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Showing posts for "Human Rights"

Fighting Bangladesh’s Sweatshops

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A dye factory worker suns fabric after washing them in Narayanganj near Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 25, 2016 (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain). A dye factory worker suns fabric after washing them in Narayanganj near Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 25, 2016 (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

In late December, tens of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers went on strike, shutting down over fifty factories making fast-fashion clothes for international brands including Gap, H&M, and Zara. What started as a walkout in support of 121 workers fired for asking for higher pay quickly grew into larger protests demanding a tripling of the minimum wage.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Asian Trade Openness, Palm Oil Abuses, Global Magnitsky

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A worker unloads palm fruit at a palm oil plantation in Peat Jaya, Jambi province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra September 15, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. September 15, 2015 (Reuters/Wahyu Putro A/Antara Foto). A worker unloads palm fruit at a palm oil plantation in Peat Jaya, Jambi province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra September 15, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. September 15, 2015 (Reuters/Wahyu Putro A/Antara Foto).

Trade Rules Favor Asia, Not the United States
Asia’s rise in the global trading system continues. Recent World Economic Forum data shows that the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members now outrank the European Union (EU) and United States on trade openness, reflecting deeper integration into the global economy aided by investment and trade deals. But ASEAN and other countries may have a tougher time accessing markets if protectionism in the United States and EU prevails. The rankings back up at least some of the recent political rhetoric—the United States ranks 120 out of 136 countries in terms of foreign market access, facing average tariffs of almost 5 percent—the seventh highest in the world.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Duterte Targets Critic, China’s Trade Ambitions, FCPA Uncertainty

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A police officer from the SWAT team stands guard during an anti-drugs operation in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila in the Philippines, November 12, 2016 (Reuters/Erik De Castro). A police officer from the SWAT team stands guard during an anti-drugs operation in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila in the Philippines, November 12, 2016 (Reuters/Erik De Castro).

Philippines’ Duterte Tries to Take Down Critic
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte brooks no dissent. His latest backlash is against one of his most outspoken critics, Senator Leila de Lima. After she opened an inquiry into Duterte’s role in killings while he was a mayor, and urged the international community to investigate the over 1,500 alleged extrajudicial killings during his first four months in office, the president’s Senate allies ejected her as chair of the Justice Committee. The government is now accusing her of drug trafficking, bribery, and graft. If the case moves forward, De Lima could face up to thirty years in prison—effectively silencing Duterte’s opposition.

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Unfinished Business: Improving Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Migrant workers categorize crayons at a toy factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province March 9, 2010. South China's export stronghold Guangdong is experiencing labour shortages that could result in higher wages, but they are not as severe as reported by the media, provincial Communist Party boss Wang Yang said (Reuters/Joe Tan). Migrant workers categorize crayons at a toy factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province March 9, 2010. South China's export stronghold Guangdong is experiencing labour shortages that could result in higher wages, but they are not as severe as reported by the media, provincial Communist Party boss Wang Yang said (Reuters/Joe Tan).

Global trade and the supply chains that support it are undergoing a period of profound change. Supply chains face threats including a resurgence of protectionism, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and human rights abuses. The Development Channel’s series on global supply chains will highlight experts’ analysis on emerging trends and challenges. This post is from Beth Keck, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and practitioner in residence at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She was formerly senior director of women’s economic empowerment at Walmart Stores, Inc. 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Zuma’s Corruption Woes, DRC Sanctions, Afrobarometer Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil
DATE IMPORTED:November 02, 2016Protestors call for the removal of President Jacob Zuma outside court in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2016 (Reuters/Mike Hutchings). DATE IMPORTED:November 02, 2016Protestors call for the removal of President Jacob Zuma outside court in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2016 (Reuters/Mike Hutchings).

Report May Bring Down South Africa’s President
New allegations may finally bring down teflon president Jacob Zuma. Despite his earlier legal protests, South Africa’s public protector’s office released a report suggesting that a wealthy family close to the president influenced government hires and used their ties to promote their private interests. It recommends opening a criminal investigation, a prelude to impeachment proceedings. While the African National Congress (ANC) party backed Zuma during a previous impeachment vote over the use of $16 million in state funds to renovate his private home, these new allegations are hurting him within his party. Already Zuma faces a no-confidence vote in parliament next week, and some ANC members are joining religious leaders, thousands of protestors, and forty South African CEOs in calling for his resignation.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Embraer Corruption Case, UK Anti-Slavery Law Neglected, Rule of Law Index

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado (R) salutes workers next to an new Embraer E190-E2 during its unveil in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, February 25, 2016. Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is in early talks with Iran, with a focus on commercial aviation, following the end of international sanctions, Chief Executive Curado told journalists on Thursday (Reuters/Nacho Doce). Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado (R) salutes workers next to an new Embraer E190-E2 during its unveil in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, February 25, 2016. Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is in early talks with Iran, with a focus on commercial aviation, following the end of international sanctions, Chief Executive Curado told journalists on Thursday (Reuters/Nacho Doce).

