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Larry Catá Backer

Larry Catá Backer

W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar
Professor of Law and International Affairs

Curriculum Vitae
SSRN Profile 

(814) 863-3640

J.D., Columbia University
M.P.P., Harvard University
B.A., Brandeis University

Professor Larry Catá Backer immigrated with his family from Cuba when he was young, growing up in the Cuban American community in Miami. Professor Backer focuses his research on governance-related issues of globalization and the constitutional theories of public and private governance, with an emphasis on institutional frameworks for public-private law governance systems. Recent work centers on issues of corporate social responsibility, mixed regulatory systems and regulatory governance (especially touching on SOEs and SWFs), the emerging problems of polycentricity where multiple systems might be simultaneously applied to a single issue or event, and problems of translation between Western and Marxist Leninist (especially Chinese and Cuban) constitutional systems. He has an interest in the transformations of university governance and its relation to wider changes in societal ordering in the 21st century with respect to which he has also published.

He currently teaches courses on corporate social responsibility, corporations, multinational enterprises, and the constitutional law of religion. He teaches courses on policy aspects of these areas at the Penn State School of International Affairs, along with the SIA core course, Actors, Institutions, and Legal Frameworks in International Affairs. He has lectured on issues of transnational, corporate and constitutional law in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia, in English and Spanish. He has served on the planning organizations for the 3rd (2009-2010) and 4th (2018-2019) National People of Color Scholarship Conferences, and serves on the board of a number of journals, including among them the Business and Human Rights Journal (Cambridge University Press), Iuris Dictio (Colegio de Jurisprudencia Universidad de San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador), Narxoz Law and Public Policy Review (Narxoz University, Kazakhstan, and Emancipating the Mind in the New Era: Bulletin of the Coalition for Peace & Ethics. Professor Backer is a member of the American Law Institute and the European Corporate Governance Institute. He served as an elected member of the Penn State University Faculty Senate from 2005 to 2018, and as chair of the Penn State University Faculty Senate for 2012-2013. He currently serves on the Senate Committee of Past Chairs.

His books include Cuba’s Caribbean Marxism: Essays on Ideology, Government, Society, and Economy in the Post Fidel Castro Era (Little Sir Press, 2018); Lawyers Making Meaning (Springer, 2013) and Signs in Law, A Source Book (Springer, 2014) (both with Jan Broekman), casebooks, Law and Religion (West, 2015, with Frank Ravitch), Comparative Corporate Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2002), Harmonizing Law in an Era of Globalization (Carolina Academic Press, editor, 2007). Forthcoming books include Elements of Law and the U.S. Legal System (Carolina Academic Press, expected 2020), and Hong Kong Between “One Country” and “Two Systems”: Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (June 2019 – June 2020) (Little Sir Press, expected 2020).  He has published over 100 articles and book chapters that have appeared in journals and books published in Europe, the United States, Brazil, and China. Shorter essays on various aspects of globalization and governance appear on his essay site, “Law at the End of the Day,”, and his blog Monitoring University Governance: His publications and other work are available on his personal website, BackerinLaw, or through the Social Science Research Network. A CV may be accessed here.

Law and Religion: Cases, Materials, and Readings (4th ed. 2021) (with Frank S. Ravitch)

Hong Kong Between ‘One Country’ and ‘Two Systems’: Essays from the Year that Transformed The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (June 2019 – June 2020) (2021)

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: A Commentary (forthcoming 2022)

Nature, Law and Government (forthcoming 2022)

God(s) Over Constitution: Transnational Constitutionalism in the Age of Globalization (forthcoming 2021)

Elements of Law and the United States Legal System (forthcoming 2021)

Cuba’s Caribbean Marxism: Essays on Ideology, Government, Society, and Economy in the Post-Fidel Castro Era (2018)

Lawyers Are Not Algorithms: Sustainability, Corruption, and the Role of the Lawyer in Institutional Frameworks and Corporate Transactions, 23 LEGAL ETHICS (forthcoming 2021)


The Semiotics of Consent and the American Law Institute’s Reform of the Model Penal Code’s Sexual Assault Provisions, 1(1) Undecidabilities and the Law: Coimbra Journal of Legal Studies 49-83 (2021)

Aligning Emerging Global Strategies to Combat Corporate Corruption: From a “Two Thrust Approach” to a “Two Swords One Thrust Strategy” of Compliance, Prosecutorial Discretion, and Sovereign Investor Oversight in China, 52 Int’l L. (2019)

Next Generation Law: Data-Driven Governance and Accountability-Based Regulatory Systems in the West, and Social Credit Regimes in China, 28 USC Interdisc. L.J. 123 (2019)

