Mark Bou Mansour ■ ⚫ Live blog: UN vote on new tax leadership role
Updated 24 Nov 2022: The UN General Assembly adopted on Wednesday 23 November 2022 by unanimous consensus a resolution that mandates the UN to set course for a global tax leadership role. The historic decision is likely to mark the beginning of the end of the OECD’s sixty-year reign as the world’s leading rule maker on global tax, and will now kick off a power struggle between the two institutions with implications for global and local economies, businesses and people everywhere for decades to come.
A recording of the historic meeting of the UN General Assembly is available here.
Image credit: Marcello Casal JR/ABr, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons
⚫ – Live updates closed
This live blog is now closed.
Thursday 24 November 2022
5:30pm GMT Thurs 24 November 2022 – Country positions on resolution
The UN resolution was adopted by unanimous consent. Some countries supported the resolution without reservation while some expressed reservations. Here’s a breakdown providing more detail on countries positions.
|Country||Position on UN resolution|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Supporter without reservations|
|Argentina||Supporter without reservations|
|Bahamas||Supporter without reservations|
|Bahrain||Supporter without reservations|
|Bangladesh||Supporter without reservations|
|Barbados||Supporter without reservations|
|Belize||Supporter without reservations|
|Bhutan||Supporter without reservations|
|Bolivia||Supporter without reservations|
|Brazil||Supporter without reservations|
|Brunei||Supporter without reservations|
|Chile||Supporter without reservations|
|China||Supporter without reservations|
|Colombia||Supporter without reservations|
|Costa Rica||Supporter without reservations|
|Cuba||Supporter without reservations|
|Dominican Republic||Supporter without reservations|
|Ecuador||Supporter without reservations|
|El Salvador||Supporter without reservations|
|Equatorial Guinea||Supporter without reservations|
|Fiji||Supporter without reservations|
|Grenada||Supporter without reservations|
|Guatemala||Supporter without reservations|
|Guyana||Supporter without reservations|
|India||Supporter without reservations|
|Indonesia||Supporter without reservations|
|Iran||Supporter without reservations|
|Iraq||Supporter without reservations|
|Kazakhstan||Supporter without reservations|
|Kuwait||Supporter without reservations|
|Lao||Supporter without reservations|
|Lebanon||Supporter without reservations|
|Libya||Supporter without reservations|
|Malaysia||Supporter without reservations|
|Maldives||Supporter without reservations|
|Mexico||Supporter without reservations|
|Mongolia||Supporter without reservations|
|Myanmar||Supporter without reservations|
|Nepal||Supporter without reservations|
|Nicaragua||Supporter without reservations|
|North Korea||Supporter without reservations|
|Norway||Supporter without reservations|
|Oman||Supporter without reservations|
|Pakistan||Supporter without reservations|
|Papua Nuew Guinea||Supporter without reservations|
|Paraguay||Supporter without reservations|
|Peru||Supporter without reservations|
|Philippines||Supporter without reservations|
|Qatar||Supporter without reservations|
|Russia||Supporter without reservations|
|Saudi Arabia||Supporter without reservations|
|Singapore||Supporter without reservations|
|Solomon Islands||Supporter without reservations|
|Sri Lanka||Supporter without reservations|
|St. Kitts and Nevis||Supporter without reservations|
|Syrian Arab Republic||Supporter without reservations|
|Timor-Leste||Supporter without reservations|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Supporter without reservations|
|Tunisia||Supporter without reservations|
|Turkey||Supporter without reservations|
|United Arab Emirates||Supporter without reservations|
|Uruguay||Supporter without reservations|
|Vietnam||Supporter without reservations|
|Albania||Supporter with reservations|
|Andorra||Supporter with reservations|
|Australia||Supporter with reservations|
|Austria||Supporter with reservations|
|Belgium||Supporter with reservations|
|Bulgaria||Supporter with reservations|
|Canada||Supporter with reservations|
|Croatia||Supporter with reservations|
|Cyprus||Supporter with reservations|
|Czechia||Supporter with reservations|
|Denmark||Supporter with reservations|
|Estonia||Supporter with reservations|
|Finland||Supporter with reservations|
|France||Supporter with reservations|
|Germany||Supporter with reservations|
|Greece||Supporter with reservations|
|Honduras||Supporter with reservations|
|Hungary||Supporter with reservations|
|Iceland||Supporter with reservations|
|Ireland||Supporter with reservations|
|Israel||Supporter with reservations|
|Italy||Supporter with reservations|
|Japan||Supporter with reservations|
|Latvia||Supporter with reservations|
|Liechtenstein||Supporter with reservations|
|Lithuania||Supporter with reservations|
|Luxembourg||Supporter with reservations|
|Malta||Supporter with reservations|
|Micronesia||Supporter with reservations|
|Monaco||Supporter with reservations|
|Montenegro||Supporter with reservations|
|Netherlands||Supporter with reservations|
|New Zealand||Supporter with reservations|
|North Macedonia||Supporter with reservations|
|Panama||Supporter with reservations|
|Poland||Supporter with reservations|
|Portugal||Supporter with reservations|
|Romania||Supporter with reservations|
|San Marino||Supporter with reservations|
|Serbia||Supporter with reservations|
|Slovakia||Supporter with reservations|
|Slovenia||Supporter with reservations|
|South Korea||Supporter with reservations|
|Spain||Supporter with reservations|
|Suriname||Supporter with reservations|
|Sweden||Supporter with reservations|
|Switzerland||Supporter with reservations|
