EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL
Yangon on the Move by Jennifer Su
THE THE UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY OF OF TORONTO’S TORONTO’S UNDERGRADUATE UNDERGRADUATE POLITICAL POLITICAL SCIENCE SCIENCE JOURNAL JOURNAL
Letter from the Editor In an age of heightened uncertainty and unparalleled
progress, it is increasingly apparent that “everything is political”. Or, at least most things are. Across the University, students of Political Science continue to lead rigorous debates and produce admirable scholarship that captures unique perspectives on current affairs. POLIS is simply one of many snapshots of a year in public discourse. As a first time Editor-in-Chief, I owe a particular thanks to the APSS for trusting me with this issue of POLIS. I am also grateful for the support and hard work of the Editorial Board, whose insights, skills and willingness to fact-check at unorthodox hours have been instrumental in ensuring the fastest-ever publication of this journal. My predecessors - Alec Wilson and Hayden Rodenkirchen - deserve an additional round of thanks for soothing an anxious Editor’s many worries. And I am indebted to Cameron Jones for his cover design that captures the issues’ thematic elements, and to Ben Rudolph, whose design skills are unparalleled. In this issue, student and Faculty articles touch on current issues of national and international importance - from an analytical argument in favour of changing Canada’s electoral system to a bold plan laying out a strategy to defeat ISIS. The essays present indepth analysis of issues in comparative politics, public policy and international relations, showcasing the best of undergraduate scholarship within the Department.
Editor-in-Chief Aditya Rau
Design Editors Copy Editors Nabi Dressler Meimenat Mohajer
Lorina Hoxha Sofia Lin Cameron Wood
Design Contributors Contributors Aditya Rau Editor-in-Chief
Letter from the President of the APSS Almost anyone can write. Writing well, however:
that is a skill. Writing well and getting published: that is an accomplishment. For years, the Association of Political Science Students has strived to provide students with opportunities that enrich their academic experience. This journal is one of the many ways in which we hope to engage students completing an education in Political Science. In this latest edition of POLIS, our editorial board solicited original articles and was also faced with the challenge of selecting papers from a large pool of competitive applicants. Their selection process was a difficult one. But I have no doubt that the choices they made reflect the best and most original pieces of writing produced by undergraduates at the University of Toronto. POLIS would not be possible without the dedication of our Editor-in-Chief, Aditya Rau, and his hard working and committed editorial board. While my responsibility entails overseeing the broad strokes of this project, full credit must go to our editorial team who has worked tirelessly to bring this journal to you on a tighter timeline than ever before. For that, I thank them. In the following pages, you will be presented with a diverse selection of writing, research, and analysis. We hope that you read and engage with every piece on its own terms, as each paper is uniquely different. Congratulations to the authors who have been published and, of course, to our phenomenal editors on a job well done.
Bushra Nassab APSS President 2015-2016
Cameron Jones Benjamin Rudolph
Shane Kennedy Sonia Liang Ciara McLean Lisa Monozlai Larissa Parker Natalie Petra Prof. Peter Russell Joudy Sarraj Jennifer Su Aryaman Vaideeswaran Prof. Joseph Wong
CONTRIBUTOR BIOS Maria Layarda
Professor Peter H. Russell
Maria Monica Layarda is a third-year Jon S. Dellandrea Scholar pursuing a Specialist degree in International Relations and a Minor in Economics. Monica currently serves as Compliance Director at the G20 Research Group, Lead Analyst at the G8 Research Group, Senior Editor at the Attache Journal of International Affairs, and Foreign Policy Analyst at the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
Sonia Liang is a 4th year student majoring in Political Science and English, and minoring in European studies. Her research interests include migration policy, party and electoral systems, and European integration. She is the current co-Editor-in-Chief of Messages in the Media, the European Studies Students’ Association Journal, and has previously worked as a program development intern at International Bridges to Justice, a legal aid NGO, in Geneva.
Ciara Mclean is a fourth year Political Science specialist.
Lisa Monozlai is a fourth-year student at New College majoring in Political Science and English literature. She currently works as a communications assistant for Hart House, and also served as a sub-editor for Glasgow University Magazine while studying abroad last year.
Larissa Parker is a fourth year Trinity College student studying ‘Ethics, Society & Law’, Environmental Studies and Political Science. She attended COP21 as one of five University of Toronto delegates and is currently president of the Trinity College Environmental Society.
Natalie Petra is completing her Hon. BA with a double major in Ethics, Society and Law and Peace, Conflict and Justice, with an additional minor in Equity Studies. She has previously served as an Executive at the Arts and Science Students Union. Natalie is also a library trustee, and is currently serving a term as Mid-Central Councillor on the Ontario Library Boards Association.
Peter Russell is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Principal of Senior College, U of T’s youngest college for its oldest scholars. Professor Russell’s fields of scholarship are constitutional, judicial, Aboriginal politics and parliamentary democracy. His article for POLIS draws from a chapter of his forthcoming book, Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests.
Joudy Sarraj is a second year student completing a double major in International Relations and Ethics, Society and Law. She is a Senior Editor of the Attaché Journal of International Affairs, the Director of the Arabic Division at the Canadian Centre for R2P, and will be serving as President of the Hart House Debates Committee in the upcoming year.
Siddarth Singh Chaudhari
Siddharth Singh Chaudhari is a fourth year student completing a Specialist in Political Science and a Minor in English at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). He serves as the President of the UTM Debating Club and the UTM English & Drama Student Society, the Vice President of the UTM Drama Club, and the Editor of With Caffeine & Careful Thought, an online academic journal published by the UTM Department of English & Drama.
Jennifer Su is a fourth-year student specializing in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, with research interests in Southeast Asia and its diaspora, visual anthropology, and the intersection between religion, psychology, and medicine.
Aryaman Vaideeswaran is a second year student in History and International Relations. He is currently a freelance writer interested in the history of South Asia, and the politics of terrorism.
Professor Joseph Wong
Joseph Wong is the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs, Professor of Political Science, and Canada Research Chair in Health, Democracy and Development. He was the Director of the Asian Institute at the Munk School from 2005 to 2014.
IN THIS ISSUE Canada Syrian Refugees and Canadian Identity Professor Peter Russell
Trudeau’s Real Change: Weighing voting systems Digging Deep: A Case for Canadian Divestment from Latin America’s Mining Industry Finding a Vein: Repairing Canada’s Reputation by Establishing Vicarious Liability for Mining Corporations in Latin America
Taiwan’s New Normal Professor Joesph Wong
A Plan to Defeat ISIS COP21: Confronting the Climate Change Crisis A War on Climate Change?
Essays Reluctant Acceptance, or Growing Intolerance? Anti-immigration Sentiment and Euroscepticism in Sweden and Germany Sonia Liang
Siddharth Singh Chaudhari
The Fight against Rising Income Inequality: What can the United States learn from the United Kingdom? Limited Universality: The Role of Regional NGOs in the Institutionalization of a Human Rights Regime in the Asia Pacific
Syrian Refugees and Canadian Identity by Professor Peter Russell
Trudeauâ€™s Real Change
by Aryaman Vaideeswaran
by Natalie Petra
Finding a Vein by Ciara Mclean
Photo credit: marke1996 (Flickr)
Syrian Refugees and Canadian Identity by Professor Peter Russell
Photo credit: Ilias Bartolini (Flickr)
OVER the last few weeks we have
best be explained by the country’s witnessed an extraordinarily pos- multinational foundation. CanaPhoto credit: Ilias (Flickr) itive response from Bartolini Canadians to da has been built on three foundathe Syrian refugee crisis. In Toron- tional pillars: Aboriginal Canada, to, 300 private groups – several of French Canada and English-speakthem at the University of Toronto ing Canada. Despite the efforts of - have offered to raise the money English-speaking Canada, by far the and provide the services to assume largest of the three, to assimlilate the responsibility of looking after the two smaller pillars into the Caa refugee family for its first year in nadian mainstream, the Aboriginal peoples and the Québécois have Canada. It is by no means the first time survived as nations within Canada. It took a very long time for EnCanada has welcomed refugees. Taking in 170,000 of the million glish-speaking Canada to recog“displaced persons” in European nize and respect the other nations camps after World War II, lead- within. But the diversity inherent ing the world in taking in 37,000 in multinationalism built a culture Hungarians fleeing from the Soviet in Canada that is more congenial to Union’s invasion of their country multiculturalism than the political in 1957, accepting a large share of culture of any other country in the the Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi world.
“Canadians have come to see the ethnic diversity of their country as essential, almost defining, component of their national identity.” Amin in 1972, and welcoming over 70,000 “boat people” from Vietnam in 1979 – these examples come readily to mind. Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis may not match those previous refugee welcomes in numbers, but it seems to me this occasion surpasses them all in enthusiasm. I think that has a lot to do with the extent to which Canadians have come to see the ethnic diversity of their country as an essential, almost a defining, component of their national identity. Canada’s exceptionally warm embrace of multiculturalism can
Up to World War II, mainstream Canada was anything but multicultural. English-speaking Canada was very British, very white, and very proud of being both. It was only after World War II, when Canada became a leader in founding the United Nations, signed on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supported decolonization of the European empires, that attitudes began to change, at least among elites, and across the political spectrum. This change of values began to impact Canada’s immigration policy, opening the country up to mi-
grants from all parts of the world. The change was nothing less than a second quiet revolution, as important in reshaping Canada as Quebec’s quiet revolution was to firing up our constitutional politics. It was
Harper’s worst moment in the 2015 election came in one of the televised debates when he explained that he opposed Islamic women wearing the niqab because it was not in keeping with the values of “old stock”
“It was a quiet change in that it was not heralded by any historic Act of Parliament or passionate political debate.” a quiet change in that it was not heralded by any historic Act of Parliament or passionate political debate. Multiculturalism did not become an official government policy until Pierre Elliott Trudeau, addressing the House of Commons on October 8, 1971, announced that, “A policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework commends itself to the government of Canada as the most suitable means of assuring cultural freedom.” And that was it – no legislation, no big funding commitment to help “ethnic” groups, no social program. Though Brian Mulroney’s government brought in the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988, it is nothing more than an empty symbolic shell. Multiculturalism in Canada has been more of an ideological change than a demographic change. Canadians of British and French heritage remain a majority of the Canadian population. But their predominance has declined from over 90% at the time of Confederation to about 66% today. But that 25% reduction in British/French numerical dominance has led to an enormous change in the life style of Canadians and how they think about themselves. Former Prime Minister Stephen
Canadians. That alone did not cost him the election but it certainly did not help his cause. The “old stock” majority were offended by that put down of multiculturalism as much as “new stock” Canadians. Watching the US election campaign unfold vividly displays to Canadians the difference that is opening up between our two countries. While the leading candidate on the Republican side threatens to bar Islamic people from entering the United States, groups of citizens in Canada compete to offer help to Syrian refugees. This experience can only heighten the role of cultural diversity in Canadians’ sense of national identity.
Canada Photo credit: Alex Guibord (Flickr)
Trudeau’s Real Change: Weighing voting systems by Aryaman Vaideeswaran
IN A 32-point plan advocating for
“Real Change”, now-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced his concern around the current Canadian electoral system, advocating for a committee to study and then implement a change to manner in which we vote. Canada currently utilizes a ‘First Past the Post’ system. This system was built under the assumption that Canadians would better connect with local representatives, and that these local representatives would effectively represent the values of their electors. In an increasingly inter-connected world, this is an outdated sentiment. Citizens no longer look to local representatives to represent their views. Instead, Canadians expect the federal government to fight for their interests. Thus, Canadians would substantially benefit from an electoral system known as the Single Transferable Vote, mending the mismatch between the nationally-minded voter and the locally-minded electoral system. The Single Transferrable Vote (STV) is a form of proportional representation, usually requiring ranked voting according to order of preference. Under this system, if a candidate is able to achieve a certain threshold of support, the number of votes assigned to them surpassing the threshold are transferred to voters’ second choice on their ballot, and so on if necessary. Similarly, if no candidate reaches the minimum threshold, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and voters’ second choice receive the eliminated candidate’s votes. This system ensures a diversity of Canadian voices in Parliament. Looking at the numbers, it is easy to see why the STV is the best choice
for Canada. Consider, for example, that under a First Past the Post system in 2011, Conservative MP Kyle Seeback won the riding of Brampton West with 44.8% of the vote. That is, he represented a minority of that riding for four years in office. Under STV, a ranked ballot may have moved many of third-place NDP candidate Jagtar Shergill’s 17.7% of the vote to second-place Liberal Andrew Kania’s 35% of the vote. This may have given Kania a majority mandate from the constituency, preventing a minority from monopolizing the political voice of a com-
This is not to say that the STV is faultless. A real concern that STV does not address is a hallmark of simple proportional representation: the principle of one voter, one vote on a national scale. The STV relies on the system of ridings, that, while representing local views, can still distort the outcome of the overall election. Winning 51% of a riding, while representing a majority in a small town, would still disqualify the votes of 49% cast within that riding when outcomes are considered at the national level.
“Local issues differ from national issues, and the key to balancing both is continuing to highlight the importance of individual MPs in their local communities.” petitive riding. Instead, the community’s interests were represented by a candidate sent to Ottawa without a majority mandate. Those against the STV might bemoan the lack of relationship building between local candidates and voters, arguing that MPs would simply become nameless mascots for their respective political parties. This is a problem that could be overcome with increased participation in local issues and affairs on the part of political candidates. In a volatile and politically divided constituency, a candidate that goes door-to-door, listens to the problems that affect constituents’ livelihoods, and promises to take pragmatic steps to solve issues, would secure electoral success not just for themselves but for their parties. Even under the STV, voters still directly elect local candidates, and these candidates are still critical to the functioning of our democracy.
This challenge is not easily surmountable. However, to bridge the divide between voting for people and voting on issues, STV is a compromise sorely needed. Local issues differ from national issues, and the key to balancing both is continuing to highlight the importance of individual MPs in their local communities. It is important to give politics a friendly face - a schoolteacher, a small business owner, or a lawyer. Yet this face has to be one that anybody has access to and can voice their concerns to. We should not endorse parties, faceless organizations that are ostensibly in power due to issue-based voting. One of the biggest strengths of the STV is that it incentivizes candidates to run based on local priorities rather than on an agenda set in Ottawa. For example, on one hand, Justin Trudeau supports a woman’s right to choose; and every Liberal MP has to vote according to this
position and the party line. However, a party line is not enforceable on individual voters. A community that votes Liberal on every issue other than abortion would now be either misrepresented on that issue, or might choose to vote for a party that does not represent them at all but for their views on abortion. Party discipline would be the first casualty with the STV, but constituencies would be better off for it as a whole. Under the STV, individual communities would be able to have a greater say in national affairs, with representatives reflecting local values rather than partisan politics. On a broader level, the STV could mean the destruction of party lines, and a move towards the political ‘centre’, or at least the political centre of an individual constituency. It means that Alberta might, for example, see more conservative Liberals elected to office, whereas Nova Scotia might see more liberal Conservatives in Ottawa. The STV encourages competition at the local level and compromise nationwide. Part of a federal system, most Canadians understand that different constituencies require different approaches to policy, and that change comes from people working together to effect it. By embracing an electoral system that creates competition, emphasizes cooperation and stresses the choice of the individual, the STV, while not perfect, is the best way to empower both voters and constituencies. The STV ensures that Canadians’ voices are always heard in Parliament and throughout Canada.
