Social media was abuzz last week with three big missteps by major corporations. Pepsi unveiled a failed television advertisement intended to render homage to the social protest movement in the U.S. but that instead trivialized the protests and appropriated their imagery for financial gain; the New York Times revealed allegations of sexual harassment against Fox host Bill O’Reilly and that the host and Fox paid out nearly $13 million to five women in exchange for their silence; and United airlines dragged a boarded passenger, David Dao, off a plane in order to allow its staff to catch a flight to Louisville. It is tempting to think that the moral outrage expressed on social media was a fleeting fit of slacktivism with little purpose. But, it is more than that. Continue reading
Jon recently blogged about humanitarian law and violence in video games. Last month two Swiss NGOs published a 46-page report on the topic, examining a number of popular game for their laws-of-war content, finding them lacking and proposing industry-wide norm change:
The aim of the study is to raise public awareness among developers and publishers of the games, as well as among authorities, educators and the media about virtually committed crimes in computer and videogames, and to engage in a dialogue with game producers and distributors on the idea of incorporating the essential rules of IHL and IHRL into their games which may, in turn, render them more varied, realistic and entertaining.
So then a couple of days ago at Opinio Juris, Julian Ku weighed in on the report‘s findings and propositions:
Do we need international law requiring video game makers to follow international law in their video games? Sure, as long as this resulted in lucrative consulting gigs for law professors….
Well, the report does not actually propose game-makers ‘follow the law’ but rather ‘incorporate the law’ so that, for example, players who commit war crimes incur at least the risk of punishment.
The goal is not to prohibit the games, to make them less violent or to turn them into IHL or IHRL training tools. The message we want to send to developers and distributors of video games, particularly those portraying armed conflict scenarios, is that they should also portray the rules that apply to such conflicts in real life, namely IHRL and IHL.
At any rate, it certain strikes me that this is a candidate issue for a corporate social responsibility campaign. We ask companies to acknowledge and minimize negative externalities of their products with respect to the environment, public safety or health. Why not with video game content as well?
And now I can say that and support a good cause.
This email came to me, through a colleague, from the American Political Science Association today. Members among the Duck readership, please send a brief email to the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear APSA member,
Do you need the annual conference bag? The APSA Labor Project is concerned about the labor conditions of those who make the bags. We are also aware there are environmental and sustainability considerations.
APSA does not contract or pay for the bags, one of the annual conference sponsors does; decisions about bag manufacturing are not under our control. We have worked closely with APSA leadership in D.C. to urge the bag sponsor to contract bags made in factories with verifiable labor conditions.
Last year the conference bags were made at a unionized, U.S. factory. This year the bags will be made at several undisclosed locations overseas, which means that labor conditions at production facilities cannot be independently verified. It would be extremely difficult to set up an agreement about where the bags are made, particularly since the bag sponsor may change from year to year.
On another front, while APSA’s sponsors have been moving toward environmentally-friendly products and we know that the bags are reusable for years, we wonder if indeed you need another bag? Doing away with the bags altogether, we argue, would be more sustainable in the end.
We would appreciate hearing from you about this issue to help us represent APSA members.
Please send your comments to email@example.com.
The APSA Labor Project