SDGs: Nigeria, others call for inclusive global system

Nigeria and the African Group on Thursday called for an equitable and fair international tax system toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The group’s representatives made the call at a news conference on ‘Promotion of Inclusive and Effective International Tax Cooperation at the United Nations’ in New York.

During the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Nigeria presented a historic resolution which laid the foundation for creating a new system of international tax cooperation that should be universal in scope and approach.

With this, member states agreed for the first time to have a convention on tax cooperation, discuss global tax issues, and review progress annually.

The motion, submitted for consideration by Nigeria on behalf of the 54-member African Group of States, was adopted by consensus after some discussions on a failed amendment.

The envoys, however, expressed optimism that promoting inclusive International Tax Cooperation remained a critical step in attaining the 2030 SDGs.

The chair of the African Group, Chola Milambo, said the resolution was a step toward a future where sustainable development, encompassing economic growth and environmental stewardship, went hand-in-hand.

“In essence, this convention is about humanising our approach to global economics. It’s about creating a system that serves not just economies but the people at their core. It represents a commitment to a future where every nation, regardless of its economic stature, can thrive.

“On behalf of the African Group, I appeal for collaborative effort and consensus in realising this convention. Together, we can forge a global tax system that is truly representative, fair and effective, benefiting every nation and every citizen,” he said.

Mr Milambo, Zambia’s permanent representative to the UN, said the group had taken a significant step forward with proposing a Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation.

“This framework convention is not merely a policy document; it is a beacon of hope for developing countries that have long sought a voice in the shaping of international tax norms,” said Mr Milambo. “It addresses the critical shortcomings of the current system, which often sidelines the unique challenges and perspectives of developing nations.”

“Our proposal acknowledges the contributions of existing bodies like the OECD and the UN Tax Committee while also recognising their limitations in fully representing the interests of all nations, particularly those in the developing world,” added Mr Milambo.

According to him, the convention’s primary goal is to ensure that all countries, regardless of their size or economic power, have an equal seat in setting the agenda for international tax cooperation.

“This is a step toward rectifying the historical imbalance in global tax governance, offering a more equitable platform for dialogue and decision-making.

“By establishing a more equitable tax system, we unlock greater potential for spending in critical sectors like healthcare and education, pivotal for Africa and the Global South,” he said.

The envoy said the increased revenue generated would enable countries to allocate resources where they were most needed, supporting sustainable growth and development.

He said the approach was encompassed under ‘sustainable development’, ensuring that initiatives directly contributed to the SDGs, reflecting a shared commitment to a future where holistic progress and well-being were accessible to all.