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The looming disaster of immunity passports and digital identity

A digital ID that proves immunity will raise serious human rights issues. And the failure of the digital ID industry to deal with the issues of exclusion, exploitation and discrimination puts the entire industry under question. KEY FINDINGS 'Immunity passports' are a theoretical credential - most likely digital - that someone can prove that they have either had the virus and recovered, or have had a vaccination. Immunity passports are being hyped as a solution to ending lockdowns around the world by actors including the proponents of digital identity; the digital identity industry; think-tanks; and the travel industry. Yet there is currently no scientific basis for these measures, as highlighted by the WHO. The nature of what information would be held on an immunity passport is currently unknown. The social risks of immunity passports are great: it serves as a route to discrimination and exclusion, particularly if the powers to view these passports falls on people's employers, or the police. The digital identity industry - pushing their own products as immunity passport solutions - is failing to protect against these harms: they are interested in building wider digital identity systems, based on their pre-existing models, rather than developing a genuine solution to the risks of these passports.

FDI and the right to regulate: Lessons from trade law

The problem of domestic regulation versus international trade and international investment. Note: This is part of a larger PDF - THE DEVELOPMENT DIMENSION OF FDI: POLICY AND RULE MAKING PERSPECTIVES Proceedings of the Expert Meeting held in Geneva from 6 to 8 November 2002

When do human rights violate corporate rights? Why, in the GATS of course.

"How Close Will GATS Get to Human Rights? Similarly to the UN considering gross human rights violations a threat to peace, the WTO should consider certain human rights violations an impediment to free trade. Mutually agreed benefits of trade liberalization may be offset when a human rights infringement nullifies and impairs the multilaterally agreed level of tariff concessions or the negotiated volume of market access commitments in services. The liberalization of services trade through mode 4, whereby the service supplier moves abroad to deliver a service, relies on the free movement of natural persons. This mode of service delivery renders the GATS the WTO covered agreement with the closest affinity to the individual as a subject of international law and therefore, to human rights. Restricting the human rights of foreign service suppliers therefore could have the effect of nullifying and impairing the economic value and legal predictability of the GATS commitments. The WTO Agreements lack the legal basis for prosecuting human rights violations. While WTO Members are bound to respect jus cogens human rights, the non-jus cogens human rights originating in customary international law usually do not raise trade issues relevant enough to question the consistency with a provision of the WTO Agreements. It is suggested that the non-violation nullification and impairment complaints may be used to consider the economic damage which occurs when human rights infringements impair upon GATS commitments, specifically in those cases where the WTO Members receiving services condition their mode 4 commitments to the respect for core labour standards. If the human right amounts to jus cogens or emanates from a human rights treaty to which both parties to a WTO dispute are Members, the human right itself forms the ground of a WTO violation complaint. In all other cases, it is not the human rights violation itself, but its effect that is the economic damage on the sending country's economy, which nullifies and impairs a trade benefit." Keywords: Human Rights, Labour Mobility, GATS, Annex on Movement of Natural Persons Supplying Services under the Agreement, International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, Schedule of Specific Commitments, non-violation nullification and impairment

Migration, Precarization and the Democratic Deficit in Global Governance

Migrants make up a disproportionate part of the social category whose experience in the world of work is marked by “precarity” in terms of informal labour, wage squeeze, temporariness, uncer- tainty and pernicious risk. They belong to the most disadvantaged among a globally growing workforce of casual labour which has come to be called the “precariat”. This, in spite of vast differences in local situations, is currently one of the greatest social and political challenges: to governments, to multilateral organizations, to trade unions and to broader social justice and human rights movements across the world. It is a predicament of the present that takes us well beyond the conventional understanding of North and South, West and East. “Precarity” has currently gained importance in critical labour and citizenship studies in general, and in studies on migration, in particular. Its coining is ascribed to Bourdieu (1963). It epitomizes the nexus of precarious labour and truncated citizenship (e.g. Vosko, 2009; Anderson, 2010; Goldring. 2011).Yet the meaning that precarity conveys in a range of contemporary critical studies is not “social exclusion”, seen as due to redeemable institutional shortcomings, but a “constitutive ele- ment of the new global disorder, to which it is very functional”. (Ricceri, 2011: 68). As such it represents an institutionally embedded hegemonic norm embodying market driven imperatives of “flexibility”, “availability”, “multilocality” and compressed “mobility” across time and space, with “the migrant” as its quintessential incarnation (Tsianos, 2007: 192). But “precarity” – together with its offshoot, the “precariat” – is, equally, adopted as a self-ascribed emblem by contemporary social movements questioning the premises of this very norm. Talking the talk of “precarity” has become regular parlance in political and scientific debates on and through labour and social justice movements concerned with the rights of migrants. There are indications that a global movement is afoot, speaking with or on behalf of millions of migrant “precarians”. This is part of the wider alter-globalization movement, which is developing in tandem with and at the same time contesting neoliberal globalization by emphasizing instead “human rights” and the participatory role of civil society in a democratized global governance of migration (Liki c-Brbori c and Schierup, 2012, [2010]).

