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Global inequality, Israeli settlements boycott, human rights litigation and US solar jobs
World’s richest 62 people own as much as half the human race
The world’s 62 richest billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world population, an Oxfam report has revealed.
The study “An Economy For the 1%: How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped” finds that while the wealth of the poorest 50% dropped by 41% over the past five years, in that same period the wealth of the richest 62 individuals increased by £350bn to surpass £1.2tn.
To tackle growing inequality, Oxfam outlines a threefold approach consisting of cracking down on tax dodging and ending the era of tax havens, increasing investment in public services, and boosting the salaries of lowest income workers.
HRW: boycott businesses in Israeli settlements
In a report called “Occupation, Inc: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls on organisations to stop operating in, financing, or trading with businesses in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
HRW documents the ways in which Israeli settlements violate international law, citing the fourth Geneva convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its citizens into territory it occupies, adding: “Israel’s confiscation of land, water, and other natural resources for the benefit of settlements and residents of Israel also violate the Hague Regulations of 1907, which prohibit an occupying power from expropriating the resources of occupied territory for its own benefit.”
Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights division at HRW, says: “The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with – and in – Israeli settlements.”
NGOs promote litigation to combat modern slavery
A joint report by the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center and the Freedom Fund is encouraging the increased use of strategic litigation to combat human rights violations.
In recent years, strategic litigation has successfully held both states and private actors accountable in cases involving modern-day slavery and human trafficking. One such example comes from the US where, in 2015, maritime services corporation Signal International was pushed to bankruptcy after being sued by hundreds of Indian workers alleging forced labour.
Martina Vandenberg, founder and president of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, and Nick Grono, chief executive at the Freedom Fund, believe governments have failed to prosecute those engaged in modern slavery, particularly in corporate supply chains.
The two organisations are working to establish a network of human rights lawyers, civil rights litigators, NGOs, investigative journalist, and donors, which together will use strategic litigation to secure justice for victims and punish perpetrators.
US solar employs more workers than oil and gas
According to a report by the Solar Foundation, the US solar industry now employs more workers than oil and gas.
The non-profit group’s 2015 National Solar Job Census reveals that employment in the US solar industry grew by 20% for a third consecutive year, bringing the number of workers to 209,000 at the end of 2015.
However, growth in the US solar workforce was not spread equally across all job categories, with employees of installation companies accounting for 65% of the jobs created in 2015.
The report also indicates that the US solar installation sector is adding workers nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy. The census states: “Since 2014, solar installation has created more jobs than oil and gas pipeline construction and crude petroleum and natural gas extraction combined.”