Ex-President Leaves ILO after Corruption Scandal

Together with the president of Mauritius, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was to draw up a plan for the future focus of the UN-body ILO. But the work has hit an unexpected speed bump. Löfvens copartner has been forced out of office after a credit card scandal, where she shopped shoes and jewels in London for USD 26,000.

By Ivar Andersen
STOCKHOLM, May 9 2018 (IPS)

There is a compact silence surrounding how the corruption scandal affects ILO’s work on developing a plan to change the UN body.

In August 2017, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the then President of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim ​​were appointed to lead the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work.

Their mission was to develop an overall strategy for how the ILO would ensure that the gains of globalization are more equally shared, and how the global labour market shall deal with challenges such as climate change, digitization and aging populations.

The Commission brought together twenty-one experts and politicians from all over the world, under the lead of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

”It’s time for everyone to take part in globalization. This is done by addressing the problems in the global labour market and building social cohesion and creating confidence that benefits everyone and does not oppress anyone,” said Stefan Löfven when the Commission was presented in Geneva in August 2017.

”When we look at the future, we must do it from many different perspectives and situations. We must place people’s well-being first and build the agenda around it,” added Ameenah Gurib-Fakim .

But the Commission barely had time to start working before one of its chairpersons found herself mixed up in a corruption scandal.

 

 Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and Stefan Löfven in Geneva when the Global Commission on the Future of Work was presented. Foto: ILO

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and Stefan Löfven in Geneva when the Global Commission on the Future of Work was presented. Foto: ILO

 

The Mauritanian newspaper L’Express was able to publish documents that showed that Gurib-Fakim ​​had bought jewels and apparel for USD 26,000 during a shopping trip to London.

ILO

On May 28th , the ILO will launch its annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, where leading representatives of states, employers’ organizations and trade unions will discuss how they want to shape the global labor market.
On May 15th, the Global Commission on the Future of Work, led by Stefan Löfven, will meet in Geneva.
The ILO, or International Labour Organization, is a UN body that has existed since 1919 and brings together 187 countries.

Source: ILO

She paid for the luxury items with a credit card that she had received for an NGO for which she did pro bono work. The chairperson of the NGO, an Angolan businessman, had been granted permission to open an investment bank in Mauritius – prompting allegations of corruption.

Gurib-Fakim claimed to have used the NGO’s credit card by accident, and that she had paid back the full amount. But faced with harsh criticism Gurib-Fakim eventually decided to resign from the largely ceremonial president post earlier this spring.

When Arbetet Global writes to the Swedish Prime Minister’s Office to ask whether the controversy surrounding Gurib-Fakim in Mauritius is affecting the work of the Commission’s, the reply is a brief one.

”Ameenah Gurib-Fakim ​​has resigned as co-chair of the ILO Commission. If you have any other questions, I have to refer to the ILO,” states Dan Lundqvist Dahlin, press secretary to the Prime Minister.

The ILO appears equally unwilling to comment. In an e-mail, the Director-General’s cabinet writes that the decision to resign from the Commission was Gurib-Fakim’s own.

Would it have been inappropriate for Gurib-Fakim to stay on as co-chair after having resigned as president of Mauritius?

“We cannot comment on this hypothetical question since she took the decision to resign.”

The chairmanship of the Commission is attached to the person elected, and is not affected by changes in the chairpersons home country.

Stefan Löfven will remain chairperson regardless of whether the Social Democratic Party stay in power after the Swedish general election in September. In theory, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim ​​could have stayed on as co-chair despite having stepped down in Mauritius.

However, a source with intimate knowledge of the internal politics of the ILO describes the appointments as being “incredibly sensitive”.

“There is a lot of politics behind the appointments and the composition of delegates is supposed to keep everyone happy and make sure the Commission has legitimacy. That she resigned was most probably politically motivated.”

Asked whether a new chairperson will be appointed or if Stefan Löfven is to lead the Commission by himself, the Director-General’s cabinet responded that ”consultations are ongoing based on this new situation”.

At the time of publication of this article, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim ​​was still presented as Chairperson of the Commission, and President of Mauritius, on the ILO’s website.

This story was originally published by Arbetet Global

Poor Land Use Costs Countries 9 Percent Equivalent of Their GDP

By UNCCD Press Release
BONN, Germany, May 9 2018 (UNCCD)

The global economy will lose a whopping USD23 trillion by 2050 through land degradation, a review by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) warns. To take urgent action now and halt these alarming trends would cost USD4.6 trillion – only a fraction of the predicted losses.

The outcomes of the review have been assembled into comprehensive and easy-to-use Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Country Profiles, of which 21 are already available online. The LDN Country Profiles reveal that average losses for these 21 countries are equivalent to 9 percent of GDP. This figure is even higher for some of the planet’s worst affected countries, such as the Central African Republic, where the total losses are estimated at a staggering 40 percent. Asia and Africa bear the highest costs, estimated at USD84 billion and 65 billion per year respectively.

“Healthy land is the primary asset that supports livelihoods around the globe – from food to jobs and decent incomes. Today, we face a crisis of unseen proportions: 1.5 billion people – mainly in the world’s most impoverished countries – are trapped on degrading agricultural land. This reality is fuelling extreme poverty, particularly in areas such as the Sahel and South Asia, where extreme and erratic weather events are on the rise due to the impacts of climate change,” says Juan Carlos Mendoza, Managing Director of the UNCCD Global Mechanism.

The LDN Country Profiles aim to help guide policy decisions on land use management. The profiles are based largely on the analytical work undertaken by the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn, the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Globally, 169 countries are affected by land degradation and/or drought. Of these, 116 countries are committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) under the UNCCD LDN Target-Setting Programme that supports countries in reaching target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Target 15.3, on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), encourages countries to halt land degradation in order to ensure the quantity of productive land remains stable. The target is now also recognized as vital for accelerating other SDGs, such as: Goal 1 (No poverty), Goal 2 (Zero hunger), Goal 5 (Promote gender equality), Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation), Goal 8 (Decent work and economic growth), and Goal 13 (Climate action).

The 21 countries whose profiles have been released today are also engaged in the LDN target setting process, formulating targets and associated measures to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. For example, the Central African Republic has committed to restoring more than 1 million hectares of degraded land – equal to 15 percent of its territory – which will limit its potential losses and economic burden nationwide.

“The LDN Country Profiles provide policy-makers with easily accessible and scientifically sound information that can help estimate the value of their investments in land restoration and make informed choices on the economic returns they can expect from taking assertive action now. Moreover, the profiles illustrate the equivalent monetary value of land degradation and its impact on the international community, while providing strong incentives for cooperation among countries,” Mendoza adds.

A broader picture of the economic costs of failing to act decisively and restore available land resources will emerge as additional country profiles are released.