Global Financial Integrity

GFI header image

Int’l Bar Association Forms Task Force Investigating Human Rights Implications of Illicit Financial Flows

Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 ext. 222

GFI Advisory Board Member to Chair Group of Experts

WASHINGTON, DC – The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Initiative (IBAHRI) today announced the formation of a international task force charged with investigating the linkages between illicit financial flows, poverty and human rights violations.  Chaired by Global Financial Integrity Advisory Board member and Yale University Professor Thomas Pogge, the task force consists of prominent academics, tax experts, and lawyers from around the world.

In 2010, Prof. Pogge helped organize the New Haven Declaration on Human Rights and Financial Integrity, a statement from 20 international human rights and development organizations highlighting the human rights implications of illicit financial flows.  Shortly thereafter, the IBAHRI Council adopted a resolution on poverty and human rights recognizing “severe, endemic and chronic poverty as a violation of human rights.”

Scroll down for the full press release from the IBAHRI with more details on the newly-formed task force.


For comments from Global Financial Integrity, contact:

Clark Gascoigne
+1 202 293 0740 ext.222


Illicit Financial Flows – A Violation of Human Rights? New International Task Force to Explore

April 4, 2012

LONDON (IBAHRI) – An international task force comprised of leading academics, tax experts, and lawyers has been convened to analyse how illicit financial flows – specifically the proceeds of tax abuse – contribute to poverty and subsequently affect the enforcement of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) across the globe.

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights InstituteTask Force on Illicit Flows, Poverty and Human Rights (IBAHRI Task Force) recently held its inaugural plenary meeting in the City of London to discuss the scope of the project, potential outcomes, and research priorities. The three key objectives of the IBAHRI Task Force are as identified as:

  1. To publish an innovative report containing findings and a set of recommendations on the correlation between tax havens, poverty, and human rights;
  2. To widely disseminate the report with the aim of elevating the issue of tax evasion and human rights onto global policy agendas, and sustaining discussion thereafter; and
  3. To incite multi-level policy changes in the area of tax evasion and ESCR adjudication to help end global poverty.

While substantive links have been established between human rights and poverty, and between poverty and tax evasion, comparatively little time has been spent considering tax evasion and tax avoidance as a human rights concern.

Chaired by Professor Thomas Pogge, Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University in the United States, the IBAHRI Task Force will explore the relationship between these themes, including a pointed examination of the mining and resources industries in developing countries.

Professor Pogge commented, ‘Severe poverty is avoidable, yet persists at an astonishing level. Roughly one billion human beings are chronically undernourished, and 2.5 billion subsist on less each day than what could be bought for $2.50 in the US in 2005, according to figures of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Bank, respectively.’ He added, ‘The poorer half of humankind has less than three per cent of global household income. Complementing explorations of how aid can be better focused and made more effective, our task force will consider reforms that would enhance access by the poor to a larger share of their country’s wealth which is often unjustly appropriated by local elites or foreign firms or banks.

The members of the IBAHRI Task Force are:

  • Professor Thomas Pogge, Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, Yale University,USA(Chair);
  • Mr Joseph Bell, Partner, Hogan Lovells; Extractive Industries Advisor, International Senior Lawyers Project, USA;
  • Professor Stephen B Cohen, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, USA;
  • Mr Sternford Moyo, IBAHRI Co-Chair; Senior Partner, Scanlen and Holderness, Zimbabwe;
  • Professor Robin Palmer, Director of the Institute for Professional Legal Training (IPLT), University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa;
  • Mr Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD, France;
  • Professor Celia Wells, Head of Bristol University Law School, UK;
  • Mr Lloyd Lipsett, President, LKL International Consulting Inc (Rapporteur); and
  • Ms Shirley Pouget, Programme Lawyer, IBAHRI (Facilitator)

The project follows the adoption of a resolution on poverty and human rights by the IBAHRI Council in May 2010 which posited severe, endemic and chronic poverty as a violation of human rights.

Sternford Moyo, Co-Chair IBAHRI said, ‘Few will require persuasion to appreciate that poverty limits, and sometimes even eliminates, access to fundamental rights. Furthermore, the negative impact of poverty on the quality of life seriously undermines enjoyment of the right to life. Accordingly, those responsible for national poverty, whether through tax evasion or other forms of illicit financial flows, should be viewed as being partly responsible for the violations of fundamental human rights which often accompany poverty.

The IBAHRI Task Force was launched on 30 March 2012 at the offices of the International Bar Association.


For further information please contact:

Romana St. Matthew – Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4 4AD

Mobile: +44 (0)7940 731 915
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
Fax:+44 (0)20 7842 0091


Notes for the Editor

Important links:


Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization which promotes transparency in the international financial system.

For additional information please visit

Follow us on: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube