Roberto Bissio is the coordinator of Social Watch, an international network of citizens’ organisations reporting on how governments and international organisations implement their commitments on poverty eradication and gender equality. Here, he talks to Equal Times about this crucial moment in the development world.
The President of the UN General Assembly’s convened the Interactive Dialogue “Elements for a Monitoring and Accountability Framework for the Post-2015 Development Agenda” that was held on May 1, 2014 in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The outcome of the event will provide an additional input into the report mandated to the Secretary-General to synthesize all inputs available by the end of 2014.
Roberto Bissio, Third World Institute's Executive Director, who participated in the panel highlighted that accountability is only meaningful if the powerful can be brought into account. We firmly believe that it is up to citizens to hold their own governments accountable. Corporations have to be made accountable not only to their owners and consumers but to their workers and to the people that are affected by their operations. Corporate accountability requires rules set by governments, respect for human rights and environmental due diligence as well as reporting, ensuring access by those negatively affected to an effective remedy, tax transparency; proper land appropriation rules, etc.
The increased influence of corporations over the UN development agenda was highlighted by several civil society organizations last April 8 in New York. During a side-event at the Church Center, (see the video here) different worrying trends were highlighted: the redefinition of ODA that will put more public funds in the hands of corporations, the lack of accountability of the different associations between corporations and UN agencies and the privileged access that big corporate players may be getting over international norm-setting. At the General Assembly hearing on partnerships, Roberto Bissio denounced how information access is being made more restrictive under corporate pressure. Brazilian Ambassador Guilherme Patriota condemned the "outsourcing of development responsibilities" and announced his country opposition to the UN Partnership Facility proposed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (see the video here).
Uruguayan ministers at the
Social Watch meeting.
Photo: Wolfgang Obenland.
Alternatives to austerity programs do exist, conclude civil society organizations and networks from around the world that met in Montevideo, convened by Social Watch to discuss strategies to face the multiple global crises. In the opening of our debates, the Uruguayan ministers of Interior, Eduardo Bonomi, of Labour, José Bayardi, and of Social Development, Daniel Olesker explained the way in which they managed to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequalities and grow at the same time. See the video here. (To see the English subtitles, press on the CC at the bottom right of the video).
Uruguayan president José Mujica.
Uruguayan president José Mujica meets with international civil society during a "strategy meeting" organized by Social Watch and demand action from the powerful governments of the world. February 2014, Montevideo.