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April 5, 2023, at 6:17 am
Updates on Civil 20 Inception Meeting and People’s 20 Meeting
20-22 March 2023| Nagpur-Delhi, India Participation in C20 Inception MeetingThe Group of Twenty (G20) is considered a premier international forum comprising the world’s leading advanced and emerging economies, representing a combined GDP of around 85% of the world’s total GDP. The G20, established in 1999, involves regular meetings between heads of state, as well as representatives from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. While it was originally established to discuss and coordinate policies to promote global economic stability and growth, G20 has expanded to include three tracks: Finance Track (which holds meetings of mainly Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss global macroeconomic issues), Sherpa Track (which deals with policy coordination and preparation for the G20 Leaders’ Summit), and Engagement Groups Track  (which provides a platform for non-governmental stakeholders to engaged with the G20). The Engagement Groups include groups representing business, labour, think tanks, civil society, women, and youth, which are designed to provide a platform for stakeholder engagement and to ensure that the G20 process is inclusive and responsive to the needs and concerns of different groups in society. The Civil Society 20 (C20) is the official engagement group for civil society, and it works to provide policy recommendations and input to the G20 process. The G20 Finance Track is an important platform for international economic and financial cooperation, as it brings together the world’s major economies to discuss common challenges and coordinate policies to address them. The issues of discussion include fiscal and monetary policies, financial regulation and supervision, international tax cooperation, infrastructure investment, and sustainable development. While the G20 includes a diverse set of countries with different economic systems and policy preferences, the group is often criticized for promoting a neoliberal approach to economic policy, which emphasizes free markets, liberalization of trade and investment, and limited government intervention in the economy. Amidst the growing global economic inequality, the purpose of SAAPE’s engagement in the C20 process is to build on the ongoing campaign for the introduction and implementation of pro-poor fiscal policies, including progressive taxation, such as wealth tax policies in G20 as well as non-G20 countries, and unconditional cancellation of illegitimate debt in the global South. India holds the current G20 for the year 2023. SAAPE plans to engage in the C20 India process and provide critical inputs to the C20 Policy Pack, which will be submitted to the G20 leaders during the Summit. SAAPE has been engaged in the C20 process since the last C20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia in 2022. Members from SAAPE Secretariat, Netra Prasad Timsina and Sudhir Shrestha, attended the C20 meeting in Nagpur, Maharastra (India) on 20-21 March 2023. They participated in the plenary sessions at the opening and closing of the programme. We are engaged in the working groups – “Sustainable & Resilient Communities: Climate, Environment and Net Zero Targets” and “SDG 16+ and promoting civic space”.C20 Meeting Reflections Some civil society organizations in India and beyond have raised concerns that the C20 process in India has not adequately represented their voices and perspectives, and that the process has been dominated by a small number of organizations with close ties to the government. There has been criticism that the C20 process has not adequately represented the views and interests of marginalized communities in India, such as women, LGBTQ+, and people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The impression of SAAPE’s participants in the C20 meeting is that there was limited participation from trade unions, peasant organizations, and other grassroots movements; however, there were larger claims from the participants and members of the working groups that they represent grassroots organizations and CSOs. Nevertheless, there is full engagement of Troika from Indonesia and Brazil in addition to India and participants within the group (those who attended) are active in the different Working Groups. Troika from Brazil talked about the shrinking space globally and the need to expand democratic spaces, likewise the representative of the 100 million campaign also was critical to current development paradigms such as rising inequality, climate, and debt crisis, marginalization of women and children and he linked these crises as political and policy choices of the G20 countries. However, many of the other presenters argued that the spiritual dimension of development needs to be linked for a peaceful and democratic society. They argued that love and compassion are important to bring changes in the suffering of the people (politics and policies remain silent in these deliberations). According to the deliberations, it seems that there are no democratic deficits in India as many of the presenters