Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: Collateral Effects and Costs on Cuban Efforts to Rejoin the International Financial Community


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017 Vatican Museum Episodes of the Passion Tournai 14th cent)





If the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack  has a defining element, it is the way in which it may substantially affect Cuba's efforts to rejoin the global economic and finance communities it turned its back on in the early 1960s. That will be a costly bill to pay for the Cuban inability to maintain sufficient control within its Republic to quickly investigate and find culpable parties in the Sonic Weapons Attack Affair. Marc Frank, in current reporting ("Cash-strapped Cuba makes debt payment to major western creditors: diplomats") notes the strains that are already evident in Cuba's efforts to retain some semblance of stability in its financial relations with the Paris Club.  And then there are the Vulture Funds waiting in the wings and holding billions in unpaid sovereign debt. 

At this point it might make good sense for the Cubans to discover the culprit (and from th emost cynical perspective any plausible culprit will do) in order to assuage the Americans and reduce the pressure on Cuban economic foreign policy objectives. But it is unlikely that the Cuban state will contemplate that action. First there is the matter of honor.  Then there is the calculus that nothing will appease the Americans (not implausible) and that the Americans may overplay their hand in this instance. Moreover the Cuban state apparatus is fractured among those who view this as an opportunity to derail engagement with the Americans and those who view that engagement as useful to economic policy. In any case, the debt burden will quickly prove unbearable for an Island Republic in desperate need of hard currency and struggling with natural and demographic disasters. For the Cuban Communist Party it is the moment of truth--can it keep to its ancient (and now to some extent reactionary) Stalinist orthodoxy, or must it make a choice between American (or Latin American) conventional governance (with its dangers for a small Latin American state), or might it finally consider the path opened by the evolution of Marxist Leninist state organization provide by China?  Were I in Cuba now I might urge its leaders to start carefully reading the documents produced in the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress.  In this new era, those states that prefer fidelity to Marxist Leninist normative objectives and Leninist state organization would do well to consider the need to change with the times. 

In the meantime, the burdens of the Paris Club agreement int he face of mounting pressure to continue to borrow to maintain political stability moves Cuba closer to desperate times.  And the Americans, of course, may well use the opportunity to continue to promote regime change.  That cocktail can only make matters worse for the Cuban people.  IN the meantime, it is the cascading effects of the Sonic Weapons Attack Affair  that is complicating the calculus of officials in Havana.  And that complication is much more perilous for the Cubans than for the Americans.  The U.S: is used to episodic periods of intense focus on Cuba and then long periods of neglect--Cuba is a marginal element in the American calculus of power, unless it irritates domestic politics or threatens geopolitical strategies. But the Cubans understand this, and since the disappearance of their last patron in the late 1980s, they have deliberately sought to leverage the American weak spot precisely by irritating the Americans in ways that might prove useful to Cuban internal economic needs and external political strategies.  It is unclear if the rules of the game are changing.  The Sonic Weapons Attack Affair will clarify that in time. And the answer may lie with the Paris Club, rather than with Havana, or the Russians, or the Chinese. And it is Cuba's sovereign debt rather than its ideological journey that may well play a much larger role in charting  its future.

These interlinked issues become more potent as the U.S. uses it social media power to broaden its attack on the Cuban tourist sector:  Josh Lederman, "US tourist fears he was hit in Cuba, years before diplomats," The Washington Post 19 Oct. 2017 ("With no answers about the weapon, culprit or motive, the U.S. and Cuba have been unable to prevent the attacks from becoming a runaway crisis. As the United States warns its citizens to stay away from Cuba, there are signs that spring breakers, adventure-seekers and retirees already are reconsidering trips to the island. After years of cautious progress, U.S.-Cuban relations are now at risk of collapsing entirely.").

Marc Frank's reporting follows.


新时代中国特色社会主义思想 (Socialism With Chinese Characteristics in the New Era): Briefing on Party Self Supervision Reform



Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the NewEra--新时代中国特色社会主义思想--that is the central theme of the Report delivered by Xi Jinpin during the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing. This Report will prove especially important for the development of key concepts of Chinese Communist Party principles and the forward organization of the state apparatus and the principles under which policy decisions will be made.

Resources: the official site of the Congress Press Centre--
http://19th.cpcnews.cn/ (Chinese)
http://19th.cpcnews.cn/english/index.html (English)
The site for the Conference on Chinanews.com
http://www.chinanews.com/gn/z/shijiuda/index.shtml?_t=t&from=timeline (Chinese).

Over the next week or so I will be posting about portions of the Report and then providing some reflections.  We are organizing a Rountable on the 19th CCP Congress as well for the the first week of November.

This post includes some of the key provisions of the Report. The Briefing of Xi’s Report to the 19th CPC National Congress focused on supervision systems (Miaoqiang Dai translating) includes the key provisions for Communist Party supervision, that is for the development of new mechanisms for Communist Party discipline in the New Era.  There is much here to unpack. The ENGLISH and Chinese versions follow.

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rising Stakes in the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack--Cuba's Food Insecurity Added to the Mix; Is there an Ethics to the Political Use of Hunger?




Like a stone thrown in a pond, the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack will complicate a number of collateral initiatives of both the United States and Cuba. That, after all, is the nature of Affairs of this sort--to disrupt a trend pointing to a particular direction and to use the resulting instability to reshape policy and undermine opponents. Thus there is always both a policy and personal element to these political thrusts for which events serve as opportunity (see, e.g., here).

 (Pix credit HERE)
For Cuba, the collateral issue is now food security made worse by the serendipity of the hurricanes this summer. But the problem has been compounded by the stubbornness of the old Stalinist nomenklatura to resist replaying over and over again the errors of Soviet agricultural policies starting with the horrors of the Kulak affair. Those errors, of course, are inevitable in this case--like a Greek tragic hero the product of a basic (ideological) character trait that cannot be avoided, even when the full consequences of the result are well understood.

