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Empowering Global South Perspectives: Recommendations for UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation

On 15 March 2024, the Global South Project coordinators submitted a 2000-word written input to the Ad Hoc Committee to Draft Terms of Reference for a United Nations Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation, aiming to address the question: “What are some specific problems that could be addressed by a UN framework convention on international tax cooperation?”

Fixing a Broken Tax System

The written input covered five substantive issues and two procedural proposals, arguing that a UN Tax Convention should:

  • Fundamentally reform the way multinationals are taxed, moving towards a unitary system where companies are taxed on their global profits
  • Give most of the taxing rights on companies’ global profits to jurisdictions where real economic activity takes place – especially for the extractives sector, as this kind of economic activity comes with major costs for workers and communities in these areas
  • End the tax ‘race to the bottom’ by putting in place a global minimum tax of 30%
  • Create greater transparency over large companies’ financial and tax information through strong frameworks for the sharing of tax, financial, and ownership information – including public access provisions
  • Align with climate justice goals by giving Global South countries sufficient revenue to pursue meaningful and sustainable economic development while still meeting climate objectives
  • Allow for the participation of trade unions, civil society and community organisations in the negotiations of the UN Tax Convention.
  • Adopt democratic and transparent ways of working in the rules and procedures of the UN Tax Convention.

Towards a UN Tax Convention

The Ad Hoc Committee was established following a landmark UN General Assembly vote in 2023, which called for the establishment of a UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation. The task of the Committee is to establish the Terms of Reference for the forthcoming Convention by August 2024. This represents a great step forward for Global South countries, who have for years been calling for a United Nations-led alternative to the OECD-led tax reform process.

A UN tax body will face a great deal of diplomatic and technical problems, much like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, the United Nations’s procedures and ways of working are fundamentally more democratic, more transparent, and more inclusive of developing or Global South countries’ perspectives when compared to the OECD. For more information, see this report produced by the Global South Project in 2022.

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