By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sees the Addis Abeba Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3) as “critical step forward”. He adds, “The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalised global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind”.
Not everyone is so persuaded as he seems or pretends to be. This is seen on the morrow of the AAAA adoption in which the torrent of ‘not so is our understanding of what happened’ that blew in his direction, mostly from international civil society organizations.
Not the members of the Group of 77 and China were entirely satisfied either. They only took home their somewhat successful defense of the core principles they hold dear, as their spokesman indicated in his statement at the closing of the conference – without even touching on substantive issues. G-77 and China spokesman Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo underlined that his members are also disappointed because of the principles not accommodated in the Addis Abeba outcome document.
He, therefore, outlined the principles not agreed to and pointed out that the Group looked forward to working on with others in future on those principles that enumerated as follows:
“* The explicit reaffirmation of the key Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) in the context of the global partnership for development. This Principle remains relevant and valid and, indeed, is the basis for all international cooperation on sustainable development. An unequivocal affirmation of this Principle in the outcome document of the Post-2015 Development Agenda is a non-negotiable for the Group;
* The need to maintain the integrity of the FfD3 and post-2015 development agenda processes as separate negotiation tracks, while acknowledging the need for stronger synergies between them;
* The need for development partners to meet current commitments and to upscale ODA, with biding timetables, including the reaffirmation that ODA is still the main source of development assistance;
* The need to address the diverse and specific development needs of Middle-Income Countries in a coordinated manner through the establishment of a United Nations plan of action towards that end that considers, inter alia, the multidimensional nature of development and poverty;
* The need to fully upgrade the Tax Committee into an intergovernmental body;
* The need to make an explicit reference to countries and people living under foreign occupation;
* The need to explicitly address the issue of lifting and terminating coercive measures, including unilateral economic sanctions;
* References to fossil fuel subsidies and to carbon pricing that could prejudge the outcome of the ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations; and,
* The need to explicitly address the fact that climate financing is new and additional to and cannot be counted as ODA, nor can it be mixed with traditional development finance.”
In a similar manner and out of a profound sense of frustration, CIVICUS Secretary-General Danny Sriskandarajah referred to the consensus reached and the entire process as one wehre civil society “saw a further sign that we are at the beginning of the end of the post-World War II (WWII) development world order.”
Focussining on poverty and exclulsion, Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima observed:
“Today, one in seven people live in poverty and Addis was a once in a decade chance to find the resources needed to end this scandal. But the Addis Action Agenda has allowed aid commitments to dry up, and has merely handed over development to the private sector without adequate safeguards.
Developing countries held firm in Addis on the need to set up an intergovernmental tax body that would give them an equal say in how the global rules on taxation are designed. Instead they are returning home with a weak compromise meaning rigged rules and tax avoidance will continue to rob the world’s poorest people….. But it is just not logical to ask developing countries to raise more of their own resources without also reforming the global tax system that prevents them doing this.”
Not few are the civil societies that thus described FFD3 as a product endorsing “a low bar for business”, one that ‘preserves the status quo‘ and indeed where international action was ‘frozen in diplomacy‘, a place and time where the North was allowd to ‘shy away from global collaboration on tax.’
As Sabine Terlecki put it in her The Addis Ababa Action Agenda: Fit for Purpose?, in real terms what this means is that developing countries “citizens will remain unable to know how much multinational corporations pay in taxes or where they make their profits.”
In the wake of the conference and especially aware of the frustrations of civil society organizations, Ethiopia’s foreign minister Tedros Adhanom reacted to civil societies grave disappointments especially about what they called the ‘missed opportunities in Addis Abeba. He claimed, “we have seen them [civil society] lobbying in the corridors and the issues they raised were quite important…” But their “criticism was highly inconsiderate of the negotiations landscape and how difficult it is to find a document that is fully agreed upon by 193 UN member countries.”
The sum of all these says that not all delegations of states members of the United Nations to the FFD3 and civil societies are not truly satisfied. True, if it could be considered a success, the North having successfully pushed back any new proposals and ideas, including fully blocking the desire of developing countries to stop the illegal outflow of funds that have been bleeding them white, it may claim here its success.
For many other delegations, however, the efforts to find redress at the conference to the problems of unequal development and injustices of non-inclusive growth, including in the host country of the conference itself, has gone without any appreciable notice or a finger willing and ready to tackle it headlong at some point.
For the host country, the singular preoccupation rather was not the substantive issues: While a United Nations process, the TPLF regime was resolved that in its watch those negotiations must end with a consensus, for that matter at any cost! What has eluded the officials, if at all they had ever asked themselves the question, is what good it would do to have ‘an action plan without much action’.
If Ethiopian officials’ efforts were of any consequence to the delivery of what they call international consensus, as they seem to claim especially on TPLF pages, the AAAA may only signify a divided international development community. It is clear that its expectations must await another round and a better international political and economic milieu to engage in search of international financing for financing development
In the meantime, let us hope that international finance would rethink to serve broader societal interests through the production of real goods and services, instead of the build up of fast money and stocks – the mirage of wealth – the true cause of all societal ills international conferences try in vain to redress!