Friday, July 31, 2020

Just Published: "International Thinker's Views on the Post-Corona Order" (Mehr News Agency, July 2020) English and Farsi Versions

I am delighted to share the recently released publication International Thinker's Views on the Post-Corona Order (Mehdi Azizi, Payman Yazdani, and Javad Heirannia (eds.); Tehran: Mehr News Agency, July 2020) (English version). 
The publication includes conversations with a number of people with quite interesting perspectives and insights. They include: Mehmet Ogutcu (Chairman of the London Energy Club, pp. 19-23); Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute, pp. 24-25); Marvin Zonis (Professor of international political economy and leadership at the University of Chicago, pp. 26-27); Osman Faruk Logoglu (a senior member of Turkey's CHP and veteran politician, pp. 28-29); Nicholas Onuf (one of the founders of constructivism in International Relations, pp. 30-31); Paul R. Pillar (an academic and 28-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving from 1977 to 2005, pp. 32-33);  Charles Taliaferro (Professor, St. Olaf's Department of Philosophy since 1985, pp. 34-36); Richard Anderson Falk (professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, pp. 37-42); Robert Jervis (Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University,  member of the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies in the School of International and Public Affairs, pp. 43-44); Robert Edwards Hunter (Ambassador to NATO during the Clinton Administration, pp. 45-46); Mahmood Monshipouri (chair/professor of International Relations San Francisco State University and Lecturer, Global Studies/University of Berkeley, California, pp. 47-49); John Dunn (focuses on applying a historical perspective to modern political theory, pp. 50-51); Urban Rusnák (Secretary-General of the Energy Charter Secretariat, pp. 52-53); Kazuto Suzuki (Professor of international politics at Public Policy School of Hokkaido University; served as an expert in the Panel of Experts for the Iranian Sanction Committee under the United Nations Security Council from 2013 to July 2015, pp. 54-55). My own contribution, "Will COVID-19 infect the world order?" is also included (pp. 10-18). 

The English language version may be accessed HERE.

The Farsi version (with additional contributors) (در گفتگـو با اندیشمنـدان جهـان پساکـرونا) [Jahan Pasakrona: In conversation with thinkers] is available here or here.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Going Virtual--9th Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights 16-18 November 2020 and the Coalition for Peace & Ethics Statement Welcoming the Virtual Forum Event

I am delighted to pass along the announcement of the organization of the 9th Annual Forum for Business and Human Rights, a principal undertaking of the UN Working Group for Business and Human Rights, in virtual form. Here is the announcement from their website:
9th Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

Thank you for visiting the website of the 9th Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights! Due to the ongoing worldwide challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, which guides and chairs the Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, has decided that the 2020 edition of the Forum will be held virtually from 16 to 18 November 2020.

Reflecting on the current global situation and the renewed emphasis on the need to prevent harm to people and the planet resulting from business activities, the prevention of business-related human rights abuses will be the central theme of the 2020 Forum. The Forum agenda will seek to reinforce the message that strengthening prevention– by learning from both good practices and from when things have gone wrong, as well as by addressing systemic gaps – can help to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.

The Working Group hopes that using virtual platforms will extend the global reach of the Forum and open it up to even more stakeholders. The relevant information, including the concept note and agenda for the 2020 Annual Forum will be provided in due course on this webpage dedicated to the Forum, as well as via the Working Groups twitter account @UNWGizHRs
Please consider joining in the virtual event. The referenced statement, "COVID-19: State and business respect for human rights critical to resilience and recovery, say UN experts"  [Chinese | Spanish"] also follows below.


In connection with this event, the Coalition for Peace &Ethics has issued the following Statement:

The Annual Form on Business and Human Rights is where the great global influercers drive the agenda and the narrative for the management of the human rights effects of economic activity.  It is an important event for the crafting of the relationship between human rights, philanthropy and sustainability--especially in the way that states, civil society, and enterprises are expected to think about value, and approach each.  It is, lastly, a forum for driving group think about accountability and the valuation of institutions, institutional actors, and the hierarchy of influencers in this area. This is one important site where collective meaning is made and imposed respecting business and human rights; where the concepts are limited and directed; and where from those constraining reality framing principles, accountability and operationalization acquire legitimacy tested against the approved meaning-narrative.  A sries of consequences and challenges follow:

1. For these thought leaders, the move from business and human rights to the legalization of a harm principle deeply embedded in enterprise compliance mechanisms is already being developed.  But the evolution of that principle and its tremendous consequences for the remedial pillar remains to be acknowledged, except in the form of the development of approaches designed to construct theory out of practice.

2. Likewise, the detachment of philanthropy and its marginalization--even as enterprises move decisively to shift the center of their social responsibility (including human rights and sustainability) from enterprises to foundations)--is moving quickly toward narrative orthodoxy.  

3. Moreover, the continued effort to construct a narrative in which human rights serves as the lens through which all economic activity is understood continues to be built, and with it an implicit hierarchy of perspective in which sustainability is understood as consequential and derivative to the principal project.  

4. In addition, the effort to deploy all of this language to continue the project of human rights imperialism--extending from developed states outward, remains unchallenged--and here the issue of funding and capacity driving narrative remains unexplored, whether the source are the OECD states and leading Marxist-Leninist states now financing an alternative perspective. Should money drive narrative? That remains a question unasked and certainly unanswered.       

5. The contradictions of remedy remain to be resolved.  That contradiction is inherent in the drive toward the use of market mechanisms and the delegation of regulatory authority to private actors to develop a private transnational law of business and human rights--the inevitable result of the increasing reliance on disclosure mechanisms (Modern Slavery Act; Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence regimes,  and related statutory approaches)--and the inherently regulatory and administrative approaches of a prevent-mitigate-remedy standard administered by public bodies.  

