Latest Developments, September 28

In the latest news and analysis…

The new containment
David Eaves, “public policy entrepreneur” and blogger, argues the Open Government Partnership, which officially launched last week, is widely misunderstood as a “do good project” when it is actually motivated by geopolitical considerations.
“The OGP is part of a 21st century containment policy. And I’d go further, it is a effort to forge a new axis around which America specifically, and a broader democratic camp more generally, may seek to organize allies and rally its camp. It abandons the now outdated free-market/democratic vs. state-controlled/communist axis in favour of a more subtle, but more appropriate, open vs. closed.”

Double non-taxation
The European Network on Debt and Development’s Alex Marriage writes about efforts underway in Europe to stem the “race to the bottom” in corporate taxation and the practice of “treaty shopping” which often leads to “double non-taxation.”
“There is a constant stream of double taxation agreements being signed between developing and developed countries which in the current global regulatory environment frequently lead to double non taxation. This amendment will not help developing countries directly but acknowledgement of the problem is surely welcome.”

Co-opting Robin Hood
TheParliament.com reports that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has announced plans for a Financial Transaction Tax or “Robin Hood tax,” saying it was time for the continent’s banks to give back to society after the trillions in public funds they have received since the financial crisis began.
“The FTT is moving from rhetoric to reality but a significant part of the revenues should be used as Bill Gates suggested, to help poor countries facing chilling reductions in aid, trade, and investment – not just shore up the EU budget,” according to Oxfam’s Nicolas Mombrial.
“An FTT is not a ‘Robin Hood tax’ unless clear commitments are made to use the revenues for tackling climate change, and poverty at home and abroad.”

The poor feeding the rich
Greenpeace has released a new report entitled How Africa is feeding Europe which describes the local impacts of European “fisheries partnership agreements” off the coast of West Africa.
“In European waters, the level of overfishing is higher than the global average, with an estimated 88% of European fish stocks in a poor state. Rather than solve this problem, the EU has progressively been increasing their capacity in seas beyond its own to meet the growing global demand for seafood and to keep their fleets in business. Several of Europe’s largest vessels are currently operating in waters of some of the world’s poorest nations through fisheries partnership agreements or joint ventures, undermining local food security by failing to adequately consider the local communities need for local fish as a source of protein and income.”

Good and bad refugees
Romero House’s Mary Jo Leddy imagines how history will judge Canada’s current treatment of would-be Tamil migrants and criticizes a proposed piece of immigration legislation the Conservative government describes as an effort to stop human smuggling.
“Bill C-4 is another attempt by stealth to prevent refugees from coming to Canada. A series of pieces of legislation have effectively divided refugees into two groups: the “bad” refugees who have the audacity to come to Canada on their own, and the “good” refugees who are in camps overseas and who will stay there until they are among those chosen to come to Canada.”

Absurd orthodoxy
Clarity Economics’s Phil Thornton reports on last month’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings where participants considered the possibility that the dominant economic model of the past few decades has failed.
“According to [Joseph] Stiglitz, the models used by central banks and many in the private sector created a policy framework that was clearly at the centre of the crisis: ‘It said you don’t need regulation. It said all you need for monetary policy is low inflation and that would suffice to ensure stable growth. In retrospect, these ideas seem absurd.’”

3Ds peril
The Guardian reports on the difficulties, including deportations and delayed shipments, faced by foreign aid agencies operating in Pakistan in the aftermath of revelations the CIA had used a fake vaccination scheme in its hunt for Osama bin Laden.
“Others complain of regular visits to their offices from intelligence officials seeking detailed information about their staff. One intelligence document, inadvertently left behind at one aid agency and seen by the Guardian, directs operatives to investigate the ‘covert funding’ and ‘covert operations’ of international NGOs.”

Humanitarian G-spot
On Motherhood and Sanity’s Angelica, guest blogging on Tales from the Hood, suggests the development industry is not walking its gender talk.
“You know I’m right. You just cannot (and certainly should not) have a document, meeting, program or strategy that does not address gender. Depending on the place and theme it can range from anything along the lines of combating FGM to increased political representation and decision making.  As aid practitioners we are acutely aware of the pitfalls and structural biases that leave women vulnerable to abuse and dependency. We ignore the local’s arguments that link these forms of discrimination to culture or tradition, and demand equality be treated as a basic human right.
So why is it we are failing so miserably to achieve gender balance at home?”

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