Digging Deep: A Case for Canadian Divestment from Latin America’s Mining Industry by Natalie Petra
Photo credit: ProMine
to Natural Resources Canada, Canadian mining assets abroad were worth $148.7 billion in 2012. An addendum to the Spanish and Portuguese colonial legacy, many have argued that Canadian investments in resource extraction have helped to spur economic growth and development in Latin America. However, as the largest investor in an industry rife with human rights violations and environmental violations, Canada’s international reputation has suffered, and deservedly so. According to a report jointly prepared by York University and the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), Canadian foreign policy has lent its support to international agreements and institutions - such as the North American Free Trade Agreement - that promote neoliberal capitalist expansion, the deregulation of national economies, the legal guarantee of investor rights, worldwide market integration and the overall consolidation of power of international corporations. At the same time, the Government of Canada has not been as keen to establish international laws that protect the interests of labour, the environment or communities, nor has it sought to meaningfully regulate the activities of Canadian corporations abroad. When agreements that seek to protect communities from corporate predation are put in place, they are hardly adhered to or enforced. Canada also lacks laws that can hold companies liable for criminal actions abroad, even when the accused companies employ government funds. This relationship between the private and public sector has resulted in the Canadian government openly refusing to investigate human rights violations. Under these socio-political conditions, international creditors have been able to shape state policies on
transnational mining activity, encouraging the reduction of foreign investment tax rates, and catalyze the deregulation of land tenure systems and environmental protection in the name of economic advancement. In the process, the opposed voices of entire communities have been silenced, local landowners defrauded by corporations, and the political system undermined as states fail to effectively legislate un-
in the mining industry. However, it is challenging to determine whether taxpayer dollars made a difference or simply worsened the plight of Latin America’s poor whose work lines the pockets of Canadian executives. Perhaps the most shameful consequence of the Canadian government’s support for this troubling issue is the violation of Indigenous rights and the resulting repercus-
“Canadian firms continue to operate under the radar, using taxpayer funds to infringe impact local financial markets, infringe on the rights of Indigenous peoples and damage the environment.” der pressure from outside groups and restrained by economic reliance. This translates into stark figures: “In Chile, only three mining companies pay taxes; in Ecuador, the majority of oil companies pay no taxes; and in Colombia, mining companies pay taxes at an annual rate of 0.4%.” Entire governments are effectively at the mercy of the interests of Western corporations; their social and political freedom is eroded. The effects on Latin America’s economy have also been pronounced. According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), today, Canadian companies control between 50-70% of South America’s mining industry. Their primary objectives are profit maximization and shareholder responsibility. These goals often come into direct conflict with community ambitions such as regional development, cultural preservation, and environmental sustainability. With no protection through regulation, corruption and bribery are rampant. Concurrently, local development stagnates or declines as traditional means of production are destroyed and thousands are displaced. In total, the Harper government earmarked over $50 million in foreign aid to South America through investments
sions on the environment. According to the McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA), the International Labour Organization’s legally binding convention 169 requires that indigenous communities be given the power to decide if and how development will proceed in communities where resource extraction activities are taking place. However, in actuality, Indigenous dissenters are often subjected to physical coercion in the form of military and paramilitary violence, and companies consistently fail to be fully honest in the bargaining process, arguing that such disclosure could harm their revenues. According to CERLAC, “[T]actics such as not recognizing legal ownership, exploiting the lack of knowledge of market prices to purchase land at greatly undervalued prices, and leasing land with the promise of returning it in its original condition [are used].” This exploitation undermines the legal rights and inalienable dignity of Indigenous peoples, and perpetuates the continued colonial and imperialist aggression of the West. According to MICLA, 30% of Canadian mining activity in Latin America is located inside areas
that have been designated as ecologically valuable areas. According to COHA, Canadian-led resource extraction has resulted in air pollution, the contamination of waters and rivers (including drinking water systems, jeopardizing human health), and the degradation of entire ecosystems. Canadian mining and resource extraction corporations have operated with a complete disregard for ecologically protected areas, even operating in UNESCO World Heritage sites. When one examines the facts presented in tandem, it is clear that Canadian mining action in South America is unconscionable and unethical. The Liberal Party introduced Bill C-300 in 2010, which was meant to crack down on the abuses of the Canadian mining industry abroad. However, the Bill was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons. Given the image Canadians have of themselves as socially responsible members of the international community, it is shocking that Canadian firms continue to operate under the radar, using taxpayer funds to infringe impact local financial markets, infringe on the rights of Indigenous peoples and damage the environment. We can respond to this challenge by, first, reintroducing Bill C-300. However, if Canadians are to truly become responsible members of a sustainable global community, progress will be dependent on increased awareness, the creation of a strong regulatory framework, and eventually, a divestment from the mining industry in South America. It is time to move past political rhetoric and towards a foreign policy that accurately reflects the values of Canadians, not one that operates at the expense of workers and local communities.
Finding a Vein: Repairing Canada’s Reputation by Establishing Vicarious Liability for Mining Corporations in Latin America by Ciara Mclean
American countries (Gordon and Webber 66). Canada’s attachment to a neo-liberal foreign policy was made clear when Peter Kent, then Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) under the Harper government, vocally supported a political coup in Honduras. According to Tyler Shipley of York University, Kent made these comments to se-
lin and Stephens 45). The mere fact that the cases will proceed to trial in Canada sets a significant precedent. Following a number of attempts by other “foreign plaintiffs to hold Canadian miners accountable to their own court systems,” (Kirschke 129) this is the first time a Canadian court will hear such cases. In the Hudbay consolidated
“Canadian public policy essentially precludes mining corporations from bearing any accountability for their actions abroad.”
Photo credit: Science X network
the new conquistador (Pedersen 2015), Canada has earned a negative reputation on the international stage for its negligent and oppressive practices in Latin America’s mining industry. Canadian firms control between fifty and seventy per cent of Latin America’s mining industry (COHA 2014). Most egregious among Canada’s crimes in the region are the displacement of indigenous communities from their traditional lands, economic and social disruption, environmen-
in American countries – are subject to structurally inhibited development and the inequitable allocation of capital. Additionally, Latin American locals involved in the mining sector remain impoverished (Higginbottom 185), while Canadian firms continue to grow their profits. Indigenous groups have been terribly impacted by Canada’s involvement in extractive industries. Removal from traditional lands and the inability to pursue traditional modes of income generation are
“anti-mining activists and advocates of indigenous regional interests become the targets of threats, accusations and even violence” tal degradation, and socio-political violence. These challenges are not confined to an individual arena Canada’s most reputable mining corporations find themselves the target of accusations across many different jurisdictions (North and Young 101). And any popular resistance to Canadian mining in Latin America has resulted in the assassinations of at least five opposition organizers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico (North 2010). Canada’s involvement with the Latin American mining industry can be characterized as a traditional core-periphery relationship, where the producer of raw materials – Lat-
common consequences of foreign mining projects (Gordon and Webber 66). Notably, Goldcorp continues operations on indigenous land in Guatemala despite the objection of affected communities (Pedersen 2015). In such situations, MiningWatch Canada has reported that anti-mining activists and advocates of indigenous regional interests become the targets of threats, accusations and even violence (Moore 8). In recent decades, the Canadian government has aggressively pursued neoliberal reforms on the international stage. Since 1994, Canada has signed Foreign Investment Protection Agreements with eight Latin
cure substantial private interests in the country, noting that the new regime was more receptive to foreign direct investment than the recently ousted social-democratic leader. (Shipley 48-53). In 2009, the Harper government touted Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidelines as sufficient in moderating the ill effects of Canadian mining projects abroad (Imai et al 294). Ostensibly, a well-drafted CSR policy would prevent mining companies from committing human rights abuses. However, that these policies are non-binding in nature limits their effectiveness and traps progress in the realm of rhetoric – often advertised, but rarely employed. Canadian public policy essentially precludes mining corporations from bearing any accountability for their actions abroad. However, it appears that this failing may have left room for Canadian courts to intervene. In a possible landmark case, Hubday Minerals – a TSX and NYSE traded company with mining activities spread across the Americas (Hudbay Minerals 2016) - has been brought before Canadian courts for violent incidents in Guatemala in relation to one of their projects. The consolidated cases deal with the actions of a Hudbay subsidiary, GCN, and stem from the forced evictions of indigenous peoples from long-contested indigenous land in order to make way for a mining project (Berot-Burns 2015). The cases are being brought before Canadian courts because Guatemala has had precarious governance since its civil war (Imai et. Al 103). This precedent was established in response to the previous existence of authoritarian governments in many parts of the global south, which in turn made specific countries attractive options for foreign direct investment (No-
cases, the plaintiffs allege that private security personnel gang raped eleven women during forced evictions on highly contested traditional Mayan land, shot an individual that left him paralyzed from the chest down, and murdered a community organizer (Klippensteins 2016). The plaintiffs argue the legal principle of duty of care was violated as the violence was foreseeable (Imai et al. 298), the disputed region had been unstable for some time, and a provocation (i.e. forced evictions) causing violence was reasonably foreseeable. If counsel for the plaintiffs can successfully prove that Hudbay had its own “executives and employees directly in charge of local operations, managing community relations with farming villages on contested indigenous lands, and assuming direct responsibility for security at the site”, (Gray, Lambert and Wahl 148-149) the courts will have grounds to find Hudbay legally responsible for the three violent incidents. The courts’ decision on the Hudbay cases could mark an end to the era of shell corporations securing Canadian private interests in Latin American. The case has the potential to achieve two important goals. First, it would impose extended liability on the foreign subsidiaries of Canadian mining corporations. And, second, it would foster an atmosphere of binding corporate social responsibility. The Hudbay cases represent an opportunity to repair Canada’s reputation abroad, if mining corporations are willing to see it as such and be part of the road to recovery.
Taiwan’s New Normal
by Professor Joseph Wong
A Plan to Deafeat ISIS by Joudy Sarraj
by Larissa Parker
A War on Climate Change? by Lisa Monozlai
INTERNATIONAL Photo credit: Petr Dlouhý (Wikipedia)
Taiwan’s New Normal by Professor Joseph Wong
Photo credit: Pasu Au Yeung (Flickr)
January 16, 2016, Taiwanese voters went to the polls to elect a new President and Legislative Yuan. Voters sent a clear message by electing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen with over 56% of the popular vote. Even more resoundingly, the DPP won 68 of the legislature’s 113 seats, giving the former opposition party a clear majority in the Legislative Yuan. For the first time, the Kuomintang (KMT) – the former authoritarian regime turned democratic political party – finds itself as the opposition in both the executive and legislative chambers. Even when the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian won the Presidency in 2000 and 2004, the KMT and its so-called PanBlue allies continued to control the legislature. One is tempted to announce the dawning of a new normal in Taiwan’s democratic politics based solely on the 2016 election results. However, as Taiwan is a well-functioning democracy, it would be foolish to label the DPP’s victory itself as remarkable given the alternation of power in Taiwan’s democracy is already well-institutionalized. Why I think Taiwan is in the midst of a new normal is because of the transformative changes to Taiwanese society reflected in, but not reducible to, the 2016 elections. Consider what has happened over the past eight years since the KMT, under President Ma Yingjeou, has held power in Taiwan. The former ruling party has become more, not less, China-centric, not only in its policies but also at the core of the party’s identity. Local – that is to say ethnically Taiwanese – leaders of the KMT have been side-
lined. The party is increasingly seen to be out of touch with Taiwanese nationalism. And the party appeals to an older generation of mainlanders (and their immediate families) who came to Taiwan over a half-century ago, many of whom are dying off and make-up a rapidly shrinking electoral base for the KMT. Meanwhile, it is estimated that nine out of ten first-time voters in Taiwan (i.e. young people) support the DPP and its Pan-Green coalition. A new generation of voters have been politically activated, the vast majority of
time on Taiwan cannot deny the island democracy is de facto independent. In other words, the old categories that had once shaped crossStrait politics and policies on Taiwan – that is, independence versus unification – are no longer relevant. The independence/ unification cleavage is not central to Taiwan’s new normal. In the past, Taiwanese society was divided; the distribution of opinions on independence and unification were bimodal. Today, we see a normal distribution of
“...the old categories that had once shaped cross-Strait politics and policies on Taiwan – that is, independence versus unification – are no longer relevant. ” whom grew up in a democratic and prosperous Taiwan. For them, Taiwan has never been a part of China and to suggest that they are citizens of China is preposterous. What exactly is this “new normal”? The new normal in Taiwan is one in which the majority of voters reject the 1992 Consensus, the condition upon which Beijing insists all cross-Strait negotiations be based. And despite President-elect Tsai’s allusions to the Republic of China (ROC) constitution as a plausible framework for cross-Strait dialogue, the fact of the matter is that most Taiwanese are skeptical; indeed, the ROC is a constitutional relic to most, and certainly not reflective of their lived experience on the island of Taiwan. And finally, the majority of Taiwanese view Taiwan to be an independent democracy. No one is foolish enough to make a juridical claim for Taiwan’s de jure independence, but anyone who has spent
opinions in which the vast majority of Taiwanese are in the middle: Taiwan is not de jure independent, but it is certainly a de facto independent democracy. The tails of this normal distribution are becoming smaller and smaller, as the KMT learned in this past election. Consequently, the new normal means the game of cross-Strait relations is changing. But to what? And how will the Tsai Presidency shape this new normal? Contrary to many observers of cross-Strait politics who contend Taiwan and China relations will ultimately be determined by Beijing and Washington, Taipei will have a say, provided it exercises its political agency effectively. There are very practical things Taiwan can do to shape crossStrait relations, despite overwhelming pressures from China and the US. For one, Taiwan can develop new ideas with which to manage its relationship with China. If “in-
dependence” and “unification” are no longer viable political categories in Taiwan’s democracy, then voices within Taiwan must articulate new cleavages. We are already seeing this. A new generation of Taiwanese embrace globalization and recognize Taiwan’s economic future to be intimately tied to China. At the same time, however, Taiwanese understand that this relationship needs to be strategically managed. Practically speaking, the Taiwanese government must generate public policies – such as social, environmental, labor market, fiscal and economic policies – that not only differentiate Taiwan from China but also ensure Taiwan’s government the autonomy to resist political integration with China. And finally, Taiwan and Taiwanese citizens must leverage the island’s democracy to guarantee its functional independence. There are two ways to exist independently. One is to rely on the rules and norms of the international (i.e. Westphalian) system, whereby external states respect one’s borders. In this regard, independence is externally constituted. This is not an option for Taiwan. The other way is to “thicken” from the inside-out, so as to make one’s existence impervious to external claims. This Weberian tactic is Taiwan’s best way forward: thickening its existence through democracy. In the new normal, then, Taiwan’s claim to autonomy and independence is not a partisan claim; it is not a Tsai Ing-wen or DPP project. Rather, thickening Taiwan by strengthening its democracy is a nation-wide project, one which must span all political parties and social forces.
