Beware Proposed E-commerce Rules

By Chakravarthi Raghavan and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
GENEVA and KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 2019 (IPS)

In Davos in late January, several powerful governments and their allies announced their intention to launch new negotiations on e-commerce. Unusually, the intention is to launch the plurilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO), an ostensibly multilateral organization, setting problematic precedents for the future of multilateral negotiations.

Chakravarthi Raghavan

Any resulting WTO agreement, especially one to make e-commerce tax- and tariff-free, will require amendments to its existing goods agreements, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreements. If it is not an unconditional agreement in the WTO, it will violate WTO ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) principles.

This will be worse than the old, and ostensibly extinct ‘Green Room’ processes — of a few major powers negotiating among themselves, and then imposing their deal on the rest of the membership. Thus, the proposed e-commerce rules may be ‘WTO illegal’ — unless legitimized by the amendment processes and procedures in Article X of the WTO treaty.

Any effort to ‘smuggle’ it into the WTO, e.g., by including it in Annex IV to the WTO treaty (Plurilateral Trade Agreements), will need, after requisite notice, a consensus decision at Ministerial Conference (Art X:9 of treaty) . It may still be illegal since the subjects are already covered by agreements in Annexes 1A, 1B and 1C of the WTO treaty.

Consolidating power of the giants
Powerful technology transnational corporations (TNCs) are trying to rewrite international rules to advance their business interests by: gaining access to new foreign markets, securing free access to others’ data, accelerating deregulation, casualizing labour markets, and minimizing tax liabilities.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

While digital technology and trade, including electronic or e-commerce, can accelerate development and create jobs, if appropriate policies and arrangements are in place, e-commerce rhetoric exaggerates opportunities for developing country, especially small and medium enterprises. Instead, the negotiations are intended to diminish the right of national authorities to require ‘local presence’, a prerequisite for the consumer and public to sue a supplier.

The e-commerce proposals are expected to strengthen the dominant TNCs, enabling them to further dominate digital trade as the reform proposals are likely to strengthen their discretionary powers while limiting public oversight over corporate behaviour in the digital economy.

Developing countries must be vigilant
If digital commerce grows without developing countries first increasing value captured from production — by improving productive capacities in developing countries, closing the digital divide by improving infrastructure and interconnectivity, and protecting privacy and data — they will have to open their economies even more to foreign imports.

Further digital liberalization without needed investments to improve productive capacities, will destroy some jobs, casualize others, squeeze existing enterprises and limit future development. Such threats, due to accelerated digital liberalization, will increase if the fast-changing digital economic space is shaped by new regulations influenced by TNCs.

Diverting business through e-commerce platforms will not only reduce domestic market shares, as existing digital trade is currently dominated by a few TNCs from the United States and China, but also reduce sales tax revenue which governments increasingly rely upon with the earlier shift from direct to indirect taxation.

Developing countries must quickly organize themselves to advance their own agenda for developmental digitization. Meanwhile, concerned civil society organizations and others are proposing new approaches to issues such as data governance, anti-trust regulation, smaller enterprises, jobs, taxation, consumer protection, and trade facilitation.

New approach needed
A development-focused and jobs-enhancing digitization strategy is needed instead. Effective national policies require sufficient policy space, stakeholder participation and regional consultation, but the initiative seeks to limit that space. Developing countries should have the policy space to drive their developmental digitization agendas. Development partners, especially donors, should support, not drive this agenda.

Developmental digitization will require investment in countries’ technical, legal and economic infrastructure, and policies to: bridge the digital divide; develop domestic digital platforms, businesses and capacities to use data in the public interest; strategically promote national enterprises, e.g., through national data use frameworks; ensure digitization conducive to full employment policies; advance the public interest, consumer protection, healthy competition and sustainable development.

Pro-active measures needed
Following decades of economic liberalization and growing inequality, and the increasing clout of digital platforms, international institutions should support developmental digitization for national progress, rather than digital liberalization. Developing country governments must be vigilant about such e-commerce negotiations, and instead undertake pro-active measures such as:

Data governance infrastructure: Developing countries must be vigilant of the dangers of digital colonialism and the digital divide. Most people do not properly value data, while governments too easily allow data transfers to big data corporations without adequate protection for their citizens. TNC rights to free data flows should be challenged.

