Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ruminations 63: Walls and Barriers; It's Not Just Donald Trump--Nationalism and the Emerging Consensus on Barriers to Global Society and to the Globalization of Culture and Values

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

Globalization continues to transform the state, law, economics and culture.  What had started as an efficient means of ordering global production, with a side benefit of economic integration potentially reducing conflict to advance national interests (only recently viewed as antique, tribal and unnecessary) has now morphed to create profound global orderings of economic, social, cultural, civil and political norms.  "Indeed, one can understand the move toward control of civil society as an expression--a rear guard action--that recognizes that, like economic activity in the decades immediately proceeding this one, political activity is no longer a matter for a polity encased within a territorial state.  Rather,  internationalization of politics is an organic process inherent in the processes of globalization itself."(Here).

This post considers the way that discomfort about the emergence of globalization as a economic, social, cultural, political and civil phenomenon has begun to produce resistance among elites--and the cultivation of a renewed nationalism that mimics, perhaps in its most unfortunate forms, the nationalism that became the illness of the inter-war period of the last century.   That nationalism, stoked by national elites unable to effectively embrace their own national ideologies and to protect them unaided by assertions of power and control, may well threaten to divert globalization from its present course.  And worse--globalization appears to have been weaponized in some of its forms (e.g., here). But to what ends?

Friday, August 26, 2016

2016 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights: Registration is Now Open

I have been writing about the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. (see here, here, herehere, here, here, here and here). The Forum has been an important site for the meeting of key international stakeholders who tend to control the discussion about business and human rights in the international sphere. If for no other reason, that is reason enough for sustained attention to its proceedings (see, e.g., here).

The Secretariat of the Forum on Business and Human Rights has recently announced the opening of registration for the 2016 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights.

As per Human Rights Council resolution 17/4, the Forum is open to all relevant stakeholder groups, including States, the wider United Nations system, intergovernmental and regional organisations, businesses, labour unions, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations, and affected stakeholders, among others.

Online registration:
Forum web page:  
The Forum Flyer follows:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Observations on Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights : "End-of-mission statement on China"

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

Philip G. Alston, the John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University is by any measure one of the most acclaimed and influential individuals of his generation- This is especially so in matters touching on international law. His own biography suggests the breadth of his expertise and influence. In 2014, he was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as its Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. "The expert is required by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back to member States on initiatives taken to promote and protect the rights of those living in extreme poverty, with a view to advancing the eradication of such poverty." (Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights).

The mandate includes country visits.  Recently the country visit to China was concluded. It was therefore with a great deal of anticipation that I read through his just distributed End-of-mission statement on China, which he prepared in his capacity as Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

This report is an important statement and should be carefully read--not so much for what it has to say about China, but for its value as evidence of the still altogether large chasm that separates Western internationalists and the world view encapsulated in the international sphere with its great project of coordinated multi-level legalization grounded in Western constitutionalism, from the world view of an advanced Marxist Leninist  governmental apparatus singularly bent on the construction of Socialist democracy. This last point, of course, will be dismissed--and no doubt mocked--in the West. And rightly so from their perspective, which is necessarily grounded in the premise that Marxist Leninist state organization is ultimately inconsistent with the construction of an international legal and normative architecture.  It is that unstated premise that haunts the report, and from the internationalist and Western perspective, enhances its power.  But that enhancement will likely come at a price--if its intended audience are other than the global intelligentsia now so deeply committed to a very specific project of global norm institutionalization.   
My brief comments, and the Report follows.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Video Links to Presentations 'Corporate Governance & The Public Interest'

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

The European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) is an international scientific non-profit association providing .a forum for debate and dialogue between academics, legislators and practitioners, focusing on major corporate governance issues and thereby promoting best practice. ECGI recently concluded its conference in Asia, co-organized by the University of Tokyo and co-hosted by the EU Delegation to Japan. Links to videos of some of the presentations follow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Flora Sapio: Comment on the Measures for the Designation of Charitable Organizations of the People's Republic of China

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

On 14 July 2016, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China issued the Measures for the Designation of Charitable Organizations (Opinion Soliciting Draft) for public comment (English version). The issue of the designation of status is critical for civil society organizations. The extent of the constraints on the discretionary authority of decision making administrators becomes the linchpin of the statutory scheme.   

My colleague, Flora Sapio, provided some quite valuable comments to the Ministry.  She has given me permission to share these on this site. Her Comment on the Measures for the Designation of Charitable Organizations appears below.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sovereign Wealth Funds and Transnationalization of Corporate Governance Norms--SWFs as Shareholders and the Exercise of Public Power in the Private Sphere

Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the Government Pension Fund Global, has been a leader in forging a new approach to the outward projection of state authority through global private activities.  Norway has provided an architecture of governance that sits astride the borders of market and state, of public and private and of national and international. Undertaken through its sovereign wealth fund, Norway is seeking not merely to project public wealth into private global markets, but also to construct a complex rule-of-law centered framework that blends the imperatives of a state based public policy with a rules based governance system that incorporates domestic and international norms. To this Norway adds a policy-oriented use of traditional shareholder power to affect the behavior and governance of companies in which the Fund has invested. (Explored HERE).

Critical to the success of the the project of public regulatory governance through state activities as a private actor, has been the institutionalization of rules for active shareholding where the state, through its SWF, owns an equity stake in  a private enterprise. Norway had been quite transparent in this effort. In 2016 the Pension Fund Global Investments manager, Norges Bank, distributed  its Global Voting Guidelines.  

This post describes and considers the Global Voting Guidelines and their effect on the internationalization of corporate governance through the private economic activities of states. It is an excellent example of the application of regulatory governance  at the implementation stage--where the state serves as the aggregator of internationalized standards, which it constructs to suit its own tastes, and thus constructed uses its investment ministries not merely as oversight agents but as active agents, exercising discretion in the form of shareholder rights to participate and exit. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Larry Catá Backer Reflections on Zhou Ruijin, "Reflections on the Cultural Revolution: A Ten Thousand Character Petition"

 By Source, Fair use,

This Post includes Larry Catá Backer's reflections on Zhou Ruijin, "Reflections on the Cultural Revolution: A Ten Thousand Character Petition." It is part of a group of reflections on that essay.  The Introduction to this series noted:
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. That episode remains sensitive in China, and like other great transformative events in human history, continues to reverberate in countless ways. It's cultural artifacts have acquired a global dimension--from Mao Zedong's Little Red Book (毛主席语录), to the mythologies of the Red Guards as an archetypal force that saw its pattern repeated across the globe (e.g. here, here, here). 
Recently Gao Dawei on his blog 高大伟 在美国华盛顿人的博客 published a remarkable essay on the Cultural Revolution first anonymously and then under the author's name, Zhou Ruijin (English) (中国语文) (Text of the article copied from the China Elections and Governance website ). That essay, Reflections on the Cultural Revolution: A Ten Thousand Character Petition (皇甫欣平:文革反思万言书) By Huangfuxinping [Zhou Ruijin 周瑞金 ], harks back to an ancient Chinese practice of presenting such 10,000 character petitions "sometimes at great personal risk, to criticize current policies and suggest a change in thinking." . at . According to that website, the article was published under the pseudonym in China but was removed from many sites shortly after appearing.   
The essay includes much to think about, not just in the Chinese context, but in any context in which one party, or elite group, has developed a structural basis for its leadership of the state and its governmental apparatus.  That applies as much in Marxist Leninist states (to which the essay is directed) as it does in theocratic states (the clerical elite) and Western states (the socio-economic-political elites).  To that end, Flora Sapio, Jean Mittelstaedt and I thought it might be worthwhile to add very brief reflections on this essay.