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Who’s Who

30. November 2022 - 0:00

Remunicipalisation in Catalonia: Strategies and Responses

30. November 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

In Catalonia, 81% of the population receives their water from private operators; this has a direct impact on water governance, which has been hijacked by the main private operator, Agbar, with the connivance of the public administration. Since 2010, there has been a slow but steady process of remunicipalisation, with 32 Catalan municipalities having regained public water management, 28 more in the process of doing so and 150 further concessions that have expired or will expire by 2030. At the same time, 20 citizens’ groups have been set up in municipalities and are struggling to regain public, democratic water management. This article describes the growing remunicipalisation process in Catalonia and the response of the transnational company that manages water.

The Right to Development?

28. November 2022 - 0:00

Demystifying Bretton Woods Institutions’ Rhetoric on Public Services

12. November 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

This article reviews Bretton Woods Institutions’ approach to public services, including during the recent COVID-19 crisis. Drawing on the specific case of IMF and World Bank’s response to the multiple crisis triggered by the pandemic, it shows that there is a discourse-practice disjuncture in the institutions approach to public services as they continue to favour austerity and market-oriented solutions for the delivery of public services. The article therefore seeks to demystify the Bretton Woods institutions rhetoric and demand the adoption of a different way of understanding public services, and social policy more broadly.

Development as Liberation

11. November 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

At a point in history where the worlds social and ecological boundaries are at a true testing point, this article presents some thoughts and questions around the tensions between reformist and revolutionary actions and ends in presenting dreaming as a tool towards emancipation. Through these thoughts, collective action is a central cog towards meaningful progress.

Tackling the ‘Planned Lack of Care’: Could a Right to Development Treaty Promote Universal Social Protection Systems?

8. November 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

The opportunity offered by the adoption of a Treaty on the Right to Development could relaunch aspirations of sovereignty, self-determination and cooperative solidarity, breaking with the structural inequalities among and within nations. The aim of this article is to mobilize political actors in favour of the Treaty as a stepping-stone to achieve universal social protection systems.

The Political Economy of Debt in Africa: Critical Propositions to Stop the Bleeding

5. November 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

This article conveys the critical elements of the keynote address delivered by the author at the opening session of the Second African Conference on Debt and Development (Lilongwe, Malawi). It presents four propositions to analyze and tackle the political economy of African external debt in the context of the socio-economic transformation of the continent. It claims that confronting, dismantling and reframing such political economies offer a level of difficulty that perhaps exceeds the challenges faced with respect to the attainment of political independence. The significant role of a collective African leadership in championing the evolution of an African financial architecture is emphasized.

Challenges to The Assumption That Economic Success Could Enhance State Legitimacy in Africa, Ten Years Later

1. November 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

Social upheavals are outbursts of latent political and socio-economic crises. A perennially dysfunctional state-society relationship is bound to lead to the disgruntlement of citizens and the alienation of the state from its societal base. It thus entails a legitimacy crisis. This article argues that even though economic growth is amongst factors determining the legitimacy of the state, it is by no means the major one. A political space that ensures participation by citizens, socio-economic policies which address inequality and injustice, as well as governance, transparency and accountability will be discussed as key factors determining state legitimacy. The article further argues that sustainable socio-economic development, as with state legitimacy, crucially depends on re-structuring the state-society relationship. It then concludes that state legitimacy in Africa can only be achieved by liberating the state from the grip of particular interests, such that it becomes accountable to its citizens; in other words, ‘making it owned by society’ so as to make it function in the best interests and the needs and aspirations of its citizens.

Young People’s Perspective on the Right to Development

28. Oktober 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

In an unusual intergenerational dialogue around the concept of development with a group of students at the Tor Vergata University in Rome, the need for embracing the variety of worldviews in detecting local needs and shaping appropriate solutions was recognized as a critical condition for ensuring sustainable development. The Right to Development is closely linked to our capacity to save the planet from the devastation produced by the economic system of globalization. Conversations that seek to reconcile lessons learned and ambitions held are necessary even as this transition takes place. Through such intergenerational exchanges, we could try to understand how best the aspirations of the next generations could be supported and achieved.

In Quest of the Right to Development: Prospects for an African Financial Architecture

28. Oktober 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

The African Financial Architecture holds the potential of enabling the countries of the continent to exercise their right to development. From helping to overcome a history of lop-sided dependence to providing a framework and primary resources for African countries to better master their development priorities, the proposed Architecture could become an important game changer in the African regional integration project, and the continent’s relationship with the international order. However, to fulfil its promise, and especially in order not to simply become a glorified clone of international financial institutions, it is imperative that the politics of a continental rebirth that underpinned the initial framing and adoption of the Architecture is urgently rediscovered and fully embraced. For, in the end, the quest to build an African Financial Architecture is primarily about reshuffling relations of power between Africa and the contemporary global economic order in order to enhance the prospects of continental socio-economic transformation.

