Thursday, October 28, 2021

UNEP, UNEP DTU Partnership: Emissions Gap Report 2021 as a framework for bridging human rights and sustainability responsibilities


While certain organs of the UN establishment in Geneva and a host of NGO and state actors continue their drive toward the best sort of 1970s legal instrument that sort of provides a legal-normative baseline for managing economic activities as a function of human rights traditionally understood, the rest of the UN establishment has moved on.  They have moved on in two important ways--the first has been in their efforts to re-situate the human rights and economic activity conversation within the broader conversation about planetary stewardship that de-centers rights talk and places it within a context of sustainability obligations.  The second has been to tie this new human rights-sustainability narrative, one that embeds the human within broader ecologies, to the issue of climate change, and to global human responsibility for avoiding ecological catastrophe (and therefore irremediable cascades of human rights threats).

To that end those who drive the state system and its international organs have been seeking to spotlight  the climate conversation at the head of rights and sustainability narratives, and to  re-orient human centered rights talk within the broader framework of individual and collective responsibility for the protection of the planet only within which might human rights be better aligned with the realities of human existence on the planet.  This is a conversation in which all collective organs--states, enterprises, NGOs, religious institutions, and the like share, in substantially equivalent measure--a responsibility and from which sustainability based rights clusters might be better developed and implemented. 

All of this remains at a formative stage.  That is not surprising--the business of constructing the current orthodoxy around a people centered human rights took the better part of a generation. To move this along at the international, state, global, and private levels (spheres) a long postponed conference (one of the additional tragedies of the COVID pandemic) hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, will take place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, UK.

In the run up to the conference many public and private organs have been producing reports and similar offerings, all designed to enagage in the conversation, and in the process, contribute to and perhaps gide the construction of meaning, and from meaning to derive action, around the imperatives of climate change and its risks for human rights and sustainability (broadly understood). This is all to be welcomed.

This post highlights the work, United Nations Environment Programme, Emissions Gap Report 2021: The Heat Is On – A World of Climate Promises Not Yet Delivered (Nairobi, 2021)--projected out both to critical actors and the masses that might be relied on to put pressure on those organs (in liberal democratic states anyway)--released 26 October 2021. The Press Release notes:

What’s new in this year’s report

The Emissions Gap Report 2021 shows that new national climate pledges combined with other mitigation measures put the world on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by the end of the century. That is well above the goals of the Paris climate agreement and would lead to catastrophic changes in the Earth’s climate. To keep global warming below 1.5°C this century, the aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement, the world needs to halve annual greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years.

If implemented effectively, net-zero emissions pledges could limit warming to 2.2°C, closer to the well-below 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement. However, many national climate plans delay action until after 2030. The reduction of methane emissions from the fossil fuel, waste and agriculture sectors could help close the emissions gap and reduce warming in the short term, the report finds.
Carbon markets could also help slash emissions. But that would only happen if rules are clearly defined and target actual reductions in emissions, while being supported by arrangements to track progress and provide transparency.

The UNEP website notes: "Since its inception in 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been the global authority that sets the environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment."

The Report may be accessed HERE; the Executive Summary may be accessed HERE. The key conclusions follow below (from the Executive Summary). Most interesting perhaps is Point 10 that suggests the role of carbon markets.

 The pity, of course, is that like their human rights counterparts, it is still difficult for climate and sustainability focused international institutions to begin to embrace more proactively the potential synergies of human rights in the efforts to meet the challenge of climate change.  In that respect the "siloing" of the Sustainability Development Goals, at least as a loose framework for interlinking  human rights and sustainability responsibilities, continues to appear to emphasize the spaces between the 17 SDGs and the gulf between the conceptual lenses of human rights and those of sustainability (including climate change) rather than working toward a better framing of their intensifying connections and inter-linkages. That blindness on both sides of the human rights and sustainability efforts will prove a significant intensifier of the tragedies of the failures of institutional developments for managing human rights wrongs within an overall context in which these are understood as a function of greater environmental, sustainability, and climate system protection duties.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

UN Working Group BHR: Call for input due 18 November ( upcoming information note on the links among corporate political engagement, responsible business practices, and human rights)


The UN Working Group for Business and Human Rights has circulated a call for inputs that might provide the WG something if use as it seeks to finish its upcoming information note on the links among corporate political engagement, responsible business practices, and human rights. Here is the substance of the Press Release:

Call for inputs to information note — UN Working Group on Business and
Human Rights

Ensuring business respect for human rights in the political and regulatory
sphere and preventing “corporate capture”


The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (“the Working Group”) is developing an information note to examine links between corporate political engagement practices and responsible business conduct. Specifically, the information note will explore how to encourage responsible political engagement, how to prevent what constitutes undue political influence by businesses—sometimes termed “corporate capture”—and how such activities may undermine and be inconsistent with the corporate responsibility to respect
human rights set out by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“the Guiding Principles”).

