Thursday, March 30, 2017

Presentation at Western Ontario Law School's Mining Finance and Law Speaker Series: "The Responsibilities of Banks, Sovereign Wealth Funds and Other Financial Institutions to Respect Human Rights: The Example of the Extractives Sector Financing"


It was my great pleasure to participate this year in Western Ontario Law School's Mining Finance and Law Speaker Series. The Speaker series brings speakers form a variety of disciplines  to focus on the complexities of the specialized area of mining finance and law. The purpose of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of financing of mineral resource and exploration and development. It has been fashioned to interlink the different roles and perspectives of lawyers,business, and earth science professionals. It is a part of Western Ontario's Graduate Diploma in Mining Law, Finance and Sustainability. My great thanks to David Good W.S. Fyfe Chair and Associate Professor at Western Ontario for organizing the series and for his excellent questions.

As a speaker’s series, the Faculty of Law hosts scholars and practitioners from the fields of business, law, and earth science over a number of classes.  I spoke together with Claudia Feldkamp, Counsel, Fasken Martineau LLP who provided a marvelous presentation on anti-corruption and disclosure regimes at the international level and with a specific focus on Canadian approaches to its transposition to national law (and a sideways glance to the much less successful effort to do the same in the United States).  

My presentation, entitled The Responsibilities of Banks, Sovereign Wealth Funds and Other Financial Institutions to Respect Human Rights: The Example of the Extractives Sector Financing, focused more specifically on the merging structures of indirect normative regulation of mining operations specifically and extractive sector activities more generally through financial intermediaries. 

The PowerPoint of the presentation may be accessed HERE (with links to primary sources) and the text of the slides is posted below. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It's All in the Perspective: Congressional-Executive Commission on China Statement on Hong Kong's Chief Executive Election


 The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. They have developed positions on a number of issues: Access to Justice; Civil Society;Commercial Rule of Law; Criminal Justice; Developments in Hong Kong and Macau ; The Environment ; Ethnic Minority Rights;Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Religion ; Freedom of Residence and Movement ; Human Trafficking ; Institutions of Democratic Governance ; North Korean Refugees in China; Population Planning ; Public Health ; Status of Women ; Tibet ; Worker Rights ; and Xinjiang.

CECC tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elites in the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China. As one can imagine many of the positions of the CECC are critical of current Chinese policies and institutions (see, e.g., here, here, here here, here, here, here and here).

CECC has been paying much attention to the evolution of the "One State Two Systems"structure that defines the relationships between the PRC government and that of the Hong Kong Special Zone. That attention has tended to be critical (e.g., Congressional-Executive Commission on China Chairs Denounce Chinese Government’s Unprecedented Intervention in Hong Kong’s Legal System (November 2016) and generally here, and here). The Statement provides a window into the way in which Congressional actors view the relationship between Hong Kong and China. It also suggests the framework within which they see legitimacy in electoral autonomy and the differences between the two systems respecting public engagement in politics beyond the confines of the United Front and the vanguard party. Lamentably it does little to explain how these notions, so thoroughly rooted in our won system, can be relevant to the much needed discussion around Hong Kong. And it leaves the question begging--to what extent is the One Country Two Systems policy a dynamic and transitional policy? To what extent is transition to be left to the national government? And to what extent van one point to any permanent differences in systems that are worth preserving--from the perspective of China and its role in the world.  Of course, underlying all of these questions is a fundamental one that our Congressional leaders are hardly in a position to ask or understand if answered: To what extent has the United Front Model been considered in the context of an evolving  political system in Hong Kong, one, of course, distinguished by the historical context in which it might be applied. This question poses interesting issues both for the Mainland and for Hing Kong (see, e.g., HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE).


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Deadline extended! Questionnaire - "Impact of economic and financial policies, especially those of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, on a democratic and equitable international order" - Deadline 20 April 2017


I have been writing about the governance effects of international financial institutions.  It has become increasingly useful to deploy markets, and finance mechanisms, as a means for disciplining and developing both governance capabilities and the framework for managing social, political and economic space (e.g., HERE, HERE, HEREHERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). 

It comes as no surprise, then, for U.N. Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr. Alfred de Zayas, to focus on the role of international financial institutions in the promotion of the objectives specified in his mandate. He has written on the need to protect whistlblowers (e.g., here) and on issues of social justice (e.g., here).  

