Migrants and migrant workers from the Global South carried the economies of the Global North on their backs during the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, millions of migrant workers in agriculture, trans-portation, care, food processing, construction, and other essential sectors continued working while the world shut down. On the other hand, migrant workers faced some of the harshest and most punitive treatment due to their status or lack thereof; many migrant workers were detained, deported or subjected to severe and inhumane treatment coupled with the physical, emotional and psychological impact of the pandemic. The pandemic unveiled high levels of nationalism, racism and xenophobia that impacted mi-grants globally and states have used the momentum to justify heavy handed measures and increased migration restrictions and the monitoring of migrants.
Much has been written about how international law generally, and international economic law more specifically, have enabled, facilitated and contributed to the continued racial ordering, discrimination, exploitation, and treatment of people on the move as ‘surplus’ population. The current COVID-19 pandemic, if anything, has laid bare how current economic structures entrench precarity and inequality, in a world in which borders may be seamless for goods and services, yet fortress-like and unwelcoming for those fleeing persecution, climate breakdown, armed conflict or abject poverty.
While multinational companies at times play a notable role in conflicts and mass atrocity events, there is an ongoing debate on how and where to acknowledge their involvement when countries seek to come to terms with past wars or human rights violations. Should economic crimes and other types of corporate complicity be addressed within the Transitional Justice (‘TJ’) process? And considering that corporate involvement in conflicts is often transnational, what States and (domestic or international) judicial bodies should be involved in providing justice?
This blog piece is a reflection on the core arguments from Professor Gonzalez’s lecture. Notably, Professor Gonzalez explored the relationship between environmental degradation and human economic activity. Within this general theme, Professor Gonzalez discussed the link between human economic activity, climate change, capitalism, colonialism and its aftermath, and modernity. This piece will also evaluate Professor Gonzalez’s thoughts on how the actions adopted to combat climate change marginalise the Global South and perpetuate further exploitation of fragile ecosystems across the world. Finally, this piece will outline and analyse Professor Gonzalez’s arguments on the current technological advancements to address climate change and their impact in the Global South.
Although the Regulations commendably exempt ninety-two countries, their restrictions still apply to many upper-middle income countries, such as South Africa, which is not only relatively poor but is battling with one of the most contagious variants of the virus. The Regulations also do not exempt a country like Canada, which despite its relatively ample resources, does not yet manufacture its own vaccines and is home to particularly vulnerable indigenous peoples, especially in its Northern and polar regions.
The importance of technology transfer in holding together the links and processes of the global value chain tells us a lot about value accretion and control of the chains. The concept of the global value chain, especially as it is portrayed in documents like the Global Value Chain Development Report 2019 and in the 2020 World Bank’s Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains is non-hierarchical.
In this collaboration between Asser Institute’s Doing Business Right project and AfronomicsLaw, we welcome contributions from scholars working on African international law, African perspectives of international/transnational law, as well as scholars working on business and human rights more generally.
This online symposium is the outcome of a workshop on ‘GVCs, Trade and Development’ hosted by the Kent Law School and IEL collective in July 2020 and supported by the British Academy (Grant no. MD19\190020). The workshop engaged with the policy research literature produced by the World Trade Organisation and World Bank since 2013, in particular their Global Value Chain Development (GVCD) reports of 2017 and 2019.
The laws of the international trading regimes are crafted, not by Africans, but by economists and policymakers in the Global North, with the interest of the elites of the Global North at the heart of any prescriptions. That is why neoliberalism and the “free market” is sold as the panacea for Africa’s developmental impasse.
I propose that it is our current and future battles that will determine the meaning and impact of decolonisation in Africa and beyond. As things stand now, the dead are certainly not safe. Let me elaborate on this claim drawing from Professor Taylor’s work: his piece draws from the classics of Third Worldist Marxism and dependency theory to provide a sober account of Africa’s nominally post-colonial present.