|Ukraine||Supporter with reservations|
|United Kingdom||Supporter with reservations|
|United States||Supporter with reservations|
|Algeria||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Angola||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Benin||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Botswana||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Burkina Faso||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Burundi||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Cabo Verde||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Cameroon||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Central African Republic||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Chad||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Comoros||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Congo||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Cote de’Ivore||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Djibouti||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Dominica||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Egypt||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Eritrea||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Eswatini||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Ethiopia||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Gabon||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Gambia||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Ghana||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Guinea||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Guinea-Bissau||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Jordan||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Kenya||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Lesotho||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Liberia||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Madagascar||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Malawi||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Mali||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Mauritania||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Mauritius||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Morocco||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Mozambique||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Namibia||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Niger||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Nigeria||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Rwanda||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Sahrawi||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Sao Tome and Principe||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Senegal||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Seychelles||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Sierra Leone||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Somalia||Sponsor of the resolution|
|South Africa||Sponsor of the resolution|
|South Sudan||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Sudan||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Tanzania||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Thailand||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Togo||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Uganda||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Zambia||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Zimbabwe||Sponsor of the resolution|
|Afghanistan||No public position|
|Armenia||No public position|
|Azerbaijan||No public position|
|Belarus||No public position|
|Cambodia||No public position|
|Haiti||No public position|
|Jamaica||No public position|
|Kiribati||No public position|
|Marshall Islands||No public position|
|Nauru||No public position|
|Palau||No public position|
|Samoa||No public position|
|St. Lucia||No public position|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||No public position|
|Tajikistan||No public position|
|Tonga||No public position|
|Turkmenistan||No public position|
|Uzbekistan||No public position|
|Vanuatu||No public position|
|Venezuela||No public position|
5:17pm GMT Thurs 24 November 2022 – Round up of media coverage
BBC World Business Report – Interview with our CEO Alex Cobham (see 18:55 min).
The Hill – UN votes to take the reins on global tax standards
The Guardian – UN agrees global tax rules resolution giving developing nations greater say
Bloomberg Tax – UN to Begin Talks on Creating Global Tax Cooperation Framework (article link)
Africa Business Magazine – Tax justice at last? Africa takes historic fight to the UN
Law360 – UN Takes On Int’l Tax Amid Concerns From OECD Nations (article link)
10:36am GMT Thurs 24 November 2022 – Recording of UN meeting and statements
A recording of yesterday’s historic meeting of the UN General Assembly is available here, and embedded as a video below. Written copies of statements made at the meeting are available here.
10:25am GMT Thurs 24 November 2022 – Civil society organisations from around the world welcome resolution
The Global Alliance for Tax Justice statement featured welcoming messages from civil society organisations from around the world:
“This is a historic win for the tax justice and the broader economic justice movement and a big step forward to combat illicit financial flows and tax abuse,” said Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ).
“Africa Group’s leadership has paved the way for starting an inclusive process at the UN to build a fair and effective international tax system. This resolution heralds a great opportunity for all UN Member States to move beyond words to action for the much-needed reforms of the global financial architecture,” explained Chenai Mukumba, Policy Research and Advocacy Manager at the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA).