A Plan to Defeat ISIS by Joudy Sarraj
Photo credit: James Corbett (Wikipedia)
ISIS weighs heavily on the world’s
consciousness; an existential threat to peace and security. In September of 2015, the Roman columns of Palmyra which once adorned the Syrian dessert were destroyed by an ISIS offensive. Photos of what remained of the heritage sight were boastfully posted online by insurgents. A few weeks later, a Russian plane exploded midair over the Sinai Peninsula, killing more than two hundred passengers. The carnage continued in Beirut, with an attack that killed at least forty-three, and at the Bataclan in Paris, the following day. With the world transfixed on this horrific pattern of terror, President Francois Hollande of France declared war on the Islamic State. Rationalizing the threat that is ISIS, and devising a strategy in response, is a difficult task. ISIS conducts its battles with foreign fighters, articulates its brutal message through vast technological networks, and maintains its stronghold thanks to the geopolitical chaos and sectarian strife of the Middle East. It is no surprise, then, that the international response to ISIS is a reluctant and disjointed one. While Hollande has vowed to destroy the group, intensifying airstrikes on Raqqa only days after the Paris attacks, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced the withdrawal of Canada’s CF-18 jets from the region. Though Canada’s absence from the US-led air coalition will have little impact on the mission’s aerial efforts, the Trudeau government’s decision is certainly a symbolic one. In the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Canadian foreign policy decisions concerning ISIS are made cautiously, cloaked in a fear of repeating past mistakes. Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan recalled Afghanistan in a recasting of the government’s position on ISIS, remarking that “coalition
partners in Afghanistan helped create the corruption that fuelled the insurgency.” It is in the same spirit that President Obama has embraced a strategy of constraint: one that seeks to “degrade, dismantle and defeat” ISIS from afar. If the international community hopes to find any success in the fight against ISIS, states must consolidate their forces and devise a multilateral solution. Trudeau’s plan to open up Canada’s borders to refugees, and strengthen support for those displaced internally in Syria, is negligible if not integrated into a larger strategy. The same is true of President Obama’s airstrikes. Let us consider, first, why such a multi-national coalition is essential to defeating ISIS. And, second, let us consider what it would take to unite those actors with considerable interest in the region — the United States, European Union, Syrian rebels, Kurdish Peshmerga, Russia and Iran, to name a few. A proxy war is being fought in Syria between these actors. For progress to be achieved, their collective input is necessary in a Syria first strategy, aimed at pacifying the conflict which led to the emergence and now continued existence of ISIS. Before the start of the revolution in Syria, ISIS was nothing but a flailing branch of Al-Qaeda. ISIS’ first recruits came from amongst a disenchanted populous seeking a forceful opposition with which to challenge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad’s brutality, and his agenda of collective punishment, legitimizes ISIS in the eyes of many. Yet, concurrently, Russia and Iran expect the West to concede that Assad is the lesser of two evils, the other being Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’ so-called “Caliph”. A Syria first strategy, which sees the suggested coalition driven by a humanitarian imperative, will deliver a severe
blow to ISIS. The coalition’s objective should be twofold: to terminate the ability of the Assad regime to kill large numbers of civilians, with government barrel bombs and shelling; and to command the Assad regime to lift sieges that deny food and medical care to its people, as it has done in Madaya. Political leadership in Tehran and Moscow has the power to compel Assad to comply with these humanitarian demands. In Eastern Syria, where threats to civilians now come mainly from ISIS — and not the Assad regime —
ISIS, instead of fighting a two front war. Despite the lack of political will, brokering an international deal is not impossible. Recall that the Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian civil — which killed 100,000 people and involved several regional and global powers — was resolved by the 1995 Dayton Agreement, which brought an end to fighting. The Dayton Agreement was an imperfect peace deal, based on exhaustion and impasse rather than justice. However, its terms stabilized the Balkan region, insert-
“If the international community hopes to find any success in the fight against ISIS, states must consolidate their forces and devise a multilateral solution.” it is the absence of capable ground forces that inhibits the success of an anti-ISIS military campaign. An air campaign alone cannot produce decisive results. Moreover, Kurdish military men on the ground are too few; and they remain too focused on creating and maintaining a contiguous ethnic zone of their own in northern Syria. Furthermore, ISIS’ military capabilities are currently bolstered by the Iraqi government’s weaponry, which insurgents picked up after they were left behind by fleeing Iraqi soldiers. The international community can train troops to fight ISIS in a number of ways: deploying extra special operations forces, sending conventional forces to conduct training, expanding support of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to include police training or medical support, or devising a NATO mission to lead training work in Jordan or Turkey. Even if the coalition is not robust or united enough to agree to one of these options, simply checking Assad’s power through a humanitarian mission means that moderate Sunnis can focus their attention on
ed human rights norms, facilitated transitional political arrangements, and secured refugee resettlement in the midst of the fog of war. Similarly, the fight against ISIS involves a large number of international players and local militias, with many of the latter being religiously motivated. In the terror-ridden world created by ISIS, GOP presidential candidates have recommended courses of action such as an escalated air campaign, with a higher tolerance for civilian casualties. However, an escalated response can happen in a measured and carefully negotiated way, one that accounts for shared interests and involves co-operation. An attempt at achieving a cohesive partnership may, perhaps, drive leaders to a place where they can begin to repair their own frayed relationships. This is a goal worth working towards - international consensus and a global coalition ready to respond to the current military and humanitarian catastrophe.
COP21: Confronting the Climate Change Crisis Larissa Parker
INTERNATIONAL climate climate
governance is a complex and delicate endeavour. There exists a plethora of social, economic and political variables that influences the causes and consequences of global environmental issues; and many multinational stakeholders are required to govern these variables. Through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conferences of the Parties (COP) provide international fora for representatives from various governments, international organizations and civil society organizations to come together and negotiate a plan to tackle climate change. The success and effectiveness of such conferences has often been debated, particularly since the failure of COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009; a conference which highlighted the difficulties revolving around effective environmental governance. At the time, COP15 was in a spotlight similar to the attention lent to the recent COP21 meeting in Paris. Recognizing that the Kyoto Protocol’s 2012 emissions target deadline was fast approaching, there was a prevailing sense of urgency at COP15 that global targets beyond 2012 be agreed upon. Yet somehow, after eight draft texts and extensive conversations between 115 world lead-
ers, only a weak accord was developed. This disappointing agreement merely recognized the scientific case for keeping temperature increases to no more than two degrees. It included no commitments on emission reductions necessary to achieve that goal. There are a variety of reasons that explain why COP15 resulted in an unsuccessful agreement. These include poor leadership, distrust among nations, the North South divide, and inflexible mandatory
before. It reflects a hybrid approach to climate governance that synthesizes bottom-up flexibility - which in turn encourages broad participation - and top-down rules, which ensure accountability. Specifically, the Paris Agreement recognizes that nations possess common goals, grounded in differentiated responsibilities that reflect their respective national capabilities. Overall, the Paris Agreement represents a fundamental shift
“...the fact that 1.5 degree cap is in the Paris Agreement is a tremendous victory for the developing world, and particularly small island states who passionately called on the world to recognize that a two degree cap would not be sufficient...” targets. Perhaps most detrimental was the fact that many important parties, such as the delegations of the United States, Canada, and China, came to the negotiation table unwilling to compromise. This left all parties involved with little motivation to agree on an equitable and ambitious climate deal. Since COP15, the playing field has changed for the better. Recent COP meetings in Warsaw, Peru and Paris illustrate an important shift towards effective climate governance. In fact, the new Paris Agreement represents progress that the international climate regime has never seen
away from the categorical binary approach of the Kyoto Protocol which mandated inflexible targets - toward a more nuanced flexible differentiation through the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) system. This system, developed at COP19, two years prior, mobilizes countries to determine their possible contributions in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities. The possible resulting commitments are then presented to the international community. The INDC approach allows for flexibility, of vital importance when attempting to reach an
agreement between two hundred nations with different socio-political situations and different degrees of development. INDCs are the primary means for governments to communicate the individual steps they will take to address climate change. This allows stakeholders to anticipate how nations will contribute to global emissions reductions and climate resilience in the future. Furthermore, scholars and practitioners recognize that one of the hallmarks of the Paris Agreement is an increase in the accountability of nations, an element that never existed in COP15. The Paris Agreement grounds itself in two mitigation goals: to enact a global peaking of emissions as soon as possible; and to achieve a goal of net greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of this century. Thus, it was imperative for policy crafters that actors remain accountable to their emission commitments. Within the first week of the conference, most countries agreed that the Paris Agreement would require clauses on transparency, as well as monitoring and reporting commitments. The Paris Agreement states that all countries are required to submit emissions inventories and the “information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving” their INDCs. Moreover, it asserts that, with the exception of
Photo credit: UNclimatechange (Flickr) Continued from Page 9 least developed nations and small island states, these reports are to be submitted at least every two years. Developed nations should report on the amount of support that they provide, while developing countries should report on the amount of support that they receive. In both cases, all countries should also report on their climate change adaptation efforts. Finally, the Paris Agreement also demands that all countries submit new INDCs every five years, with the clear expectation that they will “represent a progression over time, while recognizing the need to support developing country Parties for the effective implementation of this Agreement.” While COP 21 was successful in setting measurable and accountable goals, critics have argued that the targets set are unachievable. Citing the failures of the infamous Kyoto Protocol, COP15 in Copenhagen, and the continued domination of fossil fuel industries, many have cast doubts over whether the Paris Agreement will prevail over past failures. To some extent, these doubts are not unfounded. Although the Paris Agreement is remarkably ambitious, it is clear that the INDC targets that each country
has put forward, when added together, do not reach the one and a half or two degree goal for the global cap on temperature increases. In fact, with the current targets, it is expected that the world will inevitably experience three degrees of warming. The gap between ambition and achievement is clear. Activists, such as Naomi Klein, a renowned Canadian author, have publicly stated their disapproval with this system. In an interview following the decision, she stated, “It’s a very strange thing to cheer for setting a target that you are knowingly failing to meet.” Such frustration is understandable, particularly since some countries have put forward very modest INDCs. The United States for example, plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 12 to 19 percent by 2025 from what their emission levels were in 1990. According to Climate Action Tracker, a nongovernment organization, this target is “a medium goal,” representing “the least ambitious end of what would be [deemed] a fair contribution.” Although targets may not embody the amount of ambition required to keep warming below 2 degrees, when considered in tandem, they do represent a level of ambition and cooperation that has never been seen before. In reality, the fact that
1.5 degree cap is in the Paris Agreement represents a tremendous victory for the developing world, and particularly small island states who passionately called on the world to recognize that a two degree cap
nations that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Overall, the Paris Agreement represents an important success in the history of climate governance. However, this fight is by no means
“While COP 21 was successful in setting measurable and accountable goals, critics have argued that the targets set are unachievable.” would not be sufficient to save their nations from natural disasters such as floods and droughts. Furthermore, as Bill McKibbon, founder of 350.org stated at COP21, it is useful to understand that “the COP serves as the scoreboard and not the game.” COPs do not galvanize change; instead, they provide an environment to negotiate and arrive at consensus. This is an important way to think about COPs. Often, critics fall into the trap of expecting too much from such conferences; they look for specificity and international accomplishment. In fact, it is individual actors who are responsible for the achievement of these targets. Of course, skepticism is important. Yet it is essential to remember that it is up to national governments to invest in green technologies, abandon further fossil-fuel-heavy development and offer mitigation and adaptation aid to
over. According to McKibbon,”[W] e need to build the movement even bigger in the coming years, so that the Paris Agreement turns into a floor and not a ceiling for action.” In short, all actors have a responsibility to our planet. Governments, organizations and individuals will need to cooperate to implement change. We are in the midst of an environmental revolution, one that is responsible for the differences between what occurred in COP15 six years ago and COP21. It is this revolution that will determine the future success of the COP21 targets.
A War on Climate Change? by Lisa Monozlai
FROM November 30th to Decem-
Photo credit: The Associated Press
ber 12th, 2015, the leaders of one hundred and ninety five countries gathered in France for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). Out of the conference came the Paris Agreement, a universal climate agreement designed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and hold the increase of the global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with an aim of a rise no higher than 1.5°C. In 2009, COP15 - and the resultant Copenhagen Accord - made a similar attempt to lower global CO2 emissions. The Accord had many critics, including the former environment minister of Sweden, who described the agreement as a “great failure” due to its reluctance to set strict global emissions targets and
In the last few years, the United States’ government has released an increasing number of reports that identify the global climate crisis as a national security threat. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, for example, refers to climate change as a “threat multiplier” that exacerbates “poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions,” enabling terrorism and other forms of violence. Another 2014 paper published in the U.S. journal PNAS argues that the 20072010 Syrian drought, catalyzed by an increase in greenhouse gases, contributed to the conflict in Syria. But, the rhetoric of climate change as a security threat is found not only in reports. President Obama, speaking to the 2015 graduating class of the United States Coast Guard Academy, suggested that climate change will “impact how [the
encourage international cooperation. Several developing countries also took issue with the Accord – which was developed by the United States and the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) – describing it as undemocratic and exclusive. Six years after the failed Copenhagen Accord, it is uncertain that the Paris Agreement will make progress on an issue that many governments have so reluctant Photopreviously credit: Thebeen Portugal News to address. However, there are also many reasons to be optimistic that the goals set out during COP21 will come to fruition. Aside from the cooperation and transparency it boasts, the Paris Agreement has what the Copenhagen Accord lacked – an American focus on the securitization of climate change.
