Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Effectiveness of Transitional Justice Mechanisms and International Human Rights Treaties in Promoting Human Rights

The promotion of human rights through the use of international human rights treaties has been a point of contention between realists and constructivist for some time.  Realists believe that states act in their own rational self interest regardless of human rights treaties that do not have built in enforcement mechanisms.  Constructivists believe the treaties, and the norms expounded within them, serve as motivation for states to act in ways which respect the treaties they have signed. 
A study by Hafner-Burton and Tsutsui shows that the signing of a treaty does not lead to increased respect for human rights, specifically physical integrity rights, by the signing nation. The study was based on what the authors termed the “Paradox of Empty Promises.”  The paradox refers to the findings of the then existent research that on one hand supports claims that ratification of treaties serves as mere window dressing and ratifying states tend to radically decouple human rights policy from practice.  The other side of the paradox is the support given to the claim that the legitimacy of the human rights regimes results in effects that improve human rights practices by those same states.  The research into this paradox suggests the signing of human rights treaties leads to increased human rights abuses.  This same study shows that a nation’s connection with civil society, as measured by the number of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) in the state, has a positive effect on human rights practices within that state (Hafner-Burton and Tsutsui 2005).  
One unanswered question from the study is how the human rights treaties affect the number of INGOs in a state.  If it can be shown the treaties result in greater numbers of INGOs, then to make the claim that treaties are insignificant or result in greater human rights abuses fails to give the treaties due credit for paving a path to increased respect for human rights through the epiphenomenon of increasing the numbers of INGOs.  A more recent study on the impact a state’s ratification of human rights treaty has on the respect for human rights argues that state specific characteristics need to be addressed as explanations for state behavior regarding human rights practices.  In this study states ratification of three different treaties was compared to their behavior from the time of ratification.  The ICCPR, CAT, and CEDAW were the treaties investigated.  The CEDAW showed improvement among the states for women’s rights, while the ICCPR and the CAT were associated with worse human rights practices.  The results seem to support his claim that “more treaty-specific theory building is needed” (Hill 2010).
Transitional justice mechanisms refer to criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations, and institutional reforms (ICTJ).  When it comes to seeing that justice is served by way of an international court, based on Owen Fiss’s article, “Within Reach of the State: Prosecuting Atrocities in Africa,” there is little reason to believe that international bodies can be effective at providing anything remotely resembling retributive justice.  In order to more readily reach a state of civil society and put the crimes of the past in the past there is a need to rely on efforts at reconciliation by way of measures seeking restorative justice.  In many cases the scale of atrocities is such that the numbers of perpetrators are so large that trying to set up prosecutorial systems are likely to fail in two ways.  First, the costs of investigations, case development, defense advocates, and the necessary systems to make the outcome as fair and objective as possible would be beyond the means of most states where these courts would need to be set up.  The costs would also be higher than any international body would be willing to pay to fund such an endeavor.  Second, the social results of trying what would likely be an extremely large number of people from both sides of a conflict, including those who may still have substantial political power risks increasing resentment from all involved parties and their supporters, and could spark new violence.  Considering the limitations the international agencies have when it comes to enforcement, it does seem a huge waste of money. For example, the only conviction the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ever received was in March of 2012 when it handed down a fourteen year sentence for Thomas Lubanga.  One conviction in ten years does not indicate money well spent from a cost-benefit perspective.  Fiss does, grudgingly, admit to the possibility that perhaps it is best that prosecutorial or retributive justice be sought for only the most egregious perpetrators, however, and that is historically the province of truth commissions (Fiss 2009).
When it comes to restorative justice, the tool of choice is the truth commission.  Unfortunately, though, there is little empirical evidence that truth commissions actually provide any sort of justice at all.  Restorative justice relies on the ability of a state to successfully transition from one that may be likely to fall back into the practices that warranted the necessity for a truth commission to one that is less likely.  This normally is addressed by trying to incorporate more democratic institutions, an objective judiciary that is not under the control of an executive or any legislators, the restructuring of armed forces firmly under the control of civilian authorities, and police that are accountable for their actions.  Ideally, a truth commission is able to publish its findings and make suggestions that the government will take and restructure itself.  One problem with knowing if truth commissions are causal agents for this change, when it happens, is how to separate the effects of the truth commission from the transitional effects already in motion by the state.  Eric Brahm makes a suggestion on how this may be done with a multimethod approach.  While many of his suggested methods for controlling variables seem possible, there are others that are likely to prove very problematic (Brahm 2007).  For example, he doesn’t explain how he would operationalize or measure the effects on the state brought about by powerful political personalities, pressure from civil society or the international community.  Brahm also mentions that the composition of truth commissions matter, their specific mandate matters, as does the degree of public dissemination of any reports.
I think a strong case can be made for the use of restorative justice mechanisms as a means of bringing about a more civil society.  In 2002, Rwanda instituted a system of local courts to hear cases regarding the 1994 genocide to discover the truth, reconcile the perpetrators with the victims, and seek some minimal semblance of retributive justice.  Looking at the CIRI physical integrity rights index for the eight years immediately following the genocide, and comparing the results to the eight years following the institution of these Gacaca Courts, an argument can be made that the hybridization of restorative and retributive justice can provide an appearance of success.  The index is ranked from 0-8, with 0 being the worst result and 8 being the best for human rights respect.  The mean and median scores immediately following the genocide were 1.75 and 2.00, respectively.  The numbers were 3.375 and 3.50 for the eight years after the initiation of the courts.  While the small degrees of freedom keeps the results from being statistically significant, if the current trend continues for several more years and the years preceding this test were added, the results would likely be significant.  Table 1 shows the results of the CIRI query for the years in question.

