar Ranjan, Research Officer, National Social Watch, India

India’s progress towards achieving the MDGs, as reported in the latest official India MDG Report is summarized at Table 1. As the table shows, India is likely to fall short of a majority of the targets and indicators with respect to Goal 1: poverty and hunger; Goal 3: gender equality; Goal 4: infant mortality, Goal 5: maternal mortality and Goal 7: environmental sustainability, all of which, with the possible exception of environmental sustainability, is appalling. Even the partial successes achieved on targets and indicators with respect to goal 2: education; Goal 6: health, have a few caveats. For example, the school enrollment rates are ahead of the targets, but the dropout rates are also high, making the enrollment rates meaningless. The incidence of HIV/AIDS has come down, but what is alarming is that HIV/AIDS incidence is increasing in states where it was hitherto low. There are also wide variations in the penetration of information and communication devices as agreed under Goal 8: development partnership. And, as the report indicates, the performance of the majority of states on many of the goals and targets is even more appalling. The quality of achievements that have been made is also far from satisfactory.

Issues and challenges

The shortfalls in India’s performance towards achieving these goals can be attributed to three fundamental factors: namely, inadequate funding, inappropriate administration and ignorance of policy and governance issues.

In absolute terms, the government has been mobilizing staggering amounts of resources. For example, the social sector expenditure in the current Five Year Plan, which consists of rural development, elementary education, health and family welfare, women and child development and water and sanitation, has gone up from ₹181.46 billion (USD 3.299 billion) in 1999-2000 to ₹1,788.22 billion (USD 32.513 billion) in 2012-13. However, as a proportion of total expenditure, expenditure for health and family welfare has has fallen, from 9.10% in 2000-01 to 7.01% in 2012-13. During the same period the share going to water and sanitation has declined from 9.80% to 7.73% and the share to social welfare and nutrition has declined from 5.07% to 4.75%. Only the share allocated to education has increased from 10.89% to 14.60%. Even in this area, the goal of spending 6% of GDP on education remained unfulfilled.

The major reason for these shortfalls is that state governments, which are mandated to address social sector needs, are not getting adequate resources and do not have full freedom to mobilize funds from the market and international sources. The central government commands the bulk of the funds and is increasing its allocations towards social sector needs through centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs). But, the cost of administration of these schemes is high and has been increasing steadily over the years, resulting in less funds going to the actually intended purposes. For example, under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment (MANREGA) scheme, which received ₹1,665.16 billion (USD 30.276 billion) between 2006-07 and 2011-12, only 66% of this amount was spent on actual wage employment and 34% was used for administration and other purposes. Further, there are host of problems with respect to the CSSs, such as leakage, misappropriation of funds, and so on, so that the impact of these schemes is far from satisfactory. India is one of three out of a total of eighty-one study countries which experienced an increase in the hunger index between 2006 and 2011 and is doing worse on health indicators than are less developed countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The underlying cause of all of these failures is the lack of inclusiveness in the development model. Instead of enabling the people to acquire basic needs such as food, sanitation, water, and health care, the government is promoting ‘non-inclusive growth’ and has sought to provide basic social services through subsidized institutions that all have problems of inefficiency, corruption, and so on. The formal, organized sector, which is the main source of quality employment, employs only 12% to 13% of the country’s workforce. The remaining 87% are relegated to the agriculture and informal sectors with low and uncertain earnings. Though the economy has been growing at phenomenal pace during last decade, employment in the formal sector has declined in absolute numbers from 28.113 million in 1999 to 27.549 in 2008. Further, the quality of employment in this sector has been deteriorating over the last decade.

With the suicide of more than a quarter million farmers in last several years, agriculture has become a crisis for about two-thirds of the population. This crisis has been greatly aggravated by climate change. Although India prepared an ambitious climate change action plan and undertook eight national missions to meet climate change challenges in different sectors, apparently the major focus of these missions is on investment and technologies. More critical issues such as equity, institutional capacity and governance have not received sufficient attention.

Table 1: India’s progress towards achieving the MDGs

The way forward

The “success” that India has achieved through deregulation and other economic reform measures proves that economic liberalization can greatly improve productivity and accelerate economic growth. However, the reform measures have so far been confined to the economic sphere, especially, to the manufacturing and service sectors. The country needs paradigm shifts in agriculture, natural resource management, development planning and governance. Recommendations for bringing about such shifts include:

  1. Governance:  Focus on enabling the people to achieve rights and entitlements on their own rather than making them dependent on the state’s largess. In the short run the direct cash transfer may be the best option instead various subsidies, which have larger administrative costs and lead to various distractions. True decentralization is the best possible method to get genuine peoples’ participation in governance and decision-making. Towards this, the government should implement the reservation of seats for women in the Parliament as well as in state assemblies and councils.
  2. Economy: Focus on employment oriented products and processes in industrialization and services. Create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship development. Focus on promoting cooperatives instead of only the public-private partnership model.
  3. Agriculture: Focus on implementing biodiversity cropping patterns in place of the current focus on ‘industrial cultivation.’

Notes:

Government of India, Millennium Development Goals: India Country Report 2011 (New Delhi, Central Statistical Office, 2011).

See Planning Commission, Midterm Appraisal of the Eleventh Five Year Plan, New Delhi, 2011. Available at: http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/mta/11th_mta/chapterwise/Comp_mta11th.pdf. (Accessed on 12 November 2012; and N.C. Saxena, Administrative Reforms for Better Governance (New Delhi: Daanish Books, 2012), p.93.

Government of India Planning Commission, Data for use of Deputy Chairman, New Delhi, 2012, p. 21. Available at: http://planningcommission.nic.in/data/datatable/0904/comp_data0904.pdf. (Accessed on 12 November 2012).

Ministry of Rural Development, “MGNREGA Sameeksha: An Anthology of Research Studies on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005-2006–2012 (New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2012).

Cited in Saxena, Administrative Reforms,  2012, p. 92.

Ibid., p.95.

Planning Commission, Data for use of Deputy Chairman, 2012.

S.Mehrotra, A. Gandhi, B. K. Sahoo, and P. Saha, “Creating Employment in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan,Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 47, no. 19, 2011.

G. Bhaskara Rao, “Current Climate Variability Adaptation in AP and Available Options,” GEF – FAO – BIRD Strategic Pilot on Adaptation to Climate Change (SPACC) Project, Hyderabad, 2012. Available at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5066u5_umeGYnM5bGd6RHdRZ21PRUVONmJGTEdrZw/edit> (Accessed on 12 November 2012).

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Progress towards the MDGs

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Despite the vision of the Somali Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a pro-poor instrument and support from the international community, Somalia is unlikely to meet most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Almost 66% of the population is living in severe poverty. Moreover, with another food crisis looming on the horizon, Somalia will not be able to recover from the worst famine in 60 years, one that affected over one-third of its population in 2011. Armed conflict continues in many areas of the country and the international aid system is unable to meet basic needs: again 857,000 are now in need of emergency aid. Ambitious plans of governments are always thwarted by fierce armed insurgency, and the aid agencies strive to mitigate the impacts as the disasters come and go. Somalia is amongst the largest aid recipients in the world. But why progress is not made towards the MDGs? Why the country is unable to break the vicious cycle of crisis?

Ilyas Ibrahim Mohamed
Social Watch Somalia Coalition

Despite the vision of the Somali Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a pro-poor instrument and support from the international community, Somalia is unlikely to meet most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Almost 66% of the population is living in severe poverty. Moreover, with another food crisis looming on the horizon, Somalia will not be able to recover from the worst famine in 60 years, one that affected over one-third of its population in 2011. Armed conflict continues in many areas of the country and the international aid system is unable to meet basic needs: again 857,000 are now in need of emergency aid. Ambitious plans of governments are always thwarted by fierce armed insurgency, and the aid agencies strive to mitigate the impacts as the disasters come and go. Somalia is amongst the largest aid recipients in the world. But why progress is not made towards the MDGs? Why the country is unable to break the vicious cycle of crisis?

At a time when major breakthroughs were taking place in the history of development in 1990s, including the appearance of new approaches, most importantly the human development, Somalia was in its death throes. Moreover, the two decades of armed conflict that followed the state collapse in 1991 have taken a heavy toll on people, institutions, the economy and the environment.

Nevertheless, the first post-civil war administration, the four-year old Transitional National Government of Somalia (TNG) was among the states that participated in drawing up the Millennium Declaration in 2000. The formation of Transitional Federal Institutions in Somalia in 2004 was seen as a critical opportunity to “achieve peace and security, promote governance and the rule of law, begin recovery, reconstruction and development, reverse regression from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and advance sustainable socio-economic development throughout Somalia.”

In 2005, responding to the request of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the international community, the United Nations Development Group and the World Bank co-directed a Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA), the first and the largest of its kind in Somalia. The main objective of the Somali Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) was ‘to assess needs and develop a prioritized set of reconstruction and development initiatives to support Somali-led efforts to deepen peace and reduce poverty,’d a process that finally produced the Somali Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a pro-poor instrument, strategy and a framework for recovery and development interventions.

However, progress reports produced since 2007 by UNDP Somalia and the TFG have indicated that the country is lagging far behind track to meet most of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Oxford’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) reported from a 2006 survey that 65.6% of the population lives in severe poverty, lacking basic services, including access to education. Moreover, the Fund for Peace report in 2012 indicated that appalling as it was in the past, the situation is growing worse. Together with the rest of Horn of Africa, Somalia is now facing another food crisis, and the politicized aid system is unable to meet basic needs.

With few months remaining until the MDGs target date of 2015, why is there so little change in Somalia? What will it take to achieve the MDGs? Or rather what will it take to overcome challenges that are hindering progress towards the MDGs? While such questions cannot be answered in this short report, as they involve much broader discussions, it is important to describe the situation to stimulate more national and global debates for better post 2015 reform.

Vicious cycle of crises

Progress towards achieving the MDGs in Somalia is confronted with worst combination of challenges the country has faced in many years. Yet, except for piracy, problems of insecurity, anarchy, human rights violations, displacement and droughts, to name just a few, have existed long before the before the MDGs were adopted.

While UNDP’s 2010 International Assessment report, “What will it take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?” stated that progress on one of the MDGs contributes to progress in the others, calling for a multisectoral approach and coordination, it would not be practical to consider progress on one challenge as a real achievement before making sure that it not causing regression on other challenges. Progress is multifaceted problem.

Massive deforestations, concomitant shortages in rainfall, and the long-neglected impacts of droughts are the main issues related to conflict and environment. Although the incidence of off-shore piracy has declined, it is generally recognized, including by the UN Security Council that patrolling the coast is not enough to fight piracy without addressing its underlying causes – social, economic and environmental.

Illegal fishing and waste dumping are now seen as a new form of piracy, including by the new pirates themselves. However, the fact that wastes have been imported to Somalia since the onset of the chaos is hard to refute. The 2004 Tsunami also washed some strange objects ashore, primarily in Puntland. A report by Al Jazeera Arabic on 2 November 2012 showed a strange barrel that washed up on the Mogadishu coast. Lack of equipment and specialized government agencies prevents the analysis of such objects and the assessment of their danger on health and the environment.

Recently, the combination of pirates kidnapping ships, boats and crews for ransom, and the Combined Task Force 150 doing the same to curb piracy has done much to make Somalia less attractive as a waste dumping destination. However, the by-product is more than 2,000 people involved in piracy acts, the majority of them young people who can no longer fish beyond three kilometres without being arrested as pirates or livestock keepers who had lost their livestock to frequent droughts, and even educated individuals who cannot find jobs. This will continue to jeopardize security if the causes are not addressed. The question is, has the impact of piracy that also affected food prices for the poor purchasing power been curbed?