The Future is Public! The Global Reclaiming and Democratization of Public Ownership Beyond the Market

27. Oktober 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

Faced with the convergence of economic, social, political and environmental crises, the importance of the public sector has been rediscovered on a global scale. The article offers a review of the evolution of political and academic debates on public ownership in general and public services provision in particular over the last decades, with emphasis on the energy sector. Taking as a temporal and analytical reference the research and advocacy work developed by the authors and other scholar-activists based at the Transnational Institute from 2006 to the present, the article summarizes the main issues currently in the spotlight and highlights gaps in knowledge and points of contention. It also suggests elements for future research and campaign agendas around public ownership in different regions of the world.

Decoloniality as the Only Pathway to the Right to Development in Latin America

15. Oktober 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

This article seeks to discuss the severe economic and social impacts caused in the region by the development model in place as well as proposals for transformation advanced by different Latin American social movements. This is not a scholarly article, but rather a set of reflections gained from extensive reading and years of political activism carried out in Brazil, in the region, and worldwide. Nor is this article exhaustive; rather it consists of ideas that may contribute to the debate surrounding the right to development.

Challenges and Potential to Revamp the Normative Framework on the Right to Development

16. September 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

The world is currently at an ebb for realizing the Right to Development. Weakening multilateralism, de-globalization, the COVID-19 pandemic and inertia to reform international governance are among the multitude of reasons for this phenomenon. However, the need for a better, more inclusive and greener recovery, and the efforts necessary to attain the 2030 Agenda have provided the international community an opportunity to reinvigorate its realization. This article reviews the international discourse on the Right to Development and provides recommendations on the way forward to revitalize its implementation at the 35th anniversary of the related Declaration.

The Structural Power of the State-Finance Nexus: Systemic Delinking for the Right to Development

14. September 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

The current era of financial hegemony is characterized by a dense financial actor concentration, an exacerbated reliance of many South countries on private credit and an internalized compliance of South states to financial market interests and priorities. This structural power of finance enacts itself through disciplinary mechanisms, such as credit ratings and economic surveillance, compelling many South states to respond to creditor interests at the expense of peoples’ needs. As a human rights paradigm, the Declaration on the Right to Development has the active potential to redress the structural power of finance and the distortion of the role of the state through upholding the creation of an enabling international environment for equitable and rights-based development on two levels of change. First, structural policy reforms in critical areas of debt, fiscal policy, tax, trade, capital flows and credit rating agencies. Second, systemic transformation through delinking as articulated by dependency theorist Samir Amin, which entails a reorientation of national development strategies away from the imperatives of globalization to that of economic, social, and ecological priorities and interests of people.

Re-regulating the Risk Premium to Realize the Right to Development

30. August 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

As parties to international treaties, States assume legal duties to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights, including the right to development. This position obliges States to act where flawed regulation leads to financial practices that are depleting public funds with no economic or legal justification. One example of flawed regulation is risk weighted pricing which has been introduced by the Basel Accords: due to risk premiums, some borrowers pay more than others for the same loans to protect lenders from the possible consequences of high-risk lending, even when all these borrowers end up fully repaying the loans. This approach ignores that paid instalments reduce the risk over time and that after full payment of the principal the default risk is reduced to zero. Moreover, the risk premium can be replaced by collateral which means that both are property pledged by the borrower to protect the lender in case of a default. Yet, interest rates and risk premiums of loans and bonds are not treated as prices and collateral, but as property of the lender. If the risk premium is not adjusted over time along with the real risk, regulation not only turns discriminatory but also permits lenders to keep this de-facto collateral, thus depriving State borrowers of their property and funds necessary for the realization of the right to development. Readjusting risk premiums as proposed in this article would, replace or complement the debt reliefs necessary to fulfil the States’ human rights obligations while preventing discrimination against sovereign debtors based on their property status.

Reflections on the Violence of Development

30. August 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

In my reflections of the 2004 Editorial I wrote with Smitu Kothari, I first look at what I consider to be the salient points of our original text. I then move onto underline what I think we need to be even more vigilant about today as we consider who has the ‘right’ to development.

IMF’s Surcharges as a Threat to the Right to Development

23. August 2022 - 0:00
Abstract

This article focuses on the implications of the IMF’s surcharges policies, jointly with its de facto preferred creditor status, on the right to sustainable development of sovereign borrowers. The article argues that, while surcharges are not effective in limiting access to IMF credit, they inequitably distribute the IMF’s operating costs, are disproportionate, pro-cyclical, very costly for developing countries, and non-transparent. Furthermore, if surcharges are theoretically a way to protect the IMF from potential risks of default, the article questions the IMF’s de facto preferred creditor status, as it precisely denies the possibility of granting debt relief in case of insolvency, ultimately affecting the right to development of —mainly— middle-income borrowing countries.