Here, then, one peeks at an implicit recognition that 
(1) lending has a political dimension; 
(2) that law may be privatized through the conditionality measures in sovereign lending instruments;
(3) that international law may have something to say about the structures and constraints of such conditionality beyond the limits or practices of domestic law; 
(4) that states do cede sovereign authority when they subject themselves to international lending and financial markets; 
(5) that financial institutions may have a duty or responsibility to ensure the security of their lending through their monitoring and strengthening of the governance capacity of borrowers; and 
(6) that in that context financial institutions may have both a duty to protect and a responsibility to respect human rights unconstrained by the peculiarities of domestic law to the extent that such legal structures impede the realization of international standards. 

For those interested, this provides an opportunity to aid the Independent Expert in his iown query.

The call for inputs follows.


Call for inputs - Report of High Commissioner - "Civil society space in multilateral institutions" - Deadline 1 May 2017


(Pix  Larry Catá Backer 2017)

For those who might find this sort of engagement interesting, I pass along a "Call for Inputs" for the Human Rights High Commissioner's forthcoming report on civil society space. Despite a certain cynicism about the value of such contribution (elite organizations are "heard" others are "acknowledged", these have marginal effect on the thrust of a report that has in essence already been structured, it can have negative consequences where governments monitor the public participation of its citizens, etc.)  participation might be worth considering for a number of reasons: 
(1) it serves to bridge connection among civil society actors to each other, thus strengthening global civil society dialogue (e.g. here);
(2) it provides a basis for internal coherence of civil society programs and activities, creating an opening through which civil society may also either contribute to the narrative or develop its own (e.g. here); 
(3) it helps refine individual and civil society engagement with home states and international organizations (e.g., here); and 
(4)  most important, it serves to develop positions about both multilateralism (here) and the role of civil society within its various polycentric governance centers (here) at a time when the concepts are in flux and leadership power may be shifting (here) and regulatory governance mechanisms may become more important (e.g., here). 

None of these may have anything to do with the High Commissioner's project; they have everything to do with the continuing development of an autonomous civil society sector, composed of groups and individuals, that serve through their engagement, as testimony to the limitations of the power of states--alone or in concert--to assert monopoly authority over discourse that flows beyond and through their borders.  For democratic states this must be folded into their legitimating ideology of participation (even the Russians as reluctant as they might be in that regard (eg here)); for Marxist Leninist state, this represents a means of better understanding and developing and implementing the mass line concept within Leninist organizational principles (which remains very much a work in progress, e.g., here).  

The Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council  (A/HRC/RES/32/31 (20 July 2016)) E F S A C R
Requests the High Commissioner to prepare a report compiling information on the procedures and practices in respect of civil society involvement with regional and international organizations, including United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programmes, and the contribution of civil society to their work and challenges and best practices, and in that regard to continue to engage with and seek input from those organizations and entities, as well as the views of States, national human rights institutions, civil society and other stakeholders, and to submit the compilation to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session (Resolution ¶ 18)

The text of the Call for Submissions (English and Français follows.


Monday, March 27, 2017

March 2017 Newsletter From John Knox, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment--2017 Annual Report to Human Rights Council: Biodiversity and Human Rights

John H. Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment (former Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment) and Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law has been advancing his mandate. (See HEREHERE, HERE, and HERE, HERE, HEREHERE. and HERE) .





