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The importance of global cooperation on tax issues is becoming more and more evident. The sums lost amount to hundreds of billions annually. While steps to curb the losses are underway, gaps in global tax governance remain both in the institutional setting and with regard to substantive issues. For example, there is still no body with universal membership that could discuss issues that are of particular importance to countries in the Global South. In order to fill these gaps, either existing institutions need to be further developed, or new ones established, or both. In any case, a new body would have to perform certain functions and meet particular criteria with regard to composition. A new paper formulates options for achieving this.

When gender equality was universally adopted as Sustainable Development Goal 5, “gender equality matters to economic growth” became the party line of global institutions. The floodgates well and truly opened after McKinsey & Company published its 2015 flagship report finding USD 12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. A cascade of “killer facts” soon followed from unlikely gender champions, from the likes of Goldman Sachs estimating a 12 per cent increase in per capita income could be created by 2030 by closing the gender credit gap, to the G20 recognizing their economies stand to gain significantly from increased female labour force participation in the context of widely ageing populations and low fertility rates. Even the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, ranking countries according to how favorable their business environment is and frequently criticizedfor having a very narrow approach, has now included gender dimensions in three of its indicators, signaling that “gender equality matters!” It seems the message might even have slowly trickled its way up to finance ministries, as the World Bank now hosts a semi-annual “Community of Practice” for finance ministers on gender equality.

Following the adoption of the draconian associations law in Egypt, six Political parties and 22 civil society organizations issued a joint statement to condemn and reject the proposed law. The groups noted that the new law effectively eradicates civil society and defers its administration to the government and security apparatus. They condemned parliament’s treatment of civil society as an enemy to be defeated through secret laws. In the statement, they reiterated that the state has already taken real steps to eliminate Egyptian civil society organizations by prosecuting case no. 173/2011 on foreign funding, and several organizations and their current and former directors have been banned from travel and have had their assets frozen. This new law, however, would pave the way for the eradication of any sort of civic action geared to development, charitable activities, and services. The operation of local development associations throughout Egyptian villages and hamlets, which provide services to local residents, will become nearly impossible.

In October the World Bank launched the first of what it says will be a series of annual reports on Poverty and Shared Prosperity, for tracking progress towards two key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): reducing extreme poverty and inequality. The theme of the first edition is “Taking on Inequality.”

The report’s findings that “between 2008 and 2013, the number of countries experiencing declining inequality was twice the number exhibiting widening inequality” quickly made it onto the press.

Opening of the Marrakech
Conference, 7 November 2016.
(UN)

Parties at the climate talks on 17 November supported the call issued by the President of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC entitled the ‘Marrakech Action Proclamation for our Climate and Sustainable Development'.

The President of the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP22), who is also the Foreign Minister of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, introduced the document to the plenary evening of 17 Nov.

Describing it as a new source of inspiration, he said that the ‘proclamation' for our climate and sustainable development received the support of all Parties and invited Moroccan Ambassador Aziz Mekouar to read it out.

SRF/swissinfo.ch

Also in Switzerland the "refugee crisis" is causing a stir. A few facts would be a useful input to this discussion.

"No one leaves home and family just like that. You must be so desperate that you are not even fazed by the thought of drowning in the Mediterranean. What matters is that you have tried to find a better life elsewhere and to avoid turning to crime, despite adversity."

UN Special Rapporteur Sheila Keetharuth presented her report to the Third Committee , calling on the General Assembly to adopt a resolution submitting the Commission’s report to the Security Council for a referral of the Human Rights situation in Eritrea to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The report highlights the Human Rights situation in Eritrea where it states crimes against humanity has been committed by Eritrean officials since 1991. Allegations of enslavement, enforced disappearances, torture and other crimes were on the report. Keetharuth emphasised the need for accountability for these crimes.

As the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development concludes, the technical work at/of the UN continues to refine and agree on the global indicators to measure progress. This involves circulating selected indicators for consultation, adopting a lead agency to collect and submit the data and adopting an agreed methodology, as well as fundraising to increase the extent of data coverage and building capacity. At the same time, as this is a work in progress, many Member States have undertaken national initiatives to review the SDGs and incorporate them into national policy and budget processes.

A region overwhelmed by violence and conflicts* Moreover, the realities of women in the Arab region are influenced, directly or indirectly, by the recurrence of conflicts, including state crisis, wars, occupation, and the onslaught of religious fundamentalism and militarized religious extremist group. While the implications on rights and broader political, social, and economic realities differ in these circumstances, they all leave women subjected to various forms of violence and exclusions. It is not expected that the region will be free of these cycles of conflict and violence in the short term; thus the manifestation of this violence will inevitably continue shaping the lives of women and men living in the region.

Developing countries continue to suffer from profits taken out by foreign investors, lending by developing countries to rich countries and particularly from illicit financial flows (IFFs). In 2014 Eurodad reported that for every USD 100 a developing country makes, USD 10 are lost, flowing out of the country. Last year’s “Mbeki report” estimated that Africa is losing more than USD 50 billion annually in IFFs.

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