6. Lastly, the emerging role of data and data governance provides an irresistible temptation.  And yet data driven governance's human rights effects have produced little by way of sustained consideration for its effects on the human rights enterprise.  This is of considerable importance in a context in which data driven governance is challenged  when exercised by the state in some contexts but goes unremarked in many contexts when used to further a human rights objective legitimated by the orthodox narrative.
7.  And thus the central theme of the 9th Forum--the COVID-19 pandemic and prevention--provides a useful window on these significant trends, contradictions, and trajectories. Yet one ought not to treat the pandemic as producing something new--instead, the value of shaping discussion through the pandemic, is to understand the way that major events help accelerate, but do not appreciably change--the trajectories of events already in the process of occurring.  One van use COVID-19 to shine of light on those actions, objectives, desires, and narratives that were otherwise slowly and quietly seeping their way into official, but one ought to remember that these trends will long outlast the disease that has brought such tragedy in such a condensed period of time to so many. 
For these reasons, and to the extent it might produce a marginal effect on those who drive these things, The Coalition for Peace & Ethics urges all who would seek to meaningfully engage in agenda setting, in the construction of narrative, in the process of collective meaning making, and in the construction of systems of valuation, to attend this virtual event.  But bnot just to attend this virtual event, rather it the 9th Annual Forum provides an important opportunity for those whose voices are rarely heard to help shape what is to come. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The End of the Umbrella Movement in the New Era: The Disciplining of Benny Tai and the New Hong Kong

Pix: University of Hong Kong governing council sacks legal scholar Benny Tai over convictions for Occupy protests

This from the South China Morning Post:
YouTube Link HERE
The University of Hong Kong’s governing council sacked legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting on Tuesday over his criminal convictions for the Occupy protest movement he co-founded in 2014. Tai, an associate professor of law and outspoken opposition activist, learned his fate on Tuesday night after the HKU council reversed a recommendation by the university’s senate earlier this month that there were not enough grounds to dismiss him although his actions amounted to misconduct. Responding to his dismissal, Tai said on Tuesday that academic institutions in Hong Kong “cannot protect their members from internal and outside interferences”, adding that the university council’s decision “marked the end of academic freedom in Hong Kong”. (University of Hong Kong governing council sacks legal scholar Benny Tai over convictions for Occupy protests).
Professor Tai has remained committed to his principles even as it became clear that the Central Authorities were changing the fundamental premises within which they would interpret their "deal" on Hong Kong (e.g., here).  He has been a key voice in the social movements in Hong Kong for a long time and continues to seek to engage in politics and other work in the SAR. He appears to be no friend of the current administration.

But several things ought to be remembered. as one considers this action and what is to come:

1.  The Central Authorities  have been quite transparent about their offense, and their intentions, ever since the 2014 Occupy Movement and the Umbrella Movement.

2.  The Central Authorities are patient.  They bank their objectives and move swiftly when the opportunity presents itself.  That presentaiton of opportunity is based on a balancing of costs and benefits within the much larger objectives of the Central Authroties within which Hng Kong plays an important but my no means central role.

3. The protests that started in June 2019 convinced the Central Authorities that the vanguard of threatening conduct was located within the educational system, one more closely tied to educational elite internationalism and its narratives, than to the emerging national narrative on the role, purpose and content of education and its involvement in social life.

4. That realization occurred at about the time that the Central Authorities sought to (and quite publicly) to reform education and ist delivery in the Mainland. That reform provided a template far too appealing to confine to the areas of China outside of its SARs.

5.  The evolution of Marxist Leninist sovereignty--Chinese sovereign internationalism--developed to the point where it could serve as a basis for decision making, only within the last several years. The Belt and Road Initiative provided a conceptual and pragmatic basis for building an internationalism autonomous of the global internationalism  the principles of which had guided the initial agreement on the transfer of Hing Kong back to China in the 1980s.

6. China had by 2019 refined both its law making and constitutional conceptions to the point where necessary action could be well justified within its own conceptual universe,  And indeed, that development required something splashy to make the point.  Hong Kong appeared increasingly to serve hat purpose as its social turmoil provided the context necessary to restore order--both physically and conceptually along the lines of New Era Marxist Leninism. This was an opportunity too good to pass up.

7. China's refined legalization of social credit also produced the ability to better take stck of who in Hong Kong would be subject to the rewards for good behavior and those who would be punished--and by punished one increasingly understood that to mean to be subject to social disabilities designed to induce conforming behavior. The development of social credit along with the emergence of a powerful framework under the Belt and Road Initiative were crucial elements to China's moves in 2020 to reassert authority over Hong Kong on its own terms.

8.  The last and key element pushing forward Chinese thinking was the now fully developed New Era ideology.  It was not for nothing that the key elite journals in Beijing had been stressing key features of the New Era Marxist Leninism, centered on the Communist Party as the leadership vanguard, and the state as the nexus of collective national efforts to attain the eventual goal of establishing a communist society in all of China.  Hong Kong increasingly was viewed from this perspective as an aberration going in the wrong direction.  It was aberrational as well because it could no longer be treated as something distinct from the rest of the development of the Pearl River delta.  Physical and conceptual aberration produced a contradiction that violence in Hong Kong only confirmed. China only had to wait for the opportunity to resolve the contradiction.

9.  And then the opportunity arose because of a perception (not unreasonable) that those who might effectively exact too high a price for any action to change the conditions of the China-Hong Kong arrangement were in no position to counter Chinese action effectively. That calculation was actually based on at least twp key factors.  First, the West had been in a process of critically rejecting its own foundations in endless and self destructive critiques that effectively served Chinese interests by increasing a sense of delegitimization of post 1945 globalization.  Second, the COVID pandemic distracted the West, especially the United States, already weakened because of the stubborn determination by its elites to destroy themselves in their civil war for control of the instruments and concepts of power there. 
On this basis the rest is (at least conceptually) straightforward.  It was only a matter of time before Hong Kong's educational system would be rectified, and the key aberrational elements disciplined (e.g., here and here). This is, indeed, the guiding spirit of the Central Authorities:  "dismissal as an act that punished “evil” and upheld justice" (University of Hong Kong governing council sacks legal scholar Benny Tai over convictions for Occupy protests). For those keeping score, one will be able to determine the spectrum of faculty accommodation by the extent of rectification of institutions and individuals during the next six months. The more interesting question will be to see the extent to which the Central Authorities translate (with Hong Kong characteristics) the emerging national approach to education (see, e.g., here (foreign faculty); here university staff).

