Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Part 10 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Michael Riegner, Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Justine Batura, "A Framework Agreement in Business and Human Rights?: An Interview with Surya Deva and Claire Methven O’Brien"

 


 It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:
With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

This Part 10 closes the Symposium series. To that end I consider the last of the contributions,  Surya Deva, Claire Methven O'Brien, Michael Riegner, Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Justine Batura, A Framework Agreement in Business and Human Rights?: An Interview with Surya Deva and Claire Methven O’Brien, Völkerrechtsblog, 24.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220625-041950-0; which follows below along with brief final reflections.   

 

Part 9 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Larry Catá Backer, "Beyond the Ritual of Treaties as Gestures: Effectively Closing the Governance Gap in the Area of Business and Human Rights with a Framework Treaty"

 


 

It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:

With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

For this Part 9 we consider my essay: Larry Catá Backer, Beyond the Ritual of Treaties as Gestures: Effectively Closing the Governance Gap in the Area of Business and Human Rights with a Framework Treaty, Völkerrechtsblog, 24.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220624-161958-0. Because it makes no sense to include reflections on my own essay I thought it might be more interesting to substitute for reflections the comments of "Reviewer No. 2" and my responses. That perhaps get closer to the sort of textual dialogue I have been aiming for in these posts. 

 

Monday, June 27, 2022

习近平《把握时代潮流 缔造光明未来》[Xi Jinping, "Grasp the Trend of the Times and Create a Bright Future"]; China and the BRICS United Front in the Russo-Ukranian War--Building Solidarity Around the Liberal Democratic State United Front

Pix Credit here



It appears that the global community has reached that point in the Russo-Ukrainian war where it is necessary to perform the discursive rituals of United Fronts. These are rituals of allegiance; these are rituals that are meant to publicly declare adherence to one or another of the great global empires, each working assiduously to define and protect its spheres of domination. In the context of the Russo-Ukraine war is is the next step in the splitting of the global order  on the two sides of the fissure that is the hot war in Ukraine. 

The liberal democratic United Front is organized around the G7 and its dependencies. It is now built around a number of battles--one of which, and an important vector for uniting the front (again) is the hot war in Ukraine and the reclaiming of the old Eastern heartland for the European West. 

Pix credit here
Western leaders appeared relaxed as they started their three-day G7 summit in Germany, with Boris Johnson joking about the group being "tougher" than Vladimir Putin, while also showing a united front in their response to his Ukraine invasion. . .The prime minister, US President Joe Biden, and their counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, plus the EU, were spending the first day in both formal and informal settings, including discussing the war's effects on the global economy. They announced infrastructure plans for developing nations, in a new partnership designed to provide an alternative to Russian and Chinese investment there. The US and fellow G7 members aim to raise a total of $600bn (£490bn) by 2027. (Ukraine war: G7 leaders show united front against Russia as Boris Johnson jokes about group being 'tougher' than Vladimir Putin (26 June 2022))
But just as Russia has become the object around which it is possible to renew the G7 United Front of apex liberal democracies, Russia has also become the object around which another United Front, the BRICS Front is being solidified in its engagement with the G7 and its world order. BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of South Africa. They appear to be ready to play a more positive role in their mutual support activities.  Mutual support in this case would necessarily center on Russia. Today.

In that context the recent reporting on Xi Jinping's speech at the opening of the meeting of BRICS (23 June 2022), coinciding with the G7 meeting, suggests the contours of  the BRICS United Front.  In that respect two lenses are worth considering.  The first is the reporting of the opening speech distributed in Qiushi (求是; he leading official theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party: 高扬互利共赢之帆 把稳团结合作之舵 [Raising the sail of mutual benefit and win-win results, and stabilizing the rudder of unity and cooperation]. Second is the English text of the full remarks pòsted to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website:  Full Text: Remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 14th BRICS Summit (original text:习近平在金砖国家领导人第十四次会晤上的讲话). The first was developed for an internal audience of cadres and external audience of those who read Qiushi (and thus to some extent as a communication to the security services of other states). The second was developed for ease of reporting by press and other elements of liberal democratic outlets for mass communication. The second was notable for this:

Not long ago, I put forward the Global Security Initiative (GSI), which advocates a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, follows the philosophy that humanity is an indivisible security community, and aims to create a new path to security that features dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum. China would like to work with BRICS partners to operationalize the GSI and bring more stability and positive energy to the world. (Full Text: Remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping)

