New bill on CSR puts government house in order
This month Liberal MP John McKay introduced a private members’ bill (see Just the Facts) that imposes tighter controls on the provision of government support to Canadian extractive companies. Numerous studies have highlighted the significant environmental and human rights impacts of oil, gas and mining operations overseas. In 2005, a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) drew attention to the fact that some Canadian extractive companies, which are responsible for adverse impacts, receive financial and political support from the Canadian government.
New bill on CSR puts government house in order
Europe looking to lead on response to financial crisis
A warning against US (and Canadian?) opposition to a new international architecture of institutions and tighter regulations to manage a more “moral” form of global capitalism, a flexible Economic Council within the United Nations, and an economic sustainability charter that establishes the rules for global financial governance, were three of the key themes raised by German Chancellor Angela Merckel and French President Sarkozy at a high-level symposium hosted by Sarkozy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Paris this month.
Financial crisis a boon for ECAs
While hefty public bailouts of the financial and auto industries have stimulated debate on the role of governments in commercial markets, one form of government subsidy has flown beneath the proverbial radar: export credit. Confronted by an increasingly dire financial crisis, Western governments are using their export credit agencies (ECAs) to boost liquidity and rescue faltering industries. At an extraordinary World Trade Organization meeting last month, participating governments reported a 30% increase in ECA business over the previous 12 months. The WTO called for even greater reliance on public credit to lessen the burden on commercial banks. Shortly afterwards, the OECD announced an agreement with non-members, including Russia and Brazil, to provide markets with publicly-sourced export credit.
G-20 Summit – financial response to a development crisis
With the global economy continuing its downward spiral, ambitions for the first Group of 20 (G-20) “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” in Washington were sky high. In contrast, expectations in terms of concrete outcomes, with diverging opinions on key issues going into the meeting and a pretender at the throne in DC, couldn’t have been lower.
IMF back in business, but still politically bankrupt
Even before US President George Bush announced plans for next month’s G-20 Summit on the financial crisis (see “Just the Facts”), International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Strauss Khan has been pushing for the IMF to be front and center in addressing the crisis. In a complete about-face from one year ago, Strauss Khan now sees the IMF not just fighting fires through new flexible emergency loan arrangements to address food, fuel and finance crises, but as a “global regulatory coordinator” or world central bank.
Bank pulls out of disastrous Chad-Cameroon pipeline
In early September, in a rare move, the World Bank pulled out of the $4.2 billion Chad-Cameroon pipeline due to ongoing tensions with Chad over oil profits the government had promised to spend on social programs. The exit was finalized when Chad prepaid the outstanding $65.7 m balance of its $140 m loan.
Déja vu on preferred options for Bank governance reform
Despite internal and external criticism about the superficial nature of governance reforms recently concluded at the IMF (see IU April and June 2008), the World Bank looks set to follow suit at the October Annual meetings with a series of disappointing proposals for increasing the voice of developing and transition countries (DTC) at the Bank.
Business and human rights - protect, respect and remedy
Last month, members of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the policy framework identified in April by John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on human rights and transnational corporations. The Council also extended Mr. Ruggie’s mandate for three years.
EDC in the spotlight – beyond responsible to accountable
A statutorily-mandated review of the Export Development Act, the legislation that governs operations at Export Development Canada (EDC), is currently being conducted by the Minister of International Trade (see Just the Facts).
NGOs applaud adoption of “better aid bill”
Two and a half years after it was first introduced, and after a tense year sitting in the Senate for its final reading, Bill C-293 or the “better aid bill” was finally unanimously approved in Parliament on May 9 to loud NGO approval. It received royal assent yesterday, May 29, which now makes it law.