American] military defends [the United States].” Even some Republicans have agreed with this framing. A full-page ad entitled “Republicans and Democrats Agree: U.S. Security Demands Global Climate Action” ran in the Wall Street Journal last year. This publication suggests that responding to the challenge of global climate change could bridge the ideological gaps between Republicans and Democrats. As the world’s second largest polluter and key player in United Nations climate talks, the significance of the United States’ reframing of climate change as a security threat should not be underestimated. Framing the climate crisis in this way increases its priority on the political agenda and legitimizes drastic measures, says Art Dewulf, Professor of Public Policy at Wa-
“The Paris Agreement has what the Copenhagen Accord lacked an American focus on the securitization of climate change.”
geningen University. The rhetoric around the securitization of climate change foreshadows what many expect will be immediate action from the United States on mitigating CO2 emissions – action that would encourage the rest of the world to follow suit. Although the United States is an important player to consider when reflecting on international cooperation around climate change, China remains the world’s biggest polluter. Peking University professor Zheng Haibin argues that extreme weather conditions, brought on by climate change, will contribute to rising sea levels. This outcome poses a significant threat to China’s national defence. However, China has shown reluctance to securitize the issue, choosing not to include climate change in the country’s 2015 military strategy. Nevertheless, November 2014 marked a new pillar for Chinese and American bilateral climate diplomacy. In a joint announcement on climate change and clean energy cooperation, President Obama and President Xi Jinping reaffirmed their intentions to build on “robust bilateral cooperation initiatives” and promote the transition to “green, low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.” The agreement between the two key players lasted, and COP21 saw China and the United States begin the climate talks as partners and allies. Together, the United States and China account for one third of global CO2 emissions. If the securitization of climate change encourages the United States to maintain its climate commitments, these actions might encourage China to deliver on its own commitments. Now that the world’s two biggest polluters have committed to domestic policy reform in response
to the threat of climate change, I believe we have reason to be hopeful. We can be optimistic that a cooperative China and United States will result in support from the other one hundred and ninety three states that are signatories to the Paris Agreement. We can also agree with French president, François Hollande, that the Agreement is a “major leap for mankind” – a revolutionary product of multilateral diplomacy around climate change. Yet, despite these many successes, the Paris Agreement is insufficient in several ways. “It’s just worthless words. There is no action,” former NASA scientist, James Hansen said to the Guardian, in reference to the Agreement’s non-legally binding nature. “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.” The Committee on Climate Change has also taken issue with parts of the Agreement. They reported that each country’s pledged emissions reduction targets — also known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) — when considered together, will lead to a rise of about 3°C by the year 2100. That is well above the 1.5°C target set at COP21. COP21 produced an historical accord lauded by many world leaders. We have seen one hundred and ninety five countries move toward a greener future And, yes, there is promise that the United States and China will move towards sustainable development and carbon emissions reduction much faster than they did in 2009. The international community is indeed operating with a sense of urgency. One can only hope this pace is fast enough.
Reluctant Acceptance, or Growing Intolerance? by Sonia Liang
The Fight against Rising Income Inequality by Siddharth Singh Chaudhari
Limited Universality by Maria Monica Layarda
Reluctant Acceptance, or Growing Intolerance? Anti-immigration Sentiment and Euroscepticism in Sweden and Germany by Sonia Liang
INTRODUCTION From the massive economic momentum of the European project in the 1960s, to the gradual deepening of the Union in the 1990s, to the era of crisis that we see plaguing the Eurozone today, the relationships member states have with the European Union (EU) have evolved with the changing nature of the EU itself. Boomgaarden et al., McLaren, Toshkov and Kortenska, and Hooghe and Marks all remark a shift in Euroscepticism being driven primarily by economic, rational-choice considerations to being driven by cultural identity considerations.1,2 In 1992, the EU sought closer political as well as economic integration, transforming from the European Community into the European Union. Concurrently, the attitudes towards the EU also transformed with the idea of defending ‘the national community’ taking priority over rational individual-level policy preferences.3 Looking at the relationship between immigration and Euroscepticism, a rise in immigration to EU member states can be expected to result in increased Euroscepticism; this is particularly true if this rise in immigration results in hostility towards migrants. Both anti-immigration sentiment and anti-Europeanism can be explained by member states possessing an exclusive sense of national identity (feeling only German, not German and European), maintaining an attachment to the nation state, and viewing external actors as eroding the sovereignty of, and way of life in, that state.4 Many saw the Eastern enlargement of 2004 as a gateway to increased migration and opposed it for that reason. It is for the same reason that others view the Schengen policy of open borders with fear.5,6 Considering the scale and intensity of the current refugee crisis and the rise in support for Eurosceptic parties, examining the link between immigration and Euroscepticism can shed valuable insights on the challenges that face Europe today. Moreover, scholarship can highlight what the prime considerations should be - locally, nationally, and supra-nationally - to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of the EU. Attempting to understand the relationship between anti-immigration sentiment and EU support, this paper will look at the evolution of Euroscepticism and migration poli-
cy in Sweden and Germany. Several factors make these countries fit for comparative study: both countries have, in recent decades, seen steady levels of immigration from both within and outside Europe; both have had trouble successfully integrating migrants; both have more of an ethnic than civic conception of citizenship; both have been relatively insulated from the effects of the Euro crisis; both are characterized by high living standards and generous redistribution programs (though they use fundamentally different welfare models); and both have, in the face of the largest refugee crisis since World War II, accepted an unparalleled number of asylum seekers on a continent where others are closing their doors.7 In 2014, Sweden and Germany alone processed 40 percent of the EU’s asylum applications, and came out as the strongest advocates of a common European migration policy.8 DEFINING EUROSCEPTICISM It is first necessary to define Euroscepticism and clarify the different strands of attitudes towards the EU. Euroscepticism is not one concept but rather an umbrella term for a series of different attitudes. Disentangling these attitudes and how they are measured is crucial to arriving at a better understanding of how and when Euroscepticism emerges. Political scientists have used a number of classifications to distinguish between ‘types’ of Euroscepticism. Paul Taggart, for example, distinguishes between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Euroscepticism in European party systems; the former espousing outright opposition to the EU, and the latter involving opposition to the speed or depth of integration, but not to the integration project as a whole.9 At the individual level of analysis, Van Kingeren et al. also use the terms ‘hard’ and ‘soft’. However, these term are used to define the nature of dislike towards the EU rather than the intensity: they define economic factors as ‘hard’ and identity factors as ‘soft.’10 Berggruen and Gardels provide a more comprehensive overview of Euroscepticism, identifying four variants: utilitarian (how EU membership impacts individual economic gains), political (dislike of transferring sovereignty to an undemocratic supra-national level), value-based (dislike of the
EU’s interference with value systems e.g. minority rights, abortion), and cultural (the perception that the EU is eroding national history and culture).11 The most helpful categorization is, perhaps, offered by Boomgaarden, Schuck, Elenbaas, and de Vreese, who in their 2011 study identify five dimensions of Euroscepticism: Performance: whether the EU is effective, democratic, and functions well Utilitarianism: personally benefiting from EU membership, seeing the EU as a good thing Identity: whether the EU is perceived as threat to identity and culture Negative affection: feelings of fear, anger, disgust or threat for the EU Strengthening: whether you support further widening and deepening, the EU becoming one country12 The first two, performance and utilitarianism, reflect the traditional rational-choice institutionalist perspective. The following two, identity and negative affectation, measure emotional response and the extent to which someone thinks of the EU in terms of out-groups (immigrants, Brussels politicians, other EU countries) threatening in-groups (the common man, the citizen of that particular nation state, the local community). These two factors are of the greatest interest to this paper. The last factor, strengthening, measures citizens’ commitment to further integration. EXPECTED RESULTS Despite Sweden and Germany initially falling into the same ‘grouping’ when it comes to migration policy, socioeconomic status, and conceptions of national identity, I expect to see divergent trends in both nations. While I expect to see a correlation between anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism in both, I predict a) that the link is stronger in Sweden and b) that both anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism are lower in Germany. These hypotheses are based on a number of reasons. First, the countries’ status within the EU differs in that Germany was a founding member and is still considered one of the main drivers of the European proj-
ect. Sweden, however, only joined the EU in 1995 and has always been a slightly reluctant member, opting out of deeper integration such as membership in the European Monetary Union. Second, in Germany, anti-establishment and xenophobic discourse is policed by the traumatic experience of Nazism. This left Germany with a deep-seated discomfort of far-right extremism. Third, Sweden’s more extensive welfare policies and relative lack of success in integrating migrants into the labour market may suggest that immigration has resulted in a more significant rise in anti-immigrant sentiment in comparison to Germany. Examining the trajectory of Swedish and German migration policy in recent decades, the evolution of pro and anti-Europeanism, and national and regional data (on the NUTS2 level for Sweden and NUTS1 level for Germany), this paper will map the relationship between anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism in the two countries. Breaking down Euroscepticism into five different variants, Boomgaarden et al.’s study provides a more nuanced understanding of Euroscepticism than is possible to glean from Eurobarometer surveys. Looking at the extent to which factors such as gender, age, education, income, ideology, anti-immigration sentiment, and perception of the national government impact the five dimensions of Euroscepticism, Boomgaarden et al. found that anti-immigration sentiment was the strongest predictor of three categories - ‘strengthening’, ‘utilitarianism’, and ‘negative affection.’ Together with ‘level of government approval’, attitudes towards immigration was the only factor influencing all five dimensions. Surprisingly, factors such as ideology and income had no relationship to any dimension. Noting such a strong link between anti-immigration sentiment in the Netherlands and attitudes towards the EU, Boomgaarden’s study affirms arguments made in Lauren McLaren’s research. McLaren’s research focuses on how viewing immigrants as an out-group that threatens the nation-state is a strong predictor of Euroscepticism, particularly (but not limited to) emotional, identity-based Euroscepticism. Furthermore, a paper written by de Vreese
Essay and Boomgaarden in 2005 also links anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism. Their study of EU referenda results in Denmark and the Netherlands revealed that any increase in anti-immigrant sentiment was associated with “a considerable increase in the likelihood of voting ‘no’.”13 SWEDEN, GERMANY, AND MIGRATION: A DIFFICULT HISTORY Sweden and Germany have had mixed experiences with immigration. As countries of net emigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to becoming countries of net immigration after World War II, many foreigners arrived through temporary guest-worker schemes that Sweden and Germany alike saw as a solution to the labour shortages of the booming 1950s and 1960s.14 In Germany, the foreign population grew from half a million in 1955 to almost four million in 1968, with migrants coming from Southern Europe, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Northern Africa. In Sweden, over half of the migrant population came from other Nordic countries, with the rest coming mainly from Southern Europe.15,16 However, neither Germany nor Sweden planned for the possibility that these foreign workers would stay; neither made arrangements for long-term integration into society; and in both countries, ‘temporary’ labour migrants turned into “new and permanent ethnic minorities.”17 Though labour migration was restricted after the oil crisis of 1973, the 1970s and 1980s nevertheless saw immigration continue at a steady pace, driven mainly by family reunification and an influx in asylum seekers. Inflows in Germany peaked in 1992 with 1.2 million migrants arriving (440,000 of whom were asylum seekers), and in Sweden during the same year, when 84,000 asylum seekers were admitted. The influx was greeted in Sweden with modest accommodation and relatively unsuccessful integration policies - measures introduced in the 1990s “didn’t curb issues of high unemployment and social welfare dependency levels.”20 During the Balkan wars of the 1990s, public opinion became increasingly hostile towards refugees (with 65 percent of Swedes wanting more restrictive policies).21 As a result, Sweden amended its laws to make it harder for refugees to gain entry after 1993. As the number of asylum seekers in Sweden declined, so did hostility towards them. In Germany, the new reality of immigration was greeted with denial: the country was among the last to admit that immigration
amounted to more than “a temporary economic expedient.”22 Until 1998, every major political party in Germany except the Greens resolutely stood by the dogma that “the German Federal Republic is not a country of immigration.”23 Only when the Social Democrats and the Greens came to power did Germany revise its restrictive citizenship laws to make it easier for non-ethnic Germans to become citizens.24 At the European level, Germany continued to be “resolutely opposed [to] the European Commission’s attempt to adopt a common European Migration Policy.”25 Examining Figures 1 and 2 mapping of immigration levels from 1998 to 2014, one can see immigration levels rising steadily in Sweden, passing the 100,000 threshold in 2008. In Germany, annual influxes stayed high and steady at above 700,000 per year until 2006, falling sharply by almost half, only to rise back up to mid-2000s levels by 2013.26 FOUNDING MEMBER VERSUS RELUCTANT LATECOMER Germany’s traditional European narrative is that it is one of the EU’s strongest supporters. In contrast, Sweden is a more sceptical member. This runs contrary to the hypothesis that a country more opposed to immigration (Germany) would be more Eurosceptic than a country who has dabbled in multicultural policies with slightly greater public support (Sweden). In examining the evolution of Euroscepticism in Sweden and Germany, it is crucial to note their different histories: Germany was a founding member of the EU, forming the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) with France, Italy, and the Benelux countries in 1951. Sweden, however, only joined the European Union in 1995. Embracing “a Europeanized version of German nation state identity” after World War II, the Federal Republic of Germany sought to distance itself from anything resembling the authoritarian nationalism of its Nazi past.27 Political parties believed that acting through new European institutions, rather than unilaterally, was the best way for Germany to remain a key player in Europe without alarming its neighbours. However, as Scicluna remarks, “the pro-integration consensus of the political elite [obscured the fact that]…the country’s citizens have always had a complicated relationship with the EU.”28 In Sweden, on the other hand, not only was public opinion at the time of accession more sceptical, but it also had several outlets on the political stage opposing integration. Sweden’s Left Party, Green Party,
and factions of the Social Democratic Party have all looked on European integration with a certain amount of hesitation. These parties share the fear that membership in the supra-national organization would erode social welfare policies and bring in unwanted neo-liberal tendencies. Tapio Raunio explains that Sweden’s wealth and egalitarian welfare model “make [Sweden] less interested in transferring policy-making powers to the European level.”29 This reluctance was reflected in the referendum for entry in 1994, which was highly divisive and prevailed only a narrow majority.30 The trend observed over time is that Sweden was always sceptical of European integration but is slowly becoming more supportive of the EU (while remaining opposed to deeper integration).31 Germany, however, was among the EU’s most enthusiastic members. Yet, since the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, when the integration project transformed from a primarily economic endeavour to a political one, Germany’s support for the EU has cooled. Political parties like the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party still “subscribe to a Europeanist code, but the commitment has become less intense…party programmes scarcely mention the EU.”32 Paterson refers to this as a “gradual process of hollowing out.”33 It is important to note that, in recent years, Euroscepticism has grown rapidly on the political right. In Sweden, the populist-right wing Sweden Democrats (SD) are now the third largest party with 13 percent of the vote. They “support a return of competencies to the Swedish stage [and] want to renegotiate the EU treatment.”34 Described by Jens Rydgren as “a fundamental core of ethno-nationalist xenophobia and anti-political establishment populism,” one of the party’s main platform points is reducing immigration, effectively being the only Swedish party to diverge from the pro-immigration consensus.35 While SD does not advocate for leaving the EU, it is distrustful of politics beyond the level of the nation-staten it views the EU, globalization, and increased immigration as a threat to the Swedish ‘value system.’36 In Germany, too, anti-establishment Euroscepticism is emerging on the political right: there are strands of anti-Europeanism in the Christian Social Union, and an increase in popularity for Alternative für Deutschland (AfD),37 which narrowly missed the 5 percent threshold for entering the Bundestag in 2013 with 4.7 percent of the vote.38 Being careful to avoid the xenophobic rhetoric that discredited former right-wing
