Latest Developments, July 31

In the latest news and analysis…

Upside-down justice
Amnesty International, though pleased to see Wikileaker Bradley Manning acquitted of the “aiding the enemy” charge, accuses the US government of punishing those who reveal wrongdoing while protecting those who order or commit the crimes:

“ ‘Since the attacks of September 11, we have seen the US government use the issue of national security to defend a whole range of actions that are unlawful under international and domestic law,’ said [Amnesty International’s Widney] Brown.
‘It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning’s trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you, no holds barred, if you’re thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behaviour.’ ”

UN ultimatum
The UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo has issued a statement threatening to disarm by force all non-military armed actors in and around the eastern city of Goma:

“In light of the high risk to the civilian population in the Goma-Sake area, MONUSCO will support the [Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo] in establishing a security zone in Goma and its northern suburbs. Any individuals in this area who are not members of the national security forces will be given 48 hours as of 4pm (Goma time) on Tuesday 30 July to hand in their weapon to a MONUSCO base and join the [Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration, and Resettlement] process. After 4pm on Thursday 1 August, they will be considered an imminent threat of physical violence to civilians and MONUSCO will take all necessary measures to disarm them, including by the use of force in accordance with its mandate and rules of engagement.”

Pattern of violence
London-based law firm Leigh Day has announced the launch of a suit against a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold over alleged complicity in “the deaths and injuries of local villagers” in Tanzania:

“The claims relate to incidents occurring over the last three years, including one in which five young men were shot and killed on 16 May 2011. The claimants allege that the mine and [North Mara Gold Mine Limited] are controlled by [African Barrick Gold] and that ABG failed to curb the use of excessive force at the mine, including deadly force used by police on a regular basis over a protracted period of time.
‘Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. We are aware of many other instances in which local people have reportedly been seriously injured or killed at ABG’s mine,’ said Leigh Day partner, Richard Meeran.

Two years ago, Barrick announced that ABG had launched a full investigation into what it called ‘credible’ allegations of sexual assault at the North Mara mine in Tanzania. The results of the investigation have never been released.”

Defining atrocities
The Globe and Mail reports on a movement to get the Canadian government to recognize that the country’s history of abuses against First Nations people constitutes genocide:

“As early as this fall, they could ask the United Nations to apply its definition of genocide to Canada’s historical record. This push comes five years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the Canadian government for the treatment of children at aboriginal residential schools.

The UN defines genocide as the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group through any of a number of means including killing its members, causing them serious mental or physical harm, subjecting them to unsustainable living conditions, preventing births of their children, and forcibly transferring their children to another group.
In 2000, four years after the last residential school closed, the government of Canada adopted a definition of genocide that excluded the line about the forcible transfer of children. Courts have rejected native claims of genocide against Ottawa and the churches because Canada had no law banning genocide while the schools were operating.”

Last minute deals
L’Indicateur du Renouveau reports that an Irish and a Czech company obtained oil licenses from Mali’s interim government mere days before Sunday’s presidential election:

“Circle Oil Ltd, a company that already operates in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, is now authorized to ‘carry out exploration activities in blocks 21 and 28 of the Taoudenni Basin and to exploit any commercially viable deposits found therein,’ according to the government. In return, the company has pledged to invest at least $6.5 million in block 21 and $3.9 million in block 28.
As for the Czech Republic’s New Catalyst Capital Investments, a newcomer to the oil industry, it obtained carte blanche for exploration, production, transport and even refining of oil and gas in block 4 of the Taoudenni Basin. In return, it pledged to invest a minimum of $69 million.” [Translated from the French.]

Lies of omission
Politico reports that US Senator Ron Wyden has alleged that American spy agencies’ violations of court orders are “more serious” than the government is admitting:

“ ‘We had a big development last Friday when Gen. [James] Clapper, the head of the intelligence agencies, admitted that the community had violated these court orders on phone record collection, and I’ll tell your viewers that those violations are significantly more troubling than the government has stated,’ Wyden said.

Wyden has been an outspoken critic of the surveillance programs but has been restricted with what he can release about them because of his position on the Intelligence Committee. He said since the government made the compliance issues public, however, he could warn about them.”