said that India is the ‘mother of democracy’ in the world. The issue of the structural causes of poverty, inequality, discrimination, and marginalization did not surface though these are the systematic and historic problems that G20 countries need to address for even to happen ‘one earth, one family, and one future’ – the slogan of G20 2023.Strategizing SAAPE’s engagement in the C20 processParallelly, LDC Watch/SAAPE, one of the co-convenors of the People’s 20 (P20), will engage with likeminded civil society organizations in India and the Global South, through its active involvement in the P20 process, to incorporate the alternative perspectives in the P20 Policy Pack to be released alongside the G20 Summit. The parallel civil society initiative, termed the People’s 20 (P20), is an unofficial forum that runs parallel to the official G20 process and seeks to bring the perspectives and concerns of ordinary citizens to the attention of G20 leaders. The P20 will issue a set of recommendations and policy pack that are presented to G20 leaders at the G20 summit. First in-person People’s 20 meeting in Delhi, IndiaThe first in-person meeting of the People’s 20 (P20) was held in Delhi (India) on 22 March 2023. The participants of the C20 meeting in Nagpur shared their reflections on the C20 meeting in Nagpur. The meeting discussed the need to make the P20 process complementary to the C20 process,  while at the same time engaging with the C20 process by providing critical inputs to save the hard-earned achievements on the pro-poor agenda.  There was further discussion on the timeline of the P20 process and the selection of organizations to lead the various thematic working groups. SAAPE agreed to coordinate the working group on “Economy and Finance”  and “Poverty, livelihood and inequality” along with Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance (TAFJA) and Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP). SAAPE plans to conduct events on the need for wealth taxation around May/June under the P20 process, and take the recommendations gathered from the process to the official C20 process.  The People’s 20 meeting set the deadline of April 5 for the collection of inputs for the P20 Policy Pack. The PEOPLES’ 20 Declaration and Recommendations will be adopted in July, about two months before the G20 Summit (9-10 September 2023) and submitted to the G20 Secretariat 2023. 
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August 27, 2022, at 1:31 pm
SAAPE denounces the deportation of migrant workers in Qatar
27 August 2022The members of South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) condemn the heinous act on part of the Qatari government to arrest and deport the migrant workers from Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines for taking part in the protest on 14 August 2022 demanding the timely payment of their accrued wages.[1] SAAPE members note that this is one of the deplorable events in a series of incidents of human rights abuses against over two million migrant workers who have contributed their ‘sweat and blood’ in the economy of Qatar, especially in building the ‘world-class stadiums and cities’ for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar has immensely benefited from the labour of migrant workers and more so for organising the 2022 FIFA World Cup which kicks off in less than 90 days. Poor migrant workers, due to lack of employment opportunities in the home country, are bound to sign up for working in searing heat and terrible conditions, bonded to their employer, with few arrangements of social security measures and little concern for workers’ rights. Since 2010, when FIFA controversially awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup, more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar to build stadiums and modern infrastructure in the desert land. [2] Qatar, since it won its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has introduced several legal reforms to prevent the abuse of migrant workers, that include scrapping of the kafala system, a rule that required employers’ consent for the change of jobs, and the increment of minimum monthly wage from 750 Qatari Riyals to 1,000 Qatari Riyals. [3] Nevertheless, the inhumane treatment continues which was even more severe during the time of the COVID-19 lockdowns when the migrant workers in Qatar were abruptly laid off and detained due to which they had to return in expensive chartered flights, the flight cost being multiple times the normal fare. [4] The persistent and widespread abuses of migrant workers in the form of delayed wages, punitive and illegal wage deductions, and months of unpaid wages for long hours of gruelling work indicate that despite the scrapping of kafala system and increase in monthly wage, the barbarous working conditions and the unfree recruitment that still prevail make the work qualify for ‘forced labour’ [5] and ‘bonded labour’. [6] Qatar has been a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 1972 and has ratified two important ILO conventions on forced labour: Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105). [7] By being a member of the ILO, Qatar is