This recalls an earlier Qiushi essay-- 宗 平, 劝和促谈、政治解决才是正确道路 [Zong Ping, Persuading peace and promoting talks and political settlement are the right way] (discussed HERE). More importantly, is exports and solidifies the Chinese position with respect to its BRICS core: this was made explicit in the speech discussing the GSI in April 2022 Indivisible Security and Hierarchies of Sovereign Autonomy; Full text: President Xi's keynote speech, "Joining Hands to Meet Challenges and Cooperation to Create the Future," delivered at the opening ceremony of BFA annual conference 2022 (Official Translation). It is in that context that the declaration to effectively use BRICS as a means of directly challenging the G7 led embargoes and sanctions regimes against Russia become important:

This year, we launched the BRICS Initiative on Enhancing Cooperation on Supply Chains and the Initiative on Trade and Investment for Sustainable Development, adopted the Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters and the Strategy on Food Security Cooperation, and held a High-level Meeting on Climate Change for the first time. We should make good use of these new platforms to boost connectivity of industrial and supply chains and jointly meet challenges in poverty reduction, agriculture, energy, logistics and other fields. We should support greater development of the New Development Bank and a steady process to admit new members, and improve the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to cement the BRICS financial safety net and firewall. We should also expand BRICS cooperation on cross-border payment and credit rating to facilitate trade, investment and financing among our countries. (Full Text: Remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping)

The wiggle room left to the G7 and its dependencies shrinks in the face of the challenge from this opposing United Front, one that has managed to detach what once had been a reliable ally, (Brazil) and ensured the ambiguous role of another (India), as both seek to hedge, though in this case betting against the G7. 

The Qiushi commentary (求是网评论员) essay is equally direct.  In this case, though, the risks and expected turbulence of the anticipated conflicts are more directly referenced. "Facing various risks and challenges, and facing the historical trend of world multi-polarization and democratization of international relations, it is more important than ever to strengthen solidarity and cooperation between emerging market countries and developing countries." [面对各种风险挑战,面对世界多极化和国际关系民主化的历史潮流,加强新兴市场国家和发展中国家团结合作,比以往任何时候都更为重要。] (高扬互利共赢之帆 把稳团结合作之舵 ). And again, the betting is against the G7: "Advance in accord with the logic of historical progress and one must engage in development in line with the trend of the times. As long as we raise the sails of mutual benefit and win-win results and hold the rudder of solidarity and cooperation, the big ship of the BRICS countries will surely be able to ride the wind and waves and sail to a brighter and better shore!" [在历史前进的逻辑中前进、在时代发展的潮流中发展。只要我们高扬互利共赢之帆、把稳团结合作之舵,金砖国家这艘大船就一定能够乘风破浪,驶向更加光明美好的彼岸!] (Ibid.). 

Pix Credit here
These are developments that are as important as they are under reported and under discussed within the G7 led liberal democratic camp.  For Ukraine, this is especially troublesome, and may require significant projections of quiet efforts to meet the challenge of this union of (adverse) interests. As in most things the ability of G7 to help will be important but hardly dispositive. At the same time, G7 ought not to ignore what may be occurring, especially agreements and understandings developed behind closed doors, within the BRICS front. BRICS can serve not merely to diffuse the effects of sanctions, but also to provide markets, and perhaps more importantly, to launder all sorts of objects (and information) harvested from sanctioning states, repackaged, and then made available. In a sense, then, the era of targeted sanctions may have to give way to an era of sanctions against groups. These may be modulated; but to be effective against a core target state, it may be necessary to differentially target the web of states within which it functions. On the Sino-Russian side, BRICS is one such web; the BRI and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are others.  From the Sino-Russian perspective, of course the core would be the G7, its next ring NATO and the OECD, and its outer bands the core dependencies of these collectives.  This is effectively what Mr. Xi has quite transparently sought to make clear--at least form the Chinese side. The point is worth serious consideration.  For Ukraine, the transformation suggests the critical necessity of abandoning old ways of understanding 5th generation warfare and its associated sanctions and narrative regimes, from one based on a single state target (or state by state autonomy in targeting), to one that places the core state target within its web of closely associated or cooperating states --and as well its associated non-governmental organs.  It is in this sense that statements coming out of the G7 June 2022 meeting begin to sound anachronistic (e.g., "The G7 agreed that Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine would shape international relations for a long time to come, said the Federal Chancellor. “In relations with Russia, there can be no going back to the time before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”"The G7 stands united alongside Ukraine)

