International Current Affairs 2017

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Germany legalises Same-Sex Marriage

Germany has legalised same-sex marriage in line with a host of other European countries. German lawmakers had voted 393 for- and 226 against legalising same-sex marriage.

Salient Facts

Since 2001 Germany permits same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships but do not grant them full marital rights which include the possibility to jointly adopt children.

The new law can enter into force after receiving the nod from the upper house of Parliament and the President, though those are formalities.

Though Chancellor Angela Merkel had voted against the measure, she had allowed her party members to vote as per their conscience. The move has to be seen in the light of upcoming September 24 general elections in Germany. This bill is one of the very last to be introduced in parliament before the September general elections. In her 12 years as Chancellor, Merkel has steered her party clear of conservative orthodoxy. She has been credited for speeding up Germany’s exit from nuclear power and ending military conscription.

Many European countries have a same-sex marriage law. In the countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, the UK (except Northern Ireland and Jersey), and the Republic of Ireland civil marriages are legally recognised. But in Austria and Italy, only civil partnerships are permitted.

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India offers $100,000 to UN Tax Fund

India has contributed $ 100,000 to the UN Trust Fund for International Cooperation in Tax Matters (the UN Tax Fund). The fund is aimed at helping the developing countries to actively participate in the discussion of tax issues. This was announced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Office for Financing, Development Office. India has also earned the distinction of becoming the first country to make a voluntary contribution to the UN tax fund.

Salient Highlights

The objective of UN Tax Trust Fund is to support the work of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (the UN Tax Committee). The funding will be used for supporting the participation of the developing countries’ in the sub-committee meetings of the UN Tax Committee, which are currently unfunded.

The UN and the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters have been calling for the voluntary contributions for the tax fund since its establishment in 2006. The call for the contribution to the tax fund was also made at the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which was adopted at the third International Conference on Financing for Development in 2015. India has become the first country to respond to this call. India has expressed its hope that other countries will also make similar contributions to the UN fund in near future.

The UN expects that the funding will support more developing countries to draw upon the best practice of other bodies, ensuring effective and efficient global tax cooperation norms and rules for all countries and all stakeholders.

Background

The UN Tax Committee is a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ESOSOC). The UN Tax Committee offers guidance on current issues such as double taxation treaties, transfer pricing, taxation of the extractive industries and taxation of services. It also strives to promote international tax cooperation among national tax authorities. It also makes recommendations on capacity-building and the provision of technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Addis Ababa Action Agenda provides a global framework for effective mobilisation of resources at the national and international level for sustainable development. Implementation of this agenda also supports the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It forms an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was unanimously adopted in 2015.

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