Presentation: Omoyemen Lucia Odigie-Emmanuel (Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change) at UNECE Side-Event during UN FfD Forum on PPPs, 20 April

What kind of development do we want? People centered development or People for Infrastructure development.

There have been arguments that PPPs will  play a major role in financing development and poverty reduction in developing countries without assessments and attempt to weigh the social cost to people and their rights against the economic gains of Corporations. Lack of success of implementing PPPs in OECD countries should ignite a red light to the world at large, calling for options for its use.

The arguments for PPPs have not consider or have deliberately ignored the realities of the impact of the private sector on human rights  and development in the last three decades and the need to hold the private sector accountable for sustainable development and human rights. Cases of human rights abuses as a result of private sector businesses are abound. 

One very glaring example is the impact of Nigeria’s government/oil corporation joint venture in the oil sector and the human rights abuses therein, suffering, injustices and difficulties that have been associated with seeking redress and justice because of state interests.

It is trite to state therefore that activities of the private sector and their impact on human rights is too volatile to allow them dominate global policy on financing for development. This is a major concern that cannot just be waived on the basis of the need to finance development as true development must be people centered. 

The duties and responsibilities of States to protect people from harms caused by the private sector must be at the  center of development and cannot be compromised. A focus on profit over public services can distort national development priorities and put people, communities, states and regions to risk which cannot be reversed by more conferences and years of deliberation. 

The development sector is dominated by essential services and needs tied to the right to life and in fact all human rights and cannot be left in the hand of corporation and corrupt government officials. Privatization of public goods such as health, education, water and sanitation threatens availability, accessibility, acceptably and quality of these goods, and increases the overall burden of unpaid care work on women and girls. The profit driven nature of private sector reduces assess of poor and marginalized communities and can increase territorial and gender inequality.

Also, some areas will remain redeveloped because the profit margin doesn’t fit corporate policies. Privatization of public goods such as health, education, water and sanitation prevents or reduces access of poor, vulnerable and marginalized people especially women who are women are overrepresented in low-income households and are most affected by increased tariffs and constrained from engage in economic, social or political activities because of their predominance in unpaid care work 

Transparency, participation and accountability are imperatives for successful PPPs, these elements are missing and therefore a support for PPPs is premature and the least option for financing for development. If at all needed, CSOs perspectives on PPPs should not be ignored because they have always acted as global conscience and should be actively involved in assessment of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), such assessment must be based on human rights impact and assessment of states human rights obligation with active consultations with stakeholders.

The private sector can only genuinely become partners when an enabling environment gas been created by engaging in negotiations on a legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations as mandated by the Human Rights Council-approved resolution A/HRC/26/L.22; maintains country ownership and delivers effective development outcomes to the poorest and most vulnerable populations; and corporate social responsibility translates to cutting profit margin in the interest of people and the environment and not just funding development project which do not balance the rates of human rights abuses, deprivation and injustices after corporate abuses. 

Development effectiveness principles must be integrated into national development frameworks in order for the private sector to adhere to them. Private sector participation must therefore keep pace with progressing development and human rights standards but many donors and institutions have not sufficiently incorporated human rights, development effectiveness principles and other international standards into their private sector strategies. 

Governments who should issue enforceable human rights and environmental guidelines for corporations and monitor compliance cannot be part of such partnership especially in sectors related to economic social and cultural rights.

Finally, PPPs which will heighten gender gaps, should not be attractive as a developmental financing option, instead focus should be on financing options that promote economic empowerment of women, create conditions for decent work, and promote socio-economic inclusion and social protection.

Exploring  public private financing as a Financing for Development Option is not an option for today as it may have the same impact as genocide for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized communities in developing countries especially women and children and may not also be suitable for tomorrow except an enabling environment is created.

 

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