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Larry Catá Backer, Penn State University
Transnational Legal Orders:
Business and Regulatory Law
May 29, 2015
Law and Society Association Annual Meeting,
Seattle, WA
TRIAL BY FIRE:
RANA PLAZA AND TRANSNATIONAL LEGAL ORDERS
A Curious Ceremony
--Commemorating collapse
--Celebrating new governance architecture
--What new governance architecture?
l
The Puzzle
• Rana Plaza as template:
– Generalizing theory form context avoiding
• Reductionism
• instrumentalism
What kind of order?
--Transnational Legal Order
--Anarchic polycentric (dis)order
--State order reconfigured for globalization
The State of Supply in Bangladesh
• Building factories to meet sourcing demands
• Local owners
• Local factories
• Multinational corporations
– Supplier codes of conduct
– OECD Guidelines
– UNGP/Global Compact
– Local law
The Collapse
--Cracks
--Refusal to enter
--Coercion?
--Power failure and vibration of generators
--Collapse
Aftermath
• Arrests
• Accord
• Alliance
• Arrangement
• Lawsuits
• Multilateralism
From Context to Theory
– Is there a Transnational Legal Order here?
• Transnational
– MNEs, multilateralism
• Legal
– Focus on building and safety standards; contract relations
• Order(s)
– Perhaps one order
– Perhaps multiple interconnected public, private, state,
international and multilateral orders
Polycentric Ordering
• Order without a center
– Coherence without an ordering point or center
– Autonomous governance centers that might seek to intermesh but
not join each other;
– non-legal ordering
• Order in search of a center or other instrumental objectives
– (just another episodic brush with legal pluralism?
– Transitional ordering toward TLO
• Disorder
– Fragmentation without coherence
The Triumph of the State
• A return to internationalist ordering pre 1914
• Vertically arranged state system in which sourcing states
retain sovereignty
• MNEs as agents of the fully sovereign states
• PIOs as creatures of the states dominated by powerful states
Conclusion
The state of transnational
governance today may be much like
the Rana Plaza factory building on
April 23, 2013
--theory factories produce material
spun from context woven together
--is the building sound?
--too early to tell.

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Trail By Fire: Rana Plaza and Transnational Legal Orders

  • 1. Larry Catá Backer, Penn State University Transnational Legal Orders: Business and Regulatory Law May 29, 2015 Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA TRIAL BY FIRE: RANA PLAZA AND TRANSNATIONAL LEGAL ORDERS
  • 2. A Curious Ceremony --Commemorating collapse --Celebrating new governance architecture --What new governance architecture? l
  • 3. The Puzzle • Rana Plaza as template: – Generalizing theory form context avoiding • Reductionism • instrumentalism What kind of order? --Transnational Legal Order --Anarchic polycentric (dis)order --State order reconfigured for globalization
  • 4. The State of Supply in Bangladesh • Building factories to meet sourcing demands • Local owners • Local factories • Multinational corporations – Supplier codes of conduct – OECD Guidelines – UNGP/Global Compact – Local law
  • 5. The Collapse --Cracks --Refusal to enter --Coercion? --Power failure and vibration of generators --Collapse
  • 6. Aftermath • Arrests • Accord • Alliance • Arrangement • Lawsuits • Multilateralism
  • 7. From Context to Theory – Is there a Transnational Legal Order here? • Transnational – MNEs, multilateralism • Legal – Focus on building and safety standards; contract relations • Order(s) – Perhaps one order – Perhaps multiple interconnected public, private, state, international and multilateral orders
  • 8. Polycentric Ordering • Order without a center – Coherence without an ordering point or center – Autonomous governance centers that might seek to intermesh but not join each other; – non-legal ordering • Order in search of a center or other instrumental objectives – (just another episodic brush with legal pluralism? – Transitional ordering toward TLO • Disorder – Fragmentation without coherence
  • 9. The Triumph of the State • A return to internationalist ordering pre 1914 • Vertically arranged state system in which sourcing states retain sovereignty • MNEs as agents of the fully sovereign states • PIOs as creatures of the states dominated by powerful states
  • 10. Conclusion The state of transnational governance today may be much like the Rana Plaza factory building on April 23, 2013 --theory factories produce material spun from context woven together --is the building sound? --too early to tell.