Enterprise competition: Developing countries still need to promote national enterprises, including through pro-active policies. International rules have enabled wealth transfers from the global South to TNCs holding well protected patents. National systems of innovation can only succeed if intellectual property monopolies are weakened. Strengthening property rights enhances TNC powers at the expense of developing country enterprises.

Employment: Developmental digitization must create decent jobs and livelihoods. Labour’s share of value created has declining in favour of capital, which has influenced rule-making to its advantage.

Taxation: The new e-commerce proposals seek to ban not only appropriate taxation, but also national presence requirements where they operate to avoid taxes at the expense of competitors paying taxes in compliance with the law. Tax rules allowing digital TNCs to reduce taxable income or shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions should be addressed.

Consumer protection: Strong policies for consumer protection are needed as the proposals would put privacy and data protection at risk. Besides citizens’ rights to privacy, consumers must have rights to data protection and against TNC and other abuse of human rights.

Competition: Digital platforms must be better regulated at both national and international level. Policies are needed to weaken digital economic monopolies and to support citizens, consumers and workers in relating to major digital TNCs.

Trade facilitation: Recent trade facilitation in developing countries, largely funded by donors, has focused on facilitating imports, rather than supply side constraints. Recent support for digital liberalization similarly encourages developing countries to import more instead of developing needed new infrastructure to close digital divides.

Urgent measures needed
‘E-commerce’ has become the new front for further economic liberalization and extension of property rights by removing tariffs (on IT products), liberalizing imports of various services, stronger IP protection, ending technology transfer requirements, and liberalizing government procurement.

Developing countries must instead develop their own developmental digitization agendas, let alone simply copy, or worse, promote e-commerce rules developed by TNCs to open markets, secure data, as well as constrain regulatory and developmental governments.

Chakravarthi Raghavan, Editor-emeritus of South-North Development Monitor SUNS, is based in Geneva and has been monitoring and reporting on the WTO and its predecessor GATT since 1978; he is author of several books on trade issues.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram is Senior Adviser with the Khazanah Research Institute. He was an economics professor and United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development.

Q&A: Continuous Struggle for the Caribbean to be Heard in Climate Change Discussions

A fisher in Barbados. The Caribbean’s fish stocks have been affected by climate change. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
GEORGETOWN, Feb 5 2019 (IPS)

In recent years Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have experienced escalated climate change impacts from hurricanes, tropical storms and other weather-related events thanks to global warming of 1.0 ° Celsius (C) above pre-industrial levels. And it has had adverse effects on particularly vulnerable countries and communities.

CARICOM countries and other small island and low-lying coastal developing states have long been calling for limiting the increase in average global temperatures to below 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Regional countries have also noted with grave concern the findings of the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C. The report noted that climate-related risks for natural and human systems including health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth are significantly higher at an increased global warming of 1.5 °C than at the present warming levels of 1 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Particularly worrisome for small island developing states (SIDS) is the finding that 70 to 90 percent of tropical coral reefs will be lost at a 1.5 °C temperature increase and 99 percent of tropical coral reefs will be lost at a 2 °C temperature increase.

Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General at the CARICOM Secretariat, told IPS that they have been working closely with the Alliance of Small Island States grouping. “The CARICOM SIDS grouping is considered a very important link and we are really leaders in the SIDS movement,” he said.

He said that at last year’s 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the region had been able to ensure, to some extent, that the procedures for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement were clearly outlined.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, says the region needs to recognise the importance of implementing some of the measures as recommended by technical institutions that will help to build climate resilience. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): How is the CARICOM region doing with its climate change fight?

DS: Starting from COP21 in France, certain decisions were made. The region thought that [at COP24] we needed to ensure that the procedures for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the modalities were clearly elucidated and outlined. To some extent I would say that that was achieved.

Another issue that we took [to COP24] and lobbied hard for, was a response to the IPCC 1.5 study.

The world is already looking to limit global warming to below 2 °C. We insisted that it should be no more than 1.5°C. Now, it might sound like they are close, but the differences are so significant, especially as it relates to us.

I must say that we had a hard task convincing them to accept the language of the findings of the IPCC. In fact, majority of the parties supported the findings and the actions to respond to it. But there were some major players [who did not] and because we work on consensus, it couldn’t find its way into the outcome document in a forceful way that was supportive of what we wanted.

