A Global Partnership of Solidarity or Global Partnership for Wealth?

Below is the sign-on statement from civil society organisations expressing their critical stance regarding the emerging trend of partnerships with the private sector as the major enabler of sustainable development for post-2015. It calls for a just and transformative Global Partnership that will seriously tackle the global systemic issues at the root of the development concerns that the world face today and emphasises the need for governments to commit to their human rights obligations to their citizens and to the international community.

A Global Partnership of Solidarity or Global Partnerships for Wealth?

A civil society statement on the role of Global Partnership in the new development agenda

 

It has been 15 years since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and yet majority of the world’s population is still held hostage by the long-standing problems of poverty, inequality, landlessness, unemployment, precarious employment conditions, environmental degradation, indebtedness, discrimination and violence.

Raging protests and strikes are erupting in many parts of the world, with demands running a wide gamut of issues from health, labour, education, human rights, and indigenous people’s struggle for their ancestral domain. All these are pointing to the prevailing mood of discontent among the people against the system and their loud clamor for fundamental and deep-going change.

By next year, 2015, our governments and leaders are expected to meet again to come up with a new global development vision and priorities that hopefully will tackle the challenges left unresolved by the MDGs. It is clear that a new development agenda that genuinely attempts to address the vast and deepening inequalities of wealth, resources, power and opportunities whilst creating sustainable patterns of consumption and production will require international cooperation based on the principle of solidarity.

Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that international cooperation and solidarity is a pre-requisite for the realization of human rights.

“…everyone is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his (sic) dignity and the free development of his personality.”

The obligation is further detailed in the Charter of the United Nations[1], the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[2], the Declaration on the Right to Development, in the Rio Declaration, and in the Millennium Declaration which specifies the principle:

 “Solidarity. Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burden fairly in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice. Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.”[3]

Recently, however, a different form of cooperation is being promoted in the name of sustainable development.  A global partnership based on the principle of international solidarity is being eclipsed by the proliferating multiple and voluntary partnerships between governments and trans/multinational corporations, with the United Nations even leading on the frontlines for these initiatives.

The mantra-like claim that is continually being chanted is that private sector initiative should be the cornerstone of development strategies. Majority of the post-2015 proposals coming from official agencies and expert panels, for instance, advocate fostering a business environment more conducive to the growth and competitiveness of the private sector[4]; implementing clear government policies and rules that align private business incentives [5]; leveraging of development assistance and public money for private sector development; and promoting public-private partnerships to reduce investment risks[6].

Beneath all these aggressive talks for partnerships with the private sector is the creeping resurgence of a familiar market-led development strategy dominant among policy makers since the 1980s. Indeed while states have repeatedly committed to the principle of international solidarity a very different form of global partnership has dominated development policy and practice in the past three decades.  It is a global partnership between governments, IFIs and corporations that has concentrated wealth in the hands of a tiny wealthy minority.

The emphasis given on market efficiency and productivity was the very same culprit that led to the greater concentration of wealth and assets into the hands of big corporations but hardly uplifted the lives of the poor. The privatization of state-owned enterprises and assets has resulted to skyrocketing cost of living and further hampered people, especially the most excluded, from accessing basic social and economic services. Tax policies have greatly favored the wealthy with governments reducing taxes on profits and high-income earners, while keeping tax wages and imposing flat taxes based on consumption, further incapacitating the poor. Deregulation of industries, initially explained to foster competition and eliminate monopolies, paradoxically resulted the monopolization of business and market power into a few corporate hands.

The unwarranted privileging of the private sector’s role in partnerships poses the danger of corporations and their lobby-groups gaining unsavory influence over the agenda-setting and political decision-making by governments. If left unmanaged and unsupervised, these partnerships may abet the corporatization of public services, to the detriment of the people’s right to basic services and universal protection. Indeed, while governments consider a new set of “sustainable development goals” other negotiations are taking place that will further cement the sovereign rights of corporations over state jurisdictions.[7]

In light of these danger signs, among many others, we register our strong opposition to the uncritical appeal for partnerships with the private sector as the main driver of the future development agenda. We gather our collective strengths and efforts to counter the looming danger of the sellout of our world’s future and our rights as citizens to corporations that only care about their increasing profits.

We call for greater scrutiny of partnerships with the private sector to ensure that they are consistent with international human rights instruments and development effectiveness principles. We demand robust accountability mechanisms and binding measures for corporations to be put in place to demonstrate full commitment and common understanding for global partnerships for sustainable development. We resist every effort that seeks to leverage partnerships to expand big businesses’ power and influence. We demand of our governments’ to assert their ultimate responsibility in for protecting, respecting and fulfilling the rights and interests of their peoples.

