UN seeks to shut all tax havens


Anastasia Moroz

By Anastasia Moroz, Global Financial Integrity, October 20, 2017

In order to put an end to illicit financial flows including tax havens like offshore accounts, a United Nations human rights expert urged António Guterres, the Secretary-General-designate, as well as the UN General Assembly, to consider liquidating tax havens and summoning a world conference on the matter.

Alfred de Zayas, the UN’s independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, commented “The choice of Guterres as the next UN Secretary-General offers a unique opportunity to advance the fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows, at a moment where the world is paying increasing attention to these crucial issues”.

Mr Zayas said he cherished hope that the implementation of an obligatory UN tax authority to fight offshore tax evasion, and to outlaw tax havens, would be Guterres’ top priority.

“Trillions of dollars necessary for combating extreme poverty and addressing climate change are being kept offshore,” said De Zayas, underlining that “thus escaping just taxation and effectively stealing hundreds of billions of dollars each year from the public treasuries.”

This concern has been recently growing amongst other human rights experts, the special rapporteur made an emphasis on the need of putting taxation on both General Assembly and Human Rights Council’s agenda, especially through the Universal Periodic Rev­iew and the 2016 Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

“The United Nations must take concerted action. In particular, I urge the UN General Assembly to draft a convention to outlaw tax-havens worldwide, declare so-called ‘sweetheart deals’ with transnational corporations such as Apple, Google and Starbucks to be contrary to international public order.”

Meanwhile, the human rights expert called attention to validating legislation to defend witnesses from reprisals and ensure them easily accessible avenues to make disclosures. Independent Experts and Special Rapporteurs are hired by the UN Human Rights Council to supervise a country situation or a specific human rights theme.

Editor’s footnote:

The United Nations should go a step further to establish UN Corruption Court before which matters arising from corporate and individual money laundering issues can be prosecuted. That will be particularly important in dealing with cases in countries reluctant to deal with corrupt domestic and transnational corporates as well as individuals within their jurisdictions.