Mr. Xi's four point vision nicely alludes to this plausibly emerging reality:

The Chinese people often say, "True gold can stand the test of fire." Over the past 16 years, the giant ship of BRICS has sailed forward tenaciously against raging torrents and storms . . . First, we need to uphold solidarity and safeguard world peace and tranquility. . . China would like to work with BRICS partners to operationalize the GSI and bring more stability and positive energy to the world. . . Second, we need to uphold cooperation to boost development and jointly tackle risks and challenges. The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis has resulted in disruptions to global industrial and supply chains, sustained hikes of commodity prices, and weaker international monetary and financial systems. . . Third, we need to uphold the pioneering spirit and innovation and unleash the potential and vitality of cooperation. . . Fourth, we need to uphold openness and inclusiveness and pool collective wisdom and strength. BRICS countries gather not in a closed club or an exclusive circle, but a big family of mutual support and a partnership for win-win cooperation. (Full Text: Remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping)

As the Qiushi commentator put it

历史长河时而风平浪静,时而波涛汹涌,但总会奔涌向前。尽管国际形势风云变幻,但开放发展的历史大势不会变,携手合作、共迎挑战的愿望也不会变。面对各种风险挑战,面对世界多极化和国际关系民主化的历史潮流,加强新兴市场国家和发展中国家团结合作,比以往任何时候都更为重要。[The long river of history is sometimes calm, sometimes turbulent, but always rushing forward. Although the international situation is changing, the historical trend of opening up and development will not change, nor will the desire to work together to meet challenges. Facing various risks and challenges, and facing the historical trend of world multi-polarization and democratization of international relations, it is more important than ever to strengthen solidarity and cooperation between emerging market countries and developing countries]. (高扬互利共赢之帆 把稳团结合作之舵 ).

For states lingering between the cores of apex competitors, the result may complicate the calculus of costs and benefits of operating in the grey spaces between  or at the edges of empire.  The Full text of both follow. 高扬互利共赢之帆 把稳团结合作之舵 [Raising the sail of mutual benefit and win-win results, and stabilizing the rudder of unity and cooperation] includes the original Chinese text and a crude English translation; the English version of  Mr. Xi's remarks then follow along with the original Chinese version. 

Part 8 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Flávia do Amaral Vieira, 'Resisting Corporate Capture'


 

It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:

With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

For this Part 8 we consider the wonderful essay: Flávia do Amaral Vieira, Resisting Corporate Capture: A Plaidoyer for a Binding Treaty from a Civil Society Perspective, Völkerrechtsblog, 23.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220623-153022-0; which follows along with my brief reflections.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Part 7 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Nils-Hendrik Grohmann, 'How to Avoid Politicised Monitoring?: Treaty-Design Suggestions for a Business and Human Rights Framework Convention'


 

It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:

With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

For this Part 7 we consider the wonderful essay: Nils-Hendrik Grohmann, How to Avoid Politicised Monitoring?: Treaty-Design Suggestions for a Business and Human Rights Framework Convention , Völkerrechtsblog, 23.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220623-153108-0; which follows along with my brief reflections. 


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Part 6 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Tara Van Ho, "Oops! They Did It Again: The USA’s Counter-Diplomacy in Promoting the Framework Convention"

 


It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:

With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

For this Part 6 we consider the wonderful essay: Tara Van Ho, Oops! They Did It Again: The USA’s Counter-Diplomacy in Promoting the Framework Convention, Völkerrechtsblog, 22.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220622-153025-0, which follows along with my brief reflections.

 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Part 5 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Claire Methven O'Brien, 'Bounded Rationality, Metonymy, Humility:Further Arguments for a Framework-Style Business and Human Rights Treaty'


 

It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:

With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

For this Part 5 we consider the wonderful essay: Claire Methven O'Brien, Bounded Rationality, Metonymy, Humility: Further Arguments for a Framework-Style Business and Human Rights Treaty, Völkerrechtsblog, 22.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220622-153107-0; which follows along with my brief reflections. 

 

深刻理解和把握中国人的宇宙观、天下观、社会观、道德观(学术圆桌)(Deeply understand and grasp the Chinese cosmology, world outlook, social outlook, and moral outlook (academic round table))

 


Recently given wide official distribution in China was a set of essays (under the title: 深刻理解和把握中国人的宇宙观、天下观、社会观、道德观(学术圆桌)(Deeply understand and grasp the Chinese cosmology, world outlook, social outlook, and moral outlook (academic round table) (link to the reproduction of the essays on the website of the Western Returned Scholars Association (Overseas-educated Scholars Association of China)) (official version in People's Daily here).