In addition, continuous armed confrontations are not only causing death and destruction of property but also affecting environment. The worst confrontations took place in the southern agro-pastoralist areas in 2006, when Ethiopian troops entered Somalia. The environmental implications of the new settlements of Elasha-Biyaha – situated between Mogadishu and Afgoi, an agricultural district known for its fresh vegetables and fruits, including bananas – are too early to predict.

While security in Mogadishu has improved as armed confrontations moved to agricultural areas of Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle, as well as to the regions of Lower Jubba, Gedo, Bay, Bakool and Hiiran, the costs for these badly drought-affected areas will be huge. If the confrontations intensify in these regions, it will cause damages to the meagre agricultural resources, causing the agro-pastoralists slide back into famine.

Furthermore, the strides made in stabilizing Mogadishu are coupled with deteriorating personal security in the so-called liberated areas, including Merka, Jowhar, Kismayo and parts of Mogadishu. Rape cases have also increased, particularly among women in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camps according to reports by activists. Targeted killings, particularly of journalists, are still widespread in Mogadishu.

The fact that more areas have become accessible, given the weakness of Government security forces, is undoubtedly creating favourable conditions for increased rates of crimes and violations. Hence, resorting to ‘muscles’ is not enough to ensure stabilization without addressing underlying causes, including the reasons that made these areas fertile land for the current insurgency. Unless this happens, progress, achievements, even stability is unlikely to be sustained as progress in some sectors results in regression in others, and impacts that have been mitigated may make a resurgence if their causes are left intact.

Coordination conundrum

Then again, why progress is more or less the same in stable areas of Somalia, where the situation is less complex and access is smooth? The Somaliland Millennium Development Report concluded that the direct implementation of programmes, without local coordination, resulted in inappropriate prioritization and increased delivery cost. Not utilizing the existing development expertise and obtainable facts and figures, and not taking into account the priorities of local beneficiaries turned aid into “rain, where no one has a say about when, where, and how much to rain”. In such cases the aid organizations themselves are perceived by the public as clouds that carry such rain.

The dozens of organizations that work in these stable areas assess the needs prior to their interventions, as a practical way to discover the needs of destitute people. However, the findings are seldom used to refine objectives, develop new strategies or design new interventions that are tailored to the needs of the targeted people. They are very often used for validating ideas of pre-decided objectives of a certain project.

One rural villager, addressing a team commissioned in 2012 to conduct assessments in that area, stated: ‘Every month, two or three assessment teams come to our village enquiring about our needs. We tell them the challenges we face. They disappear and do not come back. I wonder what kind of needs these people look for that they are not seeing in our communities.’

Coordination and information sharing saves time and resources for organizations looking for information. Establishing a data and information hub that continuously generates evidence and facilitates interventions is not unknown in Somalia. For example, an effective information management system administered by OCHA is already in place. This includes the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) 3Ws (Who, What, Where), and infographic and geospatial products that made it easier to coordinate humanitarian interventions in Somalia.

There are many other successful examples that other development interventions could follow, adjust to the nature of their work and use for measuring impacts. Measuring impact, however, is not viable with the current approach, where Somali aid dependants exaggerate in order not to lose the opportunity of being targeted.

Moreover, the expected impact itself – as the current reality on ground proves – is not likely to be achieved while some other needs that render it impossible are not prioritized. As such coordination requires as much information as possible, any data on the needs of beneficiaries should be circulated and addressed in one way or another.

Building Better Responses

The election of the new President in Mogadishu, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, marked the end of the transition period. The new government and parliament has also been perceived as ‘Revolution by Somali Civil Society,’ that is, mainly by academics and civil society activists.

However, for the average Somali, over two decades of transitional governments and chaos, and nearly a decade of confusion which preceded the collapse of the state in 1991, can be summed up in the words of the Somalia Special Envoy to the United States, Abukar Arman:

“Still, the average Somali sees his/her government as the archetype of power abuse, the magnet of demagoguery, the personification of partisanship, the agents of disunity, the epitome of incompetence, the exploiters of resources, the executioners of injustice, the promoters of corruption, the purveyors of propaganda, the distorters and manipulators nationalism, of duty, of citizenship, and mutual interest!”

Therefore the biggest challenge that the current Government faces is not security, it is the ‘hungry and angry’ people still counting on change.

At no time in history of Somalia has the hope for changing this perception been more possible than now, with public worn out and striving to sustain the little hope that has existed in Mogadishu recently, and the Government run by visionary intellectuals who are fully aware and even affected by the turmoil over the last two decades.

With the establishment of Somaliland Development Fund (SDF), Somaliland has started playing active role in leading development interventions in their territories. It is about time for the Federal Government, learning from the experience of previous government, to initiate the initiatives of meeting the needs of its people.

Region: 
left

Seulement le but de la lutte contre le VIH / SIDA est proche

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
<p> La crise de l’économie congolaise a été occasionnée par l’effondrement du cours de cuivre et le choc pétrolier des années 1974, suivie de la zaïrianisation, renforcée par la mauvaise gouvernance et la forte poussée démographique déversant chaque année sur le marché de l’emploi un nombre important de personnes en âge de travailler. Cette crise est exacerbée par les pillages de 1991 et 1993 ainsi que les guerres de libération de 1996 et 1998. Il existe une grande pauvreté dans le pays et nous ne constatons aucune volonté observée dans la politique de création de l’emploi. Environ 80% de la population n’a pas accès ni à l’eau potable ni à l’électricité, 70% n’a pas accès aux soins primaires et le pays a l’un des plus forts taux de mortalité infantile. La constitution consacre l’enseignement primaire obligatoire et gratuit mais la matérialisation de ce principe continue à poser problème. Quant’ a la promotion de genre, certes il y a des avancées, mais l’on constante encore que des filles et des femmes sont soumises à l’esclavage sexuel et à des mariages forcés, ou sont victime de harcèlement sexuel. </p>

Social Watch DR Congo

SITUATION DE L’EMPLOI

L’économie congolaise n’est pas dans son assiette. Et pourtant ce n’est pas une situation récente. La crise de l’économie congolaise remonte à une période lointaine. Elle a été occasionnée par l’effondrement du cours de cuivre et le choc pétrolier des années 1974, suivie de la zaïrianisation, renforcée par la mauvaise gouvernance et la forte poussée démographique déversant chaque année sur le marché de l’emploi un nombre important de personnes en âge de travailler. Cette crise est exacerbée par les pillages de 1991 et 1993 ainsi que les guerres de libération de 1996 et 1998. De ce fait, nous ne constatons aucune volonté observée dans la politique de création de l’emploi. La politique nationale de l’emploi n’existe pas jusqu’au jour d’aujourd’hui, elle est toujours en cours d’élaboration selon les dires de la directrice de la direction de l’emploi[1].

CORRUPTION

La bonne gouvernance de gestion des ressources continue à poser problème. L’impunité bat son plein et la corruption est devenueun mode de vie.
Etat actuel de la corruption

  • Constat : La situation sérieuse et préoccupante de la corruption parle Gouvernement congolais, les médias, les organisations religieuses, les organisations de la société civile et la population.
  • Situation reflétée dans les indices de la gouvernance :

            -Transparence International : 2 sur 10, 168e sur 182 pays couverts[2];
- Indicateurs de la Banque Mondiale[3]:

Indices clés

2008

2009

Participation et transparence

9,1/100

8,5/100

Qualité réglémentaire

7,2/100

4,3/100

Contrôle de la corruption

5,8/100

2,9/100

Stabilité politique

2,4/100

2,8/100

Efficacité du gouvernment

1,9/100

1,9/100

Etat de droit

1,9/100

1,9/100

- Indice de compétitivité[4]: 175e sur 183 pays analysés.
- Indice d’ouverture budgétaire 2010 : 6/100, une amélioration marginale par rapport  au score de 0/100 obtenu en 2008.
- Doing Business 2012[5] : 181e sur 185 pays classifiés.

DESSERTE EN EAU ET ENERGIE

La desserte en eau et en énergie pose un sérieux problème en RDC, environ 80% de la population, soit près de 50 millions d’individus, n’ont accès ni à l’eau potable ni à l’électricité; pourtant qu’elle possède des ressources énergétiques abondantes et variées notamment la biomasse, l’hydraulique, le pétrole, les gaz naturels…
Selon le bilan énergétique 2010 de la RDC, il se dégage les informations statistiques importantes ci-après[6] :

  • L’année 2010 a connu un approvisionnement national de l’ordre de 24.116 ktep tandis que la consommation finale totale s’élève à 22.611 ktep;
  • la consommation finale de l’énergieen RDC est de 0.30 tep/hab. Elle demeure inférieure à la moyenne africaine qui est de 0.48 tep/hab. et à la moyenne mondiale qui se situe à 1.25 tep/hab.;
  • 94,2% de la consommation finale totale provient de la biomasse (bois de feu et charbon de bois) alors que les autres formes d’énergie contribuent à raison de seulement 3,4% pour les produits pétroliers et 2,4% pour l’électricité.

PAUVRETÉ

Au plan social, la RDC connaît une situation précaire marquée par une grande pauvreté de sa population sur l’ensemble de son territoire. Quelques indicateurs disponibles permettent d’appréhender l’étendue de ces problèmes[7]:

  • environ 16 millions de personnes sont victimes de précarité alimentaire selon le Programme Alimentaire Mondial (PAM);
  • une grande majorité d’habitants dépendent d’activités économiques informelles pour leur survie et disposent d’une ration calorique quotidienne de 1630 kcal/personne/jour, inférieure de plus d’un tiers à ce qu’il faut pour se maintenir en bonne santé;
  • au plan sanitaire, 70% des personnes n’ont pas accès aux soins primaires ;

Le pays a l’un des plus forts taux de mortalité infantile, 148 pour 1.000 naissances entre 2002 et 2007. 

ACCES A LA SANTE

Septante pour cent des personnes n’ont pas accès aux soins primaires ;
Le pays a l’un des plus forts taux de mortalité infantile, 148 pour 1.000 naissances entre 2002 et 2007[8]. 

SITUATION DE L’EDUCATION

Le Droit à l’éducation scolaire est reconnu par la loi et la constitution consacre l’enseignement[9] primaire obligatoire et gratuit dans les établissements publics mais la matérialisation de ce principe continue à poser problème. Nous assistons au phénomène «pris en charge des enseignants par les parents»

PROMOTION DU GENRE

La RDC a ratifié et adhéré à plusieurs instruments juridiques internationaux, régionaux et sous régionaux pour le respect de genre.
Elle dispose de la politique nationale genre (PNG) et son plan d’action ainsi que d’une stratégie nationale de lutte contre les violences sexuelles basées sur le genre(SNVBG). Certes il y a des avancées, mais l’on constante encore que des filles et des femmes sont soumises à l’esclavage sexuel, à des mariages forcés et à des grossesses non désirées, ou sont victime de harcèlement sexuel à l’école, à l’université, sur lieux de travail ou encore au sein même de leur famille. Ces actes entravent le potentiel humain et la contribution efficiente des femmes au développement durable de la nation congolaise.

