Child trafficking in the fishing industry on Lake Volta

Challenging Heights is an anti-trafficking, anti-slavery, children’s rights NGO located in Winneba, Ghana, approximately an hour and a half outside of Accra, the capital. Inspired by the president and founder’s own experience being trafficked and enslaved as a child, the organization serves source communities, which are communities where children are trafficked from, in order to achieve its strategic goal of ending child trafficking in the fishing industry in Ghana in five years and ending child slavery in the fishing industry in Ghana in ten years.

 

During the Advocates Program, Challenging Heights provided an in-depth overview of every aspect of the organization. Each day, I was amazed by the breadth (and depth) of the organization’s programs. Not only does Challenging Heights rescue children from Lake Volta, rehabilitate them in a shelter, reintegrate them with their families and monitor them after reintegration, it also provides livelihood support to reintegrated children’s families as well as other vulnerable children’s families, conducts a youth empowerment program to tackle the root cause of poverty, campaigns against corporal punishment and child marriage, conducts alternative dispute resolution with slave masters to make sure children are given what they are owed for their labor, distributes 80,000 Tom’s shoes a year to schoolchildren, supports education with its newly independent Friends International Academy, conducts research projects on issues connected to its programs, and advocates for children’s rights locally, nationally and internationally.

 

The passion of the staff members of Challenging Heights layered each and every session throughout the Advocates Program. The communications officer, in the campaign against child marriage, hands out flyers that include her personal phone number so that people in danger of being married as a child or who know a child in danger of being married can call her for help. The rescue team risks their own lives to go out on the lake to rescue trafficked and enslaved children from slave masters. The shelter manager reminded us of the realities and challenges of shelter life, but when asked about her greatest success said, “Every single day when I see children laughing it’s a success. Even when they are crying, it’s a success because they can express their emotions”.

 

Despite the dedication and passion of Challenging Heights and its staff, slave masters and traffickers continue to traffic and enslave children without legal repercussion. In 2016, there were no convictions under Ghana’s anti-trafficking law, due to insufficient resources devoted to collecting evidence which hinders investigations according to the State Department.  Challenging Heights staff was certain Ghana would be moved to the Tier 3 watch list for trafficking in persons this year due to the government’s lack of action. However, the State Department granted Ghana a waiver because of a written plan that would have an impact if implemented. The Trafficking in Persons watch list levels are based on minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons the US State Department created.

 

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Write On! Call for Submissions: Summer ’17 Issue of Trade, Law and Development

Call for Submissions: Summer ’17

 The Board of Editors of Trade, Law and Development [TL&D] is pleased to invite original, unpublished manuscripts for publication in the Summer ‘17 Special Issue of the Journal on Recent Regionalism (Vol. 9, No. 1). The manuscripts may be in the form of Articles, Notes, Comments, and Book Reviews.

TL&D aims to generate and sustain a democratic debate on emerging issues in international economic law, with a special focus on the developing world. Towards these ends, we have published works by noted scholars such as Prof. Petros Mavroidis, Prof. Mitsuo Matsuhita, Prof. Raj Bhala, Prof. Joel Trachtman, Gabrielle Marceau, Simon Lester, Prof. Bryan Mercurio, Prof. E.U. Petersmann and Prof. M. Sornarajah among others.

TL&D also has the distinction of being ranked the best journal in India across all fields of law and the 10th best trade journal worldwide by Washington and Lee University, School of Law for five consecutive years (2011-15) [The Washington & Lee Rankings are considered to be the most comprehensive in this regard].

 

For more information, please go through the submission guidelines available at www.tradelawdevelopment.com or write to us at editors@tradelawdevelopment.com.

 

Last Date for Submissions: February 15, 2017

Sojourn stirs questions about policies in China, Cuba and the United States

This month yours truly, IntLawGrrl Kathleen A. Doty, Director of Global Practice Preparation at Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, is a World Affairs Council Young Leaders Fellow just completing a tour of China. Traveling with me have been eleven others, many from globally minded businesses. This is the last dispatch in a series of posts on my travels.