Tove Maria Ryding, Tax Coordinator at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) said, “Some rich countries are still holding on to the archaic idea that they can keep global rule-making on tax under the control of the OECD – also known as the rich countries’ club. But today’s vote shows that at the end of the day, they know they cannot stop the development towards inclusive, transparent and UN-led tax governance, which is already highly overdue.
Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Director, Financing for Development at the Society for International Development said, “The post-adoption statements by some developed countries have made it clear that the road ahead will be challenging. However, it is in the interest of all countries to fix an outdated international tax system that is bleeding hundreds of billions of dollars in much needed resources and public revenue. The fight continues in holding all our governments accountable to agree to an effective UN tax convention that will ensure wealthy corporations and elites pay their fair share in taxes.”
Read the full statement here.
The Tax Justice Network also welcomed the news. Our CEO Alex Cobham said:
“History was made today. We commend UN members on their bold action today to move rulemaking on global tax into the daylight of democracy at the UN.”
Read the full statement here.
Wednesday 23 November 2022
3:37pm GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Tax Justice Network statement on unanimous adoption of resolution
Welcoming the news, Alex Cobham, chief executive at the Tax Justice Network, said:
“History was made today. We commend UN members on their bold action today to move rulemaking on global tax into the daylight of democracy at the UN.
“The adopted resolution will now open the way for intergovernmental discussions on the negotiation of a UN tax convention and a global tax body. The OECD has been unprecedentedly aggressive in its lobbying, but could have hardly have failed more completely as the resolution passed by unanimous consensus. Some OECD countries spoke in favour of the organisation’s role after the resolution’s adoption, but with the OECD’s two-pillar tax proposal is on life support, with even the organisation’s own members are struggling to defend its work. Work which has failed to deliver after nearly a decade of promises and work which has left countries losing $483 billion in tax to tax havens a year; and work which has been widely identified as exclusionary by countries outside the core membership of rich countries. Ultimately, this only confirms the importance of moving tax rulemaking to a globally inclusive and transparent forum at the United Nations.
“The intergovernmental discussions next year will be crucial in setting the path for this new era of international tax. It is vital that countries in each region of the world follow the African leadership that underpinned this success, and engage together to generate common positions on an ambitious agenda.”
Read the full statement here.
14:32 pm GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Resolution adopted 🎉
The UN General Assembly has approved the resolution mandating the UN to take on a global tax leadership role!
14:00 pm GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – The meeting has begun
The meeting has begun and being livestreamed now: https://media.un.org/en/webtv/
13:46pm GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Uncommon Wealth and the ‘boomerang effect’: the Taxcast
Listen to our latest episode of the Taxcast to hear the Tax Justice Networks Chief Executive, Alex Cobham and Taxcast host Naomi Fowler discuss TJN’s open letter to alert the G20 to the failings of the OECD as global tax rule-setter, as they miss another deadline. This episode features Dr Kojo Koram Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, discussing sovereignty, the ‘boomerang effect’ & the relevance of the 3rd World Movement to our global economic system.
12:57pm GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Key figures on the global tax system
Here are some key figures on the current failures of the global tax system to put the urgency of today’s vote on the future of the global tax system into context.
- The world loses $483 billion in tax a year to global tax abuse by multinational corporations and wealthy individuals, according to figures published last year in the State of Tax Justice 2021. That’s equivalent to losing a nurse’s yearly salary to a tax haven every second.
- Over three-fourth of the annual tax losses countries suffer to global tax abuse are facilitated by OECD member countries and their dependencies.
- Richer countries lose larger sums of tax to global tax abuse, but lower income countries lose a larger share of the money they have to spend. Lower income countries’ annual tax losses are equivalent to almost half their combined public health budgets.
- There’s more than twice as much wealth held offshore beyond the rule of law than there are US dollars and EURO bills in circulation around the world. An estimated $10 trillion is held offshore beyond the rule of law by wealthy individuals through secretive arrangements. The value of all US dollar bills and coins in circulation stood at $2.2 trillion in March 2022. The value of all EURO bills and coins in circulation stood at €1.6 trillion in March 2022.
- Governments are giving up $89 billion in corporate tax a year to tax havens by abiding by the OECD’s concession to multinational corporations on tax transparency, which requires OECD members to keep anonymous the identities of multinational corporations found to be shifting profit into tax havens. Governments can recover 1 of every 4 tax dollars lost to multinational corporations shifting profit into tax havens by making public the country by country reporting data they’re already collecting.
