Friday, June 24, 2016

Democracy Part 34: Brexit, Mass Democracy and the Contradictions of Voting in Globalization

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)


There has always been a tension between mass democracy--the notion of popular sovereignty directly or indirectly exercised through the performative act of voting on discrete questions or for representatives in the apparatus of state--and governance. Western political culture adheres strongly to the principle of popular sovereignty, which may be asserted collectively on the body politic itself. Western political culture also embraces, at least in theory, the idea of popular engagement in the work of governance through a complex set of patterns of consultation and participation in the acts of governance that collectively define the state in its relations with the individual and collectively with the masses over which it asserts leadership authority. 

The recent decision to permit a plebiscite on the issue of the continued membership of the United Kingdom in the European Union, popularly known as Brexit,  provides a useful example of the characteristics of the practice of mass democracy in states organized on the basis of representative governance. The full effect of that vote remains to be seen (useful discussion here). At a minimum it might well serve to reignite another mass democratic movement--that for the separation of Scotland from England/Wales (here). 

I leave that discussion to others. This post considers the vote from a quite distinct perspective--that of globalization and its reconstitution of the demos of conventional nation-states.  I suggest here that globalization has fractured states in a number of under-explored ways.  The most significant way on by splitting the populations of states into two quite distinct communities--one heavil8y embedded in global society, mores, economic interactions and cultural conversations.  The other deeply left behind and quite vigorously self reflexive in its reconstitution of the pre-globalized state.  The result is something much more like Japan in the 1870s than the vision (assiduously cultivated by conventional media for and of elites) of a modern unified globally embedded multicultural state with a polity deeply invested in the development of the borderless global intermeshed network of polycentric communities at the heart of globalization.  It was as much the failure of elites to recognize that extent to which their states have become fractured and their inability to anticipate the results that produced, first, the unfortunate idea of a plebiscite, and then the surprise at the results of this invitation to exercise mass democracy that could not be controlled as effectively as the apparatus of state. l
  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Commentary for the U.N. Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law - "Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision Making"


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)


Human Rights Council Resolution 28/14 (9 April 2015) 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 Forum targets academics, non governmental organizations and experts. Resolution 28/4, and related materials may be found HERE.

The purpose of the Forum is to "provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to the relationship between these areas" as well as to identify best practices, challenges and opportunities for states seeking some framework for engaging in the securing of the ideals of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Associated with that Forum is a consultation that is also open to academics and experts. The theme for the first session of the Forum is Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision Making. The Call for consultation, Resolution 28/4, and related materials may be found HERE.
It was Romania's initiative to set up the Forum, which, together with Morocco, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea and Tunisia, promoted a resolution to this effect. Also on Romania's initiative, the Human Rights Council adopted its first resolution on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in 2012, resolution which led to this decision. "The forum proposed by Romania will be a single framework within the UN system, for the discussion of best practices and for sharing experiences on the interdependence of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Romania's creation of this important forum reflects the coherence and consistency of our country's support of UN important projects. The adoption of this resolution in 2015 is even more encouraging now that we are marking 60 years of Romania's membership of the UN". (Mission News, PERMANENT MISSION OF ROMANIA to the United Nations Office in Geneva and the Int'l Organisations in Switzerland)
This post includes my Commentary for the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law - Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision Making. It may be downloaded HERE or HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just Published: "The Concept of Constitutionalization and the Multi-Corporate Enterprise in the 21st Century: From Body Corporate to Sovereign Enterprise"


I was happy to report the publication of Multinationals and the Constitutionalization of the World Power System (Jean-Philippe Robé, Antoine Lyon-Caen, and Stéphane Vernac, eds., Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group) 2016) ISBN: 978-1-4724-8292-1 (hbk); ISBN: 978-1-315-596334 (ebk), with a forward by John G. Ruggie. This work is part of the Globalization Law & Policy Series which I edit. (See HERE).

