Decisions about how to raise and spend money represent a government’s ultimate priorities. They impact what’s available, for whom, and where—affecting different communities in different ways. There is more than enough money in the world to guarantee a dignified life for all. We all have a stake in ensuring that governments invest public resources to tackle poverty, inequality, and other social problems.
This has domestic and global ramifications. In recent decades, governments – particularly in the Global South – have been subject to extreme pressures to keep corporate tax rates low, offer generous exemptions, or turn a blind eye to tax avoidance and evasion. To compete with each other to attract investment, governments make decisions that favor the interests of big business over the interests of communities. Economic power translates into political power. This undermines the implementation of policies that guarantee people’s rights and combat inequalities.
So that resources are fairly and justly distributed, we need to transform the role of governments in our economies. To do this, we’re strengthening the collective power of human rights and economic justice coalitions to challenge these regressive policy trends, as well as the unjust global economic governance arrangements that uphold them. We translate key human rights principles into more concrete guidelines for the design, implementation, and assessment of fiscal policies, to ensure people’s rights are better considered in them.
A ground-breaking set of principles and guidelines to ensure tax and budget policies realize rights and reduce inequalities, particularly in fiscal responses to the pandemic, produced by the Initiative for Human Rights Principles in Fiscal Policy (which we co-steer along with six other organizations in Latin America).
Our contribution to Progressive International's Debt Justice Blueprint states that there is a mutually reinforcing relationship between booming levels of household and sovereign debt and the systematic deprivation of human rights around the world — which is why protecting these rights must be a core principle of debt justice.
In this article, we argue how wealthier countries and international financial institutions need to lift the barriers their debt and tax policies impose on the fiscal space of low- and middle-income countries. Such cooperation is not only a global public health imperative, but also a binding human rights obligation.