The note will address how businesses should account for this responsibility and exercise human rights due diligence (HRDD) when engaging in a variety of activities in the political sphere – from lobbying to political donations to decisions about whether to speak publicly about policy debates that may impact their employees and other members of their community. The note will focus on how HRDD can identify negative impacts for people and planet resulting from corporate political engagement activities and good practices in terms of how to prevent and mitigate such impacts. The note will aim to create greater coherence between businesses’ commitments to respect human rights and their political and lobbying activities, which are not always in alignment.

To help inform its analysis, the Working Group invites all interested parties to submit written inputs. The below questions provide a guide for structuring inputs, but the Workng Group also welcomes inputs on other relevant aspects, as well as submissions of pre-existing written output from individuals and organizations (civil society reports, academic journal
articles, etc.).

Inputs should be sent to with subject line “Survey inputs: corporate political engagement.” Please make submissions no later than November 18, 2021.

Far more interesting are the questions around which this highly curated input will be woven into a fabric the design of which has already been cartooned.  As usual with these instruments, the conversation about fundamental approaches and the normative baselines against which action will be taken have already been had and decisions taken.  Engagement, then, is meant to be administrative--the way that clever people with a talent for the elaboration of administrative-bureaucratic systems might devote those talent s to sketching out  useful operational approaches. That is, indeed, a very useful curation of both engagement and talent, one that leaves the hard initial political work of making choices about the basic line to be privileged to the Working Group or elsewhere.


If the questions provide the cartoon for the weave that is to be the administrative-bureaucratic suggestions that will make up the Report (after the usual several pages that flesh out the problem and describe the political choices made to provide the normative structures within which solutions may be crafted), then they might also serve as a basis for reverse engineering to extract the underlying normative choices made that produced this crop of questions as the sheep dogs herding global talent towards appropriate  choices of operational models.  Clues, of course, are embedded in the cal for inputs itself--engagement with the quite fashionable approaches to knowledge of corporate capture, and the ways in which business can be made be behave appropriately in the political sphere (individuals, however powerful), and states, of course, operate under different rules  whatever the political model of the state in which such political interventions are effectuated). Effectively, then, the inputs start from the presumption that business engagement in politics is of a different and negative character from that of others, and that this must be managed if it remains impossible to curtail (for example in states following a civil and political rights model like that of the United States). It will also, and necessarily, provide an administrative-bureaucratic platform for criticizing states whose political ideologies do not conform to the model against which the approaches suggested by the inputs will be elaborated.  Bravo!

The questions that are the central element of the call for inputs follow, along with brief efforts to extract each of their contributions to the construction of normative meaning that enhances the ideological foundations and presumptions already built into the soon to be finalized report.  My main take-away: the fundamental weakness of the construction of this input is its focus on the enterprise as a unique actor in politics, and with the structures of management and curtailment of political rights as the singular or principal cure for the ills that the Report presumes.  A better approach, and a toad not taken, would have been to focus from the start on the issue of the corruption of the political process of states, and then to develop measures, generally applicable, to all collectives that seek to exercise political and civil rights.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Brief Reflections on the Tragedies and Traps of Discursive Tropes Around the 3rd Draft of the Business and Human Rights Treaty Considered at the 7th Session of the OEIGWG October 2021


Pix Credit HERE


At its 26th session, on 26 June 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 26/9 by which it decided “to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.”
The open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) has had six sessions so far. Ahead of the seventh session, the Permanent Mission of Ecuador, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the OEIGWG, released a third revised draft legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The third revised draft will serve as the basis for State-led direct substantive intergovernmental negotiations during the seventh session, which will take place from 25 to 29 October 2021. (From the OEIGWG Website)

An exuberant group of groups committed to a singular and unwavering vision of how things ought to be--how they ought to be irrespective of the views of others, and of the reality that there might well be quite different plausible paths towards the same objective, and at least in appearance even less interested in the emerging realities of plural governance that ironically provided them the authoritative platforms from which they could effectively launch an attack on that very system--have now sought to populate the discussion space with a curious set of positive and negative discursive projectiles.  These are likely meant to rally the troops, and to signal to those within their respective communities that there will be a (high) price to pay for opposition to the ideologies, methods and objects (this 3rd draft among them)  that constitute the new catechism of business and human rights.

Yet those who have bound themselves to this vision, and the treaty project, are not yet a universal church, nor have they yet been able to legitimately constitute themselves as a Holy Office within which the the spirit of perfection and its manifestation in treaty form, must be recognized, acknowledge, and worshiped. Many people of good will who share the view that economic activity, whether undertaken by states, private economic organizations, churches, non-governmental organizations, and the like, ought to be subject to a consistently applied (and perhaps internalized) set of principles, expectations and behavior norms, the breach of which ought to produce consequences that align with the severity of the breach.   