Among the essays published was my own contribution to this excellent conversation-- The Concept of Constitutionalization and the Multi-Corporate Enterprise in the 21st Century: From Body Corporate to Sovereign Enterprise (earlier version here). In this chapter  I consider the conception of constitutionalization as a structure for theorizing a space within which constitutionalized entities may interact within the framework that legitimate regulatory agents--the ideological principles of constitutionalism now liberated from its arbitrary confines within the state. I identify the four conventional strands of constitutionalist discourse Constitutionalism provides a framework applicable to any organized group, from States to non-State actors, that seeks to govern itself through an entity autonomous of other entities and of its constituent parts. In globalization, all self-governing groups necessarily interact, as equals or otherwise. There is a need, therefore for a common platform for interaction among bodies corporate, that is for the intermeshing of governance personalities that “bump up” against each other as equals or otherwise. This has an important practical effect, especially in a global order increasingly willingly to privatize lawmaking and governance through multinational enterprises. 

The abstract and introduction follows. Looking forward to engagement in this evolving area.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Just Published: "Multinationals and the Constitutionalization of the World Power System" (Jean-Philippe Robé, Antoine Lyon-Caen, and Stéphane Vernac, eds., with a forward by John G. Ruggie)


I am happy to report the publication of Multinationals and the Constitutionalization of the World Power System (Jean-Philippe Robé, Antoine Lyon-Caen, and Stéphane Vernac, eds., Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group) 2016) ISBN: 978-1-4724-8292-1 (hbk); ISBN: 978-1-315-596334 (ebk), with a forward by John G. Ruggie. This work is part of the Globalization Law & Policy Series which I edit.

This collection offers a powerful and coherent study of the transformation of the multinational enterprise as both an object and subject of law within and beyond States. The study develops an analysis of the large firm as being a system of organization exercising vast powers through various instruments of private law, such as property rights, contracts and corporations.

The volume focuses on the firm as the operational unit of governance within emerging systems of globalization, whilst exploring in-depth the forms within which the firm might be regulated as against the inhibiting parameters of national law. It connects, through the ordering concept of the firm in globalization, the distinct regimes of constitutionalization, national and international law.

The study will be of interest to students and academics in globalization and the regulation of multinational corporations, as well as law, economics and politics on a global scale. It will also interest government leaders and NGOs working in the areas of MNE regulations.
John Ruggie, in his Forward, concludes:
A core argument advanced in this book is that conventional social science understandings of both constitutionalism and of the multinational enterprises are inadequate to fully grasp the ongoing transformation in global governance, and that traditional modes of global governance are inadequate to meeting pressing people and planet challenges. All need to be reimagined and new approaches developed through informed practice.  No comprehensive--let alone final--word is possible at thia time about how to do that. Nevertheless, the authors advance the agenda enormously by pointing in, and exploring, promising intellectual and policy directions.
The articles by Jean-Philippe Robé, Paddy Ireland, Ronen Palan, Elsa Peskine and Stéphane Vernac, Guter Teubner, Jean de Munck, Véonique Champeil-Desplats, Larry Catá Backer, Aontoine Lyon-Caen, Tatiana Sachs, Charley Hannoun, and Christian Chavagneux move us toward a better understanding of thw multi corporate enterprise in the globalized world in which it now operates. 
 
This post includes short bios of the editors, the Table of Contents, and information about the the Globalization Law & Policy Series.
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Consultation - Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law - Deadline 4 July 2016; Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision Making


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)


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 Forum targets academics, non governmental organizations and experts. The purpose of the Forum is to "provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to the relationship between these areas" as well as to identify best practices, challenges and opportunities for states seeking some framework for engaging in the securing of the ideals of human rights, democracy and rule of law.The United States, in particular, has welcomed this effort.
U.S. Looks forward to First Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in 2016
Item 3: Resolution Entitled “Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law,” A/HRC/28/L.24 General Comment by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 28th Session
Geneva, March 26, 2015

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States is again proud to co-sponsor this resolution on Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law at the Human Rights Council. We would like to thank Romania and the other core group members – Morocco, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, and Tunisia – for the open and transparent negotiations they facilitated.

Democracy promotion and rule of law are fundamental to the purpose of the Council. The forum this resolution establishes will make great strides in mainstreaming democracy and rule of law into the UN and Council’s work. It will also serve as a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to the relationship between these topics and affecting societies across the globe.

We look forward to the first forum in 2016 on the theme of “Widening the democratic space: the role of youth in public decision-making,” and to the other forum meetings to come.

The United States will vote proudly in favor of this resolution.

Thank you, Mr. President.
Associated with that Forum is a consultation that is also open to academics and experts. The theme for the first session of the Forum is Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision Making. This may be of interest to some readers.