4BEIJING – The people of China are warm. They love babies. I quickly found the best way to make a friend was to coo at the child in her arms. They love long meals and good toasts, and have spent centuries mastering the art of hospitality. Being a guest in China is wonderful.

Beijing is a vastly different city than Shanghai. It is old, gritty, artistic. I heard many people say that Beijing was like Washington, D.C., and Shanghai was like New York. I think that it is a shallow comparison, and having lived in both U.S. cities, I disagree.image1

New York is much more than high rises; Beijing is a city alive and rich in a similar way. Of course, this impression has much to do with the organization of our trip; in Shanghai we were taken primarily to government developments, while in Beijing we were taking primarily to private companies and cultural sites. We visited the sleek showroom of Huawei, the Chinese version of Apple, and iQIYI, the Chinese version of Netflix, which exudes a hip imagestart-up vibe. I sipped exotic tea as I strolled through galleries in the profoundly cool 798 Art District, wandered back alleys in Old World neighborhoods, and saw a palace that has been grand since before my own country was founded. When the lights went out in a restaurant at dinner, the servers calmly brought candles to the table and we kept on with the toasts. Beijing was much more what I image2expected to find in China: a mix of the modern and the historical, of wealth and underdevelopment.

Cultural heritage was a theme I pondered throughout the trip. China is old in a way that I, a woman from Colorado, a place young even in the history of the United States, find mind-blowing. Beijing is a huge city. The several ring roads surrounding it put the Beltway or the Perimeter to shame. The city has been developed and redeveloped countless times, replacing so much of what once was. Walking the Great Wall (which is covered in scratched graffiti, in Chinese characters so foreign to my eye) and seeing the Forbidden City provided just a taste of an incredibly rich history that, little by little, is lost with improvements to modern life. I commented to a friend, an American expat living in China, that I found this sad. He responded that the history in 3China is too long to preserve the physical – you just can’t save every 5,000-year-old building – the cultural heritage of China lives in the language. Having mastered only four words in ten days – “Hello,” “Thank you,” “Cheers,” and “too expensive” – I have to admit that this is lost on me. But it emphasized the importance of intangible cultural heritage work as a means of preserving at least some of an ancient way of life.

Sitting alone in a public park one day, I marveled at how a parent or grandparent needed only to speak a word to a child and he or she behaved. Meeting times were given at strangely precise intervals (for example, 1:25) and taken very seriously. I heard more apologies for tardiness than I thought reasonable given a city of such size and with such congestion. Our guides shared their views that much of Eastern culture derives from Confucius’ thought, and emphasizes hierarchy and respect. This consideration to others was surprising given our pre-trip prepping that people push and don’t stand in line or respect your space, but it just reinforced the cultural difference in the meaning of “consideration.” In so many of my reflections about Communism and the economy, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the attitudes I picked up on were born of pre-existing Eastern philosophy and culture, or from the current economic and political systems in the country.

I also couldn’t help but wonder about the tension between the incredible feats of the state and human rights. Much has been written about this topic and I am no expert, so I won’t belabor the point. But I found myself reflecting, much as I did during my studies in Cuba, on the tension between the social benefits of a Communist system – universal healthcare, education, and in the case of China, the elevation of an extraordinary number of people out of poverty in a short time frame – with the profound lack of freedoms.

2During our visit to the Great Wall, we were standing in an epically long line to take a shuttle bus from the base of the Wall to the parking lot where our bus was waiting. Our guide, a young man in the employ of the University who spoke nearly perfect English, sighed as we inched forward. He said:

“Thank God for the family planning policy.”

I was surprised because the one-child policy so deeply offends our Western concept of individual choice that I simply expected someone of roughly my age to concur; yet in such a populous country, a limit on the number of people is sometimes welcome. I relayed my surprise at his comment to another young Chinese woman I met, and she said,

“Oh yes. The problem with the family planning is that we now have a China that is out of balance, with too many old people and not enough young ones.”

