The consequences of violence worldwide are dire. More than half a million people die from violent deaths each year. In 2019, violence cost the global economy $14.5 trillion USD, or $1,909 USD per person. Countries with armed conflicts account for 80 percent of humanitarian spending. Beyond these cold numbers, the human toll of violence results in the suffering of families, trauma-affected communities, and increased fear and hopelessness. Different types of violence—such as crime, violent extremism, and armed conflict—are often interlinked and share risk and resilience factors. Although currently siloed, the UN system has the capacities and knowledge to develop approaches to prevention that cut across interlinked forms of violence.
Si vis pacem, cole justitiam” – “If you desire peace, cultivate justice,” is the motto enshrined in the foundations of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) building in Geneva, established in 1919. World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the fear of communism that followed, had convinced world leaders that, “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice,” as they stated in the 1919 Versailles Treaty. Widespread injustice, inequalities, and exclusion were the enemies of peace. Many would argue they are no less relevant today.
The global pandemic has laid bare the digital inequities across vertical (income) and horizontal (social, political, and identity) dimensions, while exposing the extent to which pre-pandemic approaches to bridging the digital divide have been dominated by economic considerations even while they are not universally treated as policy priorities.
Systemic and legal barriers to equal political participation persist at all levels and take different forms, including unfavorable electoral systems, lack of support from political parties, socio-economic, and cultural. Women, people with disabilities, indigenous people, LGBT+ individuals, and young people face all of these barriers, particularly insufficient access to political finance.
There are multiple examples of solidarity taxes imposed across country contexts over previous decades. The solidarity taxes that were levied were done to mitigate effects of a crisis such as a pandemic, as well as rebuilding of nations that had been affected by world wars (examples include Zimbabwe and Germany). Considering the renewed interest in solidarity taxes in the wake of COVID-19, author Attiya Waris reviews the history of solidarity taxes, and discusses key lessons from the past, in addition to drawing these lessons and findings into policy reccomendations moving forward.