9 April 2011
The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The G-20 is the premier forum for international economic development and aims to promote open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. Members of the G20 are scheduled to meet in France in November of this year.
A coalition of organizations, including Christian Aid, Eurodad, Global Financial Integrity, Global Witness, Tax Justice Network and Edmund Rice International, is calling on this powerful international body to introduce specific measures to end the tax haven secrecy that allows companies to hide their profits and avoid paying taxes in developing countries.
Specific recommended measures include 1) requiring companies to report on the profits made and taxes paid in every country in which they operate, and 2) automatic exchange of information between different tax jurisdictions. This would help developing countries collect the taxes they are owed.
You are invited to join the End Tax Haven Secrecy campaign and sending a letter to the G20
The resolution asked the European Union to if necessary press ahead unilaterally to introduce the tax to raise money to protect public services, help the poorest people at home and abroad and tackle climate change.
However at their recent meeting the leaders of the EU stepped back from full support for the resolution arguing that such a tax is best tackled at global level. Heads of State or Government of 27 nations stressed instead that they must reach an agreement before the G20 Summit June 26-27 in Toronto.
Criticising the decision, the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE said it was deeply disappointed that European leaders had failed to agree on the introduction of an EU wide FTT.
CIDSE is of the view that a mini tax on short-term and high-risk transactions would stabilise the current financial system and generate millions of Euros badly needed to alleviate poverty and combat climate change.
"A mini tax of only 0.05 percent on each financial transaction would make the financial sector pay for a crisis they created without having an impact on European taxpayers" CIDSE’s financial expert Jean Letitia Saldanha said. "The money generated could save the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people who are hit hardest by the crises the world is currently facing."
A Financial Transaction Tax at a rate of 0.01 percent would generate income of about Euro 100 billion per year in Europe alone, according to CIDSE. It campaigned for the inclusion of an EU wide adoption of a FTT on socially unproductive and speculative trading on financial markets in the run up to the Council.
Events in the Middle East and North Africa have provided a grim reminder that governments have a responsibility to ensure that any weapon, ammunition or equipment will not be used against innocent civilians. The Arms Trade Treaty under negotiations will ensure this by requiring governments to refuse transfers of conventional arms if there is a substantial risk of serious human rights violations, war crimes or terrorist acts.
Every day, millions of people suffer from the direct and indirect consequences of the irresponsible arms trade: thousands are killed, others are injured, many are raped, and/or forced to flee from their homes, while many others have to live under constant threat of weapons. The poorly regulated global trade in conventional arms and ammunition fuels conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. The problems are compounded by the increasing globalization of the arms trade – components being sourced from across the world, and production and assembly in different countries, sometimes with lenient controls. Domestic regulation of the arms trade has failed to adapt to these changes. While existing national and regional controls are important, these are not enough to stop irresponsible transfers of arms and ammunition between countries.
Control Arms is a global civil society alliance campaigning for a 'bulletproof' Arms Trade Treaty that will protect lives and livelihoods. Such a treaty means an international legally-binding agreement that will stop transfers of arms and ammunitions that fuel conflict, poverty and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Visi the Control Arms website to learn about progress of the campaign, the stance of your country towards the treaty and how you can support the campaign.
Nestlé believes its actions must be good for business, and good for society. However, JustAct an initiative of the Justice and International Mission of the Uniting Church in Australia, along with many others hold strong concerns about the corporate conduct of Nestlé in the Philippines; Nestlé marketing of infant formula in the developing world and the slowness of Nestlé to adequately take steps to ensure the cocoa they source from West Africa is free from the use of slave labour.
Visit the above website to read more about these concerns and to learn how to take action.
With the approach of Easter, a traditional time for consuming chocolate, it is worth recalling the role that child labour plays in the production of chocolate.
Thousands of children have been trafficked onto cocoa plantations in the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The 2000 US State Department Human Rights report stated, "It is estimated that some 15,000 Malian children work on Ivorian cocoa and coffee plantations. Many are under 12 years-of-age, sold into indentured servitude for US$140, and work 12-hour days for US$135 to US$189 per year".
On the positive side Nestle has introduced a four-finger Kit-Kat in the UK market that uses Fairtrade certified cocoa and have recently started using UTZ certified cocoa in their four-finger Kit-Kat in Australia. Fairtrade and UTZ are credible systems ensuring cocoa is produced under standards that prohibit child labour through their certification and labelling system.
These changes are a great step towards ensuring the cocoa in the chocolate we eat has not been produced by children or people who have been trafficked. JustAct would like to see Nestle expand independent certification across all their chocolate products.
An update of progress to encourage other leading brands of chocolate makers to ensure that the cocoa they are using has not been produced by a child or someone who has been trafficked and exploited can be found at the Stop The TraffiK website.