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“Hongmen Dialogue”Successfully Held at Peking University Law School

On the afternoon of December 6, the "International Organization and Global Good Governance: Environment, Labor, and Human Rights" dialogue was successfully held in Room 303, Kaiyuan Building, Peking University Law School. The forum invited Associate Professor Radu Mares, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of Lawrence Wallenburg Sweden, and Michaela. S. Bergman, Chief Social Development Specialist of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (hereinafter referred to as “AIIB”), Professor Chen Yifeng, Associate Professor of Peking University Law School, conducted a special seminar on the subject of "International Organizations and Global Good Governance: Environment, Labor, and Human Rights." The lecture was hosted by Prof. Tang Yingmao, Associate Professor of Peking University Law School.


Scene of the seminar


Prof. Radu Mares gave a keynote speech on “The UN and World Bank on Business Responsibilities-Human Rights Risk Management”. He first introduced the UN Corporate Social Responsibility Guidelines and the World Bank's environmental and social framework document. Both documents emphasize respect for human rights. Compared with the standards of the World Bank, the implementation of the UN standards is relatively low; on the contrary, multilateral financial institutions have the right to choose the target of cooperation, so human rights protection standards can be  easily implemented. Prof. Radu Mares emphasized that compared to the protection and relief of human rights, respect for human rights is the minimum standard. The traditional path of human rights risk management is a process of repeated detection and adjustment, and the World Bank’s human rights protection standards precisely imitate this path. Prof. Radu Mares put forward some questions for everyone: Under the UN system, the assessment of "human rights impact" is required. What the World Bank system requires is a "social impact" assessment. What is the difference between them? Does this difference affect risk management? Prof. Radu Mares pointed out that the World Bank and the UN system should be integrated. On the one hand, policy makers should be given the space to choose risk management measures. On the other hand, policy makers can be requested to take responsibility for their actions.


Ms. Michaela. S. Bergman made a keynote speech titled “The Why, What and How of Implementing E & S Standards at the AIIB”. In the context of the 2030 sustainable development agenda, the AIIB paid special attention to the development challenges in Asia and acknowledged the principle of sustainable development in the design and implementation of the project. As far as the content of environmental and social standards is concerned, the AIIB seeks to cooperate with other multilateral development banks to provide the possibility of relevant institutional innovations to promote effective implementation. The AIIB emphasized that not only the public sector but also the private sector should be noted during the implementation of the environmental and social standards, and individual cases should be judged. Specific measures include: monitoring the project, analyzing potential risks and impacts, and identifying measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, or offset adverse effects; include information sharing and public commentary processes; during project design, implementation, and evaluation combined with environmental and social management measures. For example, in terms of screening and classification of adverse impacts, AIIB differentiates between severe impact (Type A), medium impact (Type B), and lower impact (Type C). In the context of environmental social impact assessments, analysis of alternative programmes, analysis of environmental and sociocultural backgrounds, environmental and social management programmes, mitigation and monitoring measures, deliberation and dialogue channels all require special assessments. For the consultation process, project design and monitoring measures need to be included. The concrete implementation of the AIIB’s environmental and social policies remains to be seen.


Prof. Chen Yifeng spoke on labor standards and international financial institutions. He  believes that the World Bank still has a resistance attitude toward human rights responsibilities. In the process of drafting the Environment and Social Framework by the World Bank, although it mentions human rights protection, it does not provide specific obligations. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has actively advocated core labor standards since the end of the 20th century. The WTO carried out discussions on trade and labor and led the International Labour Conference to adopt the "International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up Measures" in Geneva in 1998. Here, "basic labor rights" developed as a movement and achieved new development after 2010. There are tensions between the path of the neo-liberal economics of some international financial institutions and the ILO's rights path. International financial institutions are still worried when theyinvolve in these social issues. For example, the World Bank contains provisions that do not interfere with member states. Since the late 1990s, the World Bank has adopted a comprehensive development framework that comprehensively considers economic, social, environmental, humane, and financial issues. However, the labor issue is still not one of the World Bank’s commitments. Until the ILO established a core labor standard, the issue of labor standards was included in the discussion. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) took the lead in referring to labor protection in 2011, but it still lacks a strong enforcement tool. Since then, a series of international financial institutions have passed relevant regulations. Labor rights are easily linked to politics. It should be noted that the ILO's internal documents on labor protection do not require member states to approve, and the World Bank refuses to invoke ILO documents but attempt to establish its own protection system or even its legal source.


The moderator and the speaker discussed the relationship between global economic development and sovereignty, private behaviors affecting government decisions, labor clauses in the free trade agreement, and conducted discussions and interactions with the audience.


This “Hongmen Dialogue” is the follow-up to the 2016 "International Organizations, International Law and Global Governance." The dialogue took the theme of social responsibility of international organizations as, further in-depth and detailed discussion of the mechanism, mode, progress and dilemma of global governance, and further explored the research of international organizations and global governance issues. At the same time, this dialogue has invited the participation of officials of international organizations, focusing on the combination of theory and practice. The conference enriched the postgraduate training and teaching contents of Peking University Law School, and also strengthened the exchange of the international law majors with academic circles.


Attachment: Introduction of Associate Professor Radu Mares and Ms. Michaela. S. Bergman

Radu Mares is senior researcher at Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights. He is specialized in the area of business and human rights, with a focus on multinational enterprises and global supply chains. Mares has edited The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights–Foundations and Implementation (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012) and authored The Dynamics of Corporate Social Responsibilities (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008).


Michaela S. Bergman is a social anthropologist with over 20 years’ work experience with multi-lateral, International Financial Institutions, bilaterals and civil society in over 40 countries, including East and Central Europe, Central, East and South Asia and the Middle East. Until June 2017, Ms. Bergman was Chief Counselor for Social Issues at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, providing support and advice on gender and social issues. In September 2017, she joined the AIIB to support the development of the Social Practice specifically, as well as to provide support more generally in the development of AIIB’s approach to Environmental and Social Issues.


Translated by Ding Jieyao

Edited by Wang Qianhui, Zhang Maoli