Global Governance and Globalization 2020

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3 April
Henry A. Kissinger: The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order
The founding legend of modern government is a walled city protected by powerful rulers, sometimes despotic, other times benevolent, yet always strong enough to protect the people from an external enemy. Enlightenment thinkers reframed this concept, arguing that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals cannot secure these things on their own. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.
The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague. Restraint is necessary on all sides—in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established.

30 March
For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power
Leaders around the world have passed emergency decrees and legislation expanding their reach during the pandemic. Will they ever relinquish them?
(NYT) In Hungary, the prime minister can now rule by decree. In Britain, ministers have what a critic called “eye-watering” power to detain people and close borders. Israel’s prime minister has shut down courts and begun an intrusive surveillance of citizens. Chile has sent the military to public squares once occupied by protesters. Bolivia has postponed elections.
As the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a juddering halt and anxious citizens demand action, leaders across the globe are invoking executive powers and seizing virtually dictatorial authority with scant resistance.
Governments and rights groups agree that these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. States need new powers to shut their borders, enforce quarantines and track infected people. Many of these actions are protected under international rules, constitutional lawyers say.
But critics say some governments are using the public health crisis as cover to seize new powers that have little to do with the outbreak, with few safeguards to ensure that their new authority will not be abused.
The laws are taking swift hold across a broad range of political systems — in authoritarian states like Jordan, faltering democracies like Hungary, and traditional democracies like Britain. And there are few sunset provisions to ensure that the powers will be rescinded once the threat passes.
The pandemic is already redefining norms. Invasive surveillance systems in South Korea and Singapore, which would have invited censure under normal circumstances, have been praised for slowing infections. Governments that initially criticized China for putting millions of its citizens under lockdown have since followed suit.

1 March
The World Is Experiencing a New Form of Autocracy
Tim Horley, Anne Meng, Mila Versteeg
 A new generation of autocrats has perfected the art of looking democratic while pursuing authoritarian goals. Whether they succeed usually comes down to whether ordinary citizens take the threat seriously enough to do something about it.
(The Atlantic) In March 2018, Donald Trump, addressing a crowd of donors at his Florida estate, told what sounded like a joke. He was talking about the recent amendment of China’s constitution to remove presidential term limits, allowing Xi Jinping to serve in that office indefinitely. About Xi, Trump said: “He’s now president for life, president for life. And he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give it a shot someday.” The crowd cheered and applauded in response. In fact, Trump has told one version or another of this joke many times since becoming president.
And though Trump’s remarks are generally perceived as facetious, many of his counterparts on the world stage are quite serious. In January, Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian nation in an annual State of the Union–esque speech. Alongside pledges to improve living standards by, among other things, offering free hot meals to schoolchildren, he proposed major constitutional reforms that could see the presidential office weakened and the prime ministry and State Council strengthened—measures very likely aimed at ensuring that Putin can remain in power after 2024, when constitutional term limits will force him out of the presidency.
This is how authoritarianism looks today. Our original study documents all term-limit-evasion strategies worldwide since the year 2000. We found that presidential-term-limit evasion is exceedingly common: About one-third of all presidents who reached the end of their term made a serious attempt to overstay. Two-thirds of those who made the attempt succeeded.
What’s particularly interesting is not only that so many presidents try to evade term limits, but that they are more and more sophisticated and legalistic in how they do so. Whereas leaders once used unmistakably authoritarian actions to stay in power, such as banning opposition parties or dismissing the legislature, today’s heads of state instead use democratic institutions and legal measures to subvert constitutional constraints on their power. More specifically, we found that there are four basic strategies for evading term limits, none of which violates a constitution outright: adding constitutional amendments, rewriting the constitution, using the courts to reinterpret the constitution, and appointing a placeholder president.
The first and most common strategy—used in some 66 percent of the attempts in our data—is simply to amend the constitution to extend or remove term limits. This is the path Xi took when, with hardly a whisper of dissent, he removed any limit on the number of five-year terms he could serve. … In Rwanda, for instance, Paul Kagame presided over a constitutional-amendment process that will allow him to serve for a total of 35 years (or longer, if further amendments are in the offing).
… A second strategy, which constitutes about 8 percent of evasion attempts, is what we call the “blank slate” strategy: when a leader creates an entirely new constitution, essentially nullifying the old term limits. When a new constitution is created, the leader’s term is effectively restarted, without any apparent constitutional violation. This was one of the methods employed by former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir until his ouster last year:
… A third strategy, which has had remarkable success in Latin America in particular, is to challenge the very legality of term limits in court. This strategy constitutes about 15 percent of evasion attempts since the turn of the millennium. In Nicaragua, for example, President Daniel Ortega was able to successfully remove term limits from his nation’s constitution by arguing that they were a violation of his human rights. The court, reasoning from a body of constitutional and human-rights law, agreed. A similar story unfolded in Bolivia and Honduras. In fact, though one might be tempted to put faith in judges to prevent executive overstay, our study found that courts are remarkably pliant. With the important exception of Colombia, where the Constitutional Court blocked Álvaro Uribe’s attempt to extend his term a second time, courts tend to sign off on term-limit evasion in all its guises.
A fourth strategy, also constituting about 15 percent of evasion attempts, is what we call the “faithful-agent strategy,” which involves presidents seeking a successor they can control, so that they can continue to govern even while formally out of office. Putin was previously able to extend his own rule using this strategy.
… Finally, a small handful of presidents were able to stay past their term by illegally delaying or canceling elections. … one-third of overstay attempts did fail—and typically in spectacular fashion. In recent years, popular movements in Malawi, Burkina Faso, and Paraguay, among many others, have forced presidents to back down. (Burning down parliament, where the president’s allies may be at work on legislation to extend the president’s term, seems to be a particularly effective palliative.)