parties, AfD has positioned itself as a party protesting the handling of the Euro crisis, with its central platform pillar calling for an orderly dissolution of the Eurozone.39 However, in the past year, the AfD has become more vocal about Islam and immigration, echoing SD’s idea of cultural threat in its calls to protect the family as “the basic unit of society”40 and its criticism of “disorderly immigration into the welfare system.”41 Both AfD and SD have been able to appeal to a significant anti-European, populist conservative segment of society. In doing so, they reveal the potential for rightwing populism to grow in Europe and, that contrary to the common narrative, there remains considerable ethno-nationalist sentiment among Swedish and German public opinion today; a sentiment that has consequences for both countries’ relationship with Europe and their openness towards immigration. TRENDS IN THE 2000s: UTILITARIAN EUROSCEPTICISM Looking at Eurobarometer data can shed more light on the relationship between anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism. Using the main categories highlighted in Boomgaarden et al.’s study — identity-based, cultural Euroscepticism and rational choice institutionalist Euroscepticism — it is important to scrutinize these variables to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of Eurosceptic attitudes in Sweden and Germany. One strategy that is available to measure utilitarianism involves asking: “Do you consider your country’s membership in the EU to be a good thing or a bad thing?”.42 While this measure is only available from 2001 to 2010, in that time it appears that, overall, more Germans thought membership in the EU was a good thing than Swedes (see Figure 3). However in Sweden, support for membership in the 2000s steadily rose and passed German levels in 2010, growing from a lukewarm 33 percent in 2001 and climbing to a high of 58 percent in 2009 — only the second time this statistic has moved above the EU average.43 For Germany, the trend is more scattered: starting at a higher level, there is a significant drop in support in 2004, a noticeable increase until 2007, and a steady decline from 2007 onwards.44 The drop in support in 2004 — at the German, Swedish, and EU level — can be linked to the Eastern enlargement, when the EU let in ten countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. This admission led to a fall in public support for the EU of almost 15 percent
Essay in Germany, while in Sweden the number of individuals considering membership to be ‘good’ only dropped by 4 percent. Considering the predictions of massive immigration preceding the Eastern enlargement, and that Germany was among the most hostile to the potential influx, this shift is perhaps unsurprising. While many countries imposed transitional two-year restrictions, Germany retained restrictions on the free movement of people from new member states for the maximum possible period, until 2011. Sweden, on the other hand, was one of the only countries to allow citizens of the new member states “to work without formally requesting a permit.”45 These results challenge my hypothesis that anti-immigration sentiment results in greater Euroscepticism in Sweden than in Germany. Furthermore, the results illustrate that Germany may show a stronger correlation between the two variables. While there is no question on the Eurobarometer survey gauging public support for immigration before 2014, data from the SOM Institute in Sweden shows that support for restricting immigration spiked in the new century in 2004 (at 53 percent) — at the same time that support for membership dropped to 37 percent.46 This data indicates that my hypothesis concerning the link between anti-immigration sentiment and utilitarian Euroscepticism does, to a certain extent, hold true in Sweden at the national level. IDENTITY-BASED CULTURAL EUROSCEPTICISM A measure that can help gauge identity-based cultural Euroscepticism is: “In general, does the EU conjure up for you a positive, neutral, or negative image?”47 Consistent with previous findings, this measure reveals that Sweden lags behind Germany in support for the EU in the early 2000s, with less than half the population viewing the EU positively for the 13 years surveyed. Public support in both Sweden and Germany peaks at around the same time, with Germany considering the EU most positively in 2007 (at 52 percent) and Sweden in 2009 (at 41 percent).48 A a long period of decline follows as the financial crisis hits Europe. Data from the Pew Research Centre, on the percentage of people in Germany who see immigration as a problem, shows anti-immigration sentiment peaking in 2009 and 2010 at 44 percent.49 This suggests a certain relationship with Euroscepticism: this is a period when the number of people with a positive image of the EU dropped by 10 full percentage points, from 46 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in
2010.50 However, the little data that is available does not establish this conclusively. TRENDS IN 2014 AND 2015 While measures of identity-based cultural Euroscepticism are consistently available from past years, analysis is limited by the fact that anti-immigration sentiment is not measured by Eurobarometer surveys until 2014. In 2014, a question is introduced evaluating whether the “immigration of people from other EU countries” and “from non-EU countries” evokes a positive feeling.51 The question reveals a gaping divide between Sweden and Germany: in 2014, 82 percent of Swedes saw EU migration as positive, but only 50 percent of Germans felt the same way. 72 percent of Swedes looked upon non-EU migration positively. In Germany, this falls to 29 percent. Not only is Swedish opinion more than twice as positive as German sentiments, it is also the most positive opinion in the entire EU.52 Furthermore, with the recent influx of refugees coming primarily from Syria and Afghanistan, it is significant that for non-EU migration, positive attitudes concerning migration drop by 21 percent in Germany (to 29 percent) but only by 10 percent in Sweden, with over two thirds of the Swedish public still holding a positive view.53 The openness of Sweden towards immigrants comes at one of the rare times when the EU is seen more positively in Sweden than in Germany, with 42 percent of Swedes having a positive image in 2014 in comparison to only 36 percent of Germans.54 This, like the tentative conclusions we reached in the past two sections, runs contrary to our original hypothesis that a) anti-immigration sentiment would be stronger in Sweden than in Germany and b) would be more strongly correlated with increased Euroscepticism. COMPARISON AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL While national-level analysis reveals some tentative patterns between anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism, such data masks significant regional differences. The absence of regional data makes it harder to determine whether the independent variable (intolerance towards immigrants) correlates with the dependent variable (Euroscepticism). The latest Eurobarometer survey published in early 2015 is one of the few that evaluates sentiments towards the EU in parallel with sentiments towards immigrants. Using this survey, it is possible to directly compare regional variations within Sweden and Germany at the Riksområden (NUTS2)
and Länder (NUTS1) level. Figures 5 and 6 reveal several insights. First, Euroscepticism levels are comparable in Sweden and Germany (at an average of just over and just under 20 percent, respectively). Second, in both countries, there is a positive trend between Euroscepticism and negative attitudes towards immigrants at the regional level that attitudes are — in every single region — more hostile towards immigrants coming from outside the EU than from other EU member states. Third, hostility towards non-EU migrants is a better predictor of Euroscepticism than hostility towards EU migrants. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, hostility towards migrants is far greater in German Länder than in Swedish Riksområden.55s, Germany is the Land most hostile towards migrants with 81 percent of locals viewing non-EU migrants negatively. In Sweden, not a single region surpasses 50 percent in negative sentiment. The least hostile Land in Germany (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency) has over 40 percent of residents who view non-EU migrants negatively. On the other hand, in Sweden, the values lie between 21 percent (Stockholm) and 40 percent for all regions except for two. In other words, someone living in Germany is likely to be twice as hostile towards immigrants from outside the EU than someone living in Sweden. The fact that attitudes towards immigrants are already so negative in Germany, at a time when the refugee crisis shows no sign of abating, is cause for concern. Furthermore, while the strength of the relationship between the two variables is comparable in the two countries, it is still relatively stronger in Germany. In Germany, an increase in Euroscepticism is associated with an increase in anti-immigration sentiment one third larger than the corresponding increase in Sweden.56 If anti-immigration sentiment continues to grow, it will mean a relatively larger increase in Euroscepticism in Germany than in Sweden. CONCLUSION My hypothesis at the start of this paper was that I would see a link between increased anti-immigration sentiment and increased Euroscepticism in both Sweden and Germany, with a) the link being stronger in Sweden, and b) both anti-immigration sentiment and Euroscepticism being lower in Germany. However, after examining data at the regional and national levels, I can conclude that a) the link is in fact stronger in Germany, with Euroscepticism at the Länder level increasing more significantly compared to a change in anti-immigration sentiment than
in Sweden’s Riksområden. Furthermore, b) while Euroscepticism levels are currently comparable in the two countries, anti-immigration sentiment is twice as high in Germany than in Sweden. These conclusions are drawn primarily from the Eurobarometer surveys in 2014 and 2015. The relatively high levels of hostility towards migrants in Germany compared to Sweden has serious implications not only for domestic German policy, but for a wider European policy on migration: while Sweden and Germany are currently the strongest supporters of a common European migration policy, in the early 2000s Germany was sharply opposed to delegating control over migration policy to the supranational level. Considering that only 38 percent of Germans in 2015 see the migration of people from outside the EU as positive, there is a danger that the country will revert back to a more restrictive migration and refugee policies.57 With over 1 million migrants entering Germany in 2015, and Chancellor Merkel faced with increasing pressure to stem the refugee influx, this lukewarm public opinion may significantly limit Germany’s ability to take a leading role in the creation of a common European policy on migration.58 In Sweden, while attitudes towards migrants are the most positive in all of the EU and levels of Euroscepticism are relatively low, SOM Institute data reveals that there is significant unwillingness to accept those considered ‘foreigners’ into one’s community.59 As in Germany, the refugee crisis has put considerable strain on Prime Minister Löfven’s Social Democratic government and on Sweden’s relationships with other EU member states who are begrudged for not doing their part during the crisis. In October, Löfven was quoted saying, “Sweden will not continue to take on its part as long as other countries don’t take on theirs. Sweden can’t do everything.”60 As of late November, there has been a considerable tightening of Swedish migration and refugee policy, with the Social Democrats imposing new border controls and curtailing the rights of refugees to bring in family members.61 And while Eurobarometer levels show Sweden as an exception in the EU, with an overwhelming 72 percent of citizens viewing migrants from outside the EU in a positive light as of late 2014, this enthusiasm is on the decline; the latest Eurobarometer survey reveals a 6 percent fall in support.62 Coming at a moment when those viewing the EU positively has plateaued, one can expect future polls to reveal a cooling in support for both immigration and
Essay the EU.63 Ultimately, these trends reveal that even EU countries who have opened their doors to refugees may see significant changes in attitudes towards migrants and refugees. In both Sweden and in Germany, immigration is considered the most important issue at the European level.64 As the two biggest supporters of a common European migration pol-
icy, and those taking on the greatest immigration burden in EU, both countries stand to gain from such a policy. A common policy would ensure this burden is more evenly spread. However, if other countries refuse to deal with the refugee crisis at the European level, this may result in disillusionment and falling support for the EU especially in Germany, where the link between
anti-immigration sentiment and EU support is stronger. If the European Union opts for games of â€˜beggar-thy-neighbourâ€™ over a coordinated migration policy, the future of the EU looks grim: characterized by rising intolerance, not acceptance.65
Essay NOTES 1.
12. 13. 14.
15. 16. 17.
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The Fight against Rising Income Inequality: What can the United States learn from the United Kingdom? by Siddharth Singh Chaudhari The U.S. (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (UK) have shared much in common in the post-World War II era. Both countries were influenced, albeit to different extents, by the ideas of the renowned British economist John Maynard Keynes. Both the U.S. and the UK achieved considerable economic prosperity during “the golden age of economic performance,” a period that began shortly after the end of the Second World War and lasted until 1972 (Marglin and Schor 40). Both nations suffered from the decrease in productivity, increase in inflation, and persistent unemployment that constituted the nadir of Keynesianism in the 1970s and that prompted a shift away from that school of thought. Finally, both the U.S. and the UK opted for a neoliberal economic model at around the same period in time: Margaret Thatcher led the Tories to victory and became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in May 1979; and Ronald Reagan became the President of the U.S. in January 1981. In the 21st century, both countries have struggled to recover from the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 that brought to a halt approximately two decades of sustained economic growth. Despite this major setback, the two countries remain economic powerhouses. The U.S. ranked first on the World Bank’s list of the world’s largest economies by GDP in 2014; the UK finished fifth (World Bank). However, there are a number of differences between the two countries, one of the most striking being the issue of income inequality. According to the World Bank, the UK’s Gini Index in 2013 was 32.6, an improvement from its score of 33.7 in 2012 (World Bank). In contrast, the U.S.’ Gini Index in 2013 was 41.1 (World Bank). This means that the U.S. “boasts the highest post-tax-and-transfer income inequality of any highly developed country in the world” (The Economist). Till van Treeck clarifies the gravity of the situation, arguing that there is ample evidence to suggest that increasing inequality between households in the U.S. may have instigated the Great Recession of 2008 (441-442). This essay shall proffer two reasons for the difference in the level of income inequality observed in the U.S and the UK — the taxation and healthcare systems. The first section of this essay presents a comparative analysis of the two countries’ taxation systems. It argues that while the U.S. employs a progressive taxation system,
a series of changes to the country’s tax laws from the 1980s through to the early 2000s have benefitted the wealthiest individuals (allowing them to become wealthier still) disproportionately. This, in turn, has fostered a level of income inequality that has not been observed since the 1920s. As a result of these changes, the U.S.’ taxation system currently stands in stark contrast to that of the United Kingdom, where redistributive taxation policies based on cash benefits, direct taxation, and benefits in kind have curtailed income inequality to a considerable extent. The second section of this essay shall assess an important aspect of the modern welfare state: the healthcare system. Here, I shall argue that despite the fact that the U.S. government spends a substantial amount on healthcare programs annually, healthcare spending in the U.S. remains relatively ineffective. The lack of a universal healthcare system in the U.S. has resulted in the emergence of a society wherein there is “good coverage for some but poor coverage for others,” (Morgan) which, in turn, has fostered income inequality. This analysis is juxtaposed against the manner in which the existence of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom has contributed to the emergence of a more equal society in terms of income distribution. The U.S.’ federal tax code and, by extension, its taxation laws have often been referred to as complex at the best of times and utterly undecipherable at the worst. With over 74,000 pages, the U.S. federal tax code is now 187 times longer than it was a century ago; indeed, if it continues to grow at the current rate, it shall contain 100,000 pages by 2050 (Russell). The sheer scale of the tax code, however, belies the fact that the American taxation system remains wholly inadequate. This inadequacy is evident given that, for all their disagreements, the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that the U.S. is in need of urgent and comprehensive tax reform. As a consequence, tax reforms of one kind or another remain the subject of constant debate in the U.S.; Democrats and Republicans espouse several positions and seek to advance multiple agendas at any given time. One of the many issues that is often cited during the aforementioned debates is the inability of the U.S.’ current taxation system to correct or even curb rising income inequality. Kamin argues that the
