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Before writing your essay, watch either Cocaine Cowboys or Burma VJ. Both are interesting and very clearly applicable to what we covered in this lesson.Cocaine Cowboys focuses on the international cocaine trade in the 1970s/1980s, specifically on Miami and the major players involved in the international trade operating there. If you found the discussion of the regulation of markets and how this relates to human rights most interesting, I would suggest Cocaine Cowboys. Burma VJ uses recorded footage of the efforts of activist video journalists (VJ) in Burma in 2007 that was smuggled out of the country. If you found the discussion of social activism more interesting, I would suggest Burma VJ. Then write an essay in which you apply the concepts from the Lesson 5 discussion and your readings to the movie you have chosen to watch. Your essay will be evaluated using the rubric below.Scoring Rubric for Lesson 5 EssayFormat1.5 to 2 pages single spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1″ margins; 1 point deducted for each 1/3 page too long or too short.5 pointsConceptsThe essay shows evidence that the student read, understands, and applies the readings: Bonanno et al. (2000), Liu and Lu (2010), and Cocaine Cowboys; or Nardi (1998) and Rosen (2011) for Burma VJ.15 pointsThe essay discusses how global interconnection and its relation to human rights and peace are shown in Cocaine Cowboys or Burma VJ.15 pointsThe essay discusses the impact of laws and regulations on the ability to realize human rights and peace because of growing global interconnection.15 pointsTotal points possible50 points
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Introduction
At the end of Lesson 1 and the beginning of Lesson 2, we briefly touched upon how
globalization is changing the ability of the state to promote the realization of rights in
practice. At that time, we didn’t really explore any of the mechanisms involved. In this
lesson, we’ll analyze in greater depth the consequences of globalization for the state.
Specifically, we’ll note that globalization has made it increasingly difficult for the state to
regulate and extract resources from transnational corporations; this in turn has had an
impact on the realization of human rights. We’ll also examine how globalization has
allowed for the generation of global law, with dramatic consequences for human rights,
law, war, and peace. Finally, we’ll consider the potential benefits and difficulties posed
by globalization for movements that seek to promote the realization of human rights and
peace. Overall, we’ll again be examining the intricate connections among human rights,
law, war, and peace. This time, we’ll pay particular attention to how these
interconnections are affected by globalization.
Hypermobile Capital, Regulating the Market, and Realizing Rights
As seen in your reading from Bonanno, Constance, and Lorenz and the movie Cocaine
Cowboys, the state’s ability to regulate corporations and the flow of material goods has
diminished with the onset of globalization. The ease of movement for corporations that
has occurred with globalization—what Bonanno, Constance, and Lorenz (2000) label
“hypermobility”—has led to a decrease in the ability of states to regulate corporations for
two primary reasons.
First, because corporations can now more easily relocate, they have gained leverage
when negotiating with government officials regarding both the formulation and
implementation of regulatory policies (Bonanno and Constance). One of the better
metaphors describing this trend is provided by Friedman,who describes states as being
trapped within a “golden straightjacket” by the degree of leverage provided by the
hypermobility of capital. This suggests that, if states are to have any hope of attracting
capital investment, they are effectively bound to submit to the wishes of hyper-mobile
corporations, lest they relocate. Of course, such a metaphor probably overstates the
power provided by mobility, because, as Sassen points out, it’s clear that transnational
corporations are still reliant upon states to operate effectively. Nevertheless, the
metaphor serves to emphasize the leverage provided by the mobility of capitalists and
the difficulties such mobility creates for the regulation of corporations.
The second reason globalization has led to difficulties regarding the regulation of
corporations is that economic systems and interconnections become so tangled and
complex that they’re almost impossible to disentangle in order to regulate. You saw this
in your reading of Bonanno, Constance, and Lorenz about the efforts of Archer Daniels
Midland (ADM) to network with corporations around the world. In other words,
globalization makes the system so complex that it becomes difficult to regulate,
precisely because of the complexity that comes along with globalization.
Remember our previous discussions regarding the importance of regulating the market
so that market outcomes promote the realization of rights in practice. It is concerning
then that globalization has made it difficult for states to regulate corporations.