- Countries graded as “not harmful” by the OECD’s flagship safeguarding policy against corporate tax abuse were found to be responsible for 98 per cent of the corporate tax abuses risks documented by the Corporate Tax Haven Index 2021. The OECD was effectively rubberstamping corporate tax havens’ harmful tax practices.
- Every year 17 million more people could benefit from clean water and 34 million from basic sanitation, if revenue losses due to global tax abuse were reversed. These are fundamental human rights and are essential for survival. Over a ten-year period, these gains would be associated with the prevention of 600,000 child deaths and 73,000 maternal deaths.
- Over 20 million more children in lower income countries would get to attend school if the tax their governments lose annually to tax havens was collected.
12:24pm GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Statements from the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and Tax Justice Network Africa
The Global Alliance for Tax Justice tweeted its support for today’s UN resolution from the Africa Group.
Tax Justice Network Africa published a statement calling on all UN member states to support the resolution:
“Decision-making on the allocation of taxing rights and tax revenue has been controlled by OECD countries over the last 100 years and as such, they have benefited from the status quo. Adoption of this resolution will be a step forward in strengthening international cooperation on tax matters. Its adoption will also help promote inclusivity in the global tax rule-making processes and support member states’ efforts towards curbing IFFs….This resolution by African states heralds a great opportunity for all UN Member States to move beyond words to action for the much-needed reforms of the global financial architecture.”
Read the full statement here.
11:45am GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – EU court’s decision on beneficial ownership
In other major tax justice news, the European Court of Justice yesterday barred EU governments from exercising one of the most powerful measures against financial secrecy of the past decade, immediately triggering a growing transparency blackout across the bloc. The decision comes in the middle of EU discussions on tightening measures to clamp down on dirty money entering the EU from Russia. Tax experts warn that the decision will throw the EU back into “the dark ages of dirty money”.
Luxembourg and the Netherlands have already taken offline their public beneficial ownership registers. More beneficial ownership blackouts are expected to ensue across the EU as EU countries bar public access to their beneficial ownership registers.
Read our full statement on the development here.
The Financial Transparency Coalition have also condemned the decision, saying:
“ECJ’s decision is a major setback in the fight against Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) of all types including economic and natural resource crimes, corruption, and tax abuses. Business ownership is not a private matter, and there is no evidence that public beneficial ownership registries have put any business owners at personal risk. Where such risks can be demonstrated, individuals can already apply for exclusions from public registries, so there’s no justification for this decision.”
Read the Financial Transparency Coalition’s full statement here.
11:19am GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Africa Group’s revised resolution on international tax cooperation at the UN General Assembly
Some more information on the resolution being voted on today.
In October the Africa Group tabled a resolution on illicit financial flows, calling for an intergovernmental taxbody at the UN. This proposal found no support among the Global North and the G77 withdrew their proposal. The Africa Group has proposed a revised resolution at the United Nations General Assembly on “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”, calling for a UN Tax convention now!
Key points from proposed resolution:
- Recognizes the timeliness and importance of strengthening international tax cooperation to make it fully inclusive and more effective;
- Decides to begin intergovernmental discussions in New York at United Nations Headquarters on ways to strengthen the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation through the evaluation of additional options, including the possibility of developing an international tax cooperation framework or instrument that is developed and agreed upon through a United Nations intergovernmental process, taking into full consideration existing international and multilateral arrangements;
- Requests the Secretary-General to prepare a report analysing all relevant international legal instruments, other documents and recommendations that address international tax cooperation, considering, inter alia, avoidance of double taxation model agreements and treaties, tax transparency and exchange of information agreements, mutual administrative assistance conventions, multilateral legal instruments, the work of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Group of 20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and other forms of international cooperation, as well as outlining potential next steps, such as the establishment of a Member State-led, open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee to recommend actions on the options for strengthening the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation;
- Also requests the Secretary-General, when preparing the report, to consult with Member States, the members of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, the Platform for Collaboration on Tax, and other international institutions and relevant stakeholders;
- Decides to consider the report at its seventy-eighth session and to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-eighth session, under the item entitled “Macroeconomic policy questions”, a sub-item entitled “Promotion of inclusive and effective international cooperation on tax matters at the United Nations”.