Book: Blame It On the WTO: A Human Rights Critique

by Sarah Joseph 365 pages Oxford University Press, Oxford When the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995, few human rights lawyers at the time realized the significance of this event for their discipline. In part, this may have been because the creation of the WTO followed more than a decade of neoliberal policies characterized by deregulation and the removal of barriers to trade and investment in many regions. Although it strengthened the system originally established under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, the WTO was not seen to represent a seismic shift: it was the final stage of a gradual evolution, rather than the beginning of something radically new... The relative indifference of human rights lawyers also stemmed from a lack of understanding of the consequences of this ambitious overhaul of the global trade system. The WTO was deliberately placed outside the remit of the United Nations. With its establishment, the international trade system included for the first time a dispute settlement mechanism of a quasi-judicial nature, binding upon the WTO Members, and which could allow economic sanctions to be imposed on States that failed to comply with the disciplines imposed on them. Indeed, in retrospect, it is this aspect of the WTO Agreement that appears both the most novel and that has the most far-reaching consequences. Most notably, it created an imbalance between the commitments of States under the WTO framework and their other international obligations, including those under human rights treaties: should conflicts emerge between the two sets of obligations, States may be tempted systematically to prioritize their duties under the WTO, because of the sanctions attached to non-compliance, leaving aside the comparatively ‘softer’ commitments made under human rights treaties. As this important book by Sarah Joseph shows, things are now changing. The problems arising from the fragmentation of international law are increasingly being acknowledged, and solutions are being explored to overcome them. Due to the ‘special nature’ of human rights treaties, which are irreducible to exchanges of undertakings between States, merely to state that these treaties are paramount, will not suffice. We need to work towards practical ways of avoiding conflicts whenever possible, and of solving conflicts when they emerge, in ways that do not lead to the sacrifice of human rights on the altar of increased trade, even for the sake of economic growth.

WTO/GATS and the Global Politics of Higher Education

By Antoni Verger - This is one of the best full sized books I have read on the GATS and its implications for education. If you are an educator or are concerned about the global push for privatization of education under the GATS and the various debates informing it, this book is really quite informative.. See also

The Limited Case for Permitting SME Procurement Preferences in the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement

"Any agreement to liberalize procurement markets should deal with the reality that some states have longstanding policies supporting firms owned and controlled by historically disadvantaged individuals, rooted in the constitutional orders of those states. Substantial noneconomic rationales, grounded in notions of social justice and human rights, support these programmes, but the domain of these rationales as they are currently understood is limited to domestic societies. This limitation affects all negotiations to liberalize trade across national borders, in that states (or their leaders) do not hold the view that they have obligations to support the programmes of other states in the area of social justice. I argue that all WTO members should have an equal opportunity to implement noneconomic policies having to do with promoting justice within their borders for their citizens. "

A Just World Under Law: A View From the South by BS Chimni

This is an important work - very much worth reading. Here are two quotes from it.: "Transnational capital sees a borderless world economy as its field of operation leading to the globalization of national production and financial systems. Its third world component plays the role of a junior partner with the crucial task of legitimizing the vision of global capital in its own world. There is also support for this vision in a growing global middle class that hopes to benefit from the ongoing globalization process." ... then he goes on to discuss a number of core concepts which need discussion - "The unified global economic space is being established through a range of international law instruments that include international trade law as embodied in World Trade Organization ("WTO") texts and international monetary law as prescribed by international financial institutions. The key development here is the prescription of minimum uniform global standards. That is to say, irrespective of the sovereign territory on which transnational capital operates it is increasingly governed by the same set of norms or norms that possess family resemblance. For example, every WTO member state has to abide by the norms governing intellectual property rights as embodied in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS"). Some states merely get a longer transition period in which to implement them. The examples can easily be multiplied. The emergence of a unified global economic space may also be conceptualized in terms of the growing internationalization of property rights through the medium of international law. Indeed, the phenomenon of internationalization of property rights is crucial to the creation of a unified global economic space. "