Tax dodging now firmly on the global agenda | ActionAid UK

Last week the world's governments came together in Addis Ababa to discuss how to fund the global fight against poverty. Although we were disappointed by the outcome, it was still a big step forwards for the global movement to make tax fair because it pushed the idea of a global tax body firmly on the international agenda for the first time.

Campaigners in Australia in front of the Sydney Opera House.
Campaigners in Australia in front of the Sydney Opera House.

What were we campaigning for?

The Financing for Development summit offered an exciting opportunity for the creation of a new global tax body. The whole international tax system is broken and a global body would have given developing countries a say in setting new, fairer rules. Developing countries are hit hard by tax dodging.

We recently exposed how a mining company called Paladin dodged US$43million in Malawi. Those billions of missing tax dollars could have been invested in public healthcare and education to fight poverty.

Children living near the Paladin mine in Malawi. The money lost to tax dodging could help pay for their public education and schooling.

What happened at the summit?

The bad news is that rich countries refused to budge and the summit didn’t agree to set up a new UN tax body. Instead, the small existing UN group of tax experts would be funded to meet more often. This is woefully inadequate and won't fix the broken tax system. Sadly, the summit’s outcome beyond tax also falls far short of what is really needed to tackle global poverty

But it's not all bad news

Developing countries fought hard to get a global tax body on the agenda, and it stayed there. In fact, this was the most contentious issue, with negotiations on tax being the last to conclude and the hardest fought. It's no mean feat to focus the world’s governments' attention on a small UN committee no-one had heard of before.

With your support, ActionAid played a major role in the fight. Campaigners from 15 ActionAid countries across the world worked together to lobby politicians, get media attention and mobilise activists around the world. Thank you to everyone who joined us in taking action!

This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning! 

As one senior UN official said after the end of the conference, it’s a sign of real change when an issue like this dominates an international summit. This is just the beginning, not the end of the fight for a fairer global tax system.

We will keep you updated on the next steps from here - watch this space!

Download our report Levelling Up to find out more


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Photo credits: Global Alliance for Tax Justice and ActionAid