It may seem that, in the absence of explicit treaties, states have no legal obligations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, if emissions continue on their present trajectory, the harms they cause will reach catastrophic proportions, putting the human rights of billions of people in jeopardy. International human rights law is legally binding on states, which are, therefore, not free to continue business as usual. But how much do human rights and other sources of law require each state to do to reduce emissions, even in the absence of a specific treaty?
A group of legal experts from around the world has answered this question, producing the Oslo Principles which set out existing obligations regarding the climate, along with a detailed legal Commentary that draws on the best joint interpretation of international law, human rights law, national environmental law and tort law. These documents may help judges decide whether particular governments are in compliance with their legal obligations to address climate change. The principles may also serve many other purposes, for example they may strengthen the bargaining position of poor countries by pointing to far-reaching obligations of wealthy countries.
The Yale Global Justice Program, Global Financial Integrity, and Academics Stand Against Poverty invite submissions of original essays on illicit financial flows to the second annual Amartya Sen Prize Competition. Prizes are named in honor of Amartya Sen, whose work has shown how the rigor of economic thinking can be brought to bear on normative and practical questions of great human significance.
Symposion, a Romanian journal of philosophy and social sciences, has issued a call for papers for a special issue on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The guest editors for the volume are Yale Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs and Global Justice Program Director Thomas Pogge; Stefan Cibian, Visiting Professor of Political Science at Babes-Bolyai University and co-chair of ASAP Romania; and Ana-Maria Lebada, Advisor on the Post-2015 Agenda at the Permanent Mission of Romania to the UN. The deadline to submit manuscripts is June 1, 2015.
Global Justice Program Director Thomas Pogge is one of several authors of the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM), a new, gender-sensitive poverty metric. The IDM was designed to avoid gender biases built into other poverty measures and to define poverty according to the values and experiences of poor people. Pogge and fellow author Allison Jaggar argue that the IDM should quickly be incorporated into development practice.
Pogge and Jaggar first began imagining a new poverty metric when they discovered that the statistics used to demonstrate the feminization of poverty were not truly convincing and may reflect cultural and gender biases. They set out to design a non-arbitrary metric for poverty that could capture its gendered dimensions.
Scott Wisor, Sharon Bessell, Fatima Castillo, Joanne Crawford, Kieran Donaghue, Janet Hunt, and Amy Liu led the project alongside Jaggar and Pogge. They initiated research in Angola, Fiji, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Philippines, interviewing poor men and women about what defines poverty for them and what escaping poverty would entail. The people consulted lived in rural and urban communities, and were of different ages, ethnic groups, and religions.
Based on these consultations, the researchers were able to develop the IDM, which is a survey-based tool that measures deprivation in 15 dimensions of life: good, water, shelter, sanitation health care, education, energy/cooking fuel, family relationships, clothing/personal care, violence, family planning, the environment, voice in the community, time-use, and respect and freedom from risk and work.
According to the report, administering the survey is easy and less costly than other commonly used poverty metrics. It is appropriate for use by governments, development agencies, NGOs, and communities.
The IDM was piloted in the Philippines, where it was shown to yield significantly different results from the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index.
To read about the IDM, click here.
Concerns over extreme poverty and inequality have led to a number of proposals for the reform of global taxation policy. Such proposals are enjoying serious analysis and, in some cases, implementation. While issues concerning national taxation have long concerned philosophers—invoking core questions about the legitimacy of governments and their appropriate functions as well as about the nature of freedom, coercion, and property rights—issues of global taxation and international tax fairness have not received anything like the same attention. Through a special issue of the journal Moral Philosophy and Politics, co-editors Gillian Brock and Thomas Pogge aim to remedy such neglect, stimulating further interest especially among moral and political philosophers who we hope will be motivated to turn their attention to many of the important normative questions that deserve more sustained analysis.
To view the special issue on the De Gruyter website, click here.
Academics Stand Against Poverty has added significantly to its poverty and organizational expertise with the appointment of four new members to its Global Board of Directors, as well as communications and web officers.
Joining the Board are Helen Yanacopulos of the Open University in the United Kingdom as Fundraising Director, and Jason Hickel of the London School of Economics and Political Science as Membership Director. Miles Thompson of Canterbury Christ Church University will serve as Web Director; and Joy Gordon, who has contributed greatly to ASAP financial oversight since the organization’s inception in 2009-10, also will join the Board.