The People's Daily editors  noted that the essays were built around the following theme:

习近平总书记在主持中央政治局第三十九次集体学习时强调:“要讲清楚中国是什么样的文明和什么样的国家,讲清楚中国人的宇宙观、天下观、社会观、道德观,展现中华文明的悠久历史和人文底蕴,促使世界读懂中国、读懂中国人民、读懂中国共产党、读懂中华民族。”中国人的宇宙观、天下观、社会观、道德观,内涵丰富、博大精深。习近平总书记指出:“中华文化崇尚和谐,中国‘和’文化源远流长,蕴涵着天人合一的宇宙观、协和万邦的国际观、和而不同的社会观、人心和善的道德观。”习近平总书记的重要论述为我们理解和把握中国人的宇宙观、天下观、社会观、道德观指明了路径。本期学术版刊发4篇文章,围绕这一主题进行阐释。[General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized when presiding over the 39th collective study of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee: "We must make clear what kind of civilization and what kind of country China is, and make clear the Chinese people's outlook on the universe, the world, society, and morality. Demonstrate the long history and cultural heritage of Chinese civilization, and urge the world to understand China, the Chinese people, the Communist Party of China, and the Chinese nation." The Chinese people's outlook on the universe, the world, society, and morality is rich in connotation, broad and profound . General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out: "Chinese culture advocates harmony, and China's 'harmony' culture has a long history, which contains the cosmology of the unity of nature and man, the international outlook of harmony and harmony, the social outlook of harmony and difference, and the moral outlook of kindness." General Secretary Xi Jinping The important expositions pointed out the way for us to understand and grasp the Chinese people's cosmology, world outlook, social outlook, and moral outlook. This academic edition publishes 4 articles to explain this topic.]


An all around, self reflexive civilization requires an ecology within which it may be self sustaining, and viable enough to absorb and naturalize useful irritants from other (and perhaps equally worthy) civilization with which it must share the globe. That requires, in turn, a distinctly Chinese imaginary (ways of giving the world and its reality order--the foundational premises for rationalizing reality) with four foundational elements: the universe, the world, society, and morality.It is to each of these that the essays that make up this "round table" are devoted.  The essays are worth a read in and for themselves.  More importantly, they provide significant insights into the way that such self-reflexive systems may be elaborated and tied to a governing ideology.  The lessons are as important for the operation of the core levers of other civilizations as it is for a study of the Chinese path toward the same  states of being.

But most important, the essays suggest the growing comprehensive scope of the elaboration of New Era theory.  That is useful in a number of respects.  I mention two here.  The first is the way that New Era theory is now pointing to a more comprehensive  evolutionary development of Leninism, and with it shaping the application of Marxist principles to the management of a society now more `pointedly directed toward a historically necessary goal. The second is the determination to strengthen ideological divergence in ways that, from the perspective of ideology and discourse, represents the development of permanent structures of opposition to the great post 1945 project of global convergence and intimate interconnection among states, cultures, production, and communication. The New Era is now definitively of of divergence among the now identified great civilizations, each of which containing within its structures of hierarchy and dependency rationalized through quite distinct civilization marketers.  This is not Huntington's clash of civilization; this is a political project that privileges ideology over the now increasingly irrelevant markets of race, ethnicity, religion, and the like as technologically obsolete markers of the borders of civilization.  What tends to be overlooked, of course, is that Chinese developments mirror those in the West.  The markers of that development differ--one state based, and the other markets driven.  One centralizing and public; the other diffusing and private. This is the ransomer by which post-global empire draws its own borders.