       Table 1


































Works Cited
Brahm, Eric. "Uncovering the truth: examining truth commission success and impact." International Studies Perspectives 8.1 (2007): 16-35.

Fiss, Owen. "Within Reach of the State: Prosecuting Atrocities in Africa." Human Rights Quarterly 31.1 (2009): 59-69. Print.

Hafner-Burton, Emilie M., and Kiyoteru Tsutsui. "Human Rights In A Globalizing World: The Paradox Of Empty Promises." American Journal Of Sociology 110.5 (2005): 1373-1411. Business Source Premier. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Hill, Jr., Daniel W. "Estimating The Effects Of Human Rights Treaties On State Behavior." Journal Of Politics 72.4 (2010): 1161-1174. Business Source Premier. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

ICTJ – International Center for Transitional Justice. "What is Transitional Justice? N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <>.

The Utility and Effectiveness of Foreign Aid, Economic Sanctions, and Military Intervention in Promoting Human Rights.

       For the purposes of promoting the various human rights, military intervention appears to be extremely limited in what it can be expected to accomplish.  The available literature shows that for women’s rights, only political rights can possibly be improved through the use of military intervention, though economic and social rights suffer as a result.  Even this small benefit is shown to only be the result of IGO military intervention, which would be multilateral by nature.  However, it is possible the increase of women’s political rights could eventually result in the increasing of economic and social rights for women, though that possibility was not addressed in the literature.  From the same study showing the effect of military intervention on women’s rights, it was shown that any unilateral intervention by the US significantly reduces women’s political rights, and worsens women’s economic rights.  Again, a possible result of the worsening of those rights might be a reduction of women’s social rights, over time, though this, like the above possible effects of increased political rights, was not addressed by the study in question (Peksen 2011). 
In terms of how military intervention effects physical integrity rights (the right to not be tortured, killed extra-judiciously, disappeared, or imprisoned for political beliefs), it seems intervention, if it has any effect at all, is likely to worsen respect for human rights.  However, the study in question here did provide the caveat that a major limitation was its “focus on a single country’s use of force (US) or a small subset (3rd party…in civil wars) of intervention cases”.  In addition to this limitation, only a one-stage econometric model was used, and overlooked the issue of endogeneity.  Furthermore, the countries selected had poor human rights conditions to begin with as a result of “ongoing complex humanitarian crises.”  More research was claimed to be necessary to address these shortcomings (Peksen 2011).
There was one circumstance in which military intervention could be seen as a way of promoting human rights; genocides/politicides.  One study by Matthew Krain finds that military interventions directed against perpetrators of genocide do have some good effects.  He also finds that interventions where the interveners maintain a posture of impartiality do nothing.  Krain qualifies his findings by allowing for the possibility that the effects he found might be short lived, and that over a longer term the harm could be greater than if there had been no intervention in the first place.  Another possible weakness in his research deals with the number of combat personnel sent in by interveners, where higher numbers and greater power could have an even greater effect by sending a message to the rights abusers that to continue the abuses will be very costly.  Lower troop levels could have the opposite effect and result in greater numbers or more egregious rights abuses during the genocides (Krain 2005).  For all of the aforementioned reasons, military intervention likely serves as a response, with some attendant immediacy, to pacify the clamoring from the public to “do something, anything.”  Especially considering military intervention generally has little real hope of bringing about the desired changes, and should only be used to quell genocides with the use of a substantial military force.
Economic sanctions seem to be about as effective as military interventions, which is to say they are not effective.  Research shows that not only are economic sanctions failures in achieving stated policy objectives by the sanctioning nation(s), they risk greater human rights abuses as an unintended consequence.  The same research shows that the abuses get even greater when the sanctions are applied multilaterally.  The specific study this opinion is based on goes on to say, “it is evident that the use of ‘sticks’, at least in the form of economic coercion as a foreign policy tool, does not contribute to the advancement of human rights” (Peksen 2009).
Economic aid in the form of development assistance did not show a likelihood of decreasing respect for human rights.  However, it also did not show that it increased respect for human rights (Richards, Gelleny, and Sacko 2001).  Another study compared changes in the amount of aid given to the changes in human rights practices of the country receiving the aid.  In terms of a causal relationship between economic aid from the US and the human rights practices of nations receiving the aid, there was found to be no effect, as “the aid itself had no discernible impact on changes in the human rights practices of the recipient countries.”  However, the author of the article asserts that since the aid itself is not effective at changing human rights practices, if the aid were an indication of how the US viewed human rights abuses, then change might be possible (Regan 1995).  However, aid in the form of International Monetary Fund programs was “associated with more frequent use of torture and extra judicial killing…and worsened human rights conditions” (Abouharb and Cingranelli 2008).  The same can be said for Structural Adjustment Programs, which were shown to reduce respect for all four aspects of physical integrity rights (Abouharb and Cingranelli 2006).    
Some types of foreign aid, however, have shown to be somewhat helpful.  Foreign direct investment (FDI) and portfolio investment have shown some promise at increasing respect for human rights (Richards, Gelleny and Sacko 2001).  More recent research on FDI shows there are some questions regarding how to properly measure FDI, though, as different measures have shown different effects on human rights (Hafner-Burton 2005).  Preferential Trade Agreements, if seen as a type of aid, can also be said to tentatively provide the appearance of getting results when it comes to getting abuser states to show more respect for human rights, though the presence of “hard” requirements that condition preferential treatment on a state’s compliance with human rights standards, such as the Cotonou Agreement.  This insight is supported by the effects such PTAs had in Togo, Fiji, Pakistan, the Comoros Islands, and Niger to name a few places where human rights reforms were implemented as a result of the hard standards (Hafner-Burton 2005). 
Foreign aid (other than FDI, portfolio investment, and PTAs), economic sanctions, and military intervention all seem to be mostly ineffective in effecting greater respect for human rights in target states.  Because of this it must be concluded that their utility is extremely low or even nonexistent.  This is not true of the three other forms of foreign aid shown to possibly have some good affect on the respect of human rights, though only one of those (PTAs with hard standards) are the direct result of an agreement between states.  The other two are more heavily directed by MNCs and investment agencies, though they are regulated to some degree by the states.
For all practical purposes the methods discussed to this point could all be considered coercive measures and not merely actions of diplomatic engagement.  Even the IMF programs and Structural Adjustment Programs can be seen as coercive.  Abouharb and Cingrinelli argue, “the relationship between countries on the periphery of the world economic system and the international financial institutions is far more coercive than the leaders of the Bank and the Fund are willing to acknowledge (116).  This does not mean that engagement does not have its place at the table when it comes to increasing respect for human rights around the world.  It does mean, however, that it is likely that there must be some measure of coercion to more ensure compliance with human rights norms.  Hafner-Burton takes much the same position when she argues in her 2005 article in International Organization that, “coercion is much more likely than persuasion (alone) to be effective” (602).
Assuming the above is true, and assuming that increasing the respect for human rights globally should be pursued as a policy objective, then there are a few things the US and other major powers should do to improve the effectiveness of these policy tools.  First, the major powers need to identify the strongest causal agents for human rights that do not necessitate regime change or a change in government type.  This will have to be done to reduce the threat any human rights policy changes may have on an abusive regime, as a requirement of this magnitude is likely to result in some form of overt hostility.  Second, identify the countries which are most likely to be most easily coerced toward these determinants.  Third, through the use of PTAs with hard standards, tying aid directly to the implementation of the determinants, and by allying with related human rights organizations and transnational advocacy networks, apply pressure for target countries to accept the terms of the carrots being offered.  Fourth, make it easy for these countries to succeed by providing assistance with any necessary infrastructure, management and administration training.  Fifth, require mandatory auditing of progress on a regular basis. 
One caveat needs to be mentioned at this point.  This is a policy with teeth that will need to be used on occasion.  Because of this, and because there will likely be some sort of trade barrier or refusal of necessary aid, the major powers will need to make sure that any loss of trade with the target country is only minimally disruptive to their own populations.  China, Bangladesh, Columbia, and Mexico are a few countries that come to mind when this is considered.  With the growing power of the internet and global communications, it would probably behoove the human rights advocates, states, and IGOs seeking to promote human rights to require the target states to grow its internet and communications infrastructure without limiting access to the online world.  In closing, to make something like this even close to plausible, the United Nations Security Council should support it or a majority of the General Assembly should support the idea, on a country by country basis, of course.  Barring that, alliances between regional IGOs could work, though would need to do what it could with fewer resources than the UN could probably allocate to the efforts.  Lastly, I would do what I could to make sure that the research that shows what efforts generally fail to improve human rights, and those efforts that tend to increase abuses, is disseminated to the TANs, HROs, the press, legislators, executives, and the public as effectively as possible. 
Yeah, it’s a utopian pipe dream, but it’s my dream.