Ellen Szarleta of Indiana University Northwest has been appointed Global Communications Director, and Oskar MacGregor of the University of Skovde in Sweden will serve as Vice-Chair of a new ASAP Web Committee.The Board expansion and creation of officer positions is designed to help ASAP meet both its expanding remit and growth in membership. Directors and officers will be tasked with overseeing all aspects of operations in their designated areas, and with generating ideas and creating opportunities for ASAP members to become more directly involved.
As Fundraising Director, Yanacopulos will oversee specific campaigns and help develop ongoing support for ASAP activities. She is Senior Lecturer in International Politics and Development at the Open University in Milton Keynes, just north of London. She holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Cambridge, an MA in International Development from the University of East Anglia, and a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia.
Her areas of expertise include international NGOs, social movements, civil society networks, public engagement and media in development. She has been an academic consultant for the British Broadcasting Corporation on various International Development-related television series, and she is the editor for the Zed Books’ ‘Development Matters’ series. Her latest book, NGO Engagement, Activism and Advocacy will be published by Palgrave in 2015.
“One of the most powerful roles that academics can play is to critically engage wider publics, beyond students and other academics, around development, inequality and social justice,” Yanacopulos said. “ASAP is a unique organisation whose mission matches my own; it is an honor to be appointed to the ASAP Board!”
Hickel, as Membership Director, will lead efforts to develop member volunteer opportunities and enhance recruiting. He is Lecturer in Anthropology at LSE, and received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Virginia in 2011. His core research looks at how the moral values that underpin western liberalism are contested in South Africa. His forthcoming book, Democracy as Death: The Making of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa (University of California Press), explores why many migrant workers from rural Zululand regard certain liberal elements of “democracy” as morally repulsive and socially destructive.
Hickel’s work has been funded by Fulbright-Hays, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation. In addition to his academic research, he contributes to Al Jazeera, Le Monde Diplomatique, Global Policy, Monthly Review, The Africa Report and other online outlets. A recent Al Jazeera piece on the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ scheme can be viewed here.
“I am thrilled to be joining the ASAP Board,” Hickel said. “I’ve long admired what ASAP stands for, and I believe it has the potential to gain serious momentum in the coming years as a platform for academics to take a stand not only against poverty, but – even more importantly – against the ultimate drivers of poverty. This is particularly urgent in the wake of the recent financial crisis, which exposed the pathologies of an economic system that enriches a few at the expense of the world’s majority. People are beginning to seek alternatives to this system, and ASAP is perfectly poised to lead the conversation.”
Thompson is Senior Lecturer in Psychology and brings to the Web Director role several years’ experience in a similar role for the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science. Besides his academic work, Thompson continues to practice as a clinical psychologist. He earned his PhD in Psychology at Goldsmiths University of London, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Plymouth in the UK.
Thompson said that, although his academic training was not focused on poverty issues, “the mission of ASAP is very close to my heart and current research programme. I echo the idea that seems central to ASAP: that academics interested in helping to reduce global poverty can have most impact by collaborating across the disciplinary and hierarchical boundaries within academia. Also by collaborating across the boundaries that can exist between academic institutions and the outside world.”
Gordon is Professor of Philosophy at Fairfield University in Connecticut, USA. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University, and a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law, and she is a member of the bar in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She teaches courses in political philosophy, human rights, philosophy of law, international law, and ethics of war and peace, and she has published widely in academic outlets and large-circulation magazines, including The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, and Harper’s.
Szarleta serves as Director for the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana, just outside Chicago. She earned a PhD in Agricultural Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1995. Her courses include public health, environmental policy and law, and her academic publications have focused on issues related to environmental sustainability. She has a long record of funded research and collaborative activities.
Macgregor is Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience at Skovde, and an Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics and Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia. He completed his PhD at Swansea University in Wales, United Kingdom, in 2013, and he has published on issues in epidemiology and the ethics of sport. He brings to the Web Vice Chair post several years’ experience as website manager for the British Philosophy of Sport Association.
The appointments expand the ASAP Board from eight members to 12, working in seven countries. ASAP continues to interview for new officer roles, and further appointments are expected to be announced soon.
For more information, contact ASAP Vice President Luis Cabrera at firstname.lastname@example.org
An audience of more than 500 joined the conversation with political theorists and philosophers, development scholars, journalists, physical scientists and NGO practitioners at the launch conference for Nyaya: The Global Justice Programme at the University of Delhi http://www.nyaya.org/
The conference, “Global Justice and the Global South,” featured more than 40 presentations by researchers from around the world, including South Africa, Mexico, the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany and China. About half of those presenting were Indian academics, from the Delhi area and universities around the country.