Tableau N° 20 : Indice de la condition de la femme en en RDC[10] : éducation


Indice de la condition de la femme en RDC : Education

Sous
composante

Indicateurs

Sexe

Indice de
Parité

Femmes

Hommes

1

Scolarisation

Taux de scolarisation préscolaire

2,9

3 ,1

0,94

Taux de scolarisation primaire (net)

72

78

0,92

Taux de scolarisation secondaire (net)

29,9

33,4

0,81

Taux de scolarisation supérieur (brut)

80 646

308 739

0 ,26

2

Fin d’études

Proportion d’élèves qui commencent
la première année et terminent leurs
études primaires

40,7

47,3

0 ,86

3

Alphabétisation

Taux d’alphabétisation des 15-24 ans

62,3

83,1

0,75

 

Total

 

0,76

 

INITIATIVE POUR LA TRANSPARENCE DES INDUSTRIES EXTRACTIVES

La RDC a adhéré à l’ITIE en 2005 et obtenu le statut de pays candidat le 1er Novembre 2007. Son premier rapport portant sur l’exercice 2007 a été rendu public le 10 Mars 2010 et diffusé largement par la société civile à travers toutes les provinces de la RDC. Son deuxième rapport portant sur l’exercice 2008-2009 qui fait l’objet de la présente dissémination, a été publié le 1er Mars 2012 à Kinshasa. Le rapport 2008-2009 est un signal fort pour l’engagement de la RDC à l’ITIE et une étape importante vers sa validation comme pays conforme au mois de mars 2013[11].

REDUCTION DES EMISSIONS DE GAZ A EFFET DE SERRE LIEE A LA DEFORESTATION ET DEGRADATION

La RDC s’est engagée résolument depuis 2009 dans un processus de préparation au futur dispositif international de réduction des émissions liées à la déforestation et à la dégradation des forêts (REDD+).
Ce processus est piloté par le Ministère de l’Environnement, Conservation de la Nature et Tourisme (MECNT), en partenariat avec le programme des Nations-Unies pour la REDD (UN-REDD) et la Banque Mondiale (programme FCPF).
Nous sommes à la fin de la phase préparatoire qui devrait normalement être sanctionné par l’élaboration de la stratégie nationale REDD+, mais le processus a connu certaines:
L’évaluateur a notamment formulé deux recommandations clés, à savoir:

  • La phase de Préparation de la RDC doit être consolidée au-delà de décembre 2012 et sera finalisée lors de la phase d’investissement.
  • La RDC prépare d’ici décembre 2012 une Stratégie-cadre REDD+ qui sera présentée à la Conférence des Parties (COP18) au Qatar.

AGRESSION A L’EST DE LA RDC

La guerre injuste imposée à la population de la province du Nord Kivu continue à semer de graves désolations: Déplacement massif de  population, viols et violences. Les plus récents sont celles datées du 16 au 18 novembre 2012. Plusieurs sources indiquent l’implication du Rwanda[12].

CONCLUSION

En terme de progrès, les résultats de l’enquête MICS 2010 indiquent que des réelles chances sont observées pour la réalisation en 2015 de certaines cibles à travers les efforts réalisés en matière de lutte contre le VIH/SIDA (objectif 6, Cible 6A) et d’autonomisation des femmes (objectif 3, Cible 3A). Pour les objectifs liés à la lutte contre la pauvreté (objectif 1, cible 1C), à l’éducation pour tous d’ici 2015 (objectif 2, cible 2A), la santé infantile (objectif 4, cible 4A), la lutte contre le paludisme (objectif 6, cible C) et l’assainissement (objectif 7, cible 7C) aucun réel progrès n’est observé. Enfin, les progrès sont mitigés en matière de santé maternelle (objectif 5, cible 5A), et d’accès à l’eau potable[13] (objectif 7, cible 7C).

Sur le plan économique

Des efforts importants ont été fournis par le Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo dans le sens de l’amélioration de la gouvernance économique. Ces efforts commencent à produire des résultats mais beaucoup de choses restent encore à faire.

Plusieurs  mesures  ont été prises par le Gouvernement parmi lesquelles on peut citer à titre illustratif :

  • La réforme des finances publiques avec  la loi n°11/013 du 13 juillet 2011 relative aux Finances Publiques ;
  • L’introduction depuis janvier 2012 de la Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée ;
  • La bancarisation de la paie des fonctionnaires de l’Etat ;
  • La mise en place en avril 2013 d’un Guichet unique de création d’entreprise grâce auquel la durée de la procédure est passée de 62 jours à 3 jours
  • Etc

Grâce à toutes ces mesures, le pays a enregistré quelques résultats notamment un taux de croissance de 8% en 2013, un taux d’inflation de 1% en fin 2013, un taux de change qui est demeuré stable autour de 920 Francs Congolais pour le dollar américain, depuis près de quatre ans.

Pacification de l’Est de la RDC

La population de l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo notamment de la province de Nord, du Sud Kivu et de la Province Orientale est souvent victime de toutes les guerres d’agression et de rébellion qu’a connue notre pays. Le tout commence d’abord dans la province du Nord Kivu devenu comme le terrain des théâtres des affrontements des groupes armés. La population de cette région n’a vécu que sous les affres de la guerre avec la présence de plusieurs groupes armées tant nationaux qu’étrangers. Avec l’avènement de la signature de l’Accord cadre pour la paix, la sécurité et la coopération pour la République Démocratique du Congo et la région, intervenue à Addis Abebas le 24 février 2013 par 11 pays de la région et la Résolution 2098 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies dotant la MONUSCO (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en RDC) la brigade d’intervention rapide d’un mandat offensif, la paix dans cette partie du pays est rétablie. Les moments forts sont la dissuasion de la rébellion et la reddition de FDLR (Force Démocratique de Libération du Rwanda).Cette paix reste encore fragile à l’intérieur tout comme à l’extérieur et mérite d’être consolidé pour rassurer cette population qui a souffert pendant de longues années.

Processus électoral5

Depuis la publication du calendrier électoral  des élections urbaines, municipales et locales directes et indirectes le 26 mai 2014 par la Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante(CENI), le processus électoral est relancé en République Démocratique du Congo avec controverse. Surtout l’opposition et certaines organisations de la société civile  n’adhèrent pas à ce calendrier sous prétexte de la prolongation délibérée du mandat du président de la République et d’autres par contre le non achèvement du cycle électoral de 2011, elles exigent un calendrier global des élections. Cette position est relayée par la communauté internationale à travers les envoyés spéciaux à l’issue de leurs rencontres et consultations avec les différents acteurs du microcosme politique national ( Présidence de la République, Premier Ministre, membres de la CENI, activistes de la société civile, animateurs du Mécanisme National de Suivi de l’Accord-cadre d’Addis-Abeba, etc.), ont animé une conférence de presse au cours de laquelle ils demandent un calendrier global des élections à l’horizon 2016(point de presse du 3juin 2014 au quartier QG de la MONUSCO)

Révision constitutionnelle

En date du 09 juin 2014, à l’issue du Conseil extraordinaire des Ministres, Monsieur Lambert MENDE, le porte parole du gouvernement a annoncé l’adoption par le Gouvernement congolais du projet de loi portant modification de la Constitution sans dire quelles sont les dispositions visées, et c’est en prévision des prochaines élections. Cette question de la révision de la constitution fait jaser et laisse perplexe le commun de mortel. L’Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme(ASADHO) demande au gouvernement de s’abstenir de faire modifier les dispositions de l’article 220 de la Constitution et d’engager des consultations avec toutes les forces politiques et sociales pour la modification des autres dispositions non verrouillées de la Constitution et qui touchent à l’organisation des élections.

NOTES

[1]Ministère de travail et prévoyance sociale(Plan d’Action National pour l’Emploi des Jeunes

[2]Indice de perception de la corruption 2011 de Transparency International

[3]Indicateurs de gouvernance dans le monde 2009 de la Banque Mondiale

[4]Indice de compétitivité des entreprises 2011 de la Banque Mondiale

[5]Banque Mondiale 2012

[6]MINISTERE DES RESSOURCES HYDRAULIQUES ET ELECTRICITES (RAPPORT    ANNUEL SIE – RDC 2012) SIE :SYSTEME D’INFORMATION ENERGETIQUE

[7]voir enquête EDS de la CBT et rapport national des progrès des OMD ainsi que Annuaire statistique de la FAO de l’année 2005, RNDH 2008)

[8]idem

[9]Constitution de la république ; Article 43, 1er et 5ième alinéa

[10]Rapport National genre 2011

[11]Rapport synthèse  ITIE 2008-2009

[12]Rapport des Nations Unies 2012 ; les déclarations de la société civile du Nord Kivu 2012

[13]Encadré 4. Progrès vers les OMD (DSRP2)

 

Mot du Premier Ministre Matata Ponyo au 9ème Forum Bisannuel US-Africa Business Summit le 09 octobre 2013 à Chicago ;
² Allocution du Premier Ministre Matata Ponyo lors de la présentation du projet du budget 2014 le 08 janvier 2014 à l’Assemblée Nationale
3Accord cadre d’Addis Abebas du 24 février 2013
4Résolution 2098 du Conseil de sécurité de Nations Unies

5Point de presse du 3juin 2014 au QG de la MONUSCO animé par les envoyés spéciaux pour la région de Grand Lac
6 COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE N°011/ASADHO/2014

Region: 
left

Some steps forward, some steps back

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
The lack of political will seems to be the main obstacle on Ghana’s road to development and human well-being, but it is not the only one. This West African country has walked a long way towards poverty eradication, food security and education to all. But it can not provide yet medical services to all the population and free health care to all pregnant women, so maternal mortality remains very high, as gender inequities. In the meantime, the economy experiences a sustained growth.

Ghana Social Watch Coalition

The lack of political will seems to be the main obstacle on Ghana’s road to development and human well-being, but it is not the only one. This West African country has walked a long way towards poverty eradication, food security and education to all. But it cannot yet provide medical services to all the population and despite free health care to all pregnant women, maternal mortality remains very high, as do gender inequities. In the meantime, the economy experiences a sustained growth.

Ghana’s progress in attaining the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) has been a mixed one. Much effort has been made to reduce the numbers of the poor, to improve food security and to increase enrollment in primary schools. But progress has not been enough to meet other MDG goals and targets. By 2007, Ghana was hailed as one of the first countries in Sub-Saharan Africa on the right track to reach the target of poverty reduction. Between 1992 and 2006 the proportion of those living below the poverty line fell from 36.5% to 18.2%.

A key target was enrollment in primary and secondary education. From 1991 to 2008 the numbers of children registered in kindergarten increased from approximately 56% to nearly 90%. In the same period primary school enrollment increased from 74%d to nearly 95%, and at the level of junior high school it increased from 70% to 79%. Strides were made on MDG Goals 1 and 2.

It has been less successful in respect of other goals and targets.

Sadly in Ghana the number of women who die during child birth remains stubbornly high. Despite progress has been made with overall maternal mortality ratios falling from 540 per 100,000 live births to 450 per 100,000 live births between 1992 and 2008, attaining the MDG target of 185 per 100,000 live births is proving to be an even greater challenge and is unlikely to be met by 2015.

One major obstacle has been the shortage of skilled health care personnel. Currently coverage by skilled birth attendants is low. There is a challenge in that there are not enough trainees to take the place of the midwives who retire. There is also a gap between rural and urban areas in terms of access to health care. Rural areas are shortchanged by less access to qualified maternal care. The distances to health care facilities and to skilled personnel are also an issue for most. A pregnant woman’s decisions with regards to medical attention also depends on her level of poverty. Poor women are less likely to seek health care except when the situation is critical.

The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment, Goal 3, is another target that Ghana is unlikely to meet. Instead of increasing the numbers of women in decision-making positions in the public sector, today there are even less women in key areas. For example from 25 female members of the 200 member Parliament 2000, there are currently 19 women out of 230, a drop from 10% to 8.3 %. Women make up only 16% of the ministerial positions and 10% of the deputy ministers. There are also few women in decision-making ranks at the local government level. This inequality has been attributed to a lack of commitment from the government to meet the international commitments on the matter.