It is in that spirit that the signalling around this treaty by the perhaps excusable exuberance of its proponents ought to be forgiven, but not excused.  And certainly it ought to be considered for what it says about the treaty, about its acolytes, and about the process that has brought us to this stage.  Perhaps a treaty of the sort that has been strategically curated since 2014 will eventually be adopted--by some. Perhaps it may even be transposed into the domestic legal orders of states; and perhaps it might even be enforced in a variety of interesting ways by bureaucrats and judges, each necessarily loyal to the national orders from which their authority is based. 

If we are lucky, perhaps, years from its enactment, a new multi-state commission will be able to sort out the consequences of this treaty based approach, with its differential enforcement of variable standards subject to substantial additional variation in the way that administrative discretion is exercised by those states willing to apply the treaty and subject to the reservations states are likely to practice (irrespective of treaty language to the contrary; usually, as the Polish Supreme Court recently reminded European elites, by reference to the supremacy of domestic law and its constitutional orders--precisely what underlies this treaty effort).  Nonetheless, and in the meantime, this exuberant group will have its piece of paper; perhaps it will aid individual and institutional ambitions and the constant fight for 'influencer' status among those with the power (for certainly they have it not) to actually make things happen. Likewise, this energetic group of states will have their distractions and produce enough material to feed the propaganda departments of the states on which they are dependent for some time; even as they feed on the discursive trough provided by academic and consultant elites pushing their own projects. That is both fair and predictable--one might even call it politics, cultural politics certainly. More importantly this document like many that have preceded it will continue what is now a tradition of using international instruments to export their own failures onto those states that have served for decades as a convenient excuse for their state failures or cupidities. The largest states will have had their theater, one quite useful for managing rewards and expectations among their dependencies and in their battles with their peer rivals; and with thanks to the academic and NGO communities that feed them what they need as the cultural weapons in a contest in which this effort is fodder. Indeed, this instrument has served them all well since 2014 advancing a decision made in at least two of the great global centers since at least 2013--the movement from a fundamental embrace of unity and convergence to division and disengagement grounded on global production  based on quite distinct ideological foundations.

 It is with this in mind, and without naming names or identifying documents, that I offer a brief set of observations of the discursive practices around this 3rd variation in the progeny of the Norms (see below) and what it suggests about the meaning being made by the discursive choices made in the context of supporting this effort. Lamentably, these include a broad anti-democratic streak that cannot resist the delights of the ad hominem as the strategic choices that are meant to convince or bully an embrace of this 3rd draft as the summun bonum of the regulatory imaginaries business and human rights, one which lamentably may not speak well to the intentions and consequences of the efforts. And that is a pity. Worse, it does little to strengthen arguments in favor of this object rather  serving as a reflection of the gloriies of those who have worked tirelessly toward this (political) moment.

These brief observations follow.  Full disclosure.  I have been a strong critic of the Treaty drafts and its process.  See here, here, here, and here. I have also supported a framework approach as better aligned with the spirit and progressive forward thrust of the UNGPs (see here). I have worried that the Treaty process was reactionary in spirit, vindictive in the sense of long festering anger at the abandonment of the Norms, unrealistic (though that was not itself a problem if the idea was to use the treaty process as a stage for leveraging access to audiences for the particular viewpoint it represented), and compromised by ideological agendas that colored analysis colored by strategic objectives (perfectly acceptable for political but hardly the stuff of academic analysis put forward as such). Nonetheless, I respect both the impulses that produced the Treaty movement and its substantive manifestations, representing a good faith effort to find a way to harden the obligation of states and other actors to more deeply embed expectations that economic activity, like political activity, will be respectful of human rights in their full scope in international law AND norms. 

My observations are organized around eleven (11) discursive themes: 1. The discursive baselines of the Treaty Project and its consequences; 2. Discursive belittlement and cabining; 3. The discourse of the normative value of time and effort; 4. The discourse of dog whistles and name calling; 5. Essentialization and reductionism, from name calling to the reconstruction of the individual as merely the sum of aggregate characteristics of collectives; 6. The discursive ghouling of the United States and the ghosting of China; 7. The discourse of demonization; 8. Tone at the top; 9. The discourse of deck stacking; 10. The dangers of a discourse of the human individual as the center of all things; and 11. The longer term tragedy of the discursive tropes around the Treaty Project.


