Category:

International Affairs

The Committee on Foreign Investment Publishes Its First Ever Guidelines

On October 20, 2022, the panel that reviews foreign investment in the United States for national security concerns published its first ever enforcement guidelines. The Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) in the United States, has never had written guidelines on this topic. While this is the first guidance issued by CFIUS, the guidelines reflect the increased focus on monitoring and enforcement which has been evident since the passage of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018. This continues the trend toward more enforcement relating to foreign investments and more concern surrounding compliance with terms of agreements meant to mitigate national security risks.

U.S. Makes Forced Labor a “Top-Tier” Compliance Issue as Chinese Government Continues to Commit Human Rights Violations

China has long persecuted individuals in their Xinjiang region, mostly Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims. Specifically, the Chinese government has a long history of forcing Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims to do manual labor. These human rights violations prompted President Biden to sign the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) into law late last year. On June 21, 2022, the UFLPA went into effect, blocking the importation of goods made from forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China. The law has four main functions. It employs both an enforcement strategy and a diplomatic strategy, it applies a presumption that all goods from the Xinjiang region are barred, and it has required sanctions. Although the United States had previously restricted imports from the Xinjiang region under the Trump administration, this is the furthest step forward the US government has taken to eliminate imports from the region all together.

The Mahsa Amini Protests: The Fight for Freedom and Women’s Rights in Iran

On September 16, 2022, a 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died on her third day in police custody after being arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code rules by wearing her hijab too loosely. While Iranian authorities claim that Ms. Amini died of heart failure, her family and protestors across the country are alleging that she was killed by law enforcement. Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest, which has led to demonstrations in over 40 cities across Iran, resulted in thousands of arrests and dozens of deaths from clashes with security forces, and the implementation of communication restrictions by the Iranian government. Now, the United Nations and its member countries are taking action in response to Iran’s persistent violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty, to which they are signatories.

Loot Boxes: Benign Entertainment or Gambling for Minors?

In 2019, Senator Josh Hawley put forth legislation to regulate loot boxes advertised or sold to minors in video games. The legislation was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation but did not move any further. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been researching the use of loot boxes since 2018 and has done multiple workshops to promote public awareness of microtransactions. More recently there has been public sentiment for changes in the gaming industry and other countries such as Singapore have taken steps this year to protect consumers from predatory practices of game companies.

Biden Administration Works with the EU to Develop New Data-Sharing Agreement

After the EU invalidated the previous data transfer agreement between the EU and the US in July of 2020, many big tech companies have been left unsure how to keep business flowing from Europe without the ability to store data within the US. To the relief of these companies, the Biden Administration has reached a preliminary agreement for a new deal with the EU. Coined the Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework, this new agreement works to address concerns raised by the EU.

The First Cyber War: The Threat of Russian Cyberattacks has Thrust Cybersecurity Compliance into the Spotlight

The impact of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022 has not only caused a horrific human rights crisis but has also had a dramatic effect on how the world conducts business, felt well beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine. Warnings of an imminent Russian cyberattack on critical United States infrastructure has small and large businesses alike brushing up their cybersecurity policies to ensure they are compliant with current best practices in the likely event of a Russian cyberattack and impending federal legislation.

The Economic War Against Russia: Sanctions, Sanctions and More Sanctions

As the pace of Russia’s incursion into neighboring Ukraine escalated three weeks ago, starting with a massing of troops on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas border and expanding quickly into a full-fledged military invasion, so too did the response of the United States and its Western allies. Initially, the Biden Administration proceeded cautiously, deciding against levying its harshest sanctions over concerns of how they would impact European and global economies and that a stepped approach offered the best chance for de-escalation of tensions. The government began by blacklisting two major state-owned banks that are tied to the country’s defense sector and five Russian nationals with close links to the Kremlin. The U.S. and its European allies also banned the Kremlin from raising new money in the U.S. and Europe and trading new sovereign debt in U.S or European markets. In addition, Germany unilaterally halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline which was set to go ahead sometime later this year, an action applauded by the U.S. who had long argued against the project fearing that it would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel.

NATO Membership and the Rising Tensions Between Ukraine and Russia

Russia has recently been assembling their troops along their shared border with Ukraine in what is seemingly amounting to a planned invasion of the country. While Ukraine is warning that Russia is attempting to destabilize and invade the country, Russia denies any potential plans to attack and insists that NATO support for Ukraine is a threat on Russia’s border. As the world watches in suspense, the United States and other NATO members are at a crossroads as to whether Ukraine may join the pact.

Blacklisting – the Modern Diplomat’s Weapon of Choice

Throughout the end of 2021, the Biden administration intensified its crackdown on civilian organizations believed to be supporting China’s military. As a result, the U.S. Commerce and Treasury departments, acting pursuant to the president’s June 3 Executive Order, recently unleashed a barrage of economic sanctions by effectively blacklisting more than forty Chinese companies, tech firms, and research institutes. Such far-reaching measures have ensnared prominent businesses across a variety of industries, including facial recognition specialists, artificial intelligence companies, and the world’s largest producer of commercial drones, DJI Technology Co. Those targeted were added to either the Commerce Department’s entity list, which blocks trade with U.S. exporters of software and other technologies, or to a Treasury list restricting access to American investment. Placement on the Treasury’s list can be especially damaging to an organization’s financial stability because the agency’s policies not only bar those sanctioned from transacting with domestic businesses but also prohibit American investors from taking stakes in companies on the list. Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry quickly denounced the sanctions as an “unwarranted suppression” of Chinese enterprises. Some of the listed companies themselves also publicly criticized their presence on the blacklists, including the artificial-intelligence start-up SenseTime Group which called the accusations against it “unfounded.” U.S. officials, however, defended the decision – citing both national security threats and human rights violations as causes for the sanctions.

The Ableist and Racist Public Charge Rule

The Public Charge Rule perpetuates anti-immigrant sentiment and keeps poor, disabled migrants who were often Black, Brown, and ethnically oppressed out of the United States. It makes pathways to citizenship contingent upon wealth and the absence of disability. As the Autistic Self Advocacy Network puts it, the Public Charge Rule is a “clear echo of the racist and ableist policies of the eugenics era.”