I was so amazed; again, it was a comment totally focused on the macro. Is that Chinese culture? Is that the effect of a Communist system of government? Is it both?

These are the questions that will for me remain unanswered. After studying in Cuba, my takeaway was that they don’t have it right, but neither do we in the United States. The “right” is somewhere in the middle. My impression of China is that it is inching closer to the right balance than Cuba. I have far more context about Cuba to make that statement; this trip showed me, more than anything else, how much I don’t know about China. But standing in Tiananmen Square in the rain, I couldn’t help but think that an inch is terrifically small.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes)

In politics, East is East and West is West even as economies grow closer

This month yours truly, IntLawGrrl Kathleen A. Doty, Director of Global Practice Preparation at Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, is a World Affairs Council Young Leaders Fellow just completing a tour of China. Traveling with me have been eleven others, many from globally minded businesses. This is another in a series of posts on my travels.

imageSHANGHAI – A Chinese official at the Pilot Free Trade Zone in Shanghai told us:

“The United States is a very different economy than China; it is much more globalized. We are still learning.”

Visiting Shanghai, one would never guess that China is still learning. The city is shockingly modern, with architecture straight out of a sci-fi movie, sparklingly clean public spaces, and every sort of of consumer product available. The brands are recognizable to Americans – from Walmart to most high-end designers. Yet the rhetoric from the officials with which we’ve met has been all about development: how to further open up China’s economy.

The efforts in this regard are impossible to miss. Almost everywhere in the city there are new buildings going up and renovations in progress.

The Chinese are obsessed with space: the first thing they tell you about any project is the number of square kilometers it will occupy and the population of people living or working there. This is understandable given the stress such a high population places on the limited physical space and infrastructure of the city.

image3Perhaps more striking: they are obsessed with showcasing this development. The government has erected entire museums and project-specific showrooms dedicated to urban planning with information tailored to foreign visitors. They are surreal – we saw several unbelievably intricate miniature models of the building projects, complete with lights in the windows of the mini-buildings, and incredibly high resolution 3D video tours set to dramatic symphonic music. At one such display a colleague leaned over and said:

“Wow, it’s propaganda.”

And propaganda it is. Unlike Cuba, which is still brimming with billboards of Fidel and slogans like “¡Patria o Muerte! ¡Venceremos! (Homeland or Death! We Shall Overcome!),” the Chinese version is more subtle. It’s not centered on a leader or on separation from the rest of the world, but on the collective progress: development, innovation, opening up.

I expected Shanghai to be filled with the iconic Soviet concrete-style buildings, but the new Communism is glass and steel. It is rows of narrow, tall apartment buildings shooting out of the ground in perfectly aligned formation. But it still feels cold, a little sterile, and with pollution hanging in the air, eerie.

image1It was also quite clear that the Chinese keep a tight grip on the narrative available to foreign visitors. My trip, sponsored by the Confucius Institute, a division of the government education agency, made sure to show us the best of what China had to offer. We looked up at a major skyscraper in the distance and asked our tour guide if we were going to go there. He looked at us in complete seriousness and said:

“But why would we go there? You saw it in the model.”

I realized then that the propaganda wasn’t just for the foreign visitors, he believed it too. Government control of the narrative affects everyone.

We were told that the farmers who used to be on the land now occupied by the new industrial parks were simply removed from their land. Eminent domain is in full force in China. Here’s a statement of fact about the issue, rather than skepticism, from our same tour guide:

“You can’t bargain with the government.”

Nor can you reason with it. On my way out of the airport, after the security checkpoint where they took large liquids, I bought two waters. These were confiscated in an unexpected secondary screening on the jetway. When I asked the guard why he took them, he explained it was because of TSA rules. When I protested that they had already screened for liquids and that I purchased these past security, he just shook his head and tossed my water in a bin. Perhaps China doesn’t regulate items for purchase after security and therefore doesn’t meet TSA standards, but I find that unlikely. Despite the progress in China, it felt much more like the absurdity of life characteristic of such a strong state government.

image2China is impressive. It is actualizing public works and infrastructure projects at a rate that is unimaginable in the United States. It is developing its cities and offering its people access to a diverse marketplace of consumer goods.

