06 February 2015

Chills and soft power

'The Conforming Effect: First Amendment Implications of Surveillance, Beyond Chilling Speech' by Margot E. Kaminski and Shane Witnov in (2015) 49 University of Richmond Law Review comments
First Amendment jurisprudence is wary not only of direct bans on speech, but of the chilling effect. A growing number of scholars have suggested that chilling arises from more than just a threat of overbroad enforcement — surveillance has a chilling effect on both speech and intellectual inquiries. Surveillance of intellectual habits, these scholars suggest, implicates First Amendment values. However, courts and legislatures have been divided in their understanding of the extent to which surveillance chills speech and thus causes First Amendment harms.
This article brings First Amendment theory into conversation with social psychology to show that not only is there empirical support for the idea that surveillance chills speech, but surveillance has additional consequences that implicate multiple theories of the First Amendment. We call these consequences “the conforming effect.” Surveillance causes individuals to conform their behavior to perceived group norms, even when they are unaware that they are conforming. Under multiple theories of the First Amendment — the marketplace of ideas, democratic self-governance, autonomy theory, and cultural democracy — these studies suggest that surveillance’s effects on speech are broad. Courts and legislatures should keep these effects in mind.
'Who Runs the International System? Power and the Staffing of the United Nations Secretariat' (Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 15-018) by Paul Novosad and Eric Werker comments 
National governments frequently pull strings to get their citizens appointed to senior positions in international institutions. We examine, over a 60 year period, the nationalities of the most senior positions in the United Nations Secretariat, ostensibly the world's most representative international institution. The results indicate which nations are successful in this zero-sum game, and what national characteristics correlate with power in international institutions. The most overrepresented countries are small, rich democracies like the Nordic countries. Statistically, democracy, investment in diplomacy, and economic/military power are predictors of senior positions ― even after controlling for the U.N. staffing mandate of competence and integrity. National control over the United Nations is remarkably sticky; however the influence of the United States has diminished as U.S. ideology has shifted away from its early allies. In spite of the decline in U.S. influence, the Secretariat remains pro-American relative to the world at large.
'Human Rights, Southern Voices, and ‘Traditional Values’ at the United Nations' (University of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 419) by Christopher McCrudden comments 
The ‘traditional values’ resolutions, passed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, 2011, and 2012, were the result of a highly controversial initiative spearheaded by Russia aiming to identify a set of traditional values that underpin international human rights law. This paper considers several critical questions that arise from these Resolutions. Do these ‘traditional values’ indeed underpin human rights? Why are traditional values valuable from the point of view of adherents to that tradition? Should the larger society take into account the fact that a practice is based on tradition in deciding whether or not to override it in the name of human rights? Put more technically, in what does the normativity of tradition lie, for adherents and non-adherents of that tradition? These are the questions that this essay explores, in the context of the recent debates over the scope and meaning of human rights stimulated by the Human Rights Council Resolutions. Much of the support for the Resolutions comes from what can broadly be called the global South. In several books, particularly “Human Rights, Southern Voices”, and “General Jurisprudence: Understanding Law from a Global Perspective” William Twining has explored the question of how to reconcile human rights norms and belief systems embedded in the global South (including ‘traditional values’), and in doing so has drawn particular attention to intellectuals from that part of the world, in particular Francis Deng, Yash Ghai, Abdullahi An-Na’im, and Upendra Baxi. I suggest that those concerned to recognize the legitimate concerns that significant sections of the global South have about the human rights project, concerns reflected in the ‘traditional values’ Resolutions would do well to pay more attention to the ‘Southern voices’ on whom Twining rightly focuses attention.