Background Program and Presentations Resources Participants Strategy Report

Advancing Tax Justice Through Human Rights

the program can be downloaded in pdf here

se puede descargar el programa en español aquí

Wednesday April 29

8.30 - 9.00: Registration and coffee

9.00 - 9.30: Welcome - strategy meeting aims, methodology and expectations

9.30-11.00 Session 1: MAKING THE LINK: Human rights in tax policy

Our first session will explore the links between tax and fiscal policy and civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. The human rights community over the last decade has made important advances in analyzing budgets, assessing the allocation of resources in light of human rights criteria, and interrogating the management of public revenues from the extractive industry. Much less attention has been paid from a human rights perspective to the tax side of the fiscal policy equation. Conversely, the tax justice community has yet to engage fully with human rights standards and mechanisms in its advocacy. In the context of fiscal austerity, and growing inequality in countries North and South, participants in this session will illustrate how internationally-recognized human rights are affected by the 4 “R”s of taxation - the resourcing, redistributive, re-pricing/regulatory and representativeness/accountability functions of taxation, and highlight the opportunities and political, legal and other challenges of bringing human rights into tax policy.

See background note here (esp)


  • Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights – Tax as a fundamental human rights issue [via video feed]
  • Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight, Oxfam, former Minister of Finance of Guatemala - Fiscal policy and human rights
  • Shirley Pouget, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) - The opportunities and challenges in bringing human rights into tax policy
  • John Christensen, Tax Justice Network (TJN) - The promise of bringing human rights to bear in the struggle for tax justice
  • Radhika Balakrishnan, Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University (CWGL) - Economic Cycles, Tax Policy and Human Rights Obligations

Moderator: Ignacio Saiz, Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)


11.00-11.15: Coffee break

11.15-13.00 Session 2: TAKING STOCK: Advances in bridging human rights and fiscal policy

Our second session will take stock of advances in bringing human rights to bear in fiscal, budget and tax policy and practice. Participants will share experiences of using human rights standards to challenge unjust fiscal and tax policies in specific contexts, and in so doing consolidate our understanding of how the norms and standards of human rights are already being operationalized into fiscal policy and practice.

See background note here (esp)


Moderator: Luis Moreno, Red de Justicia Fiscal en América Latina y el Caribe


13.00 – 14.00: Lunch


Taxation is one of the most important instruments governments deploy to generate the ‘maximum available resources’ for the progressive realization of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights, as they are required to do under international human rights law. Yet, tax also plays a fundamental role in redistributing resources in ways that can either deepen or relieve inequalities of all kinds. In this session, participants will share experiences on how tax laws, policies and practices can be used to reverse growing inequalities, and thus provide a key policy tool for upholding the equal human rights of all people, with a special focus on women’s rights. Likewise, participants will discuss how existing human rights standards can infuse tax policy with the higher-order priority of contributing to substantive equality and ending structural discrimination.

See background note here (esp)


  • Rosa María Cañete, Oxfam – Economic inequality, human rights and tax policy
  • Marciano Buffon, Instituto de Justicia Fiscal, Brasil – Inequality and taxation in Brazil and Latin America the 21st Century
  • Juan Pablo Jimenez, Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean - Inequality, income concentration and taxation of high incomes in Latin America
  • Kathleen Lahey, Queens University – Women’s human rights and tax justice
  • Mae Buenaventura, Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development – Addressing unpaid care work as a key element of the women's empowerment and tax justice agenda
  • Corina Rodriguez, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) – Gender equality and taxation: insights from Latin America

Moderator: Liz Nelson, TJN

16:15-16:30: Coffee break


This session enters into specific tax policy arenas, with the aim of exploring how human rights can make certain tax tools and instruments more effective, more sustainable and more just. The concrete tax policy arenas identified below will form the focus of these workshops.

A.    Human rights duties beyond borders to combat illicit financial flows and cross-border tax abuse [Sala Quenamari]

See background note here

Facilitator: Niko Lusiani, CESR


  • Sergio Chaparro, DeJusticia
  • Sorley McCaughey, Christian Aid Ireland
  • Juan Diego Gomez, Public Services International (PSI)

B.    Human rights protection in investment promotion [Sala Salcantay]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Mario Valencia, CEDETRABAJO/Red de Justicia Fiscal LAC


  • Jane Nalunga, SEATINI
  • Jorge Coronado, CNE/Red de Justicia Fiscal LAC
  • Jihen Chandoul, Tunisian Observatory of the Economy

C.    Business, human rights and tax [Sala Quenamari]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Amanda Romero, Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC)