The conference was organized by Academics Stand Against Poverty global Board of Directors Member Ashok Acharya, with assistance from ASAP President and Yale Global Justice Program Director Thomas Pogge and Board Member Luis Cabrera, as well as a large team of Delhi University volunteers.
“This was a fantastic opportunity to bring together a group of really sharp researchers on global justice from both North and South countries, and to focus on ways in which the disciplinary dialogue could be enriched by better incorporating the perspectives and knowledge of those working in South countries,” Cabrera said.
“Many participants had never visited India before, and the early feedback indicates that they have come away with a much better understanding not only of the daily challenges so many people face in large South cities such as Delhi, but also what a rich tradition of social justice theorizing and research there is in India. Hopefully we’ve started a fruitful, ongoing exchange amongst justice theorists and researchers in many countries.”
Keynote speakers at the opening session, April 25, included Pogge, who at his opening session offered recent figures on global poverty and shared new data for his argument that large poverty reductions publicized by the Millennium Development Goals campaign are mostly sleight of hand, achieved through changing methods of counting the poor in mid-stream.
Delhi University Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh then shared insights from his own study of Indian figures such as former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. He cautioned the audience to conceptualize global justice carefully, and proposed that they approach international moral issues from a standpoint firmly rooted in the local.
Journalist P. Sainath, author of the influential book Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India’s Poorest Districts, then offered a rousing, impassioned critique of political and economic trends in the country. He drew links between the liberalizing, freer-trade economic policies India has followed since the early 1990s and increasing inequality, farmer suicides and access to basic resources.
On Day 2, globally prominent biotechnolgist V. Sitaramam, retired of the University of Pune, offered detailed empirical evidence challenging rigid poverty lines and arguing for a more nuanced view of poverty that takes multiple variables into account. Prof. Brooke Ackerly of Vanderbilt University delivered the closing keynote on Day 3. She shared recent field work in Bangladesh and argued for a conception of human rights focused not on distribution of goods but on a relational approach. Until the rights of all persons are secured, Ackerly argued, none are.
The conference was supported by a grant from the British Council’s UKIERI programme and by the School of Open Learning at the University of Delhi. A number of conference participants will be contributing instructional videos for classroom use at the School of Open Learning, which serves students mostly from deprived backgrounds.
Future conferences and collaborations are in the planning stages. For details on those or other ways to contribute to the developing Nyaya Global Justice Programme, please contact Dr. Ashok Acharya at email@example.com.
The Global Justice Program hosted Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University for a special lecture, “Sustainable Development Goals: The Emerging Global Agenda.” Critical responses were given by Dr. Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale and President and Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action and Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs and Director of the Global Justice Program.
Dr. Sachs has been a leading figure in the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, an eight-point framework for promoting poverty alleviation and development worldwide, agreed to by all the world's countries and leading development institutions. The Millennium Development Goals will expire in 2015, and the framework that replaces them will shape poverty alleviation and development efforts for the next fifteen years. Dr. Sachs's is an important voice in the global debate over priorities for the next phase in international development.
Dr. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries.
Dr. Sachs serves as the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs is also one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011).
The Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) Takes the HIF One Step Further
As the global market for traditional medicine increases, several issues emerge regarding regulation and intellectual property protection. The Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), a think tank with the Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, has released a volume of research covering the applicability of the Health Impact Fund for traditional medicine. The volume examines the status of IP rights, trade and, regulation for traditional medicine and looks to the HIF as way to incentivize innovation, research and development in the sector, while enhancing access and affordability.
Access the volume, here.
Pogge Presents Report on Illicit Financial Flows and Poverty at IBA Conference
Global Justice Program Director Thomas Pogge and other members of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) Task Force on Illicit Financial Flows, Poverty and Human Rights presented a report on the links between tax abuse and human rights at the International Bar Association’s (IBA) annual conference on Wednesday, October 11 in Boston. The report concludes that state action that facilitates tax avoidance and evasion may amount to a violation of human rights.
According to the report, tax abuse—tax practices that go against the letter of intention of domestic or international tax law or policy—significantly contributes to human rights deprivations, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. The report provides a picture of tax abuse around the world and how it hinders the realization of human rights.
Using three case studies, the report distinguishes between legitimate tax planning and abusive tax practices. In an article posted on the IBA website, Thomas Pogge said “the fact that sophisticated tax planning strategies are technically legal is no longer a justification for their use. The impact of tax abuses, facilitated by secrecy jurisdictions, on global poverty is tremendous. The international community has not only a legal obligation but also a moral duty to ensure that states use the maximum resources available to fulfill the civil, political, economic and social rights of citizens.”
