Tax Justice Network ■ 🔴Live: UN tax negotiations

Flags of Countries in front of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Welcome to our rolling blog

Countries at the UN are currently negotiating the parameters of a UN framework convention on tax, which could deliver the biggest shake-up in history to the global tax system. The final parameters – aka the “terms of reference” – will be published in draft form in August, and voted on by the full General Assembly, likely in November.

We’ll be sharing rolling updates on this blog here over the coming months in the run-up to the UN vote on the terms of reference.

landslide majority last year to begin negotiations on establishing a UN tax convention. The convention has been heralded as countries’ best chance to avoid losing nearly $5 trillion to tax havens over the next decade.

What makes a UN tax convention so game-changing isn’t just the changes it would make to existing global tax rules, but the way it would dramatically change how global tax rules are decided. For over 60 years, global tax rules have been decided behind closed doors at the OECD, a small club of rich countries whose members include some of the world’s most harmful tax havens. A UN tax convention would require global tax rules to be decided democratically and transparently at the UN, where all countries can be heard on global tax rules that affect us all.

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26 April – 8 May: The committee will hold its First Session, where all countries will have an opportunity to inform the provisional work of the committee on the terms of reference.

29 July – 16 August: The committee will hold its Second Session, where all countries will have an opportunity to input and negotiate on the final draft of terms of reference before the terms go to a vote near year-end.

November/December TBD: The UN General Assembly will vote on whether to accept the terms of reference prepared by the committee for a UN framework convention on tax. If passed, countries will negotiate the content and meat of the framework convention in 2025, with a view to put the convention to a vote near year-end in 2025.

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Positions raised at First Session of the Ad Hoc Committee, 26 April – 8 May 2024
Positions submitted in writing ahead of the First Session of the Ad Hoc Committee.

Transcripts of the First Session of the Ad Hoc Committee, 26 April – 8 May 2024

Please note that these transcripts are automatically generated by transcribing software and may contain errors.

1st meeting, 26 April 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
2nd meeting, 26 April 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
3rd meeting, 29 April 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
4th meeting, 29 April 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
5th meeting, 30 April 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
6th meeting, 30 April 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
7th meeting, 1 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
8th meeting, 1 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
9th meeting, 2 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
10th meeting, 2 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
11th meeting, 3 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
12th meeting, 3 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
13th meeting, 6 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
14th meeting, 6 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
15th meeting, 7 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
16th meeting, 8 May 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript

Transcripts of the Organisational Session of the Ad Hoc Committee, 20-22 February 2024

1st meeting, 20 February 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
2nd meeting, 20 February 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
3rd meeting, 21 February 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
4th meeting, 21 February 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript
5th meeting, 22 February 2024: UN web TV 🞄 Transcript

Transcript of the 25th Plenary Meeting of the Second Committee, 22 November 2023

25th Plenary Meeting, 22 November 2023: UN web TV🞄 Transcript

Previous rolling blogs

The Tax Justice Network ran similar live rolling blogs in 2023 and 2022 on the previous stages of the UN process leading towards a UN framework convention on tax. The 2023 blog is available here. The 2022 blog is available here.

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🔴 – Live updates

Fri 17 May 2024

12:30pm GMT+1: New blog summarising the First Session negotiations

Our colleagues @SergioChaparro8 and @markusmeinzer have written a blog providing a jam-packed recap of what happened at the first round of UN tax negotiations. The blog breaks down negotiation tactics that were on display at the Ad Hoc Committee’s First Session, views and positions expressed by countries, emerging blocs and what lies ahead on the path towards a UN tax convention.

11:59am GMT+1: Database of country positions from First Session

We are also making publicly available a database we have compiled on what countries said they want from a UN tax convention during the First Session of the Ad Hoc Committee that recently ran from 26 April to 8 May.

11:10am GMT+1: Transcripts of First Session meeting

We are sharing here our automated transcripts of the Ad Hoc Committee’s First Session, which ran from 26 April to 8 May. Please note that the transcripts are automatically generated by transcribing software and so may contain errors. The automated transcripts include timestamps to help cross-check quotes in the transcripts against the recordings of the meetings on UN web TV, which we advise doing.