taxation system’s effect on income inequality in the U.S. has been minimal at best (595). He observes that information from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides the most comprehensive data on income and tax burdens in the U.S., reveals that the country’s federal tax system reduced overall income inequality by about 8.5% as of 2009 (measured in terms of the GINI Coefficient) (Kamin 595). This statistic in and of itself is grossly misleading. As Kamin points out, the data “begins in 1979 and the tax system had roughly the same effect in 1979 as it does today, reducing inequality by just under 10%” (595). The effect in 1979, however, was much greater, given that inequality was much less significant at the time (Kamin 595). As a consequence, “inequality was 30% higher” in 2007 than it was “thirty years ago” (Kamin 596). Other scholars have levelled similar criticisms against U.S. taxation system. Bargain et al. conduct a comprehensive assessment of the results of U.S. taxation policy over the last three decades. Their analysis led them to the troublesome conclusion that the U.S.’ taxation system has in fact “aggravated the trend of growing inequality in pretax incomes” in that country (Bargain et al. 1080). The U.S. federal taxation system has, thus, become increasingly ineffective in combatting rising income inequality; indeed, its ineffectiveness increases as income inequality rises year after year. Perhaps most alarmingly, “despite a number of significant changes in the tax law” since 1979, there are no current signs that indicate any sort of reversal in the aforementioned trend (Kamin 595). These changes, many of which were made in the 1980s, have only exacerbated the problem. The U.S. taxation system changed substantially in the 1980s, with a number of policies passed by the Reagan administration catalyzing a considerable rise in income inequality. When Reagan assumed the presidency in January of 1981, he encountered an American economy that was in decline, caught in an inflationary spiral and characterized by rising unemployment that marked the end of the Keynesian era. The Reagan administration’s response to this economic crisis involved a series of changes to the U.S. tax code, changes that were driven by a firm belief in what scholars have often referred to as “supply-side economics”. Naturally, given their emphasis on managing
supply rather than demand (much like the advocates of Keynesianism), these changes disproportionately benefitted wealthy Americans (who constituted the suppliers). As a consequence, these policy changes contributed, in no small part, to a sudden and rapid rise in income inequality that has been observed in the U.S. since the 1980s onwards. Perhaps the most significant of these changes to the U.S. taxation system was the creation of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA). Prasad notes that ERTA constitutes, to this day, “the largest tax cut in American history” (351) and “can make a claim to being the most important instance of American neoliberalism” (352). She points out that as an across-the-board tax cut, ERTA represented a significant “break with midcentury conservatism” in the U.S. (Prasad 352). Prior to the implementation of ERTA, “the mainstream of the Republican Party was committed to balanced budgets, even at the price of tax increases” (Prasad 352). Indeed, both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford raised taxes in the mid-1970s in order to keep U.S. national debt under control (Prasad 352). In contrast, through ERTA and other policies, Reagan sought to address America’s economic woes by decreasing both taxes and government expenditure. ERTA facilitated the indexation of individual income tax parameters from 1985 onwards (Bargain et al. 1067). It resulted in a “reduction of top marginal tax rates from 70% to 50% in 1982, and of other tax rates by 23% in three annual steps.” (Bargain et al 1067) This was the first of many provisions in ERTA that allowed wealthy upper-class individuals to pay lower taxes than they previously had. Furthermore, “the income threshold for the top rate substantially increased from $85,600 in 1982 to $109,400 (1983) and $162,400 (1984) for married couples filing jointly” (Bargain et al. 1067). This meant that several upper class families were exempted from the highest tax bracket simply because they fell marginally short of a rather high income threshold. Thresholds were also raised for couples that filed separately and for singles (Bargain et al. 1067). Moreover, as Bargain et al. observe, the net policy outcome of ERTA and other tax-related policies “from 1981 to 1984 was the reduction of the average tax rate for the wealthiest 0.01% by 5.6 points” (1069). As stated earlier, the enormous benefits of this round
Essay of across-the-board tax cuts were enjoyed, for the most part, by the wealthiest members of the American populace. ERTA reduced the tax burden of the ultra-wealthy, while offering little or no incentives to the middle and lower-class of American society. Indeed, Bargain et al. go so far as to suggest that “ERTA exacerbated the increase in inequality” in the U.S., “such that post-tax income shares were more unequal in 1984 compared with a counterfactual of no policy changes” whatsoever (1069). Overall, the tax cuts facilitated by ERTA were so significant that they resulted in a substantial decrease in revenue for the U.S. government; indeed, the immediate “reduction in tax revenue amounted to 2.89% of GDP” (Bargain et al. 1067).. . It is important to note that ERTA was only one of many taxation policies implemented by the Reagan administration — albeit the most significant — that contributed to the rise of income inequality in the U.S.. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA), for instance, “further lowered the top marginal rate to 38.5% in 1987 and to 28% in 1988” (Bargain et al. 1067). More importantly, the TRA “reduced the number of tax brackets from 15 in 1986 to four in 1988” (Bargain et al. 1067). This reduction in the number of tax brackets was very significant because it allowed many of the wealthiest members of American society to pay the same level of taxes as members of the country’s middle class. The long term results of this and other Reagan era taxation policies are simply staggering. Hacker and Pierson observe that “between 1979 and 2005, the average incomes of the poorest fifth of households increased by only around 6 percent and the middle quintile of households saw their incomes rise just 21 percent, even when inflation and government taxes and benefits are taken into account” (157). In stark contrast, “the average after-tax incomes of the richest 1 percent of households rose nearly 230 percent,” with the wealthiest 0.01 percent enjoying an increase in income “from just over $4 million to nearly $24.3 million – an almost sextupling in a little more than a quarter century” (Hacker and Pierson 157). Thus, it is evident that the taxation policies implemented by the Reagan administration played a significant role in reversing the gradual trend towards a more equal American society. Indeed, these policies laid the foundations for the sort of gross income inequality that had not been observed in the U.S. since the 1920s and that would only increase in the decades to follow. Reagan was not the only recent
Republican President to initiate widespread changes to America’s taxation system. President George W. Bush, through the now infamous Bush tax cuts, also attempted to reform the U.S.’ taxation system. Much like Reagan’s strategy, his tax cuts exacerbated the increase in income inequality. Bell and Entman point out that within his first three years as President, Bush spearheaded “two of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history” (551). First, he signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which “called for a reduction in four income tax brackets and an across-theboard 5 percent income tax credit distributed to taxpayers in the form of a check by the Department of the Treasury, among other changes” (Bell and Entman 551). Secondly, his administration facilitated the implementation of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which “accelerated the implementation of the 2001 cuts and added reductions in taxes on capital gains and dividends, as well as growth incentives for business” (Bell and Entman 551). While Bush claimed that these policies were meant to re-energize the struggling U.S. economy of the early 2000s, empirical research does not corroborate this argument (Bell and Entman 551). An analysis of the distribution of benefits stemming from the Bush tax cuts revealed that “36 percent of the cuts accrued to the richest 1 percent of Americans – a share almost identical to that received by the bottom 80 percent” (Bell and Entman 551-552). The Bush administration used the U.S. taxation system to poor effect: the administration’s tax cuts only served to reinforce the income inequality that had first emerged under Reagan. It is important to note that the sunset provisions the Bush tax cuts contained meant that they only expired in 2010, two years into President Obama’s term. This meant that during the recession in 2008, the wealthiest individuals continued to profit from the aforementioned tax cuts, while the middle and lower-classes bore the brunt of reduced wages and rising unemployment. Thus, rather than curbing income inequality, since the 1980s the U.S. tax system has significantly exacerbated it by offering disproportionate benefits to its wealthiest citizens. In contrast, the taxation system and redistribution policies have served as valuable tools for income redistribution in the United Kingdom. Jones et al. observe that “government intervention through taxes and benefits plays an important role in determining the distribution of household income, and the level of inequality” in the United Kingdom (Jones et al. 31). The British govern-
ment then plays a far more proactive role in ensuring income equality across British society. In order to keep income inequality in Britain under control, the British government’s redistributive taxation system uses three primary tools. First, it offers cash benefits to households with little or no original income in order to ensure a reasonable standard of living for all (Jones et al. 32). These cash benefits are either “contributory benefits, which are paid from the National Insurance Fund, to which individuals (and their employers) make contributions while working,” or “noncontributory benefits, many of which are means-tested” (Jones et al. 32). These measures provide low-income families with a safety net and protect widows, single-parents, disabled persons, and those suffering from temporary unemployment, among others, from the sharp vicissitudes of poverty. Jones et al. point out that income “from cash benefits increased in real terms (in 2006/07 prices) from £2,400 per household per year in 1977, to £4,600 in 2006/07,” which means that “growth in income from cash benefits was similar to growth in gross household income over the same period.” (32). Secondly, the British government has utilized direct taxation to good effect in its bid to check income inequality in British society (Jones et al. 35). Direct taxes include income tax, national insurance, contributions, and local taxes” (Jones et. 35). In the U.S., as explained above, the Reagan and Bush administrations’ tax cuts significantly reduced the income tax burden of America’s wealthiest between the 1980s and the 2000s. In sharp contrast, during the same period, the proportion of gross income paid in income tax by households in the top quintile group of the United Kingdom hovered at around 18 to 19 per cent (Jones et al. 36). Moreover, the “total direct tax as a proportion of gross income for the top quintile group was effectively the same in 2006/07 as in 1977” (Jones et al. 36). Thus, Britain’s wealthiest individuals have not been granted or benefitted from the generous tax cuts that their American counterparts have taken advantage of since the 1980s. Indeed, as Jones et al. point out, “from 1992 onwards, direct taxes reduced the income share of the top quintile group by an average of 2.1 percentage points, compared with an average 1.4 percentage points before 1992” (37). The income that has been deducted from the top quintile group via direct taxation has been redistributed among the members of Britain’s middle and lower-income classes. As a consequence, between the late 1970s and the early 2000s, “the income shares of the
second and third quintile groups,” — i.e. the middle and lower-middle income groups — were slightly larger than the top quintile group due to “the impact of direct taxes” in Britain (Jones et al. 37). Direct taxation, then, has succeeded in curbing income inequality in Britain. Finally, the UK government has managed to curtail income inequality through its provision of “benefits in kind,” i.e. “services provided by the state either free or subsidised at the point of use.” (Jones et al. 40) Jones et al. observe that “the most important services for which imputations are made are health and education services” (40). Britain’s publicly funded health service, the National Health Service (NHS), and its role in preventing the rise of income inequality shall be discussed in greater detail in the next section. In conclusion, the British government has devised a redistributive taxation system that uses cash benefits and direct taxation to redistribute income across the United Kingdom. Partnered with the benefits in kind that the government provides to its citizens, the taxation policies of the British government have succeeded in protecting British society whilst the U.S. has experienced a significant increase in income inequality since the 1980s. Health insurance, or a lack thereof, has also played a significant role in creating income inequality in the U.S.. To this day, the U.S. remains one of provides a rare and perhaps unenviable example of an industrialized nation that does not offer universal, publicly funded health insurance to its citizens. Like tax reform, healthcare has remained the subject of constant debate for decades. In 1993, President Bill Clinton came close to passing a universal healthcare act in the U.S.. The resulting Health Security Act of 1993 was soundly defeated in the Senate when Democratic Senators refused to lend their support to the proposal. As a consequence, health care is still provided, for the most part, by hospitals and facilities run by the private sector. It is important to note that the U.S. government spends more on healthcare per capita than every other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the exception of Norway and the Netherlands (Fisher). However, despite the government’s massive annual healthcare expenditure, less than thirty percent of Americans were insured under government health insurance programs in 2007 (Census Bureau). In contrast, nearly 60% of Americans were instead covered by employment-based health insurance programs in 2007 (Census Bureau).
Essay Given its failure to pass a universal healthcare act, the U.S. government has chosen to rely on the private sector and employers to provide some form of healthcare coverage for the majority of Americans. This has created a troubling dichotomy within American society. On the one hand, those belonging to the upper and upper-middle income classes have usually enjoyed the benefits of comprehensive healthcare insurance programs. These individuals are either offered health insurance by their employers or purchase health insurance for themselves. On the other hand, those who suffer from unemployment (temporary or long-term) or precarious employment, or who work in the informal sector or in low-wage positions, have little or no health insurance whatsoever to rely on. Consequently, while many Americans enjoy varying degrees of health coverage, at least 45.7 million people had no health insurance whatsoever in 2007 (Census Bureau). The lack of a universal healthcare program has exacerbated the rise of income inequality in multiple ways. First, in a country where a minor surgery on both ankles for arthritis can cost an elderly gentleman close to $240,000 (Rosenthal), many have lost their lifetime’s earnings to massive healthcare bills. Others with greater means have enjoyed the benefits of extensive health coverage without having to worry about the enormous costs. The exorbitant cost
Bargain, Olivier, Mathias Dolls, and Herwig Immervoll. “Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 19792007.” Economic Inquiry 53.2 (2014): 1061-085. Western Economic Association International. Web. 5 Dec. 2015. Bell, Carole V., and Robert M. Entman. “The Media’s Role in America’s Exceptional Politics of Inequality: Framing the Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003.” The International Journal of Press/Politics 16.4 (2011): 548-72. Print. Fisher, Max. “Here’s a Map of the Countries That Provide Universal Health Care (America’s Still Not on It).” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 28 June 2012. Web. 5 Dec. 2015. “GDP Ranking.” The World Bank. org. World Bank Group, 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. “GINI Index (World Bank Estimate).” The World Bank.org. World Bank Group. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
of healthcare for the uninsured or poorly insured in the U.S. has resulted in the emergence of a vicious cycle of sorts that disproportionately disadvantages the poorer segments of American society. Secondly, this trade-off between personal health and the expenses associated with healthcare in the U.S. has resulted in many Americans simply refusing to access healthcare services when required. This has forced millions of Americans to settle for part-time work, underemployment, early retirement, or even long-term unemployment because their poor health prevents them from working to their full capacity. The inability of many Americans to perform at optimal levels due to poor health has resulted in a significant percentage of the population earning much less (if anything at all) than it is capable of. The lack of a universal health care system has compromised the financial security of many Americans and has thus, in turn contributed to the rising income inequality in the U.S.. Once again, in rather stark contrast to the U.S., the British people have enjoyed the plethora of benefits that stem from a publicly funded healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), since the end of the Second World War. The NHS remains, to this day, the largest and oldest government-funded healthcare system in the world. It provides every citizen and legal resident of the United Kingdom with emergency healthcare, pharmaceu-
tical, general practitioner, dental, and vision care services etc. for free or at a subsidized cost. The impact of this universal healthcare system on the financial security of middle and lower-income members of British society cannot be overstated. As Jones et al. observe, the value of the NHS benefit rose more noticeably than that of any other welfare service in the United Kingdom between 1977 and 2006/07 (40). In 1977, the NHS benefit accounted for approximately 10 percent of posttax income on average (Jones et al. 41). In contrast by “2006-2007, the NHS benefit represented 15 per cent of post-tax income” in the United Kingdom (Jones et al. 41). The NHS benefit has been distributed fairly equitably in British society. As a consequence, the “lower two quintile groups receive between 22 and 24 per cent of the total NHS benefit, the third quintile group about 20 per cent, the fourth 18 per cent and the top about 15 per cent” (Jones et al. 41). Importantly, unlike the U.S., every citizen and legal resident of the United Kingdom can access the services offered by the NHS. This has granted the average Briton the privilege of being able to avail themselves of world class healthcare services as and when needed, at little or no cost whatsoever. This is a privilege that the average American cannot yet claim to enjoy. Income inequality, as a dependent variable, is rather complex. There are a plethora of indepen-
dent variables that exercise varying degrees of influence on it. This essay has sought to highlight two of the most important independent variables with regards to income inequality in the U.S.: a broken taxation system that has disproportionately advantaged the wealthy for decades, and the lack of a universal healthcare system, arguably the foundation of the modern welfare state. Both of these factors have disproportionately disadvantaged the poor. The hope is that the U.S. will draw inspiration from the UK and gradually address the glaring inadequacies in its taxation and health care system. By addressing these two issues alone, the U.S. will have made tremendous progress with regards to its most pressing economic problem.