Works Cited

Abouharb, M. Rodwan, and David L. Cingranelli. "IMF Programs and Human Rights, 1981--2003." The Review of International Organizations 4.1 (2009): 47+. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

Abouharb, M. Rodwan, and David L. Cingranelli. "The Human Rights Effects Of World Bank Structural Adjustment, 1981-2000." International Studies Quarterly 50.2 (2006): 233-262. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

Abouharb, M. Rodwan, and David L. Cingranelli.  Human Rights and Structural Adjustment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Page 116. Print.

Hafner-Burton, Emilie M. "Right Or Robust? The Sensitive Nature of Repression to Globalization." Journal Of Peace Research 42.6 (2005): 679-698. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

Hafner-Burton, Emilie M. "Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression." International Organization 59.3 (2005): 593-629. Business Source Premier. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

Krain, Matthew. "International Intervention and The Severity Of Genocides And Politicides." International Studies Quarterly 49.3 (2005): 363-387. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Peksen, Dursun. "Better or Worse? The Effect of Economic Sanctions on Human Rights." Journal Of Peace Research 46.1 (2009): 59-77. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Peksen, Dursun. "Does Foreign Military Intervention Help Human Rights?." Political Research Quarterly 65.3 (2012): 558-571. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Peksen, Dursun. "Foreign Military Intervention and Women's Rights." Journal Of Peace Research 48.4 (2011): 455-468. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Regan, Patrick M. "U.S. Economic Aid and Political Repression: An Empirical Evaluation Of U.S. Foreign Policy." Political Research Quarterly 48.(1995): 613-628. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

Richards, David L., Ronald D. Gelleny, and David H. Sacko. "Money With A Mean Streak? Foreign Economic Penetration and Government Respect For Human Rights In Developing Countries." International Studies Quarterly 45.2 (2001): 219-239. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Transnational Advocacy Networks Philippines & Bangladesh – Do the Number of Actors Matter?