also required to be committed and obligated to follow the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that include the basic values of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; and a safe and healthy working environment, among others. While Qatar has openly flouted the fundamental principles of these ILO conventions to which it is a signatory, the ILO has remained a mute spectator to the ongoing modern-day slavery in Qatar raising doubts over its commitment to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities and enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. We demand that the Qatari government, respecting the rightful demands of the migrant workers, take back charges against the protesting workers and arrange for timely payment of wages and salaries, provide social security measures along with medical and life insurance, and establish a participative grievance handling mechanism to address the just demands of the migrant workers. The latest case is just one of the incidents showing that the recent labour reforms carried out by the Government of Qatar, with support from the International Labour Organization, is inadequate and incomplete. In this regard, we are deeply concerned by the lack of response and pressure from the ILO, a United Nations body with a mandate to maintain international labour standards, to enforce upon the principles of fair recruitment, decent working conditions, and the rights of collective bargaining for migrant workers in Qatar to which the Government of Qatar has agreed in several of the ILO conventions. We demand that the ILO carry out an independent investigation into the recent case of labour rights violation and come out with a time bound report. We also deeply regret the silence of Fédération International de Football Association (FIFA) which has clear commitments under its own statutes and responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to remedy the human rights abuses to which it has contributed. Denouncing the rampant use of forced labour especially in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022, we urge the Qatari authorities and the FIFA to immediately compensate workers for the series of human rights violations against them and establish a comprehensive and participative remedy programme in close consultation with origin country governments, workers’ representatives and trade unions, and national and international civil society groups.__________[1] Alfahhad. R. [@ra21112] (2022, August 14).  مجموعة من العمال ينظمون احتجاج واضراب عن العمل في منطقة السد في #قطر بسبب حرمانهم من اجورهم وبسبب الاعمال الشاقه مع ارتفاع درجة حرارة الصيف. [Tweet; attached video]. Twitter.[2] Walker, C. (2022, January 9). The World Cup is BLOOD-STAINED and if Qatar and FIFA don't account for the deaths of THOUSANDS of migrant workers in the Gulf state those dead men will haunt this year's tournament and every one after it, warns lawyer. MailOnline.[3] Pattison, P. (2020, September 10). New labour law ends Qatar’s exploitative kafala system. The Guardian.[4] Sedhai, R. (2020, September 10). Migrant workers deported from Qatar without justification return home. TheRecord.[5] International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 29 defines the term forced or compulsory labour as ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’ (ILO 1930: Article 2, Chapter 1). The term ‘under the menace of any penalty’ in the definition does not necessarily mean any penal action but might include, as observed in many cases, the loss of rights or privileges on the part of workers. For the purpose of measurement, ILO uses three dimensions: unfree recruitment, work and life under duress, and impossibility of leaving one’s employer. Any employment is considered forced labour if any of the three dimensions is prevalent (Source: Mak, J.; Abramsky, T.; Sijapati, B.; Kiss, L. and Zimmerman, C. (2017) ‘What Is the Prevalence of and Associations with Forced Labour Experiences among Male Migrants from Dolakha, Nepal? Findings from a Cross-Sectional Study of Returnee Migrants’, BMJ Open 7.8).[6] Bonded labour: describes a relationship between an employer and an employee in which the employee does not have the freedom to choose his or her employer and cannot negotiate the terms and conditions of his or her working arrangements (Source: Oosterhoff, P.; Sharma, B.P. and Burns, D. (2017) Participatory Statistics to Measure Prevalence in Bonded Labour Hotspots in Nepal: Report on Findings of the Baseline Study, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies).[7] Ratifications for Qatar. (n.d.) International Labour Organization
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August 19, 2022, at 12:32 pm
SAAPE demands the reinstatement of the rights of the people of Afghanistan
