The pandemic has highlighted the fragility of social protection, especially in the developing world. A new global fund is needed—and it’s affordable.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the workplace closures adopted by governments to limit the spread of the virus have imposed an unprecedented ‘stress test’ on social-protection systems across the world. Hours worked worldwide decreased by 10.7 per cent worldwide in the second quarter, potentially translating into the loss of 305 million jobs.
This article is about the outlook for religions in the 21st century. It touches upon liberation theology and contrasts it with prosperity theology and religious fundamentalism. It further reports on a study about the origin of religions and its implications for human rights. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].
Religions will have to adapt to the definitive loss of their influence and will have to share their followers with other social movements (Jaume Botey, Catalan theologian and philosopher)
-The question this statement brings about then is: Will the state have to establish a new legislative framework for religions to operate in a pluralistic, human rights-tolerant fashion?
California has this year seen the largest forest fires on record. The smoke, whipped up by the flames, made it impossible for people to go outside without harming their lungs. Yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting friends and family inside, and away from the smoke, risked catching the disease. Despite living in the richest state in the most powerful country in the world, its citizens were stuck, caught between two globally systemic crises – a spreading fire amongst a spreading virus.
This type of Catch-22 situation is not new for many around the world, particularly those in the Global South, who have long had to navigate the harsh realities of a broken international financial system and climate breakdown. The same month that fires raged in the USA, Bangladesh suffered the heaviest rainfalls in a decade, leaving a third of the country underwater. In the words of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ‘Bangladesh is trying to save lives, shore up healthcare systems, and cushion the economic shock for millions of people, all while avoiding fiscal collapse. But this is not a cry for help; it is a warning.’1
Whether it’s rehousing millions of displaced people in Bangladesh, or injecting trillions into the global economy to keep things afloat during the pandemic, the costs of these crises will continue to mount. As the debts rise, many will be asking, “Who is going to pay for all this?”
The intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights held its sixth session, 26 – 30 October 2020, and adopted a final report that will form the basis of actual negotiations in 2021.
This was despite the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) obstructing the process, the US rejecting the process and the EU delegation not having a negotiating mandate.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “The IOE, the ICC and the US need to admit that it’s time to end corporate impunity. COVID-19 has re-emphasised the risks of having global supply chains not built on a level playing field for business and with insufficient human and labour rights protection for workers and communities.
During its 70-year history, the World Health Organization (WHO) has undergone various reforms led by several Directors-General, including Halfdan Mahler at the Almaty Conference on primary health care in 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland with her “reach out to the private sector” in 1998, and Margaret Chan with her unfinished debate on the role of “non-state actors” in 2012. The organization’s fragility is once again being highlighted, as the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that WHO does not have the legal instruments and mechanisms necessary to enforce its standards and guidelines, and that its funding is not sustainable and adequate to respond to the challenge. This paper seeks to identify the main problems faced by WHO and the necessary measures that a reform of the organization would have to take.
COVID-19 reveals the undeniable fact of our interdependence and some hard truths about our economic system. While this is nothing new, it will now be difficult for all those who preferred to ignore some basic facts to go on with business as usual. Our economy collapsed because people cannot buy more than what they actually need. But as the economy grows the more people get sick and need help. And our universal welfare systems never excluded so many people as they do now. The many flaws in the dominant thinking and policymaking do not only refer to our health systems, but are almost all linked to the way the neoliberal globalization is organized. Turn the thinking around, forget the unfettered profit-seeking, start with the real basic needs of people and all the so badly needed approaches logically fall in the basket: the link with social protection, with water, housing and income security, the link with participation and democracy. In this article, I want to sketch the journey from needs to commons, since that is where the road should be leading us to. It goes in the opposite direction of more austerity, more privatization, more fragmentation of our social policies. It also leads to paradigmatic changes, based on old concepts such as solidarity and a new way to define sustainability.
Read the article by Francine Mestrum in ‘Development’
Amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the negotiations towards a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises and human rights commenced Monday, 26th of October in Geneva, with participation from States, business groups and civil society organizations enabled through various online platforms.
Following the mandate of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 26/9, States are negotiating at this 6th session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group the 2nd revised draft of the text prepared by Ecuador and released in August 2020. 6 Asian States (China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam) supported the resolution in 2014.
Civil society organizations have since 2014 been actively engaged, pushing and intervening in the process. They have put forward concrete proposals towards a robust international legally binding instrument that would address the gaps in international human rights law on holding transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses. They have highlighted the need to put at the center of the talks, the rights of victims and the importance of strengthening mechanisms to ensure justice for rights holders.
Choosing between people or the economy has become a persistent theme in political debates as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Politicians in the UK are rejecting a free school meals plan because it would “destroy” the economy and increase “dependency”. The South African President cited “fiscal challenges” as “dictating” the government’s ability to extend its COVID-19 income support grant. The Colombian Vice-President has said that no State can afford to cover people’s basic needs.
These false “people vs the economy” dichotomies overlook a fundamental truth: people are the economy. There is no healthy economy without a healthy population where everyone can enjoy their socioeconomic rights – such as to housing, food, education and decent work. They also shine a spotlight on the fundamental injustice at the core of our current economic model—a model that results in scarcity and precarity for the many, and unimaginable wealth and privilege for the few.