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Ahead of the G8 summit in Camp David on Friday, a group of United Nations human rights “experts” are throwing their weight behind a longstanding campaign for a so-called “Robin Hood tax” on international financial transactions.

In a statement issued in Geneva – home to the U.N.’s human rights apparatus – the five called the financial transaction tax (FTT) a way “to offset the costs of the enduring economic, financial, fuel, climate and food crises, and to protect basic human rights.”

It would provide “a pragmatic tool for providing the means for governments to protect and fulfill the human rights of their people,” they said.

“The FTT is an opportunity for governments to move beyond rhetoric in their commitments to sustainable development, and to give flesh to their noble pronouncements of solidarity,” said one of the five, Virginia Dandan, whose title is “independent expert on human rights and international solidarity.”

The decades-old idea of levying a small charge on financial transactions – dubbed a “Robin Hood tax” since it supposedly taxes rich nations to benefit poor ones – has animated a wide range of advocacy groups, who see it as a way to help tackle everything from poverty to the cost of HIV/Aids care, to the emission of gases blamed for climate change.

High-profile proponents include Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s new socialist president, Francois Hollande, both of whom will be at the G8 event and the subsequent NATO summit in Chicago.

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