Monday, January 15, 2018

Constitutional Reform Comes to the Chinese State Constitution and Changes to China's Global Trade Relationships



The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party announced a program of potentially significant development of its constitutional model.  The changes required adjustment of the two great instruments of Chinese political legitimacy--first, the constitution of the vanguard Party, the holder of political leadership, and second, from that the modification of the constitution of the administrative state to conform its organization and operation, to ensure that the principles through which it is operated, conforms to that of the political constitution of the vanguard party. 

The amendment to the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party were announced with the closing of the 19th CPC Congress--"Resolution of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on the Revised Constitution of the Communist Party of China" (October 24, 2017). Those amendments decisively affirmed the determination of Chinese constitutionalism to forge its own normative path, yet one that continues to conform to global expectations of legitimacy enhancing constitutionalism. 

It is now time for the coordinated amendment to the State constitution This post and those that follow will consider the path to those amendments in light of the political constitution of the Chinese Communist Party within the grounding normative structures of global constitutionalism.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Joel Slawotsky: "Principled Realism: Thoughts on the New National Security Strategy"



Joel Slawotsky, of the Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, and the Law and Business Schools of the College of Management, Rishon LeZion, Israel has guest blogged for "Law at the End of the Day"  on issues relating to corporate liability under international law  (e.g., "Rethinking Financial Crimes and Violations of International Law", Jan. 9, 2013; "Corporate Liability Under The Alien Tort Statute: The Latest Twist" April 26, 2014) and on issues of multilateral trade and finance (Joel Slawotsky Reports From Chinese University of Hong Kong: Asia FDI Forum II--China's Three-Prong Investment Strategy: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Tracks; Joel Slawotsky--Essay "On the potential shift from the present-day architects to new architects on the definition of international law" (March 16, 2017)). He has also recently also served as Guest Editor of the Sovereign Wealth Fund special issue of Qatar University International Review of Law (IRL) (2015).

He has very kindly produced a marvelously insightful essay: "Principled Realism: Thoughts on the New National Security Strategy."  In the essay he considers the ramifications of the shifts and developments of U.S. policy as just recently delivered through the National Security Strategy of the United States (4 Dec. 2017) (hereafter the "NSS")(for my own thoughts, see here, and here).  He provides an important perspective on on what NSS might reveal of the direction of U.S. strategic thinking under the current administration. An excellent analysis of principled realism and of the emerging strategic relationships among China, Russia and the U.S.

The essay follows below.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

And the Response From Cuba on Senator Rubio's Hearings on the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: "Cuba es un país seguro, pacífico y saludable" ("Cuba is a safe, peaceful and healthy country")



The Cuban authorities have quickly responded to the hearings conducted by Senator Rubio, "Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Response and Oversight," in his role as chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues (Reporting on that here). It comes as no surprise that the Cuban authorities took the opportunity not merely to denounce the hearings, and Senator Rubio, but also to make their case that they were neither involved in any purported attack nor that the attacks in fact took place.  Josefina Vidal, the director General of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's U.S. desk denounced the hearings as irresponsible.



The Cuban social media machinery also emphasized that Cuban experts continue to be skeptical.  They also emphasized the conclusions of an unpublished FBI report that has to date failed to find a proof of attack. On that point they encourage readers to take the position of Senator Flake against that of Senator Rubio. The emphasis, and the media position of the Cuban government, published in Spanish and English is that "Cuba is a safe, peaceful and healthy country." Indeed the Cuban response was careful to deploy as well their parade of experts to counter the testimony adduced during the Rubio hearings.  In the process Cuba seeks to lay out its public case against the American accuasations (Cinco incongruencias de los supuestos ataques sónicos), including the listing of 10 conclusions of Cuban experts.

This Post includes the responses in English and Spanish as reported in official and media sources cited above (in English and Spanish). We have reached a point in the public battle over control of the narrative of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack where both sides have now put forward allthe evidence they are willing to share, and both sides have more finely tuned their line. It is now time for more action.  And from the indications by Senator Rubio's committee that action will come from the investigative committee of the U.S. Department of State.  The story continues.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack--Summary of Senator Rubio's Position and Statements of Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues




On January 9, 2018, Senator Marco Rubio chaired a meeting of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues entitled "Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Response and Oversight."  It was live broadcast ( Foreign Relations here, and C-Span here). Recording of the hearing here.   Some of the background and the run up to the hearings may be found here. The public portion of the hearings permitted the members to stake out their positions--from skepticism to conviction that something, of some kind, occurred an that the Cuban state might in some way be involved.

This post includes a summary of the case that Senator Rubio sought to make in the Hearings and  also includes, without comment, the written submissions of the three witnesses called to testify: (1) Mr. Francisco Palmieri, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of Western Hemisphere Affairs; (2) Mr. Todd Brown, Diplomatic Security Assistant Director, International Programs; and (3) Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, Medical Director, Bureau Of Medical Services.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack--Injured Canadian Children and Spats Within the Republican Party in Congress



One of the most interesting aspects of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack has been the pace of its development.  It has tended to show up ion news cycles at several weeks intervals, to lie dormant between short sharp bursts of public attention. In November 2017, I suggested the economic effects of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attacks--its intermeshing with economic policy and political objectives beyond  a determination of culpability for injury to the individuals affected (The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: Collateral Effects and Costs on Cuban Efforts to Rejoin the International Financial Community; and here). In December the media coverage again revived and amplified the Soviet connection and contemporary Cuban foreign policy (the trajectory of which works against U.S. interests) (The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: Collateral Effects and Costs on Cuban Efforts to Rejoin the International Financial Community).  