Wandering a mall, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was Cuba’s future. It’s not a bad compromise between the socialist and capitalist models. (Oh, the irony; I wonder if Marx could ever have envisioned a transition back to capitalism.)

I’m not entirely certain whether the official we spoke with at the Free Trade Zone would say that the main difference between the United States and China was the economic model of each country, but I know that I left thinking that no matter how open the Chinese economy becomes, we will always be far apart, even in business, because of our different underlying political systems.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes)

On the Paris Agreement’s imminent entry into force

The Paris Agreement will enter into force on 4 November 2016. The agreement requires the deposition of instruments of ratification or acceptance by at least 55 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With the latest ratifications by the EU and New Zealand respectively – only a couple of days after India deposited its instrument of ratification – these conditions were fulfilled yesterday, on 5 October 2016. By that day, 72 Parties to the Convention had deposited their instruments accounting in total for 56,75 % of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement will enter into force 30 days from this day – less than a year since its adoption!

Such rapid entry into force arguably is record-breaking; unparalleled in multilateral treaty making – environmental or not.

The adoption of Paris Agreement in December 2015 was hailed as a victory of multilateralism; as a sign of hope that the states of this world can get together and cooperate in the face of a global commons challenge. Yet, in Paris negotiators were in the dark about how long it would take before the agreement would become law; an international treaty. Certainly no-one expected this to happen within less than a year or only a little over six months since it was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 in New York.

It was no small achievement that states managed to reach an agreement on such complex issue as climate change. Yet, garnering their political will behind its legal bindingness is a significant feat which calls for some reflection.

How was it possible? Part of the answer lies in the very architecture and content of the agreement. It basically has been purpose-built to make it easy for states to come on board. By letting Parties come forward with their nationally determined contributions, the agreement managed to “pick up” every state where it is at this point of time, preserving the sovereign space. Without being overly prescriptive or intrusive, it brings states together under the same goals and principles, such as progression and highest possible ambition. Importantly, it aims at increasing collective ambition over time and through iterative, quinquennial processes to where ambition needs to be in order to achieve those goals – thereby creating a place for learning, experience, reflection and permanent political attention to climate change. Unsurprisingly, the legally binding obligations in the agreement are few and of purely procedural character. The effect of this is that most Parties – if not all – do not need to change their national laws in order to implement the agreement. Such “weightless burden” eases and accelerates domestic ratification procedures.

But the Agreement is no paper tiger. It is deferential to sovereign interests, yes. It had to. At the same time, it gives a sense of direction and of collective purpose. It combines international normative “pull” with meaningful international cooperation and coordination, with horizontal peer “pressure”, and with repetitive national processes which will demand the continuous work on effective and ambitious climate policies, despite changing governments or economic circumstances.

Another reason for this “rush to ratification”, is the unwavering support of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. In what might become his administration’s greatest legacy, he brought significant climate momentum to the UN system in organising high level events on climate change; the latest being the “special ratification event” on 21 September 2016 at which 31 states alone deposited their instruments of ratification or acceptance, crossing the first threshold for entry into force and jumping close to the bar on the second.

And, of course, there is the unprecedented alignment of political will of the world’s super powers; the US and China. In terms of political leadership, the Paris Agreement is one of the legacy projects for US President Barack Obama. His administration—along with China—has worked hard in recent months to ensure that the agreement takes effect. No doubt, the fact the US and China moved together created momentum, hope, expectation on others and a powerful surge to do the same. Importantly, the joining by the US and China also gave the necessary comfort to smaller emitters that the “big ones” are on board.