Popular Consultation and Referendum in the Making of Contemporary Cuban Socialist Democracy Practice and Constitutional Theory, 27 U. MIA. Int’l L. Rev. 37 (2019) (with Flora Sapio)

Popular Participation in the Constitution of the Illiberal State — An Empirical Study of Popular Engagement and Constitutional Reform in Cuba and the Contours of Cuban Socialist Democracy 2.0, Vol. 34, Emory Int’l L. Rev. (2019) (with Flora Sapio and James Korman)


Chinese Strategies to Combat Corporate Corruption: From a “Two Thrust Approach” to a “Two Swords One Thrust Strategy” of Compliance, Prosecutorial Discretion, and Sovereign Investor Oversight in China, 52 Int’l L. 1 (2019)

Between the Judge and the Law—Judicial Independence and Authority with Chinese Characteristics, 33 Conn. J. Int’l L. 1 (2017); Chinese language version, 17 Beijing Politics and Law Review (2018)

Chinese Constitutionalism in the ‘New Era’: The Constitution in Emerging Idea and Practice, 33 Conn. J. Int’l L. 163 (2018)

测度、评估和奖励:中国和西方建立社会信用体系的挑战? [Measurement, Assessment and Reward: The Challenges of Establishing a Social Credit System in China and the West?)] (“互联网金融法律评论 (jiflsjtu)“微信公众平台. 前沿栏目·第三 季 第21篇(总第182篇)[Shanghai Jiaotong University Internet Financial Law Review]

西方反腐领域新举措,从 “各自为政 “到” — 股合力” 58(2):17-30 吉林大学社会科学学报 — [Sword One Thrust Strategy to Combat Criminal Corruption: Corporate Compliance, Prosecutorial Discretion, and Sovereign Investor Oversight, Jilin University Journal of Social Science] 58(2):17 (2018)

Theorizing Regulatory Governance Within its Ecology: The Structure of Management in an Age of Globalization, 24 Contemp. Politics (online March 27, 2018; print forthcoming)

A Lex Mercatoria for Corporate Social Responsibility Codes without the State?, 24 Ind. J. Global Leg. Stud. 115 (2017)

The Human Rights Obligations of State-Owned Enterprises: Emerging Conceptual Structures and Principles in National and International Law and Policy, 50 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 827 (2017)

The Corporate Social Responsibilities of Financial Institutions for the Conduct of their Borrowers: The View from International Law and Standards, 21 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 881 (2017)

Sovereign Wealth Funds, Capacity Building, Development, and Governance, 52 Wake Forest L. Rev. 735 (2017)

通过集体组织的社会主义现代化评《中华人民共和国慈善法》《中国非营利评论》,第19卷,社会科 学文献出版社2017年版,第35 [Commentary on the New Charity Undertakings Law: Socialist Modernization Through Collective Organizations, 9 China Nonprofit Rev. 35 (2017)] (English
language version: Commentary on the New Charity Undertakings Law: Socialist Modernization Through Collective Organizations, 9 China Nonprofit Rev. 273 (2017))

Shaping a Global Law for Business Enterprises: Framing Principles and the Promise of a Comprehensive Treaty on Business and Human Rights, 42 N.C. J. Int’l L. 417 (2016)

Are Supply Chains Transnational Legal Orders?: What We Can Learn From the Rana Plaza Factory Building Collapse, 1 U.C. Irvine J. Int’l, Transnat’l, & Comp. L. 11 (2016)

Central Planning Versus Markets Marxism: Their Differences and Consequences for the International Ordering of State, Law, Politics, and Economy, 32 Conn. J. Int’l L. 1 (2016)

Corporate Social Responsibility in Weak Governance Zones, 14 Santa Clara J. Int’l L. 297 (2016)

The Emerging Normative Structures of Transnational Law: Non-State Enterprises in Polycentric Asymmetric Global Orders, 31 BYU J. Pub. L. 1 (2016)

Fractured Territories and Abstracted Terrains: The Problem of Representation and Human Rights Governance Regimes Within and Beyond the State, 23 Ind. J. Global Legal Stud. 61 (2016)

‘By Dred Things I am Compelled’: China and the Challenge to International Human Rights Law, in Tipping Points in International Law: Critique and Commitment (John Haskell and Jean d’Aspremont, eds., forthcoming 2021)

Un Somaro Piumato’--Rethinking the Scope and Nature of State Liability for Acts of their Commercial Instrumentalities: State Owned Enterprises and State-Owner Liability in the Post-Global, in The Regulation of State-Controlled Enterprises: an Interdisciplinary and Comparative Examination (Julien Chaisse, Jędrzej Górski & Dini Sejko eds., forthcoming 2021)

The Problem of the Enterprise and the Enterprise of Law: Multinational Enterprises as Polycentric Transnational Regulatory Spaces, in Oxford Handbook of Transnational Law (Peer Zumbansen, ed., 2021)