The reporting from the South China Morning Post follows below.

PostScript on the Campaign to "punish evil and uphold justice"):
(1) "Hong Kong’s new police unit enforcing the national security law arrested four student members of a pro-independence group on Wednesday after it announced its mission to build the city into a republic. The arrests of the suspects, aged 16 to 21, in Yuen Long, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun marked the first such crackdown on anti-government activists not at the scene of street protests." (Four members of Hong Kong pro-independence group arrested by police officers from national security unit)
(2) "Randy Shek, a member of the bar council of the Bar Association, said on Thursday the absence of a definition for a seditious act in the legislation imposed on Hong Kong a month ago left enforcement of the law ripe for misuse. . . . Pleading for the law to be used only as a last resort, Professor Fu Hualing, law dean of the University of Hong Kong, said: “Arresting teenagers for setting up a Facebook group does not help with protecting China’s national security. Nor can it generate confidence in the law.” (National security law: lawyers challenge arrests of former Studentlocalism members for Facebook post supporting independence).
(3) "Police in Hong Kong are seeking the arrest of six pro-democracy activists living in exile in Western countries, including the UK, media reports say. . . . The UK and Australia are among countries that have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong in recent weeks. Germany did so on Friday - one of those reported to be on the new "wanted list" has received asylum there. Who are the 'wanted'? Chinese state TV network CCTV said six people were wanted on suspicion of inciting secession or colluding with foreign forces - both crimes can be punished with up to life in prison under the new security law." (Hong Kong 'seeking arrest' of fleeing activists (31 July 2020)).

Monday, July 27, 2020

Birgit Spiesshofer: "And Who Asks the Supply Chian" English Translation of Article published first (in German) in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazine Einspruch! (online) 23 July 2020


Dr. Birgit Spiesshofer has been undertaking truly important and path-breaking work in the area of the responsibility of business for harms that may be attached (that, of course, is the issue of the moment, that is the jurisprudence of "attachment") to the economic activities of enterprises and persons.  Her  monograph, Responsible Enterprise: The Emergence of a Global Economic Order (Munich: CH Beck, Oxford, Hart, 2018), is a remarkable analysis of the "state of the legal art" in this field and an excellent basis for thinking about the paths already being carved out for going forward (for my review of this work, see "The Enterprise of Responsibility:" Reviewing Birgit Spiesshofer, "Responsible Enterprise). 

Dr. Spiesshofer also writes frequently for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazine Einspruch! (online) on themes of corporate governance, sustainability, and its inevitable relations to systems of trade and political governance across borders. Though these essays are produced for a German audience, she has kindly agreed to translate some of them for re-publication here. Earlier translations include (1) "Fridays for Future, Siemens or the Australian Government - who decides?"; (2)  "Green monetary policy - "whatever it takes"?"; (3) "What is "sustainable"?" ; (4) "The Hour of the Nation-State" (see also here).

Dr. Spiesshofer has now agreed to the translation of a recent essay-- "And Who Asks the Supply Chain?" English Translation of Article published first (in German) in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazine Einspruch! (online) 23 July 2020. In a short and quite condensed form, Dr. Spiesshofer turns her analytical gaze to the current movement, popular with vanguard states in Europe, to provide a national legal basis for the conduct of human rights due diligence (the thrust of which are grounded in Principles 17-21 of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights 2ndf Pillar corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Her object more specifically are current efforts in Germany, in high gear since 2019, to mandate a form of human rights due diligence within the supply chains of certain German companies (e.g., here; German proposals for supply chain law spark fierce debate).

She notes, quite rightly, that the challenges of human rights due diligence do not magically disappear because a state declares its provisions to be law. All that changes are the ways in which companies comply or more effectively comply in a way that avoids compliance. And that, indeed, has been the problem for a generation or more of well intentioned advocates who think of law as a magic elixir that once ingested will miraculously change "everything." Or, at least, perhaps make it easier to force a state actor to act. But there is more at issue here--Again, one sees the effort to impose mandatory state based due diligence provisions within developed states, with the object of assigning their enterprises the responsibility for cramming national due diligence mandates down through their global supply chains irrespective of the national desires (or capacities of the states where such activity occurs. I have written critically about this in the context of the self congratulation with whcih this impulse is cultivated (see, "The Weak Underbelly of Business and Human Rights: Reflections on the 8th U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights" Emancipating the Mind 15(1): 11-50 (View HERE) ).

At the root of the problem, of course, is the complex and often hostile relationship between some who drive the business and human rights agenda, and the ideology of markets, an ideology that has produced the complex networks of global production chains that now require centrally planned regulation of a more direct kind. This is not to suggest that unfettered markets ought to be left to their own devices; and powerful market actors to run riot through them. The essence of markets are themselves a reflection of ideologies of values--and of valuing--that serve as the foundation of its utility as a resource allocation system. One ought not to obsess as much with the control of the market (the classical error of Soviet Marxism) as with the management of the way in which markets value (and price) their actions and the choices they make. That was the power of disclosure systems as a tool of market regulation. But its power wasn't in the act of disclosure--rather it was in the way that disclosure empowered market actors to act on their values (consumers, rights holders, investor, the state, and international public and private organizations).

One can see that the essay provides much useful fruit for thought. The essay and Dr. Spiesshofer's brief bio follow.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Emerging Ideology of U.S. China Policy: Its Current Expression in Four Key Speeches

Pix Credit: Here

In a quite deliberate way, the United States has in the last several days (finally) articulated its ideological line respecting the nature and course of U.S. relations with China.

