Regulatory cooperation is the ultimate tool to prevent or weaken future public interest standards for citizens, workers, consumers, and the environment. This is the key message from the statement signed by around 170 civil society organizations on regulatory cooperation in the negotiations on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a neo-liberal trade agreement) between the EU and the US.
The latest leaked European Commission position on the regulatory cooperation chapter of the TTIP negotiations has further heightened the concerns from all CSOs. The Commission proposes a system that can only result in further barriers to developing public interest standards as these would need to be ‘trade and investment’ proof. It also gives unprecedented influence to business lobby groups to stop any new regulation that would impact on trade and investment. The proposal strongly prioritizes trade and investment over the public interest. The system would give enormous power to a small group of unelected officials to stop and weaken regulations and standards even before democratically elected bodies, such as parliaments, would have a say over them, thus undermining our democratic system.
The Commission calls for more “compatibility” between laws on both sides of the Atlantic and a “pro-competitive regulatory environment”. Compatibility is going to lead to “downward harmonisation”, as demonstrated by a July 2014 report for the European Parliament. The Commission text suggests that any new law would need to be justified by new facts or scientific evidence if requested by a company or government. The Commission proposal also reflects industry’s demand to create a Regulatory Cooperation Body to facilitate an early information system of consultations and influence over the development of new laws. Furthermore, according to the Commission proposal, US and EU businesses would have a greater say on most laws in Brussels, in EU capitals, in Washington and in US states. The Commission seems to have largely conceded to the demand of business lobby groups to essentially co-write legislation.
Not only would regulatory cooperation erode democratic principles, it could also constitute a gradual attack on the precautionary principle, slowly but widely opening doors to GMOs, nanomaterials and endocrine disruptors . For these reasons, we urge the negotiators to remove regulatory cooperation from the TTIP negotiations.
The full statement can be found at (also in French, German, Greek and Spanish): http://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2015/02/statement-169-civil-society-organisations-regulatory-cooperation-eu-us
WIDE+ supports statement on recognising women’s rights in UNHRC Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Living in Rural Areas.
From 2 to 6 February, 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Working Group on the Rights of Peasants and People living in Rural Areas met during their Second Session.
PWESCR (the Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) in India along with several civil society organizations (including WIDE+) welcomes the work of this Working Group on the Rights of Peasants and People Living in Rural Areas. In their statement for the Second Session they provide further information about the realities and challenges faced by rural women to realise their human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights. And they request the Working Group to explicitly recognise these rights as central to the overall well-being of rural women belonging to all diversity.
To read the statement: Statement for WG on right of peasants
For more about the UNHRC Working Group:
From 3 to 7 November, 2014 the UN regional meeting for Europe and Central Asia was held in preparation to the next Commission of the Status of Women will focus on 2015: 20 years after the Beijing Platform for Action. The official meeting and NGO forum reviewed the position of women’s rights in the region.
Karat’s statement addressed main challenges & key emerging issues in the implementation of the Beijing platform for action in Central Eastern Europe & Central Asia. Karat Coalition was conceived at the Beijing conference. Kinga Lohmann, director of Karat coalition, mentioned three main concerns facing women’s rights in the region:
*The serious attack of ultraconservative circles and some Churches on the principle of gender equality;
*The simultaneous weakening of institutional mechanisms for women’s rights and gender equality;
*The continued presence and reemergence of militarism, nationalism and armed conflict in our region with serious repercussions on women’s human rights.
The statement also asked to show more active solidarity with Ukrainian women, not only from people of the Central Eastern Europe & Central Asia region but from all over the world. This solidarity has to also involve women from other parts of the world (particularly the rest of Europe and U.S).
To read the full statement: http://www.karat.org/category/karats-statements/
The Gender and Development Network (GADN), a WIDE+ member, published in the second part of 2014 a briefing paper on unpaid care. While it suggests that the current wording of the proposed target could be improved, the recognition of unpaid care in this global development agenda would in itself represent an important advance, and therefore our main concern is to preserve its inclusion. http://www.gadnetwork.org/storage/gadn-responses-and-briefings/GADN%20Unpaid%20Care%20briefing.pdf
They also published a briefing paper UNGA Review event on the all to action on violence against women and girls in emergencies (see http://www.gadnetwork.org).
