The month kicked off with the 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control in Geneva. In the weeks prior to the Conference, there was a lot of talk about the WHO’s lack of transparency and anti-democratic stance in banning individuals and organizations who did not agree with their prohibitionist agenda from attending the conference as observers. Despite an arbitrary and complicated registration procedure for anyone wishing to attend, IGOWatch was still able to be accredited as neutral observers and were looking forward to attending and reporting on the outcome of this vitally important meeting.

To our disbelief, during the first main plenary session of the COP8, delegates elected to ban all the media and members of the public from attending or even observing any of the Conference sessions! It was just bizarre to see the majority of the Conference delegates lauding this decision, while simultaneously expressing their dedication to the democratic principles of openness and transparency.

Shutting out any opposing opinion, and completely disregarding the scientific data in the areas of alternatives to smoking and harm reduction, with prohibitionist delegates and NGOs running the entire show, the COP8 became just an echo chamber for personal agendas and misinformation in one of the most undemocratic and anti-scientific displays of power and ignorance. All the while funded by our taxes…

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which works under the auspices of the United Nations, published a large report as a conclusion of their 48th international session in Incheon, South Korea. Widely described as the most “politically charged” document in the history of the IPCC, envisioning catastrophic environmental and climate outcomes, the report proposes, among other things, massive rises in carbon taxes worldwide, huge investments in renewable energy, changes in global dieting habits, with proposed replacement of meat with plant-based proteins, global economic degrowth, and the provision of billions of dollars of investments as help for the developing nations.

The recommendations are shaping an anti-consumer narrative that almost a total reduction in meat consumption is essential for the fight against climate change.  This is not only unfounded and dangerously wrong, but taxing meat can have serious negative implication for the underprivileged who need affordable sources of protein.

The election of new member states of the UN Human Rights Council also took place in October, electing the likes of Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, The Philippines and Somalia, countries with long traditions of egregious violations of human rights. Adding them to the mix of human-right loving members like China and Saudi Arabia, the UNHRC indulges the very culture of impunity it is supposed to combat, and brings the credibility of the entire United Nations into question.

The ongoing debate about the European Commission’s proposals on a uniform tax on digital services has still a long way to go before a consensus is reached. Although designed to target a small part of the economy, the envisioned digital tax could have a major impact on a broad set of businesses. Here is a summary of the criticism and the main points main points of the proposed EU Digital Tax from our friends at the US Based Tax Foundation.

That’s not the only action we’ve seen in Europe that will hurt innovative digital technologies. The European Union simply doesn’t understand how Android actually works. Because of new rules caused by this distorted view on how Google requires Android phone manufacturers to bundle their apps, Google will start requiring manufactures to pay additional fees, which will have a negative, global effect as these are passed onto consumers not just in Europe, but across the globe. Effectively, these new regulations make Google a victim of their own success, with the new rules only ending up hurting the consumers in the long run.

This is probably the first time you heard about the Universal Postal Union, but the latest decision of the United States of America to potentially withdraw from the UPU treaties shines a new light on one of the oldest international organizations.The Universal Postal Union, which made international mail system possible, sets technical and security standards that both post offices and private companies use globally. The UPU also oversees rates and fees for mailing packages and letters internationally, which is the main point of dispute for the US administration, as the current rates system is described as “unfair”.

UN Women, a UN agency responsible for “empowering women” is itself in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal, with one of its senior official, Ravi Karkara, found guilty of sexual transgressions against an unspecified number of men after a 15-month internal investigation. This story shines a new light on the UN’s lack of uniform standards and mechanisms to deal with allegations of sexual abuse against its members which we’ve seen in many UN Agencies. What becomes the standard for cases such as this is showing a tendency for “a systemic protection of alleged perpetrators at the expense of victims”.

On a more positive note, David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, spoke about IGOWatch at a recent regional meeting of the World Taxpayers Associations, which represents taxpayer groups from all over the world. It was particularly inspiring to hear the amazing work so many groups are working on, and we are delighted that the Instituto Fernando De La Mora will be joining IGOWatch as another regional partner!

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We’re always looking for regional coordinators from countries around the world to help us distribute information on social media, write blog posts and op-eds, and provide us with on-the-ground information from their region.
If you have any tips about stories, or would like to become a regional coordinator, please send us an email at info@igowatch.org !

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Until Next Month,

IGOWatch Team