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Video Recording of Larry Catá Backer on Sovereignty and Hong Kong Protests: Penn State JLIA Speakers' Series 10-2021

The Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs invited me to address our community as part of their Speaker Series on one of the more interesting themes of my recently published book, Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems (about, videos and free chapters HERE; purchase here). That theme focused on the way that discourses of sovereignty significantly shaped and were shaped by emerging discourses of sovereignty, sovereign rights, and most importantly, the divisibility of sovereignty in a world in which autonomous sovereign actors are no longer a function of or tied to a physical territory. These competing discourses were curated and developed to a high degree during the course of the protests in Hong Kong between June 2019 and June 2020.

The focus of the presentation was on the emergence of three distinctive approaches to sovereign governance (and their implications) that played a role in the narrative battles around the Hong Kong protests of 2019-2020. The three principal narratives of sovereignty were: (1) Internal sovereign partitioning under or within a superior national constitutional order; (2) External sovereign partitioning under or within international law or norms; and (3) Shared sovereign partitioning. 

These were woven against the contests over the control of the meaning and application of the "One Country/Two Systems" principle of Hong Kong political organization. The Chinese central authorities became staunch defenders of the first approach, which aligned territorial and operational sovereignty and relegated autonomy to a discretionary exercise within the constraints of the national constitutional order. The US/UK and the international community elaborated at least two variations of the second position. The first variation was grounded strictly on the application of the international instrument under which sovereignty was transferred from the UK to China. The second variation posited to the full range of international law protections, from self-determination to protection of of the full range of human rights in international norms and law. The protester community within Hong Kong moved toward advocacy of the third position. This one was grounded on the idea that the unit against which compliance was to be measured was the people of Hong Kong who were recast as an indigenous people with their own character and aspirations all worthy of protection irrespective of the text of the international instruments of sovereign transfer of territory. 

The narrative contests were not just sophisticated abstract game playing.  Each produces substantial consequences for the way in which governments relate to each other to the subject peoples. A focus on internally centered sovereign partitioning produces a move to binary categorization: patriots versus those shirking their responsibilities within the nation; domestic versus foreign interference; coordination with the state at the center versus contradiction destabilizing the state, and the like.  The Hing Kong National Security Law embodies this approach to autonomy within sovereignty.  For the international community one focuses on legalisms bound by the narratives of contract.  That is the position that sees in the Sion-British Joint Declaration a contract the terms of which must be performed and enforced, if need be, by the international community on whom the legitimacy of international (contract discursive) law rests. Each of these narratives The consequences for each position was then discussed. A broader reading of international legalism understands both that sovereignty may be fractured along a number of different lines, that such a fracturing was undertaken in this case and that the laws and norms of the international community then both define the terms of that fracturing and must police compliance. The position of the in the protester community then take that one level further.  It is grounded in a sense of the people of Hong Kong as autonomously indigenous and distinct from the rest of China and thus subject to the protection of international law and norms  to the protection of their own legitimate expectations to evolve their political and social order in accordance with the needs, cultures, and context of the SAR (rather than of the Chinese people as a whole).

The video of the presentation may be accessed HERE.

The PPT follow.  

Friday, October 22, 2021

Zhiqiong June Wang: A Pluralist Dispute Resolution Mechanism – A New Integrated DR System in China (European Chinese Law Research Hub)

Ming Dynasty Vase 1573-1630 (Shanghai Art Museum)

The folks over at the European Chinese Law Research Hub (with thanks to Marianne von Blomberg, Editor ECLR Hub, Research Associate, Chair for Chinese Legal Culture, University of Cologne) have posted  a marvelous discussion of a new work by  Zhiqiong June Wang: A Pluralist Dispute Resolution Mechanism – A New Integrated DR System in China.

Marianne von Bloomberg explains:
China's landscape of dispute resolution instruments is broad. Mediation, arbitration, administrative ruling, administrative reconsideration, and litigation now however also find themselves to be part of a larger, coordinated system: The Xi administration in recent years is working on a "Mechanism for Pluralist Dispute Resolution" (多元化争端解决机制). With many years of experience researching dispute resolution in China, Prof. Zhiqiong June Wang offers us her take on this development. Enjoy the read and look forward to hearing your comments, criticism and ideas. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the effort is the way in which the overall model--of coordination at the top of a variety of related systems, and then their rationalization in furtherance of the general objectives of the central authorities and the key policy areas that are emphasized from time to time, mirror similar efforts in other policy areas--from internet reform, to consumer credit, to te management of industrial sectors.  It appears that a significant lesson here is the importance that the central authorities now place on the ideal of both variation and coordination around a rationalized and well managed leadership core. In this case the objectives are important not just for China's domestic system but also to the extent it may be incorporated laong the Belt & Road  states.