First Session transcripts and video links

Please note that these transcripts are automatically generated by transcribing software and may contain errors.

Wed 8 May 2024

15:00pm GMT+1: The final day of sessions is about to begin shortly.

Tues 7 May 2024

15:00pm GMT+1: Fifteenth session happening now.

Fri 3 May 2024

9:00am GMT+1: Markus Meinzer summarises yesterdays sessions

The negotiations for Terms of Reference of a #UnTaxConvention have focused today on two crucial procedural questions:

1. should early simultaneous protocols be negotiated?

2. what timeline for any protocols and the Framework Convention?

The morning session was characterised broadly by two different views, with many strong interventions from G77 consistently pointing out the need and feasibility of early simultaneous protocol negotiations, and many, but not all, OECD members rather arguing against this.

These two differing views may have surprised some observers, as it was OECD members rather than others who repeatedly cited bottlenecks in administrative capacity for simultaneous negotiations: the practical question of working in parallel on more things demands more resources.

The position by G77 & some few OECD members calling for negotiations of early simultaneous protocols may indicate their commitment & determination to bring in their technical tax negotiators January 2025. So how may they deal with capacity constraints for 2 parallel processes?

The obvious answer (the OECD may not like too much) is that tax policy negotiation resources could be freed up by…pausing…(for lack of a better word…) the stalling work over at the #InclusiveFramework. Perhaps until the USA might show us ratification of Pillar 1 and 2? And as we are at it, of the Common Reporting Standard?

The longer than usual break after the morning session indicates that this penny might be beginning to drop here & there… After the break, a compromise proposal, initiated by the UK, for overlapping negotiation timelines, but not full simultaneity, was elaborated on by the Chair.

Then the Chair projected this chart (as shown above) as an indicative illustration of the potential compromise timelines. It indicates the completion of the full framework convention within 18 months, and then the completion of early “semi-simultaneous” protocols, 6 months thereafter.

Well, if that is the case, expecting the ToR will be voted in the UN General Assembly this fall, we are in a scenario where the negotiations could start in January 2025 indeed.

Fascinating times.

As always, you can watch all sessions live or later online at the UN Web TV: Morning session:

Afternoon session:

The beauty of democratic negotiations at the United Nations at work.

PS: Those interested in the case why corporate taxation and public country by country reporting by multinational companies should be a high level commitment as an area to be within jurisdiction of the Framework Convention, watch my intervention yesterday at the Ad Hoc Committee:

Wed 1 May 2024

12:20pm GMT+1: Markus Meinzer, delivering a statement on behalf of the Tax Justice Network on public Country by country reporting

The Tax Justice Network aligns with the remarks made by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice. Esteemed delegates, in this intervention, we would like to advocate for including Country by Country Reporting and corporate taxation issues more broadly in the Terms of Reference of the Framework Convention; and for inclusion of the establishment of a Global Asset Registry (GAR), as well as of a Centre for the Monitoring of Taxing Rights (CMTR) to monitor progress.

I found encouraging that today, many country delegates have expressed their desire to do more to ensure that large multinational enterprises pay their fair share of tax.

In this regard, the importance of the relationship between corporate taxation, that has been discussed this morning, and the ABC of tax transparency that has been discussed yesterday, cannot be emphasized enough. Why is that?

One objective of tax reform processes initiated 2013 by the G20 has been to align the declaration of profits of multinational enterprises with their economic activity.

Country by country reporting – the C of the ABC – has been proposed as one tool to not only hold accountable multinational enterprises, but also to measure the progress towards this ambition of states, and it has been widely implemented in form of BEPS Action 13.

While CbCR has been originally devised as a public financial reporting standard whose predecessors are dating back to the 1970s and the United Nations, CbCR has been however severely truncated during the OECD BEPS negotiations.

The first truncation of this tool happened as tax secrecy was declared to cover this data.

In order to access the data, a complex system of automatic information exchange was established that leaves most lower income countries out of the exchange mechanism.

Esteemed delegates, the result of this system is a further exacerbation, not a
reduction, of information asymmetries between higher income and lower income countries – information asymmetries that everyone in this room knows do translate into inequalities of power and ultimately taxing rights.