But then the beginning of 2018 was marked by change (as has not been unusual over the course of the history of the post 1959 governmental system in Cuba.  I noted the visit of E.U. officials seeking to implement a new trade and cooperation arrangement with Cuba  that appeared to take up the renewal of relations where those of the United States veered off in early 20'17 (The EU to the Rescue of the Cuban Economy? the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA)).  This appeared to provide cover for the recent efforts by Cuban authorities to pull back from "reform and opening up" as they tighten control over to contain the size of the private sector (Under Cover of the Sonic Weapons Attack: The Cuban Private Sector as Collateral Damage as Cuba Retreats Toward Central Planning).

But Congress has also become involved in the Affair--and in the process raised the political profile, shifting emphasis from the administrative bureaucracies of the Executive branch to the political sensibilities of Congress (The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: And now the U.S. Congress Becomes Interested in a Public Sort of Way).  

This post picks up two strands of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attacks through which the Affair is currently being carried forward (Marie-Danielle Smith, Canadian children were among those affected by sonic attacks in Cuba, documents suggest, National Post 4 Jan. 2018).  The first touches on the medical evidence of injury and the second amplifying political activity in Congress (Francisco Ordoñez, Rubio calls Cuba sonic attacks a “documented fact” after GOP colleague questions evidence, Miami Herald 7 Jan. 2018).   The Associated Press report includes link to a recording of what some U.S. embassy workers heard in Havana.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Just Published: "Sovereign Wealth Funds, Capacity Building, Development and Governance," Wake Forest Law Review 52(4):735-780 (2017)




I am happy to announce the publication of "Sovereign Wealth Funds, Capacity Building, Development and Governance," which appears in the Wake Forest Law Review 52(4):735-780 (2017).  The article considers sovereigns wealth funds in a new environment in which what had been a relatively straightforward device has become enmeshed in complex webs of finance, regional politics, and global production.  It considers the ways that emerging forms of SWF forms could be used by African states to enhance their autonomy and development. 

The Abstract and Introduction follow.  The article can be accessed here and here.


Friday, January 05, 2018

Interpretation and Fracture As the Orishas Speak Part II: The Full 2018 Letter of the Yoruba Association of Cuba (Letra del Año para el 2018 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba)


(Pix CiberCuba Jan 3, 2018)

For the last six years I have written of the annual letter of the Cuban Council of the High Priests of Ifá (Consejo Cubano De Sacerdotes Mayores De Ifá), the practitioners of traditional religion brought over from West Africa with the slave trade and now naturalized as a powerful indigenous religion throughout the Caribbean and growing in the United States. (e.g., 2016, 2015; 2014; 2013; 2012).

The annual letter is usually received in two parts. Immediately after the New Year the oracular portions of the Annual Letter are distributed (Adelanto). These include the bare oracular pronouncements received during the ceremonies undertaken at the start of the year.  Those oracular pronouncement are then amplified by a more extensive set of interpretations--including predictions, advice and ritual suggestions in an amplified letter delivered a few days later.

In that respect this year was no different. The Full 2018 Annual Letter with its predictions and guidance follows (and here). But this year was also different in one important respect. This year a group of priests have contested the predictions (not the oracles) of the association of priests who came together to draw them up.  (Polémica entre los santeros cubanos por predicciones "manipuladas" para el 2018, CiberCuba 3 Jan. 2018). This is a dispute about interpretation that in may ways mirrors those of the religious controversies  within Christianity, Islam and Eastern religions.  Interpretation becomes more important where the oracle is pointed toward criticism or prediction about consequences to powerful social actors--the state, great officials, members of the higher rungs of society, and within the fundamental social relationships through which society is organized. It is here that oracular wisdom can be put to more profane use, and where the politics (as well as the semiotics) of interpretation becomes  a matter of politics, and social power.  My brief comments and the news reporting of the interpretive schism follows.


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The EU to the Rescue of the Cuban Economy? the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA)


Even as the United States retreated from direct economic connections with Cuba, the European Union sought to step into the space left by the American action.  That strategic initiative, the  Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) took final form accelerated in the wake of the prior U.S. Administration's policy of opening up.
Negotiations for the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) were launched in April 2014 and concluded on 11 March 2016. After the approval by the Council of the European Union, it was officially signed on 12 December 2016. In parallel, the agreement was submitted to the EU Member States' national parliaments and the Cuban National Assembly for ratification. The European Parliament gave its consent on 5 July 2017. Most parts of the agreement start to be provisionally applied as of 1 November 2017. (here)
The Europeans view this as the marker of a new and more intensely profitable relationship with the Cuban state--though one not without its costs to Cuba. PDCA is the successor policy to the EU's Common Position which was repealed 12 December 2016 (repeal of the Common Position).