The first was delivered by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, The Threat Posed by the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party to the Economic and National Security of the United States, Remarks delivered at the Hudson Institute (July 7, 2020). It sought to deveklop notions of U.S principles of international engagement through the lens of allegations of Chinese spying (suggesting good versus bad values).

The second was delivered by Attorney General William P. Barr, Remarks on China Policy at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan (Thursday, July 16, 2020).It sough to develop notions of complicity and collusion, as well as suggest markers of national loyalty measured by adherence to its values.

The third was delivered June 24, 2020 by National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Bien, The Chinese Communist Party’s Ideology and Global Ambitions, Remarks delivered in Phoenix, Arizona. This sought to contrast the values basis of liberal democratic systems by contrasting them against his version of values inherent in Chinese Marxist Leninism.

And the last, intended to put the four together, was that of Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Communist China and the Free World’s Future, Speech delivered at Yorba Linda, California, The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (July 23, 2020).
My remarks today are the fourth set of remarks in a series of China speeches that I asked National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Chris Wray, and the Attorney General Barr to deliver alongside me. We had a very clear purpose, a real mission. It was to explain the different facets of America’s relationship with China, the massive imbalances in that relationship that have built up over decades, and the Chinese Communist Party’s designs for hegemony. Our goal was to make clear that the threats to Americans that President Trump’s China policy aims to address are clear and our strategy for securing those freedoms established.  Ambassador O’Brien spoke about ideology. FBI Director Wray talked about espionage. Attorney General Barr spoke about economics. And now my goal today is to put it all together for the American people and detail what the China threat means for our economy, for our liberty, and indeed for the future of free democracies around the world. (Michael Pompeo, Communist China and the Free World’s Future, Supra).

The importance of the exposition of this political and ideological line ought not to be taken lightly. But like the ideological pronouncements of their Chinese Communist Party counterparts, the global intelligentsia will spend far more time engaging in clever complement than in carefully considering the meaning and consequences of the line itself. That has been a costly mistake in the context of understanding China; it will be an equally pathetic mistake by intellectuals (and their masters) intent on dismissing the content because of their contempt for the individual for are making them.

But that has been the way of the intelligentsia for a generation. Still one ought not to be consumed by the folly of this group. Whether one likes the line or not, whether it makes sense or not, whether it will work or not, the reality is that these three speeches, when aggregated, now represent the American political Basic Line respecting not just relations with the People's Republic of China, but the ideological basis for its approach to all problems of government (and governance affecting domestic and international American interests. If for no other reason, a careful study of the speeches will guide one in understanding both the approach and the limits of conceptual possibilities built into this ideological line.

Indeed, that exercise of dismissive criticism makes it easy to miss a number of quite telling points that mark a surprising similarity in approaches to the ideological lines of both the United States and China.  First both are obsessed with the other; both view themselves  measured against the other, the one to surpass the old empire, the other to ensure that the young empire does not undermine its own leading role. Second, both understand the process of politics as inherently values laden; that is that politics is a moral project.  Built into that is the idea that values are themselves not autonomous items floating in free space, but particularized expressions of a unified approach to the organization of society through shared values and the expression of those values in law and policy.  Third, each has constructed the other as the measure against which its own distinctiveness and value can be assessed.  

And, indeed, they ought to be read the way one might read the speeches of Xi Jinping and his trusted officials, and the way one approaches the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party. They are all born of the same impulse--to carefully and transparently describe the fundamental premises through which one might "look" at the world, analyze and understand events, give meaning to them, and to craft and value approaches to respond. More importantly, the speeches provide the values system through which legal and policy tools will be deployed to attain the goals and preserve the principles at the core of the ideological system. For the United States that will likely mean both much less porous borders as barriers against penetration by enemies and strategic competitors, and much more porous engagements with friends and allies. It will mean, in short, that the Americans, like their Chinese counterparts, have begun to recognize the inevitability of the rise of two self-reflexive and competing imperial orders, and, like their Chinese counterparts, have begun to develop the basis for empire, this time "with American characteristics." Mr. Pompeo hints quite clearly about the rise of a new multilatertalism built around a set of ideological values that will create a space in which a coherent values consensus based economic and societal ordering might be created, and protected against those who would threaten it, whose own values systems must be undermined. A mirror image of the emerging New Era ideological line in China.

The generation of intellectuals, academics, officials, and civil society actors who have been brought up in the old order, and who have profited from successfully navigating its hierarchies, will not like this.  And they will work diligently to either mock this to death (e.g., Analysts Blast Pompeo’s China Speech as Unrealistic, Divorced From Reality) or undermine it in the service of a unitary imperial vision that appears to linger only as an ember of history. For a time they will find refuge in Europe.  But only for a while. But that is to be expected.  None of it, however, will change much.  Both sides, it seems, are now committed to a New Era world order.  It is with this in mind that the three speeches are brought together below.   Whatever one concludes (and I have been careful here to avoid any of my own conclusions--worried more about the inevitable gaps between ideology and action; an irony commentary on a key point in Mr. Pompeo's speech), the ideology is worth noting, and understanding, for however long it holds power over the minds of the governmental vanguard of the United States. But again, at the end of the day, this is ideology--the proof of its utility--and its value as a basis of accountability, remains to be seen. And that is a quite worthy aim of critique. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Registration Now Open: Cuba From the Castros to COVID: An ASCE Virtual Conference August 13-15, 2020

I am delighted to announce that registration is now open for Cuba From the Castros to COVID: An ASCE Virtual Conference, which is scheduled to take place August 13-15, 2020.

Concept Note

The Concept Note provides an overview of the themes that will be explored during the three days of the virtual conference. You are invited to engage with the Concept Note; please send us your comments, questions, statements and the like, and we will be happy to post them as appropriate.