Resumption of hostilities
The Long War Journal reports that US drone strikes have started up again in Yemen:

“Today’s strike is the second in Yemen in four days. The previous strike, on July 27, which is said to have killed six AQAP fighters in the Al Mahfad area in Abyan province, broke a seven-week pause in drone activity in Yemen.”

Dodgy deal
The Guardian reports on a mining agreement that has outraged the people of Guinea and prompted the FBI to investigate the Guernsey-registered company that hit the “jackpot”:

“The deal was notable not only because BSGR’s expertise was in mining diamonds, rather than extracting and exporting iron ore, but because the glittering prize of Simandou had cost the company so little: rather than paying the government of Guinea for the concession, it had invested $165m in an exploration programme in the area.

Even within the buccaneering world of African mining, the deal was regarded as stupendous. For an investment of just $165m, [Beny] Steinmetz’s BSGR had secured an asset worth around $5bn.”

Latest Developments, July 17

In the latest news and analysis…

Election dropout
Radio France Internationale reports that Tiébilé Dramé has withdrawn his candidacy from this month’s presidential election in Mali, saying a “credible” vote is impossible at this point in time and criticizing France’s role in his country’s electoral process:

“ ‘Paris,’ Tiébilé Dramé said, ‘is pushing for elections, no matter what the cost.’ He added: ‘I get the feeling [French foreign minister] Laurent Fabius is running the elections in Mali.’ Nevertheless, Dramé is not calling for a boycott of the vote. He even wished ‘good luck’ to his country.” [Translated from the French.]

The customer’s always right
The Independent reports that the UK has sold £12.3 billion worth of military equipment to “countries which are on its own official list for human rights abuses”:

“The Government had stated that it would not issue export licences for goods ‘which might be used to facilitate internal repression’ or ‘might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts’.

Only two states of 27 on the Foreign Office’s human rights list – North Korea and South Sudan –did not have licences to their names. Among the others, Saudi Arabia has 417 licences with a value of £1.8bn; Pakistan 219 worth almost £50m; Sri Lanka 49 at £8m and Zimbabwe 46, worth just under £3m.

‘The Government needs to acknowledge that there’s an inherent conflict between strongly promoting arms exports to authoritarian regimes whilst strongly criticising their lack of human rights at the same time. Instead they continue to claim these two policies “are mutually reinforcing”,’ [said Committees on Arms Export Controls chairman John Stanley].”

Hunger studies
The Canadian Press reports on new evidence that researchers in Canada conducted nutritional experiments on “isolated, dependent, hungry” aboriginal people in the mid-20th Century:

“Government documents eventually revealed a long-standing, government-run experiment that came to span the entire country and involved at least 1,300 aboriginals, most of them children.

They found people who were hungry, beggared by a combination of the collapsing fur trade and declining government support. They also found a demoralized population marked by, in the words of the researchers, ‘shiftlessness, indolence, improvidence and inertia.’
The researchers suggested those problems — ‘so long regarded as inherent or hereditary traits in the Indian race’ — were in fact the results of malnutrition.”

Dangerous oil
Reuters reports that the UN is warning that the activities of Western oil companies in Somalia could “threaten peace and security” in the region:

“Around a dozen companies, including many multinational oil and gas majors, had licenses to explore Somalia before 1991, but since then Somaliland and Puntland and other regional authorities have granted their own licenses for the same blocks.
In some cases Somaliland and Puntland have awarded licenses for blocks that overlap. The experts said one such case involves Norwegian oil firm DNO and Canadian-listed Africa Oil Corp.
‘Potentially, it means that exploration operations in these blocks, conducted by both DNO and Africa Oil under the protection of regional security forces, its allied militia or private forces, could generate new conflict between Somaliland and Puntland,’ the report said.
‘It is alarming that regional security forces and armed groups may clash to protect and further Western-based oil companies interests,’ it said.”