And now the EU's Federica Mogherini is on an official visit to Cuba for talks aimed at implementing the PDCA.  It is likely that on the agenda will be the structuring of the Joint Council established by PDCA to oversee the fulfillment of the agreement (PDCA art. 81) and the Joint Committee (Art. 82) charged with the actual implementation of the PDCA (Art. 82).

This post includes current reporting on the visit by Marc Frank for Reuters and an analysis of the PDCA. Most interesting is the possibility that in return for stronger ties the EU might have waived the application of its strong business and human rights measures to EU Cuba bilateral relations. The E.U. appears to be willing to pay for its influence--from supporting the realization of Ciba's sector driven 2030 Economic Plan, to the E.U.'s help in avoiding or weakening the effects of the Cuban Embargo.  The Background Brief on the PDCA (CPE Background Brief 1/2018) may be downloaded HERE.


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Just Published: "Commentary on the New Charity Undertakings Law: Socialist Modernization through Collective Organizations " The China Nonprofit Review 9(2):273 – 309

http://www.brill.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/ftp/images/products/295x295/31453.jpg?itok=D4cCtJph

I am happy to report the publication of my article: "Commentary on the New Charity Undertakings Law: Socialist Modernization through Collective Organizations."  It appears in the The China Nonprofit Review, Volume 9, Issue 2, pages 273 – 309 (2017). The article considers the new Charity Undertakings Law for its conformity to the Basic Line of the Chinese Communist Party (or in more Western terms, for its conformity to the fundamental political normative principles of the Chinese state).  I thought it useful to consider the conformity of lawmaking within its own system's principles as a necessary foundation for any comparative analysis.

The abstract and introduction follow.  In keeping with Brill Journal Self Archiving Rights policy, I can only provide access to the submitted version of the article: HERE


Monday, January 01, 2018

The Orishas Speak: The 2018 Letter of the Yoruba Association of Cuba (Letra del Año para el 2018 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba)

(Pix CiberCuba Jan 1, 2018)

In most states, the priestly role has been transformed.  But it is useful, as one examines the priestly role in modern western states, to consider a more traditional relationship between the priest and the state.  One of the more interesting manifestations of the role of religion within political life is that of the priests of the practitioners of the old religions of Africa as re-established in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Marxist-Leninist Cuba.  (here)

For the last six years I have written of the annual letter of the Cuban Council of the High Priests of Ifá (Consejo Cubano De Sacerdotes Mayores De Ifá), the practitioners of traditional religion brought over from West Africa with the slave trade and now naturalized as a powerful indigenous religion throughout the Caribbean and growing in the United States. (e.g., 2017, 2016, 2015; 2014; 2013; 2012).
La Letra del Año comenzó a emitirse en Cuba a finales del siglo XIX, sin poder precisar la fecha exacta. Por datos y documentos se revela que babalawos procedentes de las diferentes ramas religiosas existentes en el país comenzaron a reunirse para efectuar con todo rigor las ceremonias establecidas, que concluían el primero de enero con la apertura de la Letra del Año. (EcuRed, Letra del Año) (The Annual Letter was first produced sometime near the end of the 19th century.  Existing evidence suggests that the Babalawos of the different branches of the faith in the nation started to gather together  to invoke with all rigor the appropriate ceremonies that concluded on the 1st of January) with the opening of the Letter of the Year).
2018 marks the third year of an important change, in which many of the most important branches of the faith came together to produce a unified letter. ("El documento, que copiamos íntegramente a continuación, incluye el signo y el orisha regentes, además de la oración profética. El documento se ha elaborado conjuntamente entre la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba y la Comisión Organizadora para la letra del Año Miguel Febles Padrón." (here)) The object of the annual letter is to provide guidance for the nation and its people.  More specifically it is meant to provide guidance for faith practitioners otherwise unable to receive more specific guidance within their own branch.
Probablemente uno de los acontecimientos más importantes y que une tanto a religiosos como ateos en Cuba es la salida, en los primeros días de enero, de la Letra del Año, interpretación del oráculo de Ifá con las predicciones para el año que comienza.El cuerpo de la Letra del Año lo conforman recomendaciones, sugerencias, advertencias, etc, para pasar tener un año provechoso y sin grandes percances. Casi todas las áreas quedan cubiertas entonces, desde la salud hasta la familia, sin dejar de pasar por acontecimientos de índole política y medioambiental. (CiberCuba, Letra del Año) [In all likelihood, one of the most important events that unites both religious and atheists in Cuba is the delivery, in the first days of January, of the Letter of the Year, interpretation of the oracle of Ifá with the predictions for the coming year. The body of the Letter of the Year is made up of recommendations, suggestions, warnings, etc., to have a successful year and avoid major mishaps. Almost all areas are covered then, from health to the family, without avoiding events of a political and environmental nature]

The Advance (Adelanto) Preliminary Letter for 2018 (also HERE) follows along with a brief reflection. It is the bare bones of the divination; the recommendations and more precise interpretations will follow.   The full letter will be forwarded in the next several days.