Professor Knox has just released his March 2017 progress report on the work of his office, which includes links to a number of important statements and activities, principal among which is his Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (A/HRC/34/49; Feb-March 2017). One can sum up the work presented in a particularly direct statement:
The full enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food and water, depends on the services provided by ecosystems. The provision of ecosystem services depends on the health and sustainability of ecosystems, which in turn depend on biodiversity. The full enjoyment of human rights thus depends on biodiversity, and the degradation and loss of biodiversity undermine the ability of human beings to enjoy their human rights. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (A/HRC/34/49; Feb-March 2017) ¶ 5.
The approach underlines a critical hole in the discussions that tend to silo business, human rights advocates, states and environmental advocates and businesses in increasingly remote silos.  Those silos are erected and maintained in part, no doubt, by inertia.  Yet they are also strategically important--important for actors seeking to maximize their influence and positions within the myriad power circles that pass for the international communities (and their enemies), important for the systemic integrity of a segmented approach to lawmaking at both the international and domestic levels, and important, as well, for the governance gaps that these silos produce in systems that reward arbitrage among these systemic interruptions.  Biodiversity is not merely a component of human rights--it is an essential element of the way in which the human rights duties of states and the responsibilities of business (including SOEs, SWFs, and financial actors) to respect human rights. This poses a great problem of interpretation of the core business and human rights documents--from the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, to the OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.  As well, it suggests some rethinking for semi private efforts like the ISO 26000 project. And most important, it suggests that the remedial projects of both UNGP and OECD Guidelines may require some substantial development if they are t embrace more fully their potential.


The post includes the Transmittal letter of the Special Rapporteaur (with links), the 8 March 2017 Statement to the Human Rights Council (Biodiversity and Human Rights) and Parts I and II of the Annual Report.

Friday, March 24, 2017

"The Future of Sovereign Wealth Funds": Notes From the Symposium Sponsored by the Wake Forest Law Review



It is my great pleasure to announce an upcoming conference: The Future of Sovereign Wealth Funds, sponsored by the Wake Forest Law Review 2017 as their Spring Symposium. For conference information please see HERE.

This post includes the Conference Program and summary observations on each of the presentations, all of which follow, below.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Posting Preliminary Conference Draft,"Sovereign Wealth Funds, Capacity Building, Development, and Governance" for the Conference "The Future of Sovereign Wealth Funds" March 24, 2017 Wake Forest Law School



It is my great pleasure to announce an upcoming conference: The Future of Sovereign Wealth Funds, sponsored by the Wake Forest Law Review 2017 as their Spring Symposium. For conference information please see HERE.

This post includes the very preliminary draft of my conference Paper, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Capacity Building, Development, and Governance, which I will be presenting on March 24. I post it in the hopes of generating comments and discussion among those interested in the subject.

The paper considers the way that SWFs may be transformed by and are transforming the framework of global finance and production relationships. SWFs have already started moving well beyond their idealized form, established within the parameters of the Santiago Principles. SWFs now advance the political and economic projects of states, they serve to strengthen governance, they are the focal point for the normalization of global human rights in economic activities projects, and they also serve to advance the development goals of states. The old issues of the commercial character of these mechanisms, and of their effects of the financial markets and ownership structures of rich home states remains important, but may no longer be the central element pushing the development of SWFs. Law and regulatory structures lag far behind the realities that are taking shape on the ground. The public-private divide, the constraining structures of national principles of taxation and sovereign immunity are now ripe for contestation and change. But on what basis?

PowerPoint of presentation--HERE.

The paper and abstract follow.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 7): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 7--Varadero and the Tourist Sector.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Coal Free Investment Universe: Third tranche of Coal exclusions from the Government Pension Fund Global

(Pix Coastal exposure of the Point Aconi Seam (Nova Scotia))


The Norwegian State continues to project its national environmental policies onto its investment strategies.
With effect from February 2016, the Ministry of Finance added a new product-based criterion, under which mining or power companies with 30 per cent or more of their operations associated with thermal coal may be excluded from the GPFG. With respect to this criterion, Norges Bank may exclude companies without the recommendation of the Council on Ethics. So far, Norges Bank has excluded 59 companies with reference to the coal criterion, while a further 11 have been placed under observation. (Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, Annual Report 2016;  pp. 7)
On 7 March 2017 Norges Bank announced its decision to exclude an additional 10 companies from the Government Pension Fund Global based on the product-based coal criterion in the guidelines for observation and exclusion.

