Latest Developments, July 6

In today’s news and analysis…

Joseph Stiglitz says rich countries have learned nothing from the global financial crisis or the failure of earlier austerity measures in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere. But the Nobel laureate’s emphasis on growth and “still further growth” suggests sustainability does not factor into his vision.

Patrick Michaels goes a step further, arguing there are no limits to potential growth, at least when it comes to food production, and it is policies aimed at halting global warming that are killing people: “This “limits to growth” argument is as tired as a farmer at the end of harvest.”

Harvard economist Dani Rodrik lays out his position on the place of democracy in economic policy making: “Ultimately, the question concerns whom we empower to make the rules that markets require. The unavoidable reality of our global economy is that the principal locus of legitimate democratic accountability still resides within the nation state. So I readily plead guilty to my economist critic’s charge. I do want to make the world safe for democratic politicians. And, frankly, I wonder about those who do not.”

One of the architects of the Kimberley Process praises Canada’s stand on blood diamonds, while an editorial (also in Embassy Magazine) refers to asbestos as Canada’s blood diamond after Canada opposed the substance’s inclusion in the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances. “So in the same day,” the editorial reads, “Canada stood up for a process designed to save lives and provide accountability in an industry that is wrought with death and hypocrisy, and then took a position of hypocrisy that will contribute to more deaths in developing countries.”

Meanwhile, gold is reportedly fanning the flames of Colombia’s violence. Canada, which is home to a number of the world’s largest gold mining companies, has signed a bilateral free trade agreement which is set to kick in next month. A similar US-Colombia agreement appears stalled for now.

And one final Canadian mining note: The Canadian International Development Agency is teaming up with Teck Resources and the Micronutrient Initiative for zinc treatment in Senegal. Perhaps surprisingly, a spokesperson for watchdog group Mining Watch Canada believes the project goes beyond the kind of “advertising” he says is typical of corporate social responsibility endeavours: “This looks to me like a perfectly positive thing with concrete benefits to children, and it has accountability already built in.”

UNAIDS is praising India’s decision to resist pressure, most notably from the European Union, to adopt more stringent intellectual property protections that would make it more difficult to produce generic HIV/AIDS treatments. “Millions of people will die if India cannot produce generic antiretroviral drugs, and Africa will be the most affected,” UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé said. “For me, it is an issue of life or death.”

Marta Ruiz draws attention to a couple of initiatives, one in Africa and one in the Netherlands, intended to rein in abusive transfer pricing by transnational corporations. But the tax news out of the Netherlands is not necessarily all good for poor countries.

A Chinese prosecutor is calling for international cooperation in tackling the “global cancer” of trans-border corruption, the world’s largest mining company has banned “facilitation payments” in order to comply with the UK’s new anti-corruption law, and the World Bank is looking into possible asset recovery in foreign bribery cases.

In case anyone needed a reminder of the problems inherent in trying to establish a one-size-fits-all global justice system, an angry crowd in Egypt wants tough penalties for police officers who used violence against protesters earlier this year, while a woman who lost her home in Cote d’Ivoire’s recent violence has other priorities.

Nigeria’s president worries about his country’s “huge food import bills,” and the Economist asks if housing is the most dangerous asset of all.

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