Yet, it is no G2-deal. 195 Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the agreement in Paris, 191 have signed it since, 74 have ratified or accepted so far. This means that the consensual scope is much broader than only between major powers. It is a truly multilateral deal. The obligations and entitlements are allocated fairly, in accordance with responsibilities and capacities. The agreement left the bifurcated approach of the Convention behind, which divided the world in Annex and non-Annex countries. It appeals to the vulnerable as well as the powerful, the economically advanced as well as to those that are least developed. Yet, across the large spectre of countries, it spans the normative canvas on which each and every Party can find its place in the common quest of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic climate change.

Moreover, the agreement itself has created a center of gravity. It draws in its force field the scientific community, a large and diverse array of stakeholders, civil society, private actors, companies, banks, insurances, all economic sectors, education, constituencies, voters. Science has never been as conclusive as now. Technology has seen rapid advances. Climate change has started to move from a burden to an opportunity – putting more emphasis on “change” and transformation of societies along low-greenhouse gas emission pathways. This, also, creates pressure and expectations; expectations which seem to compel states to ratifying the agreement. Pressure axes run vertically as well as horizontally (i.e. among states).

Peer pressure might, indeed, be the strongest reason for states to join the agreement. It has become politically correct, even “cool”, almost a competition, to ratify (quickly). Once a critical mass of countries had come forward, there seemed to be a gravitational pull on others. Not to miss the train, both in national and in international politics, created important momentum. Of course, there are also certain privileges to be had: Once the agreement enters into force, its decision-making body – the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (or short CMA) – will assume its competences. Only the Parties to the Paris Agreement would – and should – be eligible to participate in decision-making under this body. Now, while the “rule-book” of the Agreement remains largely to be written, a certain fear of missing out started to spread around the world. This in turn caused some side-eying on who else is joining the agreement – and a collective rush to parliamentary ratification procedures, or, for some, submitting an executive letter to the UN Secretary General.

A final, and perhaps not insignificant, reason lies in political “anti-leadership”. A country may only be as strong as its political leader. Because political leaders are a renewable resource, they come and go – with different takes on climate change. Some dedicated and constructive; others the complete opposite. Once the agreement enters into force, a Party can only get out by withdrawing from the Agreement. Withdrawal comes at a political cost – which may or may not prevent some Parties from taking this step – unless they have a leader who does not care or does not know or both. Now, withdrawal from the agreement is only possible after three years from entry into force – and even then will the withdrawal take effect only after one more year has passed. Which means that for four years after entry into force, no Party can leave the agreement. Four years is the duration of most elective periods for presidents and other heads of state. A Trump card, so to say, if it were needed.

With the imminent entry into force, the prophecy of the agreement – at least when it comes to taking effect – becomes self-fulfilling. The gravitational pull created the incentive necessary for others to join the agreement. It is evoking new behaviour, sufficiently influencing states so that their reactions (and actions) fulfil the conditions for entry into force, against all odds.

The hope is that this also extends to the effectiveness of the agreement itself, causing behavioural changes that matter. The first CMA in Marrakesh this November will show whether there is a positive feedback between belief and behaviour – or whether the agreement just enters into “farce”.

A critical assessment: Can Export Processing Zones be transformed into catalytic enclaves for Women’s Economic Empowerment?

In 2011, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) partnered with the World Bank Gender Action Plan and the Government of Canada to publish a study positing the rather novel idea that Special Economic Zones (SEZs – more commonly known as Export Processing Zones or EPZs) might serve as a vehicle for women’s economic empowerment.

The study, entitled Fostering Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Special Economic Zones, provides a comparative analysis of SEZs in eight countries (Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, Jordan, Kenya and the Philippines) and discusses different SEZ initiatives (as well as opportunities and obstacles) that have been developed to contribute to the economic empowerment of women.  The IFC argues that SEZs can contribute to women’s economic empowerment through three dimensions:  (1) fair employment and working conditions; (2) equal access to opportunities for professional investment; and (3) extension of investment opportunities for women.

