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Key concerns of public service workers addressed to UNCTAD14 conference

20 July 2016
At UNCTAD14 in Nairobi, Kenya, PSI submitted our position paper and saw our key concerns included in the Civil Society declaration to the conference.
The statement addresses the inherent inequalities in the global trade rules which are not written in the interests of inclusive development.
PSI also held a special event: "Mission Impossible: development without public services" to launch our most recent research paper titled "PPPs and the SDGs: don't believe the hype."

The event was well attended with participants discussing worrying attempts to bring the privatization agenda into development discussions as well as the vital role of UNCTAD in emphasizing the importance of universal public services in achieving inclusive development.

PSI's key issues at UNCTAD14 have been:
- The vital role of universal, quality public services in achieving the SDGs and the Agenda2030
- The failure of privatization and PPPs to ensure inclusive development
- Implementing Tax Justice to fund public services
- Placing policy space ahead of trade agreements
- Safeguarding the vital role of the developmental state as the main driver of development
PSI called on UNCTAD to resist attempts by special interests to turn the organisation into yet another privatization cheer leader and trade agreement enforcer. UNCTAD's unique perspective, which examines trade through a development lens, should not be undermined.

PSI's delegation actively participated in the CSO forum. We are very pleased to see the key concerns of public service workers in developing countries and across the world addressed in the UNCTAD CSO declaration, which warns against privatization, highlights the need for tax justice and places policy space and the development state ahead of restrictive trade agreements.

Some key excerpts which PSI and our allies managed to include in the CSO declaration are:
"The UNCTAD XIV outcome document must give full support to the UNCTAD mandate on curbing tax evasion and avoidance"

"UNCTAD should be involved in monitoring the role of the private sector, particularly foreign investors and their impacts (both positive and negative) on mobilization of domestic resources"

"In particular, we strongly caution about support and promotion of public–private partnerships"

"There is a lack of proof that public–private partnerships are actually delivering positive economic, social and environmental outcomes"

"The current economic model of trade and investment has created a permissive environment for business to make use of governance gaps, for instance the weak rule of law in many countries, in order to exploit cheap labour opportunities"

"UNCTAD must support African countries to...address the negative effects of the imbalances of the international trade regime"

"...the rules must be fair and balanced, taking into account the various levels of development across the United Nations membership, rather than focused on trade liberalization or simply increasing trade flows"

"Yet we are concerned that UNCTAD may be transformed into solely an implementation mechanism for trade agreements concluded elsewhere."

"Trade and investment agreements do not support development without the right policy environment, which necessitates policy space, an effective and developmental state able to sustain its own resource base responsible for safeguarding people’s human rights, gender equality and a more coherent, inclusive and representative global architecture for sustainable development."
Now we will be working to ensure that leaders meeting at UNCTAD listen to the concerns and demands of unions and civil society.

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