The most immediate and perhaps interesting observations that might be extracted here touch on the growing shift in effective authority over control of investment universe matters form the Ethics Council to the Norges Bank. This shift augments  the change in procedure, effective January 2015, that shifted the Ethics Council's communication from the Foreign Ministry to the Norges Bank.   The second is the willingness to make the process more efficient (and to capture a larger set of potentially offending enterprises) by substituting bright line rules (e.g. the 30% of revenues derived from coal threshold for exclusion/observation) for principles based decision making inherent in the Ethical Guidelines. The third is this mve to bright line rules suggests a pathway through which public policy may continue to be exercised through the commercial activities of public pension fund ("The Norwegian parliament voted in May last year to order the GPFG to sell off its holdings in companies that have 30% or more of their activities in the coal business.").  The fourth is that even bright line rules are substantially interlaced with discretion--now exercised by Norges Bank. Beyond the decision to exclude or place a company under observation, the interpretation of the rules, the collection and interpretation of data, and the discretion built into communication with enterprises, provide a substantially large space within which Norges Bank might negotiate with targeted enterprises. Lastly, the framework of the Norges Bank may have spillover effect:
"Separately, the 235 billion Danish kroner ($36 billion) PKA, Hellerup, Denmark, said on its website that it had updated its criteria on coal companies to enter into dialogue with those for which 25% to 50% of their business comes from the commodity. It will also exclude companies where oil sands account for more than 50% of their business.One year ago, PKA blacklisted 31 coal companies and entered into dialogue with 23 companies for which 50% to 90% of business comes from coal." (here)
 The Press Release and Grounds for decision–Product based coal exclusions (7 March 2017) follow.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 6): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 6--Visit to the Organopónico de Alamar.


Announcing Upcoming Conference: "The Future of Sovereign Wealth Funds" March 2017



It is my great pleasure to announce an upcoming conference: The Future of Sovereign Wealth Funds, sponsored by the Wake Forest Law Review 2017 as their Spring Symposium.

Friday, March 24, 2017
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The conference was organized by Alan Palmiter who has managed to work his magic, bringing together  a great group  that will no doubt provoke discussion that pushes the envelop in this area that for lawyers is still a bit exotic. 


The conference description, Agenda , and paper abstracts follow:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Joel Slawotsky--Essay "On the potential shift from the present-day architects to new architects on the definition of international law"



Joel Slawotsky, of the Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, and the Law and Business Schools of the College of Management, Rishon LeZion, Israel has guest blogged for "Law at the End of the Day"  on issues relating to corporate liability under international law  (e.g., "Rethinking Financial Crimes and Violations of International Law", Jan. 9, 2013; "Corporate Liability Under The Alien Tort Statute: The Latest Twist"April 26, 2014) and on issues of multilateral trade and finance (Joel Slawotsky Reports From Chinese University of Hong Kong: Asia FDI Forum II--China's Three-Prong Investment Strategy: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Tracks) He has also recently also served as Guest Editor of the Sovereign Wealth Fund special issue of Qatar University International Review of Law (IRL) (2015).

He has very kindly produced a marvelously insightful essay: On the potential shift from the present-day architects to new architects on the definition of international law. In the essay he considers the ramifications of the U.S. shift away from a stable 70 year effort to create and maintain a system of international governance architecture and what it might mean for the future of law, the structures of globalization, and international relations.

The essay follows

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 5): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 5--The Future Direction of Cuba: From the Guidelines of the 6th PCC Congress (2011) to the Conceptualzación of the Cuban Socialist Model of the 7th PCC Congress (2016).


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Announcing Conference "Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards"



It is with great pleasure that I am happy to announce the details of what is shaping up to be a marvelous program organized by the Utrecht Center for Accountability and and Liability Law (UCALL).  The conference,  "Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards" brings together some of the most innovative thought leaders in the field today.  The object of the conference organizers is to inquire how regulatory tools stemming from international law, public law, and private law may or may not be used for transnational corporate accountability purposes. 

Great thanks to the conferences organizers, a team of researchers from the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law: Prof. Ivo Giesen (private law); Dr. Liesbeth Enneking (private law); Prof. François Kristen (criminal law); Anne-Jetske Schaap, LLM (criminal law); Prof. Cedric Ryngaert (international law); and Lucas Roorda, LLM (international law).

The Conference Statement and Program follows below:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 4a): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 4 Morning--Organization of the Cuban State and the Economic Model of Cuba.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 4b): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba; We Get to Feel Like Cubans—The Saratoga Hotel Refuses to Let Me and My U.S. Graduate Students Enter their Lobby—The Cuban People are Owed the Apology

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 4 Afternoon--We  Get to Feel Like Cubans—The Saratoga Hotel Refuses to Let Me and My U.S: Students Enter their Lobby—The Cuban People are Owed an Apology.

