Tax Justice Network ■ 🔴 Live: Road to UN vote on global tax reform
Countries at the UN General Assembly are likely to vote this year-end on the UN Secretary General’s proposals for a UN tax convention, which would deliver the biggest shake-up in history to the global tax system.
The adoption of a UN tax convention has been heralded as countries’ best chance to avert losing nearly $5 trillion to tax havens over the next decade. The Secretary General’s proposals would have global tax rules be decided at the UN instead of the OECD, a small club of rich countries which has overseen global tax rules for the past 60 years.
We’ll be sharing rolling updates here over the coming months on the run-up to the UN vote.
🔴 – Live
Thurs 23 November 2023
3:57pm GMT – South Centre statement welcoming the adoption of the resolution
The South Centre has published a statement welcoming the adoption of Africa Group’s resolution. The statement says:
“Such a Convention can bring a badly needed stability, coherence and equity to the international tax system by solving the governance deficits in the existing system, largely designed by the OECD through opaque and non-inclusive procedures which have produced over-complex rules of the lowest common denominator that primarily serve to benefit large multinational companies that exploit the gaps and complexity of the rules, rather than the people in developed or developing countries.
“Such a Convention can ensure that international tax rules are formulated by an intergovernmental body with participation of all UN members on a genuinely equal footing; a body that has a multilateral statutory basis, functions on the basis of clear and transparent rules of procedure, incorporates the principle of democratic decision-making and is accountable to all countries (and not just a few). The Convention can produce equitable international tax rules that provide all countries with additional resources and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Read the full statement here.
3:55pm GMT – OECD statement issued after vote
An OECD ‘Statement by the Secretary General on International Tax Cooperation’ was issued shortly after the vote yesterday. The statement failed to recognise or engage with any of the grievances or desires for change expressed by countries at yesterday’s vote. The statement did not mention the resolution adopted at the UN nor acknowledge that the historic vote had even taken place, which was largely seen as a vote of no confidence in the OECD’s leadership on global tax policy.
In a press release we published earlier today, our CEO Alex Cobham said on the OECD’s statement:
“The OECD has shown no humility about the fact that so many countries, including some of its own members, resisted its intense lobbying and instead rejected its continuing monopoly over international tax rules. More than a hundred countries – the governments of 4 out of every 5 people on the planet – united at the UN to say they’re fed up of not being heard at the OECD. And the OECD responded by refusing to even acknowledge the vote took place! If the OECD hopes to support its members in the UN process that will now get underway, it’s hardly an auspicious start.”
3:38pm GMT – “No” voters on UN tax reform enable 75% of global tax abuse
Countries who voted against UN tax reform yesterday enable 75% of global tax abuse, our latest analysis finds. These countries represent just 15% of the global population. Countries that voted in favour of reform represent 80% of the global population.
“These numbers cut to the heart of what happened at the UN vote yesterday. The world united to fight global tax abuse together, and the small circle of countries fuelling that tax abuse tried and failed to stop them,” says our CEO Alex Cobham.
Read the analysis here.
10:20am GMT – Round up of media coverage on UN vote
ICIJ: UN votes to create ‘historic’ global tax convention despite EU, UK moves to ‘kill’ proposal ↗
FT: Developing countries secure bigger international tax role for UN ↗
Bloomberg: UN Votes for Framework Tax Convention Amid Work on OECD Deal ↗
El País: La ONU aprueba negociar un nuevo marco fiscal global con el rechazo de EE UU y la UE ↗
La Jornada: Se abstiene México en votación sobre reglas tributarias globales ↗
Il Fatto Quotidiano: All’Onu passa (con il no di Ue e Usa) la risoluzione dei Paesi africani per riscrivere le regole fiscali globali e combattere i paradisi ↗
Euractiv: UN tax body to go ahead after EU, US and UK fail to defeat it ↗
Wed 22 November 2023
5:20pm GMT – Tax Justice Network statement on UN vote
“This is a historic victory delivered by the countries of the global South, for the benefit of people all around the world. Tax havens and corporate lobbyists have had too much influence on global tax policy at the OECD for too long. Today, we start to take back power over the global tax rules that affect all of us.