The report calls on stakeholders to take urgent action to curb tax abuse. While it calls upon states to implement higher standards for transparency in tax matters, it also asks businesses to assess the impact of their tax planning strategies upon the citizens in the countries where they are operating and lawyers to balance their commitment to serving their clients’ interest with the responsibility to uphold human rights.
The full report is now available on the IBA website.
To view a video of Thomas Pogge talking about the work of the IBAHRI Taskforce, click here.
By Mariana Ramírez Herrera and Rachel Payne
German Social Democrats endorse Health Impact Fund
The German Social Democrat Party has confirmed their support for the Health Impact Fund, as part of their strategy for global cooperation and development. One of the goals of their development platform is to ensure universal access to healthcare, starting with improving access to medical drugs and encouraging research into neglected and poverty-related diseases. The Health Impact Fund is brought up as an innovative solution to address these challenges by providing incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to provide new drugs for neglected diseases at low prices.
Pogge and the Health Impact Fund Featured in Just Health
The Geman news portal, Gerechte Gesundheit or Just Health, featured the Health Impact Fund in its August 15 newsletter. Lead by a distinguished group of academics and clinicians, Just Health reports on the distributional politics of healthcare around the world.
Titled “The Health of Others”, the article describes a lecture given by Thomas Pogge at the Berlin Institute for Christian Ethics and Policy. During the talk, Pogge made the case for implementing his Health Impact Fund proposal. He justified the Fund by pointing out that numerous international rules and regulations have been built around the interests of affluent countries and global elites and undermine the interests of poor people. People living in affluent countries, as beneficiaries of these arrangements, have a duty to mitigate the harms inflicted upon the poor. The TRIPS Agreement, which requires WTO members to grant 20-year patent protection to new medicines and other innovations, inflicts serious harm. By blocking the manufacture of generic versions of new medicines, TRIPS makes these treatments too expensive for the majority of the world’s population.
The Health Impact Fund, Pogge said, could minimize the damage caused by the TRIPS Agreement, by offering pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to be rewarded for new medicines on the basis of health impact, rather than through high, patent-protected prices. By registering with the Health Impact Fund, these companies would commit themselves to distributing their new medicine at the cost of production globally, while receiving payment from a global fund, on the basis of the impact of the product on global health.
To learn more about the Health Impact Fund, visit healthimpactfund.com.
Pogge's Proposal for MDG Successors Deatured in The Guardian
Global Justice Program Director Thomas Pogge has an original prescription for the post-MDG agenda, according to The Guardian.
Pogge argues that the post-2015 global development framework must be fundamentally different than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) it is replacing. According to Mark Tran’s post on The Guardian’s development blog, Poverty Matters, Pogge sees two major failings in the MDGs: lack of ambition and lack of accountability for developed countries. With the MDGs, deeply unambitious poverty alleviation goals were masked by shifting methodology for poverty measurement. The framework also failed to put clear demands on developed countries to contribute to poverty alleviation. MDG 8, the only goal that applies to the developed world, is entirely devoid of measurable targets.
Pogge argues that the persistence of poverty can to a large extent be attributed to global practices, like trade protectionism, corporate tax dodging, and arms export, that can only be stopped by developing countries. In his view, a truly effective post-MDG agenda must target these practices through global reform goals, coupled with precise and consistent goals and indicators for poverty alleviation.
To read the full post on Poverty Matters, click here.
Scholars and Policy Makers Examine Poverty’s “Structural Roots” at Yale Conference
The Structural Roots of Poverty: Theory Meets Practice, the fourth annual conference co-hosted by the Global Justice Program and Global Financial Integrity, took place February 14-16, 2013 in Yale’s Connecticut Hall.
The conference commenced on the morning of Thursday, February 14, with opening remarks from Thomas Pogge (Yale University) and a panel discussion on tax policy, which featured Reuven Avi-Yonah (University of Michigan) and Dan Reeves (formerly IRS) and was moderated by Anne Alstott (Yale University). Very regrettably, Stephen Cohen (Georgetown University) could not attend and participate in Thursday's tax panel. Unforeseen circumstances kept him in Washington, D.C. However, he graciously sent his remarks to be read for him by Professor Alstott. Following the panel, Leonard McCarthy (World Bank) gave an address. The afternoon session opened with a panel on financial transparency, which featured Monica Bhatia (OECD), Jack Blum (Tax Justice Network USA), and Corinna Gilfillan (Global Witness), and was moderated by Tom Cardamone (Global Financial Integrity). Daniel Kaufmann (Revenue Watch) gave an address, and Raymond Baker (Global Financial Integrity) gave closing remarks.