The second truncation in OECD’s BEPS Action 13 is that of limiting the use of the data and ruling out the use of the data for transfer pricing or tax base
adjustments to enable formulary apportionment of income.

That is an enforceable provision in the OECD rules directly in opposition to a clause included and widely accepted to this day in the UN model tax convention under Art. 7.4.

These two OECD treatments of country by country reporting have truncated the tool and solidified a deeply unjust and unfair asymmetry in taxing rights.

In addition to this truncation, the OECD has failed to live up to its commitment to complete a review of the CBCR standard in 2020, after a consultation showed broad support for public access, incl. by investors.

I am telling this episode not to entertain or bore you – but for 2 reasons. First, because I hope it reminds us of why we need a high-level commitment to work on corporate tax matters in the Terms of Reference.

Second, I mention this because I believe we also need a high-level commitment of public CbCR in the ToR.

Healing the OECD truncations could help releasing upfront significant revenues in developing countries – and in developed countries alike.

Public CbCR should be created under a robust standard, and we believe that the Global Reporting Initiative’s GRI 207 standard should be among those tabled for review by the Ad Hoc Committee here, as it is currently the most robust and reliable existing standard – or to be tabled and reviewed but the subsequent committee.

In addition to this, a Global Asset Registry that establishes the infrastructure for enabling the taxation of high income individuals by laying down systems and IT parameters, protocols that enable the registration and interfacting, exchanges about bank accounts, about financial securities, about real estate, vessels, yachts, about airplanes, about other high value assets, would be prerequisite to enable the progressive taxation of individuals both by the personal income tax, and by means of a wealth tax. In this regard we would request the GAR to be included for consideration as another high-level commitment in the Terms of Reference.

Full Tax Justice Network statement on Country by country reporting here:

6:20pm GMT+1: Live update from Sergio Chaparro-Hernandez

4:40pm GMT+1: Live update from Markus Meinzer

3:00pm GMT+1: Seventh Session now underway

2:00pm GMT+1: Insights from Day 3: Sergio Chaparro-Hernandez’s Recap

On day 3, the Ad Hoc Committee had extensive discussions on the substantive issues that the Framework Convention should include in the form of high level commitments. The morning session addressed the issue of domestic resource mobilisation (DRM).  A first group of countries, including Sweden, Korea, Austria, Norway, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium either had an understanding of DRM that equated it primarily with capacity building or, recognising that the concept implies broader dimensions, suggested that the Convention should focus on capacity building. A second group, including India, Nigeria, Bahamas, Kenya, Senegal, Colombia, Algeria, Tanzania, Russia and Belize advocated separating the issue of DRM from capacity building, and emphasising that DRM should include the issue of fair allocation of taxing rights and its connection to the SDGs. Tax Justice Network Africa reinforced this point by noting that capacity building is not a panacea and DRM must address historical imbalances in the distribution of taxing rights.

A second segment of the morning addressed the issue of taxation of high net worth individuals. Brazil and Spain indicated that they support the inclusion of this issue, and that they have been advancing a proposal on this in the context of the G-20, recognising the importance of the discussion of the UN Framework Convention as an appropriate scenario to address it. Some interventions, both from countries from the Global North and the Global South, argued that this is a domestic taxation issue. While some advocated for not addressing it in the Convention, others argued that it should be addressed more broadly under a wider objective, be it DRM or combating inequalities. Other states, such as India and Colombia, argued that the issue raises a dimension of international cooperation that should be the way it is addressed as part of the Convention. Colombia proposed a global registry of beneficial owners of different types of assets, along the lines of a Global Asset Registry. Interventions by Alliance Sud and Oxfam reinforced the need to include the issue of taxation of high net worth individuals in the Convention.

In the afternoon session, although with different emphases on the issues, there was broad agreement on the importance of addressing taxation measures to address climate and environmental challenges as part of the Framework Convention. A second segment consisted of a dialogue with international institutions. And the afternoon session continued with discussion of other topics that could be included as part of the high level commitments in the ToRs, including the problem of blacklists raised by the Bahamas and the ABC of tax transparency that the Tax Justice Network had the opportunity to talk about.