As Marc Frank reports (Cuban food output stagnates, may decline in 2017; Reuters17 Oct. 2017), Cuban food production continues to stagnate and Cuba spends what for it is an enormous amount of its income to feed its people. This is a self inflicted wound--made all the greater by the unwillingness of the Cuban state to reduce its control of wholesale markets, the inefficiencies of the "informal" sector and the resulting transaction costs of the  corruption necessary to run a system around official constraints. Under normal circumstances these inefficiencies and costs would be bearable (and have been for a long time), defining a stable state for Cuban agricultural sectors.  But the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack adds a new element.  It promises to thwart rising expectations for food security and reduce the public cost of food provision (which would permit greater allocation of resources to other sectors identified for development--particularly pharma, infrastructure, and tourism). And the expected changes to U.S. export policies may well make the situation worse.

On the one hand, that is Cuba's calculated risk, which should have been well known to its security analysts as they weighed the costs and advantages of staking a particular position in the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack.  Perhaps Cuban officials guessed that the Russians, Latin American states or the Chinese will provide the subsidies necessary to ride out this phase of U.S. Cuban relations. Or perhaps they miscalculated. But one ought to stop and ask the question often raised ion the context of boycotts and other non-combat tactics applied in the course of international "conversations" among states:  to what extent ought populations to be used as a weapon in international relations.   All states enjoy condemning the practice even as they eagerly embrace its tactics.  Perhaps it is inevitable--the modern version of ancient siege practice for a modern age.  And thus the most interesting insight--the way that the international community has not so much eliminated warfare as it has transposed and legalized the methods of warfare in new forms.  In place of siege warfare there is boycott and embargo; in place of direct violence by organized armies there are advanced techniques of warfare; etc. Our ethics have substantially constrained the use of old fashioned warfare; we might again consider its role in modern forms of conflict. But perhaps we might also consider the morality of a state advancing its international relations objectives on the stomachs of its own people.  Though that might be thought of as politics, it speaks to ethics and morals as well, an ethics and morals that invites judgment, both within and without the state. Yet at the same time, an ethics and morals that might do well to better reflect the sensibilities and practices of this new era.

Marc Frank's reporting follows.   


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Recording of Seminar: "Governance Compliance in Business and Human Rights Across Global Production Chains" Given at the University of Manchester Alliance Business School 12 October 2017





I has been my great good fortune to be a Simon and Hallsworth Visiting Professor at the University of Manchester, Alliance Business School. In that capacity I recently gave a seminar entitled: "Governance Compliance in Business and Human Rights Across Global Production Chains." It was given as part of the Alliance Manchester Business School's marvelous Business and Human Rights Catalyst Initiative, led by Professor Ken McPhail, Alliance MBS' Director of Research, and coordinated by Dr Lara Bianchi. Great thanks to both for making this possible.  Special thanks to the commentators of the seminar presentation, Dr. John Haskell, and Dr. Karen Buckley whose incisive comments have provided much food for thought and windows on new avenues of research.  

We were fortunate to be able to record the Seminar (apologies no video). The recording of the Seminar can be accessed HERE.

The Concept Note for the Seminar follows along with the PowerPoints. The presentation was based on a recent publication, Larry Catá Backer, "Governance Polycentrism or Regulated Self-Regulation—Rule Systems for Human Rights Impacts of Economic Activity Where National, Private and International Regimes Collide," in Contested Collisions: Interdisciplinary Inquiries into Norm Fragmentation in World Society 198-225 (Kerstin Blome, Hannah Franzki, Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Nora Markard and Stefan Oeter, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2016), which may be accessed here


The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attacks: A Conflict of Narrative in the Public "Litigation" Phase of the Dispute


(Pix ©Larry Catá Backer 2017)


Now that the United States and Cuba have staked out their (well rehearsed and often deployed routine) positions, the two states have begun the "litigation" phase of their state-to-state conflict in the courts of public opinion. The objectives are fairly simple--to sway Western public opinion (and thus to manage pressure in the liberal Western democratic traditions of the rules of play, and to stoke the usual fears in the Cuban population-the fear of invasion, the fear of subversion, and the fear of the old imperial power seeking some sort of new neo-colonialist relationship with the people (that is the state). For the Cubans there is an added benefit. The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack, if played correctly, will serve Cuba's regional interests by stoking similar fears n regional states and working to enhance their position in the Caribbean and Central America. It might also produce benefits in the context of their efforts to retain influence in the complex politics fo Venezuela, including the complex politics of negotiating a regime transition.

During the litigation phase both parties begin a process of strategic disclosures and assertions based on evidence that they produce to suit the development of their "case." To advance Cuba's "case", the state apparatus and its allies abroad have been doing two things. First they have asserted that they had nothing to do with the attacks (e.g., here, and  here), then that the entire affair has been made up (e.g. here) and the product of mass hysteria (e.g., here). More potently, they have managed to have leaked to the Western press a slew of stories that seem to implicate U.S. spy and spy networks as the cause of the entire affair (here, and here).

Now the United States has started the presentation of evidence for its "case." Desmond Boyland, the the Associated Press reported that "The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. Embassy workers heard in Havana, part of the series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks." Josh Lederman and Michael Weissenstein, "What Americans heard in Cuba attacks," The Morning Journal (12 Oct. 2017). The object is clear--to start to make the case, first for the reality of the attack (to counter the initial Cuban assertions) and the seriousness of the injuries. The sound evidence may well serve as the first round of that sort of evidence leaked in strategic stages. Later disclosures may well be used to point to the source of the attack.

The narrative lines are becoming clearer then.  The Cubans suggest a narrate grounded in implausibility, or in their own victimization, or in conspiracy theory (e.g., U.S. spy platy gone bad).  These play well to their allies and their regional political aspirations.  The United States is also deploying an ideological narrative grounded in the "rogue state" trope, in which Cuba is playing with or is being played by its crew of friends in the international community, all of whom are to some extent are seeking to undermine the U.S. The U.S. is also playing the "CSI" narrative--it will tell its story through the language of science and scientific deduction; it will let the "facts speak. " "Stay tuned. We await more thrust and counterthrust as the United States and Cuba drill down into the facts of the dispute. Portions of the Josh Lederman and Michael Weissenstein reporting follows.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Remarks for the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC) Speaker Series on 9 October 2017: "The Financial Sector Responsibility for Human Rights Conduct of Borrowers Lessons from the Extractives Sector"




I was honored to participate as a speaker for the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC) Speaker Series on 9 October 2017. I delivered remarks on "The Financial Sector Responsibility for Human Rights Conduct of Borrowers: Lessons from the Extractives Sector." The remarks were delivered at the University of Manchester Law School. Great thanks to John Haskell for his "above and beyond the call of duty" efforts in putting this together, to the gracious hospitality of Toby Seddon (Head of School), and the faculty and students at the Law School.  The great questions of  Jean d’Aspremont, Chris Thornhill, and Mary Vogel plus a  marvelous group of graduate students made for a stimulating evening of intellectual engagement.