The picture then …

When the international community agreed the MDGs in 2000, Ghana was emerging from three decades of economic and political falls and recovery – the debt crisis of the 70s and 80s, the structural adjustment programs of the 80s and the slow recovery in the 90s.

Between 2000 and 2008, Africa experienced a period of sustained growth, with yearly averages of nearly 5%. These were attributed to internal and external factors, among them a high demand for commodities, inflows of aid, foreign investment primarily channeled into the extractive sector, the reform of state institutions to support private capital and the institutionalization of economic liberalization. The political stability in a number of countries in the region was also a factor. In this context, Ghana has been described as a beacon of peace and reliability in West Africa, and that image attracted investments and aid and boosted the economic growth.

With an economy that remains highly dependent on minerals and primary commodities exports, the record high prices of gold and cocoa boosted Ghana’s growth. The price of cocoa, the main agricultural export of this country, soared to a 32-year high in reaching USD 3,500 per metric ton. In that same year national cocoa production also reached a high of one million metric tons. Production was also boosted by incentives given to producers – higher farm gate prices, fertilizer and spraying programs to name just two. On the other hand, gold prices topped USD 1,900 per ounce in 2011. Nearly 1.5 million ounces were produced accruing revenues of USD 2.2 billion. According to the Ghana Chamber of Mines this represented an increase of over 30%. Ghana’s economy received a further boost with the discovery of commercial quantities of oil. Production and export commenced in 2010. In an apparent sign of the nation’s growing fortunes, Ghana was declared a middle income country in 2011.

Foreign aid has been an important source of development financing. Ghana is in many ways a donor darling and over the years has received aid in the form of budgetary and projects support. From under USD 300 million during the 1990s, aid reached a peak USD 924 million in 2004. By 2009, aid to Ghana was about USD 820 million. Expert Robert Osei notes that the bulk of the aid was directed at the energy sector in the form of loans, although a high percentage of grants were directed at the health sector. He argues that government seemed to place a high premium on infrastructure investment while donors where keen to support social sectors.

While the country’s economic fortunes were improving, steps were taken to address social challenges. Up until 2003, the health care sector was known as the ‘cash and carry’ system. It required the patients to pay before receiving care. This system not only deepened inequalities – it was particularly harmful to the poor and vulnerable as well. In response, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced in 2003. Its goal was to ensure equitable and universal health care services to all Ghanaians. The system was to be funded from a 2.5% levy on all goods and services, a percentage of social security contributions as well annual premiums. Coverage was to include inpatient and outpatient services, and essential drugs as determined by the scheme. However not all medical procedures and services are covered by the new system.

The Free Maternal Health Care Policy was introduced in 2008. It offers attention to pregnant women to reduce maternal and child mortality, and to encourage ante and post natal supervision.

Prior to the MDGs Ghana had adopted the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education Programme (FCUBE). In 2005 it introduced both the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programme to further encourage enrollment and attendance in primary schools.

... And now

On the surface Ghana has significantly progressed in development issues. But despite the advances, many of the conditions that disempowered the poor and vulnerable remain.

Poverty has a different face. Like several other countries that have seen sustained economic growth over the past decade, Ghana has graduated to the level of lower middle income country. Industry, services and agriculture are still the three main economic sectors. Yet despite the seemingly impressive growth, income and regional income disparities have been exacerbated in some instances – 28% of the population live with less than a dollar a day, according to the UNDP.[1]

Women in Ghana continue to be the heavily represented among the poor. The situation is even worse in the rural areas. Systemic and structural gender disparities hinder women’s access to productive resources and to their livelihoods.

Health costs remain prohibitive for the vulnerable, even with the introduction of the NHIS. Not all health providers accepted to be part of the scheme, which does not cover all drugs for the treatment of common ailments. A number of pharmacy shops withdrew from the system in the fear that government would not pay for medicines dispensed in a timely manner. Many patients must pay over the counter for drugs covered by the scheme. Using the service can be a time consuming experience for those who can afford it.

Despite the cost-free health care policy for pregnant women, maternal mortality ratios continue to be high. This may be tied to the gaps that this policy does not address. According to the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs only 24% of women in the lowest quintile of income attend a health facility during childbirth[2] . Many of them are poor women in rural areas, who in turn have large families (four to six children) and can not avail themselves of the free health services.

Addressing the high levels of maternal mortality would require recognize that women are not a homogenous group. Account must be taken not only of the challenges that those in the lowest quintile confront, but also the hurdles of other female groups. Civil society groups such as the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights continue to advocate for investment in family planning and education and in emergency obstetric care services especially in rural areas.

The low number of women in Ghana’s decision making positions means that, both at the national or at the local level, there are not concrete policy measures to address the structural gender inequalities and to promote women’s participation. The obstacles include traditional prejudices, negative perceptions about women in public positions and the lack of political will of the government and the parties to promote women’s effective participation.

The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana, issued in 2004 by feminist organizations after a broad debate, addresses the issue of the political will. The Manifesto formulates demands to government and political parties on 10 themes including women’s economic empowerment, land, social policy and development, human rights and the law, and politics and decision making. The 12 demands on politics and decision making enjoined the establishment to change the political culture and to ensure the participation of women at all levels.

Further efforts have been made to promote the inclusion of gender equality issues in the Constitution. In 2010 the Constitutional Review Commission called for the submission of recommendations. The Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), the Women’s Manifesto Coalition and the Domestic Violence Coalition made their proposals that included the prohibition of discrimination and bias on the grounds of sex or gender, to ensure gender balance and fair representation of marginalized groups in the recruitment and appointment to public office, to increase the participation of women in all public institutions, affirmative action measures for vulnerable groups, and that the amended Constitution adequately incorporates the concerns of women.

Post 2015

The aforementioned challenges are just a few of the many that will make it difficult for Ghana to meet the MDGs. And despite numerous official statements in support of these and other development goals the lack of political will could be the hardest obstacle.

Tackling these many challenges will require a mix of financial resources and strong political will. It may also require the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to play a stronger coordinating and oversight role, although it is not directly responsible for the programs aimed at improving the quality of women’s lives, such as the Free Maternal Health Care Policy. The Ministry’s very limited budget may be a stumbling-block, and it is unlikely that this branch of the government could get more resources in the foreseeable future.

While it is acknowledged that the targets set out by the MDGs are unlikely to be met by 2015, the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda is muted. Civil society continues to demand the government to provide the much needed support, financial and otherwise, to achieve a development that is sustainable and equitable for all.

References

Africa Progress Panel, 2012. Jobs, Justice and Equity. Seizing opportunities in times of global change. Africa Progress Report

Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) , March 2012, Statement of the Alliance for Reproductive Rights

Asante, Comfort. 2011. The Capitation Grant: Impact on enrollment of pupils in the Basic Education Schools in Ghana. A case study of some selected Junior High Schools in Sunyani Municipality

Daily Guide, July 2012; “Cash and Carry is Back” Article http://www.dailyguideghana.com/?p=55699

GoG, 2011, Budget Statement for the Year 2011, Appendix Tables.

Graham, Yao, 2012; Towards an Agenda for Social Justice Philanthropy in Africa in a time of Global Restructuring

Ministry of Health & UN Country Team, 2011; MDG Acceleration Framework and Country Action Plan, Maternal Health

National Development Planning Commission and UN System in Ghana, 2012; Achieving the MDGs with Equity in Ghana: Unmasking the Issues behind the Averages. Final Report

National Development Planning Commission, 2010, Medium Term National Development Policy Framework: Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) 2010 – 2013. Volume I

Osei, Robert Darko, 2012. Aid, Growth and Private Capital Flows to Ghana. UNU-WIDER Working Paper

Reuters, Sep. 2011 “Ghana H1 2011 gold output up 3 pct-chamber of mines”. Article http://www.reuters.com

Standard Bank 2010. Economics. Ghana: Annual Outlook.

Sumner, Andy, 2012. The New Face of Poverty: How has the Compostion of Poverty in Low Income and Middle Income Countries (excluding China) Changed since the 1990s

Women’s Manifesto Coalition, 2004; The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana

Zaney, GD. 2012. 8 Years of the Women’s Manifesto – An Appraisal.

Notes

[1] In 2006 the UNDP estimated percentage of the population living on less than $2 a day at 51%

[2] MOWAC Rural Women and the MDGs 1 and 3: Ghana’s Success and Challenges. Technical paper to the 56th UN-CSW

Region: 
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Switzerland's commitment to the MDGs

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
In some areas of its foreign policy, Switzerland does not earn the best marks for its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. Although Switzerland has substantially increased its development budget and pursues good pro-poor development cooperation by international comparison, its finance and trade policy is driven by self-interest and contributes to restricting the policy space of poor countries.

Summary:

In some areas of its foreign policy, Switzerland does not earn the best marks for its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. Although Switzerland has substantially increased its development budget and pursues good pro-poor development cooperation by international comparison, its finance and trade policy is driven by self-interest and contributes to restricting the policy space of poor countries.

Nina Schneider
Alliance Sud - Swiss Alliance of Development Organizations

As a donor country Switzerland is bound primarily by the eighth Millennium Development Goal (MDG). This means that it should support the developing countries in realizing MDGs 1-7, and adapt its trade, financial and tax policies to the needs of the developing countries. Its endeavors towards a coherent, pro-development policy have also remained rather modest.

Switzerland has made some headway regarding the import of goods from the poorest countries, which is no longer subject to customs duties and quotas, and in refunding “stolen assets.” In 2011, the Federal Cabinet arranged to block unlawful assets from Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. These assets are to be returned as soon as possible. The goal nevertheless should be to prevent any more stolen assets from entering Switzerland. To date, urgently needed tightening in anti-money laundering and the exclusion of dictators' funds is still pending.

There was also little or no movement on policy coherence for development. In concert with other western countries, Switzerland continues to defend its own economic interests first and foremost, with little regard for the needs of the majority of the world's population in developing countries.

At the start of the millennium, the Government was extremely unwilling to increase its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) in keeping with UN guidelines. The increase in development aid that was planned for the 2000/2001 budget was cancelled out by cutbacks made in response to the 2002/2003 recession. Instead, reductions of up to 30 per cent were being proposed. The civil society alliance "0.7% – Together against Poverty" was established, with a view to averting those cuts.

In 2007 this alliance of over 70 aid agencies, environmental and youth associations, trade unions, human rights and women's organizations launched a petition for ODA to be increased from the then 0.37% to 0.7% of GNI by 2015. Amongst the Swiss public, the MDGs and the international Stop Poverty campaign constituted a good reference framework for this demand.

With over 200,000 signatures, the petition was submitted after just 10 months. That carries significant weight – and made a deep impression on the Parliament. A coalition of parliamentarians from almost all parties reached agreement that an increase to 0.5% by 2015 was politically feasible. After much bouncing back and forth between the Parliament and Government, the decision to make the increase finally came in February 2011. In 2012, the parliament adopted the increase to 0.5% in its debate on the global credit lines for 2013-16, by a substantial two-thirds majority in both chambers.

Still a downside

The development budget will now grow by about 9% annually until 2015. Switzerland is thus bucking the trend towards reduction amongst OECD donor countries. However, it financed its 2010-2012 contributions to the fast-start financing package, which had been agreed at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, from the increased ODA budget. The Government also plans to use ODA to finance a significant part of its contribution to the long-term climate financing of USD 100 billion by 2020, on which UN member countries agreed at the Cancún Climate Conference. It argues that this is all new and additional money, as it had increased the ODA budget. Alliance Sud argues that this money is indeed new since it was earmarked for climate finance after the Cancún agreement but it is not additional as long as it comes from ODA.

