From COP27 to Qatar: social justice is on the agenda!

By Francine Mestrum*
November 2022 will be remembered for both COP27 and the Qatar World Cup. Will both be evenly disappointing?
It is good news that more and more people and organisations are now promoting a new eco-social contract, as is Jayathi Ghosh. It means that necessarily all social justice matters have to be coupled to environmental topics. And as you may know, Global Social Justice has been promoting for long that social justice be taken as the leading value from where it is easier to fight for climate justice.
In my article on a Just Transition, this point is emphasized once more: For a Just Transition: a message for COP27 – Global Social Justice
Moreover, billionaires are far from harmless! Wealth taxes may be a good point to start with, not only to reduce inequality, but also because the rich are polluting around one million times as much as the world’s average Joe! While the richest nations spend thirty times as much on military as on climate finance.
As for the World Cup, a lot of criticism has rightly been addressed at the receiving country, Qatar, although many positive changes have been adopted to improve working conditions of people. However, the reality very often is still lagging behind, while the criticism, to be honest, might have been uttered several years earlier. We all perfectly well knew what was happening and how many migrant workers were dying in the construction works.
That is why trade unions remain so very important. ITUC held its world congress and put the focus on peace. It also published its new ‘Freedom Report’ mentioning the countries where it played an outstanding role, such as Colombia and Northern Ireland.
In this month’s chapter on poverty and inequality, several articles point to the growing inequality, while, at the same time, poverty is said to diminish.
As for development, Africa still has open veins and suffers from capital flight and external debt which are rubbing salt into deep wounds from the past.
There are now more ‘least developed countries’ than there were in the 1970s, which also indicates development does not hold to its promises. Any idea how countries graduate? Why? With which criteria?
And do you have any idea on how the European Union, the largest donor in the world, is spending its aid money?
A small positive step has been taken at the General Assembly of the UN where a majority of countries have agreed to put into place an international tax cooperation at the level of the UN. This is only a very small but a very important step in what will necessarily be a long process.
Finally, a difficult but interesting reflection on how to change our major paradigms. Just think of human rights and how they are often used by hegemonic powers. However important ‘our values’ may be, we have to think on how they can be changed to make them truly universal.
These are all the different points and topics of this month on which you can read interesting contributions on the website of Global Social Justice.
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*Francine Mestrum has a PhD in Social Sciences from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. She worked at the European institutions and several Belgian universities.