Category Archives: Measuring oppression and exploitation

Human Development Report 2019 Credit: UNDP

Human Development Report: new inequalities must be addressed

United Nations Development Program December 9, 2019. The demonstrations sweeping across the world today signal that, despite unprecedented progress against poverty, hunger and disease, many societies are not working as they should.

The connecting thread, argues a new report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is inequality.“Different triggers are bringing people onto the streets — the cost of a train ticket, the price of petrol, demands for political freedoms, the pursuit of fairness and justice. This is the new face of inequality, and as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality isnot beyond solutions,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner.

The 2019 Human Development Report (HDR), entitled “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st Century,” says that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing for millions of people, the necessities to thrive have evolved.

A new generation of inequalities is opening up, around education, and around technology and climate change — two seismic shifts that, unchecked, could trigger a ‘new great divergence’ in society of the kind not seen since the Industrial Revolution, according to the report. In countries with very high human development, for example, subscriptions to fixed broadband are growing 15 times faster and the proportion of adults with tertiary education is growing more than six times faster than in countries with low human development.

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Measuring exploitation and oppression 2019

Global Trends: Forced displacement in 2018 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees June 19, 2019

World military expenditure grows to $1.8 trillion in 2018 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute April 29, 2019

Gender Development Index 2018 United Nations Development Program “The GDI measures gender gaps in human development achievements by accounting for disparities between women and men in three basic dimensions of human development—health, knowledge and living standards using the same component indicators as in the HDI…. It is a direct measure of gender gap showing the female HDI as a percentage of the male HDI.”

Gender Inequality Index United Nations Development Program The  GII  is  designed  to  reveal  the  extent  to  which  the  realization  of  a  country’s  human  development  potential  is  curtailed  by  gender  inequality. The 2018 GII can be downloaded as an Excel file from this site. A fuller explanation of the GII is provided by UNDP Measuring Key Disparities in Human Development: The Gender Inequality Index, especially pp 8-14.

The Committee to Protect Journalists tracks Journalists killed, missing and imprisoned under CPI Data. There were 50 journalists killed during 2019, with 64 missing and 250 imprisoned at the end of 2019, according to their records. CPJ Alerts reported over 380 specific attacks on journalists and publications in 2019.

Tax havens

How U.S. firms helped Africa’s richest women exploit her country’s wealth Michael Forsythe, Kyra Gurney, Scilla Alecci and Ben Hallman New York Times January 19, 2020

Tech giants shift profits to avoid paying taxes. There is a plan to stop them. Jim Tankersley New York Times October 9, 2019

Tackling tax havens Nicholas Shaxson Finance and Development September 2019
Tax havens collectively cost governments between $500 billion and $600 billion a year in lost corporate tax revenue … through legal and not-so-legal means. Of that lost revenue, low-income economies account for some $200 billion—a larger hit as a percentage of GDP than advanced economies and more than the $150 billion or so they receive each year in foreign development assistance. American Fortune 500 companies alone held an estimated $2.6 trillion offshore in 2017, though a small portion of that has been repatriated following US tax reforms in 2018. And individuals have stashed $8.7 trillion in tax havens.

 In less than a decade, phantom FDI has climbed from about 30 percent to almost 40 percent of global FDI. Credit: IMF
In less than a decade, phantom FDI has climbed from about 30 percent to almost 40 percent of global FDI. Credit: IMF

The rise of phantom investments Jannick Damgaard, Thomas Elkjaer, and Niels Johannesen International Monetary Fund September 2019 Some worthwhile and interesting (even astounding) points in this article including:

  • Luxembourg has as much Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as the United States, and more than China.
  • In practice, FDI is defined as cross-border financial investments between firms belonging to the same multinational group, and much of it is phantom in nature—investments that pass through empty corporate shells.
  • Total world FDI is $40 trillion. Phantom investments are $15 trillion or 30 percent of FDI, a percentage which has increased in recent years in spite of efforts to crack down on tax avoidance.
  • A few well-known tax havens host the vast majority of the world’s phantom FDI. Luxembourg and the Netherlands host nearly half. And adding Hong Kong SAR, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Ireland, and Mauritius to the list, these 10 economies host more than 85 percent of all phantom investments.
  • The firms, individuals and others who set up these empty corporate shells abroad receive substantial investments from such entities, with averages across all income groups exceeding 25 percent of total FDI.

Corporate Tax Haven Index 2019 Tax Justice Network May 28, 2019
The Corporate Tax Haven Index ranks the world’s most important tax havens for multinational corporations, according to how aggressively and how extensively each jurisdiction contributes to helping the world’s multinational enterprises escape paying tax, and erodes the tax revenues of other countries around the world. It also indicates how much each place contributes to a global ”race to the bottom” on corporate taxes. The top three tax havens were the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, which are either a British overseas territory or crown dependency. If Britain’s network were assessed together, it would be at the top. 

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Environmentalists killed 2018 by country and sector. Credit: Global Witness.

How governments and business silence land and environmental defenders

Enemies of the State: How governments and business silence land and environmental defenders Global Witness July 2019

Calls to protect the planet are growing louder – but around the world, those defending their land and our environment are being silenced. More than three such people were murdered on average every week in 2018, with attacks driven by destructive industries like mining, logging and agribusiness. This year, our annual report on the killings of land and environmental defenders also reveals how countless more people were threatened, arrested or thrown in jail for daring to oppose the governments or companies seeking to profit from their land. These are ordinary people trying to protect their homes and livelihoods, and standing up for the health of our planet. Often their land is violently grabbed to produce goods used and consumed across the world every day, from food, to mobile phones, to jewellery. Continue reading.

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Graphic. Environmentalists killed 2018 by country and sector. Credit: Global Witness.

Global Peace Index 2019

Vision of Humanity

The average level of global peacefulness improved very slightly in 2019, for the first time in five years, on the 2019 GPI. [However,] the average level of global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent since 2008. Over that period, 81 countries deteriorated in peacefulness, while 81 improved.

The global economic impact of violence improved for the first time since 2012, decreasing by 3.3 per cent or $475 billion from 2017 to 2018. The improvement in the global economic impact of violence is largely due to the decrease in the impact of Armed Conflict particularly in Iraq, Colombia and Ukraine, where the impact of Armed Conflict decreased by 29 per cent to $672 billion in 2017. The global economic impact of violence was $14.1 trillion PPP [ a measure of GDP which takes account of differences in the purchasing power of various currencies; see Wikipedia] in 2018, equivalent to 11.2 per cent of global GDP or $1,853 per person. Syria, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic incurred the largest economic cost of violence in 2018 as a percentage of their GDP, equivalent to 67, 47 and 42 per cent of GDP, respectively. In the ten countries most affected by violence, the average economic cost was equivalent to 35 per cent of GDP, compared to 3.3 per cent in the ten least affected.

The gap between the least and most peaceful countries continues to grow. Since 2008, the 25 least peaceful countries declined on average by 11 per cent, while the 25 most peaceful countries improved by 1.8 per cent on average. Conflict in the Middle East has been the key driver of the global deterioration in peacefulness. The indicator with the most widespread deterioration globally was the terrorism impact indicator. Just over 63 per cent of countries recorded increased levels of terrorist activity. However, the number of deaths from terrorism has been falling globally since 2014.

An estimated 971 million people live in areas with high or very high climate change exposure [where climate change issues such as water scarcity can increase the probability of conflict], . Of this number, 400 million (41 per cent) reside in countries with already low levels of peacefulness.

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