To access the remarks (via the MILC Youtube Channel) please click on the picture below, or HERE.



More on the Manchester International Law Centre follows.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 2017 Newsletter From John Knox, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment--Call For Comments "Draft Guidelines on Human Rights and the Environment"

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, HEREHEREHERE, HERE, Here, and HERE).







Professor Knox has just released his October 2017 newsletter on the progress of the mandate, which includes links to a number of important statements and activities. A section of special note: Professor Kox has produced a Draft Guidelines on Human Rights and the Environment for which he is soliciting views (available here in English, French, Spanish). It draws on his work over the arc of his mandate and its object is to summarize the basic human rights obligations of States on environmental matters, as they have been clarified by human rights bodies. The final version of the Guidelines will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018, as part of Professor Knox's final set of reports.

The post includes the 11 October 2017 Newsletter of the Special Rapporteaur (with links) along with the "Draft Guidelines" in English, Francais and Español.

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: Cuba Feels the Bite and Bites Back




(File Picture: Cuba's First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel (C) leaves the National Assembly after the inauguration ceremony of Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno (not pictured) in Quito, Ecuador May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
The bite of the American actions taken in the wake (or under cover) of the Sonic Weapons Attack Affair are beginning to be felt within higher levels of the political elite in Cuba. And there are signs that senior government officials are starting to worry. The signs are the usual ones that would be expected within the dystopia that describes the landscape of U.S. Cuban relations: the Cubans have signaled that they will bite back.

The Cubans have good cause to worry. The American actions are targeted to maximize effect--the focus is on the tourist sector which is the crown jewel in Cuba's economic plan to expand the private sector, bring in much needed hard currency, and shift income from salary only to a salary plus tip driven economy. Collateral personal pain is produced by increasing the transaction costs of travel to and from Cuba--especially for Cubans. This later tactic produces a dilemma for Cuba: reciprocating only further drives up revenue streams from U.S. tourists who are already being warned away from Cuba by the U.S. State Department. At the same time the U.S. has been pinching at the weak underbelly of Cuban foreign policy--seeing to undermine and replace the current regime in Venezuela (as the U.S: has been trying to do since ta least the turn of this century, so far unsuccessfully). The new version of the Embargo rules have yet to be unveiled. They will likely institutionalize the pain (for Cuba and U.S. business interests interested in doing deals there).

To bite back, the Cubans pull the few levers they can. The most potentially potent level is the refusal to serve as a conduit for change (a role they played well in settling the Colombian civil war recently before U.S.-Cuban relations soured). Beyond that, there is increasingly little the Cuban state can do to counter the American actions, other than to find or produce a plausible culprit that satisfies the Americans. And at this point even that may be a tall order, because it seems the Americans, in traditional style, are intent on overplaying their hand. Instead, and for the moment, the Cubans are going on a "denial" campaign that plays well to their fans (and is a necessary element in the internal factional politics at a time of slow transition) but may be altogether ineffective in advancing its foreign objectives--to bring back U.S. (tourist) money and monied interests and to keep the U.S. state apparatus off its back.  That may be too tall an order for the moment. . Recent reporting from Cuba provides a window on these actions and their motivations. Portions of Marc Frank, "Likely successor to Cuba's Castro rejects U.S. demands for change," (Reuters, 8 Oct. 2017), follows.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

在社会信用和大数据管理下,权力关系的变迁: 评人民日报《不能让算法决定内容》CHINESE LANGUAGE VERSION of LC Backer Reflections on "Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide""






在社会信用和大数据管理下,权力关系的变迁: 评人民日报《不能让算法决定内容》



由于缺乏官方英文版,本篇评论是基于人民日报《不能让算法决定内容》中文的翻译,因此不免存在可能的错误。英文翻译请参见Flora Sapio 发表的文章

Sunday, October 08, 2017

“All roads to remedy”: Reflections on 2017 Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (A/72/162)



The Working Group for Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises traditionally presents a report to the UN General Assembly a few weeks before organizing its Forum on Business and Human Rights.  Often that report sketches the themes and approaches that serve to shape the UN Forum, and the points of emphasis that the Working Group would see elaborated.  This year is no different.

The 2017 Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (A/72/162) (the 2017 WG Report) lays out the thinking and approaches of the Working Group to the issue of Remedies under the UN Guiding principles of Business and Human Rights.  This is a perennially visible issue, and one with respect to which the Working Group has yet to achieve anything that approaches coherent and effective approaches. But that is to be expected in a context n which the remedial pillar of the UNGP itself creates hurdles.

The Summary of the 2017 WG Report provides

In the report, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises unpacks the concept of access to effective remedies under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework. It clarifies the interrelationship between the right to effective remedy, access to effective remedy, access to justice and corporate accountability. It examines the issue of effective remedies from the perspective of rights holders and proposes that remedial mechanisms should be responsive to the diverse experiences and expectations of rights holders. Affected rights holders should be able to claim what may be termed a “bouquet of remedies” without fear of victimization.

The Working Group also outlines what may be termed as an “all roads to remedy” approach to realizing effective remedies, which implies that access to effective remedy is taken as a lens to guide all steps taken by States and businesses and that remedies for business-related human rights abuses are located in diverse settings. The report ends with specific recommendations to States, business enterprises, civil society organizations and human rights defenders.
The 2017 Report provides a valuable guide to the thinking of the institutional human rights establishment to remedial mechanisms within and beyond the UN Guiding Principles.  That is both its greatest strength and the source of its weakness.

 This post provides my reflections on this Report.The Reflections may be downloaded HERE.


