This article presents how global governance went viral as its targets moved from sovereign to corporate entities and its source from multilateral financial institutions to domestic US institutions. Such a viral process of rulemaking operates in a recursive manner, by first infecting the weakest links in global capitalism, and then moving upward to the centre of global capitalism through the veins of global financial flows. Thus, viral governance differs from multilateral governance in three respects: viral governance thrives on the perpetuation of crises, whereas multilateral governance seeks to extinguish crises; it operates through the sustained management of legal uncertainty, while multilateral governance seeks to absorb uncertainty and reduce it to risk; it requires the abolition of all regulatory counter-powers and their submission to one centre of emergency power, whereas multilateral governance assumes the equality of sovereign regulatory powers in the prevention of crises. We argue that viral governance describes how global rules of corporate governance have been rewritten in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis by the United States through its sanctions program against Iran, and against the global businesses that sought ties with Iran. Based on more than a hundred interviews with regulatory experts in the field of sanctions and banking reform, as well as multiple non-participant observations of high-level meetings with experts on Iran sanctions, the article describes the recursive process that led the US government to assume regulatory powers over the main corporate actors of global capitalism.
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About the Speakers
Grégoire Mallard is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and co-director of the Executive Master in “International Negotiation and Policymaking” at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva). He is the author of Fallout: Nuclear Diplomacy in an Age of Global Fracture (University of Chicago Press, 2014) and Gift Exchange: The Transnational History of a Political Idea (Cambridge University Press 2019). He is also the co-editor of Contractual Knowledge: One Hundred Years of Legal Experimentation in Global Markets (Cambridge University Press 2016), and Global Science and National Sovereignty: Studies in Historical Sociology of Science (Routledge 2008).
Mr. Sun is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and research assistant at the Global Governance Centre. He obtained a Master of Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He holds the Chinese lawyer qualification at the Beijing Bar and professional certificates and executive qualifications in the Securities Association of China (SAC) and the Asset Management Association of China (AMAC).