In the run-up to the decision on credit lines 2013-16 a vociferous debate erupted about linking development assistance to the readmission of asylum seekers turned down in Switzerland. By a small majority, Parliament rejected any strict linkage. In order to combat irregular migration though, the Federal Council and the development agencies are directed to seek concrete quid pro quos or agreements with partner countries. The Swiss Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for its part calls for ODA to be tied to commodity agreements – a call rejected by the Government.

No progress in trade and financial policy

Switzerland's free trade policy hardly differs from that of the EU and the US and is highly prejudicial to developing countries. Once it became clear that Switzerland would not be able to push through its maximum demands (full liberalization of investments, free access to government procurement and the services sector, etc.) against the majority of developing countries in the WTO, it opted for bilateral free trade agreements. The consequences are far reaching. Developing countries are being pressured, far beyond the stipulations of the WTO agreements, into radical market opening, the elimination of protective regulations and customs duties, and robust protection of intellectual property. Whilst the Swiss export sector benefits from the removal of trade barriers and access to the markets of partner countries, developing countries are losing considerable policy space to strengthen their domestic economies.

Thanks to parliamentary initiatives and NGO lobbying, Switzerland is slowly accepting the consideration of labor rights and environmental standards when negotiating new bilateral free trade agreements. It has thus begun offering to its negotiating partners the possibility to include the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) voluntary provisions on environmental and labor rights. There has been less progress however on investment protection agreements. Under pressure from Parliament, Switzerland now includes principles of sustainable development in the preamble of agreements, but still lags far behind the European Union in the anchoring of human rights.

In patent protection, the Government firmly represents the interests of Swiss chemical and pharmaceuticals industry. Apart from very few humanitarian supplies of medicines, Switzerland's patent protection policy continues to prevent access to medicines and to limit small farmers' use of seeds. Empowered by Swiss policy, Swiss pharmaceutical enterprises in India are taking legal action against the production of generic medicines, thereby preventing access for poor people to affordable drugs.

Because of advantageous investment and fiscal conditions, Switzerland became a major center for commodity companies over the past ten years and is today home to the largest number of multinational enterprises per capita. Firms headquartered in Switzerland such as Glencore, Xstrata or Trafigura make headlines for human rights violations and environmental pollution, thereby jeopardizing Switzerland's reputation. This prompted some 50 NGOs, trade unions and church groups to launch the "Corporate Justice" campaign in 2011. They are calling for clear and binding rules to force international corporations to comply with human rights and environmental standards worldwide. So far, the Parliament and Government have been giving preference to voluntary rules first and foremost, and even the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises are only being implemented half-heartedly in Switzerland.

Some movement on taxes

At the 2010 MDG Summit, Switzerland opposed all initiatives in the realm of financial transparency and international cooperation on tax matters. Whilst Switzerland seems willing to cooperate with industrialized and emerging-market countries, it has not yet concluded any agreements with low-income countries providing for any effective exchange of information about possible tax dodgers. Yet such information exchange is indispensable to poor countries if they are to stop illicit financial outflows and generate more funds of their own for poverty reduction. Conservative estimates put the amount of untaxed funds from developing countries in Swiss banks at USD 400 billion. The real amount is more likely to be around 1,000 billion. If only the interest on these sums were taxed, the countries concerned would stand to have roughly an additional USD 6 billion at their disposal each year for poverty reduction. That is more than twice Switzerland's development aid.

In the wake of the financial crisis, the long-standing engagement of civil society against international tax avoidance gained new momentum amongst G20 and OECD member countries. Since 2009, most of these countries have concluded agreements with Switzerland providing for the exchange of information on tax evaders upon request. In the framework of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the US has even reached an agreement with Switzerland on a form of automatic information exchange. In a press release dated 21 May 2014, the Swiss Government announced the possible expansion of automatic information exchange to “countries with which there are close economic and political ties and which… are considered to be important and promising in terms of their market potential for Switzerland's finance industry.” In contrast, there are still no effective measures to end tax flight from developing countries. According to information from banking circles, the magnitude of the assets flowing from developing and emerging countries into Switzerland is growing markedly.

Responding to civil society and political pressure, however, the Swiss Government in April 2012 declared its readiness to offer Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) to poor developing countries. In so doing, it gave up its demand for information exchange to be built into very complex Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs). Moreover, in February 2014, it began drafting a bill on the unilateral application of information exchange upon request to all DTAs that are not yet in line with this standard. This means that Switzerland's entire DTA network will swiftly be adapted to the current international standard. The draft bill, however, is still pending and will require parliamentary approval.

Erstwhile debt reduction pioneer

Switzerland was one of the first countries to champion debt relief measures. It was reacting to demands from NGOs like Alliance Sud, which as early as the 1980s called for the cancellation of the debts of the poorest countries. The "Development needs Debt Relief" petition garnered considerable popular support in Switzerland and laid the groundwork for the bilateral debt relief program. In 1991 the Government allocated 500 million Swiss francs for debt relief for insolvent and highly indebted countries. What was new about the initiative was that the cancellation of Switzerland's bilateral debt claims was tied to the creation of counterpart funds to finance civil society development projects.

The bilateral debt relief program became the model for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which was later extended to multilateral debts under the Multilateral Debt Reduction Initiative (MDRI). At Gleneagles in 2005 and pursuant to MDG 8, the G8 countries decided to cancel debts of the poorest countries worth USD 76 billion by 2044/54. On that occasion too, the Swiss Government gave its approval in principle to a Swiss burden share of some USD 866 million in the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and USD 305 million in the African Development Fund (AfDF). This general approval was followed by the first specific commitments, totaling USD 225 million up to 2016/17. These have been regularly honored since 2011 thanks to the ODA increase to 0.5%, and half the amount has already been disbursed.

It is commendable that Switzerland is making its contribution to the MDRI, as many OECD countries are lagging behind. However, MDG 8 calls for debt reduction measures to be financed in addition to ODA, which is expressly intended for pro-poor development programs. It is all the more urgent to find this additional money, as the volume of the MDRI funding agreed on by the international donor community, including Switzerland, will increase markedly in the decades ahead.

Many countries whose debts were partially canceled through the HIPC and MDRI are now again on the brink of insolvency, and debt problems have also gripped southern Europe. Various parliamentarians therefore called for a government report on the possibilities for a regulated and fair State insolvency procedure. According to this report, published in September 2013, the Federal Council is reluctant to advocate internationally for the introduction of such a procedure. It will rather advocate for possible international agreements on collective action clauses and aggregation clauses in sovereign bond contracts.

Promoting the MDGs through development programs

The Millennium Development Goals have also urged donor countries to concentrate their aid even more on the poorer countries. Swiss development cooperation always had a strong humanitarian and poverty reduction focus and unlike other countries, was never withdrawn from rural development. It is known for its hands-on cooperation with local authorities and civil society organizations. Switzerland has repeatedly garnered international praise in that regard. Yet the picture today is somewhat mixed but Switzerland is still profiting from its past reputation.

In real terms, only a quarter of Swiss development aid has been targeting low-income countries (LICs) for many years now. Moreover, in 2008 the Swiss development agencies expanded the scope of development cooperation and started the ”Global Programs” which entail pro-development globalization activities in addition to poverty reduction. They cover for example the two thematic programs of climate change, and finance and trade, which are being implemented in emerging countries like China, India and Brazil. As Switzerland lacks a specific budget for entering into "strategic partnerships" with these countries, there is reason to fear that ODA might be diverted towards foreign policy ends in these instances. On the same basis, the State Secretariat for the Economy (Seco) withdrew from the LICs to focus on some middle income countries instead, with which Switzerland is keen to develop stronger trade relations. Its justification for this reorientation is that poverty needs to be addressed in those countries as well. However, it remains open whether Swiss development agencies are effective in addressing poverty pockets in those countries, as the economic aid overlooks peripheral regions, micro-enterprises and women.

The SDC has indeed used the MDG wording to head off any greater exploitation of ODA. The MDGs have so far only marginally influenced the orientation of Switzerland's programs. According to an external evaluation, the MDGs did not “lead to significant changes in program areas, strategies or project content. The link between MDG and SDC projects has mostly been drawn in the aftermath and used to justify accountability and resource mobilization or the selection of focus countries and sectoral programs.” Moreover, some critical NGOs warn that official development assistance is focusing ever more on "development diplomacy" and losing touch with the field.

Interestingly, the external evaluation gives the SDC good marks precisely for the fact that it has not given up its engagement in the areas of governance and peace building in favor of the MDGs. „In a country like Nepal, characterized by armed conflicts, staying engaged meant focusing on non-MDG sectors (peace building, rural infrastructure, and natural resource management). The decision for these sectors was guided by pragmatic criteria. It was found that the Swiss program could reach the poor best by focusing on a few geographic areas where Switzerland had a long history of collaboration with local authorities.” In Mozambique too, the policy to stay engaged and the multi-agency approach to peace building, development and human rights have yielded good results. In Benin or Nicaragua in contrast, where Switzerland is implementing programs in important MDG areas, success has been tarnished by the lack of ownership on the part of the Government. Not least amongst the reasons for this is that the governments have used the implementation of the MDGs primarily to gain access to funding for urgently needed development and debt relief.

Looking beyond 2015

In summer 2012, a special ambassador and an interdepartmental task force were mandated to draft the Swiss position for the post-2015 agenda. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has the overall lead. From scratch, the task force ran broad public consultations on MDG outcomes, the general scope of the post-2015 agenda and the guiding principles and a participatory process to develop the goals and targets with representatives of all ministries, academia, the private sector and interested NGOs. The process was largely transparent and inclusive, and numerous suggestions and recommendations by Alliance Sud have been taken up. Still, the Swiss position that will be submitted to the Federal Council in June 2014 has its ambiguities.

Switzerland supports a quite ambitious global and universal framework. It will be anchored in all existing international development, human rights and environmental declarations and balance all three dimensions of sustainability in every goal and target. Sustainable development is a State objective enshrined in the Constitution (Arts.2 & 73) and will be a crosscutting issue for all policy areas in the future. It is planned to reflect the final SDGs in the Swiss strategy on sustainable development and in several other sectoral policies and action plans, as well as in the dispatch on Swiss international cooperation 2017-2020. However, Switzerland does not have the best marks when it comes to policy coherence for development. Despite all verbal commitments, it is not very likely that the universal sustainability commitments will have a major impact on sectors most critical to the Swiss economy such as the financial market, or that foreign policies will be aligned with the needs of the least developed.

As the overarching objective, the Swiss position calls for a framework that achieves sustainable development and eradicates extreme poverty while respecting planetary boundaries as well as fostering peace and security. Regarding principles, Switzerland calls for emphatic reference to be made to human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights and for a national action plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It mentions the guiding role of the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) in Swiss development cooperation but fails to make a strong case for its incorporation into the post-2015 agenda in its statements to the Open Working Group (OWG). Further guiding principles mentioned in the Swiss position are social inclusion and justice, universality and policy coherence. However, in spite of intense advocacy work by Alliance Sud, Switzerland refused to mention common but differentiated responsibility. Therefore, it is doubtful whether Switzerland is ready to eliminate the donor-recipient dichotomy through a true mutual partnership and substantial financial assistance.

Regarding the means of implementation, Switzerland follows the canon of the western donors calling for intense cooperation with the private sector and rejects many of Alliance Sud’s recommendations. Switzerland is open to a liberal ODA reform fostering concessional loans, guarantees, private investment mobilization, etc. but shows little commitment to supporting innovative public development finance.