Friday, October 06, 2017

Flora Sapio Reflections on 《不能让算法决定内容》"Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide"




In the run up to the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress one expects a certain quickening of the pace of political discussion as decisions become necessary around sometimes contentious choices for moving the nation forward. While most of these discussions occurs within the CCP itself, some sometimes leak out to the public--in what might be assumed to be carefully measured disclosures in state sanctioned media.

More specifically what appears to be an unusual opinion essay found its way onto the pages of China's People's Daily. That essay 《不能让算法决定内容》"Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide" suggests that there are some qualms about the scope and application of the "big data management" initiatives and its related social credit architecture that appears to be the vanguard forces of a transformation of the governing apparatus of state and party. The qualms come form both the Chinese left and right. In both cases the qualms potentially reveal the weaknesses of current approaches to analysis and critique of emerging governance structures represented by big data management initiatives and their social credit programs.

Flora Sapio and I have written short reflections on this article. The article raises fundamental issues of law, governance and culture at time of great transformation of the modalities through which these great institutions of human societal organization are undergoing change.

My Reflections may be accessed HERE.

This post also includes the text of the article 《不能让算法决定内容》"Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide" (只有中国语文). ENGLISH TRANSLATION at China Social Credit System Blog, with thanks to Flora Sapio: HERE.

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack--The Collateral Effects on Business


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017)

The effects of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack continue ot become clearer. The cumulative effect of the measures taken by the United States, which is driving the change in the tone and direction of normalization, is to reduce forward movement in the growth of economic and commercial activities between the two countries. Ironically enough, though less so in this context, ideology on both sides continues to be bad for business. The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack appears to have provided just the cover necessary to appear to move forward in normalization while moving its actual realization back to a time even before the Presidency of George Bush at the start of this century. It is likely that confirmation of this de facto change in U.S. policy might be revealed when the final revised regulations are released that are meant to implement the changes announced earlier this year by the U.S. President (here, here, here, and here). But the result has become clear--except for large businesses with long term plans that are willing to wait this out, in the short and medium term the cost of doing business in Cuba, already high given barriers to trade in Cuba and in the United States, will only get higher. Sarah Marsh, reporting for Reuters, "U.S. expulsion of Cuban diplomats includes all business officers" follows below. 
 
Clearly there is frustration on the U.S. side, and likely some on the Cuban side as well.  Even more clear, however, is the lack of clarity about the Sonic Weapons Attack U.S. or Cuban efforts to determine their cause, or the efforts by either to strengthen cooperation to seek answers. Indeed beyond speculation by others the relative silence of both sides might tempt one to think about hidden agendas.  Perhaps that is to be expected in relations between two states that do not trust each other at all, and where powerful factions in both states are maybe desperate to bring back the status quo ante normalization.  That would be pity. On the U.S. side these determinations ought to be made with a bit ore by way of vigorous public debate, which used to be our ideological working style. On the Cuban side, playing chicken with the United States never ends well, exposes weaknesses in Cuban authority at a very delicate time and courts instability where the net negative effects compounds the disasters of the recent storms. In the end it might be necessary to pull the plug on normalization.  On the basis of the information available now that is unlikely and one might be more inclined to suspicion (on the bad behavior and miscalculations of of both sides (here)).

 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Just Published: "From Guiding Principles to Interpretive Organizations: Developing a Framework for Applying the UNGPs to Disputes that Institutionalizes the Advocacy Role of Civil Society"



I wanted to take this opportunity to note the publication of my short essay, "From Guiding Principles to Interpretive Organizations: Developing a Framework for Applying the UNGPs to Disputes that Institutionalizes the Advocacy Role of Civil Society."  It appears in  Business and Human Rights: Beyond the End of the Beginning (César Rodríguez-Garavito, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2017), a collection of marvelous essays on the scope and direction of the project of the institutionalization of business and human rights, and the context in which that is possible (see announcement HERE).

The abstract and introduction follow.  The essay may be accessed HERE.

Index of Social Credit Posts.


《不能让算法决定内容》"Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide": The Transformation of Power Relationships in the Wake of Social Credit and Big Data Management Governance


In the run up to the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress one expects a certain quickening of the pace of political discussion as decisions become necessary around sometimes contentious choices for moving the nation forward.  While most of these discussions occurs within the CCP itself, some sometimes leak out to the public--in what might be assumed to be carefully measured disclosures in state sanctioned media. 

More specifically what appears to be an unusual opinion essay found its way onto the pages of China's People's Daily.  That essay 《不能让算法决定内容》"Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide" suggests that there are some qualms about the scope and application of the "big data management" initiatives and its related social credit architecture that appears to be the vanguard forces of a transformation of the governing apparatus of state and party. The qualms come form both the Chinese left and right.  In both cases the qualms potentially reveal the weaknesses of current approaches to analysis and critique of emerging governance structures represented by big data management initiatives and their social credit programs.

Flora Sapio and I have written short reflections on this article. The article raises fundamental issues of law, governance and culture at time of great transformation of the modalities through which these great institutions of human societal organization are undergoing change.

Flora Sapio's Reflections may be accessed HERE.
This post also includes the text of the  article 《不能让算法决定内容》"Do Not Rely on Algorithm to Decide" (只有中国语文). ENGLISH TRANSLATION at China Social Credit System Blog, with thanks to Flora Sapio: HERE.

This post includes my brief comments (ENGLISH ONLY) on the potential errors that the article highlights, and the  article  (只有中国语文). ENGLISH TRANSLATION at China Social Credit System Blog, with thanks to Flora Sapio: HERE.