The essays follo0w below in their original Chinese and in a crude English translation. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Part 4 Reflections on Völkerrechtsblog Online Symposium: "Framing Business & Human Rights?": Lucas Roorda, "Caught between Principles and Perfectionism: Private International Law in the Proposed Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights"

 


It is with great delight that I pass along the announcement of an exciting new Online Symposium. It is  hosted by Völkerrechtsblog and brilliantly co-organized by Justine Batura (Völkerrechtsblog), Anna Sophia Tiedeke (Völkerrechtsblog) and Michael Riegner (University of Erfurt; co-founder of the Völkerrechtsblog), who will feature as guest editor of the Symposium. The Symposium Summary nicely captures the spirit of the event:

With a view to regulating business in the field of human rights, an Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) has been negotiating an international binding treaty in business and human rights (BHR) since 2014. Confounding the dichotomy of hard and soft law approaches to BHR, the Biden Administration recently expressed openness to a legally binding framework agreement that would build on the UNGPs. Framework agreements are a type of treaty, that establish key objectives and a system of governance but leave details to be determined in the future by an agreed-on mechanism. Perceived by some as a distraction from existing efforts to create a binding treaty in the field, others consider the treaty design choice for a framework agreement as offering a promising and realistic route. In any event, the joining of the US delegation to the OEIGWG has (re-)fuelled long smouldering discussions about the prospects of success of the OEIGWG endeavour and the need to explore alternative avenues, such as opting for the treaty design of a framework agreement. With this symposium, we take a deep dive into exploring a framework convention as an alternative regulatory proposal and examine potentials and challenges from different angles. (Völkerrechtsblog, Symposium, Framing Human Rights? Introductory Note )

Throughout the week starting 20 June 2022, the co-editors will post written contributions on the homepage of the Symposium in the following order:

--Monday: Introduction by co-editors Justine Batura (Twitter: @JustineBatura), Anna Sophia Tiedeke & Michael Riegner (Twitter: @riegnerm)
--Monday, 1 pm: Giulia Botta
--Tuesday, 8 am: Jonathan Klaaren (Twitter: @JonathanKlaaren)
--Tuesday, 1 pm: Lucas Roorda (Twitter: @LRoordaLaw)
--Wednesday, 8 am: Claire Methven O‘Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1)
--Wednesday, 1 pm: Tara Van Ho (Twitter: @TaraVanHo)
--Thursday, 8 am: Nils Grohmann
--Thursday, 1 pm: Flávia do Amaral Vieira (Twitter: @eiflavia)
--Friday, 8 am: Larry Catá Backer (Twitter: @BackerLarry)
--Friday, 1 pm: Concluding Interview with Claire Methven O'Brien (Twitter: @Claire_OB1) & Surya Deva (Twitter: @ProfSuryaDeva)

 I was delighted to have been invited to participate.  I will be posting the Symposium contributions here and will also contribute some brief reflections and engagement with each of the excellent and thought provoking contributions.

For this Part 4 we consider the wonderful essay: Lucas Roorda, Caught between Principles and Perfectionism: Private International Law in the Proposed Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights, Völkerrechtsblog, 21.06.2022, doi: 10.17176/20220621-153023-0  which follows along with my brief reflections. 

Запад создал империю лжи, предполагающую уничтожение России ["The West has created an empire of lies, involving the destruction of Russia"]--Translation of Official Interview of Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council

 

I am sincerely convinced that we cannot develop successfully without a clear understanding by the whole society of our national goals and objectives, the full depth of our spiritual and historical identity. Therefore, every inhabitant of our country, every Russian from childhood should know and understand why we all live and work as a single people, what we strive for.

The West, however, continues to act in line with the inhuman doctrine of the "golden billion", which implies a significant reduction in the world's population in various ways. To do this, the West has vilely created an empire of lies, involving the humiliation and destruction of Russia and other objectionable states. They spit in our eyes, but claim that it is God's dew. (English translation from Interview of Nikolai  Patrushev in Rossiiskaya Gazeta)

It was recently reported in the Moscow Times (Russia’s Hardliners Present Their Manifesto: A Forever War with the West and a permanent wartime economy) that Nikolai Patrushev gave and interview to the official government newspaper of record, Rossiiskaya Gazeta. Mr. Patrushev is the current secretary of the Russian Security Council, and well known both for his influence within the state apparatus and his conviction that the conquest of Ukraine must proceed to its inevitable conclusion (the direction of the conclusion of this adventure, of course is viewed differently outside of Russia than within the closed circle of Russia's core of leadership).  His history within the state security apparatus is also well known to those with an interest in those matters. 