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Monica Prasad. “The Popular Origins of Neoliberalism in the Reagan Tax Cut of 1981.” Journal of Policy History 24.3 (2012): 351-383. Project MUSE. Web. 5 Dec. 2015. <https:// muse.jhu.edu/>.
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“Inequality in America: Gini in the Bottle.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited, 26 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. Jones, Francis, Daniel Annan, and Saef Shah. “The Redistribution of Household Income 1977 to 2006/07.” Economic & Labour Market Review 3.1 (2009): 31-43. ProQuest. Web. 7 Dec. 2015. Kamin, David. “Reducing Poverty, Not Inequality: What Changes in the Tax System can Achieve.” Tax Law Review 66.4 (2013): 593-640. ProQuest. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
Morgan, Kimberly J. “America’s Misguided Approach to Social Welfare.” Foreign Affairs 1 Feb. 2013. Print. Rosenthal, Elisabeth. “Health Care’s Road to Ruin.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2015. Russell, Jason. “Look at How Many Pages Are in the Federal Tax Code.” Washington Examiner. 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
Limited Universality The Role of Regional NGOs in the Institutionalization of a Human Rights Regime in the Asia Pacific by Maria Layarda
ABBREVIATIONS disputed and the ASEAN human AHRD ASEAN Human Rights rights norm has entered the final Declaration stage of internalization within the AICHR ASEAN Intergovernmen- norm life cycle.3 tal Commission on Despite pervasive literature on Human Rights human rights norms today, most ASEAN Association of Southeast scholars often neglect “the local em Asian Nations bodiments of human rights norms ASEAN-ISIS ASEAN in the developing world.”4 There Institutes of is a tendency to privilege the agen Strategic and cy of international actors in norm International creation and diffusion while local Studies actors are depicted as passive “imFORUM-ASIA Asian Forum porters” of well-established inter for Human national standards and practices.5 Rights and The genealogy of ASEAN’s human Development rights norms presents an interesting INGO International NGO case study in the literature because ISIS Institute of Strategic and it emerged through a decades-long International Studies process of piecemeal, consensual NGO Non-Governmental evolution as opposed to a normative Organization big bang. The drafting of African UN United Nations Charter, for instance, took only two UDHR UN Declaration of years — a speed-light process com Human Rights pared to ASEAN. Over the course VAP Vientiane Action Program of this evolution, ASEAN-based regional NGOs assumed a key role as The signing of the ASEAN Hu- norm “entrepreneurs” that were reman Rights Declaration (AHRD) sponsible for resolving the cultural in 2012 marked a normative mile- relativism argument used by Asian stone in Asia. It was the final piece leaders to justify their marginalizathat completed the region’s human tion of human rights values. What rights regime, alongside the ASE- emerged from this process was an AN Charter signed in 2007 and the uniquely ASEAN norm, which I ASEAN Intergovernmental Com- term “limited universality”. Limitmission on Human Rights (AICHR) ed universality denotes that the reestablished in 2009. Less than a de- gional human rights regime was an cade ago, Asia remained the only organic product of ASEAN comprocontinent lacking a regional human mise and deliberation; the norm was rights institution. The Association of not a mirror image of the standard Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) universal human rights norm enhad often come under fire for failing shrined in the UN Charter (Art. 55). to take decisive actions when faced Employing a constructivist apwith gross human rights abuses — proach, this paper will present an all ten members staunchly guarded overview of ASEAN human rights the principle of non-interference as discourse, emphasizing the alleged the primary code of conduct gov- tension between the well-embederning intra-ASEAN relations.1 De- ded “Asian values” and universal spite some of its fatal imperfections, human rights norms, in which the the mere existence of an ASEAN latter has been described as unhuman rights regime embodies a Asian. The paper will then explore normative consensus on the ideal thematically three key contributions standard of behaviour that is ac- of ASEAN-based regional NGOs cepted by all ASEAN members. The role: maintaining the momentum young human rights mechanism for a regional human rights regime provides a formal forum for human through elite-level and grassroots rights discourse at a regional level level advocacy; facilitating norm acand a framework that human rights ceptance through reframing and doproponents within ASEAN could mesticating universal human rights appeal to in order to further human norms; and supplying the technical rights practices in the region. While expertise and ideational envisionASEAN had previously shied away ing necessary to push the normative from the issue area, human rights progress toward its implementation. now features prominently on its agenda. The normative value of human rights, therefore, is no longer
LIMITED UNIVERSALITY: UNIVERSALITY VS. CULTURAL RELATIVISM Founded in the wake of a military confrontation between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur in 1967, ASEAN was designed to maintain regional security while fostering trade and economic development.6 Since it first touched on the issue at its 1991 Kuala Lumpur Ministerial Meeting, ASEAN firmly denied the universal character of human rights, arguing that human rights must “be narrow and selective” and must succumb to national sovereignty.7 While ASEAN states diplomatically “recognize”, “accept”, and “reaffirm”8 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established (UDHR) at the 1993 Vienna World Human Rights Conference, they openly challenged the universalist conception of these rights. Instead, they espoused a relativist view that particular national characteristics and values be taken into account in the implementation of these rights. ASEAN insisted that “respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference”9 was of paramount importance and that “human rights have two mutually balancing aspects: those with respect to rights and freedom of the individual, and those which stipulate obligations of the individuals to society and state.”10 The central tenets of the “Asian values” system, founded on state sovereignty, seemed to render a regional mechanism unfeasible. As politically motivated or exaggerated as their position may have been, ASEAN elites, most prominently represented by Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, suggested that universalistic conceptions of human rights were established on a neo-imperial pretense.11 Throughout the early 1990s, ASEAN seemed to be an unlikely base for an emerging regional human rights mechanism.12 The absence of “receptor” norm within ASEAN system made it difficult to assimilate the alleged alien character of universal human rights norms, thus making such norms difficult to embed it into existing normative system.13 Regional NGOs would play a fundamental role in bridging this gap by reframing human rights in socioeconomic and security language familiar to ASEAN and striking a middle-way in the universality versus cultural relativ-
ism debate. The hybrid “limited universality” norm, institutionalized in the AHRD, was an attempt to fuse the universal and the particular. On one hand, ASEAN explicitly recognizes the universality and indivisibility of rights as codified in UDHR and the UN Charter. However,at the same time, it includes a particularistic clause; this is much weakened in the final form of ADHR.14 This compromise, falling short of the highest standard of universal human rights, was necessary for the successful institutionalization and codification of an ASEAN human rights norm. If ASEAN’s conception of rights had remained particularistic, as it was in the beginning, no generalization in regards to human rights could have been drawn and a regional human rights code would have been rendered infeasible. Likewise, aiming for complete universality would have likely ended in vain given the resistance of some ASEAN member states. ASEAN remained unmoved in the face of harsh criticisms of their human rights track records from international bodies, including the UN and the US State Department, and various INGOs, most prominently Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.15 Instead of resorting to hard pressures, regional NGOs pursued a different strategy of soft engagement while searching for a compromise. The three main roles of regional NGOs in the development of ASEAN human rights regime are explored below. I. NGOS AS KEEPERS OF THE FLAME There was well over a two-decade gap between ASEAN’s first articulation that it “should consider”16 the establishment of a regional human rights mechanism in 1993 and the eventual signing of the ADHR in 2012. In the intervening time, the comprehensive advocacy efforts of ASEAN’s regional NGOs — targeting both the ASEAN public and elites — were vital to keeping human rights on ASEAN’s policy agenda. These external pressures were especially necessary since ASEAN member states showed little genuine desire to actually follow through with commitments made in a 1993 diplomatic statement, in the wake of a major worldwide human rights conference in Vienna that same year.
Essay Indeed, for the following five years, the very term “human rights” disappeared completely from all ASEAN official documents.17 An umbrella of forty NGOs across ASEAN, FORUM-ASIA was the region’s largest human rights NGO. Leveraging its national partners spread across ASEAN, FORUM-ASIA was able to effectively create awareness of regional human rights issue among local populations in ASEAN countries. Given the state-centric nature of governance within ASEAN, creating public awareness was one key channel to influence policymaking at regional level. People could generate bottom-down pressures on their respective national governments in order to ensure the inclusion of human rights issues at ASEAN meetings. Such a mechanism was evident in the large-scale mass demonstrations in front of the Myanmar Embassies across ASEAN states, condemning the junta government’s repression of peaceful protesters in early September 2007.18 Later that month, the ASEAN Chair used unusually strong language when discussing Myanmar, stating that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers were “appalled” and expressed their “revulsion” at the use of automatic weapons by Myanmar government against the demonstrators. Moreover, the Chair urged Myanmar to seek a political solution and “work towards a peaceful transition to democracy.”19 This confrontational response was rather unexpected given that ASEAN usually preferred to tiptoe around controversies involving its members and hardly ever resorted to public shaming.20 While the meeting prior to the publication of the statement took place behind closed doors, 19 some ASEAN foreign ministers must have pushed for such a strong reaction in the wake of mass protests in their respective countries. An Indonesian scholar Yuyun Wahyuningrum noted, it was the democratic intra-ASEAN alliance of Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines that often pushed for the inclusion of human rights agenda within ASEAN. It was no coincidence that the three also had the most robust civil societies with strong regional linkages.22 While FORUM-ASIA was operating at the grassroots level, ASEAN-ISIS, a regional grouping of the national Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) in the region, was keeping human rights issues on official government agendas. This was achieved through consistent, scholarly discussion on the issue amongst high-ranking national and regional officials.23 Building upon the momentum of the 1993 Vienna Conference, this regional
grouping of think tanks began hosting an annual Colloquium on Human Rights with ministry-level attendance. Their influence over regional policymaking was evident in the inclusion of the specific issues they discussed into ASEAN’s policy agendas, including their advocacy on the protection of women and children, and migrant workers.24 ASEAN-ISIS would later leverage their expertise on socioeconomic and security issues to reframe the debate on human rights norms and to embed new norms into existing socioeconomic and security frameworks. II. BRIDGING THE NORMATIVE GAP: IMPORT, FILTER, AND REPACKAGE Beyond pushing for the inclusion of regional human rights issues into ASEAN’s political agenda, the most crucial contribution of regional NGOs was finding a formulation of human rights norms that would be acceptable to all ASEAN member states. Given ASEAN’s political diversity (most states were, and are, semi-authoritarian at best) and its institutional allergy to the universalistic claim of human rights norms, this was a Herculean task. The ASEAN-ISIS approached this challenge by presenting human rights in the language of security and socioeconomic development. Framing human rights within these two areas that formed the core pillars of ASEAN proved to be effective in easing acceptance of the emerging regional human rights normative framework. The long-standing expertise on security and development at national and regional levels gave ASEAN-ISIS privileged access to ASEAN member state foreign ministers and bureaucrats.25 Leveraging this network, ASEAN-ISIS expanded the national and regional agendas on security and development to include issues of human security. As an ASEAN human rights advocate remarked, human security was essentially the “flipside of human rights.”26 Both aim to provide the fundamental needs for human dignity and welfare. By framing human security as a prerequisite for successful state security and implementation of the development agenda, regional NGOs made universal human rights an urgent agenda item for ASEAN states that were eager to meet the Millennium Development Goals. This marketing strategy ensured that the emerging norms they were advocating for reached its intended audience. Security, in particular, was of fundamental importance to the ASEAN states that share a long colonial history.27 Human securi-
ty served to shift ASEAN policymakers’ understanding of security from a state-centric concept of hard security to one centered around individuals’ socioeconomic needs. Beyond national and regional military mechanisms, ASEAN-ISIS argued that fulfilling the basic needs of individuals ensured national and regional stability, which would also be conducive for prosperity over the long-run. This strategy sought to familiarize ASEAN policymakers with the core spirit of individual rights enshrined in the UDHR without encountering much resistance. It managed to do so effectively. ASEAN welcomed the concept of human security and began to perceive (socioeconomic) rights not as a threat but a fundamental aspect of national and regional security. The success of this slow-but-steady strategy in softening ASEAN’s stance on human rights was demonstrated in 1999, when ASEAN voluntarily recognized “individual rights” as key in promoting “personal, national and regional resilience/security.”28 Security, thus, served as the local receptor norm that would come to anchor and, more importantly, legitimize human rights norms in ASEAN states. Furthermore, through the selective emphasis on the socioeconomic dimensions of universal human rights and the filtering out of the contentious civic-political aspects, the narrow version of human rights norm advocated appeared to be less threatening to national sovereignty and more integrated into the ASEAN environment. ASEAN-ISIS showed that human rights had roots within the Asian culture and were not simply a foreign import. The socioeconomic emphasis also made it easy to highlight the connection between human rights and human development. In 1997, ASEAN adopted Vision 2020, with the goal of creating “caring societies” where “all people enjoy equitable access to opportunities for total human development.”30 The direct issue linkage between rights and development helped incentivize states to self-initiate rights promotion in order to boost the success of their development programs. What set ASEAN-ISIS’ strategy apart from other prominent international human rights non-state actors was their departure from the orthodox strategy of confrontation, which involves shaming and blaming. This was a strategy widely pursued by Amnesty International, Red Cross, and Human Rights Watch.31 ASEAN-ISIS essentially adopted a market strategy to persuade and leverage the close relationships they had already cultivated through their intellectual work with national and
regional elites. While ASEAN made no explicit commitment on a regional human rights mechanism until it revealed the Vientiane Action Program (VAP) in 2004 — ASEAN’s first concrete human rights regional action plan — the developments throughout 1990s built the momentum for this crucial turning point.32 In the interim decade between 1993 and 2004, ASEAN gradually took small steps to promote individual human rights. It began with the least politically contentious issues such as women and children’s protection, emergency measures improvement, healthcare promotion, and disease prevention.33 The foundation of ASEAN human rights regime was therefore set incrementally without provoking a sensational ‘big bang’ headline. The process of norm domestication undertaken by regional NGOs would not have been as crucial if the ASEAN human rights regime had been externally imposed. This surely was not the case. During the long process of ASEAN’s internal musyawarah (collective consultation), regional NGOs had to convince, rather than pressure, each member state to finally reach mufakat (consensus) that a regional human rights normative framework was a necessary and desirable concept for ASEAN. The privilege given to socioeconomic rights and the emphasis on regional stability in the ASEAN Charter and AHRD were the legacy of the marketing strategies employed by the regional human rights actors. III. CONSTRUCTING THE “VAP” GAME PLAN Having established the normative foundations for a regional human right regime, the next step was to turn this foundation into a concrete policy. At this stage, the work of a consortium of academics, lawyers, and parliamentarians, united under the banner of Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, became increasingly important. With a unique mixture of Track Two representatives from the intellectual circle and civil society as well as prominent incumbent and former Track I actors, the Working Group had overlapping personal and professional relationships with senior-level ASEAN bureaucrats and national representatives to ASEAN.33 This enabled the Working Group to directly supply realistic ideas and step-by-step implementation plans for ASEAN to consider. Through its annual workshops attended by key stakeholders from ASEAN, civil societies, and ASEAN-ISIS, the Working Group provided and/or facilitated the provision of answers when ASEAN