Index of Social Credit Posts.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Just Published: Business and Human Rights: Beyond the End of the Beginning (César Rodríguez-Garavito, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2017)




I am delighted to announce the publication of Business and Human Rights: Beyond the End of the Beginning (César Rodríguez-Garavito, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2017). The book includes a collection of important essays on the scope and direction of the project of the institutionalization of business and human rights, and the context in which that is possible. This description from the back matter: 
The regulation of business in the global economy poses one of the main challenges for governance, as illustrated by the dynamic scholarly and policy debates about the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and a possible international treaty on the matter. This book takes on the conceptual and legal underpinnings of global governance approaches to business and human rights, with an emphasis on the Guiding Principles (GPs) and attention to the current treaty process. Analyses of the GPs have tended to focus on their static dimension, such as the standards they include, rather than on their capacity to change, to push the development of new norms, and practices that might go beyond the initial content of the GPs and improve corporate compliance with human rights. This book engages both the static and dynamic dimensions of the GPs, and considers the issue through the eyes of scholars and practitioners from different parts of the world.
Contributors include César Rodríguez-Garavito, John Ruggie, Surya Deva, Tara Melish, Larry Catá Backer, Claret Vargas, Chris  Jochnick, Amol Mehra, Louis Bickford, Juana Kweitel, and Bonita Meyersfeld.

The Table of Contents and portions of the Introduction follow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: "Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba"/"Declaración del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores"

http://www.radiohc.cu/en/noticias/nacionales/143275-declaration-of-the-ministry-of-foreign-affairs-of-cuba


The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack  continues to spiral out of control as both the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba continue to pull old behaviors from their tool kits.  It likely gives both sides some comfort to go back to well rehearsed and well worn act and reaction patterns.  For their principal audiences--those who finance them, their media groupies, and the influential stakeholders whose outsize influence tends to drive behavior among government functionaries, this is playing well.  We are back into familiar territory and the old relationships and the old power arrangements (and their benefits) appear to be preserved. For the rest of us, however, watching 70 year of the same performance is something of a disappointment. 

What follows is the response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba to the decisions by the United States government to reduce the size of its diplomatic mission in Cuba and the consequent decision to expel a substantial number of Cuban diplomats in the United States.  It may also be accessed her e(English): Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and (Spanish) Declaración del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. The Declarations presents the current position of the Cuban state in the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attacks and suggests that both sides may be digging in their heels and are preparing for a long period of cooling relations.  The most interesting part of the Declaration that intimates that there has been a breakdown in cooperation almost from the first; that both states appear to be going their own way and paralleling efforts to suit their own tastes and needs (e.g., here and, here). That is a great pity.  But in current circumstances it is the easy way for risk averse officials on both sides to protect themselves within their own administrative environments.

In the end, both the Cuban Stalinist nomenklatura and the Cuban American hard right will rejoice. as these moves preserves their respective positions, power and influence within their respective states. Perhaps after all it will require the históricos on both sides of the Florida straits to finish their life journeys before a new generation (then much older) will be able to "cross the Jordan" into the promised land (Numbers 14:30-32).

Monday, October 02, 2017

Alice de Jonge on "China’s strategy in Asia: why we should pay attention to the AIIB"





My colleague Alice de Jonge, senior lecturer in law at Monash University’s Business School in Melbourne, has recently posted a marvelous and thought provoking essay, "China’s strategy in Asia: why we should pay attention to the AIIB." It appeared first in the International Affairs Blog and is reposted below.

In it Dr. de Jonge considers the new narrative of global ordering that places China as its principal driver.  That narrative sometimes analogizes China's the One Belt One Road Initiative and the "Marshall Plan" to explain OBOR's scope, purpose, mission--and ultimately its political effect in locating China as the center of the new global economic order. Running in parallel with that narrative is a similar one in which the AIIB is analogized to the World Bank. Together these two initiatives are meant to provide the foundation for the Chinese variation of a global economic order that build from and away from the global order crafted by the victorious Allies after 1945 (whose time, it is intimated, has come and gone).

Dr. de Jonge examines this but also the more important effect of Chinese global initiatives on their own terms--that is, to understand OBOR, AIIB and their complex and related pieces, one must understand them on its own terms. And that is an important task. For whether or not OBOR and AIIB will displace or supplement the current variation of globalization and its financial apparatus through IFIs like the World Bank, both will play significant roles in shaping their future (cf. here). A summary version of the essay, "China’s strategy in Asia: why we should pay attention to the AIIB," follows. It appeared first in the International Affairs Blog.

The full article ("Perspectives on the emerging role of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," International Affairs, Volume 93, Issue 5, 1 September 2017, Pages 1061–1084) may be accessed  here. The abstract follows below.



The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack and the Counterthrust to Cuba's Tourism Sector and Economic Recovery


(Pix ©Larry Catá Backer 2017; view of Havana Harbor from Regla)

One of the great feats of globalization was its transposition of the notion of "mutually assured destruction" from the military to the economic sector. The mechanics and effects of this transposition are nicely evidenced in the continuing Affair of the Sonic Weapons (here and here). Mutually assured destruction appears now to have moved to a new stage as the ramifications of the U.S. response to the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack now emerges and as it begins to dawn on the Cuban state the extent of the potential effects of the issuance of a travel warning by the U.S. government to its citizens (here).

What was expected was the usual diplomatic retaliation--announced recently the intent to expel a number of Cuban diplomats in the U.S. (here). But the more long lasting effects of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons touches on its threat to a core element of fundamental Cuban economic planning.  That planning, including Ciba's2030 vision was elaborated just last year in the  Conceptualización del modelo económico y social Cubano de desarrollo socialista: Plan nacional de desarrollo económico y social hasta 2030: Propuesta de vision de la nación, ejes y sectores estratégicos in which the 7th Cuban Communist Party Congress posited that development can be better managed by rejecting the central role of markets, and substituting state planning in its place, taking an all around view of economic planning as inextricably bound up in social, political and cultural progress of a nation (discussed HERE, and  HERE).

Two critical sectors may be affected by the travel warning and the related increasing transaction costs of doing business in Cuba by U.S. interests.  The first and most vulnerable is the Cuban tourist sector.  It is true enough that the U.S. makes up a fraction of tourism.  Yet the marginal contribution to income cannot be underestimated.  More importantly it is the anticipated substantial growth in U.S. tourism (and its drag effects on tourism from other places) that the Cubans might have been counting on to build a tourist based business sector. The second is the pharma sector.  Here the difficulty will come with the anticipated new investment regulations that may substantially increase the compliance costs for joint ventures and investment in Cuba. Again, while Cuba has set its sights on Latin America and Europe as more viable base line sources of sector development, the lucrative U.S. market would have contributed in significant ways to the overall positive effect.  If both tourism and pharma are threatened, then the likelihood that Cuba will slip into recession, or remain somewhat stagnant, will grow.  This could not come at a more difficult time, as the island continues to face the problems and costs of hurricane reconstruction.