Transnational Advocacy Networks
Philippines & Bangladesh – Do the Number of Actors Matter?

Labor rights include the right to safe working conditions, fair pay, the right to organize into unions, and the right to strike.  While this is not a definitive list of rights, they are rights that have been recognized by most nations for decades and are enshrined by United Nations (UN) declarations and conventions.  The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted in 1948, states in Article 23 that everyone “has the right to…just and favourable conditions of work; …the right to just and favourable remuneration; …the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests” (UN Declaration).  The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), entered into force in 1976, states in Article 7 that each state which is a party to the covenant recognizes the rights, “to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure…fair wages…equal pay for equal work…safe and healthy working conditions” (UN ICESCR).  Furthermore, Article 8 states that everyone has a right to form trade unions and the right to strike, though strikes are restricted in that they must be “exercised in conformity with the laws of the particular country.” 
            It is important to understand that there are two types of obligations imposed on the signatory states.  The first obligation of the states is to not act in a manner that deprives workers of those rights.  The second obligation of the states is to act in a manner that protects those rights when threatened by others, such as the companies employing the workers.  The first obligation costs little in the way of state resources while the second could cost substantial amounts of money as well as labor hours spent on enforcement.  Furthermore, a state may believe the best interests of its country will be served most effectively by not enforcing these labor rights because of the increased economic benefits realized when companies, especially multi-national corporations, are permitted to violate these rights, and the government will therefore either ignore violations or in some cases assist the abusive corporations in committing these violations.
            When it comes to corporations’ behavior towards employees, not to mention the environment or indigenous groups, there are two competing ideologies.  Milton Friedman espoused what is probably the most contentious of the two when he said, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business-to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud” (Friedman 133).  This statement, taken at face value, seems to imply that stakeholder values, if considered at all, are secondary to the shareholders’ desire for monetary gain by way of profits.  However, corporations have historically found that some stakeholder values must be accounted for and given some importance in their operations if they don’t want to alienate their consumer base by committing egregious violations of human rights, including labor rights.  Nike, Reebok, Dole, and Nestle are a few companies that have had to deal with consumer pressures as a result of their business activities being revealed to the public resulting in demonstrations and boycotts, and eventually a believable distancing statement, or a change of policy to appease the consumers at large and the various advocacy groups involved in the campaigns against those companies.
            The public receives information on human rights abuses by states and corporations primarily because of the efforts of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), with the NGO’s usually developing the first story on any given issue at hand and picked up on by the press.  These advocacy groups engage in unified efforts to both bring the activities of the state and the corporations into the public spotlight in an effort to “shame and blame” governments and companies, and as a result of the shaming to be forced to change their behaviors. However, according to Murdie and Davis, shaming by itself is not enough to bring about change.  “Improvements in human rights practices result from the interaction of shaming by HROs with a domestic presence of HROs within the targeted state and/or pressure by third-party states, individuals, and organizations” (Murdie and Davis 2012).  These unified NGOs form what are called Trans-national Advocacy Networks (TANs).  Keck and Sikkink describe TANs as “those actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information and services” (Keck & Sikkink, 1999).  Notable with this definition is the non-exclusion of inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) like the UN and the agencies under its umbrella, individuals in the press, and even members of legislative bodies and executives of states.
            The purpose of this paper is to determine if the number of actors involved in any given TAN is a possible explanation for the degree of success enjoyed by the TAN.  Having not been able to find a comprehensive list of issues and the groups involved in advocating for those issues, I have had to rely on a qualitative analysis in what will understandably be an inchoate study.  By looking at labor rights issues in two distinct areas; labor rights abuses in the Philippines and Bangladesh.  I believe the overall event history that details many if not all of the actors, will develop a picture of whether the number of actors involved matters at all and, if so, to what degree.  This study will hopefully serve as a jumping off point for further research into the factors that most powerfully affect TANs in terms of their effectiveness, pointing out areas where they are inherently strong or weak depending on the issues being advocated for and the type of opposition they face.  In this analysis I will look at the history of labor unions and labor issues in question in each country, the various actors who are involved in those issues and when they come into play, as well as any verifiable effects that the TANs have on either the corporate behaviors or the state’s legislative and executive responses.  The effects that the TANs have that may lead to a conclusion of effectiveness are identified by any changes made by the state or by corporations involved in the issue that benefit those being abused. This would be true regardless of whether the change is legislative or a shift in corporate policy and procedures that could be seen to serve as a method of reduction in the violations of labor rights by either of those parties.
            This research is limited in that there is no way to account for the combined resources available to each individual actor or to the TANs as a whole, whether the resource in question is monetarily based, or based on political clout.  Furthermore, it is almost impossible to account for the resources spent by corporations and actors that stand in opposition to the human rights oriented TANs, which could also include state police forces or armed militias, whether employed by the state or the corporations directly or indirectly.  In addition to this, it is not within the scope of this research to account for any potential effects arising from the condition of the global economy and competing human rights issues that also seek compete for the attention of the public at large and the politicians who may place those competing issues above the labor issues being explored in this paper.  In short, this study is limited by a vast number of variable that are not, and as far as I know cannot, be controlled for at this time.