There were four main countries, some real heavy rollers—the United States, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—who resisted that. We will continue and there will be other opportunities. In fact, there is a meeting in May of this year where we’ll continue to push.

IPS: Were there any other tangible outcomes?

DS: We did get some language that will encourage parties to work towards what we want. There is also the issue of the Talanoa Dialogue, which was decided from the previous COP Presidency—Fiji. The word suggests working together in an inclusive cooperative way to ensure that a lot of issues, including the Nationally Determined Contributions, are adjusted to meet the times. That had some challenges being accepted wholesale too, but I think it is correct to say that Parties acknowledged what was happening and gave some commitment to increase the ambition to reduce greenhouse gases.

But it is a continuing struggle and we have to keep sounding our small but powerful voices because climate change is existential to us. Already, coming out of the hurricane season in 2017, we have had first-hand experience of what can happen to us and we don’t want a repeat of that.

IPS: Given the political cycle in the Caribbean where you could have a change in administration every five years or less, do you find that when an administration changes the drive and level of attention to climate change also changes?

DS: It is my feeling, based on my observation over the years, that the political parties in the region understand the impact that climate change can cause on us and in general are strongly supportive. So, it’s not a major issue. It might just be degrees of emphasis or so, but I don’t think there’s a challenge there. I think it is clear to all of our political leaders that climate change is a reality and it can devastate our sustainability, especially economic sustainability.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter which administration is there, the policy should be aimed at addressing resilience to climate change and I think by and large that has been happening.

IPS: What major challenges remain for individual countries in the region or as a collective of SIDS? 

DS: I think we need to recognise the importance of implementing some of the measures as recommended by our technical institutions that will help to build resilience. Let us take hurricanes, for example. One of the reasons why you get significant damage is that the building codes that we have been using need updating. I think if we do that it will build a more resilient region. I think the message is there, but the implementation takes some time due to a lack of resources.

We have been working on that.

I know Dominica, especially post Hurricane Maria, are really working assiduously to build the first climate-resilient country probably in the world. That augers well for the region. We are hoping whatever we can gain from that experience can be disseminated in the entire region.

I am particularly concerned about some individual member states of CARICOM. Such as, for example, Haiti. I [bring up] Haiti because of land degradation and its impact, which we are dealing with now. We hope that Haiti can adjust to understanding the need for reforestation because that is a resilience measure.

I think if our individual member states can work with the various ministries and the regional institutions and we can mobilise the resources, that is the big challenge.

We know in general what we need to do. There’s a willingness to do it, the challenge is having the resources to.

We have some excellent institutions like CDEMA [Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency] which really is on the ball, but they need resources sometimes to respond to some of the challenges.

We are working with some international organisations and some other international development partners to see how we can pull that together. But it’s a work in progress.

*Interview edited for clarity.

The Upcoming Generations Can Lift the Arab Region out of Its Current Crisis

By Idriss Jazairy
GENEVA, Feb 5 2019 (IPS)

History testifies that there is no end to its evolution despite what some have claimed. This is because aspirations of its actors are in constant flux and because the quest for an « ideal city » is asymptotic.

Each generation wants to put its imprint on the present and to be the architect of its future in the pursuit of its own ideal.

Idriss Jazairy

The generations of the XXth century in the Arab region availed themselves of this opportunity through their struggle for the restoration of their dignity predicated on recovery of their nation’s sovereignty. This had an immediate effect on improving their condition at the time. They then set about charting the future society they aspired to and where equality would hopefully prevail. The spirit of the times was that such equality could best be pursued by socialist ideologies whether of the secular kind as pursued in part of the Middle East or blended with a statist concept of faith as was the case in other parts of the MiddleEast and in parts of North Africa. The effectiveness of these ideologies rested on an all-encompassing view of society which became co-terminous with the nation-state.

The nation-state is a modern concept on which contemporary advanced countries have built their identity as development contributed to the obsolescence of more narrow concepts of allegiance. While this was a more or less irreversible internal evolution in the global North, it was not necessarily so in the Arab region where tribal or regional allegiances remained vibrant though contained by what remained an exogenous socialist ideology. Commitment to the latter was narrowly related for newly liberated countries to patriotic anti-colonialism.

With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and of the Communist ideology which nurtured state socialism in the Arab region, the new generations there found themselves deprived of the cementing effect of a nation centralised through statism.

