World gathers at UN, but stymies UN’s role in tax and transparency

May 24th, 2017


As negotiators met in New York to discuss how to pay for development, new agreements on curbing illicit financial flows were worryingly absent

NEW YORK—Government negotiators, members of civil society and the private sector met in New York this week to follow up on the United Nation’s Financing for Development commitments. But despite the continued drain on economic development caused by illicit financial flows—and repeated scandals exposing financial secrecy— the week’s outcome document falls woefully short.

“The final document seems to relegate the UNECA High Level Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows to a mere footnote,” said Jason Braganza, Deputy Executive Director of Tax Justice Network – Africa. “This report is the most definitive work on the issue to ever come out of the UN, yet member states can’t even officially welcome its findings.”

The Financing for Development Forum aims to address the estimated $2.5 trillion financing gap to pay for the world’s development goals over the next 15 years, known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We agreed on a universal agenda when deciding the SDGs, but curiously we don’t have universal membership in the tax bodies that are critical to address tax abuse in the UN context,” said Matti Kohonen, Private Sector Principal Advisor of Christian Aid.

Despite repeated calls from several countries, and larger regional blocs including the G77+China, member states failed to call for the upgrading of the UN Tax Committee to a full intergovernmental body.

“We’ve seen this movie play out before: the few seem to outweigh the wishes of the many,” said Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Coordinator for the Financial Transparency Coalition. “Despite the opportunity to rethink who is really making the rules, we’re still left with a situation where most countries are on the outside looking in.”


Notes to Editors:
  • The G77+China is a group of 134 developing countries. You can read their statement in support of an intergovernmental tax body at the UN here.
  • The Financing for Development Follow Up Forum takes place from 22-25 May 2017.
  • Read the Mbeki High Level Panel Report on IFFs here.
  • Read more about why an intergovernmental body on tax at the UN is important here.
  • Read more about every government that has supported an intergovernmental tax body at the UN here.
  • Read more about the financial transparency initiatives needed to curb illicit financial flows here.

Christian Freymeyer, +1.410.490.6850

Written by Financial Transparency Coalition

Image used under Creative Commons license / Flickr User Randy Stern

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