Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Malaysia Under Anwar Ibrahim and Mahatir Mohamad. . . Again: Sex, the Serpent and the Phoenix.


The political cycles in Malaysia run astonishingly fast.  And yet they appear, during the lives of its greatest protagonists, to merely replay patterns of alliance, rebellion, denunciation, delegitimization, incarceration, exile, and return to power that has marked the tempestuous relations between Anwar Ibrahim and Mahatir Mohamad.  

In the last few days, Anwar Ibrahim, at the head of a coalition likely to take power in Malaysia was freed form prison where he was serving time for the second conviction on sodomy charges.  The release follows a pardon granted by the country’s King Muhammad V at the invitation of Mahatir Mohamad.
“In the past it was said that I put him in prison. Now I have freed him,” Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, after Anwar’s release. Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy premier during his first stint as prime minister, before he was sacked in 1998 and later imprisoned for sodomy and corruption. (Bhavan Jaipragas, "‘Now I have freed him,’ says Malaysia’s Mahathir as Anwar walks," South China Morning Post 16 May 2018
The relationship between Mahatir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim is interesting not just for the repeating drama of the past  20 years, but for how clearly the relationship of these two men, the most powerful of their generation in Malaysia (and both loved and reviled by their respective factions among influential groups of Western elites who are embedded in government and media), evidence the interrelations of legitimacy, religion, sex and politics.

I considered the more general implications of this conflation a number of years ago during the course of Anwar Ibrahim's initial fall from grace and imprisonment. That focused on a consideration of the power of these ideologies to discipline people commonly gendered male, and through that disciplining deepen the disciplining of individuals gendered female. I argued then that
Ideologies of gender remain ascendant throughout the world. For my purposes here ideology might best be understood from the perspective of a community as its "articulated forms of social self-consciousness.". . .  An ideology of gender might, then, be reduced to a cluster of norms, expectations, understandings and the like, derived from the meaning of sex, where sex is used in its multiple and ambiguous senses.These ideologies are imprinted in the law of all states-modem and ancient, religious and secular.5 These ideologies become increasingly less visible as societies substitute the language of corruption, psychosis, and ethno-national chauvinism for that of gender.6 Corruption, especially in the political discourse of religion, has reinvigorated gender discipline in some countries. (Larry Catá Backer, Emasculated Men, Effeminate Law in the United States, Zimbabwe and Malaysia,  Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 17(1):1-63 (2005, pp. )1-2).
Further thoughts followed here, here, here, here, here, and here.

A little context from my prior work and the contemporary reporting byBhavan Jaipragas, "‘Now I have freed him,’ says Malaysia’s Mahathir as Anwar walks," follows below, for those who want to stay current.  My own analysis of the sex, gender, religion and legitimacy implicaitons for modern states can be accessed HERE: Emasculated Men, Effeminate Law in the United States, Zimbabwe and Malaysia,  Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 17(1):1-63 (2005)


Workshop Presentation: "The Protection of the Rights of Corporations Under U.S. Constitutional Law"





I was delighted to have been invited by Professors Zhiwei Tong and Sun Ping of East China University of Political Science and Law to conduct a workshop for faculty and students on “The Protection of the Rights of Corporations Under U.S: Constitutional Law.” The workshop took place on the campus of the ECUPL in Shanghai, PRC on April 27, 2018.

As Chinese companies have begun to expand their operations and ownership structures well beyond the borders of the People’s Republic, the issues of rights protections for their enterprises has become a subject of greater interest to academics, students and policymakers both within and outside government. The interest is not purely academic. The recent legal difficulties of ZTE and Huawei in the United States have served to remind Chinese enterprises of the need to better understand and protect their rights when operating within the United States, as well as the need to consider the benefits and challenges of domesticating their enterprises within the United States. In the context of ZTE and Huawei in particular, it also evidences the dangers of failing to understand the rights and obligations of corporations that come within the purview of U.S. sanctions and secrets law. More generally, a working knowledge of the relationship of corporations to the law, and especially to cluster of fundamental law protections afforded enterprise in the U.S. would be essential for better managing domestic operations as well as those that might “touch and concern” the United States.

For Chinese companies, in particular, the cluster of constitutional protections afforded enterprises also highlights the challenges of an area of law that is both dynamic and redolent with interpretive ambiguity. To that end, recent cases about the extent of U.S. jurisdiction for claims against foreign companies under the “Law of Nations” and cases touching on the legalization of societal expectations in business conduct are especially important—two areas of law that are themselves the subjects of Supreme Court decisions in the coming weeks. One of them, Jesner v. Arab Bank was decided at the time the of the workshop.  More detail on the Jesner opinion may be accessed here  (downloadable version here).