Some of Alliance Sud’s inputs regarding stronger regulation of international trade and capital markets in favor of the developing countries, as well as the need to tackle illicit capital flight and harmful tax practices, have been taken up by the task force. However, it is doubtful that at UN level Switzerland will be a driver in this regard, rather than hide behind the blockage of other developed countries.

Regarding targets and goals, Switzerland claims to play a bridge-building role in the OWG. Generally, the broad consultation has brought about quite ambitious propositions. Nevertheless, the devil lies in the details. Whereas poverty eradication and the multidimensionality of poverty are underlined, the Swiss position evades sound commitments with respect to reducing inequality. The proposed goals on sustainable and inclusive growth, and green economy are so vague and general, that it is unclear whether Switzerland ultimately supports social and ecological equity or merely economic growth. Regarding climate justice, Switzerland explicitly rejects a stand-alone climate goal and favors transversal implementation of climate-relevant targets.

Quite puzzling is the Swiss support for the “Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation” (GPEDC) to become an important pillar in the implementation of the SDG-agenda. The HLM in Mexico has demonstrated its lack of global legitimacy and the institutional weaknesses of the joint OECD-DAC and UNDP secretariat. Despite the shift away from the OECD, many countries still view the GPEDC as a donor-driven process that is not as inclusive as it claims to be. The absence of China and India and the half-hearted engagement by other major emerging donors speak to its declining relevance. Obviously, the inclusion of the private sector and the emerging donors at the HLF in Busan has weakened the development effectiveness agenda and there is nothing to celebrate except the fact that there has been no regression since 2010. The GPEDC could make a contribution in terms of capacity and experience, but would need to get back on track with its core business of monitoring progress in achieving development effectiveness if it wants to become an important player in the post-2015 agenda beyond being a trade conference or industry talking shop. 

On paper, the Swiss position for the sustainable development agenda looks progressive and largely coherent. In the OWG, Switzerland supports many calls from civil society and the global south. However, paper is patient. It remains to be seen whether Switzerland will have the political courage and willingness to be a driving force in the upcoming UN intergovernmental negotiations. It could do so by striving for fair and rights-based global burden sharing, for the introduction of laws which commit transnational companies to accepting their environmental and social responsibilities, and, eventually, for a true ecological and social transformation of the global economy, including the effective regularization of tax, trade and financial market regimes.

Alliance Sud will closely monitor whether the good intentions of the Swiss task force lead to appropriate reforms in all ministries as well as in international politics.

Region: 
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The Czech Republic is heading into a deadly spiral

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Unemployment at ten percent, government reforms undermining the economy, antisocial and anti-family policies, corruption among politicians and capital flight from the economy into tax havens, destruction of the instruments of environmental protection, inability of the media to aptly inform on domestic and foreign affairs, low level of cooperation to address the crisis among civic activities – this is last year in the Czech Republic.

Unemployment at ten percent, government reforms undermining the economy, antisocial and anti-family policies, corruption among politicians and capital flight from the economy into tax havens, destruction of the instruments of environmental protection, inability of the media to aptly inform on domestic and foreign affairs, low level of cooperation to address the crisis among civic activities – this is last year in the Czech Republic.

Tomáš Tožička – Editor
Ilona Švihlíková – Economy
Marcela Adamusová, Linda Sokačová – Gender inequality
Halka Jaklová – Civic society
Zuzana Uhde – Female migrants
Milan Štefanec – Environment

Economy

The economic development in the Czech Republic is influenced by government policies of fiscal consolidation and proposals of crucial reforms concerning the public sector.

Due to strong fiscal restrictions, domestic demand is plummeting. While in 2011 foreign trade was still able to compensate the drop in other segments of GDP, this was no longer true in the beginning of 2012. In 2011 GDP grew by 1.7 % with a noticeable deceleration in the last two quarters. In the first two quarters of 2012 the Czech economy fell into recession. The decline (-1 % in the 2. quarter) was caused primarily by a decrease in domestic demand, especially the households’ consumption.

As overall analyses of the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) observe, the decline in government consumption was comparable to that of Greece, even though debt (both governmental and complex) is among the lowest in Europe. Equally strong is the reaction of households, which reduce consumption similarly to countries affected by debt crisis.

The Czech Republic continues to pursue an export-led growth model (external growth), though this is very risky due to a strong dependence on the external economic environment on which the country has no influence. The Czech government is making the great mistake of underestimating the importance of domestic demand.

The trade balance of 2011 was positive, but rather than export dynamics, this was caused by a slackening in imports which reflects weak domestic demand. Fiscal consolidation, the focal point of Prime Minister Nečas’s government, has a devastating effect on the economy. A decrease in social spending and growth of indirect taxation (VAT) with a regressive character has the most severe impact on poor people. Moreover, the government is failing totally in collecting VAT and fulfilling plans to collect this tax.

The government does not take into account the impact of these “austerity” measures on vulnerable categories of the population, the impact on domestic demand and the dynamics of foreign development. In short, it could be said that the government lacks of economic vision and focuses on ill-conceived cuts.

Corruption-related wastage and scandals have reached a new high. Estimates vary, but most of them place corruption-related wastage at about CZK 100 billions (USD 5 billions) each year. According to a paper by Global Financial Integrity, a Washington D.C. based NGO, USD 7 billions disappear from the Czech Republic each year through illicit tax evasion. Yet the Minister of Finance does not consider tax evasion to be important. In spite of the declared unfavorable situation the taxation of dividends has been abolished, resulting in a loss of about CZK 9 billions (USD 452 billions).

The government keeps “solving” the pressure on public finance by opening up new space for privatization of public systems. The introduction of a (voluntary) third pillar into the pensions system is scheduled for the coming years, draining 3% off the pay-as-you-go system and thus increasing the pensions account deficit, which reached a new high of almost CZK 40 billions (USD 2 billions) in 2011. Among other considered measures to the same effect are strengthening the position of private employment agencies, introduction of tuition fees, of so-called “above-standard services” into the healthcare system, etc.

Restraints, loan sharks and financial intermediaries of all kinds pose another rising problem of the Czech society, with little or no data available of its extent. Legal offices and other debt lobbyists are connected to this growing network. According to data from the Central restraints evidence there are currently more than 2.23 million pending seizures.

The budget deficit for 2011 has reached CZK 142.8 billions (some USD 7.2 billions), reduced to CZK 124.2 billions (USD 6.25 billions) under ESA 95 methodology, the difference being whether drawing money from European funds is considered. The budget for 2012 was as unrealistic as in 2008, when the Ministry of Finance “erroneously” overestimated economic growth by an incredible 9 percentage points. It was entirely unrealistic to include a significant growth in domestic demand and positive terms of trade into estimates of economic development.

It was therefore that, in the beginning of 2012, “stabilizing measures” were announced and later approved for the coming years. These measures should include some as drastic as freezing pensions (almost CZK 12 billions –USD 604 millions– in 2013, up to CZK 24 billions –1.21 billions– in 2014), another increase in VAT, abolition of maternity grants and housing payments. Proposals also include a temporary (!) restoration of progression in corporate income taxation. The combined effect of VAT growth, increase in payments for drugs and health care services (fees for hospital stays) and changes in the valorization scheme will strongly affect and further impoverish seniors.

Legislative regulation of civic associations

On January 1, 2011, an amendment to the law on “public benefit corporations” came into effect. This amendment includes a very controversial regulation of the status of “public benefit” as well as advantages and obligations bound to this status. Critics have pointed out the risk that granting or removing the status of “public benefit”, which will constitute access to grants, can be used as a form of oppression against organizations not wanted by the ruling political establishment.

Institutional security and support for the policy of equal opportunities

The year 2011 saw many changes in the institutional protection of equal opportunities for women and men. Unfortunately these were not positive changes. The equal opportunities policy has been turned into an entirely marginalized topic in the Czech Republic, outside the scope of interest of the government and often presented by both the political representation and the media as unacceptable “dictatorship of Brussels officials”. Since the May 2010 elections and all through 2011 the Governmental council for equal opportunities of women and men has not resumed their work. People with very conservative attitudes and little experience with the agenda have been appointed to important positions in the section of human rights and equal opportunities. 

This attitude is reflected in the grant policy in this area. Few projects concerning equal opportunities of women and men are announced, and those few focus almost solely on the harmonization with EU legislation. In the last call within Operational Program Human Resources and Employment, none of the established non-profit NGOs succeeded despite their long-standing experience and expertise, while on the other hand private subjects that have never engaged in this issue and whose activities are unrelated to it were successful. Alone the fact that these subjects were often established just before the call was published is a clear sign of corruption.

Reform and women’s position in the Czech Republic

2011 has been another year of preparing and implementing neoliberal reforms in social and labor legislative passed by the ruling coalition of right-wing parties against the protests from both the political opposition and a number of civic organizations. This block of changes was presented to the public under the name “social reform”. It is a complex alteration of all social allowances for parents, handicapped people and members of low-income groups, together with changes in payment of unemployment benefits and changes affecting the status of the unemployed. These changes are furthermore accompanied by changes in the Labor Code, where many of them are weakening the position of employees. Most of these changes are effective since January 2012.

Problems can also be caused by changes in the definition of “public service”, which since January 1, 2012, also includes unemployed people, who have been receiving benefits for more than two months. These represent up to 20 hours per week in the form of compulsory work as a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits. People who refuse to service shall be removed from the register of the employment office. This is a principal suppression of social and human rights. Apart from this fact, it is unclear how the people unemployed due to the discrimination of those caring for children, which is a common thing in the Czech Republic, or those unable to place their children in overcrowded public nurseries shall provide their children with appropriate care.

The amendment also prohibits the concourse of drawing parental allowance and childcare allowance for parents of handicapped children, which brings about a significant worsening of the economic situation of such families and mainly of women, who typically leave work to take care of the household. Since this is accompanied by an increase of fees for hospital stays and the prices of medicaments have increased with the change in VAT, the financial situation of families with handicapped children is often critical.

Female migrants

In response to the economic crisis the Czech Republic has adopted a number of legislative measures to tighten the conditions of obtaining and prolonging work, residence and family reunification permits. The Czech migration policy can well be considered restrictive and aiming at greater control and repression of foreigners, not at guarantee the respect of their rights, including the labor rights.

The strictest measures affect male and female migrant workers in unqualified job positions, i.e. the group of people that often find themselves in a very vulnerable position towards the employer. Since January 2012 the sanction for illegally employed workers has also been increased to up to CZK 100,000 (USD 5,033). Such restrictive measures and the policies against migrating workers are played directly by employers, who can threaten their illegally employed workers with reporting them to the authorities in case of disobedience.

Environment

The Ministry of Regional Development has proposed an amendment to the Building Act which would considerably restrict the possibilities of civic organizations to participate in licensing procedures (and not only in the case of large industrial projects and infrastructure). The proposed amendment to the Act has disqualified civic organizations from certain phases of the licensing procedures and restricted the authority of local administration and owners of neighboring property. In reaction to this ministerial proposal a broad coalition of environmental organizations, civic initiatives and local administrations was created, demanding not only to preserve and increase the present possibilities of the public to influence licensing procedures, but also to decrease the power of so-called “authorized inspectors”, since in the past years they (just like distrainers) became the symbol of privatization of the public administration and of bypassing the objections of the public and property owners and legalizing illegal construction. In 2012, with the support of the ombudsman’s office and part of the public, an informal coalition of civic initiatives succeeded to preserve and increase the involvement of the public in the amended law, and also to formulate clear rules and public control over the problematic institute of “authorized inspectors”.