My recent working paper, A critical assessment:  Can Export Processing Zones be transformed into catalytic enclaves for Women’s Economic Empowerment, considers this novel idea from an international employment and women’s rights perspective.

The idea that EPZs might be utilized as instruments to improve working women’s lives is counter-intuitive.   EPZs have a reputation for sub-standard working conditions and exploitation because they are frequently exempted from local labor laws and other workplace protections.  They are also considered to be a sub-optimal economic development mechanism by the OECD and others.  On the other hand, the IFC’s study points to a number of examples of innovative programs that can be adopted by EPZ administrators – and contains enough frank analysis of obstacles to using EPZ governance structures to empower women – to make its recommendations worth considering.

After assessing the IFC’s idea in light of recent literature discussing the challenges facing workers in EPZs, I come to a somewhat guardedly optimistic conclusion that SEZs and EPZs might serve as a vehicle for policies and programs designed to empower women – but only if EPZ administrators and policy makers change attitudes about independent trade unions and work in partnership with workers, representative trade unions and women’s rights organizations.

Call for Papers! IJSARD: International Journal of Socio-Legal Analysis and Rural Development Volume 2 Issue 2

Get your article published in an internationally indexed journal with a high  impact factor of  1.73.  International Journal of socio-legal analysis and Rural Development (IJSARD) is an online/print quarterly peer reviewed international journal on ‘Law’ and ‘Rural Development’. As the name suggests the journal will focus on the analysis of different laws for better understanding and research. The society needs the laws for proper functioning and thus the journal focuses to draw a special emphasis on various disciplines of social sciences, rural development and analysis of various aspects of law to improve the quality of research and explore the more realistic aspects of civilization’s sustainable developments. Establishing equilibrium between the society and law it will find the present and futuristic scope of growth and prosperity. Rural development is an essential part of a sustainable society.

Word limit for submissions:

Articles: 5,000-10,000 words.

Short Articles: 2,500-5,000 words.

Case study : 2,500-6,000 words

Theme

The articles must be related to Law and social sciences or rural development. They may relate Law or social sciences and rural development with other disciplines like Health, Agriculture, Law, Technology, Sustainable development, Environment and Climate change etc. The authors may take in account national and international perspectives.

 

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Each submission must be accompanied with:

An abstract of not more than 200-250 words.

Main article.

List of References.

Short description about the author.

Formatting and Other Essentials:

Main text: Times New Roman, Font Size 12, 1.5 spaced.

Footnotes: Times New Roman, Font Size 10, single spaced.

Citation Method:  Any uniform citation.

The articles must be original and must not have been published earlier.

The articles must be sent to ijsard.editor@gmail.com by 30th August, 2016.

The submission must accompanied by a declaration that the contribution submitted is a piece of original research work of author and has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere.

All submissions will be subject to a plagiarism check.

Professionals, Academicians, Scholars and Students of all disciplines are eligible to contribute.

Co-authorship will be allowed to a maximum of two authors and two separate certificates shall be issued for the publication of article in the journal.

The deadline for submissions is 30th August, 2016.

 

The authors of selected papers will be directed to pay INR 1000/- for, Co-authors INR 1800/- only after the selection of their paper for the,

The hard copy of certificate of publication.

Indexing of the Articles in the International Indexing Forums.

The journal in form of a CD.

All the selected articles will be on the website and only some selected papers will be published in the hard copy of the journal.

The copy of the journal will be sent to them along with a certificate of publication and CD.

 

Website: www.ijsard.org

Email id: ijsard.editor@gmail.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ijsard

 

For any query, contact:

Deepak Dugar

Mob: – +91-9413966749

 

Dheeraj Kumar Tiwari, 

Mob:- +91-7579006367  E-Mail:- advodheeraj@gmail.com

 

 link for the full notification 

http://ijsard.org/index.php/2016/08/01/ijsard-call-for-papers-international-journal-of-socio-legal-analysis-and-rural-development-volume-2-issue-2/