Recent reporting by Nelson Acosta and Marc Frank, "U.S. travel warning sends chill across Cuban tourism industry," Reuters News (01-Oct-2017), follows.  




Sunday, October 01, 2017

New Book on Press Freedom in Cuba: René Gómez Manzano, ¿Puedo Opinar?

(© Cubierta: “Prensa libre”, Claudio Castillo)


I am happy to report the publication of a new book, René Gómez Manzano, ¿Puedo Opinar? (Primera edición: Agosto de 2017;ISBN de Publiberia: 978-84-946998-2-5 Edición: Grace Piney). 
El volumen fue editado por Grace Piney, con prólogo del académico José Azel, introducción del periodista independiente Roberto de Jesús Quiñones e imagen de portada del artista Claudio Castillo.

El libro puede adquirirse en la librería Altamira (Coral Gables, Miami). El ebook se está haciendo circular, gratuitamente, en la Isla. (here)
In his announcement of publication Mr. Gómez Manzano expressed the hope that the work be given wider circulation, especially within Cuba where that might otherwise prove difficult.The ebook will circulate free especially within Cuba.
La Habana, miércoles 27 de septiembre de 2017
Estimados amigos:
Tengo sumo gusto en remitirles, en fichero adjunto, el libro electrónico (e-book) de mi obra más reciente. Ella lleva por título “¿Puedo opinar?”, y su tirada en soporte de papel fue limitada. Por este medio les invito a darle a la obra que les envío en formato electrónico la mayor difusión posible, especialmente dentro de Cuba. Con ese objetivo, les pido que la reenvíen a todos sus contactos. Esperando que ese material resulte de su interés y agradeciendo de antemano su amable atención a estas líneas, me despido de ustedes,
Atentamente,
René Gómez Manzano
 The book consists of a collection of Mr. Gómez Manzano's essays circulated in Cuba over the last several years.  It makes for excellent reading about the state of change and continuity in Cuba. The Epilogue follows (Spanish only)


合法审慎地用好社会信用 (Legally and Prudently Use Social Credit): Initial Chinese Public Commentary on the Newly Adopted Shanghai Social Credit Regulations


In anticipation of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress the great stakeholders Chinese officials and academics tend to accelerate the pace of their activities either to influence or to position themselves on the right side of the policy choices and initiatives to be announces, rejected, and emphasized at the CCP Congress.  Social credit has been among the most interesting policy factors in the run up to the 19th CCP Congress.  On the one hand a broad view of social credit tends to factor it into the governance of virtually all aspects of Chinese administration.  Yet such a transformative position would tend to affect, and perhaps adversely, the position of other actors--state banks and bank regulators, and some factions of administrative power, that might instead see in social credit something more narrow and technical, perhaps something like big data management tied specifically to the economic sector and precisely to managing credit and compliance.
It is far too early to tell which among the possibilities--but not too early for elements of the Chinese state and academic commentators to stake positions.  But particularly interesting is the definition of social credit in the Shanghai Municipal regulations: "第二条  本条例所称社会信用,是指具有完全民事行为能力的自然人、法人和非法人组织(以下统称信息主体),在社会和经济活动中遵守法定义务或者履行约定义务的状态。" Roughly: "The term social credit, means a natural person, legal persons and unincorporated organizations have full civil capacity (hereinafter referred to as message body) in their compliance with legal obligations in social and economic activities or to fulfill a contractual obligation of the state." The object of social credit is thus conflated with her (or its) compliance, and social credit is thus a function of individual compliance, or, perhaps better understood, the individual is defined by her social credit, and her social credit defines the extent of her obligations and prerogatives within society. This broad language might in practice be reduced to the very specific rating of economic behaviors inherent in the euphemism "big data management." It is too early to tell.

The Shanghai Municipal Legislation remain controversial:
大致说来,参与现场研讨的学者观点可分为三类:其一,全盘否定派。有教授认为,社会信用立法条件不成熟,甚至根本不应当搞,这是在搞道德档案和黑户政策,典型的政府擅权。其二,渐进暂缓派。有学者认为,上海不应当搞地方性法规,要等全国立法出来之后再做实施性规范。其三,修订完善派。有学者原则上肯定了上海社会信用条例草案,但对具体制度提出了完善建议。(再转新文 | 罗培新:有关社会信用立法的问答) [Roughly: Generally speaking, scholars involved in the field of view can be divided into three categories: First, the overall negation. Some professors believe that social credit legislation is not mature, or even should not be engaged, it is engaged in moral files and black policy, the typical government authority. Second, the gradual suspension of school. Some scholars believe that Shanghai should not engage in local laws and regulations, to wait until the national legislation came out after the implementation of norms. Third, the revision of perfect school. Some scholars have affirmed the Shanghai Social Credit Bill in principle, but have made perfect suggestions on the specific system.]
But, of course, that is not the entire picture, even of scholarly debate.  But it does open a door to the thinking within the academic community most immediately involved.

This post includes some recent reporting, centering on recent adoption of social credit regulations in Shanghai and elsewhere and the reflections of academics on the construction of social credit systems, at least as confined within the adopted regulation.  All of the following is in the original Chinese:

全文 | 侬好!《上海市社会信用条例》(full text of the Shanghai Social Credit Regulaitons )
湖北省社会信用信息管理条例 (Regulations of Hubei Province on Social Credit Information Management)

Friday, September 29, 2017

And the Other Shoe Drops--In Cuba Anger on the Street and the Ministries, Conspiracy Theories, and Defensiveness

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017 (a street dog neutered by a local social organization wearing a notice to that effect and imploring passers by to refrain from beating the dog))

No sooner did I post some thoughts and the first reports about the U.S. decision to substantially reduce its personnel in Cuba, freeze visa applications and issue a travel warning (U.S.-Cuba Relations Seize Up as the Affair of the Sonic Weapon Attacks Intensifies)--than the predictable reaction erupted in Cuba.  Not that the Cuban reaction was unjustified, at least in a way.  The U.S. actions appear to implement some of the  actions that might suggest a hard freeze in relations, perhaps in this case taking the U.S.-Cuba relations back to the time of the Clinton Administration. And this despite U.S. protestations to the contrary (one does well to rely less on what is said than what is done in most situations in any case). And as has been the case since 1959 in this furiously perverse relationship between these two states, both of which define their bilateral relations by the state of their willingness to indulge their national neurosis about the other, both states bear some of the responsibility for the present state of affairs and its longer term consequences.