Corporate constitutionalism, once a relative backwater, has exploded again on the scene, especially as corporations are viewed increasingly as an efficient agent for promoting social change and for disciplining behaviors in markets and among individuals. In that respect both Chinese socialist development and U.S. corporate constitutionalism share some interesting intersections. It was with those ideas in mind that we discussed the nature, extent, philosophies and scope of constitutional protections of corporations under U.S. law.

The PowerPoints follow. They may also be accessed HERE.



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"The Arc of Triumph and Transformation of the OECD Guidelines" Thoughts on the Completion of Roel Nieuwenkamp's Leadership at the OECD/WPRBC





From 2010 Professor Roel Nieuwenkamp was Chair of the OECD Working Party on International Investment and in that capacity chaired the negotiations on the 2011 update of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. From 2013, he has been the Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct in Paris.
The OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct (WPRBC), is an intergovernmental body composed of representatives of all governments adhering to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines). Its role is to assist in implementing the Guidelines, support the functioning of the National Contact Points (NCPs), promote policy coherence on responsible business conduct (RBC), pursue the development and implementation of due diligence guidance, and engage with non-adhering countries, partner organisations, and stakeholders.
During his tenure the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and its NCP institutions have been slowly assuming a quite definitive character as a system within which global consensus on appropriate and legitimate expectations of states and enterprises with respect the organization and conduct of economic activity has begun to emerge. From the scope of conduct that might be regulated, to the development of approaches to the management of key global production chains, the OECD Guidelines systems has seen substantial development. 

That tenure is now coming to an end. This presents an excellent opportunity to reflect on the changes that have taken place since the great revisions to the OECD Guidelines of 2011, as well as what the future may hold for this quite worthy project.  To that end I have prepared some thoughts on the evolving arc of the OECD Guidelines development under the guidance of WPRBC during Roel's leadership.  Those thoughts follow.



Sunday, May 13, 2018

"Where Neither Corporate Nor International Law Converge: The Multinational Enterprise and Societal Frameworks" -- Presentation at ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group (ILTIG) Symposium, 11 May 2018




I was thrilled to have been able to participate in the recently concluded ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group (ILTIG) Symposium,  When Corporate and International Law Meet: Corporate Agency in a Global Context. It was co-organized by Durham University's Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law (ICCL) and by the Jilin University School of Law.ASIL  More about that here

This post includes the PowerPoints of my contribution to that event, "Where Neither Corporate Nor International Law Converge: The Multinational Enterprise and Societal Frameworks."

Much of what is going on in the regulation of CSR and its related aspects (duties, responsibilities and rights) is not happening within the conventional structures of the corporation (enterprise) or law. The regulatory focus instead is on two constructs, neither of which is recognized fully in law: (1) Multinational corporations (MNCs); and (2) Societal rule making. But the regulation of both of these constructs is made more difficult by the conventional centrality of the corporation and of state based law (domestic and international) with all of its baggage. That presents a regulatory conundrum explored in the presentation. With a focus on the MNC as an object of legal/societal regulation, and on the legalization of societal space, and the emerging governance characteristics of accountability and assessment as the form of regulation, the presentation considered two questions. (1) has the legalization of societal space come to its end in the face of data driven governance?; (2) If not the MNC, are regulatory efforts targeting the right object?

The PowerPoints may also be accessed here.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group Symposium: "When Corporate and International Law Meet: Corporate Agency in a Global Context"


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2018)


It was my great delight to attend a recently concluded ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group (ILTIG) Symposium,  When Corporate and International Law Meet: Corporate Agency in a Global Context. It was co-organized by Durham University's Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law (ICCL) and by the Jilin University School of Law.

Conference participants considered aspects of the following problem:  "Among the most significant challenges for governments and international organisations is to develop institutions for economic globalisation to promote economic growth but which also comply with moral demands that we can reasonably agree apply to these institutions. This symposium brings together legal scholars, social scientists, and philosophers to address these challenges."

The Symposium statement and a partially annotated Symposium Program follow below. 



Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Asia and International Law in Challenging Times"--Annual Conference of the Japan Chapter of the Asian Society of International Law (1 July 2018; Waseda University)



The Japan Chapter of the Asian Society of International Law has just announced the Program for its Annual Conference to be held at Waseda Uniersity 1 July 2018.  The theme for the conference is Asia and International Law in Challenging Times. Its Conference Program provides:
Asia is currently confronted with unprecedented challenges in all areas of international law. While some of them are repercussions of developments on a global scale, others reflect the diversity of Asia, which fuels growth but also creates complexity. As political and economic relations expand and social and cultural exchanges grow in the region, local interests and concerns become more intricately intertwined with international, transnational, and regional interests and concerns, which deepens the complexity in Asia. As the driving force of the world economy amid the advancement of information networks and the globalization of business in a new era, Asia requires the evolution of international rules and institutions. This conference seeks to explore how international law can address these challenges in relation to regional frameworks and initiatives in Asia. 
The Conference Program and links to registration materials follows.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Action and Reaction: President Trump Withdraws the U.S. From the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- The Presidential Memorandum, Key Statements, and Other Sources



Today President Trump announced that he was taking steps to "terminating the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal." (Office of the President, "Fact Sheet: President Donald J. Trump is Ending United States Participation in an Unacceptable Iran Deal," 8 May 2018). This represents the culmination of a process of withdrawal in the face of resistance to renegotiation that started in earnest in October 2017 (see Thoughts on the Iran Nuclear Deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)) and the Recent U.S. Decision Not to Certify Iranian Compliance With Its Terms). The Presidential Memorandum (May 8, 2018) Ceasing U.S. Participation in the JCPOA and Taking Additional Action to Counter Iran’s Malign Influence and Deny Iran All Paths to a Nuclear Weapon first announced the new policy (section 1) that appears to operationalize the earlier "National Security Strategy of the United States" (4 Dec 2017) (discussed here). It then included directions to various administrative officials; Section 2 directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Energy to "take all appropriate steps to cease the participation of the United States in the JCPOA;" Section 3 directs the "Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury [to] immediately begin taking steps to re-impose all United States sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the JCPOA;"  Section 4 directs the "Secretary of Defense and heads of any other relevant agencies shall prepare to meet, swiftly and decisively, all possible modes of Iranian aggression against the United States, our allies, and our partners;" and Section 5 directs U.S. agencies to "take appropriate steps to enable the United States to continue to monitor Iran’s nuclear conduct." 

Ayatollah Khamenei reacted in a not unexpected way (Ayatollah Khamenei to Trump: ‘You cannot do a damn thing’) (and here). Ironically, it appears that the reason for U.S. withdrawal, a need to renegotiate the "deal" might well come as a result of the withdrawal itself: "Rouhani, who spoke following President Donald Trump's speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal, said he has directed Iranian diplomats to negotiate with the deal's remaining signatories, including European countries, Russia and China."(Iran to negotiate with Europeans, Russia and China about remaining in nuclear deal). This even as  "Iranian state television said U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal was “illegal, illegitimate and undermines international agreements.” (here). It is not clear what the relationship is between the Iranian response and the discussion that Iranian officials entertained with the former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (Kerry is quietly seeking to salvage Iran deal he helped craft), a set of discussions criticized by the current administration (Trump castigates Kerry for ‘Shadow Diplomacy’ to save Iran nuclear deal). It would be ironic indeed if the United States and its elites were involved in both sides of these events, though that would not be unprecedented ("“It is unusual for a former secretary of state to engage in foreign policy like this, as an actual diplomat and quasi-negotiator,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. “Of course, former secretaries of state often remain quite engaged with foreign leaders, as they should, but it’s rarely so issue-specific, especially when they have just left office.”" here).

Still, it is too early to tell what will flow from the U.S. action, even as everyone will rush to provide some initial opinion or other, mostly in line with their political views (and here, here, and here). Rather than contribute yet another opinion without the benefit of information or more deliberate analysis, I thought it might be more useful to take a moment to consider more carefully some of the official responses of key players. This post includes the Presidential Memorandum of President Trump (Ceasing U.S. Participation in the JCPOA and Taking Additional Action to Counter Iran’s Malign Influence and Deny Iran All Paths to a Nuclear Weapon) statement made by the U.S. President, former U.S. President Obama, the "Fact Sheet," the statement of European leaders and those of the Iranians.


Monday, May 07, 2018

Flora Sapio: "The Making of Global Norms With Chinese Characteristics"--Presentation at the Conference "China Global" University of Cologne, Germany





On May 4th and 5th, Dr. Flora Sapio was invited to the Conference  “China Global”, held at the University of Cologne (Germany).  Conference Program may be found here.

 Dr. Sapio presented a paper titled The Making of Global Norms With Chinese Characteristics. The paper observed how the understanding of norm-making as a process cannot take place absent an understanding of the constitutional structure of nation-states. 

