El Perro del Hortelano: Transnational Capital, Human Rights, & Sustainable Development

I’ve been thinking about this film a lot recently. It made a huge impression on me when I saw it for the first time in Peru: I find the imbalances of power created by hyper-mobile capital and global inequality very troubling, and this film paints quite a devastating picture of the negative side effects.

I’m very excited, then, to be able to present a paper on the topic of holding transnational corporations (TNCs) accountable for their actions within local communities at the 2014 G20 Youth Conference in May. I believe TNCs can be a very effective and beneficial driver of growth and technology transfer, but I’m concerned by the lack of meaningful mechanisms by which individuals and communities can successfully defend their rights, especially in the Global South. My jumping off point was Kate Macdonald’s 2008 report The Reality of Rights: Barriers to accessing remedies when business operates beyond borders and the philosophic basis to my argument, if you will, is that the protection of rights should not lie with consumer boycott or shareholder advocacy in the North, but with the provision of meaningful opportunity and sufficient voice and power to communities in the South, such that they can demand for themselves the responsible, sustainable, and rights-respecting action of TNCs, in accordance with local priorities and cultural preferences.

I’ve been thinking of this film because it’s an excellent example of the difficulty of holding capital to account when it operates in a distant corner of a youthful democracy, with the greatest impact falling on minority indigenous groups.

Holding Economic Power to Account:  Toward the meaningful accountability of transnational capital (ABSTRACT)


The Pieces of Humanity We Lose

I’m attempting to write a passably intelligent piece about social change, family upheaval and women’s/men’s rights in Papua New Guinea without falling into an epic spiral of MRA website hate reading from which I will emerge a broken and bitter woman much later tonight…

Pleasingly, I ran across this very thoughtful interview with Gary Barker of Promundo. He has a really delightful turn of phrase: “the pieces of humanity men lose by not being connected to the daily care of others” [around 4:38]. He goes on to discuss the negative effects of social constructions of masculinities and femininities on individual wellbeing and human experience.

In an economy that undervalues care work, overvalues material success and competition, and merely flirts with Work/Life Balance before telling women they need to Lean In, perhaps we all run the risk of losing those pieces of humanity.

See also: Barker & Verani (2008) Men’s Participation as Fathers in the Latin American and Caribbean Region [pdf]

Perspective Lost: The Uncivil Debate on Asylum in Australia

The polarisation of Australian opinion on the issue of asylum seekers has reached extraordinary levels. This is a result of the highly emotive nature of the issue, along with two other important factors: its successful securitisation, and high levels of confirmation bias on all sides.

The political elite, finding it easier to choose one side of the discursive war they are responsible for starting than attempting to end it, have pursued hardline policies.  All perspective has been lost, and the punishment of asylum seekers for having the temerity to cling to hope in a hopeless situation has become acceptable.

The full article can be read in the AIIA Queensland’s November newsletter, page 11.