In fact, Bonanno, Constance, and Lorenz contend that corporations have moved to a
hypermobile system of global production precisely so they can sidestep regulations
meant to promote the realization of rights in practice. As they contend, this has been
done to increase the profit potential of production.
Of course, we shouldn’t be so quick to assume that regulations always necessarily
promote the realization of human rights. As your readings from Stiglitz in Lessons 3
and 4 made clear, market regulations can actually make it harder for people to realize
their rights in practice by allowing corporations to more effectively extract resources
(financial, labor, natural, and so forth) from populations of people. Thus, it should be
noted at this point that globalization and the hypermobility of capital can allow
corporations to undermine some regulations that do not promote the realization of
human rights in practice. Before the end of this lesson, we’ll discuss how globalization is
allowing corporations, paired with states, to undermine copyright laws so that people do
not have access to life-saving medications.
Overall, we see that globalization undercuts the ability of the state to regulate markets.
While this can, and has, made it difficult for states to regulate the market in ways that
promote the realization of rights in practice, we should also be aware that globalization
provides opportunities to undercut regulations that stifle the realization of rights in
practice. Thus, we shouldn’t be too quick to assume that the hypermobility made
possible by globalization will necessarily lead to negative consequences in regards to
human rights.
The Generation of Supranational Law, Its Implementation, and the
Realization of Human Rights and Peace
The ability of the state to promote the realization of rights in practice is complicated by
more than the hypermobility of corporations that is associated with globalization. Also
important to consider is the impact of formulation and implementation of supranational,
or international, law on the ability of states to promote the realization of rights in
practice. As explained by Beckfield and by Hughes, Harrison, Peterson, and
Paxton, states are increasingly bound and affected by the standards of law formulated
at the international level in such governance bodies as the United Nations, International
Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization. It’s clear that different states have a
differential ability to affect the generation of supranational law and then decide just how
closely they’ll follow those laws and policies once they are implemented (Meyer, Boli,
Thomas, and Ramirez; Hardt and Negri 2000; Beckfield;Beckfield). It’s also apparent
that supranational laws are critically important for and affect all states. Thus, it seems
important to consider how supranational law might affect the ability of states to promote
the realization of rights. Again, much like the impact of the hypermobility of corporations,
it’s probable that the growing importance of supranational law is neither purely good nor
bad for the promotion of human rights.
Regarding the promotion of human rights and peace, the primary arguments—that the
growing prominence of supranational law will promote the realization of rights and
peace—can be found in what is generally referred to as the Liberalism school of
international relations. According to this school of thought, the laws and policies that are
generated by states at the international level, in institutions such as the United Nations,
are critically important, because they work to bind and shape both the domestic and
foreign policies of states. This can be critically important for the realization of human
rights and peace for two primary reasons.
First, such laws can restrict states from acting in ways that explicitly violate human
rights or promote conflict. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
(NPT) is an excellent example of such a policy, because it is designed to promote
peace by restricting the ability of states to develop and produce weapons of mass
destruction.
Second, such laws can also promote human rights and peace by making the promotion
of rights and peace an international standard of governance. Put another way,
international laws can promote human rights and peace by making both legally agreed
upon goals. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we
discussed in Lesson 1, is an excellent example of such a law, because it was expressly
formulated and passed to provide a standard of human rights that states ought to be
upholding. In summary, international law is thought to promote both human rights and
peace by restricting actions that violate rights and peace and by promoting actions that
further both rights and peace.