Fortress Europe
Human Rights Watch’s Judith Sunderland argues that the EU’s “increasingly hostile” attitude toward immigration is putting Africans’ lives at risk:

“[European commissioner for home affairs Cecilia] Malmström’s office has said it is examining pushback practices by member states – and not just to Libya – but it needs to be more open about this process and its conclusions. And it should be willing to use infringement proceedings against EU countries that send people to places where there is a risk of torture or persecution, a clear breach of EU law.
The European Parliament and European Council are studying a European Commission proposal for new regulations governing interceptions in the Mediterranean. It would allow for returns to third countries for those intercepted on the high seas following a cursory assessment of protection needs and the situation in the country of return. This is unacceptable.”

UN peacemaking
Al Jazeera reports on concerns that that the deployment of the UN’s Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo could have dire consequences:

The move abandons past UN risk-aversion in a way that critics fear could create a politicised force with an offensive mandate that fuels local resistance to peacekeeping and exposes humanitarian staff to new risks.

Pieter Vanholder, DRC country director of the Life & Peace Institute in Bukavu, told Al Jazeera FIB could have a deterrent effect, but ‘if some things go wrong, which they are bound to, the brigade may be seen as a kind of occupation force.’’
‘As a consequence it could become a push factor for some to join armed groups, adding to local resistance,’ Vanholder said.

Exaggerated risk
The Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenney argues, regarding the US Department of Homeland Security, the time has come to “shut the whole thing down”:

“More than a decade [after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks], it’s increasingly clear that the danger to Americans posed by terrorism remains smaller than that of myriad other threats, from infectious disease to gun violence to drunk driving. Even in 2001, considerably more Americans died of drowning than from terror attacks. Since then, the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack in the U.S. or abroad have been about one in 20 million. The Boston marathon bombing was evil and tragic, but it’s worth comparing the three deaths in that attack to a list of the number of people in the U.S. killed by guns since the December 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn., which stood at 6,078 as of June.”

People for sale
UK House of Lords member Mary Goudie argues “it’s only by cutting off the money” that the world can stop human trafficking:

“Modern-day slavery is an underground business, intrinsically linked to global supply chains. Individuals and companies are making a huge amount of money out of this business and can make it extremely hard for campaigners and governments to chase the cash back to its true source. Dealing with the murky links between forced labour and global supply chains is perhaps the only real chance we have of cracking the business of slavery. All private companies should be required to sign up to the Athens ethical principles against human trafficking. By signing this agreement, they will be contributing to the eradication of human trafficking and emphasising that this form of business will not be tolerated.”

Latest Developments, June 17

In the latest news and analysis…

War plans
The Telegraph reports on increasing American willingness to get involved in Syria’s civil war, while some US allies remain skeptical:

Reports from The Times on Friday night claimed that 300 US Marines have already been deployed to northern Jordan, along with a Patriot anti-aircraft missile, ahead of plans to arm the rebels.

Sweden opposed the US move to provide greater military support. Carl Bildt, the foreign minister, warned that the US decision could set off an arms race with Russia, which is already considering whether to supply its advanced S300 air defence systems. ‘I don’t think the way forward is to get an arms race going in Syria,’ he said, ‘There’s a risk that that would undermine the conditions for a political process.’

The option of enforcing a limited no-fly zone to protect rebel training bases in Jordan, is also being considered, according to US officials. However, the French government indicated that it would be almost impossible to secure the necessary international agreements.

Diplomatic spying
The Guardian reports that British intelligence agencies monitored the computer and phone communications of foreign officials during G20 summit meetings in London in 2009:

“The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by [Government Communications Headquarters] and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, and that intelligence, including briefings for visiting delegates, was passed to British ministers.”

UK tax havens
Christian Aid and the IF campaign have released a new report underlining the importance of UK-controlled territories to a global financial system that “encourages crime, corruption and aggressive tax avoidance” in poor countries:

“The report reveals that the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos – all British Overseas Territories – together with the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are now the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in developing countries.”

Making amends
The University of London’s Lutz Oette highlights the importance of the UK’s recent agreement to compensate Kenyan victims of colonial-era torture but calls on the government, which refused to apologize, to make “much more fundamental changes”:

“Given the historical context, this reparation is a small price to pay for a country that greatly benefited from colonialism. Rather than oppose or undermine such claims, the UK – both the government and the public at large – should welcome these developments. They provide an overdue opportunity to confront Britain’s past, to live up to the rule of law and notions of justice, and to show that it respects victims and their suffering. This includes addressing lingering colonial power imbalances.