In that reporting Mark Galeotti noted that "this kind of lengthy, showcase interview is as significant as it is unusual." (Russia’s Hardliners Present Their Manifesto). He explains that Mr. Patroshev:

is in many ways the lead spokesman of the siloviki – the ‘men of force’ of the military and security agencies – and the most nationalist of them, at that. This interview was in many ways a silovik manifesto. It paints an apocalyptic picture of a world in which an America that “has long divided the whole world into vassals and enemies” and which is “used to walking on scorched earth” has turned against Russia because it is not willing “to give up its sovereignty, self-consciousness, culture, independent foreign and domestic policy.” . . . Rossiiskaya Gazeta is not exactly a mass-circulation newspaper, and even though his words were then picked up and recycled by various other news outlets, it is hard not to conclude that his interview was really meant for an audience of one man: Vladimir Putin.

And indeed, the Russian internal debate appears to be of less interest to the press organs of the liberal democratic camp than perhaps they ought to be. And while the interview may have been publicly projected to a private audience within Russia, it does provide useful windows into the thinking of an influential faction, as against which advanced conflict tactics might be deployed.  But that is well beyond the scope of this post.

The insight, though, suggests the utility of a wider circulation, and greater study, of the precise points Mr. Partrushev sought to highlight.  Those points of emphasis are made easier for the consumer of this type of product by the emphasis provided in the text itself. That text highlighted these points: 

Цель денацификации состоит в том, чтобы разгромить плацдарм неонацизма, созданный усилиями Запада у наших границ [The goal of denazification is to destroy the foothold of neo-Nazism created by the efforts of the West at our borders]

Если бы вовремя исполнялись все поручения главы государства в области импортозамещения, то мы бы смогли избежать многих проблем в экономике [If all the instructions of the head of state in the field of import substitution were fulfilled on time, then we would be able to avoid many problems in the economy]

The first ought not to be dismissed. It does suggest the semiotic transformation of the textual and discursive meaning and deployment of the term "Nazi." No longer attached to its historical context, it has become a fetish, an invocation.  But it is an invocation intensified by the mythologies of prior sacrifice, and for its legitimating purpose ( that is on the basis of the following logic--"if I call my opponent a Nazi, then clearly I am not one myself"). It has been usefully deployed especially against Jewish people in general and the State of Israel in particular (eg here, and here), but now receives a broader application. That application is possible by deploying a semiotics of historical interpretation to create  or emphasize the implications of meaning (in this case Ukrainian collaboration with elements of the 3rd Reich, and less noticeable, for the connection to the greater diaspora of Volksdeutsche in the European East before their mass deportations after 1945. In this case it is also a tool of warfare--a potent distraction and a means of advancing a legitimacy campaign beyond the West--into the rich fields of potential substitutions for economic, social, and political relations with the liberal democratic heartland.  It is, in fact, a code for de-legitimization as a predicate for detachment--a Russian Ost and Sudpolitik that will move Russia away from Europe even as (in their own clumsy and bureaucratic way) Ukraine is eventually brought "back" into Europe. 

The second suggests the challenges of this end game--even one assuming the absorption of some or all of what remains currently and officially Ukrainian territory within greater Russia. I put it that way precisely because it has been clear  in the liberal democratic camp from almost the start of the invasion that the core of liberal democratic leadership is will to trade Ukrainian territory (however well dressed up that transfer is effectuated) for peace if not stability. Russian natural resources and their markets may be worth ceding someone else's territory--and the liberal democratic camp is at its finest when playing the semiotic game of principled (or in this case pragmatic) rationalization. But the highlighted statement suggests two other points.  The first is internal--the need to elimination internal opposition to detachment strategies.  The second is that such "import substitution" is possible.  For that, of course, the elephant in the text is China.  China likely provides the means for such substitution, as well as (perhaps along with India, Turkey, and Iran) as a reverse "silk road" for the covert importation of the trinkets and high value objects still coveted from the liberal democracies. 

There is much more, of course, and much of it going to the discursive heart of a Russian imaginary that is both powerful (for them,) and potentially useful for instrumentalization (or weaponization depending on one's function in the great anti-Russian campaign) against those whose vision is dependent on and limited by the premises, taboos, and analytic limits of this world view. But that is also well beyond the task of this post. What appears quite evident, though, is that the power of liberal democratic discourse, remains among its most potent, if to date still ill used tools. If liberal democracy has lost its stomach for total war, it certainly has cultivated a hearty appetite for discursive wars--totality principles here might prove useful. In that respect the Ukrainians have led the way; a useful example for those opposed to the current Russian objectives and the tactics used to achieve them.  The greatest weapon still left liberal democracy is its semiotics. If lucky, the rest will eventually catch up.

A crude English translation, along with the text of the original interview follows for  more intense study