Essay was asking questions. Many of the Group’s ideas and discussion results of their workshops were reflected in the VAP.34 The Working Group also championed the idea of establishing a commission, which culminated in the AICHR, and inserted specific issue areas into the ASEAN Charter and AHRD. During its 1st Workshop in 2001, jointly co-hosted with Komnas HAM (Indonesia’s state-based National Human Rights Commission), the Working Group, led by Indonesia’s former general prosecutor Marzuki Darusman, proposed seven possible models of a human rights body. These included a commission, a court, and a committee.35 AICHR eventually took the form of a commission, albeit an intergovernmental one; this structure was meant to increase state control and minimize institutional independence. During the 3rd Workshop in Thailand, the Thai Co-Chair of the Working Group, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, presented a step-by-step “Roadmap for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.”36 Drawing upon ASEAN Vision 2020 and international agreements to which all ASEAN member states were already a party, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Working Group suggested the establishment of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion of Women and Children to serve as a precursor to a more general commission.37 During its 4th Workshop, the Working Group provided a summary of “short, medium and long-term goals” from the past workshops. Furthermore, it proposed an unprecedented idea to the ASEAN Security Community, within which human rights integral human security would be form a critical part. This again reflects the marketing strategy of ASEAN-ISIS, which collaborated closely with the Working Group. When ASEAN unveiled its groundbreaking VAP only five months after the 4th Workshop, ASEAN incorporated the Working Group’s suggestions almost verbatim whilst eliminating some suggestions considered to be too radical.38 Regional NGOs, therefore, had a very important role in influencing the crucial inflection in the ASEAN human rights narrative. Though the Working Group was not referenced in the VAP, its contribution was formally acknowledged when it was formally asked to produce blueprints for VAP implementation during the Working Group’s 5th Workshop in 2005.39 The role of regional NGOs postVAP declined as ASEAN focused on writing its Charter. ASEAN then re-
sorted to its usual highly state-centric approach to policymaking.40 While some may see this as evidence that discounts the influence of NGOs in the overall process of human rights normative institutionalization across ASEAN, this certainly was not the case. Regional NGOs, each using its own leverage and expertise, worked together to instill human rights consciousness at grassroots level, as well as national and regional levels. This was achieved through consultative advocacy and soft elite engagement. Although only the Working Group that managed to secure its status in the ASEAN Charter as a “stakeholder”, its elite-level membership blurred the line between Track I and Track II diplomacy and thus eased ASEAN’s usual hostility to civil society organizations.41 ASEAN’s human rights project began quite literally from ground zero. A regional human rights network was uncharted territory ASEAN began exploring with great hesitance. The role of regional NGOs, supported by their national counterparts, in shaping the ideational concept of a human rights normative framework, advocating for this framework, and turning it into a practical policy that directed regional agenda was necessary for the normative institutionalization of human rights in ASEAN. This persistence to protect human rights is permanently engraved in the ASEAN Charter, AICHR, and AHRD. THE NECESSARY COMPROMISE The signing of AHRD in 2012 marked the final step in the normative codification of human rights in Asia’s southern arc. ASEAN’s commitments to human rights may appear politically motivated since AHRD remains a diplomatic, non-binding document, and AICHR lacks an enforcement mechanism. Despite this, the current architecture remains a normative and political milestone given ASEAN’s allergy to human rights for the most part of its existence. In the early 1990s, ASEAN was uncompromising in its defiance of a universal claim of human rights and in its support for the most traditional interpretation of Westphalian sovereignty. In 2012, ASEAN slackened its most sacrosanct principle of national sovereignty in proclaiming that states’ primary duty was to protect and promote their peoples’ rights and fundamental freedoms.42 While some have criticized the relatively low standards of the ASEAN human rights regime, the eventual success of norm institutionalization was largely a result of the compromises made between all actors involved in ASEAN. It was
evident that non-state actors that had the most leverage over ASEAN policymaking were ones most willing to temper their stance and adjust their strategies to show respect for ASEAN’s attachment to state-centric governance. The product of this piecemeal development was a normative framework unique to ASEAN, with a particular emphasis on socioeconomic dimensions. ASEAN human right norms are universal in the sense that they recognizes that all member states must adhere to the same standards of human rights and recognize equal rights of all individuals. Yet, this “universality” of rights is limited by the requirement that their enjoyment must be “balanced with the performance of corresponding duties” individuals are bound to by their respective state. The latter clause, deliberately left ambiguous, eased norm acceptance by member states as they guaranteed some space for interpretation. Whereas “limited universality” represented a normative compromise, the absence of an enforcement mechanism was another concessionary move by ASEAN human rights proponents to accommodate ASEAN-style of regional diplomacy, which privileged a state-centric approach to international relations based on musyawarah (consultation) and mufakat (consensus). This diplomatic style, as well wariness over lending too much power to a non-state body, led to the creation of an intergovernmental human rights body, the AICHR. Only in Indonesia and Thailand did AICHR representatives come from outside of state bureaucracy, selected through a national search. Some ASEAN members preferred to send their MOFA staffs to exert as much control over the proceedings as possible.43 As imperfect as the regime in place is, it serves as a springboard for better human rights practices in the region. As an Indonesian saying goes, sedikit demi sedikit lama-lama menjadi bukit (bit by bit, it will eventually become a hill). This paper offers several important implications for existing literature on norm institutionalization. First, it confirms the importance of finding receptor norms within local environments to minimize the alien qualities of a new norm and thus, encourage its acceptance.44 Instead of superseding well-embedded ASEAN values, regional NGOs attempted to reconcile the international human rights norms they imported with these local values, thus, creating a hybrid ASEAN normative framework. The emphasis on socioeconomic dimensions was a side effect of the NGOs’ strategy of reframing universal human rights norm through human security and
development discourse, an approach which privileged socioeconomic rights. Finally, the genealogy of human rights norm in ASEAN also illustrates the effectiveness of a non-adversarial, gradual strategy of norm promotion. In contrast to the prominent strategy of shaming and blaming by INGOs, regional NGOs in ASEAN successfully relied on grassroots advocacy and soft engagement. A downside of this is perhaps the length of the time taken to achieve the desired behavioural change. Nevertheless, the success of the ASEAN NGOs in infiltrating even the extremely state-centric governance of ASEAN should inspire further research into the dynamics of gradual strategy and its potential applicability in East Asia, a region that is yet to develop its own human rights regime.
ASEAN, Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, 24 February 1976, http://www.asean.org/news/ item/treaty-of-amity-and-cooperation-in-southeast-asia-indonesia-24-february-1976-3, accessed 28 March 2015. In its practices, ASEAN has consistently upheld principles of sovereignty and non-interference, whereby member states pledge not to interfere in the domestic affairs of others. The formation of ASEAN in the midst of high regional tension shaped the goal of the organization that is to prevent armed confrontation and maintain peace, security and stability in the region. The practices of consensus and non-interference were formalized in Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of 1976. “The Saffron Revolution,” Burma Centre Prague, http:// www.burma-center.org/en/ burma/history/saffron-revolution/, accessed 26 March 2015. The most notorious was the crackdown on peaceful Burmese protesters and Buddhist monks in the Saffron Revolution in 1997. ASEAN, ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission: Terms of Reference, (Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat, 2009), http://www.asean.org/ images/archive/publications/ TOR-of-AICHR.pdf, accessed 1 April 2015. Terms of Reference of the AICHR privilege the central role of state apparatus in the ASEAN governance of human rights regime, e.g. appointment of representatives and accountability of these representatives to their own national governments (Art. 5(2)), thus undermining their capability to monitor and discipline government actions. AICHR also lacks investigative and enforcing power as it is designed to be a monitoring and consultative body (Art. 3). AICHR is also often seen as endorsing the concept of cultural relativism suggesting that interpretation of human rights is subject to national cultures and practices (Art. 7) and stipulating that domestic laws trump universal human rights (Art. 6) For explanations of stages of norm development in the norm life cycle model, see Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International norm dynamics and political change,” International Organization 52, No. 4: 887-917. Amitav Acharya, “Local and Transnational Civil Society as Agents of Norm Diffusion,”
Essay Paper Presented to the Global Governance Workshop, 1-3 June 2012:6-7, http://amitavacharya.com/sites/default/ files/Local%20and%20Transnational%20Civil%20Society%20as %20Agents%20of%20Norm%20 Diffusion.pdf, accessed 20 March 2015. 5. For introduction on the nature and on the impact of NHRIs in Asia Pacific, see Sonia Cardenas, “Adaptive States: The Proliferation of NHRIs,” Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. For the role of INGOs in human rights norm development, see Murdie, Amanda and David R. Davis, “Shaming and Blaming: Using Events Data to Assess the Impact of Human Rights INGOs,” International Studies Quarterly, 56(1): 1-16. 6. Tae Ung Baik, Emerging Regional Human Rights Systems in Asia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 142, 206 Abubakar Eby Hara, “The Development of an ASEAN Human Rights Perspective and the Formation of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights,” ICIRD, 5-6. 7/ ASEAN, Joint Communiqué of the Twenty-Fourth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Kuala Lumpur, 19-20 July 1991, Art. 15, http://cil.nus.edu.sg/rp/ pdf/1991%20Joint%20Communique%20Of%20The%20 Twenty-Fourth%20ASEAN%20 Ministerial%20Meeting-pdf.pdf , accessed 29 March 2015. “They emphasized that the international application of human rights be narrow and selective nor should it violate the sovereignty of nations.” 8. ASEAN, The Final Declaration of the Regional Meeting for Asia of the World Conference on Human Rights, 19 March 29-2 April 1993, preamble. 9. ASEAN, Joint Communiqué of the Twenty-Fourth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Kuala Lumpur, Art 17. Art. 17: “…They emphasized that the protection and promotion of human rights in the international community should take cognizance of the principles of respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.” 10 ASEAN, Joint Communiqué of the Twenty-Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Singapore, 23-24 July 1993, http://www.asean. org/communities/asean-political-security-community/item/ joint-communique-of-the-twenty-sixth-asean-ministerial-meeting-singapore-23-24-july-1993,
20. 22. 23.
accessed 29 March 2015. Art. 16: “…These rights are of equal importance. They should be addressed in a balanced and integrated manner and protected and promoted with due regard for specific cultural, social, economic and political circumstances.” Hitoshi Nasu and Ben Saul, Human Rights in the Asia Pacific Region: Towards Institution Building (New York: Routledge, 2011), 12. The most popular proponents are former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yeuw and former Malaysia PM Mahatir. Tan Hsien-Li, The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights Institutionalising Human Rights in Southeast Asia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 147. ASEAN, ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, Preamble, http:// w w w. a s e a n . o rg / n e w s / a s e an-statement-communiques/ item/asean-human-rights-declaration, accessed 1 April 2015. ASEAN still argues that rights fulfillment “must be considered in the regional and national context” and individuals must perform their duties to their own society besides enjoying their rights. Li-ann Thio, “Implementing Human Rights in ASEAN Countries: Promises to Keep and Miles to Go Before I sleep,” Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal (1999), 1 ASEAN, Joint Communiqué of the Twenty-Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Singapore, 23-24 July 1993, Art. 7. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, “The ASEAN Human Rights Architecture: Its Development and Challenges,” The Equal Rights Review, Vol 11, 2013, 48. Op.cit., Baik, 222 “3000 rally at Myanmar Embassy,” The Star Online, 28 September 2007, accessed 28 March 2015. ASEAN, Statement by ASEAN Chair, New York, 27 September 2007. http://www. europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/ dv/200/200710/20071009-statement-asean.pdf Op.cit., Baik, 222 Author’s Skype Interview with Yuyun Wahyuningrum, 1 April 2015 This includes the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Indonesia), Policy and Strategic Studies (Brunei), the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (Cambodia), the Institute of Foreign Affairs (Laos), the Institute of Strategic and Inter-
24. 25. 26. 27.
36. 37. 38.
national Studies (Malaysia), the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (the Philippines), the Singapore Institute for International Affairs (Singapore), the Institute of Security and International Studies (Thailand), and the Institute for International Relations (Vietnam) Op.cit., Tan, 164. Ibid. Ibid. All the member states share a colonial experience, except for Thailand. Even then, although the Thai monarchy retained its formal sovereignty, empirically it exercised little real sovereignty. ASEAN, Report of the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group on Vision 2020, http://www.asean. org/news/item/report-of-theasean-eminent-persons-groupepg-on-vision-2020-the-peoples-asean, accessed 29 March 2015. ASEAN, ASEAN Vision 2020, Kuala Lumpur, 15 December 1997, http://www.asean.org/ news/item/asean-vision-2020, accessed 29 March 2015. See Murdie, Amanda and David R. Davis, “Shaming and Blaming: Using Events Data to Assess the Impact of Human Rights INGOs,” International Studies Quarterly, 56(1): 1-16; and Davis, David R., Murdie, Amanda, and Coty Garnett. 2012. “Makers and Shapers: Human Rights INGOs and Public Opinion” Human Rights Quarterly, 34(1): 199-224. ASEAN, ASEAN Documents Series 2004, January 2005, http:// www.asean.org/archive/ADS2004.pdf, accessed 29 March 2015. Mathew Davies, “Explaining the Vientiane Action Programme: ASEAN and the institutionalisation of human rights,” The Pacific Review, 26:4, 395. Op.cit., Tan, 138. Vitit Muntarbhorn, Roadmap for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, 28-29 May 2003,http:// www.fnf.org.ph/liberallibrary/ roadmap-for-asean-humanrights.htm, accessed 30 March 2015 Ibid. Op.cit., Nasu, 139-140. Op.cit., Davies, 396. Davies notes the only divergence was the omission of the proposal to expand NHRI to all member states and the call for an ASEAN charter detailing the rights and obligations of people. Working Group and ASEAN to Work Together to Promote Human Rights, Working Group, http://aseanhrmech.org/news/ work-together-to-promote-human-rights.html, accessed 30 March 2015.
Essay 40. Kasira Cheeppensook, “The 42. Op.cit., ASEAN, ASEAN Human Spread: Whose Norms Matter? development of the ASEAN Rights Declaration, Art 7. 44. Norm Localization and InstituCharter: Origins and norm 43. Yuyun Wahyuningrum, “The tional Change in Asian Regioncodification,” Doctoral Thesis, ASEAN Intergovernmental alism,” International OrganizaThe London School of EcoCommission on Human Rights: tion, Vol. 58, No. 2, 2004, 244. nomics and Political Science, Origins, Evolution and the Way Acharya has noted that norm en2013, 19, http://etheses.lse. Forward,” IDEA, 2014, http:// trepreneurs could “institutionalac.uk/1039/1/Cheeppensook_ www.idea.int/resources/analize a new norm by associating it The_development_of_the_ASEysis/loader.cfm?csModule=sewith a pre-existing norm in the AN_Charter.pdf, accessed 29 curity/getfile&pageID=66881, same issue area.” March 2015. accessed 17 March 2016. 41. Op.cit., Davies, 392. Amitav Acharya, “How Ideas
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