Interview With Mehr News (Iran): "China Will Replace the U.S. in Global Trade"


I was recently interviewed by Payman Yazdani for Mehr News Agency (Iran).  We discussed the changes in global trade in the wake of the 2016 U.S: elections.  The ext of the interview, China Will Replace the U.S. in Global Trade, as published by Mehr News 5 March 2017, follows below.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 3): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 3--Cuban Health Sectors, Cuban cemeteries, and Cuban Social Structures From a National and Regional Trade Perspective.

Chapter 18 (Chapter Summaries) "The Role of the Courts: Stare Decisis in Constitutional Cases and Under State Law” in Elements of Law and the United States Legal System



(Washington Monument Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

I recently announced the forthcoming publication by Carolina Academic Press of my Elements of Law and the United States Legal System (ISBN: 978-1-61163-927-8 • e-ISBN: 978-1-61163-984-1).

The work made sense as a century of legalization (here and here) and judicialization (here and here) forces more and more people worldwide to bump up against aspects of aspects of the U.S: legal system.  The system is a complex amalgamation of distinct approaches to legalization, and the mechanics of its implementation, that  tends to be mystifying to everyone, even individuals trained in law elsewhere. Most people tend to be hard pressed to explain the U.S. legal system either to non-lawyers or to foreigners, even sophisticated foreign lawyers or jurists, or for that matter to each other. Most would find it difficult unravel the distinct strands of law in the United States, each of which deeply embedded within their own internally coherent systems of generation, interpretation and application. The object of the book is to make the elements of law within the U.S. legal system more accessible and easier to invoke.

This set of posts provide interested readers with a more detailed description-summary of each chapter along with teaching objectives. After these descriptions I will circulate a chapter by chapter based draft Teacher's Manual. Comments welcome for all. 

All contents posted on line may be accessed here:


Summary book organization and the third of the three chapters of Part V--The Role of the Courts: Stare Decisis in Constitutional Cases and Under State Law, Chapter 18 Summary follows. This concludes the work.  Future posts will include Teaching Notes for Each Chapter. Stay tuned!


Thursday, March 09, 2017

Call for Papers: Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Annual Meeting Miami July 2017





The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) cordially invites you to submit an abstract to its upcoming conference scheduled for July 27-29, 2017 in Miami, Florida.

To submit an abstract for a regular paper: HERE

To submit an abstract for a student paper: HERE.


To register for the conference please visit: HERE.

The brief Conference Theme follows.

Chapter 17 (Chapter Summaries) " The Role of the Courts: The Techniques of Judicial Interpretation” in Elements of Law and the United States Legal System



(Washington Monument Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

I recently announced the forthcoming publication by Carolina Academic Press of my Elements of Law and the United States Legal System (ISBN: 978-1-61163-927-8 • e-ISBN: 978-1-61163-984-1).

The work made sense as a century of legalization (here and here) and judicialization (here and here) forces more and more people worldwide to bump up against aspects of aspects of the U.S: legal system.  The system is a complex amalgamation of distinct approaches to legalization, and the mechanics of its implementation, that  tends to be mystifying to everyone, even individuals trained in law elsewhere. Most people tend to be hard pressed to explain the U.S. legal system either to non-lawyers or to foreigners, even sophisticated foreign lawyers or jurists, or for that matter to each other. Most would find it difficult unravel the distinct strands of law in the United States, each of which deeply embedded within their own internally coherent systems of generation, interpretation and application. The object of the book is to make the elements of law within the U.S. legal system more accessible and easier to invoke.

This set of posts provide interested readers with a more detailed description-summary of each chapter along with teaching objectives. After these descriptions I will circulate a chapter by chapter based draft Teacher's Manual. Comments welcome for all. 

All contents posted on line may be accessed here:


Summary book organization and the second of the three chapters of Part V: The Role of the Courts in the Application of Law: Judicial Review, Methodologies of Interpretation, and Legitimacy, Chapter 17 Summary follows.


Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 2): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Prgrams, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE

This post considers our activities on Day 2--Plaza de la Revolución and Lecture, The Thought of José Martí: Political Ideology of Cuba.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change (Day 1): Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Prgrams, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the next in a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here).