            There are eight core labor Conventions from the International Labour Organization (ILO Core).  The Philippines has ratified all of them.  Convention 87 is the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.  Convention 98 is the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.  These two Conventions have been repeatedly violated for decades, either by the government, the military forces, rebel military forces, or by the corporations who do not want union activities to affect their profits.  These two conventions were ratified by the Philippines in 1953 and have been in force in for nearly 60 years.  Philippines law also grants workers the right to organize and bargain collectively, though there are some restrictions on public sector unionization among other things.
Professor Jorge V. Sibal of the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations has identified three major features of the trade union movement in the Philippines—“communist infiltration and influence, government intervention, and management domination” (Sibal 2004).  The cold war era was a time of communist repression, though it was also a time of growing collective bargaining between labor organizations and corporations.  During this time, in 1972, martial law was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos and lasted until 1981.  In 1974 the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) became the primary representative force for labor as part of a tripartite system between labor, government and industry.  That same year the Labor Code of the Philippines was enacted and served to consolidate all of the labor related laws of the nation.  It promoted unionization and collective bargaining through the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).  However, strikes and other organizational activities were banned as they were seen as weapons of communists and other insurgents, and so served to weaken trade unions while promoting their formation.
            In 1986 President Marcos was replaced by Cory Aquino, who supported another labor center within the country; the Labor Advisory Consultative Council (LACC) along with the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), or May First Labour Movement, which was formed May 1st, 1980.  The Marcos rise to power was fueled in large part by socialists, communists, intellectuals, and in large part will explain some of the issues that surround labor rights in the country.  For example, the KMU labor organization is seen by some as primarily communistic and militant in its approach, relying primarily on rhetoric and violence to stir conflict for its own power.  On the other hand, the TUCP as a competing center of trade unionism is seen by some as an ally of the state, regardless of the desires of the labor forces within the country.  Research has confirmed this generally, though there have been circumstances where the two have found common ground (KMU News 2012).  Specifically in leveling criticism at the government for not doing enough to address the extrajudicial killings, threats, and abuse leveled against union leaders and other human rights advocates after having been investigated by a High Level Mission of the ILO in September of 2009 (ILO HLM 2009).  From 2001 to 2010 Gloria Arroyo held the president’s seat in the Philippines, and during the first portion of her presidency human rights abuses against labor rights movements were rampant, though the alleged killings dropped drastically from thirty-three reported in 2006, to a handful per year afterward, with only four in 2011, the most recently reported year by the International Trade Union Conference (ITUC Philippines 2012). 
Based on research done by the ITUC between 2006 and 2011; in 2006, 33 union organizers and supporters were killed.  At the end of 2006, there had not been a single conviction for any of the extrajudicial killings of dozens of trade union leaders and activists since 2001 (ITUC Philippines 2007).  In an effort to try and deflect continued international pressure, President Arroyo appointed a commission to investigate the union related killings and provide recommendations to the state. The commission found evidence to suggest that elements in the military were involved in a number of the killings.  In 2007 there was a significant drop in the number of cases of attacks and killings according to the independent NGO Karapatan (Karapatan 2010).  In February of 2007, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, visited the Philippines.  He took the Philippines commission report one step farther when he found that the Philippines military was in “a state of almost total denial" about its involvement in the abductions and killings (BBC 2007).  During 2008, 218 new cases of trade union and human rights violations were reported (ITUC Philippines 2009). The figure is 26% higher than in 2007. In 2009, the ILO sent a special High Level Mission to the Philippines to investigate the human rights abuses against labor union organizers.  In 2010, three trade union officials were shot and killed by unknown assassins and one died after being interrogated by state security forces; three other union members were abducted; one former trade union leader was arrested and charged with murder (ITUC Philippines 2011). Army personnel also harassed and intimated striking workers.
Reacting to the ILO missions' findings, the government established the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) on January 20th, 2010, as a high-level monitoring body on the application of international labor standards. The NTIPC has been criticized as inadequate because it lacks adequate funding and a dedicated secretariat that is staffed by qualified persons (ITUC Philippines 2012).  The ILO has responded to this by beginning a program “Promoting the Effective Recognition and Implementation of the Fundamental Rights of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in the Philippines” which began in March of 2012 and set to be completed September 2013.  The program is being funded by the US State Department and has a budget of almost US$750,000.  According to the ILO, the project consists of three core parts.  The first is to increase the capacities of the Government’s authorities, such as the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, at the local and national level.  The second element is the promotion of more effective bargaining and dialogue between the state, industry, and labor.  Thirdly, the program is intended to assist the Philippines in enforcement actions and the ability to protect potential victims of union and labor rights violations (ILO Work Areas).
Because trade unions are, by design, set up to combat labor rights violations by corporations and by the state, and are not IGO’s, it seems proper that each union should be classified as a separate NGO advocacy group.  Also, the combined efforts of each union to effect change at the national level, along with their affiliated unions, parent unions and outside human rights organizations, especially those focused on labor rights also involved in efforts to change state behavior, all need to be included as part of a broad based if somewhat diffused transnational advocacy network.  In the case of the Philippines there are 17,000 registered unions, and three major trade union federations claiming to represent a combined 3.4 million workers (ISIP 2012).  The two largest, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) are affiliated internationally with the ITUC international union foundation which consists of a network of over 175 million workers through an additional 308 affiliate organizations in 155 countries (ITUC About).  Based on web searches of press releases related to labor rights in the Philippines by international NGOs, it was determined there were approximately two dozen outside human rights advocacy groups that have been involved in one way or another since 2006.  Some of the involved trade related organizations seeking to make changes in the Philippines are the ASEAN Trade Council, the KMP (a militant, left leaning labor organization in the Philippines).  Three major IGOs were found with a similar search.  The IGOs include the UN, the ILO, and the OECD.  As we’ve seen, there are also involved state actors seeking change within the Philippines.  The United States is funding an ILO program, has made its concerns known directly to the country, and the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the impunity with which the Philippines is behaving related to extrajudicial killings involving labor, the press, and other issues (European Parliament).