I am cross posting the essay below. The original ECLRH post may be accessed HERE. And as a plug for the marvelous work at the European Chinese Law Research Hub: if you have observations, analyses or pieces of research that are not publishable as a paper but should get out there, or want to spread event information, calls for papers or job openings, or have a paper forthcoming- do not hesitate to contact Marianne von Bloomberg.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

10th Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights--Infirmation and Registration Materials


10th Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

Date: 29 November – 1 December 2021 

Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Theme: The next decade of business and human rights: increasing the pace and scale of action to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Register here for Forum:

2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and this will form the central theme of the 2021 Forum. This milestone provides an opportunity to look back at progress and challenges to-date and, more importantly, to inspire a renewed push for scaled-up global implementation by States and businesses in the decade ahead. 

The 2021 Forum also comes at a time when the world is facing a convergence of crises—ranging from the ongoing human and financial costs of COVID-19 to the existential climate crisis, growing inequality, systemic and pervasive gender and racial discrimination, shrinking civic space, and human consequences of technological developments. 

Against this backdrop, the Working Group is taking stock of the first ten years of the Guiding Principles and developing a roadmap for the next decade (“UNGPs 10+”). The stocktaking report was presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2021. The roadmap is set to launch in the second half of 2021.

The UN Forum provides a key global platform for stakeholder dialogue on how to increase the pace of implementation of the Guiding Principles by States, businesses and other actors. Further information on the 2021 Forum will soon be available below.


Concept note (English) in word


Join the discussion on Twitter: @WGBizHRs #UNForumBHR / #bizhumanrights; For general queries:; For logistics and registration queries:

More information follows below.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

22. Conversations About the Book "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems': Chapter 21 (Monday 30 December 2019) Stalemate: The Storm Continues Unabated


Pix Credit HERE

 “言有尽而意无穷” [Words and meanings are endless]. 

In the run up to the book launch scheduled for 13 July 2021 (registration required but free HERE), the folks at Little Sir Press have organized a series of short conversations about my new book, "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'." 

About the Book: Hong Kong Between “One Country” and “Two Systems” examines the battle of ideas that started with the June 2019 anti-extradition law protests and ended with the enactment of the National Security and National Anthem Laws a year later. At the center of these battles was the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. By June 2020, the meaning of that principle was highly contested, with Chinese authorities taking decisive steps to implement their own understanding of the principle and its normative foundations , and the international community taking countermeasures. All of this occurred well before the 2047 end of the 1985 Sino-British Joint Declaration (中英联合声明) that had been the blueprint for the return of Hong Kong to China. Between these events, global actors battled for control of the narrative and of the meaning of the governing principles that were meant to frame the scope and character of Hong Kong’s autonomy within China. The book critically examines the conflict of words between Hong Kong protesters, the Chinese central and local authorities, and important elements of the international community. This decisive discursive contest paralleled the fighting for control of the streets and that pitted protesters and the international community that supported them against the central authorities of China and Hong Kong local authorities. In the end the Chinese central authorities largely prevailed in the discursive realm as well as on the streets. Their victory was aided, in part by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. But their triumph also produced the seeds of a new and potentially stronger international constitutional discourse that may reduce the magnitude and scope of that success. These essays were written as the events unfolded. Together the essays analytically chronicle the discursive battles that were fought, won and lost, between June 2019 and June 2020. Without an underlying political or polemical agenda, the essays retain the freshness of the moment, reflecting the uncertainties of the time as events unfolded. What was won on the streets of Hong Kong from June to December 2019, the public and physical manifestation of a principled internationalist and liberal democratic narrative of self-determination, and of civil and political rights, was lost by June 2020 within a cage of authoritative legality legitimated through the resurgence of the normative authority of the state and the application of a strong and coherent expression of the principled narrative of its Marxist-Leninist constitutional order. Ironically enough, both political ideologies emerged stronger and more coherent from the conflict, each now better prepared for the next.

The book may be purchased through AMAZON (kindle and paperback),  book information including free chapters  and the access to all video conversations HERE.

I am delighted, then, to make available the next in the series of video recordings of conversations about the book with my former research assistant Matthew McQuilla (Penn State International Affairs MIA 2021). Today we discuss Chapter 21 (Monday 30 December 2019) Stalemate: The Storm Continues Unabated.

Pix Credit HERE
This Chapter serves as the end point of the first half of the development of the protest movements--and the responses it produced--that started in June 2019. By the end of December 2019 Hong Kong appeared to have reached a new equilibrium point. It was an odd one the foundation fo which was the stability of instability. The protests continued, the counter thrusts of the local and central authorities continued, and the efforts, spasmodic as they had tended to be, of the international community also continued. Each of these, however, appeared to have become accustomed to working within sets of constraining parameters. Everyone was pushing, but pushing in now well rehearsed and repetitive ways. Performance of politics in Hong Kong appeared to move towards a new normal--more volatile than before 2019, but stable enough within its now mre predictable dynamics to permit sufficient promise of prosperity to make upsetting the status quo too risky. . . for any side. At the same time December 2019 was the high water mark of the progress of pro-democracy groups within Hong Kong local politics. It appeared that, as the protestors has been suggesting since September, that the indigenous culture of Hong Kong was both assertive and substantially different from that of the Mainland. More importantly that difference was not just growing in size but growing farther apart from the thrust of the ideology and politics overseen by the Chinese central authorities.