  • David Quentin, TJN
  • Krishen Mehta, TJN
  • Uwe Gneiting, Oxfam America

D.    Participatory and gender-responsive budgeting – linking tax policy to public service investment [Sala Mirador]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Teresa Marshall, Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ)


  • Diego de la Mora, FUNDAR, Centro de Análisis e Investigación
  • Fabián Carrillo, Grupo Faro Ecuador
  • Ana Inés Abelenda, Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
  • Rosa Emilia Salamanca, Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE)

E.    The human rights case for progressive income and capital taxes [Sala Salcantay]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Rosa María Cañete, Oxfam


  • Radhika Balakrishan, CWGL
  • Alejandra Contreras, Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales (ICEFI)
  • Juan Luis Espada, CEDLA/Red de Justicia Fiscal LAC

17:45- 18:30: Report back from breakout sessions and wrap up

Special message from Magdalena Sepúlveda, UN Research Institute for Social Development, Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) and former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights [via video feed]

18.30: Reception

Thursday April 30

9.00 - 9.30: Recap of Day 1 | Expectations for Day 2

Special message from Attiya Waris, University of Nairobi, Kenya [via video feed]

9.30-11.00 Session 5: COURTING TAX JUSTICE: Strategic litigation for human rights-centred fiscal policy

Part of the power of framing tax justice as a matter of human rights lies in the potential to invoke an array of mechanisms set up at the national and international level to hold governments accountable to their human rights obligations. To date, these mechanisms – courts and quasi judicial bodies – have seldom been engaged to challenge tax abuses, and many still require normative and practical guidance to apply international human rights law to the sphere of fiscal injustice. However, an increasing number of litigation initiatives, particularly in the context of the economic crisis and austerity, are beginning to push national courts and regional bodies to scrutinize states’ reasons for adopting budgetary restrictions and explain their resource generation priorities. This session will explore the potentials and pitfalls of pursuing strategic litigation as complementary tools in advocating for more just fiscal policy. Participants will discuss how they’ve utilized such accountability mechanisms in key country contexts (e.g. constitutional courts), at the regional (e.g. regional human rights commissions) and international level (e.g. UN treaty bodies, Special Rapporteurs).

See background note here (esp)


Moderator: Gaby Oré Aguilar, CESR


11.00–11.15: Coffee break


Having discussed the potential of utilizing various human rights accountability mechanisms for tax justice, we will move to explore how human rights can strengthen the tax justice demands in a select group of key regional and global advocacy fora. Participants will explore gaps in research and advocacy to ensure these processes serve the purpose of embedding human rights in national and international tax policies. The following four specific advocacy opportunities will form the focus of these parallel workshops.

A.    Fiscal justice post-2015: Sustainable development financing and accountability [Sala Mirador]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Ana Inés Abelenda, AWID


  • Zorka Milin, ASAP
  • Kate Donald, CESR
  • Diego de la Mora, FUNDAR

B.    The influence of the International Monetary Fund and development finance institutions on tax and fiscal policies [Sala Salcantay]

See background note here (esp)

René Martinez


  • Alejandra Contreras, ICEFI
  • Rodolfo Bejarano, LATINDaDD
  • Armando Mendoza, Oxfam Peru

C.    Regional integration bodies (e.g. UNASUR, CELAC, SICA, etc.) as strategic avenues for tax and fiscal justice [Sala Quenamari]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Carlos Bedoya, LATINDaDD


  • Juan Luis Espada, CEDLA
  • Juan Diego Gomez, Public Services International
  • Jane Nalunga, SEATINI

D.    BEPS process and international tax governance [Sala Salcantay]

See background note here (esp)

Facilitator: Krishen Mehta, TJN


  • Heba Khalil, ECESR
  • Renaud Fossard, LatinDaDD
  • John Christensen, TJN

13.00–14.00: Lunch

14.00–14.45: Report back from breakout sessions


Participants will share experiences and insights in conducting inter-disciplinary collaboration of the kind needed for successful tax and human rights work. Participants will also discuss specific projects in the pipeline (e.g. national case studies) which offer potential for collaboration across different communities of practice (tax policy, development, human rights, litigation, etc.) seeking to strengthen the human rights and fiscal policy linkages in very practical terms. By the end of this session, a number of research and/or advocacy collaboration avenues will be identified for exploration beyond the strategy meeting. 

See background note here

Moderator: Teresa Marshall, Global Alliance for Tax Justice

16.00–16.15: Break


Concluding reflections from co-organizers

Imad Sabih, Oxfam