United Nations challenges G20/OECD on international tax cooperation

Monday, 04 December 2023
Member countries of the United Nations General Assembly have voted by a 125 to 48 majority to bring international tax cooperation within the UN's remit.
UN flag waving in the air

The resolution for a UN tax convention was filed by Nigeria and largely supported by developing nations. Several OECD Member States voted for it, including Columbia, Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Norway, although it directly challenges the G20-mandated leadership of the OECD in international tax matters. Most leading industrialised blocs, including the European Union, US, UK and Japan, opposed it.

Nigeria's action was backed by the African Union group of nations, which issued a statement noting that it had campaigned for many years to establish a fully inclusive process at the UN so that 'global south' countries could participate in agenda setting and norm setting on international tax. It now hopes to agree an effective UN framework convention on international tax cooperation to mobilise resources for the continent's development.

The UN General Assembly resolution was couched in terms of 'promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation', aiming for an 'open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee to elaborate a comprehensive UN Tax Convention' led by Member States. It set a tentative deadline to finish the UN tax convention by June 2025, with 'clear links between international taxation and other key UN agendas'.

Governments of several developing countries issued statements supporting the project. The Bahamas' prime minister and finance minister Philip Davis said the 'historic' resolution could promote equity in global tax administration and 'ultimately move decision-making on global tax rules from the OECD, a small club of rich countries, to the UN'. The Bahamas had contributed a comprehensive report to the UN Secretary-General, he said, advocating a 'fair tax system that embraces the diverse fiscal landscapes of all nations and particularly supports the economic realities of developing countries'.


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