UN Experts Warn Profit Movement Threatens Human Rights |
Among the rights at risk of increased speculation in financial markets by hedge funds and other investment funds are: the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, food, adequate housing, development and a healthy and sustainable environment, among other things.
Exploitation of the marginalized
In their statement, independent special rapporteurs and other experts expressed concerns about the gradual invasion of new areas of the economy by financial speculators, endangering human rights…
They highlighted trade in areas essential to the enjoyment of the human rights of marginalized, indigenous peoples, communities of African descent and peasants, persons with disabilities and persons with albinism, and those living in conflict zones.
The experts also noted that the so-called financialization – the growth of new financial instruments since the 1980s, managed by new financial services – has a disproportionate impact on the exercise of their rights by women and girls who systematically become victims of discrimination… The impact on the elderly was also highlighted.
Funding negatively affects the enjoyment of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, food, adequate housing, development + a healthy and sustainable environment. UN experts urge states to adequately regulate the financial services sector: https://t.co/m6ZsobvQR5 pic.twitter.com/UnxgAaHO10
– UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) October 20, 2021
Impact on housing
According to the former Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, in recent years, huge amounts of global capital have been invested in housing as a commodity, as collateral for financial instruments traded in world markets and as a means of accumulating wealth.
However, when the 2008 global financial crisis hit, many homes suddenly lost most of their value, and individuals and families were suddenly homeless.
The expert also noted that in the Global South, informal settlements in southern cities are regularly demolished for the construction of luxury housing and commercial development intended for the wealthiest segments of the population.…
This asset financialization process only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, the expert said.
‘Speculative food bubble’
In agricultural markets, experts told how large international banks responsible for the global financial crisis, has invested billions of dollars in food futures, which has driven up the price of raw materials such as wheat, corn and soybeans, which have doubled or even tripled in a few months, creating new speculative food bubble…
According to the World Bank, an additional 130 to 150 million people live in extreme poverty and hunger, mostly in low-income countries that depend on food imports to feed their populations.
The experts highlighted how Housing and food finance has exacerbated inequality and exclusion, disproportionately affecting heavily indebted and low-income households.
According to them, the application of speculative logic in these areas violates the human rights of people living in poverty, exacerbates gender inequality and exacerbates the vulnerability of marginalized communities.
Experts also noted the growing monetization and commodification of ecosystem services such as carbon storage.
They warned that it threatens the resilience of ecosystems, marginalizes natural and cultural values with no apparent economic value, and weakens the control of indigenous peoples and local communities over their territories…
According to them, the right to pollute and destroy nature is gradually being legalized and commercialized.
They also noted that referring to climate emergencies often ignore both the impact on people living in poverty and and undermines the human rights and livelihoods of the poorest.
An example of this was the eviction of indigenous peoples from forests or the replacement of complex old-growth forests with monocultures of fast-growing non-native tree species.
Treating housing, food, or the environment as assets to be traded by hedge funds and other financial entities in financial derivatives markets constitutes a direct attack on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights such as the right to housing, food and the right property. a healthy environment, or drinking water and sanitation, experts said.
Full list of 17 independent UN human rights experts who signed the statement: go here… All UN independent human rights experts are nominated Human Rights Counciland work as a volunteer. They serve in a personal capacity and are not UN staff members and do not receive salaries from the Organization.