Importantly, the generation and implementation of international law does not necessarily
promote the realization of human rights and peace in practice. As we’ll now discuss,
international law and policies generated at the international level can actually make it
more difficult for individuals to realize their rights in practice, by making it more difficult
for states to implement policies that promote the realization of human rights. An
excellent example of this process can be seen in the Sahel region of Africa, in which
agricultural policies generated at the global level are implemented in ways that make it
harder for people to realize their human rights—specifically their right to life, property, a
social environment that facilitates their development, and the utilization of knowledge
(Articles 3, 17, 22 , and 27 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
The Sahel region of Africa extends from roughly 10 degrees north of the equator to 10
degrees south of the equator. Currently, various states (including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana,
Tanzania, Niger, and Mali) are implementing agricultural development schemes at the
behest of international institutions such as the World Bank. (Charnley 1996; Turner
1999; Thébaud and Batterbury 2001; Kajembe, Mbwilo, Kidunda and Nduwamungu
2003; Tonah 2003; Malley, Taeb, Matsumoto and Takeya 2008; Bassett 2009;
Benjaminsen and Ba 2009; Benjaminsen, Maganga and Abdallah 2009.) See here for
references. Such agricultural schemes are developed at the international level and
based upon internationally legitimated standards for agricultural production (Turner
1999; Adger, Benjaminsen, Brown and Svarstad 2001; Bassett 2009; Benjaminsen and
Ba 2009; Benjaminsen, Maganga and Abdallah 2009.). In other words, the agricultural
schemes being implemented in the Sahel region of Africa are based upon policies
formulated at the international level. The key problem is that they are based upon a
model of agricultural production that was formulated in regions of Western Europe and
the United States where rainfall is not as seasonally volatile or sporadic as it is in the
Sahel region of Africa, which is characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons (Turner,
1999). As a consequence, massive irrigation systems have been developed to deliver
enough water to make it possible to grow crops in the region. In other words, the
policies are based on an agricultural model suitable only for regions where rainfall is
consistent throughout the growing season. Because rainfall in the Sahel region is
scarce, large-scale irrigation schemes have had to be implemented throughout the
region.
Important for our discussion is the way such internationally formulated policies of
agricultural production affect the ability of people to realize their rights and what this can
show us about the relationships among globalization, the state, and human rights. We
must note the effect of such agricultural production schemes on pastoralists who range
throughout the region to take advantage of the variable seasonal availability of grass
and water to sustain their herds of cattle, goats, and camels (Turner, 1999). As many
authors have noted, the current way agricultural schemes are being implemented is
detrimental for the livelihood of pastoralists, making it much harder for them to practice
their system of livestock production (Charnley, 1996; Turner, 1999; Thébaud and
Batterbury 2001; Kajembe, Mbwilo, Kidunda and Nduwamungu 2003; Tonah 2003;
Malley, Taeb, Matsumoto and Takeya 2008; Bassett 2009; Benjaminsen and Ba 2009;
Benjaminsen, Maganga and Abdallah 2009.) See here for references .
Bassett (2009) provides an excellent example of such a policy and its consequences for
pastoralists in his discussion of a Cote d’Ivoire development scheme known as the
Rural Land Law of 1998, implemented at the behest of the World Bank and French
development advisors. As he shows, the policy has restricted the ability of pastoralists
to obtain the resources necessary to sustain their livelihoods by systematically
advantaging sedentary agriculturalists who wish to produce agricultural products
according to the dictates of the internationally approved model of agricultural
production. This has happened because the law makes land title-able, or own-able, and
therefore accessibly usable, only on a local scale. This disadvantages pastoralists who
produce livestock in a way that requires access to and use of land beyond just a local
scale to capitalize on the shifting availability of grass and water caused by the distinct
wet and dry seasons.
Beyond just the manner in which such policies have systematically disadvantaged
pastoralists, the systematic disadvantaging of pastoralists has fueled violent conflict
between pastoralists and the sedentary agriculturalists who are favored by such
policies. Thus, such policies are not just making it harder for people to go about their
daily lives but also fueling violent conflict among people in the region.
Now that we have a general idea of current agricultural policies in the Sahel region,
where they come from, how they disadvantage pastoralists, and the fact that they fuel
violent conflict in the region, let’s focus on how this relates to our overall discussion. The
case displays how laws that are generated on the international level can compel states
to implement policies that promote the realization of neither rights nor peace. First, that
such policies promote violent conflict between people shows us that the policies lead to
the violation of Article 3 in the Universal Declaration and a degradation of peace. Next, it
is apparent that the agricultural policies are leading to the dispossession of lands that
have been held by pastoral groups for some time, in violation of Article 17. Further, the
dispossession of resources required to continue one group’s way of life is a violation
of Article 22. Finally, the implementation of such agricultural policies in the Sahel keeps
pastoralists from using their system of livestock production by making a mobile system
of production impossible, in violation of Article 27. Overall, it is apparent that the laws
and policies generated at the international level and implemented in the Sahel region of
Africa are not leading to the realization of either peace or human rights in practice.