The Ministry of the Environment has also continued in the systematic destruction of environmental protection policies as the new minister replaced his party college, who resigned after the exposure of a yet unresolved corruption scandal in which money from the State Environmental Fund was diverted into the cash box of the leading government party. The new Minister of the Environment has become famous in the past, as an important representative of the now ruling party, thanks to the speech he delivered at a party congress: “We have to bring back capitalism to Europe. We have to make sure it is not Brussels, it is not civic associations, it is not the smartest governments, not labor unions and not eco-terrorists, who decides the lifestyle of Europeans.”

The government has also decided that emission permits were issued free of charge, primarily to big industrial and energetic companies, in the value of CZK 47.5 billions until 2020(USD 2,4 billions), stripping the state of significant resources necessary for installing environmental and social measures, while at the same time decreasing the regulatory effect of emission permits.

In 2011 there were also discussions about changing the air pollution fees. In this battle the industrial lobby was victorious in the end, represented among others by former right-wing Prime Minister and current leader of lobbyist group Teplárenské sdružení (Heating Plant Association) Mirek Topolánek. Through “their” MP’s (both from the government parties and the opposition), the greatest air polluters in the Czech Republic have pushed through exceptions from paying pollution fees in 2012 and will continue to pollute the air and damage both the environment and the citizens’ health free of charge.

Change in society

Due to undisguised corruption among the political elites, growing through the communal level and through regional politics up into the highest ranks, the citizens are increasingly dissatisfied with the present system. This is also perceptible from mainstream media, which to date remained very conservative and only showed little interest in deeper criticism leading to systemic change. Slowly they begin displaying systemic criticism, but there is still a lack of ability to work with independent and verified sources and to draw relevant conclusions.

The corruption of political elites, directed by the richest representatives of industry and banking and accompanied by a real unemployment of 10%, as well as pauperization of the poorest and the middle class, gives the citizens good reason for dissatisfaction. The reactions of civic activities vary from attempts of a constructive discussion with political parties to demonstration. They remain, however, extremely fragmented and thus play no important part in the political discourse.

The division of society remains an important factor, especially in the lower and middle classes. Although social expenditures are just a fraction in comparison with corruption or tax evasion and although the unemployed or socially excluded can hardly be blamed for the present crisis, it is them who bear the brunt of the attacks. These are often accompanied by racist rhetoric. On the other hand, criticism of the political and economic elite, who are responsible for this crisis, remains quite rare.

Political parties, including the present left-wing opposition, have yet failed to introduce any constructive proposals for a realistic dialogue with citizens. Any hope that the present or future government will attempt to democratize society, open up its institutions for greater citizens’ participation and move towards securing a decent life for all inhabitants of the country seems unrealistic so far. The influence of capital on media and politics still shows a strong tendency towards human rights violations.

Czech Republic on MDGs Agenda

Czechia Against Poverty is a network of more than 50 organization. In their campaign they have discussed the future of development and stated that together with the general objectives laid out by the MDGs there is a need for issuing road maps on how to achieve them. Furthermore, special attention has to be paid to other spheres, which are crucial for the basic goals and development in general. The Czech organizations united in Czechia Against Poverty decided to focus the attention of the public to four such spheres in the last year:

■ Achieving food security as a common responsibility of the South and North: In rich countries it is necessary to reduce food waste. Agriculture should concentrate particularly on local production, which provides for the needs of the inhabitants, and on using sustainable methods without dependence on transnational monopolies.

■ Promoting decent work: Call for minimum standards, strengthening national labor law and international control over compliance with this law. Through these measures positively influence not only the situation of employees in less developed countries, but also reduce the possibilities of capital transfer and extortion of employees and national governments in developed countries.

■ Providing electrification for all by 2030: Energy is the basic mover of development. If one quarter of the planet – especially in poor areas and rural areas – does not have access to electricity, it is hard to imagine its social economic development. Effective education, health services, crafts, production and food processing all require electricity.

■ Rebuilding the global financial architecture remains the key point: There is a need to reduce the speculative casino that exists with financial derivatives and vital commodities and to eliminate the possibilities of tax evasion through tax havens.

Region: 
left

The Goals that Malta want to achieve - Ends

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
In September 2000, Malta became a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and promised to contribute towards eradicating world poverty. In 2005, after entering the European Union (EU), Malta became part of the European Consensus on Development common objectives and underlying principles and the European Union’s common vision on development, setting poverty eradication as ‘the primary and overarching objective of EU development cooperation’. Like all EU New Member States (NMS), Malta promised to reach a level of official development assistance (ODA) amounting to 0.17% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2010 and to increase its ODA/GNI ratio to 0.33% by 2015. The question arises: Is Malta keeping its promises towards eradicating world poverty?

Joseph M. Sammut
Kopin

In September 2000, Malta became a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and promised to contribute towards eradicating world poverty. In 2005, after entering the European Union (EU), Malta became part of the European Consensus on Development common objectives and underlying principles and the European Union’s common vision on development, setting poverty eradication as ‘the primary and overarching objective of EU development cooperation’. Like all EU New Member States (NMS), Malta promised to reach a level of official development assistance (ODA) amounting to 0.17% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2010 and to increase its ODA/GNI ratio to 0.33% by 2015. The question arises: Is Malta keeping its promises towards eradicating world poverty?

Policy towards poverty eradication

In October 2007 the Government launched its first Overseas Development Policy document . It is based on the values that underpin Malta’s Foreign Policy: solidarity, respect for the international rule of law – including humanitarian law – and the furtherance of democracy, human rights and good governance.

The policy also endorses the important role played by non-state actors – the private sector, social and economic partners and civil society in general – who have become major players in international development cooperation. It aims to provides the basis for a healthy dialogue between Government and civil society and offers the latter opportunity to put into effect its valuable knowledge, experience and expertise. Like other NGOs worldwide, many of those in Malta have years of experience and fieldwork and run more development projects and programmes than those funded by official aid agencies. NGOs are invited to submit small grant proposals for “on the ground” projects in the Majority World.

The Overseas Development Policy acknowledges that development, especially economic development, cannot come about unless there is a secure and stable political climate in the countries receiving development assistance. It also recognizes that the lack of good governance, development and security are factors that contribute to migration as well as a brain drain in the developing world, especially if economic problems such as a high rate of inflation and unemployment prevail. Thus, the Policy provides a framework for humanitarian assistance in which Malta recognizes the continuum between emergency relief, rehabilitation and development. Post-emergency rehabilitation a

Malta Overseas Development Policy creates a basic framework for development aid and emphasizing all important aspects of development cooperation.

Not all aid is development aid

The first ODA statistics available for Malta are of 2004 and 2005, showing a figure of EUR 7.8 and 7.0 million, equivalent to 0.18% of its GNI, respectively. This registered Malta as the highest donor country among the ten NMS which joined the EU in May 2004. ODA statistics in 2006 are EUR 6.8 million and 7.5 million for 2007. This registered a decrease from the previous two years, from 0.18% to 0.15% of GNI.

Although the statistics shows that Malta is reaching the targets articulated in its promises, it was highly criticized in consecutive reports published by Concord, the European Confederation for Relief and Development NGOs, of inflating aid figures and of not being transparent in its donations. Concord brings 24 national associations, working together through what is known as the AidWatch Initiative, of which Kopin is an active member writing the Maltese reports.

Concord’s AidWatch Report (2006), criticises the Maltese Government for not being transparent in how ODA funds are being allocated and which organisations and initiatives are benefiting from it. AidWatch state that Malta is inflating the amount by including spending on refugees inside the country. More specifically, it is of great concern for CSOs in Malta that the Maltese Government seemingly invests a great amount of ODA funds in the detention of irregular migrants. Many of these are asylum seekers, and most of these in fact receive acknowledgement of their vulnerability by means of refugee status or other forms of protection. This in effect means that detention is a prophylaxis, which NGOs consider as a violation of human rights and international migration law.

The Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in the budgetary estimates for 2007, shows how EUR 175, 618 of ODA were allocated between 11 different development organisations . Only two out of 11 grants focused on Africa and some aid money was spent on conferences and a cemetery which in actual fact does not qualify as money to help poor people to develop. The bulk of the funds were spent on bilateral aid, scholarships to foreign students in Malta and towards refugees in their first year in Malta or for their repatriation.

The 2006 AidWatch Report states that genuine ODA is understood to be money allocated as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in developing countries and not money spent on refugees or foreign students attending school in the donor country. In addition, Malta wrote off EUR 6.5 million in debt owed by Iraq in 2004, and this was included as part of its ODA for 2003–2005. The MFA refuses to issue a clear and transparent breakdown of the declarations it made to the EC on its ODA.

In 2008 the Maltese Government managed to overcome the promised amount of 0.17% of GNI towards eradicating world poverty.   There was some improvement in transparency in ODA. The MFA statistics show the amount of ODA given as multilateral aid to UN and EU development programmes as well as the funds distributed among Maltese organisations working on development projects.

Malta ODA Statistics

Year

Total
(EUR)

ODA
% of
GNI

ODA
per
Capita (EUR)

Multilateral
Aid to
UN/EU
(EUR)

Bilateral
Aid
(EUR)

Transparent ODA of the Bilateral Aid

Maltese
Organisations
(EUR)

Education
for
refugees*
(EUR)

% of
Bilateral
Aid

2004

7,800,000

0.18

19.5

 

 

 

 

 

2005

7,000,000

0.18

17.5

 

 

 

 

 

2006

6,800,000

0.15

17.0

 

 

 

 

 

2007

7,500,000

0.15

18.8

 

 

175,618

 

 

2008

11,095, 597

0.19

27.7

3, 732, 118

7, 363, 479

233,000
(3.16%)

 

 

2009

  9,832, 609

0.18

24.5

4, 403, 976

5, 428,633

237,000
(4.37%)

299, 700 (5.52%)

09.89%

2010

10,418, 476

0.18

26.0

4, 075, 895

6, 342, 581

245,000
(3.86%)

465, 328 (7.34%)

11.2%

2011

14,358, 297

0.25

35.9

4, 791, 672

9, 566, 625

363,047
(3.80%)

928, 237 (9.70%)

13.5%

2012

14,458,254

0.23

36.1

5, 315 ,558

9, 142, 696

377,689

559, 505

 

2013

13,755,143

0.20

34.4

4, 738, 353

9, 016, 790

90, 526**

 

 

Sources:
Malta Foreign Affairs.
* Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family
** The Times of Malta Thursday, July 4, 2013 ‘Maltese overseas charitable projects receive aid’ Available at: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20130704/local/maltese-overseas-charitable-projects-receive-aid.476552

ODA % of GNI: Percentage ODA of the Gross National Income.

Multilaterally Aid: Aid donated to UN and European organisations working in development programmes in poor countries.

Bilaterally Aid: Aid given to Maltese organisations working on development projects abroad and aid spend on refugees during their first year in Malta.

ODA per capita: The total amount of ODA as per Maltese citizen (400,000)

The 2010 AidWatch Report acknowledges that official figures show that, in 2009, Malta maintained ODA levels at 0.19% of GNI. It adds, however, that there are no traces of the 43% ODA budget increase announced last year. According to the report, national NGDOs are concerned about potential aid inflation, mainly through reporting as ODA expenses related to irregular migration and students from developing countries. "Unfortunately, detailed information has not been made available and the real extent of the problem remains unclear.  A breakdown of aid figures has never been made available," claims AidWatch. AidWatch Report 2012   insists that Malta may have inflated its development aid to poorer countries by 28%, by factoring in money it spends on asylum seekers at home when these funds does not actually leave the country.

The year 2011 show that the government increased ODA to 0.25% of GNI which is a substantial increase over the previous years and also indicate that the Government is in fact aiming towards the 0.33% in 2015.  In 2012 and 2013 there was a decrease to 0.23% and 0.20% of the GNI.

