Recent efforts to suppress the expression of the most basic aspirations for Palestinian freedom offend not only civil libertarian commitments to free speech and related ideas of academic freedom, but, perhaps more surprisingly, civil rights commitments to nondiscrimination. The basic argument is this: translating an embrace of Palestinian life and freedom into a call for Jewish death relies on pervasive racist and anti-Muslim stereotypes of Palestinians as endemically hateful, violent, deceptive, and hostile to Jews. Employment decisions based on such stereotypes violate Title VII’s prohibitions on race, national origin, and religious discrimination.
In late October, Florida banned chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine from operating on state university campuses. This ban, which alleges that the national organization provided material support to designated terrorist organizations, is unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny. Nevertheless, it represents a dangerous escalation of recent efforts to restrict the speech of pro-Palestine advocates, while providing a blueprint for the future repression of other disfavored groups.
Once the near-exclusive prerogative of the United States, unilateral economic sanctions are increasingly a multipolar phenomenon. As Aslı Bâli has recently argued, this current conjuncture may offer a new window to resist forms of economic coercion that legitimate and enforce an unjust neocolonial global order. At the same time, however, there are new dangers inherent in the transformation of sanctions and related coercive practices into tools of open hegemonic contestation.
Multinational platform companies, including Uber, iFood, Rappi, and 99, are currently pushing to export the United States’ most exploitative new labor laws to Brazil. Lawmakers should reject these attempts. As empirical evidence from the U.S. context shows, adopting a new “intermediate” worker category would be disastrous for low-income workers, and as Courts around the world have found, platform companies exert high levels of control over their workers and thus should be subject to standard labor and employment regulations.
Since the early 1990s, the United States has created a scheme of laws allowing private parties to sue individuals, organizations, and foreign countries for acts of terrorism in U.S. courts. While these laws have primarily been used to target and harass Palestinians, the recent spate of violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank presents a potential if unexpected opportunity: to turn the tables on terrorism torts.
The explosion of Indonesia’s nickel industry shows how demand for “green” technology by wealthy urbanites triggers resource raiding in the Global South.
Neo-Brandeisian and other legal scholars generally associate Brandeis with America’s own anti-monopoly traditions. Yet Brandeis himself drew inspiration from developments unfolding across the Atlantic, and in contrast to Postwar America, where many of his institutional insights were eventually abandoned, the European competition regime has gradually gravitated toward an increasingly Brandeisian approach.
Since the end of the Cold War, sanctions have served primarily as a way for relatively united Western powers — led by the United States — to impose their preferences on weaker states. The era of unipolarity that has facilitated such one-sided coercion is, however, drawing to a close, and with it perhaps the age of ever-proliferating sanctions.
The legal concept and practice of “peaceful sanctions” is ridden with contradictions. To understand these antinomies, and to make sense of the changes in the legal treatment of sanctions over time, we must attend to the material basis of the international legal order – namely, a global but contradictory, crisis-prone, and conflictual capitalist imperialism structured along racial, gender, and spatial lines.
Humanitarian concerns have generally failed to bring about concrete legal limits on the use of sanctions as a tool of foreign policy. However, as the ongoing saga concerning the Afghan central bank’s assets indicates, they have succeeded in something much more fundamental: they have legitimized the use of sanctions as a tool for undoing and re-assembling the sovereignty of a postcolonial state.
In this moment of U.S. financial imperialism, a host of “new” colonizers have emerged, including private plaintiffs holding unsatisfied civil judgments against so-called terrorists, terrorist organizations, and countries designated by the U.S. State Department as state sponsors of terrorism. And just as the colonizers of yesteryear used imperial policies to destroy and deplete the colonized’s resources, these new colonizers pillage in their own modern way, leveraging and expanding the U.S. government’s imperialist reach.
At a time when human rights NGOs rigorously count civilian deaths in armed conflicts, no equivalent accounting is available to victims of a war waged via exchange rates, inflation, and interest rates. The opaque mechanisms through which economic coercion inflicts harm have made it difficult to identify causation, let alone to prosecute its agents under international law, while the rise of neoliberalism and an individualized human rights politics have led to a turn away from the concerns with economic coercion that animated post-colonial legal activism in the 1960s and 1970s.
To what extent do the very building blocks of international law enable the weaponization of economic asymmetry? How has the expansion of the U.S. financial system shifted the locus of economic coercion in the global order? And what possibilities exist for legal analysis and advocacy to contest such forms of imperialism? To answer these and other questions about the role of law in economic sanctions, this symposium draws together insights from scholars working at the intersection of LPE and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL).
The very idea of “offsetting” emissions requires the legal creation – and exploitation – of new sacrifice zones. Predictably, this approach has been a disaster for the environment. Less noticed, however, is the extent to which offsetting has warped the entire aim of environmental law.
China has long been understood (and misunderstood) through the presuppositions and biases of the West. From canonical political philosophers, who have debated whether China represents an “oriental despotism,” to contemporary scholars who question the very existence of law in China, the study of the country is rife with analytical blind spots. But how can American legal scholars avoid such a fate? One underrated tactic is to adopt an empathetic approach, an openness to different possibilities in legal and non-legal ordering that does not take the necessity of formal Western legal institutions as a given. While an empathetic orientation does not preclude critique, it is a check against orientalist perspectives that see different laws, institutions, and cultures as self-evidently inferior.