Let us count what really matters

Despite the well-known problems with using gross domestic product as an indicator of human development, policy-makers around the world still seem obsessed with it. Governments seek to promote GDP growth through all possible means, often regardless of the wider consequences for the planet and the distribution of rewards. The current focus on quarterly growth reflects a particularly unhealthy short-term perspective. And yet the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral organisations refer to GDP in all assessments of economic performance and make it the sole focus of their forecasts.

But the concept of GDP is deeply flawed. Aggregate or per capita figures are obviously blind to the distribution of income, and GDP is increasingly unable to measure quality of life or the sustainability of any particular system of production, distribution and consumption. Moreover, because GDP in most countries captures only market transactions, it excludes a significant amount of goods and services produced for personal or household consumption. By making market pricing the chief determinant of value, irrespective of any activity’s social value, GDP massively undervalues what many now recognise (especially in light of the pandemic) as essential services relating to the care economy.

Read the article by Jayathi Ghosh

International Financial Institutions: a Threat to Health

It took almost two full years for the World Trade Organization to adopt a decision on its role in the Covid-19 pandemic. Once it finally did, it was not the decision the world needed: the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO did not result in a TRIPS waiver as asked by South Africa, India, and more than 100 developing countries.

Instead, it led to a bleak decision based on the wishes of the Global North and pharmaceutical companies. The document does nothing to lift intellectual property privileges from Covid-19 medical products, and limits itself to alleviate some of the barriers to export of vaccines which exist in the original TRIPS agreement. We bring more on the outcomes of the Ministerial Conference through a conversation with trade unionist George Poe Williams and legal advisor K.M. Gopakumar.

Read more in People’s Health Dispatch

Doha 20 Years on: Has the Promise been Betrayed?

The Doha Declaration’s twentieth anniversary in November 2021 has taken place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience of the past two years has demonstrated that the very factors that necessitated the Declaration—the problems of inequitable access to medicines and other health technologies for the world’s poor—continue to plague us.
Has the promise of the Doha Declaration been betrayed? In this contribution, we critically engage with this question, focusing our appraisal on whether the Doha Declaration has been successful in fulfilling its commitments to: (a) advancing access to health; (b) equity and fairness in the relations between WTO Members States; and (c) recognising perspectives from the developing world in formulating IP policy. Ultimately, we conclude that the promise of the Doha Declaration has failed to materialise.

Read the paper of South Center

Oxfam and its dodgy statistics

Statistics on poverty and i equality: they are far from easy! We already know it from the Wortld Bank, now it seems Oxfam can be as careless as others …

Read about it: Oxfam serves up a lot of dodgy statistics – by Noah Smith (substack.com)

Only 6 % of domestic workers have social protection

Domestic workers make an important contribution to society, providing vital care for families and households, but they remain undervalued. And domestic workers are … women.

Read ILO’s press brief

Yearbook on economic, social and cultural rights

The Global Initiative on ESCR published its first Yearbook on all the initiatives of the UN Commission

Read the Report

Safety and Health at Work

This is now also a fundamental principle of the ILO, for all its member States. The landmark decision means that all ILO Member States commit to respect and promote the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions.

Read all about it

The Global South in the WTO

The World Trade Organization will be holding its 12th Ministerial Meeting in Geneva from June 12 to 15.  Yet little if anything is expected from the meeting except the usual exchanges of conflicting views between representatives of the global North and those of the global South.  There might be something like a “Ministerial Declaration” that tries to paper over differences with some conciliatory language, but anything resembling a consensus on any key issue is unlikely.  Consensus is the prime decision-making method in the WTO, and it’s been a long, long time since there was consensus achieved on anything related to global trade rules.

Read Walden Bello’s article

A $100 Billion Pledge to Battle Climate Change Fails to Materialize

At the Stockholm+50 international conference in Sweden early June, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep disappointment over the failure of rich nations to provide financing to mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change, including droughts, floods, heat waves, pollution and biodiversity loss worldwide.

The shortfall in funding has also derailed the implementation of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty and hunger eradication, by 2030.

Read the article by Thalif Deen

The potential of a UN Tax Convention and a “Race to the Top Alliance”

OECD countries might discover it is in their self-interest to join developing countries in pursuing truly global, UN-led tax solutions.

Read the new publication by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

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