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Rio+20 must address global economic governance

Posted on 27 April 2012

By IBON International

(Remarks made at the side event, “Right at Rio+20: A Rights-based Framework for Sustainable Development” organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Missions of Germany, Maldives and Norway with Ibon International, the Center for International Environmental Law and The Council of Canadians, in collaboration with the UNDG-HRM.  April 27, 2012.  UN Headquarters, New York.)
 
As many of you know, during the previous round of informal informals here in the United Nations (UN), civil society was quite alarmed at the proposals of certain states to delete or weaken or bracket references to rights, equity and important Rio principles which are also grounded on human rights, from the negotiating text for Rio+20.  We initiated an open letter to the UN Secretary General and member states which has been signed by over a thousand organizations from over 100 countries and territories expressing our alarm and calling on them to reaffirm and strengthen rights and Rio principles and be accountable for their implementation.
 
We are therefore glad to hear at least some member states here who have expressed support for the rights agenda in Rio+20.
 
We would, however, like to underscore one dimension of the rights-based approach to sustainable development which we believe needs real support and commitment from member states especially those present here.  And this is the international dimension or the collective responsibility of the community of nations to create enabling conditions for the fulfillment of human rights, including the right to development. 
 
By this we don’t just mean the provision of official development assistance (ODA) from the North to the South.  As it stands, ODA is being cut back or being made to subsidize private sector for-profit interests.  But even if developed countries did provide 0.7% of their GDP as untied aid, this would not make a dent in poverty eradication and the shift to sustainable development pathways without major reforms in the international financial architecture and multilateral and bilateral trade rules. 
 
We all know that financial speculation is a major factor behind commodity price volatility and the hike in food prices which impacts on the right to food of the vast majority.  Indeed it is devastating the lives of small rural producers as well as low income households in the urban areas today.  Moreover, much needed financial resources for building “green” productive capacities, generating “green” decent jobs [right to employment] and ensuring universal social protection [right to social protection] is being wasted in speculative trading of financial assets, inflating asset bubbles and causing financial convulsions in the global economy.
 
Unfair trade rules, including agricultural subsidies in the North, continue to wipe out small agricultural producers from developing countries, driving tens of thousands of impoverished and indebted peasants in India to suicide, to cite just one country.  And developing countries which try to nurture their domestic industries for, say wind power and other renewable energy sources, are hauled to the World Trade Orgganisation’s (WTO) dispute panel.
 
On the other hand, under the same unfair agreements, governments can also
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