Friday, December 02, 2016

Comparative Analysis From Cuba CounterPoints: (1) From Cuba, Trump: Reality Show or Real Politik?; (2) November 26, 2:13am: A Testimony and (3) U.S. Cuban Policy After Obama

(Cover Image by Gilberto Conill. Little Havana Street Celebration of Fidel Castro’s Passing (Nov. 26, 2016))


Our friends at Cuba CounterPoints have been following the two recent events with the greatest potential impacts on U.S.-Cuba relations--the election of Donald Trump and the death of Fidel Castro.  The former marks a very concrete possibility real changes going forward; the latter marks a potent symbolic passing of the manifestation of a foundational vision. They have published three interventions that may be of interest, one from Cuba, from the U.S. and one from the "trenches"  of the Cuban Diaspora.  The three follow below with links to the originals in Cuba Counterpoints. The first, from Cuba, Trump: Reality Show or Real Politik? By Yailenis Mulet Concepción (and translated from the Spanish original by Ariana Hernandez-Reguant) who concludes:
A Cuba without Fidel could evolve gradually toward an economic and political transition. Initially, that transition would unravel under the Development Plan’s guidelines, announced during the 7th Communist Party Congress and intended until 2030. Once Raúl Castro relinquishes the presidency, the process could accelerate. A Trump administration could alter these plans, either with a costly and fruitless reality show (a return to the Cold War and to U.S.-Cuban conflict) or with a real politik of greater positive consequence than that of Obama’s in normalizing relations between the two countries.
The second, November 26, 2:13am: A Testimony, by Vanessa Garcia provides a necessary cultural perspective from the Cuban diaspora:
My grandmother said it best when my mom told her what had happened. “Me siento extraña,” she said. “I feel strange.” For an entire generation on the island there is no reference point for change. For an entire generation outside the island, there is no reference point for our lives without Fidel, that real and imaginary figure, reshaped in Miami – Enemy #1. No wonder we spin, and spin. The hope is that once we stop spinning, we’ll still be able to find our North Star.
The third is my short intervention, U.S. Cuban Policy After Obama, which concludes:
The legacy of Obama might not be completely undone. But it will be redirected, and the pace of change may slow. Fidel’s death makes things easier—he has moved from contemporary to historical presence. But Cuba and the U.S. still speak quite different political languages, and their objectives for Cuba are quite different: well-managed economic contributions for the Cubans, and political transition for the United States. There is a small space where their interests converge. But there are still many people fighting old ghosts on both sides of the Florida Straits, and it is possible that even this small space may be appropriated by those with a substantial interest in preserving the past.
Additional articles are also worth reading (Freddie Monasterio, The New Creative Economy of Music; and Afonso Dias Ramos, The EY Exhibition: Wilfredo Lam). My thanks to Ariana Hernandez-Reguant for her critical work in pulling this together.


Thursday, December 01, 2016

Jen Hendry & Melissa Tatum: "Contested Spaces and Cultural Blinders: Perspectives on the Dakota Access Pipeline"



Protesters gather at an encampment near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Saturday, a day after tribal leaders received a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the federal land would be closed to the public Dec. 5.


The intertwining of environmental responsibilities, human rights, and the relationship of indigenous peoples to the land and their neighbors within the structures of the modern nation state  is very much in evidence in the still smoldering confrontation around the Dakota Access Pipeline. That confrontation involves the government of the United States, the project developer, Energy Transfer Partners, and the Standing Rock Sioux, near whose lands the pipeline will pass. Yet in a larger sense, it involves all of us.
The Standing Rock Sioux opposes the pipeline's construction near the Sioux reservation on the grounds that it threatens their public health and welfare, water supply and cultural resources. What began as a small protest camp in April on the Standing Rock reservation has since morphed into an encampment with over 1,000 people. Over the past few months, the Sacred Stone Camp, as it is now called, has been the site of a number of antagonistic face offs between protesters and the oil company (Aaron Sidder, Understanding the Controversy Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline,  Smithsonian, September 14, 2016).
The confrontation has involved lawsuits, calls by the government for voluntary work stoppage, and sometimes violent clashes between those who would halt the project and the company and its supporters. Only recently, "North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday ordered a mandatory evacuation of protesters seeking to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, but both the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they have no plans for “forcible removal” of the protesters. The Corps of Engineers earlier had said that it planned to close the camp, led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota, by Dec. 5, and that anyone still there could be prosecuted for trespassing." (see here).

