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Social Watch Report 2008 - La risposta alla crisi attuale sono i diritti umani


An approach based on human rights is the only way to overcome the current
crisis, argues a worldwide coalition of civil society organizations

DOHA, QATAR (December 1): The unusual combination of financial crisis,
food crisis, energy and climate crisis requires a new approach based on
human rights, argues the international Social Watch coalition in its 2008
report, launched today here during the United Nations Conference on
Financing for Development. Next December 10, as the report remembers the
60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be
commemorated and the title of the Social Watch Report 2008 is, precisely,
“Rights is the Answer”.

The report documents how governments are falling short in their commitment
to eradicate poverty and achieve gender equity through the testimony of
civil society groups in 59 countries. Its main message is that the
multiple crises currently affecting the world require a “rights-based
approach” and provides examples on how the current financial architecture
has ignored or openly violated those rights and triggered spiralling
inequity all around the world.

This annual report is published since 1996 by Social Watch, an
international NGO watchdog network monitoring government compliance with
their international commitments.

The growing income inequalities both within and between countries spurred
by capital flight, tax evasion, and privatization have slowed down the
progress on key social indicators to a near halt over the last two
decades. According to the Social Watch calculations, universal compliance
with the Millennium Development Goals is now an impossible feat, if the
world governments maintain a “business as usual” attitude.

The grassroots activists and civil society analysts from around the world
that contributed to the 2008 Social Watch Report show how the
pervasiveness of extreme poverty and gender inequity is intimately linked
to the immediate effects of the current triple crisis and to longer term
structural issues ingrained in the global financial architecture. The
Report documents the widespread, haphazard implementation of policies
promoting economic liberalization and deregulation having provoked the
curtailment of peoples´ economic and social rights around the globe. That
liberalization and deregulation now curtail the ability of many
governments to comply with their international commitments to end poverty
and achieve gender equality.

In the 2008 Social Watch Report, Nicholas Shaxson and John Christensen of
the Tax Justice Network demonstrate how weak tax reporting policies allow
for illicit financial flows estimated by the World Bank in excess of US$ 1
trillion per year, which in turn reduces the quantity of funds available
for developed nations to invest in development aid programs, as well as
the amount of financial resources in the public coffers of developing
countries. For example, the El Salvador Social Watch coalition estimates
that tax evasion by large corporations in their country totalled US$ 2.6
billion in 2006, a sum roughly equivalent to the national budget.
According to Shaxson and Christensen, “We can no longer focus so strongly
on aid, without bringing tax into the core of the debate…tax is the most
accountable, and sustainable source of financing for development”.

In another thematic article from the 2008 Social Watch Report, Mirjam van
Reisen and Simon Stocker of Eurostep document how the promises made by the
European Commission (EC) to focus its development aid strategies on
promoting poverty eradication have not been fulfilled in reality, due in
large part to Europe´s overriding interest in liberalizing trade flows.
EC aid to developing countries is now largely channelled towards improving
infrastructure and facilitating trade, instead of contributing towards the
realization of basic social rights such as access to health care and

Kinda Mohamadieh of the Arab NGO Network for Development provides a
developing country perspective in her thematic report on social and
economic rights in the Arab region, proving how in recent years, economic
liberalization has actually thwarted attempts to strengthen democracy in
the region. “The regimes in power have failed to address the pressing
socio-economic problems that the region faces and the economic reforms
implemented mainly respond to requirements by major international
institutions and developed partner countries that not necessarily serve
the local needs and priorities”, states Mohamadieh. These reforms are
only perpetuating the social and political marginalization of the vast
majority of the Arab population, by excluding the citizenry from
participation in decision making processes and by aggravating ills such as
unemployment and the inadequate provision of social support programs.

Confronted by the numerous structural and circumstantial obstacles created
by the fatal flaws in the global financial architecture that block the
full realization of the human rights of all the world´s citizens, Social
Watch calls for the convening by the United Nations of a comprehensive,
inclusive process to review and reconstruct the international financial
and monetary institution. As Roberto Bissio urges, “In the transition
from the current system – which has fostered instability and inequality –
towards a just, sustainable, and accountable one, human rights must be the
starting point and not some distant goal in the future.”

# # #

For more information, contact Roberto Bissio, Social Watch Coordinator,
Tel: +598 2 419 6192
Mobile: 00 971 - 691 2721
>From Doha call 691 2721
+ 33 62 198 3661
Email: socwatch@socialwatch.org