Saturday, May 30, 2020

"Belt and Road Initiative and the Future of Global Trade?" Presentation at the 2020 Law and Society Virtual Conference 29 May 2020

I was delighted to have been able to participate in the Law and Society Association 2020 Virtual Conference.  The event has been nicely organized and its virtual elements show promise for future events. Given the constraints of pandemic, it provided an excellent opportunity to meet in line with current realities.  The Conference Theme (Rule and Resistance) and program materials can be accessed here.

I participated in a panel entitled Shifting Registers in International Economic Law and Development.
The Belt and Road Initiative since its announcement by Xi Jinping has projected a lot of opportunities and concerns around the world. The mainstream in International Relations field has either classified the initiative under the Realist or Liberalism, thus, framing it as the projection of power or the attempt to generate interdependence. This panel session is looking into discussing alternatives to mainstream theories, especially by engaging into a constructivist approach in which ideational factors should be considered in building economic relations among Global South countries by identify the Bandung Spirit.

The panel was organized  Douglas Castro  (Brazil-China Economic Development Center/Ambra University) and included  Shaoming Zhu (Foundation for Law and International Affairs - FLIA);  Love Rönnelid (IGLP Harvard Law School); and  Serena Natile (Brunel University London). 

The issue of the alignment between New Era Socialist Trade and New Era Socialist Human Rights has become a significant focus of the global community. My presentation, "Belt and Road Initiative and the Future of Global Trade?" focused on the embedding of China's Belt and Road Initiative within the global framework of business and human rights regulation.
The explosion of Chinese exports has become one of the most significant events in international trade and investment. China has also been pursuing stronger influence in the global market by proactively engaging in the negotiation of international trade and investment partnerships and agreements. That explosion is just one aspect of an emerging integrated approach to global relations. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is meant to embrace trade, development, infrastructure projects and capacity building with its partners. BRI represents a new way of approaching trade within a more comprehensive framework. It represents the beginning of an effort to produce a Socialist international relations. But it is also meant to embed itself into the current framework of international hard and soft law. This presentation discusses these themes in one context—the embedding of BRI within global frameworks of business and human rights. It builds its examination around three questions: Is it possible to construct a Socialist BRI based business and human rights framework? If so, what would it look like and how would it differ from contemporary understandings? To what extent may China’s international engagements provide a guide?
The presentation first examined China's trade "Silk Road" as a comprehensive approach to developing sovereign based socialist approaches to trade regimes. It then considered the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights as a parallel "Silk Road" comprehensive approach to developing a polycentric transnational framework for the management fo the human rights effects of economic activity. It then considered the points of alignment between these two "Silk Roads" and ended by suggesting the basis for aligning both.

The presentation PowerPoints follow below (the paper to follow later).  The PowerPoints may also be accessed on my personal website HERE: Backer_BRI_LSA_2020. The VIDEO RECORDING of the Panel may be accessed HERE or on the Coalition for Peace and Ethics YouTube Channel HERE.


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