Pre-Conference Interview Series

These may be accessed via CPE YouTube Channel (or QR Code). Follow the link above for the listing of all interviews and links to your favorites.
The Conference Program may be accessed HERE. The Conference extends over three days and offers six exciting events. They include four panels: They include (1) The Cuban Economy and Prospects after COVID-19; (2) The Cuba Venezuela Relationship; (3) “Destrabando” the Cuban Economy: An Assessment of Reforms and the Road Ahead; and (4) a Roundtable on Developments in Moving Beyond Cuba’s Dual Currency System. In addition, we are delighted to host the annual Carlos Diaz Alejandro Lecture. This year’s lecturer is Alejandro de la Fuente, Harvard University, who will speak to “Racism with Equality? Measuring Racial Inequality in Cuba, 1980-2010.” Lastly we continue with our tradition of highlighting the work of undergraduate and graduate students. As in prior years (but this time virtually) ASCE will present a panel of the winners of the ASCE student paper competition.

Registration is required but free; space is limited.  Registration permits the user to attend any combination of the six Conference events. Those wishing to attend all events, for example, must register for all six. Those wishing to attend fewer events may register for those panels of interest to them. Please contact us with questions. Attendance for each event requires a separate registration.

Registration Link: 

Or QR Code:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Emerging Business, Compliance, Human Rights, and Sanctions Nexus--the Case of the Management of Global Production and Chinese Uighurs

Pix Credit: "US Sanctions Companies Over Muslim Abuse Complaints"

In January 2019 I asked: "What happens when the trajectories of Chinese Socialist Human Rights and the emerging global consensus on business and human rights responsibilities in global production chains collide? " (Human Rights Without Chinese Characteristics and Global Production Chains Within China: Xinjiang and Badger Sportswear as a Harbinger of Dissonance in Human Rights Risk Management). I suggested this presented difficult challenges, especially for U.S. companies navigating the increasingly difficult currents of US, Chinese, and International soft law frameworks. I suggested that "While the early years of developing consensus practices around supply chain human rights responsibilities had focused on the developing world, conflict and weak governance zones, it appears that such principles may be applied now to manage the supply chain practices of enterprises in all states." (Human Rights Without Chinese Characteristics and Global Production Chains Within China).

Pix Credit: Atlantic Council 2018
Those currents have become far more difficult to manage, and the use of global supply chains as a regulatory object has complicated, the compliance and human rights calculus of companies engaging in work in China and with Chinese companies. But the de-coupling now moving into fuller gear, combined with the increasing popularity of targeted human rights and corruption  sanctions as a regulatory tool (e.g., Human Rights First ReportMagnitsky legislation (UK Parliamentary materials); US Treasury Dept Magnitsky Act Resource Center; and in specific application The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC): Xinjiang, its Uyghurs, and the Potential Expansion of Global Magnitsky Sanctions to Chinese Officials; Magnitsky Act: Raab to name first foreign citizens facing sanctions), has made compliance decisions much more complex, the the regulatory repercussions much more serious for non-Chinese enterprises whose production chains include work within China or with Chinese enterprises. 

The effect is to augment enterprise responsibility to engage in robust human rights due diligence compliance actions as part of their responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights framework (augmented by an increasing number of diligence mandates in the UK, France, Australia and other places respecting specific human rights harms), by adding a layer of mandatory sanctions based due diligence based on targeted sanctions produced by administrative officials under an authority delegated to them by national legal schemes designed to achieve specific normative objectives. 

The US has emerged at the forefront of this movement. The target has been the Uighur population of the People's Republic of China whose treatment has been increasingly criticized by American officials, including the influential CECC (e.g., here) and civil society groups. In July 2020, the US Commerce Department
added to its economic blacklist 11 Chinese companies implicated in what it called human rights violations in connection with China's treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. The department said the companies were involved in using forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups. They include numerous textile companies and two firms the government said were conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. * * * It was the third group of companies and institutions in China added to the US blacklist, after two rounds in which the Trump administration cited 37 entities it said were involved in China's repression in Xinjiang. (US adds 11 companies to economic blacklist over China's treatment of Uighurs).

This comes days after the US Attorney General criticized some of the more influential US companies by name, in the tech and entertainment fields, for serving as the American face of the "black hand" of Chinese interference in the American homeland (e.g., here).  China had earlier announced retaliatory measures against US elected officials.
China has announced retaliatory sanctions against three Republican lawmakers and a US ambassador as the row over Uighurs treatment in Xinjiang continues. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing on July 13 that the “corresponding sanctions” have been imposed on Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Congressman Chris Smith, and the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback. (China Announces Retaliatory Sanctions On US Envoy, Lawmakers Over Xinjiang Row).

For US companies, or companies that may otherwise be subject to scrutiny and regulation (given their nexus of contacts and the character of the production chains), the consequences will be significant. The US, like most liberal democrat states remains committed to the great principles of privatized economic activity and the preeminence of the market, which ought not to be subject to direct regulation.  However, such regulatory ad control objectives can be more efficiently realized through a combination of delegated diligence (compliance and risk mitigation) obligations and, increasingly, the responsibility to implement targeted sanctions. One moves here from law to management in the regulation of economic activity with normative objectives. It is only a small step from a targeted   sanctions regime to the construction of a social credit based data driven ratings-reward system for business management. In this case all one might need would be the funding of the large private foundations to set up and legitimate such a structure. That is not far fetched and would preserve the facade of law based state government, and compliance-risk based market regulatory regimes.

These emerging interlinked regulatory structures--international and societal, national and compliance based, and mandatory and sanctions based--will have a profound effect on the way that companies approach their responsibilities to respect human rights, but also their approach generally to their philanthropic and sustainability objectives.  They will also have a secondary effect on the way on which China will operate its Belt and Rad Initiative--certainly to the extent that sanctions follow companies (and others) abroad, it will have an effect on their ability to partner with forms that are directly or collaterally subject either to the mandatory reach of sanctions, or the informal calculus of human rights due diligence in the shadow of sanctions regimes. Lastly, to the extent that this is not taken into account in the making of the proposed Comprehensive Business and Human Rights Treaty it will sink even deeper into irrelevance.