Watch Tuesdays session here:

9:00am GMT+1: Catch up on Tuesdays sessions

Negotiations for a UN Tax Convention in New York have changed in tone and dynamic on Tuesday. While on Monday it seemed as if OECD countries had teamed up to stall the negotiations by insisting on non-duplication and complementarity, the style and inputs appear more constructive.

Sergio Chaparro-Hernandez, International Policy and Advocacy Lead for the Tax Justice Network, addressed the negotiations concerning the Terms of Reference (ToR) for a UN Tax Convention. His emphasis was on the necessity for enhancements to the fundamental aspects of tax transparency, known as the ABC of tax transparency, to operate in a more comprehensive, inclusive, and efficient manner. This, he argued, is crucial for combating illicit financial flows and facilitating domestic resource mobilisation.

Tues 30 April 2024

5:45pm GMT+1: Ad Hoc Committee to Draft Terms of Reference for a United Nations Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation – Delivered by Markus Meinzer, Tax Justice Network

Direct link to document here

12:15pm GMT+1: Maria Ron Balsera, Interim Executive Director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights explains why the framework convention negotiations offer a unique chance to rectify unfair international tax rules, leveraging taxation’s corrective powers to establish a just framework grounded in human rights principles resilient to future challenges.

9:15am GMT+1: Catch up on yesterdays discussions

On Monday the Committee discussed two main issues. The morning session was scheduled to discuss the possible skeleton or outline of the terms of reference that had been shared by the Secretariat as a starting point for discussion. A first group of countries – mainly those that voted against the resolution adopted last year – pointed out that the terms of reference should give very general guidelines and focus on the procedural aspects of drafting the Convention – without prematurely addressing anything that could prejudge its content. A second group showed stronger support for the Secretariat’s previous work, with some clarifications. They suggested the ToRs should have a broad based approach where all issues should be up for discussion, and that the ToRs should include some substantive scoping such as the draft outline of the elements of the Convention proposed by the Secretariat. The discussion then focused on whether a point on decision making rules should be included and whether it should be moved from Annex 1 to the skeleton of the ToRs (as suggested by members of the first group) or whether it should be left where it is, bearing in mind that the decision making rules of subsidiary bodies such as the Ad Hoc Committee should be the same as those applying to the General Assembly. The session ended with the intervention of civil society, led by the FfD Civil Society Mechanism, and ATAF insisting that the Ad Hoc Committee is not entitled to change the rules that should govern the discussion of the subsidiary bodies of the General Assembly.

The afternoon session discussed the introductory elements of ToRs (Preamble, Objectives and Principles).  Countries made specific suggestions on these aspects, but the main discussion was around the principle of complementarity. Differences on the problems of the current tax architecture and whether or not it is unfair, as well as how existing instruments should be dealt with, emerged in the afternoon conversation. Civil society insisted that instruments that had not been negotiated in an inclusive manner could not be incorporated into a Convention that is meant to be inclusive, an idea that was supported by countries such as Pakistan. Issues of equity, human rights and special and differential treatment were also discussed.

Watch Mondays session here:

Mon 29 April 2024

3:15pm GMT+1: A UN convention with the ABCs of Tax

The ABCs of tax justice ensures the UN’s tax convention paves the way for fair, progressive taxation worldwide. Stand with the tax justice movement to advocate for a #UNtaxConvention that promotes democratic, transparent, and inclusive reform of #GlobalTaxRules, bridging inequalities across borders.

Fri 27 April 2024

4:00pm GMT+1: First Session now underway

The First Session of the Ad Hoc Committee is now underway! The session will run from today until Tuesday 8 May. The session will give all countries an opportunity to inform the provisional work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the terms of reference

You can watch the session live below or here.

3:00pm GMT+1: New EU position on the UN Tax Convention announced

A new EU position on the UN Tax Convention (a from 24 April) has been released and can be found online here.

The document is quite broad, but it’s a slight improvement from the EU Common Approach released last September in 2023. According to the new position:

“…the proposed UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation should aim to promote global dialogue and create policy synergies. In recognition of the call for more inclusive and effective international tax cooperation, international dialogue at the United Nations in relation to a future Convention should aim to gather countries to exchange effective practices on mobilising domestic resources through both tax policy formulation and the strengthening of enforcement mechanisms. This effort underscores the pivotal role of the United Nations in supporting UN member states to mobilise domestic resources and finance development strategies, aligning closely with the aspirations outlined in General Assembly resolution 78/230.”

