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‘Robin Hood’ would never forget to give to the poor

Momentum is building for the implementation of a financial transactions tax (FTT). The much-talked about measure, which would levy a tiny tax on financial transactions, could help curb the kind of destabilizing currency speculation that helped contribute to the current economic crisis, while also generating significant resources for the protection of economic and social rights. CESR joined a letter to the decision-makers at the recent ‘Growth Summit’ calling on them to make this timely and much-needed tax a reality and to make sure the proceeds it generates are indeed used to help the most vulnerable.

The FTT, or ‘Robin Hood Tax’ as it has come to be known, seems to be an idea whose time has come. France’s new President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all thrown their weight behind the proposal, along with the finance ministers of Austria, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Belgium. Furthermore, a group of United Nations independent human rights experts have likewise joined the calls of leading economists and business figures by issuing a joint statement in support of the FTT.

While the FTT should eventually be rolled out in all countries with a significant financial sector, it is widely expected that Europe will take the lead with a regional implementation. There is still significant opposition to this common-sense proposal however, and it remains far from certain that the considerable resources it could generate will be used to benefit ordinary people, for example by combatting poverty and addressing climate change. At this critical juncture, it is therefore crucial that the political leaders pushing the financial transactions tax forward commit to ensuring the revenues are invested in social, economic and environmental programs which uphold human rights, especially of those who’ve suffered disproportionately from the financial crisis. It is for this reason that CESR has joined together with over 200 other civil society organizations in writing to the nine European leaders who have backed the FTT, calling on them to guarantee the proceeds are directed to the right ends. The letter was sent as part of a Global Week of Action in support of the FTT, which saw human rights and social justice activists in some 35 countries organizing advocacy efforts and publicity events.

For more information on the revenues that could be generated by the FTT, click on the infographic above. For more on the human rights case for the FTT, visit here. CESR is a member of the Steering Committee of a new initiative entitled 'A Bottom-Up Approach to Righting Financial Regulation' which seeks to bring human rights to bear in financial regulation. A series of succinct briefings on key issues, which are being produced as part of this initiative, can be accessed here.