Brazil’s Plane Maker Fined in Bribery Case Spanning Five Continents
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer will pay $205 million to U.S. authorities, including $20 million for Brazil, for bribing officials in Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and the Dominican Republic. U.S. prosecutors worked with their law enforcement counterparts around the world—including Brazil, Switzerland, Uruguay, France, and Spain—to bring the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case (Embraer is a U.S.-listed company). The legal cooperation has gone both ways, as U.S.-gathered evidence has spurred additional investigations by Brazilian and Saudi authorities; thirteen employees were charged with bribery. Now India is looking into kickbacks from Embraer’s air force contracts. Expect more cross-border cooperation in global corruption cases.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Violent Kleptocracies, Ethiopia’s Unrest

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri). Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri).

Fighting the Worst Kleptocracies
Worse than kleptocracies are violent kleptocracies, as defined in a new report by advocacy group The Enough Project. In these, leaders run the state as a predatory criminal enterprise, looting the treasury and using virtually all means of government power—the judicial system, military, and security forces—to intimidate, jail, and eliminate any opposition. With near unquestioned power, this all happens with impunity. South Sudan is a classic example—its leaders making millions off of a brutal civil war they fueled. Existing anticorruption tools and agreements—the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the UN Convention Against Corruption among them—do little to change this deadly status quo, according the report. Instead, it says the United States should crack down on these corrupt leaders—taking away their visas, imposing sanctions, seizing ill-gotten assets that come through the U.S. banking system, and using evidence from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations to help go after not only the companies that pay bribes, but the officials who take them.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Brazil’s Lula Charged, Thai Labor Case, Corporate Tax Battles

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends an event with workers' unions leaders against the privatization of Brazilian state companies and against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2016 (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes). Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends an event with workers' unions leaders against the privatization of Brazilian state companies and against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2016 (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes).

Brazil’s Lula Charged with Corruption
After months of speculation, Brazilian judge Sérgio Moro allowed bribery charges against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) to move forward. He is accused of accepting $1.1 million in improvements for his beachfront apartment from OAS, one of Brazil’s largest construction companies, in exchange for Petrobras contracts. Lula is the latest and most prominent figure to be charged in the Lava Jato investigations, joining dozens of other political and business leaders, including former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, former Worker’s Party (PT) treasurer João Vaccari Neto, and construction magnate Marcelo Odebrecht. Next up may be President Michel Temer, already named in Odebrecht’s plea bargain for soliciting illegal campaign contributions during the 2014 presidential election.

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Beyond Supply Chain Transparency Laws

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Cresencio Bumanglag, a worker of Dole Food Company, rakes coffee fruits for them to dry at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii November 9, 2011. Leaders of major nations bordering the Pacific will meet from Wednesday to Sunday in Hawaii in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on building a regional free trade area and an environmental initiative to help spur world economic growth. Picture taken November 9, 2011 (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao). Cresencio Bumanglag, a worker of Dole Food Company, rakes coffee fruits for them to dry at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii November 9, 2011. Leaders of major nations bordering the Pacific will meet from Wednesday to Sunday in Hawaii in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on building a regional free trade area and an environmental initiative to help spur world economic growth. Picture taken November 9, 2011 (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao).

Global trade and the supply chains that support it are undergoing a period of profound change. Supply chains face threats including a resurgence of protectionism, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and human rights abuses. The Development Channel’s series on global supply chains will highlight analysis on emerging trends and challenges. This post is from Zoe Rubin, former intern with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program. 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: FIFA Investigations, Corruption in Romania and the Maldives, New South Sudan Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil
British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. World football's troubled governing body FIFA will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter, at a special congress to be held on February 26 in Zurich, the organisation said on Monday (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann). British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. World football's troubled governing body FIFA will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter, at a special congress to be held on February 26 in Zurich, the organisation said on Monday (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann).

FIFA Investigates Its Own Corruption
A year after the United States and Switzerland went after top FIFA officials on fraud, money laundering, and racketeering charges tied to a $150 million corruption scheme, soccer’s international governing body is taking actions itself. The federation fined former vice president Jeffrey Webb $1 million for accepting bribes and banned him for life from the sport. It also opened an investigation on former President Sepp Blatter and two top associates for bribery, corruption, and conflicts of interest, including adding several illegal provisions to their contracts—boosting their combined salaries to over $80 million, and guaranteeing them eight years of pay even if fired for just cause. FIFA’s new dynamism may begin to restore its tarnished reputation, and the information it uncovers could help U.S. and Swiss prosecutors with their own ongoing criminal cases.

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