UNCTAD 14: Good News & Bad News
The month of July saw the 14th meeting of UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, take place in Nairobi, Kenya - an event that struggled to live up to its declared theme; From Decisions to Actions.
While we welcome the acknowledgement of the risk of a new debt trap facing many African countries, and the need for new thinking on how to avert it, sadly some of the decisions made in fact serve to avert desperately required actions.
It may come as no surprise that wealthy countries including the UK once again acted against the interests of the Global South - not to mention their own populations - in blocking progress on tax avoidance, excluding poor countries from international decisions on tax. The continued promotion of Public-Private Partnerships, despite a dismal track record of failure and the creation of massive hidden debts, was another cause for concern.
UNCTAD did, however, "receive a clear instruction" to move forward on "creating an effective mechanism to solve debt crises in a fair, speedy and sustainable manner", which is certainly a step in the right direction. The creation of such a mechanism is central to the struggle for global debt justice and so developments will be followed closely and with great interest.