The Call for consultation, Resolution 28/4, and preliminary information about this new effort to promote democracy human rights and rule of law through the U.N. follows, as does the U.N.'s current web site (with links) on the issue of democracy.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

OECD Watch to Governments: "A 4X10 Plan For Why and How to Unlock the Potential of the OECD Guidelines"




June 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guiding Principles for Multinational Enterprises. Over the course of those 40 years, the MNE Guidelines have become an increasingly important governance framework through which states, enterprises and civil society have sought to "legislate" conduct norms for enterprises--and impose regulatory obligations on states with respect to those norms.

That development, in turn, marks the rise of new structures of regulatory systems that are necessary as the objects of traditional regulation—and increasingly of administrative oversight through regulatory governance mechanisms grounded in objectives, monitoring and assessment-approval systems—have increasingly become impossible to control by any single state, no matter how powerful. But such emerging structures continue to use the language and the sensibilities of the conventional systems that no longer fit the regulatory problem posed by the engagement of enterprises in the construction and exploitation of production chains across the globe. And, like law systems before it, its stakeholders have sought to use this emerging system strategically—states to privatize regulation, enterprises to internationalize conduct obligations in the societal sphere, and stakeholders to launch internationalized hard law embedded in conventional state legal orders.

These tensions and patterns of engagement are very much in evidence in the excellent Report distributed by OECD Watch, an “international network of civil society organisations promoting corporate accountability.” For the 40th Anniversary they have distributed a report: A “4x10” plan for why and how to unlock the potential of the OECD Guidelines. The Report focuses on the state duty to embed the Guidelines within their domestic legal orders—ad on the basis of that premise, the steps that might be taken to ensure that the Guidelines themselves contribute to that result. The Press Release is quite pointed:
In June 2016, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises ("the Guidelines)– the OECD’s flagship instrument on responsible business conduct – will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Periodic updates to the Guidelines have sought to keep them relevant and in step with changing times. The most recent update in 2011 extended the scope of the Guidelines and achieved improvements in the areas of human rights, due diligence, and value chain responsibility. Although governments adhering to the Guidelines have made a legally-binding commitment to set up National Contact Points to further their effectiveness, implementation remains patchy at best.

On the occasion of this milestone anniversary, governments must demonstrate their commitment to making the Guidelines a relevant tool for governing today’s global economy. This briefing provides a “4 x 10” bullet-point plan highlighting four key features that give the Guidelines the potential to help ensure businesses behave responsibly. It also includes ten actions that governments must take to unlock that potential and to advance their legally binding obligations to further the effectiveness of the Guidelines.

Parts of the Report and brief comments follows. It may be accessed (PDF HERE).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Part 10 (The Social Self and God)--Dialogues on a Philosophy for the Individual: The Social Self


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)


Flora Sapio (FS), Beitita Horm Pepulim (BHP), and I (LCB) continue our experiment in collaborative dialogue. We move from the individual to the social self as we work toward a philosophy of the individual. While at first blush this appears to be well worn ground--who hasn't, over the course of the last 5,000 years, in every civilization with a recorded history NOT spent vast amounts of time thinking about the social self? But much of this thinking starts at the social and works through the issues of control, management and socialization of the individual. That is, they start from the core premise that the individual is the object of a project for which the social serves as an instrument and as an ends. In the spirit of the emerging philosophy of the individual, we propose to invert the conversation--to start with the individual and work through the issues of control, management, and individuation of the social.

But we move from the individual in herself, to the individual as subject and as symbol, as something which, when observed and transformed from itself to the idea or symbol of itself, assumes a quite distinct, and useful, position for the organization of selves--and for the structure and operation of the law of the social. To that end our conversation will likely flow around and through the following:

1--the social self as the reflection of the mother
2--the social self as a reflection of the family
3--social self as a reflection/result of one's ancestors
4--the social self as a reflection of God
5-the social self as a refection of the state
6--the social self as terrorist
7--the social self as orthodox
This conversation, like many of its kind, will develop naturally, in fits and starts. Your participation is encouraged.

In this post Flora Sapio (FS) responds to earlier comments (Part 9) and speaks to the social self and God;  and Larry Catá Backer responds.

Contents HERE.