Welcome to the IGO Watch Monthly Newsletter for September
It was a busy September for IGO Watch as this month marked the opening of the 75th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, which convened virtually for the first time in the organization’s history. This annual multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded event includes not only hundreds of meetings, sessions, and proceedings, but, more importantly, it is the place where the UN gets to decide how much contributions will each member state’s taxpayers are forced to give to the organization. This year’s General Assembly will not be as accessible due to the virtual nature of the event, but IGO Watch will be closely following the event proceedings and will continue to report on all major activities and decisions.
A Sad Anniversary
As the UN marked its 75th birthday with the opening of the annual General Assembly meeting, the world body has never seemed less involved and relevant, not just in tackling COVID-19, but in world affairs in general. In terms of peace and security, the UN’s record has been nothing short of abysmal, falling far short of its goals to “maintain international peace and security.” “develop friendly relations among nations” and “achieve international cooperation in solving international problems.” The UN Security Council, the most important body within the UN system, has made itself largely irrelevant in major global issues. The influence of the Chinese government in the UN system is rampant, just recently illustrated in the Chinese mission’s refusal to acknowledge the UN human rights experts’ open letter about the escalating violence and human rights abuses in Hong Kong. They went as far as designing their own blueprint for the future of the UN. Coupled with the fact that China’s assessed contributions to the world body are now second only to those of the United States, it’s no wonder that we are not seeing a united front against the responsible culprits of the coronavirus pandemic. But if it were up to the UN officials to lay the blame for the conditions the world has found itself this year, the answer would be simple – the coronavirus pandemic is nothing but a consequence of ”millennia of patriarchy.”
Zero Tolerance Policy
It is estimated that the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) amounts to a $62 million loss for the WHO. The global health agency was supposed to receive $120 million in fiscal year 2020 from the US, but the WHO officials collected just $58 million before the president froze the funding as a response to false information by WHO leaders about China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. With a serious hole in the budget, the WHO turned to doing what it does best – securing funds from the Chinese Communist Party, which immediately led to a new shower of praise for their handling of the epidemic. And if anyone had any hope in the WHO having any chance of actual reform, a new WHO scandal is sure to crush it completely: more than 50 women have accused aid workers from the WHO and leading NGOs of sexual exploitation and abuse during efforts to fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But, do not worry. The WHO assured us they have a “zero tolerance policy” towards abuse, and that they are definitely looking into this. Of course, nothing has been done so far. Sounds familiar?
Meanwhile, the WHO continues to spread misinformation about reduced-risk tobacco alternatives, this time promoting a debunked and retracted “study” which claimed an association between vaping and heart attacks, not disclosing that the heart attacks occurred before people took up vaping. Of course, when you realize that the Chinese Communist Party’s China Tobacco is the world’s biggest manufacturer of cigarettes, the WHO’s campaign against the world’s most effective quit-smoking aid becomes a lot more understandable.
The Tax Police
When it comes to the European Union (EU), it is pretty obvious what the news is going to be about more ways to squeeze taxpayer funds and more taxes to punishing businesses for daring to be successful. The voices calling for the implementation of an EU-wide digital tax have became louder with the EU president Ursula von der Leyen having confirmed the plans to impose a digital tax sometime in the coming year, regardless of a global agreement on this issue among countries. It is evident that the EU wants to arm itself with new powers to control big technology companies, possibly forcing tech giants to break up or sell some of their European operations if their market dominance is deemed to “threaten the interests of customers and smaller rivals.” Unfortunately, taxing these platforms would lead to price hikes for countless citizens, companies and entrepreneurs across the EU, and make the internet a far more limited, expensive experience for ordinary citizens.
Digital taxes are not the only option EU bureaucrats are exploring to fill the massive 750 billion euro hole in the budget so they can maintain their lavish lifestyles. Other tax hikes may include a tax on unrecycled plastic and on goods imported into the EU from countries with less ambitious climate-change fighting standards, as well as extending the CO2 emissions trading scheme into the maritime and aviation sectors.
Partner Spotlight: Contribuyentes por Respeto
Contribuyentes por Respeto (Taxpayers for Respect) is an independent citizen organization that promotes better public decision-making following the principles of individual freedom (political and economic), non-aggression, efficient government, and rule of law. They are a taxpayer organization that encourages civil society to take action and demand changes to bad public policy in Peru
See Something? Say Something!
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 regions. If you have any tips about stories, or would like to become a regional coordinator, please send us an email!
Until next month,
IGO Watch Team