Thus, while such laws and policies can promote peace and human rights, we must
acknowledge that such laws and policies can also make it harder to realize either peace
or human rights.
At this point, we’ve seen how international laws and policies generated at the
international level of governance can actually cause states to implement policies that
make it more difficult for individuals to realize their human rights in practice. In fact,
we’ve seen how such policies generated at the international level can promote and lead
to conflict. We haven’t yet analyzed policies generated at the international level that can
be undermined by the hypermobility made possible by globalization. At this point, we’ll
turn to an analysis of international patenting laws and how corporations have used the
hypermobility made possible by globalization to undermine such laws.
As I mentioned earlier, we shouldn’t assume that regulations in general necessarily
promote human rights or peace. In fact, we’ve just seen an example of such regulations
in the agricultural policies being implemented in the Sahel region of Africa. Another
example of a regulation or policy that appears to complicate the realization of human
rights is the current international law that attempts to regulate intellectual property rights
globally. While your assigned reading on Averting HIV and AIDS gives an excellent, indepth summary of the issue of international intellectual property rights and their global
consequences, I will briefly elaborate on the issue.
Importantly for our discussion, TRIPS creates complications for the realization of human
rights by making it more difficult for life-saving pharmaceutical products to be
manufactured at rates that are affordable for large portions of people. This occurs
because TRIPS allows pharmaceutical companies to patent medications, effectively
preventing anyone else from making the medication. With the monopoly that is created
by being the only manufacturer able to produce the medication, the pharmaceutical
company with the patent is able to charge exorbitant amounts for its medication,
because it has no competitors. Consequently, access to new medications under patent
is drastically restricted by these exorbitant prices. This process became a focus of
public attention in the early 2000s, when activists and the global media brought to the
attention of the public how the restricted access to new HIV/AIDS medications was
facilitating the spread of HIV/AIDS and costing millions of people their lives.
The primary argument in support of this system is that the profits provided by the ability
to patent new medications promotes the development of other new medications by
ensuring their profit potential. Pharmaceutical companies contend that without the profit
potential provided by the ability to establish monopolies over markets, the incentive to
invest in research and development will be lost. Consequently, they argue, new lifesaving medications will be less likely to be developed with the loss in profit potential if
patents are not available or enforced (Johnson). In other words, pharmaceutical
companies contend that copyrights are important for the continued development of new
medications, because patents make new medications highly profitable. Without the
potential profitability of new medications, they contend, new medications will fail to
reach the market. Thus, the profit potential provided by patents, while they restrict
access to medications, is necessary because without them new medications would fail
to be developed.
There are many problems with such arguments, and we’ll discuss two primary ones
now. First, they assume that the only place life-saving medications are developed is in
pharmaceutical companies. As Elliott Hannon notes, this isn’t the case, because many
new medications are actually invented in publicly funded labs. The assumption that new
medications will fail to emerge if pharmaceutical companies cannot make exorbitant
amounts of money from them simply isn’t true, because new medications emerge from
places other than privately funded labs. Second, such arguments overlook how patents
effectively serve to restrict the flow of scientific knowledge that is critical for the
continued development of new medications. Your assigned reading discusses the
development of what is known as a fixed-dose combination (FDC). It is clear that the
enforcement of patents would have made the development of FDCs impossible by
denying access by the company that developed FDCs to the materials needed to
construct the FDC, which are all under patent.
Thus, the assumption that the existence of profit potential provided by patents is
critically important to the emergence of new medications is simply not true. Not only do
ground-breaking medications emerge in nonprofit-driven scenarios, but the existence of
patents can also inhibit the emergence of new medications by keeping the knowledge
used and gained by the newest medications from being utilized in ways to make even
newer and better medications.
Regardless of these empirical facts, the argument that people should not be able to
access life-saving medications right now, because new drugs might be developed in the
future, represents a disturbing justification …
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