Advancing the Business and Human Rights Agenda: Key to Reform Financial Sector

*The UN Secretary General’s July 2012 report on Business and Human Rights provides a critical insight on the need for enhanced corporate accountability and financial regulation. Governance gaps at many levels are blamed in the report for creating a “permissive environment for wrongful acts by economic actors of all kinds, without adequate sanctioning or reparation.”

Closely linked to the business and human rights agenda is the role of dominant economic policies in spurring inequality which is threatening global political, social and economic stability. A 2011 study by UNICEF estimates that the top 20% of the world’s population accounts for 70% of global income. Civil society group Oxfam estimates that the top 100 billionaires of the world earned enough money in 2012 to “make extreme poverty history four times over.” Yet, we find increasing talk about privatisation and advancement of the same neo-liberal agenda which has spurred inequality by governments around the world. Public-private partnerships are becoming the new mantra at international conferences on development as civil society groups lament the failure of states to fulfil their social contract to citizens. More and more governments are outsourcing basic services which are their responsibility to provide such as health, education, mass transport and even policing to private players as politicians and business leaders collude. Continue reading

Critical mass: defining an agenda for progressive action

Progressive activists have for decades lamented the disengagement of young people, the working and middle classes, philanthropists and the mainstream media from processes that pursue systemic change. Apathy, inertia, cynicism, myopia or simple, pragmatic self-interest appeared to outweigh the disenchantment, doubts, even anger, at rapidly growing inequity and unfettered market fundamentalism. Continue reading