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Legal Responses to Health Emergencies

July 15, 2015 Comments off

Legal Responses to Health Emergencies
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains discussions of the regulations addressing health emergencies in 25 jurisdictions, including countries from six continents, the European Union, and the World Health Organization. All surveys included in this report review government structures tasked with delivering public health protection, relevant legislative frameworks for addressing health emergencies, and the powers of government institutions in times of health crises and their ability to mitigate the consequences of such crises. Analyses of the regulation of such issues as disease surveillance and notification systems are also provided.

When Should Public Debt Be Reduced?

July 2, 2015 Comments off

When Should Public Debt Be Reduced?
Source: International Monetary Fund

What considerations should guide public debt policy going forward? Should debt be reduced to achieve normative anchors (such as 60 percent of GDP), should it be increased further to finance a big public investment push, or should the existing debt be serviced forever? We argue that, for countries with ample fiscal space (little risk of encountering a fiscal crisis), raising distortive taxes merely to bring the debt down is a treatment cure that is worse than the disease. High public debt of course is costly, but it is a sunk cost only made worse by efforts to pay down the debt through distortionary taxation. Living with the debt is the welfare-maximizing policy. In decisions vis-à-vis the big push for public investment, golden-rule considerations remain salient, with due account taken of the additional servicing costs (and associated distortive taxation) from the resulting buildup of public debt.

High Commissioner’s report to the Human Righ Council on discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identit

June 26, 2015 Comments off

High Commissioner’s report to the Human Rights Council on discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (PDF)
Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

In recent years, Governments in all regions have pursued a variety of initiatives aimed at reducing levels of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, since 2011, 14 States have adopted or strengthened antidiscrimination and hate crime laws, extending protection on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and, in two cases, also introducing legal protections for intersex persons. Three States have abolished criminal sanctions for homosexuality; 12 have introduced marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples nationally; and 10 have introduced reforms that, to varying degrees, make it easier for transgender persons to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity.

In dozens of countries, police, judges, prison guards, medical staff and teachers are receiving gender and sexuality sensitivity training, anti-bullying programmes have been launched in schools, and shelters have been built to house homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Popular television programmes have integrated LGBT characters in a positive way and celebrities have helped to raise awareness by “coming out” as LGBT persons themselves or speaking out in support of members of the LGBT community. In all regions, LGBT and intersex3 human rights defenders are more vocal and visible – in several cases successfully challenging in the courts attempts by authorities to restrict their legitimate activities.

While these advances are welcome, they are overshadowed by continuing, serious and widespread human rights violations perpetrated, too often with impunity, against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

When Should Public Debt Be Reduced?

June 22, 2015 Comments off

When Should Public Debt Be Reduced? (PDF)
Source: International Monetary Fund

Financial bailouts, stimulus spending, and lower revenues during the Great Recession have resulted in some of the highest public debt ratios seen in advanced economies in the past 40 years. Recent debates have centered on the pace at which to pay down this debt, with few questions being asked about the desirable level of public debt to which the economy should converge following a debt shock. While some countries face debt sustainability constraints that leave them little choice, others are in the more comfortable position of being able to fund themselves at reasonable—even exceptionally low—interest rates. For these countries, there is a very real question of whether to live with high debt while allowing the debt ratio to decline organically through growth, or to pay it down deliberately to reduce the burden of the debt.

This paper considers optimal public debt and investment policy in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. It abstracts from rollover risks faced by countries that are near their debt limits, and also from shorter-run cyclical considerations. It is not that these considerations are unimportant— for they surely are at present in a number of countries. But they are not the dominant factors for countries that are near full employment and enjoy considerable fiscal space (even in some cases despite relatively high levels of public debt, as argued in our earlier IMF Staff Position Note on this topic, Ostry and others [2010]), a set of countries that are also in need of policy advice.

Global Ebola Response: Making a difference – Progress Report 2015

June 16, 2015 Comments off

Making a difference – Progress Report 2015
Source: United Nations

At the end of 2014, the number of people being infected each week with Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was still more than 300. That number plateaued at around 100–150 for several weeks in early 2015 before decreasing. By the end of April 2015, less than 30 people were reported as infected each week—the lowest number since May last year. It is expected that—if efforts are focused, sustained, aligned and effective – the outbreak will end in 2015.

Categories: ebola, United Nations

Islamic Finance, Consumer Protection, and Financial Stability

May 27, 2015 Comments off

Islamic Finance, Consumer Protection, and Financial Stability
Source: International Monetary Fund

Consumer protection and financial literacy are essential pillars of a well functioning and stable financial system. As the global financial crisis demonstrated, inadequate attention to consumer protection and financial literacy can lead to financial instability. Though Shari’ah principles provide a strong foundation for consumer protection, the principles alone cannot provide adequate protection because not all providers are guided by ethical precepts and the practices have deviated from the principles. To safeguard the stability of the Islamic finance industry, consumer protection frameworks that cater to the specifics of Islamic financial products should be an integral part of regulatory frameworks.

The changing nature of jobs – World Employment and Social Outlook 2015

May 27, 2015 Comments off

The changing nature of jobs – World Employment and Social Outlook 2015
Source: International Labour Organization
From press release:

Only one quarter of workers worldwide is estimated to have a stable employment relationship, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The World Employment and Social Outlook 2015 (WESO) finds that, among countries with available data (covering 84 per cent of the global workforce), three quarters of workers are employed on temporary or short-term contracts, in informal jobs often without any contract, under own-account arrangements or in unpaid family jobs.

Over 60 per cent of all workers lack any kind of employment contract, with most of them engaged in own-account* or contributing family work in the developing world. However, even among wage and salaried workers, less than half (42 per cent) are working on a permanent contract.

The first edition of the new, annual flagship report, entitled The Changing Nature of Jobs, shows that while wage and salaried work is growing worldwide, it still accounts for only half of global employment, with wide variations across regions. For example, in the developed economies and Central and South-Eastern Europe, around eight in ten workers are employees, whereas in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa the figure is closer to two in ten.

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