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CESR contributes to OHCHR’s intersessional meeting on transforming the world’s financial architecture

On January 18,  CESR participated in Sixth Intersessional Meeting of the Human Rights Council on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda. The objective of this meeting was to integrate human rights into international financial architecture reforms, a cornerstone of our 2023-2027 strategy, which also aligns with our work to advance a Rights-Based Economy.

One of the sessions focused on  applying a human rights lens to the reform of IFIs, where Magdalena Sepulveda (GI-ESCR), Prof. Jayati Ghosh, and Prof. Avinash Persaud, among others, discussed how International Financial Institutions could be aligned with human rights and the SDGs. It was followed by very animated responses from UN country delegates from the ground, who highlighted the devastating effects of the debt crisis and the human and environmental consequences of biased international financial architecture. 

Our Director of Program, Dr. Maria Ron Balsera, addressed Robert Powell, Special Representative to the UN of the IMF, asking “when is the IMF going to apply a human rights impact analysis to all its policies? An ex-ante, during and ex-post human rights impact analysis to ensure that their recommendations, especially fiscal consolidation, increasing VAT or privatization do not lead to violations to human rights?”.

In a dynamic panel led by Özge Aydoğan (SDG Lab), experts like Hon. Solomon Ayele Dersso (ACHPR), Ambassador Francisco Saffie Gatica (Chilean Representative to the OECD), Sandrine Dixson-Declève (Club of Rome), and Liz Nelson (Tax Justice Network) tackled the pressing issues of international tax cooperation and fiscal transparency. The focus was leveraging human rights to fight against illicit financial flows and corruption. Maria argued that tax policies are more about political choices than technicalities. She criticized the IMF's preference for VAT increases and austerity measures, highlighting their detrimental impact on human rights and the environment. Dr. Balsera also pointed out the skewed advantages high-income countries enjoy under the current OECD-led framework. She advocated for a UN Tax Convention, emphasizing its potential for fairer global tax solutions through its inclusive, transparent, and expert-driven platform. For a more in-depth look, CESR's complete statement is available on the official page.

On January 19, we attended an expert meeting at the OHCHR offices to explore how a Human Rights Economy should guide the reform of international financial institutions. During the meeting, we shared our analysis from the intersessional meeting and discussed how to proceed with definitions, theory of change, strategy, and advocacy opportunities to help OHCHR’s global advocacy on development finance and international financial architecture reform.