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Billionaire Wealth: Who Are the 10 Biggest Pandemic Profiteers?

A year ago, the Institute for Policy Studies published “Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth  Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes and Pandemic Profiteers,”  and began tracking billionaire wealth gains as unemployment surged.  We teamed up with Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) to track the wealth growth of America’s billionaires over the last year.  This report summarizes the extraordinary growth in wealth of those now 657 billionaires based on real-time data from Forbes on March 18, 2021.

Here are highlights from the last 12 months of billionaire wealth growth:

Read the article

Mind the gap: It’s time for the IMF to close the gap between rhetoric and practice

As countries face the difficult challenge of recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, civil society is calling on the IMF to finally close the gap between its rhetoric and practice by no longer recommending austerity measures in long-term loan programmes.

Read the article by Chiara Mariotti

The Vaccine against Poverty, Inequality and Insecurity

We all know, that during, but primarily in “normal” times, well-functioning, rationally designed and financed social protection systems are powerful vaccines against the worst social fall-out of four of the main – largely self-inflicted – plagues of human societies, i.e. poverty, inequality, insecurity and avoidable ill-health.  It has been shown time and again[1] that at least a minimum level of universal social protection is affordable in all countries except probably a dozen or so of the poorest that would require temporary international help.

Read the blog by Michael Cichon

You have the numbers, we have the money

When the 134-member Group of 77, the largest single coalition of developing countries, was trying to strike a hard bargain in its negotiations with Western nations years ago, one of its envoys famously declared: “You have the numbers. We have the money.”

But that implicit threat– signifying the power of the purse– did not deter the G77 from playing a key role in helping shape the UN’s socio-economic agenda, including sustainable development, environmental protection, universal health care, South-South cooperation, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger—all of them culminating largely in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 and targeted for a 2030 deadline.

The People’s Republic of China, the world’s second largest economy after the US, has remained an integral part– and a strong supporter– of the G77, going back to the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

At that summit meeting – which marked a battle between the West and the global South over funding to promote development while protecting the environment — a G77 delegate told his colleagues in a closed-door gathering: ”We have to confront them with an iron fist cloaked in a velvet glove.”

Read the article by Thalif Deen, IPS

Cooperation instead of confrontation

Excellent contribution of the South Center for the start of a New Year!

The world faces many challenges besides the current coronavirus pandemic, including hunger, environmental destruction, climate change, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and rising inequality. Global cooperation is necessary to address these challenges and, in some areas, the global community is responding to them. Calls to form a coalition against a particular country, such as from the United States towards China, divert attention from the problems the world is facing and hamper progress in addressing these global challenges. History taught us that the best way to resolve our differences and to move forward is through dialogue and cooperation, not confrontation.

To access the document directly, go to this webpage: https://www.southcentre.int/sc-document-january-2021/

Oxfam Report on Universal Social Protection

As 2020 draws to a close, the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of abating. Without urgent action, global poverty and inequality will deepen dramatically. Hundreds of millions of people have already lost their jobs, gone further into debt or skipped meals for months. Research by Oxfam and Development Pathways shows that over 2 billion people have had no support from their governments in their time of need.

Our analysis shows that none of the social protection support to those who are unemployed, elderly people, children and families provided in low- and middle-income countries has been adequate to meet basic needs. 41% of that government support was only a one-off payment and almost all government support has now stopped.

Decades of social policy focused on tiny levels of means-tested support have left most countries completely unprepared for the COVID-19 economic crisis. Yet, countries such as South Africa and Bolivia have shown that a universal approach to social protection is affordable, and that it has a profound impact on reducing inequality and protecting those who need it most.

Human Rights day!

Global health : Will it become the first “res publica” of the humanity?

The UN General Assembly has convened a Special Session on the Covid-19 pandemic at the level of Heads of State and Government on 3 and 4 December next. It took more than a year of discussions to overcome the opposition of certain states, notably the United States of former President Donald Trump.

This is a unique opportunity …

Read the article by Riccardo Petrella

G20 Leaders’ Declaration Lacks Plans for Jobs and Social Protection

The support for equitable access to treatments and eventual vaccines is welcome, however there is no new initiative on support for developing countries and no progress on international tax reform.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “The world is facing its greatest employment challenge in living memory, however the G20 leaders have not shown the leadership that is needed. The Declaration acknowledges the scale of the challenge without offering real solutions. Coordinated action, with support for the least wealthy countries, is needed for recovery and resilience. The lack of global ambition in this G20 Declaration is extremely disappointing and will leave countries on their own to fight the terrible economic consequences of the pandemic.”

Read the article of ITUC

Human Rights and Religion

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?

By Claudio Schuftan, PHM

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