“The great majority of countries have declared today that they are ready to move on from the OECD, and will start negotiating global tax rules at the UN instead. We invite all countries to join in these negotiations and begin a new chapter of economic prosperity for people everywhere.”
Read our full statement here.
5:10pm GMT – Celebratory messages are rolling in
4:30pm GMT – ADOPTED! 🎉🎉🎉
The Africa Group’s resolution has been adopted – with no amendments – by a landslide majority: 125 countries for; 48 against; 9 abstained.
The UK’s amendment seeking to defang the resolution was by nearly 2 to 1.
3.45pm GMT – Discussions on Africa Group’s resolution happening now
The Second Committee is now discussing today’s tax resolution. Countries will make statements, followed by votes on any possible amendments to the resolution, and then a vote on the resolution.
3.10pm GMT – UN session begins; resolution third time on the schedule
The session of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly is now beginning and be watched live here. Today’s tax resolution is the third item on the schedule.
3.05pm GMT – Media advisory: Analysis and links on today’s UN tax vote
Our head of communication Mark Bou Mansour writes:
Countries are voting today on a UN resolution that could deliver the biggest shakeup to the global tax system in history.
The resolution, tabled by the Africa Group, seeks to begin the process of establishing a UN framework convention on tax, first by creating an inclusive, intergovernmental committee to set the terms of reference for negotiations by August 2024, which would then be carried forward into the final stage of establishing the convention. A UN tax convention will ultimately move decision-making on global tax rules from the OECD, a small club of rich countries where these have sat for the past 60 years, to the UN.
The UK has tabled a last-minute amendment ahead of the vote that removes all mentions of a convention from the resolution. More amendments may be proposed ahead of today’s vote, and each must be voted before the final vote on the (possibly amended) resolution.
We have published an analysis here on how today’s vote may go, what the implications for the future are and what the UK’s amendment may mean.
Read full article here.
2.50pm GMT – How might today’s vote on the UN tax resolution go?
Our CEO Alex Cobham writes about three reasons to expect progress to follow from a majority vote today:
Today sees the vote by countries of the world on a resolution to move ahead towards a UN tax convention. Amongst the global media coverage, one article stood out. More or less all coverage reflects on the continuing opposition of some major OECD countries including the EU, UK and US, and focuses on the potential for a majority vote if the resolution is broadly supported by G77 members. The Guardian article instead claims that the resolution “is expected to fall at the last hurdle in a vote in New York on Wednesday”, because, it says, it “would need widespread agreement, including by the US and rich nations in Europe.”
This is not factually the case. A majority vote for the resolution could be delivered from G77 members alone, regardless of the stance of OECD members. However, it is true that OECD members have been successful in past cases (eg on debt negotiations) in preventing any movement simply by boycotting a process agreed by majority rather than by consensus. And it is notable that last year’s resolution on “Promotion of Inclusive and Effective Tax Cooperation at the United Nations” (A/RES/77/244) passed by consensus, with all countries agreeing not to require a vote.
Read full article here.
9.30am GMT – ICRICT open letter in El País (France) “EE UU y la UE deben respaldar un convenio fiscal de la ONU”
Esta semana seremos testigos de lo que puede ser un avance histórico hacia una economía mundial más equitativa… o quizás de un terrible fracaso. En el marco de las Naciones Unidas el conjunto de países votará para decidir el futuro de la gobernanza fiscal internacional.
Read full article here.
9.20am GMT – The Guardian article “Push to give UN more say on global tax rules likely to stumble at vote”
Phillip Inman writes: A long-running campaign for the United Nations to have greater influence over international tax rules is expected to fall at the last hurdle in a vote in New York on Wednesday with the US, Brussels and the UK blocking the move.
Read full article here.