My colleagues, Melissa Tatum, Research Professor of Law at the University of Arizona, and Jennifer Hendry, an Associate Professor in Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds School of Law, have taken on the issues raised in this context. Their essay, Contested Spaces and Cultural Blinders: Perspectives on the Dakota Access Pipeline, follows.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

境外非政府组织代表机构登记和临时活动备案办事指南 Guidelines for the registration of non - governmental organizations on behalf of foreign entities and the filing of provisional activities

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)


I have been writing about the new Foreign NGO Management Law in China. 
1. Introduction to China's Foreign NGO Management Law
2. Flora Sapoio on the FNGOML
3. Larry Catá Backer on the FNGOML.
4. Flora Sapio Response to Larry Catá Backer on FNGOML.

With thanks to Susan Finder who pointed this out to me, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security has recently uploaded to its website a set of guidelines for Foreign NGO Registration, with forms.  For those interested, this is worth a look.   

The link to the official site is HERE.  I include the original below (中国语文 only) to serve as a basis for comparison as these Guidelines (and the underlying legal structures) evolve.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ruminations 66/Democracy Part 37: "Las Ideas no se Matan;" Thoughts on the Death of Fidel Castro Ruz

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)


"Querido pueblo de Cuba. Hoy, 25 de noviembre, a las 10:29 horas de la noche falleció el Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana Fidel Castro Ruz. En cumplimiento a la voluntad expresa del Compañero Fidel, sus restos serán cremados. En las primeras horas de mañana sábado 26, la comisión organizadora de los funerales, brindará a nuestro pueblo una información detallada sobre la organización del Homenaje póstumo que se le tributará al fundador de la Revolución Cubana. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!" (video here).
It was with substantially these words that Raúl Castro, the current First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), President of the Council of State of Cuba and the President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba since 2008, announced that the body of his brother, Fidel Castro Ruz, ceased to function (video here). The announcement was a surprise, though only in that momentary sense of finally hearing what had long been expected.  In a sense Fidel Castro had died many years before--only his body lingered. Yet even that body continue to serve as the physical manifestation of those points of conflict, rupture, solidarity and ideology around which so many people, states, enterprises and organizations, had ordered their lives and their relationships to each other. That body served as the physical manifestation of clusters of conceptions, of approaches to the world and to the management of its people, of the concrete manifestations of values around which the world organized its normative structures and applied them, in at time the most brutal ways possible. That, certainly, was the sense of some of us in the Cuban community--both in Cuba and abroad.  It was a sense of liberation long after its most profound effects had long passed. 

And now of course, one is treated to the usual unctuous blandness that provides the self serving reflections of those who speak for the global communities. These reflections tell us more about those who utter them, and their own relationship with the dead, than they do about the object of their speaking.  The official U.S. response from our highest elected leaders provides a case in point.  Both President and President Elect spoke to the passing, each each statement was more notable for the way it spoke about the men who made them and their relationship to their own agendas (e.g., here for the respective statements), than it said much about the  confluence of events whose body was even then being prepared for incineration (e.g., here).  Others exhibited the same self reference (e.g., here, here, here). 

But even as his body is reduced to ash--to be venerated or despised in accordance with one's tastes-- the ideas, developed over half a century and more, appear more alive than ever.  "Las ideas no se matan" (ideas are not killed) (e.g., here, and  here).  Fidel was fond of weaving this notion in his speeches--derived ultimately from the French Enlightenment through Domingo Sarmiento, one of the great 19th century Argentine statesmen (e.g., here).  And they are more alive precisely because they have finally been liberated from the body whose own self interests, histories and lusts served to anchor and diminish their possibilities--for good or ill--in the world.  

It is to some of those ideas, now liberated and free to roam as they will, and to assume what form they will, and to be deployed as others might will, that is the object of this post. One cannot condense the dense interweaving of a maturing world view into a short post, but one can mark some of what for me are its most prominent features. These remains of Fidel Castro, are likely to retain their potency and influence in the years to come, especially in developing states (e.g., here).  It is the fool that would dismiss them and not prepare for their deployment, or fashion them for her own use int he coming years. And yet, perhaps, it is the greater fool that develops insights he is incapable of applying to his own circumstances.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Dialogue in Extremis: Venezuela and Political Dialogue Among the Ruins of Economy and Society

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

The indulgence of extremes in politics  invariably has a terrible effect--not on the political classes that profit from cultivating these schisms, but on the people on whose bodies these ideologies are etched--in hunger, deprivation, and forced migration. When they are not busy appearing at times to stoke those flames in the United States, American newspapers will sometimes chronicle the deterioration that is the indulgence of extremism within national political elites.  Venezuela provides the most egregious example.