A few NGOs to have made some progress in involving the IGOs and other states such as the US State Department and bringing a lot of the abuses to the attention of policy centers like the OECD.  Brian Campbell, with the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), formerly the International Labor Rights Education & Research Fund, has lobbied the US State Department to reevaluate the amount of aid provided to the Philippines because of the systematic abuses committed against labor activists and unions (Campbell 2007).  The KMU petitioned the ILO directly for assistance and can be said directly responsible for the ILOs High Level Mission to investigate (International Labour Office).  The ITUC has prepared reports for the WTO General Council to review its trade policies regarding the Philippines (ITUC WTO Report).  The ILRF has filed a complaint with the National Contact Point for the OECD regarding alleged abuses of labor rights by agricultural giant Dole (ILRF Petition).  While it is likely that any single letter, filing, or report from an NGO would have little effect, the combined efforts of these NGOs have led to increased attention by international legal institutions, foreign governments and a wide number of human rights NGOs around the world.  As has been shown by the reports from the ITUC the number of violations has decreased dramatically.  Determining whether or not the decrease can be attributed to the increased attention to the labor issues the advocacy groups have brought about is problematic.
As far as the specific changes go, there has been little tangible effect on the laborers in the Philippines, however.  New state commissions have been created and training regimens are being developed and implemented within the state’s police and military forces.  Corporations operating in the country are starting to operate with a little more caution.  Unfortunately, there are still issues that will need to be addressed that have not been thus far.  There is increased use of export processing zones by corporations, the use of which allows the companies to bypass some of the laws favoring trade unions.  There has been and still is a growing trend toward corporate flexibilization of the labor force which in large part allows the companies to use greater and greater numbers of contract workers who are not legally permitted to organize unions.  In addition to this, there is a huge conflict between the goals of labor rights advocacy IGOs at the international level, such as the ILO, and the requirements for aid set by the organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Various criticisms have been leveled against these entities for their implicit statements that increased labor protections are anathema to wealth creation by industry, and that deregulation of these standards where they exist is in a country’s best interests financially.  The ITUC issued a news release in October of 2012 which addressed this conflict,
The 2013 edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business report, released today, makes unfounded claims that weakening labour regulations will stimulate job creation. It states that countries that reduce dismissal notice periods or severance pay “are addressing one of the main factors deterring employers from creating jobs in the formal sector”. (Doing Business 2013, p 100)
This claim contradicts one of the finding of the Bank’s World Development Report 2013, launched earlier this month, which stated, “New data and more rigorous methodologies have spurred a wave of empirical studies over the past two decades on the effects of labor regulation…. Most estimates of the impacts on employment levels tend to be insignificant or modest” (WDR 2013, p 261) (ITUC News)
This new development by the World Bank with its Doing Business report is also contradictory to a position it took just a year earlier.  According to Resilience, Equity and Opportunity: The World Bank’s Social Protection and Labor Strategy 2012-2022, prepared by Cecilia Costella and Adea Kryeziu, the World Bank had committed itself to engage in external consultations for a new “Social Protection and Labour Strategy” (Costella and Kryeziu 2012) 
            Like the Philippines, Bangladesh has signed and ratified the ILO’s core conventions, including Convention 87, the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention 98, the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.  These rules were ratified by Bangladesh in June 1972.  These rights are protected under Bangladesh law, though there has been a long history of failure to protect them.  Again, similar to the situation in the Philippines, for decades there has been systematic abuse of labor organizers and allies either by the state and its forces or by the corporations, with either the implicit or explicit support of the state.  At times, some labor protections regarding unionization and striking have been either completely disallowed under a state declared emergency, once lasting for two years, while at all other times the requirements for labor organization and collective bargaining are excessively onerous and is such that the rules greatly favor the corporations and the political regime in place.  The spate of fires in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector over the past several years in Bangladesh necessitate mentioning that ILO Convention 155 (Occupational Safety and Health Convention), which aims in Article IV, “to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of work, by minimizing, so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of hazards inherent in the working environment.”  It should be noted, however, that neither the Philippines nor the US have ratified Convention 155.
            Zia Rahman and Tom Langford explain in some detail the history of labor unions in Bangladesh in their chapter “Why Labour Unions Have Failed Bangladesh’s Garment Workers” from the 2012 ILO publication Labour in the Global South: Challenges and Alternatives for Workers.   The labor movement in Bangladesh is still fighting off the vestiges of the colonial era that lasted nearly 200 years, until 1947, at which point it became East Bengal; a part of Pakistan.  These early unions were either nationalist or leftist, and very anti colonial.  Because of this focus, and the fact that they were mostly rural based and dispersed through the region, the unions never really developed a discrete labor philosophy.  Adding to the problem was the fact that what did exist in the way of unionization was separated from each other because of their differences, such as caste, ethnicity, and religion.  After decolonization three large unions stepped up to replace the old British All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).  The Bengal National Chamber of Labour (BNCL) was Muslim and pro-government at the time.  The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) was formed within seven Hindu provinces, supporting a different party.  The Indian Federation of Labour (IFL) was created to serve Allied and Western interests. 