9.10am GMT – El Espectador (Colombia) “La reunión de la ONU que será clave para el futuro de la tributación en el mundo”
Esta semana en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas se llevará a cabo una discusión crucial. Sobre la mesa está un proyecto de resolución que, de ser aprobado, promovería una cooperación fiscal internacional más inclusiva. Le contamos de qué se trata y cuál parece ser la posición de Colombia.
Read full article here.
Tues 21 November 2023
6:35pm GMT – Press conference will be held after UN vote by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice
The Global Alliance for Tax Justice will be holding an online press conference tomorrow after the UN vote at 12:00pm ET (New York time) / 5:00pm GMT/ 6:00pm.
Click here to join the press conference.
6:25pm GMT – Link to livestream of UN vote
Tomorrow’s vote is now listed on UN Web TV. The UN session will start at 10am ET (New York time). The Africa Group’s resolution is the third item of the session. The session will be livestreamed here.
12.08pm GMT – ICRICT open letter “The US and the EU should back a UN tax convention”
In an open letter, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) stresses the pivotal importance of this week’s United Nations vote on global taxation. Calling on the US and EU to reconsider their stance, and back the Africa Group’s resolution.
Read the full statement here.
Read full coverage from Project Syndicate here.
11.07am GMT – Speaking at the Cartagena Fiscal Summit earlier this year, Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, explains why only the United Nations can provide the legitimate and inclusive forum that is a precondition to fair negotiations on tax cooperation.
11.06am GMT – Alicia Nicholls of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services at the University of the West Indies, Barbados, reflects on the role of OECD countries in facilitating cross-border tax abuse, and their problematic role in leading global tax negotiations.
10.50am GMT – Fundar call on Mexico and Latin America to support resolution.
Fundar, a Mexican civil society organisation, explains why Mexico and Latin American countries should support the African Group’s draft resolution with their vote. “To vote in favour of the resolution is to vote in favour of tax justice and human rights,” they argue.
9.50am GMT – Endorsement from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights have published a joint Statement on support for an international treaty on tax cooperation and resources for financing social and public services.
Read full statement here.
9.30am GMT – The Nation (Barbados) “Government backing UN move”
Prompted by Marla Dukharan’s recent special report urging Caribbean nations to support the upcoming UN vote for a tax framework convention, Shawn Cumberbatch writes:
Barbados is supporting a push for the United Nations to help bring more “transparency and fairness” in international taxation.
Kerrie Symmond, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: “We believe that there is a necessity to have this ongoing matter of international tax regulation transparently and fairly discussed, in a setting that accommodates and takes into account the voices and circumstances of all, including the most vulnerable and the smallest of states. Barbados welcomes the possibility of the involvement of the United Nations in this process.”
Read full article here.
9.15am GMT – The official resolution for voting is now live.
The official resolution document is available here: (A/C.2/78/L.18/Rev.1)
Mon 20 November 2023
1.18pm GMT – Manila Bulletin article “Civil society groups urge support for UN Tax Convention”
Ma. Joselie C. Garcia writes:
Civil Society Organization (CSO) leaders from various countries have expressed support for a United Nations (UN) Convention on inclusive tax cooperation to combat profit shifting and illicit financial flows in extractive industries.
This was resounded in an international conference on tax justice held last Nov. 9 to 11 in Quezon City while the convention on inclusive tax cooperation is being deliberated at the UN.
Read full article here.
1.15pm GMT – Dagsavisen article “Historic opportunity to close tax loopholes”
Norway must support the group of African countries that are working to achieve a global tax convention under UN auspices.
Read full article here.
1.10pm – Law 360 article “African Nations Rally For UN Tax Treaty After Facing Pushback“
Kevin Pinner writes: African diplomats are rallying support for a global tax convention at the United Nations, they said Thursday, after a group of mostly wealthy countries blocked their resolution from being adopted, likely forcing a vote next week.
Read full article here.
11.10am GMT – War on Want article “Why we need to fix global tax rules!”