The summary of the paper, and its research context within the research program of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics (here and here), follows. 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning) Ethics Guidelines for the European Union?



 China has advanced its much heralded approach to the management and direction of artificial intelligence (AI) since the Chinese State Council released the New Generation AI Development Plan (新一代人工智能发展规划的通知) in July 2017 (discussed here), grounded in economic and social development and support for national security.
Artificial intelligence has become a new focus of international competition. Artificial intelligence is a strategic technology that leads the future.  . . . Artificial intelligence has become a new engine for economic development. As the core driving force of the new round of industrial reforms, artificial intelligence will further release the tremendous energy accumulated from previous technological revolutions and industrial changes, and create new powerful engines to reconstruct economic activities such as production, distribution, exchange, and consumption.. . . Artificial intelligence brings new opportunities for social construction. China is now in the final phase of building a well-off society in an all-round way. Challenges such as population aging and resource and environmental constraints are still severe. Artificial intelligence is widely used in education, medical care, pensions, environmental protection, urban operations, and judicial services, which will greatly increase public awareness. (新一代人工智能发展规划的通知 machine translation)
The European Union has sought to put its own stamp on AI management at the governmental level. Its apoproach is, as might be expected, somewhat different.


"In its Communication "Artificial intelligence for Europe", the Commission puts forward a European approach to Artificial Intelligence based on three pillars:
  • Being ahead of technological developments and encouraging uptake by the public and private sectors
  • Prepare for socio-economic changes brought about by AI
  • Ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework" (here)
The Communication and Fact Sheet follow. The Commission noted its desire to assemble a legitimating congress of stakeholders to focus on issues of AI around the approach it announced and consider relevant questions under the European AI Alliance. This Alliance is scheduled to be set up by July 2018, and there is a hope that an AI ethics guidelines will be published by the end of the year.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

Conference Presentation: “The Structures and Ideologies of Social Credit in the U.S. From a Comparative Perspective”




I was honored to have been asked to participate in a recently concluded conference, 欧美国家信用法治经验及对中国的启示 [Experiences of Credit Law Practices From the U.S. and European Countries and its Implications for China] which was hosted by 首都师范大学 信用立法与信用评估研究中心 [Capital Normal University Research Center for Credit Law and Credit Assessment], and held in Beijing, PRC, April 25, 2018. Coverage of the event can be found here from an earlier post: "Creating a New Pattern of Research on China’s Credit Legislation and Credit Rating From an International Perspective" [以国际视野开创中国信用立法与信用评估研究新格局]: Media Coverage of a Recent Seminar on Social Credit Initiatives

Social Credit is the name given to the initiative undertaken by the Chinese government during the present administration that is mean to produce an all around approach to ensuring compliance with law and social responsibility under the guidance of the state. Its overall policy strategy was last developed in the State Council Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020) 社会信用体系建设规划纲要. It proposed using the technologies of big data and big data management along with the possibilities of artificial and machine learning to develop comprehensive data driven structures for management around algorithms that can produce real time reward-punishment structures for social-legal-economic and other behaviors.

But Chinese efforts to develop and implement “Social Credit” systems raises a number of important questions not just for those interested in China and Chinese law, but also for Westerners with respect to the evolving character of their own legal-societal orders: Is Social Credit System unique to China? Are “social credit” systems operating in the West? What are the differences and similarities? Do they represent a more universal transformation of the way governments exercise power in the 21st century? What might be their value and their challenges for society?

My contribution to the conference, The Structures and Ideologies of Social Credit in the U.S., considered at some of those questions. It first provided a brief review of China’s Social Credit Initiative. The purpose of that section was to orient and provide perspective for the discussion of Western “social credit” efforts. It was also meant to make explicit the problem of viewpoint. Extracting its systemic qualities and understanding the scope of Chinese Social Credit provides a useful basis for approaching analysis of initiatives outside of China. The principal discussion then focused on a review of (mostly) U.S: initiatives that suggested a social credit flavor. The discussion centered on the question of the systemic qualities of U.S. efforts, its sources and character as private or governmental. Issues of coordination and coherence were also considered. The focus, though, in contradistinction to Chinese efforts, was the centrality of the ordering principles of governance, risk management and compliance in a mostly privatized though complex set of U.S. initiatives and its emphasis was on techniques and operations. The presentation ended with a brief comparison of both approaches and the challenges each presents within the respective logic of their organization.

The presentation PowerPoints follow. They may be accessed HERE.