Full resolution proposal can be found here: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N22/697/88/PDF/N2269788.pdf?OpenElement
10:36am GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Calls on G20 to back UN tax leadership
Some more context on the build up to today’s vote, last week saw two open letters to the G20 calling on G20 countries to withdraw support from the OECD and back a UN global tax leadership role.
The Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, a regional alliance of peoples’ movements, community organizations, coalitions, NGOs and networks, published an open letter last week urging the G20 to reject the OECD’s “two pillars” proposal for global tax reform, which the group lambasted as a “tax deal for the rich”, and urging the G20 to refrain from blocking any progress towards the negotiation of a UN Tax Convention.
“As a member of both the G20 and the G77, and as incumbent holder of the G20 Presidency, your government is in a unique position to reject the OECD/G20 BEPS framework, which amounts to nothing less than a Tax Deal for the Rich, and instead support the growing calls for a UN Tax Convention that are rising from Global South countries and peoples’ movements. This is not just a matter of justice, but also of practical policy: shrinking tax bases will prevent countries from financing sustainable development, let alone for recovery from the devastating impacts of the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Read the full open letter here.
The Tax Justice Network also published an open letter on Tuesday last week raising concerns about the OECD’s failure to deliver on the tax transparency mandate instructed to it by the G20 in 2013. The Tax Justice Network called on the G20 to move the tax transparency mandate over to the UN and to support a new UN global tax leadership role.
“The G20 was right to necessitate the creating of country by country reporting data, recognising the need and value of this global public good. The G20 is right, too, to remain highly concerned by the scale and damage due to corporate tax abuse. But even the most starry-eyed OECD member country must recognise that the organisation has failed to deliver both on the global public good of country by country reporting, and on providing a forum for tax rule-setting that is either inclusive or effective.
“We now call on the G20 to bring this global public good into the daylight of democracy at the UN, by supporting the G77 and Africa Group resolutions; by asking the UN tax committee to take up responsibility for country by country reporting data and/or by backing the creation of the Centre for Monitoring Taxing Rights through a UN tax convention; and by supporting the creation of an truly inclusive, intergovernmental tax body under UN auspices.”
Read the full open letter here.
10:15am GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Statements ahead of the vote
In case you missed them, here are some key statements on the UN resolution and the need for a UN tax convention that have come out this week:
The Civil Society Financing for Development Group published an open letter on Monday 21 November 2022 calling on all UN member states to support today’s resolution:
“This is particularly urgent in a context where the OECD’s tax reform project has stalled with its ‘two pillar solution’ now looking unlikely to be implemented even in OECD countries, as reported here by the Financial Times. In addition, the OECD tax deal has been criticised for being unfair and that developing countries stand to lose out, as noted for instance by UN DESA’s 2022 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) . CSOs from around the world have also rejected this OECD tax ‘deal of the rich’ noting that the “solutions” do not address the root causes of the current practices and rules that incentivise profit shifting and facilitate tax dodging with impunity.
“The multiple crises should be taken as an opportunity to take decisive steps in transforming the global economic and financial system. Addressing an outdated international tax system from the 1920s that is bleeding hundreds of billions of dollars annually in public revenue is one of the lowest hanging fruits for intergovernmental action for UN member states constantly trying to find resources for fulfilling commitments on SDGs, climate emergency and human rights.”
Read the full statement here.
South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki, who chairs the influential High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows out of Africa, published a statement on Monday 21 November 2022 emphasising the importance of the UN resolution:
“I was delighted to see the African Ministers’ Declaration calling for negotiations on a UN tax convention, and the pledge of support from the UN Secretary-General. This is the obvious and necessary next step to address the global threat of illicit financial flows, including corporate tax abuse. I fully support the creation of a globally inclusive, intergovernmental process at the UN. I urged all international organisations and Member States to resist attempts to block this important step forward, and thus call into question our global commitment to fighting illicit financial flows and corporate tax abuse in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
President Mbeki also addressed the OECD’s attempts to obstruct progress:
“I understand that the current discussions at the UN General Assembly Second Committee have proceeded well, with only a handful of countries with remaining concerns at the stage prior to adoption. I strongly urge all the friends of Africa to resist any attempts to reverse agreement on this issue.