Pix Credit HERE

In this stabilizing tumultuous context, the analysis draws on Laotse and the Dao's concept of li [禮] (roughly virtue). By December 2019 Hong Kong's major stakeholders (inside and outside of the SAR) were performing virtually all of the variations of Laotse's incarnation of li. Hong Kong presents us with many actors of superior the man of superior li who have been rolling up their sleeves in November and December. But one wonders where these individuals and institutions of superior li  may also mark actors of inferior virtue and superior justice. Ulterior motive is not hidden by individuals of inferior virtue and superior justice--that is their respective essence. Yet it does provide the context within which such individuals, when exercising their superior li, act without virtue or kindness, but with justice as the great ulterior motive with which li is infused.


 The video of the conversation about Chapter 21 may be accessed HERE.

All conversations are posted to the Coalition for Peace & Ethics YouTube page and may be found on its Playlist: Talking About the Book: "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'." All conversation videos are hosted by Little Sir Press. I hope you find the conversation of some use. 
A pre-publication version of some of the book chapters may be accessed (free) on the Book's webpage (here). All videos may also be accessed through the Little Sir Press Book Website HERE.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Video Recordings of Session 6: The Last Wave: Recent Work on the Cuban Exodus -- 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy”

I am delighted to make available the video recordings of the panels organized for the 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Videos Link “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy.”

The theme of this year’s conference is Cuba’s economic reforms, the impact of COVID and the VIII Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. Cuba is in a tremendous state of flux, one that is likely to affect all aspects of the society. No one can be sure how this will turn out, but ASCE’s members old and new have for more than 30 years brought understanding and analysis to the Cuban puzzle. That experience and familiarity with Cuba is needed more than ever as we note that our work is being widely read and watched by more people in government and on the Island. This year we will also focus on the Cuban diaspora.

Access video of Session 6 HERE:

ACCESS ALL VIDEOS--Conference Playlist HERE

DAY 3 SATURDAY 14 AUGUST 2021 2:00  - 4:00 PM

2:00 PM- 4:00 PM

Session 6: The Last Wave: Recent Work on the Cuban Exodus

Chair and discussant: Jorge Duany, Florida International University

Elaine Acosta González, Universidad Internacional de la Florida, “Permanencias y cambios en la ‘nueva’ migración cubana a Miami”

Yarimis Méndez Pupo, Universidad de Guadalajara, México, “¿Por qué se van los que se fueron? Un acercamiento a las motivaciones y expectativas de migrantes cubanos calificados de la oleada migratoria de los años 1995–2017”

Veronica Diaz, Florida International University, “The (Cuban-) American Dream of Post-Soviet Era Cuban Immigrants: Perceptions vs. Realities”

Denisse Delgado Vázquez, University of Massachusetts, Boston, “Cuban Newcomers: Their Economic Behavior and Political Motivations”

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Video Recordings of Session 5: Agriculture-- 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy”

I am delighted to make available the video recordings of the panels organized for the 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Videos Link “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy.”

The theme of this year’s conference is Cuba’s economic reforms, the impact of COVID and the VIII Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. Cuba is in a tremendous state of flux, one that is likely to affect all aspects of the society. No one can be sure how this will turn out, but ASCE’s members old and new have for more than 30 years brought understanding and analysis to the Cuban puzzle. That experience and familiarity with Cuba is needed more than ever as we note that our work is being widely read and watched by more people in government and on the Island. This year we will also focus on the Cuban diaspora.

Access Video of Session 5 HERE

ACCESS ALL VIDEOS--Conference Playlist HERE

DAY 3, SATURDAY AUGUST 14 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Session 5: Agriculture

Chair: Felipe Manteiga

Olimpia Gómez-Consuegra and Tomás Depestre, “Producciٕón de Semillas Hortícolas: Actualizacion de Caso de Estudio en Cuba"

William Messina, University of Florida, "Cuban Agricultural Production and Trade in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic"

Mario A. Gonzalez-Corzo, Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY), "Policy Measures to Incentivize Agricultural Production in Cuba after the 8th Party Congress."

Alonso Exposito Alvarez, “El minifundio rural: principal estructura agraria de Cuba desde la época precolombina hasta nuestros días”

Recordando a Pepín Alvarez. Comments by Francisco Proenza, William Messina, and Jorge Perez-Lopez

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Video Recordings of Session 4: Cuban Political Economy Challenges-- 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy”


I am delighted to make available the video recordings of the panels organized for the 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Videos Link “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy.”