At best Cuba is now manifesting an inability to police and protect its own interests in its own territory--a sign of sclerosis that portends badly for the vanguard party and its long term ambitions to institutionalize its governance system (that it still worries about this after almost three quarters of a century ought to give pause). At worst Cuba again is playing death wish politics--some faction within the state apparatus (or its military apparatus) in partnership with who knows what or whom--has chosen this as the most opportune moment to destroy any remaining chance of forward movement in relations. The first renders Cuba's state apparatus pathetic; the second renders that apparatus dangerous or out of control.  Conspiracy theorists might be inclined to see in this an out of control vanguard party unable to contain the factional fighting even before the present leadership retires.  Or worse, it might suggest that Cuba has become a somewhat brazenly open territory for experimentation by those states that would otherwise not dare to act in the open with development of (likely purloined and then cleverly developed) technological innovation in next generation personal weaponry. 

The U.S. fares little better.  At best the U.S. is wisely protecting its diplomats and citizens.  In an era in which all U.S. nationals tend to be targets of convenience for any individual or group that views U.S. policies, positions, culture, etc. as an affront or threat that justifies the most atrocious conduct, risk averse decisions are not unreasonable. Yet there are weaknesses to the present choices. The U.S. is manifesting a sad and technologically backwards inability to protect its own people (and interest) within a context in which the United States had (or ragged about having in any case) the most advanced technologies and know how in the world.  That the United States is reacting to the sonic attacks the way my nearly century old father in law reacts to glitches on his laptop computer renders the United States and its vaunted security apparatus as pathetic as its Cuban partner.  On the other hand, the response evidences the sort of meanness that ought to have no place in the relations of a powerful state, if only because it invariably compromises U.S., interests.  The Americans gains nothing by punishing the very people it purports to vest its great hope for "regime change" in Cuba.  Fleeing diplomats suggests the sort of weakness a great power ought never to display.  And the pettiness--fit for a middle tier state, or a teenager dealing with high school drama--suggests weakness or disarray within the U.S. policy apparatus.  The really sad thing is that it is as likely that locals will decide that the reason for the reduction  of personnel is the reality of the flooding at the U.S. Embassy that renders the building less usable.

In any case, the next steps are clear though not certain.  At this crossroads, either both states will cooperate and overcome the present difficulties or give in to their usual patterns of thoughtless provocation. In the best case, that means Cuba does something quite difficult, it chooses to approach U.S. overreaction in a less paranoid style and expresses a willingness to be more pragmatically rational  about exposing the glitches that produced the incident.  For the U.S. this means tempering the usual reflex toward the pettiness of the clueless but privileged and indulgence in the usual reflex toward petty vindictiveness (for example the call to expel Cuban diplomats) and the characteristically American "gotcha" approach to political interaction. and reinforces its quite useful policy of focused targeting of punishment for harms to U.S. interests.   Otherwise, the pathologies that have marked these relationships for so long will continue to drive policy on both sides in what has always been the most colorful act in the Caribbean diplomatic circus.

These themes are nicely developed in U.S. cuts staff in Cuba over mysterious injuries, warns travelers, a Reuters article (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Alana Wise in New York and Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta in Havana; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by James Dalgleish and Grant McCool), portions of which follow.

U.S.-Cuba Relations Seize Up as the Affair of the Sonic Weapon Attacks Intensifies

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017)

The tenuous nature of the raproachment between the United States and Cuba has been taking an unexpected turn over the course of the last several months.  What began as a curiosity--reports of U.S. and other Western diplomatic personnel suffering unexplained  physical damage (here, here and here), escalated into allegations of the use of new style weapons (here) that put the threat of the closure of the U.S. Embassy on the table (here). 

Now reports are suggesting that the state of relations have sunk even lower. It appears that the United States is now planning significant cuts in its personnel in Cuba.  More importantly for U.S. nationals, the State Department has issued a travel warning (here) ("Because our personnel's safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba. Attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens.").  This  may affect risk management decisions for travel (especially by universities and other civil society groups). Lamentably for the Cuban people, routine visa operations have also been suspended indefinitely--this is especially difficult in the wake of the recent hurricanes. Taken together, the U.S. response has targeted Cuba's income generating capabilities (the travel warning and adverse impact on tourism), individual travel by Cuban nationals (the visa suspensions), and U.S. engagement within Cuba. 

The Cubans continue both to deny involvement and to proffer no explanation.  Both governments appear interested in finding the cause.  Yet the burden remains on the Cuban state on whose territory these events occurred.  For the Cuban government this presents an important challenge.  If the Cuban state apparatus, well known for its strong control mechanisms and its ability to penetrate even the most obscure group operations is unable to find the cause, that failure will severely damage its reputation.  That is, the Cuban state will appear weaker than it purports to be and less in control of its own territory. That perceived weakness might further encourage dissident groups.  And it might also create a strong reaction that will be evidenced in more brutal responses to perceived threats to the prerogatives of the government. It is likely, then, that the Cuban state has a greater interest in finding the source of the attacks  (or offering something convincing by way of explanation) than the United States.  Any sign of weakness in the control apparatus of the Cuban State and its vanguard party may significantly affect calculations about elections (already postponed) and the transition of power from the históricos--the first generation revolutionaries. 