            The cold war era saw West Pakistan aligning more closely with US interests, while East Pakistan (Bangladesh) was more ideologically in tune with progressive and communist goals.  From 1947 through 1971 the labor parties remained politicized, corrupt, rife with nepotism, and influenced heavily by charismatic labor leaders.  These unions were more interested in state patronage and personal gain than they were in the lives and conditions of the workers.  The late 1950s saw unions under the direct control of the various political parties, until 1958 when martial law was declared by General Ayub Khan.  At this time the political actions of unions were banned and union leaders and workers were arrested, though there were some efforts at reorganization.  In 1972 after the “War of Independence” Bangladesh came under the rule of the Awami League which began a heavily socialist economic program where over 90% of the nation’s industry was nationalized.  A progressive labor policy was implemented that incorporated Workers’ Management Councils into the different industries, though in 1975 the labor organizations were all consolidated and incorporated into the government as a state union.
            Following this, and in the same year, a coup led by General Ziaur Rahman, was the beginning of a massive shift away from the progressive policies of the past.  General Rahman ordered a ban on all union activity under martial law.  Two years later he lifted the ban and formed a political front union and a political party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), implemented a registration program for new unions which required 30% of all the workers to sign off on before a union would be allowed to register.  In addition to this, General Rahman made the rule so that a labor union could only be formed by the labor arm of a political party.  The shift from the progressive policies included massive privatization efforts, based on a policy prescription from the World Bank and the IMF.  The previously nationalized assets and industries were sold to political allies well below market value.  Rahman was assassinated during a failed coup attempt and was replaced by General H.M. Ershad who continued the privatization started under Rahman.  General Ershad also sold off companies and assets at deeply discounted prices (Rahman & Langford 2012).
            The ITUC report of 2006 shows a long list of labor rights violations by the government and companies, including kidnappings, torture, and killings of union activists.  In 2006 a worker striking over being cheated out of wages was killed after factory management called in mercenary thugs to attack the strikers.  When the strikers fought back, management then called on the police who opened fire on the workers.  The government blamed the workers for unrest and not the working conditions or pay problems the factories are responsible for.  Police invaded one of the offices of the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers’ Union Federation (BIGUF) and accused the union officers and staff of starting riots.  Three people were arrested and beaten, and claim they were tortured, and charged for crimes connected to the violence and unrest caused by protesting and striking workers.  Common tactics by employers include intimidation, use of thugs, harassment, and firing in order to make union organizing a costly endeavor.  Even the Solidarity Centre, which is an AFL-CIO center, was visited by the government’s intelligence service and police frequently after publishing a pamphlet that explained worker rights (ITUC Bangladesh 2007).   
            In January of 2007 the military enforced a presidential decreed State of Emergency which prohibited all union meetings and most labor organization related activities.  This resulted in increases in violence, threats, and labor rights abuses from the year before.  One aspect of this was that to participate in any labor union assembly or event was criminalized and punishable by a two to five year prison sentence.  No new trade unions would be permitted to register with the Joint Director for Labour (JDL), and the JDL attempted to de-list the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Sramik Federation (BGIWF).  The US Trade Representative was to have a hearing in Washington and the AFL-CIO petitioned to have GSP privileges revoked from Bangladesh.  Labor union leadership of other union federations was contacted by the Director of Labour and they were also threatened unless they stopped cooperating with the complaint that brought the petition by the AFL-CIO (ITUC Bangladesh 2008).
            The State of Emergency was lifted December 17th, 2008 after two years of intensified exploitation and abuse of labor rights, of which the garment districts and the export processing zones saw the most and the worst abuses.  The 97th ILO Conference report by the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) in 2008 is rife with serious criticism bordering on condemnation of Bangladesh for continuing to permit ILO Convention violations and failing to provide trade unions their full freedoms (ITUC Bangladesh 2009).  The ITUC reported that 2009 saw increased violations, especially within the garment sector, with the death of six workers during a protest.  In July there was a parliamentary committee of the Labour and Employment Ministry which made a recommendation to set up intelligence units in each industrial sector to keep labor unrest to a minimum.  The committee also determined the key reasons for the labor unrest was the lack of union and the failure of the garment factories to pay their workers the minimum wage as set by Bangladesh law (ITUC Bangladesh 2010).  An Odhikar (a Bangladesh based human rights NGO) report referenced by the ITUC for 2011 claims that, “135 persons were reported killed and 11,532 injured in political violence. There were 84 extrajudicial killings” (ITUC Bangladesh 2012)
            For the same reason each individual trade union was counted individually, along with its affiliates, for the Philippine union section, the same thing was done with Bangladesh.  Unlike the Philippines, where the country’s unions can avail themselves of the assistance of three major union federation groups, Bangladesh has at twelve large umbrella federation groups or national trade unions.  The best count of trade unions I could find was from the US State Department’s March 8th, 2006 report on Bangladesh for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. “An estimated 15 percent of the approximately 5,450 labor unions were affiliated with 25 officially registered National Trade Unions (NTU).  There were also several unregistered NTUs.  Unions were generally highly politicized” (US BoD)  Memberships of the six federations affiliated with the ITUC amounted to 876,000, while the other six, affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was unavailable (ITUC Affiliated).  Many of the same non-union, human rights advocacy NGOs dealing with labor rights in Bangladesh were the same as those covered in the Philippines.  The same IGOs were involved to varying degrees, as well.

