We Demand Debt, Economic, and Climate Justice for the Global South
September 18 to 26, 2023
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) calls on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to hold the Global North to their commitments to solve the world’s most pressing, interrelated challenges. We likewise call on them to place justice for Global South countries at the center of new targets to get the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track.
The UNGA takes place in the midst of devastating impacts of multiple crises in Global South countries that are reversing as well as blocking progress made on the SDGs: a climate crisis with a new and accelerating phase of destruction, a debt crisis of a scale not seen since the early 1980s that threatens to further intensify, and a sharp, long lasting economic slowdown in the face of a global recession.
We strongly reiterate the call and demands of peoples and communities in the Global South:
Debt cancellation for all countries facing, or already in long-term debt crisis, starting with the immediate and unconditional cancellation of public debts of a questionable and fraudulent nature that violated human rights and contributed to exacerbating the climate crisis.
Global South countries need to address the systemic crisis of debt with long-term, durable, and transformative solutions. Debt relief measures continue to fail countries that are both debt-burdened and climate-vulnerable. The Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), limited to less than half of developing countries, proved grossly inadequate in matching the depth and breadth of the debt crisis. Its successor, the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond DSSI, yet again fails in providing debt relief and still frees the private sector from responsibility, enabling bailouts with new loans from multilateral institutions. Gravely debt-trapped Global South countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan starkly foreground how flawed and futile these debt “relief” mechanisms are.
Debt service eats into Global South countries’ already meager resources for public expenditures. Debt payments are prioritized over providing essential social services that impoverished people and communities require. Despite this, more debt-creating solutions are pushed by wealthy countries and international financial institutions. The pressure to pay debts is forcing poor nations to continue investing in and relying on fossil fuel projects, thus trapping the Global South not only in a vicious cycle of debt dependence and accumulation, but also in an ever worsening climate catastrophe.
New, additional and non-debt creating climate finance for adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage to adequately meet the needs of the Global South.
The Global South needs and is justly entitled to way more than $100 billion per year in climate finance based on equity and fair shares. That this funding target has not been met and that the scale of climate finance currently provided is woefully inadequate and mostly in the form of loans is a grave injustice to the Global South.
Governments responsible for excessive levels of carbon dioxide emissions also have an obligation to pay reparations for the losses and damages suffered and faced by those in the Global South, the least responsible for the climate crisis. In 2022 alone, major climate and weather events in developing countries caused more than US$109 billion in losses. The amount of loss and damage financing needed for economic costs in the Global South alone is estimated to be more than US$400 billion per year and this amount will have to be revised upward over time.
Democratization of global tax governance under the auspices of the UN; fulfill human rights and climate obligations; ensure adequate public funding of essential services and urgent climate action by stopping corporate tax abuses, taxing the rich and adopting other progressive tax policies.
A democratic and inclusive global tax body under the UN’s auspices has been a longstanding demand of developing countries, but the elite countries have time and again blocked or stalled efforts at the UN to bring this about.
A UN Tax Convention that provides equal representation for all countries is urgently needed. Such a convention should center the needs and interests of the peoples of the Global South, correct the flaws and inequities of the international tax system, and boost the abilities of governments to curb tax abuses by corporations and wealthy elites. Democratizing global tax governance will also place Global South countries in a better position to adopt progressive taxation and mobilize increased domestic resources to fulfill their human rights and climate obligations.
The OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Framework, which rests on a Two-Pillar solution, does not benefit the peoples and countries of the Global South. It reinforces, rather than weakens, the ability of multinational corporations to cheat Global South countries of wealth created within their borders through extraction of their natural resources and exploitation of their peoples’ labor.
Pillar One of the BEPS Framework hands the right to tax excess and non-routine profits of multinationals to countries where these corporations are based, rather than where their assets and manpower are located. Pillar Two sets a minimum global corporate income tax (CIT) rate of 15%, much lower than the current global average CIT rate, which is 25%. The former legitimizes the whisking away of wealth by corporations from the Global South to the North; the latter will likely precipitate a race to the bottom for CIT for Global South countries, shrinking their tax bases at a time when greater resources for public services are needed more than ever.
We therefore call on the UN General Assembly to pursue an intergovernmental process that would lead to the realization of a UN Framework Convention on tax and pave the way for thoroughgoing reforms of the international tax architecture to make it responsive to the needs and rights of peoples of the Global South.
We Demand Debt, Economic, and Climate Justice for the Global South!