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Responding to a vote at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today in favour of internationalizing cooperation on tax and working towards a tax treaty, Amnesty International's Advisor on Taxation and Human Rights, Riva Jalipa, said: 

"Hundreds of billions of dollars are being lost annually to aggressive tax avoidance and evasion by companies and individuals, hampering the ability of states to maximize their resources to fulfil their human rights obligations, and disproportionately harming the poorest and most vulnerable in societies. 

"This vote is a critical step towards much-needed reform of the international tax system and paves the way for an international treaty which is urgently needed to address the estimated US$500 billion every year lost globally to tax abuse. 

"A treaty should ultimately generate more resources for development and climate finance, for recovering and returning stolen assets, and for improving public institutions. Without it, tax evasion and avoidance will continue to have a corrosive effect on societies, eroding trust, undermining financial integrity, the rule of law and sustainable development. 

"Amnesty International reiterates its call to place human rights at the heart of any international tax reform process and eventual treaty. This will ensure that states' existing human rights obligations both guide and inform the negotiations and the outcome."  

Background 

The resolution passed by states at the UNGA second committee calls for a two-step process to negotiate a UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation. It was proposed by Nigeria, and backed overwhelmingly, despite opposition from some higher income states including the United States and the United Kingdom.

Firstly, a committee will agree terms of reference for negotiating a convention, which will be finalized by autumn 2024. In the second stage, a treaty text will be negotiated. The resolution agreed to take into account the needs, priorities and capacities of all countries, in particular developing countries and countries in special situations. 

Although a tax agreement was secured through the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2021, both the process and outcomes have been insufficiently inclusive and fair, especially with respect to non-OECD member countries.

 

November 22, 2023 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir agreed with Sudan’s Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) to establish a joint committee to coordinate efforts to end the war and bring peace to Sudan.

The visiting FFC delegation to South Sudan met on Wednesday with President Salva Kiir Mayardit, in the presence of Presidential Advisor for Security and Political Affairs, Tut Tut Gatluak, Ministers of Presidential Affairs, Barnabas Merial Benjamin, and the Investment Ministers, Dhieu Mathok, and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Ramadan Mohamed Abdallah.

In a statement after the meeting, the FFC said that they briefed Kiir about their vision, which emphasizes the importance of stopping the war as a top priority and finding a comprehensive and just political solution that leads to a single national and professional army, democratic civilian rule, and sustainable peace.

The meeting agreed to establish a joint committee, comprising representatives from both the FFC and the South Sudan Mediation Committee for Peace in Sudan. This committee is tasked with facilitating communication, follow-up, and coordination.

President Salva Kiir has been actively involved in regional efforts to end the war in Sudan, participating in initiatives such as the IGAD Quartet. His recent agreement with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during a visit to Cairo underscores the commitment of both countries to contribute to efforts to end the conflict.

It should be noted that the FFC sent a letter to the Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, on November 18, requesting to meet with him as soon as possible.

They said they have a draft of a road map to end the war that they want to discuss with him and develop together to reach a Sudanese solution to end the war and establish sustainable peace and a democratic civil transition.

In a separate statement, the South Sudanese presidency revealed that during the meeting, the FFC delegation urged President Kiir to intensify his mediation efforts, citing his extensive knowledge and relationships with Sudanese leaders. FFC member Sadiq al Mahdi expressed confidence that President Kiir would play a crucial role in bringing together the warring factions.

The meeting centred on mechanisms to end the war, based on the outcomes of the Cairo Summit, and outlined steps to unify political and civil forces in Khartoum. Additionally, the meeting delved into initiatives proposed by neighbouring countries to stop the conflict in Sudan, added the South Sudanese presidency. - Sudan Tribune

(ST)

 

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has told Labour’s Gaza rebels that “hard diplomacy” is required for the conflict to end, as he visits Israel and the West Bank to meet regional leaders.

It marks the first visit by a member of Sir Keir Starmer’s team to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since Hamas’s 7 October atrocity sparked a full-scale war. 

Mr Lammy will meet with politicians including Israeli president Isaac Herzog after calling for a “longer pause” to the conflict to alleviate the “shocking” humanitarian emergency in Gaza.

Mr Lammy will also meet with the Palestinian Authority’s deputy foreign minister Amal Jadou in the West Bank.

Sir Keir has been battling a major rift in his party, with eight frontbenchers having resigned while 56 Labour MPs defied his position in order to vote to support a ceasefire.

Rejecting calls for a ceasefire, Mr Lammy said peace “won’t happen simply by affirming that we want it to happen”.

He added: “Hard diplomacy is required with all governments in the region to deliver a longer pause immediately, to respond to the shocking humanitarian emergency in Gaza, secure the release of hostages so cruelly taken by Hamas, and as a necessary step to an enduring cessation of violence.” 

The shadow foreign secretary also criticised successive Tory governments and the UK’s international allies for failing to realise the threat posed by Hamas ahead of the 7 October bloodshed.

He said political leaders had been complacent in their failure to work for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

 
Labour leader Keir Starmer has come under huge pressure to back a ceasefire (PA)
Labour leader Keir Starmer has come under huge pressure to back a ceasefire (PA)© Provided by The Independent

“The international community, including successive Conservative governments, must learn the lessons of decades of failure to resolve this conflict. For too long our leaders have been content with the delusions of wishful thinking when it comes to peace in the Middle East,” said Mr Lammy. 

He added: “There has been a failure to deliver the two-state solution that is necessary to deliver long-term peace, security and independence to both Israel and Palestine.”

Meanwhile, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said some demonstrations aimed at Labour MPs over their stance on the war in Gaza had “crossed the line from protest to intimidation”.

The senior Labour figure condemned protests outside MPs’ homes as “totally unacceptable” and urged those calling for a ceasefire to do so “in a responsible way”.

She told Sky News: “In a democracy, we elect our MPs and they make decisions. They represent their constituents but they also listen to all of the evidence. Anything that would attempt to intimidate an MP to vote in a certain way, or to put pressure on them – it is anti-democratic, in my view.”

Hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Labour leader’s office in north London on Saturday demanding that he back a ceasefire and chanting: “Keir Starmer’s a wasteman.” 

Sir Keir revealed that he fears for his family’s safety. “I’ve got two children ... and my biggest concern – about the only concern I have, going forward – is asking myself over and over again, particularly at the moment, how do I protect them as we go into this?”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper is understood to have held discussions with police to ensure Labour MPs’ safety after several incidents.

MPs on both sides of the ceasefire debate have faced abuse since Wednesday’s Commons vote. The constituency office of shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens was vandalised after she abstained on the Gaza vote.

Her Cardiff office was covered in red paint and posters that accused the shadow cabinet minister of having blood on her hands.

Naz Shah, who quit the Labour front bench to support a ceasefire, said she had received “Islamophobic hatred”, which she has reported to the police. Story by Adam Forrest , The Independent

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