Global Value Chains (GVCs) are the main form of contemporary transnational capitalism. They are complex legal and financial structures that challenge traditional international-national and public-private dichotomies. They shape and define the speed of work and extraction, build bridges, raise walls, and transform lives and nature in each place where they touch base around the globe. Covid-19, a biological shock that has triggered a legal and economic reconsideration of global markets, has revealed the ecological backbone of value chains and highlighted the need to rethink the premises of competitiveness and cheapness around which they are imagined.
Global value chains (GVCs), as a dominant form of capitalism today, have been a vehicle for entrenching the concentration of economic resources and power in the hands of multinational corporations. While COVID-19 compounded health and economic crisis, reports emerged that suppliers in the garment industry value chains have been facing mounting challenges as a result of unreasonable demands from big clients, mainly corporations in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The African Society of International Law (AfSIL) held its 9th Annual Conference on Africa and COVID-19 virtually, on 30 October 2020. AfSIL aims inter alia to promote international law on the continent and to contribute to the development of an international law that expresses the point of view of African States and specialists. The Conference was sponsored by law firms Foley Hoag LLP, Shikana Law Group and Asafo & Co.
The main goal of the international HRWS is to prioritise universal access to safe, affordable, accessible, adequate water and sanitation, including hygiene services. The human rights framework also has procedural requirements to ensure non-discrimination, public participation, transparency and accountability and the extraterritorial obligation to do no harm in the governance of WASH services. Water is understood as having diverse characteristics being simultaneously an economic, social, cultural, political and ecological good. This multiplicity of framings complicates the localization and mainstreaming of the HRWS in relevant institutions at various levels of governance, from the international to the local.
In this blog, I continue discussing the broad understanding of informality while briefly touching on informal enterprise. And I hope to, simultaneously, point out a couple of proposed solutions to challenges of the informal economy in Africa. My very strong suggestion, though, is that African countries should embrace informality as a reality on the continent.
Under the imperialism approach transplanted commercial laws especially from countries receiving these laws from their colonial or other western metropolitan centers are viewed as aimed at securing the immediate and future commercial interests of the colonial/metropolitan empire and not the interests of the peoples of the receiving countries.
Joining the WTO will reduce the diverse economy that the Ethiopian government has been fostering. But if the government feels that WTO membership is necessary, then Ethiopia must take it’s time to negotiate more favorable terms in line with its development status and objectives. In particular, Ethiopia should not make the same mistakes as other newly joined nations and should not agree to undertake higher levels of commitments than is made absolutely necessary by the WTO rules and what other founding LDCs, such as Bangladesh, have made. Specifically, Ethiopia should seek to ensure that tariffs are bound at the highest rates possible.
Over the last decade, and especially in the mining sector, African state actors have begun to denounce unequal mining contracts, and are increasingly reviewing mining contracts accordingly. While African host states are seemingly taking it upon themselves to remedy real and perceived imbalances vis-à-vis investors in their mining contracts, a key question remains what structural reasons have led to such imbalances in the first place, and whose responsibility it is to address these structural issues: host states, investors, home states, international financial institutions, or all the above? This brief discussion contextualizes how responsibilities to redress unequal mining contracts may be shared.
Rudahindwa’s contribution lies in his articulation of the need for institutions and legal frameworks to reflect these multiple objectives of African RECs. In this regard, he ably demonstrates how the specific objectives of NAFTA, ASEAN, MERCOSUR and the EU have informed the nature of the institutions that manage their respective organisations and their legal frameworks, including how they address issues such as the relationship between the laws of the organisations and their member states, the bindingness of agreed commitments and laws, and dispute settlement.
February 4, 2019