Amazon paid £0 in UK corporation tax last year. How do rich multinational corporations get away with paying little-to-no tax on their vast profits – and who is paying for the black hole this lost tax revenue leaves in public finances?
Read full article here.
9:00am GMT – CBGA interview with Alex Cobham, Chief Executive at Tax Justice Network, offering insights into the background of the UN tax convention vote and underscoring the limitations of the OECD.
Fri 17 November 2023
1:40pm GMT – Malala Fund calls on global leaders to support Africa Group’s resolution
Malala Fund has published a statement urging countries to support the Africa Group’s resolution. The statement says:
“Positive outcomes for African governments are more likely to emerge at the U.N., where each member state has one vote on proposals, also known as U.N. resolutions. Global leaders have an important opportunity on November 22 to increase investment in education by adopting a proposal on global tax cooperation at the U.N. General Assembly.
“Malala Fund joins tax and debt justice organisations to support African countries’ draft resolution for a U.N. tax convention — a legally binding agreement between countries — to make global tax rules more inclusive, help tackle tax abuse and free up public funds for girls’ education.
“…Malala Fund urges all member states to challenge the status quo on global tax systems and clear the way for a U.N. tax convention by 2025 — a decision that would only be good news for girls.”
Read the full statement here.
11:54am GMT – Leading Caribbean economist Marla Dukharan calls on Caribbean nations to support UN framework convention on tax
Leading Caribbean economist Marla Dukharan has published a detailed special report on the upcoming UN vote for a framework convention on tax in which she calls on Caribbean nations to support the convention.
“To support the OECD, is to implicitly support the EU and its indefensible, racist and hypocritical blacklisting of nonwhite former colonies, especially in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. Again, is that what we really meant to do?
“…I call on the Governments of St. Kitts and Nevis and Suriname who have for whatever reason opposed the UN Tax Convention, to please reconsider their rather regressive position. I also call on the Governments of Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Jamaica and Haiti to indicate their support for the UN Tax Convention. Show the world that you can stand up to injustice, further your decolonization journey, and break free of the OECD. It’s now or never.”
Read the full report here.
Thurs 16 November 2023
8:58pm GMT – Official resolution document
The official resolution document will be available here: (A/C.2/78/L.18/Rev.1)
8:45pm GMT – World to vote next week on strongest option for historic global tax shakeup
“Thanks to the leadership of African countries, the world is now potentially days away from ushering in a global democratic revolution in tax that can finally put people before tax havens.”
Read our full statement on the Africa Group’s announcement here.
7:00pm GMT – Full transcript of the press statement by the Chair of the Africa Group
Here’s the full transcript of the chair’s statement today:
Statement on behalf of the African Group by the H.E. Dr. Chola Milambo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Zambia during the Press briefing on Resolution “Promotion of Inclusive and Effective International Tax Cooperation at the United Nations”
16 November 2023
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the current Chair of the African Group, I have the honor to address this gathering on behalf of the Group:
Today marks a significant moment in our collective journey towards a more equitable and inclusive global tax system. The African Group has taken a significant step forward with the proposal of a Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation, a landmark initiative reflective of our collective commitment to fairness and inclusivity in the global tax system.
This Framework Convention is not merely a policy document; it is a beacon of hope for developing countries that have long sought a voice in the shaping of international tax norms. It addresses the critical shortcomings of the current system, which often sidelines the unique challenges and perspectives of developing nations.
Our proposal acknowledges the contributions of existing bodies like the OECD and the UN Tax Committee, while also recognizing their limitations in fully representing the interests of all nations, particularly those in the developing world.
The Convention’s primary goal is to ensure that all countries, regardless of their size or economic power, have an equal seat at the table in setting the agenda for international tax cooperation. This is a step towards rectifying the historical imbalance in global tax governance, offering a more equitable platform for dialogue and decision-making.