Lastly, it is not clear how China's response--and they will respond in time--will affect the ability of firms to engage in economic activity in China and with Chinese firms.  The ultimate result may be an acceleration of decoupling with some clever grey area activity between sanctions centers. But it is too early to tell. One will expect to see both a strengthening of separation except perhaps in the retail sector, and a greater ush to the construction of a Socialist business and human rights normative structure.  Its absence will make projection of economic power that much more challenging, especially where the primary political objective is to construct an autonomous and appealing alternative to what is characterized as "western" globalization. But as a defensive mechanism I would expect as well a substantial acceleration and refinement of social credit (data based governance)  applied to business enterprises in which compliance with sanctions may cause a reduction in social credit scoring (and thus greater difficulty in securing credit, access to markets, governmental approvals, etc.).

The reporting for Reuters (picked up by the global press) by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz, follows.

Monday, July 20, 2020

王毅 深入学习贯彻习近平外交思想,不断开创中国特色大国外交新局面 [Wang Yi, "In-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping's diplomatic thought,Constantly create a new situation in the diplomacy of great powers with Chinese characteristics"]

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at the inaugural ceremony of the research center for the study of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, July 20, 2020. /Chinese Foreign Ministry Pix Credit HERE

Chinese aspirations, as well as its ideological foundations, and the imperatives of that foundation on the construction of policy, has always been quite transparent.  The problem for foreigners is that they cannot resist reading these pronouncements through the distorting lenses of their own values and aspirations. This is particularly true with respect to Chinese foreign policy ambitions, and the strategies developed to  realize these ambitions. 

Now again, Chinese high level officials have provided an important window on the way in which Chinese leaders approach their understanding of and relation to the rest of the world Wang Yi, a member of the State Council and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has delivered an important speech at the establishment ceremony of Xi Jinping Diplomatic Thought Research Center (Wang Yi calls for greater effort in promoting Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy ("Wang described Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy as the fundamental guideline for China's diplomatic work as well as an epoch-making milestone in the diplomatic theory of New China.").

The key points worth considering:

1. "First of all, Xi Jinping's diplomatic thought is an organic component of Xi Jinping's socialist thought with Chinese characteristics in the new era. Diplomacy is a concentrated expression of the will of the country, and diplomatic work is an important part of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. . . . The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and it is also the greatest political advantage of Chinese diplomacy. " [首先,习近平外交思想是习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想的有机组成。外交是国家意志的集中体现,外交工作是中国特色社会主义事业的重要组成部分。. . . 中国共产党的领导是中国特色社会主义最本质的特征,也是中国外交最大的政治优势。]

2. "Second, Xi Jinping's diplomatic thought is the latest achievement of Marxism in the field of diplomacy in the 21st century. Engels pointed out, "Marx's whole world view is not a doctrine, but a method." Xi Jinping's diplomatic thought adheres to historical materialism and dialectical materialism, scientifically applies Marxist standpoints and methods, and pays attention to the integration of theory and practice, and the integration of epistemology and methodology. . . . Enriched and developed the Marxist theory of international relations with a series of original and important ideological viewpoints, and realized the historic leap in the field of diplomacy of Marxism in China. " [第二,习近平外交思想是21世纪马克思主义在外交领域的最新成果。恩格斯指出,“马克思的整个世界观不是教义,而是方法。”习近平外交思想坚持历史唯物主义和辩证唯物主义,科学运用马克思主义的立场观点方法,注意理论与实际相结合、认识论和方法论相统一,.  . .  以一系列原创性的重大思想观点丰富和发展了马克思主义国际关系理论,实现了马克思主义中国化在外交领域的历史性飞跃。].

3. "Third, Xi Jinping’s diplomatic thought is the inheritance and innovation of Chinese excellent traditional culture. . . . General Secretary Xi Jinping creatively inherited the spirit of the ancient Silk Road and put forward a major initiative to jointly build the “Belt and Road”, transforming this achievement of human civilization into a new type of public product for international cooperation and common development." [第三,习近平外交思想是对中华优秀传统文化的传承创新。. . . 习近平总书记创造性地传承古代丝绸之路精神,提出共建“一带一路”重大倡议,将这一人类文明成果转化为开展国际合作、促进共同发展的新型公共产品,日益得到世界各国的广泛支持与认同。]

4. Fourth, Xi Jinping's diplomatic thought is an inherited development of New China's diplomatic theory. . . . It has drawn a red line and a clear bottom line on major issues involving national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It has taken a series of firm measures to defend rights and resolutely defended National core interests and national dignity. [在涉及国家主权和领土完整的重大问题上划出红线、亮明底线,果断采取一系列坚定维权措施,坚决捍卫国家核心利益与民族尊严。].

5. Fifth, "The new concepts of global governance, security, development, civilization, and righteousness and benefit proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping reflect the common aspirations of all countries in the world to pursue development and progress. They have distinct Chinese characteristics and contain common human values. The greatest common divisor for the people of all countries to build a better world together." [习近平总书记提出的全球治理观、安全观、发展观、文明观、正确义利观等新型理念,反映了世界各国追求发展进步的共同愿望,既具有鲜明中国特色,又蕴含人类共同价值,凝聚了各国人民共同建设美好世界的最大公约数。].