So the younger generations which now represent about two-thirds of the total population of the region are spurred by two factors :

First, they do not consider like their forebears that their quest for dignity is nurtured by thirst for sovereignty as the latter is already a given. These cohorts consider that the search for dignity must henceforth be nurtured by participation in decision-making and by promoting a culture of accountability in the field of human rights rather than one of compliance. So the search for dignity which for their elders was turned outwards is pursued by the younger generation why turning inwards. For the former, perceived dignity deficits led them to vent their anger outwards. For the latter, it lead them to vent it inwards. In the « digital era », social media and their borderless manipulation amplify this phenomenon. The elder and the younger generations remain bound however by a shared opposition to foreign invasion which compounds their anger

Second, as the statist pillars of nationhood that were exogenously inspired became more brittle following the weakening of the Communist ideology worldwide, the youth in the Arab region were and still are at a loss to find an alternative cementing ideal for the nation whose unity has been built in advanced countries through an indigenous maturing process of national preeminence.

Hence anger amongst the youth is coupled with a perceived and probably excessive sense of powerlessness which leads it to become detached from current affairs or to seek refuge in a community of faith rather than one based just on the nation. To a considerable extent, the lack of a perceived long term ideal for the future led the youth also to excavate one from the pre-colonial past i.e. the euphoric vision of an Islamic nation (that by all accounts never really existed) . Alternatively the loss of a societal compass is leading to re-activating sub-identities at the regional, local or tribal levels.

As in all social movements, there are aberrant individuals or groupings which exploit anger and frustration to pursue self-serving objectives of accessing power through violence in one case or through undermining national unity in the other.

That youth anger can thus be taken advantage of in the digital era gives a measure of its loss of momentum in the search for a common ideal. This explains why the Arab commotion called « Arab spring »was hardly more than social spasms generated by anger but deprived of a credible ideal for the longer term.

The ideal that can really mobilize the youth may be one based on the promotion of equal citizenship rights for all. This rights-based leitmotif is advocated by all the major world religions, creeds and value-systems. It is applicable for believers and non believers alike and works for unity of purpose at the national and at the international level. It will ultimately make irrelevant or obsolete the marginalizing and even oppressive connotations of concepts of ethnic, religious or gender minorities. It will cloak all individuals in a nation with the same right to dignity. Indeed the concept of minorities will seamlessly yield to that of social components of diversity in unity.

And ultimately equal citizenship rights is the gateway to peace as proclaimed at the World Conference held at the UN in Geneva on 25 June 2018 on Religions, Creeds and Value Systems joining Forces to Promote Equal Citizenship Rights under the patronage of HRH Prince Hassan of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Idriss Jazairy – Former Ambassador, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre on Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, an NGO think-tank in consultative status with the UN.

Confronting the Challenges of Migration in West & Central Africa

Richard Danziger is IOM’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa

By Richard Danziger
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 5 2019 (IPS)

Without a doubt, migration is a defining issue of this century. One billion people, one-seventh of the world’s population, are migrants. Some 258 million people are international migrants, 40 million are internally displaced and 24 million are refugees or asylum seekers.

In 2018, there was no longer a single state that can claim to be untouched by human mobility.

UN images of migrants

About 423 million people are living in the Economic Community of West African States, a 15-member grouping whose aim is to promote economic integration in a region where the unemployment rate is sometimes 20%—inevitably leading to migration.

The protection of migrants is a core value of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency. Globally, but especially in the Sahel region, abuses against migrants have grown more frequent along the migration routes. Human trafficking and smuggling exacerbate the vulnerability of migrants, especially those without access to documentation.

The IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa maintains the conviction that anchored IOM’s founding 65 years ago: that all men and women are equal members of the same human family in which freedom, protection and dignity are not luxuries to be reserved for the lucky few but fundamental rights for all humankind.

2.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 690,000 are internally displaced

Migration across the Sahel region is a complex issue, and managing it involves major challenges, including insufficient migration data, weak border management and controls, the recurrent need for humanitarian assistance, irregular migration and human trafficking.

Without effective bilateral or regional mobility agreements, thousands of workers will migrate.

Richard Danziger

Migration is often associated with poverty, but other factors also drive the phenomenon, including youth unemployment, climate change and urbanization.