Friday, February 15, featured discussion of priorities for development after 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals expire. Gilad Tanay (Academics Stand Against Poverty) provided opening remarks and moderated the first panel, which focused on governance and global institutional reform and featured Thomas Pogge (Yale University), Ignacio Saiz (Center for Economic and Social Rights), Atul Singh (Fair Observer), and Sam Worthington (InterAction). James Fishkin gave a midday address, and the day concluded with a panel discussion on the relationship between the post-Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. This panel featured Bernadette Fischler (CAFOD) and Maria Ivanova (University of Massachusetts Boston) and was moderated by Mitu Sengupta (Ryerson University). Unfortunately, Wael Hmaidan (Climate Action Network International) was not able to attend the conference and participate in this discussion.
Saturday, February 16, was broken into two sessions, one focusing on global health and the other on climate change. The health session featured freestanding presentations from Amrita Palriwala (Open Society Institute), Thomas Pogge (Yale University), John-Arne Røttingen, and Mel Spigelman (TB Alliance) and was moderated by Zorka Milin (Yale University). Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University) gave the keynote address, which focused on the post-2015 development agenda. The afternoon session, devoted to climate justice, featured Michael Gerrard (Columbia University), Tony Huydecoper (formerly Supreme Court of the Netherlands) Sébastien Jodoin (One Justice Project), Paul Joffe (World Resources Institute), and Jaap Spier (Supreme Court of the Netherlands), and moderated by Michael Dorsey (Wesleyan University). Thomas Pogge gave closing remarks, which focused on the overarching theme of strengthening global governance to combat poverty.
Several projects supported by the Global Justice Program were discussed during the conference. Academics Stand Against Poverty’s campaign to influence the successors to the Millennium Development Goals was discussed on Friday, and challenges and opportunities for piloting the Health Impact Fund were discussed by panelists and audience members on Saturday during the global health session.
PowerPoint presentations and video footage from the conference will soon be available on this site and at www.academicsstand.org.
The event was made possible through the generous support of the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, administered by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, the MacMillan Center’s Global Justice Program, Global Financial Integrity, the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty at the University of Bergen, Academics Stand Against Poverty, Incentives for Global Health, and by the Orville H. Schell, Jr.
Center for International Human Rights Law at Yale Law School.
Students and Scholars Gather to Honor Rawls's Work and Life
The event that for the last few months we have been calling "Rawls Fest" took place last Friday, November 30, 2012, in the Faculty Room of Yale's Connecticut Hall. This one-day workshop was held in honor of the 10th anniversary of John Rawls' passing (November 24, 2002). more...
Krishen Mehta of GFI Speaks to Global Justice Fellows
Krishen Mehta, Co-Chairman of the Advisory Board of Global Financial Integrity at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC (http://www.gfintegrity.org/), and former partner with PwC recently shared his insights on the relationship between global taxation and social justice. In a fast-paced talk, Mehta outlined the problem of developing countries’ illicit capital outflows, which exceed by far inflows of foreign aid. He also drew on his long professional experience to explain the issues of tax havens, trade mispricing and tax evasion. Mehta then shared a multitude of reform proposals ranging from strategies to reign in tax havens, a global corporate minimum tax, improved banking and accounting regulations (e.g. country-by-country reporting) and a global financial transaction tax. These proposals were energetically discussed in the Q&A with seminar participants afterwards.
Health Impact Fund praised in NYTimes Op-ed on Drug Resistance
The Health Impact Fund was mentioned in a New York Times op-ed as having the potential to limit the growth of drug resistance. Carl F. Nathan, the chairman of the department of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College and author of the opinion piece, writes that growing drug resistance and a dwindling supply of antibiotics pose a grave threat to the practice of medicine. According to Nathan, innovation in antibiotics is lagging because they much less profitable for pharmaceutical companies than are medicines to treat widespread chronic diseases. However, with the creation of an intergovernmental fund for drug innovation, like the Health Impact Fund, companies could make new antibiotics widely available at a low price and be rewarded on the basis of their health impact, rather than relying on patent protection and large markups to make a profit. Creating incentives for developing new antibiotics and making widely accessible is essential to managing bacterial disease, according to Nathan.
The entire op-ed is available here.