To: International Monetary Fund Executive Board of Directors
Re: IMF Managing Director’s response to the UN Human Rights Council Letter of Allegation concerning surcharge policy
As the world celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, countries are struggling to uphold those very rights in the face of multiple devastating global crises. We, the undersigned, are writing to call upon the IMF Executive Board to instruct the Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, to respond to the allegation letter regarding the IMF’s surcharge policy sent to her on 26 August 2022 under the communications procedure of the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The letter, which was sent by seven UN human rights mandate holders and two UN Human Rights Working Groups, including the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, detailed numerous concerns about the impact of the IMF’s surcharge policy on the human rights of citizens subject to it.
The present correspondence follows a series of letters and statements, each gaining additional support, culminating on 22nd November 2022 in a letter signed by 350 civil society organisations echoing the grave concerns expressed by the UN human rights experts. It also called for the Executive Board to end the counter-productive, harmful and unnecessary policy and to instruct the Managing Director to respond to the legitimate and well-founded concerns raised by the letter of allegation.
The lack of response to the letter and disregard for the human rights system is galling and must be immediately addressed. The unwillingness on the part of the Managing Director to explain the policy’s rationale and address the concerns raised by several UN human rights experts and Working Groups – concerns also documented and elaborated upon by other scholars and civil society organisations – makes a mockery of her 4 February 2022 statement in reply to the Independent Expert on debt and human rights that “IMF staff recognizes the importance of respect and support for human rights. In the discharge of its mandate the IMF contributes directly to the necessary preconditions for achieving human rights.”
If the above statement were true, surely the institution’s leader would be eager to put forth the case for the surcharge policy by demonstrating that the concerns raised by the Human Rights Council (and many others) are misguided or unsubstantiated. The unwillingness to respond substantively to the numerous and serious concerns raised by the UN mandate holders, among others, leads one to conclude that the Managing Director is unable to justify the policy and address the concerns about its human rights and other negative implications because there is indeed no justification for it.
On the 75th anniversary of the foundational text of the international human rights system, the Executive Board has an opportunity to uphold, rather than undermine, the fundamental and inviolable rights enshrined in the Declaration. It should immediately call upon the Managing Director to respond to the concerns of the UN Human Rights Council and put an end to the human rights-damaging surcharge policy.
We are thrilled to announce that SOMO is setting up a pro bono investigations unit to help activists counter corporate power!
The Counter, which will go live in a few months, will be a global ‘helpdesk’ offering corporate research and company data to activists working to hold companies that cause social harms and environmental destruction to account.
SOMO has been investigating companies and providing corporate research to environmental and human rights activists for decades, but thanks to a generous grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, we are now able to scale up our operations and set up The Counter.
SOMO’s corporate research starts with ‘following the money’, and at The Counter we will dig into corporate and capital structures, ownership and investors, operations, finances, and governance to help build a file with evidence that can be used in an investigation, court case, or campaign. Transparency, truth, justice, and remedy, is what we strive for at The Counter.
Roberta Cowan, Corporate Researcher at SOMO: “As someone who, for years, has been digging up company data and providing corporate research to communities and activists bravely challenging corporate abuses, I am excited about what we will be able to achieve with The Counter. I have seen first-hand how transparency, solid evidence, and a paper-trail can be radically disruptive when standing up to corporate giants.”
Years of unregulated corporate expansion, where multinationals set up subsidiaries and shell companies around the world to expand into new markets, dodge tax, lower costs, and undermine labour standards, has resulted in countless environmental catastrophes, abuses of workers’ rights, the deliberate obfuscation of supply chains, and widespread corporate impunity.
The Counter will not only dig up vital data and corporate information, it will advise and help strategize with activists, communities, lawyers, and journalists about using the data where it will be most effective, including in public campaigns, with regulators, in courtrooms, and in the media.
As you can tell, we are super excited about the potential of The Counter, and we hope you are too! Over the coming months we will be hiring the additional staff and developing the systems necessary to deliver an initiative of this scale. This will include a series of introductory webinars during 2023. You can stay connected as we roll out The Counter, by signing up here to receive regular updates.
For now, please help us get the word out by:
Forwarding this email to your colleagues and networks
SOMO has just published some important new research and an exciting story visualization with insightful infographics on the “battery boom” currently taking place around the globe. The story raises serious questions about the extent of mineral consumption, where these resources come from and, crucially, who consumes them. We hope the report helps influence the debate around the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) and encourages the reduction of mineral consumption by moving away from car dependency towards active and shared transport and fewer and smaller cars. We’ve put in a session proposal to the OECD on this for the upcoming OECD Responsible Minerals Forum.
24 January 2023 marks one year since Bach was handed a heavy 5 year prison term on spurious charges of ‘tax evasion.’ Bach is one of several civil society leaders in Vietnam who has been arrested in the last couple of years after working to transition the country off coal and protect communities from pollution and other public health hazards.
To raise Bach’s public profile and escalate the international call for his release, International Rivers have launched this website and social media campaign [www.standwithbach.org]. The website contains information about Bach and other environmental defenders recently jailed in Vietnam, calls on governments, UN agencies and others to demand his release, and provides simple ways for the public to take action in support of the #StandwithBach campaign.
We are asking supporters of the ‘Stand with Bach’ campaign to:
– Share campaign messages through your social media networks from now through the one-year anniversary of Bach’s sentencing on January 24. Please see our sample social media posts and downloadable video and images HERE.
– Encourage your networks and partners to also share the website and social media posts.