We call on governments to re-commit to the principle of international solidarity and support it as the mechanism for redistribution of wealth, power, resources and opportunities required to truly transform development and ensure the earth’s sustainability.

We call for a stand-alone goal for a Global Partnership which commits public funds to sustainable development, which commits to debt relief where it impedes sustainable development, which facilitates the exchange and democratization of knowledge, information, intellectual property required for sustainable development, which takes specific steps to reform global finance, end tax evasion, transfer pricing and other practices that limit public revenue, which reforms global trade architecture and orients trade toward development, and which reflects the commitments governments have repeatedly made to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of all humanity. ###

 

Initial signatories:

Campaign for Peoples Goals for Sustainable Development

African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)

Alliance Sud, Switzerland

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN)

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Hong Kong

Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)

Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)

Asian Students Alliance (ASA)

Association for the Promotion of Renewable Energies and Sustainable Development

Association for the Promotion of Renewable Energies and Sustainable Development, Algeria

Association for Sustainable Human Development

Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)

CEEweb for Biodiversity (International Network of CEE NGOs)

Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)

Center for the Development of Civil Society, Armenia

Center for Participatory Research and Development, Bangladesh

Center for Research and Advocacy, Manipur

Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON), India

Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research

Coalición de los Pueblos Por la Soberanía Alimentaria (PCFS)

Coalition for Development and Social Rehabilitation (CODR), Ubuntu

Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)

Dharti Development Foundation Sindh Pakistan

Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)

Empowerment for Peace Through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability (EPeaceLabs), Nigeria

Environmental Sound Youth Organization (ES-YO)

Franciscans International

Freshwater Action Network – Mexico (FANMex)

Fundación Cosecha Sostenible de Honduras

Fundación para la Educación, Trabajo, Ayuda Y Progreso (FUNETAP Colombia)

Gram Bhararti Samiti (GBS)

IBON International

Indian Women Theologians Forum (IWTF)

Indigenous People’s Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)

Initiative for Inequality (IfE)

Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS)

International Migrants Alliance (IMA)

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Kairos Society, Bangladesh

Kepa, Finland

Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre

La Red de Educación de Personas Jóvenes y Adultas de México

National Federation of Youth Organisations in Bangladesh

Nederlandstalige Vrouwenraad (National Council of Women of Belgium, Dutch-speaking), Belgium

NGO Federation of Nepal

NGO Representative – International Presentation Association

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)

People’s Forum on Peace for Life

People’s Movement on Climate Change (PMCC)

Pensamiento y Acción Social, México

Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR)

Quaker Earthcare Witness

Reality of Aid (ROA)-Africa

Reality of Aid (ROA)-Global

Red Nicaraguense de Comercio Comunitario (RENICC)

Roots for Equity

Salesian Missions

Save the Earth Cambodia

Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM), Malaysia

Socio-Economic Development Association (SEDA)

South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO)

Sustainable Development Foundation

TheAdvisors.com

The Sisters of Mercy, Mercy International Association at the UN

UDYAMA

UNANIMA International

United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society (GBCS)

United Methodist Church–General Board of Global Ministries, Women’s Division

VIVAT International

WALHI

WELFARE – Togolese Youth for Sustainable Development

Worldview Mission, Netherlands

Worldview Mission, Suriname

Youth Against Debt – Eastern Visayas

 

If you want to sign-on to this statement, please send your organization’s name and country to secretariat@peoplesgoals.org

 


 [1] The Charter of the United Nations enshrines, in its preamble, the commitment of the peoples of the United Nations to “employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples”. In defining the objectives and principles of the Organization, the Charter immediately mentions, in Article 1, paragraph 3, “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all …”, thus becoming “a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends” (para. 4). Furthermore, Chapter IX of the Charter, devoted to international economic and social cooperation, alludes to promoting solutions to international economic, social, health and related problems, as well as international cultural and educational cooperation (Art. 55 (b)). In Article 56, the Charter registers the pledge by all members of the Organization “to take joint and separate action in cooperation with the Organization”.

[2]Article 2 details the obligations of states to “individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical”, towards the full realization of the rights recognized in the Covenant. Article 11.2 specifies further the obligation in relation to right to be free from hunger. International solidarity was reaffirmed by the ESCR Committee in its general comment No. 3 on the nature and scope of international legal obligations.

[3] United Nations Millennium Declaration, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 55/2 of 8 September 2000.

[4] High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (2013) p. 10

[5] Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2013) p. 8

[6] High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (2013) p. 11; UN Global Compact (2013) p. 6

[7] The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will cover the majority of global trade and will provide multi-national corporations the power to sue governments using Investor State Dispute Settlement procedures.