Illicit Financial Flows and the MDGs

On 20 October, Researcher Jill Coster van Voorhout presented the work of the Institute at Yale University’s annual conference, Human Rights & Economic Justice: Essential Elements of the Post-MDG Agenda.

The conference addressed the important question of how to follow up after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Now 2015 is approaching, countries and international donors must determine next steps for the future development agenda. What happens post-2015?

In the 1990s the special mark in the calendar and certainly also the committed Kofi Annan united countries and international donors around the MDGs. The international community owes it to all those in need of equitable economic and social progress on these and other development goals that we continue collective efforts, possibly under a post-2015 agenda. The question is, therefore, how to formulate the right measurable international development goals, also in light of progress or lack of progress on the MDGs.

Certainly, some significant progress has been made on the MDGs. Efforts to eradicate extreme poverty under MDG 1 has been rather successful. However, not all of the progress on MDG 1 is attributable to the coordinated and concerted actions of countries and international donors. The rise of emerging markets has surely contributed to the success on reduction of extreme poverty. Also, one of the failings of the MDGs was the lack of attention to social disparities.

While during the past decade some countries have progressed towards the MDGs, inequalities between and within countries have increased. Social disparities linked to wealth, gender, ethnicity, religion, conflict and other markers for disadvantage have caused progress towards the MDGs to stagnate. Moreover, critics indicate how slight changes to the goals of poverty reduction and hunger alleviation as well as the altered definition of hunger cloud our ability to measure actual progress on MDGs 1 and 2, whilst indicating that MDG 8 of global partnership leaves much to be desired.

The Institute is particularly concerned about tax systems that are designed to facilitate evasion rather thanrevenue collection. Narrowing equity deficits is not just a moral imperative but a condition for accelerated progress towards the 2030 targets brought forward by the high-level panel. Not only does such progress require improved global partnership, but also proper taxation systems in states that are currently not equipped to use their infrastructure for basic needs such as public health and education systems that extend opportunities for the poor.

On 21 November, The Hague Institute will organize a roundtable on Illicit Financial Flows. One aim of this roundtable will be to translate the ‘leave no-one behind’-agenda into goals that should be included in a post-2015 framework for the wider global justice agenda. Following the roundtable, there will be a public “European launch” of the reportby the International Bar Association (IBAHRI) task force on Illicit Financial Flows, Poverty and Human Rights.

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