By establishing a more equitable tax system, we unlock greater potential for spending in critical sectors like healthcare and education, pivotal for Africa and the Global South. The increased revenue generated will enable us to allocate resources where they are most needed, supporting sustainable growth and development. This approach is encompassed under the umbrella of ‘sustainable development’, ensuring that our initiative directly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reflecting our shared commitment to a future where holistic progress and well-being are accessible to all.
The human aspect of this Convention cannot be overstated. By reforming the international financial systems and ensuring fair taxation, we can significantly reduce the strain on international aid. More revenue for the Global South translates to less dependence on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), fostering a more self-reliant and resilient world economy.
To our partners in the OECD, the EU, the US and the UK, I appeal to your understanding of our shared humanity. This Convention is not just a fiscal tool; it is a lifeline to millions who aspire for better healthcare, education and a life of dignity. Your support is crucial in turning this vision into a reality.
Looking ahead to the 2025 Financing for Development (FFD) conference, this Convention sets the stage for a more inclusive approach to global economic challenges. It is a step towards a future where sustainable development, encompassing economic growth and environmental stewardship, goes hand in hand.
In essence, this Convention is about humanizing our approach to global economics. It’s about creating a system that serves not just economies but the people at their core. It represents a commitment to a future where every nation, regardless of its economic stature, can thrive.
In conclusion, on behalf of the African Group, I appeal for collaborative effort and consensus in realizing this Convention. Together, we can forge a global tax system that is truly representative, fair and effective, benefiting every nation and every citizen.
Thank you for your attention and support.
A PDF version of the statement is available here.
6:50pm GMT – Civil society event at the UN on the Africa Group’s call for a framework convention on tax underway
The event is co-organised with the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and the Civil Society Financing for Development Mechanism.
Watch the event here.
5:15pm GMT – Recording of Africa Group press conference available online
A recording of the press conference by the Chair of the Africa Group is now available online here: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k18/k18jta4irp
10:25am GMT – Final text for UN vote expected today as opposition shrinks
The Tax Justice Network understands that the Africa Group will announce at a live press conference today the final text of the resolution it plans to take to a UN vote next week. The resolution, we understand, will seek to begin negotiations on a framework convention on tax – despite EU countries remaining the main obstacle to global consensus.
The Africa Group’s press conference will take place at 11am ET and can be watched live on UN Web TV here.
For more info, read our press release here.
Tues 14 November 2023
5.15 pm GMT – Thabo Mbeki: Use the UN to tackle the scourge of global tax abuse
Former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki has published an op-ed in the FT urging countries to support moving global tax rules from the OECD to the UN.
“I appeal to the UK government and its counterparts in the EU to join the majority of UN member states, which represent the bulk of the world’s poor, and vote to sit at the same table as the representatives of developing countries.”
Read full article
Mon 13 November 2023
11.30 am GMT – Financial Times article: Developing countries and Europe in dispute over global tax role for UN
Emma Agyeman writes:
Diplomats from the European Union and UK have been accused of trying to “kill” proposals that seek to give more voice to developing countries in international tax negotiations. Countries are in talks at the United Nations over plans to give the UN more of a role in global tax discussions — a measure being pushed for by low and middle income countries.
The OECD has convened countries over international tax matters for decades, but it has attracted criticism from officials in some developing economies who believe it does not reflect their interests.
Read the full Financial Times article
Fri 10 November 2023
8:15am GMT – Names of companies behind $870bn tax abuses kept from public by global tax body; 60% of countries in favour of UN tax convention
Our new analysis shows records collected from multinational corporations by governments confess to nearly $1 trillion in corporate tax abuses – names of abusive corporations remain intentionally withheld from public.
And our newly launch Tax Justice Policy Tracker reveals that 60% of countries are in favour of establishing a UN tax convention. Those for a UN tax convention outnumber those against by 2 to 1.
However, a minority of “blocker” countries, primarily the US, UK and EU countries, are attempting to block this month’s planned UN vote on beginning formal negotiations on a UN tax convention.