Xi Jinping principles of diplomacy, then, are strictly grounded in and constrained by, the fundamental orienting principles of Marxism and Leninism.  Both, in turn, are understood within the developmental context of China itself.  That does not localize Marxism and Leninism; rather it serves to universalize the Chinese context, now applicable everywhere with an allowance for local variation. This universalization of the local is a function of the internationalization of the Xi Jinping Leninist principle of vanguard leadership--and more specifically of the essential and critical rule of the core of leadership [领导核心] (within China the leadership of the Chinese Communist arty; in the world of China serving the same role) This world view that orients communist internationalism is not expressed in theory but in practice--and that practice serves both as the manifestation of theory and its realization. To understand this new era of Chinese led internationalism one must understand both Chinese development of the concepts of historical materialism and dialectical materialism, and Xi Jinping's interpretation of that development. That theoretical pragmatism is currently expressed as the Belt and Road Initiative--which must be understood in Marxist Leninist terms as the projection of universalist principles by the global "leading state." That pragmatic application is grounded in a subtle understanding of sovereignty--one that posits the greatest sovereignty (understood in its sense of leadership) in the leading states, and a willingness to accept leadership and guidance by the rest (explained here). The red lines of the new global orders, then, are actually painted in varying shades of pink. Lastly, it suggests that the relationship between sovereign and international projects is quite fluid, one not built on rules (to maintain a certain order--the current framework model) but on objectives (a strongly Marxist Leninist perspective).

Building on the Failure of the Trans Pacific Partnership--The Abe Doctrine in the Era of the Periphery Leading the Center

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen here reviewing an honor guard in Tokyo with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2016, has been seeking to build a consensus to counter an increasingly aggressive China. | BLOOMBERG Pix Credit HERE

I still believe that the Trump Administration decision to abandon the Trans Pacific Partnership in 2017 (e.g., here) was a bad idea born of the somewhat reckless misunderstanding of its object married to the expediency of the politically plausible desire to quickly differentiate his administration from that of his predecessor (e.g., here).  The problem was, of course, that his predecessor 's own political allies despised TPP even more than the President (see, e.g., here). And ironically, the move likely accelerated the decision of Chinese officials to accelerate planning for challenging (and in their minds quickly overcoming) American hegemony over the narrative and oversight of global trade, and the projection of military power to enforce what is viewed as the emerging dominant regime through the Belt and Road Initiative (see, e.g., here).  All of this might have been inevitable, of course (though there is always a choice between engagement, de-coupling, and combat). 

The TPP, though, survives in somewhat truncated form. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)includes substantial portions of the TPP. More importantly, however, The idea of the TPP, however, has survived the dystopia of current American politics. Even as the imperial center retreated, its periphery remains loyal to the unifying idea that holds this group of states together. It is here that the incarnation of a trade and security policy for the old TPP group may be converging with, and draw inspiration from an unexpected source--the leadership of Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan.  To that end it may be worth considering the role of the "Abe Doctrine", brief summary here, here;) book here) as serving as the principled framework for the constitution of a leadership group built by the periphery around a temporarily vacant center.

And, indeed, the absence of the center--in this case the United States, while its elites busy themselves in an important but utterly self indulgent and inevitably destructive civil war--provides an important space in which states traditionally led by the center now have the opportunity to reshape the arrangements under which they will come together and the nature of the leadership role expected of the (eventually returning) center. To that end, Japan, India, Australia, and Vietnam will likely play key roles. If for no other reason it may be important to pay less attention to the United States at this moment of transition, and more to the important foundation building engaged in by US allies and friends.  That leadership responsibility will likely survive the results of the US 2020 Presidential elections, which will offer little respite from  American factionalism and thus enhance the role of its allies to lead. The Abe Doctrine appears to be an important element of that development--not just in itself, but as a set of organizing principles around which like minded states might develop and implement a common position and a joint win win strategy. And the connection between Japan and India holds some interesting possibilities in that construction, one which may serve to buffer the consequences of regrettable choices made in recent years by Australian and New Zealand leaderships. Jagannath Panda provides some valuable commentary with respect to these development in the Japan Times,  The Abe doctrine on 'Quad plus (17 July 2020) reproduced below.  Whatever one thinks of these developments, the great insight is that for the moment it is the periphery that will lead the center. One can only hope that they use this quite historic opportunity wisely.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Situation in Hong Kong: Post Script, The Space Where Two Emerging Imperial Orders Clash; President Trump’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization

Pix Credit HERE

It comes as no surprise that  the de facto and de jure governance of the Hong Kong SAR continues to be transformed--however the Chinese Central Authorities and foreign stakeholders wish to characterize events notwithstanding. It follows that those with an interest in Hong Kong, by reason of history or international agreement or by right of sovereign prerogative, as well as those with substantial objectives in ordering their relationships more generally with PRC Central Authorities, would now shift their positions in light of the actions taken recently to evolve the relationship between the Hong Kong SAR and the Chinese Central Authorities in preparation for the union that 2047 augured but which appears to have arrived early. 

‘Rocky’ shock for China makes Trump Hong Kong hero

This post includes the text of the latest response of the government of the United States, the President’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization, issued 14 July 2020, reproduced below. It speaks for itself. By now, of course, the territory of the SAR is less important than is the idea of the territory of the SAR as a nodal point in the boundary making between the American and Chinese post global imperial orders.  The rest s to be expected on both sides as they work diligently to refine their ideologies in the shadow of the other and then seek to market their respective approaches to the rest of the world. Hong Kong, again, serves as a nodal point, but this time in the differentiation of the two great post global imperial projects.There are no surprises.  And it is important to remember that this is a starting, not an ending, point, in the US response.  The object is the situation in Hong Kong, of course, but there are far larger stakes involved as well in the reordering and control of global economic and political ordering. Bth China and the US have given notice to expect substantially more (see, e.g., here).

Pix Credit Smithsonian HERE
It becomes even more interesting in light of Benny Tai Yiu-ting's (戴耀廷) recent essay circulating in Hong Kong that seeks to predict the trajectory of events from now until Hong Kong is effectively transformed, and with it the international order (for which Hong Kong served as a sort of nodal point--the proverbial canary in the mine) (真攬炒十步 這是香港宿命 - 戴耀廷 [Frying Hong Kong in Ten steps; this is the fate of Hong Kong]). It should be noted that the Chinese Central Authorities have accused Professor Tai of “illegally manipulating” the city’s polling system, challenging the new national security law and acting as a political agent for foreign forces (Hong Kong elections: Beijing accuses Occupy protest leader Benny Tai of breaking national security law through primary poll).

