Commission for Social Development CSocD -52
Statement submitted by the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council -ECOSOC
We, the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries appreciate the efforts made by the United Nations (UN) to reach out to millions through a Global Survey for a Better World (My World Survey). My World Survey presents an important and unique opportunity to ensure that the voices of citizens are heard by their leaders on a global platform with its particular challenges. There can not be a better way to gather the aspirations of the people for the world they want. We also commend the UN efforts to combat poverty, eradicate epidemics, wars and conflicts, and establish a new economic system that ensures a fair distribution of wealth and consolidates bridges of trust among peoples across the world. The major challenge that remains before the international community; How to achieve universal human development while also ensuring protection of the planet so that humanity does not exceed its critical boundaries? How to tackle the growing inequalities?
It is indeed important to listen to the voices of the people, especially those living in poverty, in order to empower them and achieve poverty eradication and social integration through full employment and decent work. The top 6 priorities of people all over the world reiterate the fundamental truth based on human rights. We need to focus more on the quality of life and less on GDP. “There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” says Jeffery Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and director of the SDSN. The UN need to develop just policies, especially in the Trade and Financial sector, for better social integration.
The special Rapporteurs on the right to food connect the link between taxation and hunger: “Weak taxation and deregulation make it possible and profitable for multinationals to exploit farmland in the developing world in ways that undercut and marginalize local small-scale farmers. And the taxes not collected from these companies become the funding shortfalls that prevent governments in the developing world from financing, owning and implementing the multi-year, multi-sector food security strategies that are proven to reduce hunger,” he said. It is a common fact that without proper regulation and just taxation, no country can meet the needs of all its citizens, very specially the vulnerable sections.
Decent work and social integration based on human rights
There are millions of people employed in unsafe and under waged industries which are not only unjust but dangerous to the lives of people who are forced to work under such circumstances. One example is Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. It is unacceptable in the 21st century to witness such an unfortunate end for those less privileged workers who deserved decent work and safe environment. The consumer society who enjoys the fruits of other’s cheap labor is partially responsible, while the government and the greedy garment industries cannot escape from the moral responsibility of the deaths.
Following the Rana Plaza tragedy which killed more than 110 people in November last year, the US suspended preferential trade status for Bangladesh, eventually leading to the launching of a new garment sector safety campaign by Bangladesh and the International Labor Organization (ILO) aimed at improving factory working conditions. “Successful implementation of the programs will ensure better working conditions and safety for garment workers in Bangladesh,” said the ILO’s director general for field operations and partnerships. The question is, should we wait for such a tragedy to occur to propose policies and rules?
We reiterate the need for a human rights based approach as fundamental to ensuring any development goals, particularly in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all. The international community should hold themselves accountable to human rights commitments and to an enabling global environment. In this context, the Official Development Assistance (ODA) as committed, is very essential. This includes accountability around commitments of global solidarity – whether through ODA or other mechanisms to ensure that those governments with the least resources are not solely accountable for improving the lives of their poorest and most excluded citizens.
Gender Justice for a sustainable future As half of the world’s population, women play a crucial role in economic growth, environmental sustainability and poverty reduction. Yet over a third of women in Asia-Pacific still suffer from violence and insecurity, a glaring issue in efforts towards sustainable development. Ensuring human rights of women and girls is imperative in achieving social inclusion, decent work, above all human dignity. Women’s economic empowerment and full and equal participation in decision-making are essential to achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all
Leave no one behind
One of the 5 Transformative shifts expressed in the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Eminent Person’s report (HLP), “Leave no one behind” is highly appreciated by the entire world especially civil society. But the question is how can vulnerable communities in developing countries protect their legal rights in the context of the current economic policy and its complex laws? How can the illicit money flow from Africa and other developing and Least Developed countries (which is double and triple the ODA) be stopped and used it for social development ? How can the loopholes in taxes which are in favor of the fuel, and other extractive industries, be closed and then share the profit with the local people whose lives and lands are at stake ?
International economic laws are complex and influence the lives of vulnerable groups in several different ways. Private capital flows through foreign direct investment and portfolio investment now exceed annually. This has deep income, wealth distribution, and human rights effects on people around the world — creating opportunity for many, but leaving some behind. Unless the issues of land grabs, tax evasion and illicit capital flows are addressed, we can neither achieve the goal- leave no one behind nor eradicate poverty.
In the context of the above realities, we urge the UN to develop just policies to:
- Protect communities whose access to livelihoods is threatened by environmental pollution and natural resource exploitation by fuel and other extractive industries and global fishing industry.
- Protect local communities whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by global climate change agreements.
- Cancel the sovereign debt of the highly vulnerable countries so that they can use the finance to reinvest in social development.
- Close all loopholes in taxation, mainly tax evasion by transnational companies and illegal capital flow from least developed and developing countries.
- Promote Innovative sources of financing such as Financial Transaction Tax- which can mobilize additional resources for the welfare of those living in extreme poverty.
- Prevent all forms of violence against women and girls and enable their full human potential, not only for their benefit or their families; but for the betterment of the society as a whole.
The international community is key in providing an enabling environment with just policies, while the national governments are the vanguards of human rights in implementing the policies. The rising people’s movements, and networks of advocates for vulnerable communities, are a sign that states are not up to the expectations of their citizens who elected them to power. There is a compelling need for a paradigm shift in the current socioeconomic system which allows two extremes, namely extreme Poverty and extreme wealth. The existence of extreme poverty is indeed a moral and spiritual imperative to act: while extreme wealth is another important area to be tackled.
We welcome Secretary General Ban ki –Moon’s report to the 68 GA “A life of dignity for all” and reiterate that it should be the bottom line. Until then groups like the Lawyers Without Borders, faith based organizations and other international organizations would continue to demand social accountability to ensure that the rules of the global economy work for everyone, not just for the rich and powerful.
Endorsing Organizations with ECOSOC Status are :
- Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
- Congregation of our Lady of Mount Carmel
- Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
- Dominican Leadership Conference
- Fundacion Global Democraciay Desarollo FUNGLODE, (General )
- Global Foundation for Democracy and Development
- Loretto Community (Rooster)
- Mary knoll Sisters of St.Dominic
- Salesian Missions
- Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
- UNANIMA International,
- VIVAT International