The blog explained why it is important to interrogate the way governments raise resources, as well as how they spend them, from a human rights perspective. It also outlined tools that can be used to do so. These include a human rights audit developed by CWGL; illustrative indicators identified by CESR; an example of how to use human rights arguments to advocate for progressive taxes from Fundar; and the Open Budget Index produced by IBP. Finally, it highlighted some key challenges associated with monitoring tax policy and suggested ways of overcoming them.
The discussion that followed zoomed in on a number of themes from the blog. The first reinforced the importance of having rigorous methodologies for analyzing tax policy. An additional resource was shared: a recent study by Global Financial Integrity using innovative methodologies and indicators to show strong correlations between higher illicit financial outflows and higher levels of poverty and inequality.
An interesting question raised in the discussion was whether tax is an issue that is too politically sensitive or partisan to be the subject of effective human rights campaigning. However, it was pointed out that with inequality now being at the top of the agenda in so many social and political debates, it is perhaps even inevitable, that tax will be talked about more. The potential value-add of human rights might be to elevate this discussion above part lines. The importance of making tax meaningful to grassroots movements and ordinary people was also stressed as a way to give the cause of human rights-centered taxation greater legitimacy and momentum.
In a short post-script to the online discussion, it is worth highlighting that the Lima Declaration on Tax Justice and Human Rights was released on June 19. Among other things, it calls on the human rights community to “develop capacities and practices to advance human rights through closer monitoring and review of tax policy”. If your organization is interested in endorsing the declaration, you can do so here.