Conclusion & Discussion
            How effective have these unions and their allies been at effecting change on a national level to the benefit of the workers and the labor rights being advocated for?  I was not able to find a single reference to a change made by either government that was attributed to the efforts of the unions, the NGOs, the IGOs, or the outside states involved in labor issue advocacy.  How effective have these unions and their allies been at making corporations change their behavior toward the workers?  I found no references to any company doing anything that would make union organizing or union activities any more available to the workers.  However, while the focus has been on labor organizing rights, there have been some very small changes that are obviously being made by the Philippines, Bangladesh, and corporations in regards to workers suffering under terrible conditions. 
In Bangladesh hundreds of garment workers have been killed, not by the state and not for union activities, but as the result of unsafe working conditions.  Fires in facilities with inadequate safety measures and with management that locks exit doors and bars windows for loss prevention (supposedly) have happened multiple times.  The most recent incident on November 24th, 2012 in Ashulia killed over 100 and injured at least 200 people, making it “the most deadly factory fire in the history of the apparel industry in Bangladesh” according to the ILRF (ILRF Fire). 
Considering the factory fires have been happening for over a decade it is obvious that meaningful, widespread changes have not been made.  However, a few companies are throwing money at the problem in the hopes that either the problems thereby get solved, or more cynically, they will be able to say they are doing what they can and then shift blame back to either the Bangladesh government, or more likely to “disgruntled” workers in the factories.  Corporations are also giving the appearance in many cases of distancing themselves from their suppliers who find themselves in the public spotlight.  For example, in the most recent fire, CNN has reported that Wal-Mart Stores Inc has already issued a statement that the factory was no longer authorized to manufacture merchandise for their stores, but a supplier had contracted to the factory and upon learning of this the relationship with the supplier was terminated immediately.  The Bangladeshi government has ordered an investigation into the fire, though a major supplier to the industry, Li & Fung, based in Hong Kong, stated that it would carry out an investigation on its own (CNN).
            Do numbers matter when it comes to TANS and labor rights?  As far as getting legislative changes made and acted on accordingly by the state, the answer appears to be a resounding “no.”  Even if the thousands of trade unions in each country are totally discounted, what is left is a relatively equal number of NGOs, IGOs, and interested outside states involved in the issue.  There is one caveat to this conclusion, though.  The greater the number of involved actors, the greater it would seem the likelihood is of having an actor that happens to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of leverage to get something good accomplished.  On the other hand, it is possible that the larger the network the more likely internetwork conflicts, information overload, and road-blocking becomes, distracting, stifling or otherwise keeping an effective actor from bringing about the change they would otherwise effect through their efforts. 
In terms of labor rights it appears the biggest obstacle is a combination of corporate power and capital, a state’s self interest in seeing the capital not going to a competing state, state leaders’ desires to retain and acquire power, the power and authority of in-state businesses and their trade organizations, and the power relationships between individual unions themselves seeking to serve their own particular immediate interests over the broader interests of workers generally.  The high degree of politicization evident in both the Philippine and Bangladesh unions just exacerbate the effects of the latter.  Furthermore, appearances suggest there might be an effect based on the pursuit of an economically oriented neoliberal free-trade ideal, supported in policies by powerful IGOs like the IMF and the World Bank, and evidenced in the way Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) are designed.  This, in addition to the gains that are made by the more powerful entrepreneurs and industry leaders who lobby for their interests through their own NGOs, make labor rights a very difficult issue to address for the human rights NGOs.  It may be that the industry oriented TANs are simply much better funded and organized than the labor oriented TANs.
            A serious problem in looking at trade unions and labor rights NGOs in relation to TANs is that it is entirely possible that there is really no such thing as a labor rights TAN, or that the cases I looked at did not deal with any TAN, as it was defined earlier.  To revisit the definition provided by Keck & Sikkink at the beginning of this paper, a TAN is “actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information and services.”  While all of the involved actors dealt with shared a common discourse, worked in varying degrees on the issue at the international level whether directly or indirectly, and at least give lip service to sharing the values of labor rights, the dense sharing of information between all of them did not, and probably could not exist due to the sheer numbers of actors involved.  Furthermore, measuring the density of the exchange of information and services was not done as part of this research, and there may not be a way to quantify or qualify this particular component of the definition.

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