Monday, September 17, 2007

Partnership with the Tax Justice Network for Africa

The world will be an ideal place to live if and only if everyone has access to the innumerable resources it possesses. To build such an equitable world founded on principles of social justice, concerted action is necessary on all sides. It is thus in this spirit that YTJN has strengthened its partnership with the Tax Justice Network for Africa. By Smalto Kabuya.

The Youth Tax Justice Network (YTJN), recently launched in January at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, has just taken an important step forward in its work for a more just and equitable world by forming a partnership with the Tax Justice Network for Africa (TJNA).

TJNA is a civil society organisation, part of the international Tax Justice Network whose scope of activities includes a range of subjects relating to tax justice. Like the Youth Tax Justice Network, TJNA was also launched at the beginning of 2007. Indeed, the launch was considered one of the most important events of the World Social Forum in Nairobi. TJNA just held the very first meeting of its Steering Committee on June 21st-23rd in Cape Town, South Africa – testimony to its reassuring beginnings.

Wanting to consolidate its efforts and connect them with those of TJNA, YTJN decided it would be useful to submit a memorandum to TJNA’s Steering Committee outlining how the two networks might build a strong partnership. The report, which anticipated significant and diverse collaboration between the two organisations, had four principal sections – a brief overview of YTJN, potential areas of collaboration between the two organizations, support that TJNA could provide for the youth network, and suggestions of priorities for the African research agenda

Why does YTJN want to build a partnership with TJNA?

The Youth Tax Justice Network is a movement uniting students and young people concerned about issues of tax justice. In its general philosophy, YTJN considers young people as more than recipients of information: they are also valuable spokespeople, able to engage positively and effectively in processes of change at national and international levels. As a result, YTJN believes civil society networks must involve young people in the diverse activities that they undertake, allowing them to share their ideas and relevant campaign experience and in return obtain pertinent advice and necessary expertise.

YTJN is still in its initial stages, and thus has concentrated first on establishing channels of communication amongst its members, which currently come from over a dozen countries across the world, including Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Switzerland, Cameroon, the UK, the US, and Austria. Apart from building a website at, YTJN decided to launch a newsletter (pdf) in August 2007 with articles written by its members.

Hoping to increase its membership in the near future, YTJN aims not only to organise larger campaigns dealing with issues of tax justice but also at a later date to establish an organizational structure on continental and national levels. Crucially, since youth form the largest group of the population, actions supported and carried out by informed young people cannot but have a considerable impact. Combined with the hope of receiving important support from TJNA for achieving its objectives, that is why YTJN decided it was important to add its efforts to those of TJNA. The two organizations can support and consolidate the others’ work on tax justice – their common denominator and uniting purpose.

Working Together for Tax Justice

The principle driving both organizations, tax justice, revolves around good fiscal management and is based on the idea that the efficacy of fiscal systems is determined by how and to whom they channel states’ financial resources. The development so wished for by people around the world will not happen except to the degree that first, resource mobilization at the level of the state is subjected to good fiscal policies and second, better fiscal regulation is applied at the international level. As a result, tax justice lies at the centre of all activity aimed towards achieving sustainable, just, and equitable development. It is in this spirit that YTJN is entering into a partnership with TJNA.

In terms of specific areas of collaboration, cooperation between the two organizations will focus on information dissemination and planning joint events as well as consultations on which subjects should be the priorities for debates, research, campaigns, and actions to be taken jointly in Africa. The dissemination of information is important because until now the majority of people in Africa have remained relatively uninformed about issues related to tax justice. At the same time, collaboration on research will be essential and can be enabled through an exchange between the two organizations – YTJN can identify among its members students who are undertaking research on themes important to TJNA, and in return, TJNA can connect YTJN with available expertise.

As a start to the collaboration and to define its research priorities, YTJN created a detailed list of subjects its members judged as priorities for debates, campaigns, and research in the African network. The most important themes that emerged from this list are:

1. Taxation, Representation, and the Rule of Law
2. Governance and International Resource Flows
3. Operation of Corporate Entities in Africa
4. Tax Justice, Debt, and Africa’s Resources
5. Popular knowledge
6. Taxation structures

The memorandum discussed here was well received by the Steering Committee of the Tax Justice Network for Africa who, in its deliberations, took note of YTJN’s pertinent suggestions. YTJN is happy to be working in partnership with TJNA and encourages all young people and students interested in discussing tax justice issues, writing an article, or making suggestions to the networks to write to

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