When contacted, the Foreign Affairs Ministry   said Malta’s estimated ODA contribution was 0.25% and the government was “fully committed” to reaching the 0.33% target. A spokesman added that Malta complied with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DCA) regulations, even though it was not a member. This meant that the country fulfilled its international obligations of ODA reporting and allocation, the spokesman said. Negotiations to publish full details continue but for now there is no agreement among member states. According to MFA, Malta is prepared to disclose the full details once all member states reach an agreement.

The Government hence argues that Malta is not legally obliged to release detailed data on development-related spending. Yet, as has been observed by the AidWatch Working Group , transparency and the right of access to public information is a basic civil right, which cannot be ignored or shelved. The Government also insists it would continue to credit Malta's immigration expenditure to its ODA so long as this was in line with criteria of the OECD.

Significant improvements were noted between MFA and Maltese NGOs lately. The AidWatch 2012 Report  says that over the past two years the MFA and SKOP, the National Platform of Maltese NGDOs , Malta's broadest network of voluntary and non-governmental organisations working in international development cooperation and humanitarian aid, have engaged in structured dialogue that has contributed to improvements in terms of collaboration and exchange of opinions.  AidWatch 2013 quotes Ambassador S. Falzon, Head of Development Unit – MFA, “The Maltese Government believes that the Busan agreement is an improvement on both the Paris and the Accra agreements reflecting the need for fresh approaches to and developments in ODA for both donor and recipient countries.”  The Busan Agreement sets out principles, commitments and actions that offer a foundation for effective co-operation in support of international development.

SKOP and its members are now hoping for further structured collaboration and the development of an equal partnership for development between the government and civil society. Malta stands to benefit if it manages to coordinate its resources and expertise, for instance with regard to meeting the MDGs.

Breakthrough in Transparency

In 2012 we have a breakthrough in transparency with the Maltese Government disseminating the accounts for the expenditure ODA money (see table below) .

Malta’s official Development Assistance (ODA) expenditure for 2012 by Heading (MFA)

Bilateral Assistance

EUR

%

Africa

477, 539

 

Latin America

126, 364

 

Asia

145, 167

 

(Bilateral Assistance to developing countries)

(749, 070)

(5.18)

Bilateral Unallocated

 

 

Ministry of Education (MEE)

559, 505

 

Ministry for Home Affairs

7, 154, 052

 

Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community

302, 379

 

(ODA spend on Migrants in Malta)

(8, 015, 936)

(55.44)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Maltese NGDOs)

377, 689

(2.61)

Total Bilateral

9, 142, 695

63.24

Multilateral Assistance

 

 

U.N. Organisations

205,315

 

EU Institutions

4, 390, 000

 

World Bank Group

490, 519

 

Other Agencies

229, 724

 

Total Multilateral

5, 315, 558

36.76

Total ODA

14, 458, 254

100.00

ODA/GNI

0.23%

 

 

The data for 2012 give a clear picture of where Maltese ODA is being spent. Bilateral Assistance is being spent in, developing countries in 3 continents, Maltese NGOs and money spent by 3 Ministry for services in Malta.  Multilateral Assistance show how the money was distributed between different agencies.  Analysing the data how Bilateral Assistance is distributed, one has to note that money spend by the 3 different ministries are money spend on services concerning asylum seekers in Malta.  As quoted above by AidWatch Report 2006  genuine ODA is understood to be money allocated as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in developing countries and not money spent on asylum seekers in the donor country.  The criticism by Maltese and International NGDOs has been proved right.  Funds promised for poverty eradication in poor countries must be given towards this aim. We like to remind the Maltese Government, as we noted in our previous Social Watch Report in 2010 that Malta was and still is being co-funded by the EU towards the upkeep of refugees rescue and sustainment in Malta.

Malta was criticized by the Commissioner for Justice, Jacques Barrot on a visit to Malta in 2009.  Barrot in 2009 stated, the island had been allocated over EUR 126 million in funds to spend from 2007 to 2013 in the field of asylum, immigration and border control. At that time Barrot observed critically that the country had only spent EUR 18 million. According to estimates published in the local press, Malta was allocated EUR 24.4 million in 2007, EUR 32.5 million in 2008 and EUR 18 million for each year until 2013, plus other entitlements and grants for situations that may have arisen. This aid should be fully utilized. ODA should not be inflated by adding the costs of housing refugees, especially not by financing prophylaxis detention. Instead, the Government should make full use of the aid offered by the EU for refugees and asylum seekers than Malta was allotted by the EU, whilst investing ODA funds in Majority World countries, also increasingly through CSO channels.

Recommendations

Malta must:

  • Use ODA money as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in the least developing countries.            
  • Keep its promises to reach its ODA/GNI ratio to 0.33% by 2015 towards eradicating poverty in the least developed countries.                        
  • Continue to improve transparency and accountability in the coming years as shown in 2012 ODA budget.  MFA must be congratulated for transparency as this result in the respect of where tax payer’s money is going.   
  • Reframe from adding asylum seekers cost and expenditure as ODA but utilise the budget allocated from EU funds.
  • Devise a clear policy and strategy in choosing and donating aid targeted towards poverty eradication.
  • Special attention should be given towards cross-cutting issues, such as children’s rights and women’s empowerment.
  • Collaborate with the main stake holders to make the most efficient use of the money allotted.
  • NGDOs are encouraged to scale up their efforts in advocacy and in raising the awareness of the public in campaigns so that they could become more active citizens that pressurise their leaders to be accountable towards their promises in eradicating world poverty.
  • MFA should collaborate with the international community and be a leader and role model in transparency and in eradicate poverty.  The lack of transparency and accountability in ODA translate in a mere lack of good governance. Maltese politicians should change their attitudes and be transparent in their ODA money and become role models for other nations working toward eradicating poverty and bring peace and stability among the North and South.

Notes

Aid Watch 2006: EU aid: genuine leadership or misleading figures? Available at: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/static/files/assets/0c88b2c9/AidWatch_2006.pdf

Vella M. ‘ Malta aid figures show little cash reaches world’s poorest’ . Available at: http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2008/11/16/t8.html

Aid Watch 2006: EU aid: genuine leadership or misleading figures? Available at: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/static/files/assets/0c88b2c9/AidWatch_2006.pdf

C. Calleja, “Blessed are the poor,” Times of Malta, 16 April 2006.

Ibid.

AIDWATCH REPORT 2010: PENALTY AGAINST POVERTY. Available at: http://www.concordeurope.org/103-aidwatch-report-2010

AIDWATCH REPORT 2012: INVEST MORE IN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT. Available at: http://www.concordeurope.org/101-aidwatch-report-2012

Sarah Carabott The Times  Saturday, June 30, 2012  ‘Island praised for its global aid assistance’ http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120630/local/Island-praised-for-its-global-aid-assistance.426539

AIDWATCH REPORT 2012: INVEST MORE IN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT.  Available at:  http://www.concordeurope.org/101-aidwatch-report-2012

Sarah Carabott The Times  Saturday, June 30, 2012  ‘Island praised for its global aid assistance’

AIDWATCH REPORT 2012: INVEST MORE IN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT. Available at:  http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/new-aidwatch-report-2013/

KOPIN is a member of SKOP

AidWatch Report 2013, ‘THE UNIQUE ROLE OF EUROPEAN.  Available at: http://www.concordeurope.org/101-aidwatch-report-2

Busan Agreement: Available at: http://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/49650173.pdf (cited 6th June)

No breakdown statistics have been given for 2013 till the writing of the report - 6th June 2014 

Aid Watch 2006: EU aid: genuine leadership or misleading figures? Available at: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/static/files/assets/0c88b2c9/AidWatch_2006.pdf

Social Watch Report 2010. Available at:  http://www.socialwatch.org/node/12093

“Only €18 million spent from €126m in EU migration funds,” Malta Today, 18 March 2009. Available at: <www.maltatoday.com.mt/2009/03/18/t2.html>.

Region: 
left

The government needs to improve social and gender policies

Publication_year: 
2014
Summary: 
Since the end of the Korean War in 1950, the country has achieved sustained economic growth. GDP, which at that time was US$ 67, doubled in a decade, between 2000 and 2010, Korea joined the OECD in 1996 and achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But inequality, as a side effect of economic growth, is present. There is no more extreme poverty but diversified poverty, and society still has challenges that are not shown by the indicators. The government's economic policy has encouraged assembling industry export-oriented with cheap labor. Between 2000 and 2009, relative poverty rates for children, seniors and women increased. Poverty is concentrated in the elderly at female level, low education, vulnerable health and in rural areas. It is clear that the government needs to implement policies to reduce socioeconomic inequality that go beyond reducing inequity and poverty, by creating quality jobs and social protection programs.

Ewijeong Jeong
CCEJ, South Korea

Korea has achieved condensed economic growth since the end of the Korean War in the 1950s. Korea joined OECD in 1996, and became 24th member of DAC while achieving most of the MDGs. Korea aims to play a role as a bridge between donors and partners as an emerging donor of OECD/DAC by G20 Seoul Summit in 2010 and Busan 4th High Level Forum on Aid effectiveness in 2011. On the other hand, Korea has experienced socio economic inequality as a side effect from condensed economic growth. The government builds ‘Korean ODA model’ and fragments aid structure.

No more extreme poverty, but diversified poverty

Korea achieved most of the MDGs, but the society has remained challenges which are not shown in MDGs indicators. Right after the Korean War, the GDP was USD 67 and belonged at the group of the Least Developed Countries (LDC). The government of Korea pushed economy policy targeted to improve export-oriented assembling industry with cheap domestic labor forces. By the intensive support of the government, export-oriented industry of conglomerates has been lead Korea’s economic growth and the GDP got doubled from USD 533.5 billion in 2000 to USD 1014.3 billion in 2010. The government has relocated the fund from international market mostly to manufacturing, export, conglomerate, metropolitan area, and hometown of former presidents and it has deepened the gaps between regions, industries, social stratums, and sectors. The economy had stroked by Asia financial crisis in 1997 and global financial crisis in 2008. The economy has recovered but inequality and polarization of poverty got worsened. It is because lack of social protection mechanism and it raised working poor and self-employed small business owner as vulnerable group with traditional vulnerable groups, indigent children, female household, the disabled, and the elderly.

To overcome the financial crisis, the current government, so called MB administration, employed tax cut policies and job creation policies through the 4 major rivers project. However, mostly conglomerates have been benefited from the tax cuts. Besides, the 4 major rivers project has increased day laborers rather than stable full-time jobs which has benefited to construction conglomerates. The government funded USD 7.42 billion on welfare budget in 2009 which was USD 1.2 billion higher than previous year. But the cash assistance policy faced challenges of polarization in the economic structure. According to Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA), in 2006 14.2% of households of 4 made less than a minimum cost of living, USD 1080 per month and in 2010 17.6% of household of 4 made less than USD 1258 per month. The percentage got doubled in rural areas compared to metropolis because of relatively lower income and high population of the elderly in rural areas.

From 2000 to 2009, relative poverty rates of child, the elderly, and female household were increased. The child poverty rate was higher in rural areas and to age of 12-18. The main reasons of the child poverty are the conditions of households when they are female, the elderly, low level of education, single source of income with day labor. The elderly poverty is concentrated in female, low level of education, vulnerable health condition, and rural areas. The Female household suffers more when the household is old, low level of education, less source of income, large number of under aged children, and has part-time jobs. By those facts, it is clear that the government has to adopt policies to reduce socioeconomic inequality and poverty which are further than relocation of wealth, by creating quality jobs and reducing blind spots of social protection programs.