19 August 2022 The return of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan marked its first year on Monday, the 15th of August 2022. Despite their commitment to reform their fundamentalist policies and to respect human rights, particularly the rights of women and children after the takeover, little has changed, rather the situation of women and children has further been aggravated pushing them into a more precarious situation.Afghans are denied their fundamental rights such as the right to education, right to work, right to association and right to dissent. The Taliban has curtailed the freedom of expression, restricting civic space for human rights, democracy and peace. Women and girls have suffered the most as a result of this deprivation, which has eroded their economic, social, cultural, and civil liberties. The dire economic situation, combined with a lack of employment opportunities and a food crisis, is forcing families to sell their young daughters, leading to a spiralling increase in extreme violations of the rights of girls and women and their sexual and reproductive health rights.The girls are denied their right to higher education. When the Taliban came to power, they promised a more moderate rule for women than their previous reign, which lasted from 1996 to 2001. However, many restrictions have been placed on women for them to conform to their interpretation of Islam. Tens of thousands of girls have been prevented from attending secondary school, with the ban resulting in 46% of young women not attending school.There has been a huge setback to the rights of women and children. The Taliban's regulation for women to cover their entire body in public was also reinstated. The Taliban has also made it illegal for women to travel alone without a male chaperone, effectively confining many of them to their homes. They have been barred from returning to many government jobs, leaving women unemployed in an unstable economy.Twenty-three million Afghans are on the verge of starvation, and one million children face death if life-saving treatment is not provided immediately. The skyrocketing prices of food, fuel and other essential goods have made the lives of the Afghans more miserable taking them further to the state of destitution and extreme hunger.We denounce the recent cowardly act of the Taliban on women who were peacefully protesting against the oppressive rules of the Taliban on Saturday, the 13th of August 2022. Taliban fighters beat female protesters and fired guns into the air to disperse a rally in Kabul, who were peacefully rallying for their rights and dignity.We demand that all working women should be allowed to resume their jobs and their unhindered participation in governance and public life is to be guaranteed.We also urge the Taliban regime to guarantee the safety and security of human rights defenders and allow for voluntary organisations to function smoothly.We demand that the United Nations and the international community take immediate and sincere efforts to resolve the social, economic and political crises which have brought tragic humanitarian devastation to Afghanistan. While we press for the restoration of civil and political rights in Afghanistan, we are against an indiscriminate cutting off or freezing of funds by the international community without paying due attention to the plight of the people of Afghanistan. At the same time, we urge the international community, the United Nations and the governments providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to negotiate for basic civil liberties of the Afghans. Learning from the good practices of fellow South Asian countries, we call for the implementation of innovative approaches, such as the Public Distribution System (PDS) for provisioning subsidised food grains, mid-day meals for children, and community health and nutrition centres, for solving the humanitarian crisis plaguing Afghanistan.  We call upon the SAARC to play a constructive role in facilitating an effective supply of foodgrains from neighbouring countries to solve the food crisis in Afghanistan. Particularly, SAARC’s role in ending the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is of utmost importance with a larger goal towards reinstating the civil and political rights of the people of Afghanistan.  On behalf of SAAPE,Netra Timsina,Regional Coordinator
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July 1, 2022, at 9:07 am
‘Grossly expensive diesel may not allow for any more fishing’
Published June 30, 2022 KARACHI: “June and July are the months when there is a ban on fishing, but despite the reduction in this ban by a month, no one here is going out to sea to catch fish at the moment due to the extraordinarily high cost of fuel,” said former director general of the Marine Fisheries Department, Moazzam Khan, who also happens to be one of the leading fisheries scientists of the country.He was speaking at a multi-stakeholder dialogue and report launch on the ‘Plight of fisherfolk and workers in the seafood sector in South Asia’ organised by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Pakistan Kisan Rabita Committee (PKRC), Labour Education Foundation (LEF) and South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) at a local hotel here on Wednesday.He said that fisherfolk had been facing all kinds of issues including poverty that had resulted in a 40 to 50 per cent reduction in fishing here. “The fuel issue could have been helped somewhat if we had turned to fish farming but we don’t do it for reasons unknown,” he added.