Over 500 people came to the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Friday 8 December to hear a panel including Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the UK Labour Party), Arancha Gonzalez (Executive Director of ITC) and Nikhil Seth (Executive Director of UNITAR) speak about the need for international cooperation in a changing world.
UNRISD was excited to host the event, which took place just head of Human Rights Day
, being celebrated this year as the kick-off to a year-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
All three speakers emphasized the current growth in inequality between and within countries, which is producing discontentment and fear. Mr. Corbyn particularly identified tax evasion and illicit financial flows out of developing countries as sources of continued inequality between the global North and South, which should be stemmed by genuine corpororate accountability, for example in the form of country-by-country reporting.
Mr. Corbyn also explicitly supported the UN Human Rights Council’s proposed binding treaty on business and human rights
, and the Paris Climate Accord
Ms. Gonzalez emphasized the need to strengthen and build on the existing world order, making the case that thanks to economic growth, we have—globally—never been better off. She recognized the destabilizing force of growing inequality within countries, while pointing out cases where countries had chosen to deploy policy tools to reduce inequality, and that not all countries chose to use those tools.
Mr. Seth’s contribution focused on changes in the concept of sustainability over the last 30 years, culminating in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which aims to create a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable world. "The SDGs will be deemed not to have been achieved, until they have been achieved for all. What stronger platform could the world have adopted for a post neoliberal world order?" he said, stressing that a human rights base and a renewed role of the state seem to be the only intelligent response to create the future we want.
The well-attended event brought together UN and government officials, NGO representatives, outside visitors, and international media. At a short press conference held after the event, journalists asked Mr. Corbyn questions beyond the topic of the panel discussion.