Sunday, February 21, 2010

... And a conference on Private Military Companies

As a quick follow up to my earlier post, a conference that may be of interest to readers - particularly Francophone readers - of the GAL blog has been brought to my attention:

Université d’Auvergne - Faculté de droit de Clermont-Ferrand
Lucrum in bello:
Les entreprises militaires et de sécurité privées dans le monde contemporain
4-5 mars 2010

The full programme is available here (and here). There is clearly much that will be of real interest from a GAL perspective, with individual sessions on "le cadre juridique des entreprises militaires et de sécurité privées" and "les questions de responsabilité naissant de l'activité des entreprises militaires et de sécurité privées" (both of the Companies themselves and of the entities that make us of them); and a round table on the issue of "Quel contrôle exercer sur les entreprises militaires et de sécurité privées?".

As far as I can see, registration is free - just contact Looks like a very interesting event, for those linguistically and geographically able...

New publication on private military companies...

The issues surrounding the use of private military companies have long been of more than tangential interest to the field of global administrative law; it represents in many ways the paradigmatic example of "outsourcing" of public functions (indeed, the public function par excellence) to private actors.

The recent volume edited by Simon Chesterman and Angelina Fisher, Private Security, Public Order: The Outsourcing of Public Services and its Limits (OUP, November 2009) deals squarely with the GAL aspects of this issue. The introductory chapter is available in full here. This is the second edited volume emerging from New York University School of Law's Institute for International Justice project on private military and security companies; the first, From Mercenaries to Market: The Rise and Regulation of Private Military Companies, edited by Chesterman and Chia Lehnardt, was published by OUP in 2007.

Here is the (edited) blurb from the new volume:

Private actors are increasingly taking on roles traditionally arrogated to the state. Both in the industrialized North and the developing South, functions essential to external and internal security and to the satisfaction of basic human needs are routinely contracted out to non-state agents. In the area of privatization of security functions, attention by academics and policy makers tends to focus on the activities of private military and security companies, especially in the context of armed conflicts, and their impact on human rights and post-conflict stability and reconstruction...

[This volume] looks at the transformations in the nature of state authority. Drawing on insights from work on privatization, regulation, and accountability in the emerging field of global administrative law, the book examines private military and security companies through the wider lens of private actors performing public functions. In the past two decades, the responsibilities delegated to such actors - especially but not only in the United States - have grown exponentially. The central question of this volume is whether there should be any limits on government capacity to outsource traditionally "public" functions. Can and should a government put out to private tender the fulfillment of military, intelligence, and prison services? Can and should it transfer control of utilities essential to life, such as the supply of water? This discussion incorporates numerous perspectives on regulatory and governance issues in the private provision of public functions, but focuses primarily on private actors offering services that impact the fundamental rights of the affected population.

And the table of contents:

Introduction — Simon Chesterman & Angelina Fisher

Part I: Accountability gaps
1. The privatization of violence — Michael Likosky
2. The responsibility of states — Olivier De Schutter
3. Accountability to whom? — Angelina Fisher

Part II: Lessons from other sectors
4. The privatization continuum — Daphne Barak-Erez
5. Private prisons and the democratic deficit — Alfred C. Aman, Jr.
6. Regulatory choices in the privatization of infrastructure — Mariana Mota Prado
7. Human rights and self-regulation in the apparel industry — Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt

Part III: Limits
8. Police informants — Jacqueline Ross
9. Intelligence services — Simon Chesterman
10. Peacekeeping — Chia Lehnardt

11. Conclusion: Private security, public order — Simon Chesterman & Angelina Fisher

Essential reading for those working in this particular field, and well worth a look for anyone interested in the public/private nexus within the field of GAL.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Sixth Viterbo GAL Seminar

And in the first post of the New Era, I return to a GAL Blog staple: the yearly Seminar in Viterbo, Italy. Unfortunately, the deadline for paper submission has, of course, already passed; however, given the importance and topicality of the theme this year, it's sure to be a cracker.

This year's event will take place, as always, at the University La Tuscia, Viterbo, and will be held on the 11th-12th of June 2010. Its theme is, in a sense, the only one it could be this year: "The Financial Crisis and Global Regulatory Governance" (as I have discussed before, one of the striking features of the debates on how to respond to the crisis is the apparent consensus that we will need more global administration). Here is the blurb:

The basic models of market regulation that have prevailed during the XX century had been forged in reaction to the crisis of 1929. The responses given to that economic emergency, initially conceived as transient, have deeply shaped the relations between the market and the State for more than fifty years. In the United States, the New Deal has immensely expanded the reach of the public regulatory powers in economic and social matters and has led to the introduction of new modes of interaction between the citizens and the agencies through the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. Similarly, in Europe, the crisis has expanded the programs of public assistance and the instruments of central planning, thereby subjecting the market to a significant State control.

At the international level, the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF, WTO, World Bank) were created after WWII to address various structural aspects of the 1929 crisis as well as states’ “beggar thy neighbor” policy responses to it, and prevent a recurrence of a prolonged global depression.