I started with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Links for full contents HERE.

This post considers our activities on Day 1--Viñales.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Chapter 16 (Chapter Summaries) "The Doctrine of Judicial Review: Judicial Authority to “Say What the Law Is” in Elements of Law and the United States Legal System



(Washington Monument Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

I recently announced the forthcoming publication by Carolina Academic Press of my Elements of Law and the United States Legal System (ISBN: 978-1-61163-927-8 • e-ISBN: 978-1-61163-984-1).

The work made sense as a century of legalization (here and here) and judicialization (here and here) forces more and more people worldwide to bump up against aspects of aspects of the U.S: legal system.  The system is a complex amalgamation of distinct approaches to legalization, and the mechanics of its implementation, that  tends to be mystifying to everyone, even individuals trained in law elsewhere. Most people tend to be hard pressed to explain the U.S. legal system either to non-lawyers or to foreigners, even sophisticated foreign lawyers or jurists, or for that matter to each other. Most would find it difficult unravel the distinct strands of law in the United States, each of which deeply embedded within their own internally coherent systems of generation, interpretation and application. The object of the book is to make the elements of law within the U.S. legal system more accessible and easier to invoke.

This set of posts provide interested readers with a more detailed description-summary of each chapter along with teaching objectives. After these descriptions I will circulate a chapter by chapter based draft Teacher's Manual. Comments welcome for all. 

All contents posted on line may be accessed here:


Summary book organization and the first of the three chapters of Part V: The Role of the Courts in the Application of Law: Judicial Review, Methodologies of Interpretation, and Legitimacy, Chapter 16 Summary follows.


Cuba Beyond the Cusp of Change: Reflections on a Week Long Penn State Graduate Course in Cuba

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

It is my great privilege to have been encouraged to design and hold a week long embedded course program through Pennsylvania State University. My thanks to the office of the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi and Kate Manni, Assistant Director for Embedded Programs, for making this possible.  Thanks as well to  Scott Gartner, the Director, Penn State School of International Affairs, and special thanks to Claudia Prieto (SIA Academic Adviser and Student Services Coordinator) and Rachel Arnold (Assistant to the Financial Officer, Penn State Law/SIA), without whose help and encouragement this program would not have happened. Great thanks as well to our hosts in Cuba, the Centro de Estudios Martianos that went out of its way to enrich the course and the experiences of our students.

This is the first of a series of posts that will develop reflections both on the teaching of embedded programs in Cuba, generally, but more specifically as a way of documenting the way my students and see see Cuba today.  For many years Cuba and its political order was said to be on the "cusp of change" (e.g., here).  Since the start of normalization of relations with the United States, it is quite evident that Cuba has now moved beyond the "cusp" and into the realities of integration within a global system to which it has had both privileged access and been excluded over the last half century.  The re-adjustments in both respects will mark the trajectory of Cuban life for the next generation (compare here, with here). 

I start with the embedded course syllabus (INTAF 597C Penn State SIA) and then will post reflections for each day of the journey through the course materials and within Cuba.  The hope is that this provides some food for thought respecting the necessary evolution of political and economic systems, and the constraints within which systems change or expend great energy to stay the same.

Contents:
1. This post considers our activities on Day 1--Viñales and the Tourist Sector.

2. This post considers our activities on Day 2--Plaza de la Revolución and Lecture, The Thought of José Martí: Political Ideology of Cuba.
3.  This post considers our activities on Day 3--Cuban Health Sectors, Cuban cemeteries, and Cuban Social Structures From a National and Regional Trade Perspective.
 4a.  This post considers our activities on Day 4 Morning--Organization of the Cuban State and the Economic Model of Cuba.
4b. This post considers our activities on Day 4 Afternoon--We  Get to Feel LikeCubans—The Saratoga Hotel Refuses to Let Me and My U.S: Students Enter theirLobby—The Cuban People are Owed an Apology.
 5. This post considers our activities on Day 5--The Future Direction of Cuba: From the Guidelines of the 6th PCC Congress (2011) to the Conceptualzación of the Cuban Socialist Model of the 7th PCC Congress (2016).
6. This post considers our activities on Day 6--Visitto the Organopónico de Alamar.