The UK government should therefore take immediate steps to make publicly available all records about abuses committed in all former British territories and to cooperate with any interested parties, including survivors’ organisations. Where sufficient evidence is available, the UK should provide adequate reparation to the victims, which should also comprise a full apology.”

Presidential plea
Guinean President Alpha Condé calls on rich countries to do their bit in the global fight against corruption:

“What we need now is the support of developed countries in building a global business climate that permits those who play by the rules to prosper and locks out those who do not. Too many of the world’s finance centres enable the predators who rely on offshore corporate vehicles to mask their identities; loop their finances through offshore jurisdictions; and use prestigious law firms, accountants, financial advisers and public relations firms to give their destructive behaviour a false veneer of respectability.”

Cosmetic CSR
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that an Edo state government official has said that so-called corporate social responsibility projects by oil companies often do little or no good:

“[Orobosa Omo-Ojo, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Oil and Gas] said such actions by oil firms amounted to insulting the sensibilities of their host communities.
‘Most of the CSR projects by oil companies have not amounted to anything tangible to the host communities.
‘Apart from digging one bore-hole here, a three-classroom block there and a cottage hospital somewhere, the host communities have never benefited enough from oil companies.
‘Yet, they extract crude oil from the host communities for over 15 to 20 years and when the oil wells dry up, they move on leaving the community more impoverished than they met them.’ ”

What would Hippocrates do?
The Overseas Development Institute’s Yurendra Basnett calls on G8 countries to prioritize the duty to do no harm when drawing up international trade agreements:

“In the murky and complex areas of standards and technical requirements, there is a thin line between expanding and restricting trade. Most developing countries lacking capacities are likely to find themselves facing costs not benefits. The World Trade Organization ministerial conference follows the G8 later this year and needs to consider updating the rules that govern such agreements. Perhaps the notion that some benefit – but that others are not left worse-off – needs to be established as a minimum when advanced economies enter into such agreements, with the burden of proof placed on members of the exclusive arrangement. At the very least we need to keep an eye on how this plays out for developing economies that are not a part of these agreements.”

First UN war
The Economist wonders whether the United Nations really knows what it is getting itself into with its first ever combat mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

“This is the first time that the UN will send its own troops into battle. In the past the Security Council has authorised the use of ‘all necessary force’ but has delegated the fighting to posses from willing nations. In the Korean war the Americans were in command. In Afghanistan and Libya NATO took charge. In Congo, however, the UN itself will be responsible for artillery fire, helicopter gunships—and the inevitable casualties. Should the UN really be doing this?”

Latest Developments, April 4

In the latest news and analysis…

Massive leak
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports on the findings of its investigation into offshore financial secrecy, which involved combing through 2.5 million leaked documents:

“The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.
The records detail the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories.
The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization.”

Vested interests
The New York Times reports that a “potent alliance of agribusiness, shipping and charitable groups” is opposing possible changes to US food aid:

“The administration is proposing that the government buy food in developing countries instead of shipping food from American farmers overseas, a process that typically takes months. The proposed change to the international food aid program is expected to save millions in shipping costs and get food more quickly to areas that need it.
The administration is also reportedly considering ending the controversial practice of food aid ‘monetization,’ a process by which Washington gives American-grown grains to international charities. The groups then sell the products on the market in poor countries and use the money to finance their antipoverty programs.
Critics of the practice say it hurts local farmers by competing with sales of their crops.”

Commodified culture
The New York Times also reports that efforts by the Hopi tribe of Arizona to stop an auction of sacred objects in Paris illustrate “a paradox in the way artifacts are repatriated around the world”:

“When a nation like Italy or Cambodia claims ownership of an object in the United States, it typically invokes international accords that require American officials to take up the cases.

The United States does not have similar accords that it could cite in support of the Hopi claim on the Paris auction items. Several experts and activists said the United States had never viewed its own cultural patrimony as a priority because the country is relatively young, has long embraced the concept of free trade and has not historically focused on the cultural heritage issues of American Indians.”

