This Blog Essay site devotes every February to a series of integrated but short essays on a single theme. The Ruminations Series in 2009 produced a month long series of aphoristic (ἀφορισμός) essays, meant to provoke thought rather than explain it. The hope was that, built up on each other, the series would provide a matrix of thoughts that together might lead the reader in new directions.
For 2010, this site introduces a new series--Business and Human Rights. The series takes as its starting point the issues and questions raised by John Ruggie, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on business and human rights, in a global online forumThe U.N. "Protect, Respect, Remedy" framework is made up of three pillars: the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and greater access by victims to effective remedy, judicial and non-judicial. The forum is currently focused on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, the second pillar of the framework. The forum is divided into sections, each of which contains multiple topics with space for discussion and comment.New Online Forum for U.N. Business and Human Rights Mandate, United Nations Press Release, New York and Geneva, Dec. 1, 2009. Each of the Essays will consider one of the topics raised in the online consultation. My hope is to help generate discussion and to encourage further discussion of the issues within the framework fo the consultation framework.
Part XX: Human Rights Due Diligence--Issues: Gender.
Surveillance is one of the critical mechanisms of this expansion of private power into what had been an exclusively public sphere. Increasingly, public bodies are requiring, or permitting, private entities to monitor and report on the conduct and activities of a host of actors. It has also come to serve public bodies as a substitute for lawmaking. Surveillance is a flexible engine. It can be used to decide what sorts of facts constitute information, to determine what sorts of information ought to be privileged and which do not matter, to gather that information, to empower people or entities to gather information, to act on the information gathered. In its domestic form it can be used to assign authority over certain types of information to private enterprises and then hold those enterprises to account on the basis of the information gathered. In its transnational form it can be used to construct a set of privileged information that can be gathered and distributed voluntarily by private entities on the basis of systems created and maintained by international public or private organizations as an alternative to formal regulation and to provide a means of harmonizing behavior without law. Together, surveillance in its various forms provides a unifying technique with which governance can be effected across the boundaries of power fractures without challenging formal regulatory power or its limits.