In the last thirty years, widespread convergent processes of liberalization, privatization and internationalization have eroded the State control over the economy and altered the balance between the public and the private sphere. State authorities have begun to lose their centrality, to the advantage of private organisms and supranational institutions. Many aspects of state regulation have been regarded as ineffective or even counterproductive, and have been complemented or partially superseded by private law approaches, by private regulatory initiatives and/or by self-regulation.

However, the recent financial crisis has subverted the trend. States have reasserted enormous powers over the market and its actors. On one hand, the bailout of banks and financial institutions – considered “too big to fail” – has paved the way to the reintroduction of public tools to regulate and shape the economy. Some of the crucial developments concern specifically the financial sector, which is increasingly subject to regulatory scrutiny and expanded controls. . Are these tools comparable to techniques used earlier? Though designed for temporary purposes, are they destined to endure and live through the crisis, as happened after the Great Depression? What similarities are there between problems and remedies in earlier crises in different economies, including the general economic crisis which began in 1929, and the current epoch?

The crisis has also shown the limits of a State-centered regulatory model, inducing the national authorities to intensify their cooperation. At the same time, it has tested the ability of Bretton Woods institutions and other international and supranational consultative or regulatory regimes to deal with the crisis as such or to deal with measures taken by states to limit damage to domestic production and employment. At the global level, as in Europe and other regions, initiatives have been launched to reform the financial institutional setting and expand the reach of their powers. Just to mention one example, the Financial Stability Forum has been institutionalized as Financial Stability Group, in order to fill an evident gap in global regulatory governance. How successful will this and similar attempts be? Is it possible to “redeem” the financial sector from its “vices”? Is the lack of rules the real problem? And is the regulatory system ready to take a sustained statist turn?

The 6th Viterbo Gal Conference will provide the opportunity to present advanced research projects on the financial crisis and on global regulatory measures to deal with it, including states’ domestic policy responses.. A global administrative law approach will provide the main analytical tools: accordingly, the papers should focus on the structure of the global and regional regulatory governance relating to finance, trade (including questions of state aids) and related aspects of the crisis; on the powers thereby exercised; on their effectiveness and accountability, or on critical or conceptual perspectives on these issues. Given the complexity of the subject, an interdisciplinary exchange will be favoured. Papers may, thus, also address the topic by adopting an historical, economic and/or international relations approach, and/or a legal approach. Historical approaches could include an analysis of responses to past global economic and financial crises.

The papers that have been selected are as follows (I was on the selection panel this year, and these were among the best of a very good bunch of promising abstracts; we would gladly have taken more had financial and organisational constraints not dictated otherwise):

“Towards an Institutional and Legal Governance Structure in a Globalizing Securities Market”, Susan Yin (Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London).

“Global Financial Standards and Regulatory Failure”, Maurizia De Bellis (Lecturer, University of Roma “Tor Vergata”)

“Credit Rating Agencies: Do We Need Draconian Oversight? A Critical Assesment of Current Reforms Initiatives”, Elisabetta Cervone (Ph.D in Banking and Financial Law at the University of Siena).

“Global risk management for transnational markets: developing an effective regulatory system for financial services”, Markus Glaser (Post-doctoral research fellow, Sciences Po Paris, Chair «Mutations de l’Action Publique et du Droit Public»)

“Towards a new Bretton Woods system or institutional fragmentation?”, Nikolaos Lavranos (Assistant Professor European Law and Senior Researcher International Law, University of Amsterdam).

“The Finance Good Shepherd: How legal intervention will serve the quest for global financial stability as a public good”, Chiara Orlandini (Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneve).

“Protection of Investors in Financial Crises: Lessons of 1929 and 1930”, Martins Paparinskis (Hauser Research Scholar, New York University).

“Accountability of China's Financial Governance: Moving Forward or Backward”, Miao Xinhao (Assistant Professor of International Law School of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Xiamen University).

“The impact of the financial crisis on institutional transformation”, Myriam Senn (Swiss Federal Banking Commission).

“Banking Regulation in Mexico: Lessons from Financial Crises”, Karen B. Sigmond (PhD. Directora de Programa Tecnólógico de Monterrey, Campus Cd. de México).

It is unlikely - though not impossible - that I will be able to make it this year; something that I very much regret, as it is always an extremely worthwhile event with a sense of continuing community that is second to none.

The Blog Is (Not Quite) Dead - Long Live the Blog!

OK, so last year's resolution did not work out as anticipated; certainly, a five-monthy hiatus was not how I intended the second half of 2009 to go on here. Indeed, I had thought that a period of being "between institutions" (my current favourite euphemism for my nine-months or so of unemployment) would enable me to dedicate more time to the blog. Still not entirely sure why things didn't work out that way...
Things have changed a little, however: alert readers (if indeed there are any readers left) will observe that my email address has changed, a product of my recent move to take up a position lecturing at the University of Sydney. It's a fantastic city and a fantastic institution, and I'm absolutely delighted to be here; I will, of course, begin preaching from the Book of GAL just as soon as I get settled.
I'm also going to try to shake things up a little on here, in particular by getting more contributions from guest authors (you know who you are!), whether on an ad-hoc or more regular basis. Where we do have more detailed guest posts, I will also try to encourage discussion of the points raised, wherever possible.
Anyway, a belated "all the best" for 2010 to whoever is still reading!