While the OECD has played an important role in these areas, it is clear after ten years of attempts to reform international tax rules that there is no substitute for the globally inclusive and transparent forum provided by the United Nations. I urge countries to remain committed to the development of a UN tax convention and encourage the OECD to play a supportive role in this regard.”
Read President Mbeki’s full statement here.
9:15am GMT Wed 23 November 2022 – Updated meeting time and agenda
The resolution is the first item on the now published agenda for the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee. The meeting will be begin at 9am EST / 2pm GMT today.
The full agenda for the meeting is available here. The meeting will be livestreamed here.
Tuesday 22 November 2022
4:37pm GMT Tuesday 22 November 2022
What is a UN tax convention?
We need a UN convention on tax to hold countries to legally binding, equitable standards on corporate taxation, financial transparency and tax justice. Establishing a UN tax convention would allow international tax rules to be determined through a genuinely representative process at the UN that reflects the needs of countries around the world, instead of the desires a rich and powerful few.
Press release: UN Secretary General signals support for UN tax convention
Blog: A draft UN tax convention: building momentum
Report: State of Tax Justice 2022
Blog: A tide-turning moment in the global struggle for tax justice
Blog: ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand:’ the OECD, the G77 and a UN framework convention on tax proposal
3:15pm GMT Tuesday 22 November 2022
Timeline of events leading to UN vote:
- A call to develop a UN Tax Convention was first put forward by the Africa Group at the United Nations in 2019.
- The UN Secretary-General’s initiative in 2020 to explore responses to the Covid-19 pandemic identified a UN tax convention among the options for heads of state.
- In February 2021, The UN high level panel for Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) including former heads of state called for the establishing of a UN tax convention to implement a package of tax justice policies.
- The World Economic Forum in June 2021 published a white paper identifying the UN tax convention among key policy pathways for an ambitious economic recovery post-pandemic.
- Also in 2021, the South Centre – the intergovernmental organisation of lower-income countries – published a briefing detailing a proposal for a framework UN convention on tax.
- The world’s first draft for a UN tax convention was proposed in March 2022 by civil society experts at Eurodad and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, drawing battle lines for future negotiations at the UN.
- Finance ministers of the Economic Commission for Africa, representing around one in six of the world’s population and over a quarter of the membership of the United Nations, called on the UN in May 2022 to start negotiations on a tax convention to address comprehensively the threat of cross-border tax abuse, including by wealthy individuals and multinational companies.
- The new finance minister of Colombia, itself an OECD member, used the platform of a Tax Justice Network/Global Alliance for Tax Justice event on 6 September to announce the country’s support for a UN tax convention, and their plans to encourage Latin American consensus.
- The UN Secretary General António Guterres announced in September this year his readiness to support a UN convention on tax that would overhaul century-old global tax rules.
- A draft resolution was submitted in October this year at the UN General Assembly’s Economic and Financial Committee calling on negotiations to begin at the UN on global tax rules. This resolution will be voted on this Wednesday 23 November 2022.
2:50pm GMT Tuesday 22 November 2022
Ahead of tomorrow’s vote at the UN General Assembly, the Tax Justice Network has published a statement sharing commentary and background information on the vote.
“The UN General Assembly is set to take the momentous decision tomorrow, in a session that will be streamed live. But the OECD has pushed back hard. It remains to be seen whether the organisation’s campaign of meetings with delegates in New York, and pressure applied to ambassadors in Paris, can derail the UN resolution, which has been brought by the Africa Group following a call by finance ministers at the Economic Commission for Africa in May this year for negotiations to begin on a UN tax convention. The OECD, which is a membership body of the world’s richest countries, is reported to have used unprecedented language in letters to ambassadors to question the UN’s fitness to oversee international tax discussions. Sources told the Tax Justice Network that the move has backfired in some quarters as it was seen as “undiplomatic” and “highly unusual” to attack another international institution in this way, and may actually have bolstered support for the UN resolution.
“If adopted, the resolution will allow countries to begin intergovernmental discussions in New York over possible UN reforms to the global tax system, including the establishment of new UN bodies and mechanisms to monitor, evaluate and decide global tax rules. On the table is the creation of a UN tax convention which would overhaul global tax rules to bring an end to global tax abuse by multinational corporations and the superrich. Proposals for a UN tax convention have gained wide support in recent years from governments, leading global institutions, civil society groups and the UN General Secretary himself.”
Read the full press release here.