Professor Tai  is a Hong Kong legal scholar and democracy activist, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong and associated with Occupy Central movement, He posited a ten step process  that would inevitably end in China facing international pushback for its choices in the way n which it governs the SAR (第十步(2022年1月後)。西方國家對中共實行政治及經濟制裁。[The tenth step (after January 2022). Western countries impose political and economic sanctions on the CCP.]).  It seems however, that step 10 might well have become step one. Only time will tell.  The text of President Trump's Executve Order follows along with the text of 真攬炒十步 這是香港宿命 - 戴耀廷 [Frying Hong Kong in Ten steps; this is the fate of Hong Kong]).

Friday, July 17, 2020

Brief Thoughts on 习近平 中国共产党领导是中国特色社会主义最本质的特征 [Xi Jinping, The Leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics], Read Against US National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien "The Chinese Communist Party’s Ideology and Global Ambitions"

Pix Credit HERE

Throughout the time of the simultaneous leadership of Xi Jinping in China and Donald Trump in the United States, it has become almost a cliche that their political philosophies do not include many points of convergence.  And yet that appears no longer to be true.  It has now become clear that both Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump agree on one thing:  中国共产党领导是中国特色社会主义最本质的特征 [The Leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics]. 

That convergence has been made clear during the increasingly more theatrical engagements among the core leadership groups of both states, the tenor of which can be usefully gauged by two somewhat remarkable publications distributed.

The first, remarks delivered by National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien on June 24, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona, was made available on the White House Website as "The Chinese Communist Party’s Ideology and Global Ambitions." The speech is remarkable as the distillation of a values-based approach  to distilling the incompatibilities of Chinese and American systems ("America, under President Trump’s leadership, has finally awoken to the threat the Chinese Communist Party’s actions and the threat they pose to our very way of life"). This comes at  long last and after a somewhat confusing and perhaps confused development by an administration with an allergy to coherent ideological positions in theory though not as expressed in action--a characteristic that it shares in some odd respects with the governing style of the current Cuban leadership. These remarks were then amplified by the US Attorney General who deployed the language of rectification against the "black hand" of foreign interference in the sovereign ideology of the U.S. (William Barr, Remarks on China Policy at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, delivered 16 July 2020 in Grand Rapids, MI).
The second might be considered the response to the assertions made in the first. Distributed 15 July 2020,  习近平 中国共产党领导是中国特色社会主义最本质的特征 [Xi Jinping, The Leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics] was recently published in the Qiushi 求是 [Seeking Truth] Journal, the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is described in its own English language web page as "the most influential and authoritative magazine devoted to policy-making and theoretical studies, with a circulation of 1.26 million in 2010." It is particularly important not just because of its topic--the centrality of the CPC in Chinese Marxist-Leninism, but because it is one of an increasing number of essays authored by Xi Jinping and designed to flesh out New Era Marxist Leninist theory going towards the next Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (see, e.g., here). Thus the essay is important in its own right as an essential additional element of Chinese Marxist-Leninism; yet its timing and context suggests the sensitivity of that development to the changing character of the deep relationships between the United States and China as both strive to remake themselves against the (re)constructed and managed image of the other.

What holds both together, and why it is useful to read each against the other, is the mutual recognition that the Chinese Communist Party stands at the center of the political-economic model of the People's Republic of China.

For the Americans, this quite belated recognition (one perhaps resulting from a bizarre wishful thinking away of the CPC by generations of the American intelligentsia and their allies within the American state apparatus who refused to take the CPC at face value) this insight produces fear; it is a threat.  For the Chinese, it is meant to confirm a reality that had been diluted in its efforts at conformity for its own international and national purposes before the leadership of Xi Jinping.  This insight is also meant to drive home a reality that China's own intellectuals have sought to take in perhaps distinct directions over the course of the last generation (See, e.g., here). It is in this sense, part of a theoretical rectification given an official imprimatur from the "core" of the core political leadership. 

Both are reproduced below (Mr. Xi's in the original Chinese 中文and  in a crude English translation), along with my brief reflections

Announcing Two Virtual Events to Launch the Working Group’s latest report to the Human Rights Council

Pix Credit HERE

Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises 
Please join two virtual events to launch the Working Group’s latest report to the Human Rights Council -  

Following the presentation of its report, the Working Group is convening two discussions on the links between anti-corruption efforts and the business and human rights agenda, with a view to exploring how the recommendations in its report can be implemented by all stakeholders.  Given the deadly cost of corruption as it relates to the pandemic, there is an urgent need for States to take actions to prevent corruption in the private sector in global supply and value chains. Please join the Working Group for an exploration of how the business and human rights agenda and anti-corruption efforts can be reinforcing and connected agendas for policymakers, as well as for business and civil society.

Virtual Launch:  Connecting the dots between the anti-corruption and business and human rights agendas  
Date and time:  Monday 20 July 2020, 4 to 5 p.m. Geneva time (CET)
Connect to the meeting via:

·         Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair, Transparency International 
·         Klaus Moosmayer, Member of the Executive Committee Novartis, Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer, Novartis International AG 
·         John Morrison, Chief Executive, Institute for Human Rights and Business
·         Anita Ramasastry, Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights 

Please also join the Working Group for a discussion about the steps that business can take to implement the report’s recommendations and further explore the synergies between anti-corruption efforts and steps to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Virtual discussion: Beyond compliance – Drilling down on anti-corruption and human rights due diligence processes
 Date and time:  Thursday 23 July 2020, 4 to 5 p.m. Geneva time (CET)
Connect to the meeting via:

·         Nicole Bigby, Partner and General Counsel – EMEA and Asia, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP  
·         Nicola Bonucci, Managing Director, Investigations & Compliance, Paul Hastings (Europe) LLP  
·         Jonathan Drimmer, Partner, Litigation Department, Paul Hastings LLP (Washington, D.C.)
·         Matthias Thorns, Deputy Secretary-General, International Organisation of Employers 
·         Anita Ramasastry, Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Moderator

Best regards,