The excellent reporting by Doina Chiacu "U.S. cuts embassy staff in Cuba, warns citizens not to visit," Reuters (29 September 2017) follows, with thanks to Marc Frank for passing it along. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

从“各自为政”到“一股合力”,(西方)反腐领域新举措:企业合规法律制度,公诉人自由裁量权以及国家主权投资人制度 ( "From a “Two Thrust Approach” to a “Two Sword One Thrust Strategy” to Combat Criminal Corruption: Corporate Compliance, Prosecutorial Discretion, and Sovereign Investor Oversight")

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017)




从“各自为政”到“一股合力”,(西方)反腐领域新举措:企业合规法律制度,公诉人自由裁量权以及国家主权投资人制度


它试图以非常规的方式重新考虑从不同司法管辖区和授权机构之间建立政策一致性(1)的可能性,以及(2)在监管治理的边缘。

具体的目的是想想在腐败的具体情况下,多边和多机构一致性的可能性。为此,我集中讨论了在腐败调查范围内检察机关制度化的方式,特别是在衡量评估标准的方式对改革公司治理(特别是理解和操作)方面产生重大诱因的合规)。

我也专注于主权投资者如何开始采取类似的做法来行使其酌处权:(1)投资企业,(2)行使其股东权力。我建议在某些州,有可能将规则制定中的两个趋势与酌情决定权结合起来,以协调管理公司合规范围和行为的监管治理。





(CPC Central Committee and State Council On Creating a Healthy Environment for Entrepreneurship) 中共中央国务院关于营造企业家健康成长环境 弘扬优秀企业家精神更好发挥企业家作用的意见

(Pix credit here)


In the run up to the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress, the issue of the role of the private sector, and of the relationship between the state apparatus to that sector has become a source of some discussion. . . .  and action.  Even as the state apparatus shuts financing for foreign private investment abroad  and advances notions of state capitalism through its One Belt One Road Initiative, it also appears to advance the ideals of a vibrant private sector that should serve as the driving force for risk taking, innovation and social progress.  Built around this are important issues touching on the development of the Chinese Communist Party's refinement of its leadership role in the emerging new historical era towards which China is entering. 

It is in that context that one might usefully approach a consideration of the document (released in early September but only announced on September 26, 2017-- 中共中央国务院关于营造企业家健康成长环境 弘扬优秀企业家精神更好发挥企业家作用的意见. (roughly summarized as CPC Central Committee and State Council On Creating a Healthy Environment for Entrepreneurship)).  It has a wide scope and includes material from big data management and social credit, to the relationship between the CCP and the private enterprise, along with corporate social responsibility and other matters,  I will post my reflections on this potentially important document in a later post.  For now I thought it useful to post without much int he way of analysis. 

The document follows below.

Index of Social Credit Posts.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Closing Remarks: Social Credit, Big Data Management and Governance—New Possibilities, New Realities; International Symposium on Rule of Law & Social Credit Systems;Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China






It was my great pleasure and honor to be tasked to provide closing remarks at what turned out to be an exciting and quite extraordinary conference held at the KoGuan Law School Shanghai Jiaotong University (上海交通大学)) 23 Sept. 2017 and organized by Shanghai Jiaotong University; East China University of Political Science and Law; Shanghai Law Academy (Research Center of Banking Law Practice); Tencent Holdings Ltd (Intellectual Property Office);and the Foundation for Law and International Affairs.September 23 at the Shanghai Jiaotong University.  In prior posts I included informaiton about the conference (HERE), and posted my own conference draft ("Measurement, Assessment and Reward: The Challenges of Building Institutionalized Social Credit and Rating Systems in China and in the West"). 

This post includes the text of my closing remarks: Closing Remarks: Social Credit, Big Data Management and Governance—New Possibilities, New Realities. A PDF version may be downloaded HERE. The full text may be accessed below or HERE. Index of Social Credit Posts.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Posting Conference Draft of "Measurement, Assessment and Reward: The Challenges of Building Institutionalized Social Credit and Rating Systems in China and in the West": Presentation for Chinese Social Credit System Conference “ 法与信用体系国际研讨会”预通知 (Shanghai Jaiotong University (上海交通大学) 23 Sept. 2017)

(PIX © Larry Catá Backer 2017)


In a prior post I included information about The Conference, Global Perspectives on Law and Social Credit, will take place at Shanghai Jiaotong University (上海交通大学)) 23 Sept. 2017. It is organized by Shanghai Jiaotong University; East China University of Political Science and Law ; Shanghai Law Academy (Research Center of Banking Law Practice); Tencent Holdings Ltd (Intellectual Property Office);and the Foundation for Law and International Affairs.

I will present my paper Measurement, Assessment and Reward: The Challenges of Building Institutionalized Social Credit and Rating Systems in China and in the West. I post here a link to the preliminary conference draft for review and comment. It can be accessed HERE. Following below is the abstract and introduction (English and 中文)

More on the conference in later posts. Index of Social Credit Posts.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reflections on Globescan Foundation and Oxfam New Publication, "Survey of the Poor in India," its Relevance to the UN Guiding Principles Project and to the Working Group's Current Focus on Remedy




The global business and human rights community now begins the build up to its 6th annual conclave the U.N. Forum for Business and Human Rights, overseen by the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and operationalized within the mandate given to the Working Group for Business and Human Rights (see, e.g., here and here).

This year, the principal focus are remedies. To that extent, the international community continues it fascination with the state and the formal apparatus of government. It creates all sorts of very important and valuable ideas about the way to bridge the gap between the high concepts embedded in the project of business and human rights and the very pragmatic challenge of delivery of remedies through effective mechanisms. Add to that the complication of remedial valuation. What appears to be the most important mechanisms for the delivery of the most just forms of remedy to the individuals and institutions that drive the debate about, and fashion the structures for, business and human rights governance (public and private) may have only the slightest value to the people on whose behalf remedies are provided.Yet all of that may itself be an indulgence and speculation.  The global community is aware of its own agendas and the principles it seeks to advance; the poor know themselves as well.  But do they know each other, and if they did, do they share the same vision?

It thus makes sense, if the drivers of business and human rights mean what they say, to "speak" with the objects of all this effort. And that is what the Globescan Foundation and Oxfam International have begun to try to do. They have sought, in their own words from their Press Release, "to conduct the first-ever survey of the poor across the world." Their recently released Report: What India's Poor Have to Say About Poverty and Aid (2017), provides some much need material.

Included below are some additional brief comments and the Press Release (with links) as well as the Introduction and Key Findings of the Report. The full Report may be accessed HERE.