“It’s unconscionable that these blocker countries would rather go against the interests of their own citizens, and have us all keep losing billions to tax havens every year instead of bringing global tax rules into the daylight of democracy at the UN,” says Amelia Evans, the Tax Justice Network’s advocacy consultant in New York.
Read the full press release.
Go to the Policy Tracker.
Wed 18 October 2023
9:17am GMT+1 – Draft resolution published, brings world one step closer to UN tax convention
A long-awaited draft UN resolution to formally begin negotiations on establishing a legally-binding UN tax convention has now been published, marking the latest milestone in a UN process that could potentially deliver the biggest shakeup in history to the global tax system. The motion triggers the final stage of deliberations, which start today, among countries to determine the process that will be used to negotiate the intricacies of a UN tax convention – negotiations that will begin early next year if the draft resolution is adopted at an upcoming vote at the UN General Assembly this November.
The draft resolution, which was tabled by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group on Wednesday last week but only made public on the UN website late yesterday evening, signals a direction in favour of the strongest of the three options proposed by the UN Secretary General.
The draft resolution:
“Emphasizes that a United Nations comprehensive convention on international tax cooperation is needed in order to strengthen international tax cooperation and make it fully inclusive and more effective; (OP1)
“Recognizes that this will also help in accelerating the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;” (OP2)
The draft resolution, if adopted, would establish an intergovernmental committee tasked with the job of drafting the UN tax convention by June 2025.
The draft resolutions specifies that any possible UN tax convention ought to consider the impact of international tax rules on inequality, gender and the environment.
For a full update, read our press release here.
The draft resolution is available on the UN website here.
Wed 4 October 2023
2:15pm GMT+1 – Draft resolution expected next week
A draft resolution will first be tabled at the Economic and Financial Committee (the ‘Second Committee’ of the UN General Assembly). The item on ‘Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations’ is considered under macroeconomic policy questions, and marked 16(h) on the committee’s agenda. Per the committee calendar, this item will be discussed on Thursday 5 October – but it’s not uncommon for the calendar to change. At present, draft resolutions are required to be submitted for this item by Wednesday 11 October, after which they will be published and the committee will continue its negotiations.
10:40am GMT+1 – EU rift on UN tax convention talks emerges as finance ministers defy EU Parliament with spoiling stance
Just a week after countries of the world met in New York to confirm their support for UN global talks on international tax cooperation, finance ministers of the European Union have signalled their intention to oppose any substantive progress. Rather than support negotiations on a UN tax convention to claw back countries’ astronomic losses to tax havens, the EU finance ministers have recommended that “the EU and its Member States could consider option 3 [from the UN Secretary-General’s recent report], i.e. working at the UN on a non-binding multilateral agenda.”
EU finance ministers’ suggestion of support for the weakest of the three options for global tax reforms put forward by the UN Secretary General directly clashes with the European Parliament’s call earlier this year on EU countries to support a binding UN tax convention – the core proposal of the other two options from the UN Secretary General’s report.
Read more here.
Thurs 21 September 2023
7:50am GMT+1 – “Consensus” emerges at UN ahead of historic vote on tax – but major countries notably silent
Ministers and heads of state from every region of the world speaking at the UN General Assembly yesterday gave their continued backing for the UN process to address international cooperation on tax.. The moderator closed the debate by identifying a “consensus” that had emerged on the central option of three set out in the UN Secretary General’s report, which proposes a UN tax convention.
7:50am GMT+1 – Background information
Some useful resources to get up to speed on the upcoming UN vote:
- Summary of the UN Secretary General’s proposals for a UN tax convention
- Our briefing on why the world needs UN leadership on global tax policy
- Our report calling on countries to adopt a UN tax convention to avoid losing nearly US$5 trillion to tax havens over the next 10 years
- Answers to frequently asked questions on why the UN can succeed on global tax policy where the OECD has failed
- For a timeline of events that have led up to this UN process, see a similar rolling blog (now closed) we ran last year in the run up to the historic resolution agreed at the UN last year that initiated this process.