The theme of this year’s conference is Cuba’s economic reforms, the impact of COVID and the VIII Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. Cuba is in a tremendous state of flux, one that is likely to affect all aspects of the society. No one can be sure how this will turn out, but ASCE’s members old and new have for more than 30 years brought understanding and analysis to the Cuban puzzle. That experience and familiarity with Cuba is needed more than ever as we note that our work is being widely read and watched by more people in government and on the Island. This year we will also focus on the Cuban diaspora.


Access HERE video of Session 4:  

ACCESS ALL VIDEOS--Conference Playlist HERE

DAY 2 -- FRIDAY 13 AUGUST 2021 2:15 PM – 4:15 PM

Session 4: Cuban Political Economy Challenges 

Chair: Jorge Esquirol, Florida International University 

José Gabilondo, “Socialism 2.0: Rebuilding Cuba’s Post-Castro Economy” 

Larry Catá Backer, “The 8th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Future of the Cuban Economic Model” 

Vadim Grishin, “The 8th Congress of the CPC: Continuity vs. Reforms” 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Hearings: "Protection from Persecution: Establishing Humanitarian Pathways for Hong Kongers and Uyghurs"


The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) has recently announced hearings designed to push forward legislative agendas in the US Congress to produce measures targeting Chinese central authority policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The hearings,  "Protection from Persecution: Establishing Humanitarian Pathways for Hong Kongers and Uyghurs" is intended to be a "catalyst for passage of legislation offered in the 117th Congress to extend protections for Hong Kongers and Uyghurs facing a well-founded fear of persecution, including legislation offered by CECC Commissioners." (Press Release).

The hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, October 19, 2021 (10:00am-12:30pm) at 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building. Included in the Press Release is the following:


The Chinese government not only continues to repress its people but also seeks the repatriation of those searching for protection elsewhere. It has sought the forcible return of Uyghurs and Kazakhs from Kazakhstan and Thailand, and reportedly threatened to withhold COVID-19 vaccines until the Turkish government turned over Uyghurs. In Hong Kong, those seeking refuge abroad face arrests and exit bans. This hearing will examine the threats faced by those seeking protection from persecution inside and outside of China and the Chinese government’s obligations to protect asylum seekers under international law. In addition, the hearing will explore the authorities available to the Administration and the international community to protect the people of Hong Kong, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and others. The hearing also aims to be a catalyst for passage of legislation offered in the 117th Congress to extend protections for Hong Kongers and Uyghurs facing a well-founded fear of persecution, including legislation offered by CECC Commissioners, such as the following:


  • Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, S. 295, H.R. 461
  • Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act, H.R. 4276
  • Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act, S. 1080, H.R. 1630


The hearing will be livestreamed on the CECC’s YouTube Channel.


Witnesses: Panel 1 (Members of Congress to be determined); Panel 2 Olivia Enos, Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation; Sunny Cheung, Advisor, Hong Kong Democracy Council; and Tahir Hamut Izgil, Uyghur poet and filmmaker

 The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. They have developed positions on a number of issues.

CECC tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elites in the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China. As one can imagine many of the positions of the CECC are critical of current Chinese policies and institutions (for some analysis see CECC). 

The texts of those proposed measures follow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

From the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF): "The Absa-OMFIF Africa Financial Markets Index" ("Future-proofing Africa’s financial markets")


The Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) is now circulating its quite interesting 2021 Absa-OMFIF Africa Financial Markets Index (the "2021 Index"). "The index measures financial market development in 23 countries from across the African continent, highlighting economies with the most supportive environment for effective markets. The aim of the index is to show how economies can improve the market framework to bolster investor access and sustainable growth, and act as a benchmark for investors and policy-makers." (Press Release).

The posted Press Releasealso explained in more detail that:

Financial Markets Index finds that African markets are still innovating amid liquidity struggles. African markets endured a second difficult year, with illiquid markets continuing to dampen index scores amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Innovations in sustainable finance and digital transformation could be key to reinvigorating markets and important initiatives are underway across markets in these areas.
--Out of 23 countries in the index, 19 score lower than last year. This decline reflects more difficult market conditions, methodological changes and the inclusion of environmental, social and governance indicators in the index. Despite the fall in scores, few examples reveal an underlying deterioration in the policy, regulatory or developmental environment in any of the index countries.
--The inclusion of ESG initiatives in the formal scoring highlights important developments and opportunities in this area, though at the cost of impacting the scores of those countries for which work is at an early stage. Only 13 countries in the index have ESG-focused policies in financial markets and nine countries have introduced sustainable finance products.
--South Africa, Mauritius and Nigeria maintain their lead in the index, though with scores slipping in 2021 for all three.
--Ghana and Uganda enter the top five for the first time, both earning points for progress in Pillar 6: Enforceability of standard master agreements. (2021 Index, p.2).