For more information on individual countries’ demands for the UN process and what they want from the UN negotiations, see our public spreadsheet here.

Thurs 26 April 2024

09:30pm GMT+1: Get up to speed ahead of this week’s First Session with our blog

Our International Policy and Advocacy Lead Sergio Chaparro-Hernandez has written a catch-up blog about what has happened so far this year leading up to the negotiations kicking off this week and about what we can expect over the coming days.

Tues 24 April 2024

4:15pm GMT+1: UN publishes a draft outline of the terms of reference and the framework convention

Things are getting real! In preparation for this week’s session, the Ad Hoc Committee has published a draft outline of the terms of reference, which is being negotiated this year, an the framework convention itself, which will be negotiated after the terms of reference are agreed.

Fri 19 April 2024

2:20pm GMT+1: South Centre calls out unhelpful behaviour from OECD countries

Powerful statement from Dr Carlos Correa, head of the intergovernmental South Centre, to the intergovernmental G-24, highlighting the unhelpful behaviour of OECD members and the continuing failure of the OECD process to deliver either consensus or progress. Noting that even an unlikely success in the OECD process would deliver little or nothing for developing countries, the South Centre’s clear call is for all efforts to be concentrated on the negotiation of a UN framework convention on tax.

“On taxation issues, we note that the deadline of 31 March 2024 for finalizing the OECD digital tax solution of Amount A of Pillar One has been once again missed, with developed countries making increasingly extreme and irrational demands as preconditions to sign the Amount A Multilateral Convention. We strongly reiterate our recommendation that developing countries no longer wait and keep losing revenues, and immediately commence with unilateral digital tax measures such as Digital Services Taxes (DSTs) or Significant Economic Presence, and consider Amount A only after it has been ratified by major developed countries, particularly the USA. The South Centre in partnership with the African Tax Administration Forum and the West African Tax Administration Forum will soon come out with country level revenue estimates on Amount A vs DSTs for the 85 combined Member States of the African Union and the South Centre, and this can provide valuable data for informed decision making and on the opportunity cost of continuing to not take any action.

“Regarding the OECD Global Minimum Tax (GMT) of Pillar Two, the OECD’s own revenue estimates show that only 1.6% of the profits taxable under the GMT are located in lower middle-income countries, and only 0.1% are in low-income countries, making the OECD GMT irrelevant for the vast majority of developing countries. Further, even in countries where these minimal profits are located, the multinational enterprises can continue to shift profits and pay zero in taxes owing to the design of the rules. We reiterate that reforming wasteful tax incentives and an alternative minimum tax with a tax base such as turnover can be far easier to administer and bring in revenues, unlike the complex OECD Global Minimum Tax whose cost of administration is most likely to exceed any revenue collected.

“We welcome the historic resolution 78/230 of the UN General Assembly to prepare the Terms of Reference (ToR) for a UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation. We call on all developing countries to actively participate in the Ad Hoc Committee which will draft the ToR, and allocate sufficient resources for the travel to and participation of delegates in New York. The South Centre has submitted inputs to the Ad Hoc Committee.”

Read the statement here.

Tues 16 April 2024

1:00pm GMT+1: The Center for Economic and Social Right’s analysis of submission to the UN Ad Hoc Committee

The Center for Economic and Social Right has published an insightful analysis of countries’ written submissions to the Ad Hoc Committee detailing their views and stances on the terms of references.

“The call [for submissions] received 103 inputs in total, including 49 responses from United Nations Member States. These numbers indicate strong engagement with the international tax debate now that the UNTC is a certainty. A similar call for inputs from the Secretary General last year received 92 submissions in total, which consisted of only 28 responses from Member States (read our analysis here). Hence, the engagement of Member States has considerably increased. Other inputs include 1 from a member of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, 4 from United Nations Organizations, 6 from other international organizations, 10 from businesses and others, and the remaining 33 from civil society and academia.” 

Read the analysis here.

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