Employment-seeking migration accounts for the biggest share of intraregional mobility as youth migrate from one country to another looking for better job opportunities.

Widespread population displacement is also linked to violent conflicts and unstable environmental conditions. Conflict in the Central African Republic, for example, has left an estimated 2.5 million people relying on humanitarian assistance and 690,000 internally displaced.

Migrants fleeing violence have spilled across the borders of neighboring countries, particularly Cameroon, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and the Republic of Congo. The current situation represents a challenge not only for the affected countries but also for the region.

In view of this growing crisis, a well-managed, orderly migration framework that incorporates practical, humane and rights-based operational solutions is needed. Strengthening mobility schemes in the region will foster regular and circular migration, allowing people to work abroad legally, return home safely and participate in the development of their communities of origin.

This strategy must also ensure the mobility of cross-border communities, but such mobility raises border management challenges in the absence of effective identity management systems and given limited capacities to ensure surveillance and control over the extensive and porous borders throughout the region.

Stakeholders will have to take coordinated action to address issues such as threats to public health, despoiling of natural resources, the loss of critical years of education and job training.

An increasing number of migrants are reconsidering migration—especially irregular migration—and want to make it at home before taking undue risks by going abroad. Legal channels and regional mobility schemes could help this group.

To ensure the safety of vulnerable populations along migratory routes who lack legal options to migrate or return home, IOM, together with African Member States and the European Union, launched in December 2016 the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration to provide immediate assistance to stranded migrants along the routes. Almost 40,000 people have received assistance since the launch.

West and Central Africa face some of the world’s greatest challenges—climate change and desertification, displacement due to conflict, galloping population growth and a youth bulge. But thanks to the resilience of the population of almost half a billion, these are also regions of enormous potential.

Sound migration policies and close cooperation among countries within the regions and on the continent with other countries of destination will help realize that potential, as will commitment by all concerned states to implement the new Global Compact for Migration.

The link to the original article
https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/december-2018-march-2019/confronting-challenges-migration-west-and-central-africa

The Geneva Centre issues its latest publication on women’s rights in the Arab region

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Feb 5 2019 (IPS-Partners)

(Geneva Centre) – A new publication entitled “Women’s Rights in the Arab Region: Between Myth and Reality” has been released by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue. On 15 September 2017, the Geneva Centre organized a meeting on the same theme in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt at the United Nations Office in Geneva. It was held as a side-event to the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The conference held in the format of a panel debate sought to review the remaining challenges and to deconstruct the existing myths regarding women in the Arab region. As became evident during the debate, women worldwide are still suffering, to different degrees, from the grip of patriarchy, and these challenges are not specific to any culture, but are common to all countries.

The panel highlighted the negative impact of the stereotypical representations of Arab and Muslim women, and the resulting intersecting forms of discrimination. Despite the efforts of the international community, and the comprehensive international legal framework on women’s rights, major setbacks persisted all around the world.

The present publication features the proceedings of the above-mentioned panel discussion, as well as the written contributions from the renowned panellists that participated in the side-event, which include HE Ms Hoda Al-Helaissi, Member of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council and former Vice-Chairperson at King Saud University, Ambassador Naela Gabr, Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Ambassador Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dr.Susan Carland, Researcher and Director of Monash University’s Bachelor of Global Studies in Australia, Ms Sarah Zouak, Co-founder of the French association Lallab and HE Ms Tahani Ali Toor Eldba, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice of the Sudan.

It also contains a study signed by Ambassador Naela Gabr and edited by Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre, which seeks to underscore the lessons learned from the debate and to broaden the discussion to other regions of the world.

Business-Friendly & Rights-based Approaches to Achieve SDGs

Dilum Abeysekera is Founder & CEO, LEEG-net | LexEcon Consulting Group*

By Dilum Abeysekera
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Feb 5 2019 (IPS)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 has entered its fourth year of implementation.

In terms of the estimated cost and the universal coverage of both developed and developing countries, it is the biggest ever development program that is being implemented to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

LEEG-net (Legal & Economic Empowerment Global Network – https://www.leeg-net.org ) is a multi-disciplinary network of professionals and a pro bono partnership for the Goals launched in January, 2017 in response to the global call-to-action extended by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It plays a catalytic role in implementing the SDGs by promoting legal innovation and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged groups towards addressing the “greatest global challenge of eradicating poverty” – the unifying thread throughout the 17 Goals.