Peace enforcement
The Century Foundation’s Jeffrey Laurenti argues that the UN Security Council’s decision to add a combat force to the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo “could profoundly alter the world’s international security landscape”:

“The unanimous U.N. vote masked some very real concerns that the organization will lose its global moral authority if it becomes associated with fighting wars rather than halting them. Guatemala’s Gert Rosenthal voiced the worry that the United Nations could forfeit its unique role as ‘honest broker’ between adversaries — especially when domestic armed factions are challenging a government.
Yet this is a risk he and the rest of the council were willing to take, given the 15-year deadly record of armed spoilers in eastern Congo. France’s ambassador Gérard Araud celebrated their expected neutralization as ‘a step toward peace enforcement.’ ”

Seed money
The Guardian’s John Vidal writes that the “legendary power” of the US farm biotech industry just got even more spectacular with the signing of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act:

“A revolving door allows corporate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies; US embassies around the world push GM technology onto dissenting countries; government subsidies back corporate research; federal regulators do largely as the industry wants; the companies pay millions of dollars a year to lobby politicians; conservative thinktanks combat any political opposition; the courts enforce corporate patents on seeds; and the consumer is denied labels or information.

According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, [the new legislation] hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems.”

Cockroach effect
The Economist explains why Colombia’s reduced cocaine production is not necessarily cause for celebration:

“History suggests that Peru’s dramatic reining in of coca production in the 1990s helped push the business into Colombia. Now that Colombia is cutting down, the industry seems to be moving back into Peru, where production of coca has increased by some 40% since 2000. The trafficking business, meanwhile, has been taken on by Mexican ‘cartels’, with appalling results in Mexico. Drug-policy geeks call this the ‘balloon effect’: pushing down on drug production in one region causes it to bulge somewhere else. Latin Americans have a better phrase: the efecto cucaracha, or cockroach effect. You can chase the pests out of one corner of your house, but they have an irritating habit of popping up somewhere else.”

No smoking
Oxfam’s Duncan Green calls for a global campaign against tobacco which kills 6 million people worldwide each year, more than any other cause of death:

“Latin America’s new curbs on smoking face resistance from the industry. Philip Morris International, an American tobacco company, has filed a claim against Uruguay at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, an arm of the World Bank, claiming that the country’s anti-smoking measures violate a bilateral investment treaty.

A major tobacco company, Philip Morris, is trying to block the Uruguayan Government’s attempts to limit the devastation. According to a briefing by [the International Institute for Sustainable Development], the company brought the case in 2010 and ‘is challenging three provisions of Uruguay’s tobacco regulations: (1) a ‘single presentation’ requirement that prohibits marketing more than one tobacco product under each brand, (2) a requirement that tobacco packages include “pictograms” with graphic images of the health consequences of smoking (such as cancerous lungs), and (3) a mandate that health warnings cover 80% of the front and back of cigarette packages.’ Philip Morris’ own version of events confirms this.
The ICSID says that the suit is ongoing, with a tribunal meeting in Paris last February.”

Latest Developments, March 27

In the latest news and analysis…

Violent peace
Reuters reports that the UN Security Council is preparing a resolution authorizing a “search and destroy” brigade and surveillance drones to supplement the peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

“According to the draft, [UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO] would ‘carry out targeted offensive operations through the Intervention Brigade … either unilaterally or jointly with the (Congo army), in a robust highly mobile and versatile manner … to prevent expansion of all armed groups, neutralize these groups, and to disarm them.’

The draft Security Council resolution outlines MONUSCO’s role in monitoring a U.N. arms embargo on Congo that would now include using unmanned surveillance drones to ‘observe and report on flows of military personnel, arms, or related materiel across the eastern border of the DRC.’ It will be the first time the United Nations has used such equipment.”

Cradle of revolution
Al Jazeera reports that tens of thousands of activists have turned up in Tunis for the “counter-hegemonic meet” known as the World Social Forum:

“From Cairo to Dakar, from Wall Street to Nicosia, protesters can shake and occasionally even oust politicians, but contesting the global economic status quo is a far greater challenge.
The slogan of this year’s forum, which runs from March 26 to 30, in keeping with the spirit of Tunisia’s January 2011 uprising, is dignity.

