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Taxation and reparations - Tools for promoting equity, climate justice and economy of life

UN High-level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals, New York

Church Center at the United Nations, 10th Floor Conference Room

Side-event organized by the World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches and Council for World Mission.

With the participation of ICRICT commissioner Rev Dr Suzanne Matale

Brief concept:

The side-event will be an opportunity to explore how taxation and reparations can contribute to “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” the theme of the 2019 HLPF on the SDGs. Rising inequality – often rooted in historical injustices – and runaway climate change are fuelling poverty, social disintegration and conflicts around the world. Every year, the share of national income accruing to the wealthiest people in the world continues to grow while ordinary people struggle to make a living. The prevailing global tax system – through transfer pricing, the use of tax havens, among others – enables multinational corporations and affluent sectors of society to avoid or evade their tax responsibilities. The adverse impact on government revenues means less funds for essential social services and urgent climate action. The event will: offer faith-rooted and gender-just perspectives on taxation and reparations; share concrete proposals for corporate and wealth taxation as well as social and ecological reparations as important pathways to addressing SDG 10 (reduce inequality) and SDG 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change); and launch a global ecumenical campaign for tax justice and reparations.


Provisional Programme


Opening remarks and/or prayer                                                                   12:00-12:15

v  US church leader TBC


Panel on taxation and reparations                                                                12:15-13:15

v  Dr Manuel (Butch) Montes, South Centre

v  Rev Dr Suzanne Matale, Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT)

v  Prof Verene Shepherd, Centre for Reparation Research

v  Dr Iva Carruthers, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference


Plenary discussion                                                                                         13:15-13:45                                                                


Zacchaeus Campaign for Tax Justice and Reparations                                13:45-14:25

v  Rev Dr Suzanne Matale, ICRICT

v  Mr Eric Phillips, Guyana Reparations Committee

v  Rev Philip Vinod Peacock, World Communion of Reformed Churches

v  Rev Dr Peter Cruchley, Council for World Mission


Closing prayer                                                                                                14:25-14:30

v  US church leader TBC


Moderators: Rev Douglas Leonard and Ms Athena Peralta, World Council of Churches




The opening remarks will be offered by a US church leader (Rev Dr Liz Theoharris from the Poor Peoples Campaign finally cannot make it) and will reflect briefly on inequality in the US today, its social costs, its rootedness in the legacy of slavery and how it has worsened as a result of neoliberal tax policies. The opening remarks could offer a prayer.


For the panel on taxation and reparation, Butch will in general speak on how taxation can be a tool for promoting global equity, providing concrete proposals, as well as already make the connection between taxation and reparation. Suzanne will share a few key proposals from the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate taxation (ICRICT) and why a more just international corporate taxation system is important for a resource-exporting country like Zambia where she is from. Verene will talk on reparations for slavery (and hopefully also ecological damages?) from the Caribbean perspective, and Iva on reparations for slavery from the US perspective. Each panellist will have 10-15 mins. to speak.


The panel presentations will be followed by Q&A and discussion in plenary (30 mins).


For the launch of the Zacchaeus Tax Campaign, Suzanne will read the tax justice calls, Eric the reparation calls and Philip and Peter will offer a brief reflection on the Zacchaeus story as well as read the call to churches.


The closing prayer for action will be offered by US church leader (still to be named).