The globalization of structural adjustment programmes: Lessons from feminists and women in the Global South
In their recently launched magazine ’European Women’s Voice: Women’s Economic Independence in Times of Austerity’, the European Women’s Lobby has included an article by WIDE+ members Patricia Muñoz Cabrera and Virginia López Calvo. The piece is available on page 35, and we reproduce it below in full.
As has been demonstrated, structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) imposed by international financial institutions (IFIs) on Global South economies and governments’ development agendas have been implemented for more than five decades, with a devastating impact on women and men on the ground.
Feminists activists and scholars of the global South have also noted that the growth-driven conditionality characterising the new wave of SAPs is leading to a disempowering shift in global governance. This disempowering shift has resulted in a weakening of governments’ ability to enforce labour rights, implement policies to promote social and gender equity, and environmental sustainability, and redistribute wealth in an equitable way. Other policies pushed through SAPs, such as privatisation of social services and charging fees for public services like primary education and health care have tended to hit women hardest (Mutume, 2001).
In this context, the new wave of SAPs must be understood as another mechanism through which neoliberal capitalism is attempting to maximise profit by all means and regardless of the social and environmental impact. For example, most recently, Jamaica, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have been imposed austerity measures as a condition of financial support, with most of the cuts taking place between 2010-2012 (Lethbridge 2012:5).
Worryingly, conditionality-driven austerity is expanding throughout the global South. In the so-called Arab Spring countries, the new generation of SAPs has led to wage cuts and to the reduction of public spending in social services. There, the shrinking of the State has affected women in particular. Their vulnerable position in labour markets (a considerable number of women are found in highly informal, casual low-skilled and poorly paid jobs) has led to enhanced precariousness for them. Women have been also bearing the burden of conditionality-driven austerity packages: prices for food and fuel have increased, along with reliance on family networks for social protection. Due to women’s socially assigned role as care giver, their household workload has also increased.
Similarly, in Ghana, two generations of SAPs, from Poverty Reduction programs during the 1980s and 1990s (PRSPs) to what is (locally known as the Economic Recovery ProgrammeERP) have meant the imposition of flat consumption taxes such as VAT, and changes in the patterns and levels of state expenditure. Ghana’s ERP achieved some measure of economic growth, infrastructural rehabilitation and some institutional reforms. However, the reforms have been accompanied by labour retrenchment, the informalisation of work (where women are usually overrepresented), the removal of subsidies and the institution of user fees in basic services including water, electricity, education and health (Lethbridge 2012:5).
In Honduras, the new wave of structural adjustment policies in the past four years has brought about additional reductions in subsidies, wage cuts and pension reforms. Honduran academics had already described these measures as of ‘little Honduran character’ back in the 90s, in the first wave of adjustment programmes negotiated with the World Bank (Noé Pino, n.d.). These adjustment packages led to reforms in national legislation, which aimed at promoting exports and foreign direct investment, the new engines of growth in the country (as opposed to stimulating internal markets). The implementation of austerity packages resulting from SAPs required the restriction of trade union activity. Forced devaluation of the Honduran currency made imports more expensive, thus increasing inflation, which, Honduran academics argue, clearly favoured economic elites (business class, and particularly the exports sector).
UN post-MDG 2015 negotiations lack understanding of women’s human rights and needed economic conditions
States are discussing in several rounds and processes new goals for the development policies, PostMDG2015, accross the globe that will replace the Millennium Development Goals that end this year. Governments held a second round of “Substantive” informal Sessions within the UN in December.
The Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development (WWG on FfD) of which WIDE+ is a member, has called attention to the lack of consideration towards gender issues. The group also proposes ways for governments to build truly inclusive and sustainable economies by ensuring a better international monetary and financial system.
To read the letter the WWG on FfD has sent: WWG on FFD_input to 3rd round of SISs