7.  This post considers our activities on Day 7--Varadero and the Tourist Sector.
 8. This post considers our activities on Day 8--Reflections on the Flight Home.
9.  This post serves as an Executive Summary of the Program, Activities and Reflections on Our Experiences.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Chapter 15 (Chapter Summaries) "The Legal Structures of Federalism: The 9th and 10th Amendments of the Federal Constitution" in Elements of Law and the United States Legal System



(Washington Monument Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

I recently announced the forthcoming publication by Carolina Academic Press of my Elements of Law and the United States Legal System (ISBN: 978-1-61163-927-8 • e-ISBN: 978-1-61163-984-1).

The work made sense as a century of legalization (here and here) and judicialization (here and here) forces more and more people worldwide to bump up against aspects of aspects of the U.S: legal system.  The system is a complex amalgamation of distinct approaches to legalization, and the mechanics of its implementation, that  tends to be mystifying to everyone, even individuals trained in law elsewhere. Most people tend to be hard pressed to explain the U.S. legal system either to non-lawyers or to foreigners, even sophisticated foreign lawyers or jurists, or for that matter to each other. Most would find it difficult unravel the distinct strands of law in the United States, each of which deeply embedded within their own internally coherent systems of generation, interpretation and application. The object of the book is to make the elements of law within the U.S. legal system more accessible and easier to invoke.

This set of posts provide interested readers with a more detailed description-summary of each chapter along with teaching objectives. After these descriptions I will circulate a chapter by chapter based draft Teacher's Manual. Comments welcome for all. 

All contents posted on line may be accessed here:


Summary book organization and Chapter 15 Summary follows.


No.185-1刘小枫:大学校门的正确打开方式 (No.185-1 Liu Xiaofeng: The way to open the gates of the university)






This is another in the series of essays that were presented at the “来华外国人与近代中国法” 国际学术研讨会 "Foreigners and Modern Chinese Law" International Symposium Conference and then continued thereafter in the same spirit.

No.185-1刘小枫:大学校门的正确打开方式 (No.185-1 Liu Xiaofeng: The way to open the gates of the university).

In this very interesting short essay Liu Xiaofeng considers ways that modern approaches to education rob the student of the time to appropriately approach the the study of text, and produce a student that appears to be more the object of the input of various modern factors of learning.  This is a problem with its own mirror in the West.  Comparing notes about these potentially troublesome approaches to knowledge, and its dissemination in industrial societies that are ordered increasingly in machine or factory like form, is worthy of consideration. My own thoughts in the U.S. Context here: Made to Market Education and Professionalization in University EducationConsequences of the Growing Divide Between the Ideal of the University and its RealityCentral Planning and the University: What is So Bad About Administrative Management of Knowledge Production and Dissemination?Engaged Scholarship--De-Centering Faculty From Research and Teaching in a Relentless March Toward a Training Model for Middle Tier Universities?

The essay was posted to 叁會學坊, the San Hui Fang Workshops microblog and it follows below 中国语文 only.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Chapter 14 (Chapter Summaries) "The People Making Law" in Elements of Law and the United States Legal System



(Washington Monument Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

I recently announced the forthcoming publication by Carolina Academic Press of my Elements of Law and the United States Legal System (ISBN: 978-1-61163-927-8 • e-ISBN: 978-1-61163-984-1).

The work made sense as a century of legalization (here and here) and judicialization (here and here) forces more and more people worldwide to bump up against aspects of aspects of the U.S: legal system.  The system is a complex amalgamation of distinct approaches to legalization, and the mechanics of its implementation, that  tends to be mystifying to everyone, even individuals trained in law elsewhere. Most people tend to be hard pressed to explain the U.S. legal system either to non-lawyers or to foreigners, even sophisticated foreign lawyers or jurists, or for that matter to each other. Most would find it difficult unravel the distinct strands of law in the United States, each of which deeply embedded within their own internally coherent systems of generation, interpretation and application. The object of the book is to make the elements of law within the U.S. legal system more accessible and easier to invoke.

This set of posts provide interested readers with a more detailed description-summary of each chapter along with teaching objectives. After these descriptions I will circulate a chapter by chapter based draft Teacher's Manual. Comments welcome for all. 

All contents posted on line may be accessed here:


Summary book organization and Chapter 14 Summary follows.