This post considers fracture and dialogue in Venezuela's political scene.  It serves as a reminder that the indulgence in politics of the extreme, of ideological rigidity, can have disastrous effects on the internal operation of a state--no matter how wealthy and powerful it might have been.  It is also a reminder that these factional battles among elites will inevitably count as its principal victims the people in whose names these power-ideology conflicts are undertaken.  It is those victims of the enormous resources devoted to social, economic and political engineering, who are forced to endure the drama at the shortest distance from a stage which has been built on the ambition of national structural power and directed, in turn, by those great international forces to which all holders and aspirants to national power are obliged (e.g., here) including the United States (e.g., here). 

Flora Sapio: Reflections on the FLIA & CPE Side Event "Political Participation and the Global Civic Education of Youth" to the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

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Human Rights Council Resolution 28/14 established a Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. Further to that effort the UN announced its first Forum to be held in Geneva 21-22 November 2016 in Room XVII Palais des Nations. The theme for the first session of the Forum was Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision Making

 Both the Foundation for Law and International Affairs (FLIA) and the Coalition of Peace & Ethics (CPE) submitted responses to the call for consultation (see here and here). 

A number of side events were held in connection wit the first Forum: 
Widening space for young human rights defenders
YouthUp democracy through participatory policy-making
Not Too Young to Run: Promoting the rights of young people running for public office and leadership positions - Invitation
Tools to support Youth Engagement in the UN System

FLIA and CPE also organized a side event: Political Participation and the Global Civic Education of Youth. Flora Sapio here provides reflections on these events and those efforts, with a focus on education.   We invite comments and engagements.  This is an area in which there is much work to be done--and much to be undone. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reflections on the 2016 U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights ("Leadership and Leverage: Embedding human rights in the rules and relationships that drive the global economy”)



For the last several years I have offered reflections on the U.N. Forum for Business and Human Rights, a great gathering of critical stakeholders--states, enterprises and civil society--around the the U.N. Guiding Principles (UNGPs), its development and application ().

The 2016 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights program continued its fundamental objective to deepen efforts to strengthen action on the U.N. Guiding Principles (UNGPs), and its conceptual framework grounded in the "protect, respect and remedy" framework. For the 2016, this effort was framed around the Forum theme: Leadership and Leverage:Embedding human rights in the rules and relationships that drive the global economy” (for explanation see here).

This post is a collection of impressions on the 5th Forum in light of its themes :
  1. State leadership and leverage: discussions will focus on the need for Governments to step up their efforts to protect human rights and lead by example in their own business-related operations.
  2. Business leadership and leverage: sessions will unpack the dual concepts of leadership and leverage across the company value chain and in business relationships with various stakeholders.
  3. The role of financial institutions: participants will take a closer look at how human rights intersect with capital markets and explore the responsibility of financiers to drive respect.
It suggests that the burdens of maturity now require some hard reflection by both the Working Group and its Secretariat respecting both the mission of the Working Group and the direction of future Forums.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ruminations 65A: Flora Sapio Responds to "Thoughts on the 2016 United States Presidential Election--Consequences and Tragedies"


 (Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)
It is by now well known that contrary to the expectations of some, Mr. Trump was elected presumptive President Elect of the United States on November 8, 2016. In Ruminations 65: Thoughts on the 2016 United States Presidential Election--Consequences and Tragedies I considered what might be some of the more interesting and less considered ramifications that this election illustrates. I suggested that the contours of tragedy (not for a particular candidate or political party, but for a leadership class and its disciplinary structures) as the potential for power slipping out of the hands of a once magnificent leadership community (with its own intellectual factions to be sure but bound together by  some rudimentary consensus) increases as it seeks blame for its predicament everywhere but within its own structures and behaviors.

In this Post, Flora Sapio responds. This marvelous response provides a lot of food for thought, providing added depth to an analytic line rich with possibilities. 


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Announcing New Blog: Tara Van Ho, "Business and Human Rights"


I am happy to announce, and to recommend to all of my friends interested in the most contemporary and sophisticated discussions of global movements in business and human rights a new blog, Business and Human Rights. It is authored by Tara Van Ho, now at Aarhus University where she devotes herself to research critical aspects  of business and human rights.  Please check out the great posts already up:

 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thoughts on John Ruggie, "Making Globalization Work for all: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Business Respect for Human Rights", Remarks Delivered at the 5th UN Business and Human Rights Forum



John G Ruggie, who from 2005-2011 served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights, in which capacity he produced the U.N. Guiding Principles, delivered his remarks at the opening of the 5th U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights, November 14, 2016. The remarks are worthy of careful study.  It suggests, and quite presciently, the challenges and opportunities for the project of embedding business and human rights norms within the structures and regulatory structures of economic activity. 

This post includes the text of those remarks and my brief thoughts on their implications for both the UNGP and sustainability.