Noted as well was that the "Absa Africa Financial Markets Index was produced by OMFIF in association with Absa Group Limited. The scores on p.7 and elsewhere record the total result (max = 100) of assessments across Pillars 1-6. For methodology, see individual Pillar assessments and p.42-43." (Ibid).

The thrust, then, is quite clear: continuing to foster economic globalization grounded in the core principles of markets driven development within a broadly understood liberal democratic framework designed to align economic, human rights, and sustainability principles within an integrated interlinked network the synergies of which are expected to comprehensively raise the welfare of populations subject to management under its regimes.  Like other indexes of this kind the object is both to help guide the parameters within which capacity building measures are developed, and to deepen a commitment to the normative framework within which quantitative measures may be advanced in the service of implementing a coordinated approach to the development policies of states. In that sense the 2021 Index continues to serve a quasi-regulatory role, as well as one grounded in accountability aimed at remedying deficiencies in capacity and programmatic choices among the states observed.  

Those principles are then made concrete through the  Indexes' Pillars. These six Pillars, frame the discursive universe within which the customs, expectations and values around the construction of ideal financial markets are built.

Pillar 1: Market depth (Examines size, liquidity and depth of markets and diversity of products in each market, including the availability of sustainable finance products.

Pillar 2: Access to foreign exchange (Assesses the ease with which foreign investors can deploy and repatriate capital in the region. 

Pillar 3: Market transparency, tax and regulatory environment (Evaluates the tax and regulatory frameworks in each jurisdiction, including measures to support sustainable financial markets, as well as the level of financial stability and transparency of financial information

Pillar 4: Capacity of local investors (Examines the size of local investors, assessing the level of local demand against supply of assets available in each market).

Pillar 5: Macroeconomic opportunity (Assesses countries’ economic prospects using metrics on growth, debt, export competitiveness, banking sector risk and availability of macro data). 

Pillar 6: Enforceability of standard master agreements (Tracks the commitment to international financial master agreements, enforcement of netting and collateral positions and the strength of insolvency frameworks). (2021 Index, p. 3).
To understand the conceptual structures within which values are constructed and assessment is possible, it is useful to better engage wth the values and premises built into these six pillars. In that respect they serve a function very similar that that at the core of the three Pillars of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (state duty, corporate responsibility, and remedial pillars respecting human rights effects of economic activity) or the OECD's Guidelines for corporations, Multinational Enterprises and State Owned  Enterprises (framing the expectations of the conduct and norms of economic operations within the sensibilities of globalization), or the Santiago Principles (framing the principles through which states may project public financial power outward through private markets). The ability to coordinate he conceptual ecologies revealed in each of these framing documents will determine the extent to which a successful system of rationalized polycentric governance may be created that bind political territories and the more abstracted territories of global production chains.

OMFIF "is an independent think tank for central banking, economic policy and public investment – a non-lobbying network for best practice in worldwide public-private sector exchanges. At its heart are Global Public Investors – central banks, sovereign funds and public pension funds – with investable assets of $42tn, equivalent to 43% of world GDP. With offices in both London and Singapore, OMFIF focuses on global policy and investment themes – particularly in asset management, capital markets and financial supervision/regulation – relating to central banks, sovereign funds, pension funds, regulators and treasuries. OMFIF promotes higher standards, invigorating exchanges between the public and private sectors and a better understanding of the world economy, in an atmosphere of mutual trust." (2021 Index, p.2).

The Executive Summary follows. The Report may be downoaded from OMFIF HERE: 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Video Recordings of Session 3: International Dimensions-- 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy”


I am delighted to make available the video recordings of the panels organized for the 31 Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Videos Link “COVID and the Eighth Party Conference: Reforming the Cuban Economy.”

The theme of this year’s conference is Cuba’s economic reforms, the impact of COVID and the VIII Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. Cuba is in a tremendous state of flux, one that is likely to affect all aspects of the society. No one can be sure how this will turn out, but ASCE’s members old and new have for more than 30 years brought understanding and analysis to the Cuban puzzle. That experience and familiarity with Cuba is needed more than ever as we note that our work is being widely read and watched by more people in government and on the Island. This year we will also focus on the Cuban diaspora.


Access video of Session 3 HERE:  

ACCESS ALL VIDEOS--Conference Playlist HERE

DAY 2, FRIDAY AUGUST 13 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM 

Session 3: International Dimensions 

Chair: Natalia Delgado, Columbia Law School 

Silvia Pedraza and Carlos A. Romero, “Cuba and Venezuela Cooperation. Doctors for Oil: The Social Dimension of the Partnership” 

Yvon Grenier, St. Francis Xavier University, “No Sanction: Explaining Canadian Foreign Policy toward Cuba” 

Martin Palous, Florida International University, “Cuba in 2021: A Central European Point of View”