“Bangladesh has been doing it but we are not in the mood to do it. We have the space, we have the expertise but we are not in the mood,” he said sarcastically.Use of banned nets affects 80pc production of local fish“Right now we are over exploiting our fish resources by increasing our fleet of fishing boats as the federal government awards boat engines and licences one after the other while the number of boats we have in reality ought to be reduced by half. Recently, there has been a 700 per cent increase of boats in Balochistan, which is resulting in over-fishing there. In foreign countries, when you make a new boat, you surrender the licence of an old boat, but out here we talk of increasing potential in fishing even though you don’t have the fish,” he said.“Our fish is exported to China and to Vietnam, too. This is the same thing since from Vietnam it is smuggled to China. It is also exported to Malaysia, Thailand and Gulf countries. Europe doesn’t want our fish. All this talk about Europe lifting the import ban is not true. For that matter America also doesn’t want our fish. And Pakistan’s own per capita consumption of fish is the lowest in the world thanks to certain myths that fish carries hot effects for the human body or it is not advisable to have fish in months which have an ‘R’ in their names, etc,” he said.Karamat Ali of Piler said that Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and most of the eight Saarc countries have their fisheries. “It would also be interesting to see what are the rights of each country’s fishermen. How far they can go out into the sea? Because there is also the issue of their crossing over to another country when at sea,” he said.Netra Prasad Timsina of SAAPE spoke about the global and South Asian campaign on fair value chain. “There have been supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19. Then there is also the rupee-dollar disparity making earning less and inflation high, which is the crux of the problem. For example, there is Sri Lanka that is buried in debt and inflation. Their people are losing jobs, their children are malnourished. In many places, there are no rights to form unions and there is a lack of social security. So what is the way out?” he wondered aloud.Habibullah Niazi of the Sindh Trawlers Owners and Fishermen Association (Stofa) said that the rise in fuel costs had endangered fisheries. “It is off season now so you don’t hear much noise regarding this matter, but it will affect our exports and the 1.8 million to two million families dependent on fisheries here,” he said.“But none of our governments have ever been interested in fisheries. Here no one cares to check what kind of nets is being used in fishing or on the harmful methods of catching fish. The use of banned nets has affected the production of 80 per cent of our local fish such as mackerel, white pomfret and red snapper as they have hurt their nurseries. The too many fishing boats have also contributed to the shortage of fish. Another problem is pollution as we are sending untreated waste into the sea,” he said.“There is a need for government polices to help our fisheries department. There is a need for an expert to look into all these things that are hurting our fishing industry,” he said.Majid Motani, a representative of fisherfolk, said that Pakistan’s fisheries were on a ‘ventilator’.He said with the government’s issuing of licences to more and more fishing boats there was pressure on Sindh fisheries. “So the registration of the boats should be done where there is the sea not at the federal level,” he said.“Sindh is still rich in seafood resources as compared to Balochistan. Even now if we take care of our nurseries and don’t allow the use of the close-knitted banned nets and fishing there, our resources will increase. But sadly, there are no checks there,” he said.“Boats burn more fuel than cars. As the fishing season will open in August, many boats won’t be able to go out to sea because of expensive diesel. We need a strong policy to remedy all these ills,” he added.Problems of fisherfolk womenRepresenting fisherfolk women, Fatima Majid also said that they were not doing too great either. “There was a time when our women used to work with our men, cleaning the fish before taking it to the market, mending fishing nets, etc. But now, climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in fuel costs are all also impacting our lives,” she said.“Now 60 to 70 per cent of our womenfolk go to work in factories or they find work as maids in homes. Many make and sell pickles or poppadom as after the pandemic, those who were working in factories also lost their jobs and they don’t even have social security. There are also the families of the fishermen languishing in Indian jails. The children in those families are malnourished and they stop going to school as well. Therefore, I would also say that there is a need for a fisheries policy that can help solve all these issues.Zehra Khan of Home-Based Women Workers Federation, Social activist Aabida Ali and Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation also spoke.Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022Source: