On 18 January 2024, the UN Human Rights Council held its Sixth Intersessional Meeting on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda where UN Agencies, human rights institutions, governments and civil society organizations shared achievements, challenges, and lessons learned concerning the integration of human rights at the heart of the international financial architecture as a building block towards the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The outcomes of this meeting will feed into the upcoming Summit for the Future in September 2024 and the Fourth International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in 2025. See the agenda, speaker statements, and Part 1 & Part 2 on UN Web TV. The UN SDG Action Campaign proudly supported the advocacy and the dissemination of content of this important meeting.
As the world faces multiple interlocking crises, including deepening inequalities within and between countries, speakers expressed the pressing need to proactively support the realization of human rights and the SDGs, through substantive reforms of the international financial architecture that would put the ‘human rights economy’ at the heart of the multilateral system throughout the meeting. Many interventions highlighted the importance of moving towards a human rights economy which puts people and planet at its heart. This includes addressing the social dimension and the structural inequities of the global economy and applying a human rights lens to the reform of International Finance Institutions including scaling up development financing, especially concessional finance.
Speakers emphasized the urgent need to tackle debt distress, with 3.3 billion people living in countries where governments are spending more on servicing their debt than on their population’s rights to health and education. Specific recommendations were focused on the need for a more effective, representative and fairer international system for dealing with sovereign debt — including moving towards a multilateral legal framework for debt restructuring that includes participation of all public and private creditors; and debt relief packages that allow for the revival of economic activity and the progressive realization of human rights.
As countries lose $480 billion to global tax abuse, there was a strong emphasis on the need for a more effective, inclusive, and representative international tax architecture, including through moving towards — as Member States recently agreed in New York following the initiative of the Africa Group — a new Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation under the UN. Participants also urged regulatory reforms for addressing corruption and both tax evasion and avoidance, building on the existing work of the OECD, for a fairer allocation of taxing rights between countries, a higher minimum corporate tax rate, greater transparency and more effective rules on the ‘ABCs of tax’ — automatic information exchange, beneficial ownership registers and public country by country reporting.
The meeting ended with strong emphasis on the urgent need for paradigm shift in the global economic model towards the ‘human rights economy’, realigning the international financial system with human rights obligations, including the rights to education, health and social protection.
For a deeper dive into the meeting, read Building economies that advance human rights for all