According to LEEG-net, the focus on legal innovation is an ongoing quest for new strategies and ways of thinking about what the law can do in the field of development.

The focus on legal empowerment as a human rights-based approach to development is an attempt to make the law work for the poor and disadvantaged groups by enhancing their capacity to resist poverty and get over it.

LEEG-net links the two themes by virtue of their shared importance in finding solutions to sustainable development challenges.

Current status of the implementation of SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 published by the United Nations reviews progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The report states that the rate of global progress is not keeping pace with the ambitions of the Agenda, necessitating immediate and accelerated action by countries and stakeholders at all levels.

The 2018 SDG Index and Dashboards report published jointly by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) provides a ranking of countries by the aggregate SDG Index of overall performance.

It also presents an updated assessment of countries’ distance to achieving the SDGs. Key findings include:

    (a) The Report states “For the first time, we are able to show that no country is on track to achieve all the goals by 2030.
    For example, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland top the 2018 SDG Index, but they need to significantly accelerate progress towards achieving some goals, including Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and Goal 13 (Climate Action)”

    (b) Most G 20 countries have started SDGs implementation, but important gaps remain.

    (c) Achievement gaps are greatest towards universal completion of secondary education.

    (d) Countries experiencing conflict have experienced some of the sharpest reversals, particularly towards achieving Goal 1 (No Poverty) and Goal 2 (No Hunger).

    (e) Progress towards sustainable consumption and production patterns is too slow. High-income countries obtain their lowest scores on Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and Goal 14 (Life Below Water).

    (g) High-income countries generate negative SDG spillover effects.

Human rights foundation of the SDGs

The 2030 Agenda is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights treaties.

According to an analysis of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, around 92% of the 169 SDG targets are based on the provisions of international human rights treaties and labour conventions.

LEEG-net perceives the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs as a restatement of universal human rights that encompass the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, environmental and economic.

The SDGs can be seen as a goal-based operational plan for realizing human rights including the right to development as recognized by international, regional and national instruments.

The “human rights foundation” of the 2030 Agenda justifies the adoption of a human rights-based approach to implementing the SDGs. A human rights-based approach to development seeks to achieve development objectives by following a legal roadmap.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the two International Covenants adopted in 1966 respectively on Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights along with other human rights instruments operative at the international, regional and national levels constitute the legal roadmap of a rights-based approach to development.

With the objective of advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, LEEG-net seeks to incorporate business-friendly and human rights-based approaches (or a holistic approach) into national action plans for implementing the SDGs.

The proposed mechanism is the promotion of legal, economic and technological empowerment of people including the poor and disadvantaged groups within the human rights foundation of the SDGs.

This process is visualized by the infographic named SDG Temple of Justice – an outline of a blueprint developed by LEEG-net team (web: https://www.leeg-net.org/sdg-temple-of-justice).

This blueprint seeks to prioritize policies and actions to advance eightfold rights that are considered imperative for developing countries in particular if they are to fully realize the SDGs.

These rights, as depicted by pillars of the infographic, are Gender Equality, Property Rights, Contract Rights, Business Rights, Labour Rights, Right to an Effective Remedy, Right to Information, and the Right to Development. Click on the pillars of the SDG Temple of Justice infographic to see how these rights critically impact on achieving the SDGs.

Member States’ commitment to adopting business-friendly approaches, including efficient legal and regulatory frameworks, promotes innovation, employment and inclusive growth.

As supported by empirical evidence, actions taken by State institutions that promote, protect and assure the rights of businesses (irrespective of their size) have had a direct impact on reducing poverty.

Economies with better business regulation have lower levels of poverty on average (Doing Business-2018, World Bank). Such commitments are required to help achieve SDGs 1, 2, 5, 8 and 10 in particular.

LEEG-net considers the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) score as an effective indicator for measuring the “SDG-readiness” of national business regulatory frameworks.

The EODB score has been developed by World Bank’s Doing Business team to indicate an economy’s position to the best regulatory practice in relation to 10 indicator sets – the best score is set at 100, and the worst performance is set at 0.

LEEG-net believes that a considerable number of SDG targets of the 2030 Agenda can be easily met if countries maintain an EODB score of 80 or more.

Web: www.leeg-net.org | www.lexecongroup.com