Financialisation & Human Rights Project

NHS workers protest over pay justice, patient safety and an end to privatisation, during the 73rd anniversary of the Health Service, in London, July 2021. Credit: John Gomez/ Shutterstock

NHS workers protest over pay justice, patient safety and an end to privatisation, during the 73rd anniversary of the Health Service, in London, July 2021. Credit: John Gomez/ Shutterstock

Over the last generation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have facilitated the financialisation of the global economy and of international development, driving the restructuring of economies in the Global South to prioritise international financial interests over their own populations, with far reaching impacts on internationally-recognised human rights like the right to water, housing and the right to development itself.

While most people are unfamiliar with the term ‘financialisation’, it has become such an important process shaping the world economy, and people’s lives in the Global North and South, that according to many economists we now no longer live in the age of ‘industrialised capitalism’. We have now entered a new era of ‘financialised capitalism’. The economic, political, social and cultural impacts of financialisation have been so severe it has been recognised as a threat to human rights by 17 United Nations Special Rapporteurs, including on the  right to development, safe drinking water, housing and a democratic and equitable international order.

Financialisation has had profound impacts on the global economy, resulting in the restructuring of economies in the Global North and South to the detriment of people living in both regions. Its effects in the Global South have been especially pernicious as it has directly or indirectly undermined the autonomy of states in the Global South to meet their international human rights obligations and respond to the current global polycrisis, from the climate emergency and the current economic crisis to the growing poverty and inequality that impact the daily lives of people in the Global South.

The Bretton Woods Project’s Financialisation and Human Rights project aims to highlight the role of the World Bank and IMF in driving the financialisation of the Global South, and explain why it should matter to civil society organisations working on issues related to economic justice, gender and human rights, and catalyse activism on financialisation and financialisation-related issues. The Project believes that financialisation is not inevitable and that coordinated cross-sector action is urgently required to mitigate its impact and overturn the dominance of financial sector interests.

 


 

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Robert Bain
Financialisation & Human Rights Project Lead
rbain[at]brettonwoodsproject.org