Author: Wolfgang Obenland

Joint CSO letter on UN GA Resolution vote on “Basic Principles on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Processes”

On September 10, 2015, the international community must take an important step towards better prevention and resolution of sovereign debt crises. Adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution “Basic Principles on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Processes” would be a milestone towards ensuring that debt crises can be tackled in a timely, orderly, effective and fair manner. An international coalition of civil society organisations working on debt justice urges representatives of European countries at the United Nations to vote in favour of this Resolution. Read more …

Investing in the SDGs: Whose Business?

by Aldo Caliari, Project Director at the Washington DC-based Center of Concern

The role of foreign investment in financing development has been a matter of considerable debate in the negotiations leading up to all Financing for Development (FFD) conferences. But deliberations towards the one which took place in Addis Ababa in July 2015 have seen a definite tendency to propose a greater reliance on foreign investment in financing development. It will be important to watch how the Addis Ababa conference frames the regulatory role of the state, and the practices of using aid as an incentive to attract private sector funding, and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and institutional investors’ role in closing the infrastructure finance gap. With the transnational corporate sector more involved than ever in defining policies around sustainable development, winning the struggle for the narrative around the contribution of private capital flows to development is a crucial prize at stake in the Financing for Development negotiations in Addis Ababa and beyond. Read more…

Outcome Document finally available “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

With a delay of ten days, the UN has now published the final outcome document for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to be officially adopted at the UN Summit on September 25-27, 2015 in New York. The Agenda sets out the aims of the organization and all its members for the coming 15 years in the fields of social development, curbing equalities, economic progress and environmental sustainability. If taken seriously, the 2030 Agenda will require profound changes in policies as well as governance and has the potential to shape debates in each and every country around the world.

Download the final version of the outcome document with letters by co-facilitators and the President of the General Assembly at

UN Committee passes first ever set of UN debt restructuring principles

by Bodo Ellmers, Eurodad

Just ten days after the UN’s International Conference on Financing for Development, and just in time for the endorsement of the new sustainable development agenda, a UN Committee has agreed on a set of principles to guide further sovereign debt restructuring processes. The new UN principles were inspired by the devastating bank bailouts in Greece, and by the vulture fund lawsuits that Argentina faced at US courts. They build on preparatory work done by an expert group convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and, subject to approval by the UN General Assembly (UN GA) in early September, will be the first step towards a new multilateral debt restructuring framework that aims to prevent future debt crises, or at least manage them better. Read more…

Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 Presents a Bold Vision for Women and Girls

Advocates Gear Up for Work to Come
UNITED NATIONS—The Women’s Major Group, made up of more than 600 women’s organizations and networks from around the world, recognizes the historic agenda for global sustainable development that 193 governments agreed to on Sunday. At the center of this broad and ambitious plan are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be formally adopted by Heads of State in September at the UN General Assembly. The SDGs chart out global development across social, environmental and economic areas for the next 15 years, and if fully implemented could be transformative for women and girls everywhere. Read more…

Invitation: Fit for whose purpose? Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations

The post 2015 development agenda is being shaped at a time of challenge for multilateralism. Multi-stakeholder partnerships and deeper engagement with the business sector are being positioned as central pillars for implementation as well as for mobilizing and leveraging the trillions of dollars needed.
Yet this direction is not taking into account the recent pattern of UN development funding, this pattern has been characterized by increased earmarking of funding from donors, public and private, spurring in turn increased competition amongst the institutions and programmes of the UN system and undermining inter-governmental oversight. A continuation of this pattern will undermine the integration of economic, social and environmental policies and programmes – the essence of the agenda for the next 15 years.
The side event will discuss the challenge of shaping of the Post-2015 Agenda building on findings of a recently completed comprehensive study undertaken by Global Policy Forum on the practices and consequences of private funding of the UN system. Read more…

FFD 3 Outcome: Fishing for crumbs of hope in a sea of lost ambition

By Aldo Caliari, Center of Concern

On July 16th, governments adopted the Outcome of the Third Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), called the “Action Ababa Action Agenda” (AAAA or the “Outcome”). In a collective and sharp statement in response, civil society said that the conference “lost the opportunity to tackle the structural injustices in the current global economic system and ensure that development finance is people-centered and protects the environment.”

The lack of ambition of the adopted text, though not a surprise to observers of the negotiations leading up to it, is very striking for it contradicts hyped-up rhetoric from different sources in the UN and governments about the link between this conference and the upcoming ones this year. Ambitious outcomes in the conferences on the post-2015 development agenda (New York, September) and the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 on Climate (Paris, December) were expected to depend on success of FFD 3. But in its final form, the AAAA does not offer the hoped-for strong financial means of implementation for such other commitments. The reality is that negotiations saw a systematic action by Northern countries to deprive the outcome of any ambition. Read more…

10 Reasons Why an Intergovernmental UN Tax Body Will Benefit Everyone

During the 3rd drafting session to formulate an outcome document for the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, a coalition of 30 NGOs from around the globe is urging governments to pave the way for setting up an intergovernmental body on tax cooperation with universal membership under the roof of the United Nations. To ‘sweeten the deal’ for delegates, and to strengthen their resolve, negotiators received a little gift of chocolate, which came right in time just after lunch. Of course, arguments were also provided for why the world needs a new institution for a truly global tax governance. Read more…

Financial Integrity and Transparency in the Post-2015 Agenda

by Hubert René Schillinger, FES Geneva

In this contribution to a session on “From Millenium to Sustainable Development Goals: Is transparency the key to unlocking our human potential?” at the GFI/FES Conference on “Financial Transparency and Human Rights” Hubert Schillinger does not elaborate on the positive impact of more financial transparency and the curbing of illicit financial flows for the realization of the new set of global goals. Rather, he a) looks at the role financial integrity and transparency is playing so far in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and b) makes some suggestions as to how this framework could be harnessed further to promote the agenda for financial justice and the curbing of illicit financial flows. Read more…

A milestone on the road to fairer global taxation?

by Wolfgang Obenland, Global Policy Forum
For decades, development policy was shaped by the notion that the poor countries of the Global South needed money from the wealthy North in order to advance in their development. At the latest since the 2008/09 financial crisis this view of things has, it seems, begun to change. In the current Global Governance Spotlight, Wolfgang Obenland, Program Coordinator of the Global Policy Forum, analyses the negotiations on the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, scheduled to take place from 13 to 17 July 2015 in Addis Ababa, and shares his assessment regarding its progressiveness. Read more …