28 February
Chris Patten: Liberal Democracy and Its Enemies
The challenges facing Western liberal democracies today are serious enough to recall Europe’s descent into tyranny in the 1930s, and should inspire sensible Americans and Europeans to mobilize to prevent any recurrence. While crying wolf is rarely recommended, sometimes there really is a wolf skulking through the wood.
(Project Syndicate)  The growing disillusion with democratic government is evident in the rise of leaders such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and, of course, Donald Trump. The US president appears reckless in his attitude to the Constitution, the rule of law, freedom of the press, and civil political debate. America used to be the standard bearer for liberal democracy and human rights. But the Trump administration prefers tough-guy authoritarians to democrats, and even attacks democratic US allies.Others indulge in their own forms of populism. In Britain, the Conservative Party’s rejection of close ties with Europe is accompanied by threats to assault institutions that have hitherto restrained executive power. These include Britain’s , its world-class public-service broadcaster, the BBC, and any civil-society organization likely to disagree with the executive.

28 January
The World Economic Forum deserves criticism, but we need it now more than ever
William Burke-White
(Brookings) … It is in these precarious times that we need Davos more than ever. Economic and corporate leadership on global governance challenges is so urgently needed today for two reasons: First, political leadership around the world is stalled or gridlocked, preventing progress; and second, the global challenges we face — from climate emergency to the perils of populist nationalism, from the regulation of cyberspace and the ownership of data to the dangers and opportunities of mass human movements — cannot be solved without action by wealth-holders and decisionmakers of the corporate community.
The failure of political leadership to address these challenges is evident on a global scale. President Trump’s retreat from U.S. leadership is but a symptom of a larger movement by national governments to look inward, build fences with the outside world, and hope for the best. From Boris Johnson’s Brexit to Jair Bolsanaro’s realignment of Brazilian foreign policy, from Narendra Modi’s turn to populism in India to Viktor Orbán’s version of Hungarian nationalism, governments across the globe are retreating from our common challenges.
At the same moment that governmental leadership has faltered, the nature of our collective global challenges has shifted in ways that make corporate leadership and economic might all the more important. Take, for example, the climate emergency facing humanity today.

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