‘We need to have economic reforms that work for the people, not for the global economy,’ Mabrouka Mbarek, a member of Tunisia’s constituent assembly, told Al Jazeera.”

UK in Mali
The BBC reports that British troops have begun arriving in Mali as part of an EU mission to train the West African country’s military for the fight against an insurgency which, according to the UK defense secretary, “poses a clear threat to our national interests”:

“The UK is also providing surveillance and logistical support to French troops who are helping the west African nation counter an Islamist insurgency.

The training will take place north-east of Mali’s capital Bamako, under the control of French Brigadier General François Lecointre and is expected to continue for around 15 months.
More than 200 instructors will be deployed in total, as well as mission support staff and force protection, making a total of around 500 staff from 22 EU Member States.”

Alone against the world
The Canadian Press reports Ottawa is pulling out of a UN desertification convention to which every other UN member is party:

“Canada signed the [UN Convention to Combat Desertification] in 1994 and ratified it in 1995. Every UN nation – 194 countries and the European Union – is currently a party to it.

A spokesman for International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino said in an e-mailed statement that ‘membership in this convention was costly for Canadians and showed few results, if any for the environment.’
Mr. Fantino’s office refused to answer follow-up questions, including how much money was being saved by the move, and when Canada planned to notify the UN of its decision.
Government documents show Canada provided a $283,000 grant to support the convention from 2010 to 2012.”

Almost there
Reuters reports that there is considerable optimism at UN headquarters that member countries will adopt the arms trade treaty whose final details are being hashed out:

“But [Amnesty International’s Brian Wood] made clear that there were problems with the text, including an overly narrow scope of types of arms covered. It covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light arms.
Predator drones and grenades are among the weapon categories that are not covered explicitly in the draft treaty.

Rights groups complained about one possible loophole in the current draft involving defense cooperation agreements. Several diplomats who also oppose this loophole said it could exempt certain weapons transfers from the treaty.”

Mining dispute
The Financial Times reports that a Canadian mining company is refusing to pay millions in fines levied by the government of Kyrgyzstan:

“The government, which holds 33 per cent of the equity, wants to renegotiate the agreement to run the mine signed with Canada-based Centerra in 2009 under what the government says was then a corrupt regime.
Alongside the moves towards renegotiation, two government agencies have hit Centerra with separate fines of $152m and $315m for alleged environmental damage.
The Kyrgyz parliament has also instructed the public prosecutor to investigate whether the company deliberately understated some reserves.”

Leaky economies
Quartz’s Naomi Rovnick highlights the role of tax havens – often European countries or their dependents – in siphoning money away from even the world’s rising economic powers:

“The clearest sign that BRICs are leaking tax revenues is that each country’s biggest source of outside investment is a tax haven. China counts the tiny Caribbean bolthole of the British Virgin Islands as its biggest source of foreign investment (not including the Chinese territory of Hong Kong). India has Mauritius, Russia has Cyprus, and Brazil has the Netherlands.

As this presentation from lawyers at international law firm Clifford Chance illustrates, setting up an intermediate Dutch company that appears to own a Brazilian business gives big tax advantages. For example, Dutch companies do not have to pay local taxes on dividends earned from a Brazilian investment.
This structure is known as the ‘Dutch sandwich’ in accounting circles. The name describes how a Netherlands company (think of it as a slice of Edam) is inserted between the real source of investment and the real investment destination (they are the bread).”

Jekyll & Hyde
The Guardian reports on calls for corporations to look beyond job creation when assessing the impacts they have on communities:

“The debate on jobs and taxes reflects the Jekyll and Hyde approach of the private sector. [UK International Development Secretary Justine] Greening neatly – if inadvertently – encapsulated this in her London speech, when she praised SAB Miller, the brewing giant, for working with 1,200 farmers in South Sudan to supply its brewery in the capital, Juba; according to ActionAid, governments in Africa may have lost as much as £20m through SAB Miller’s non-payment of tax.
‘You do see companies with a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) that do everything to avoid taxes,’ said one business representative who did not want to be named. ‘They will say it is within the law but, if they have aggressive tax avoidance, how does that sit with their CSR declaration?’ ”