Schwarze Listen und Social Credit-Regime in China [Blacklists and Social Credit Regimes in China], in Super-Scoring?: Datengetriebene Sozialtechnologien Als Neue Bildungsheraus-Forderung [Super-Scoring?: Data-driven societal technologies as a new challenge for education] (2021)

And an Algorithm to Entangle them All? Social Credit, Data Driven Governance, and Legal Entanglement in Post-Law Legal Orders, in Entangled Legalities Beyond the State 79-106 (Nico Kirsch, ed., 2021)

Foreword: Bannermen and Heralds: The Identity of Flags; the Ensigns of Identity, in Flags, Identity, Memory: Critiquing the Public Narrative Through Color (Anne Wagner & Sarah Marusek, eds., 2020)

Human Rights Responsibilities of State-Owned Enterprises, in Research Handbook on Human Rights and Business 221-242 (Surya Deva & David Birchall eds., 2020)

La debida diligencia en las universidades, in Retos Y Desafios de las Empresas Y los Derechos Humanos (Carolina Olarte-Báceres, Catalina Irisarri Boada & Laura Arenas Peralta, eds., Oxford U. Press, 2019)

The Cri de Jessup Sixty Years Later: Transnational Law’s Intangible Objects and Abstracted Frameworks Beyond Nation, Enterprise, and Law, in Jessup’s Bold Proposal: Critical Engagements with Transnational Law (Peer Zumbansen ed., 2020)

The Problem of the Enterprise and the Enterprise of Law: Multinational Enterprises as Polycentric Transnational Regulatory Spaces, in Oxford Handbook of Transnational Law (2020)

Unpacking Accountability in Business and Human Rights: The Multinational Enterprise, the State, and the International Community, in Accountability and International Business Organizations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor, and Environmental Standards (Liesbeth Enneking et al. eds., 2020)

From the Social to the Human Rights of Labor: Reflections on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art. 23, the ILO, and Working Rights Principles, in Coalition for Peace and Ethics, Working Paper No. 2/1 (2019)

The Global Economy and Cuba: Stasis and Hard Choices, in Annual Proceedings, The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, vol. 28 (2018)

Reintegrating Cuba into the Global Economy: Stasis and the European Alternative, in The Cuba-U.S. Bilateral Relationship: New Pathways and Policy Choices (Michael J. Kelly et al. eds., 2019)

The arc of triumph and transformation of the OECD Guidelines, in OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: A Glass Half Full (2018) (Liber Amicorum for Dr. Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct 2013-2018)

The Cuban Communist Party at the Cusp of Change, in Reforming Communism: Cuba in a Comparative Perspective (Scott Morgenstern and Jorge Pérez López eds., 2019)

Considering a Treaty on Corporations and Human Rights: Mostly Failures But With a Glimmer of Success, in Treaty or Not? Perspectives on the Proposed UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights (Nicolas Carillo-Santarelli & Jernej Letnar Cernic eds., 2018)

From Guiding Principles to Interpretive Organizations: Developing a Framework for Applying the UNGPs to Disputes that Institutionalizes the Advocacy Role of Civil Society, in Business and Human Rights: Beyond the End of the Beginning 97 (C.R. Garavito ed., 2017)

Pragmatism Without Principle?: How a Comprehensive Treaty on Business and Human Rights Ought
to be Framed, Why It Can’t, and the Dangers of the Pragmatic Turn in Treaty Crafting,
in Building a Treaty on Business and Human Rights: Context and Contours (Surya Deva & David Bilchitz eds., 2017)

The Evolving Relationship Between TNCs and Political Actors and Governments, in Research Handbook on Transnational Corporations 82 (Alice de Jonge & Roman Tomasic eds., 2017)

If One Wants to Change Societal Norms One Must Change Society: Lessons From Michael Olivas and ‘Constitutional Criteria’ in Managing Higher Education Admissions Decisions, in Law Professor and Accidental Historian: The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas 201 (Ediberto Román ed., 2017)

The Concept of Constitutionalization and the Multi-Corporate Enterprise in the 21st Century: From Body Corporate to Sovereign Enterprise, in Multinationals and the Constitutionalization of the World Power System 170 (Jean-Phillipe Robé et al. eds., 2016)


Law at the End of the Day

Show and Tell: Sharing While Chairing the Penn State Faculty Senate


Most of Professor Backer's manuscripts are posted here: Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

Other Manuscripts are posted here.



other websites  

University-Sponsored Personal Web Site

“In Defense of the State and the International Legal Order: Reflections on Human Rights Obligations of Business: Beyond the Corporate Responsibility to Respect (Surya Deva and David Bilchitz, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2013).” Discussant Remarks. UNOG Library Talks—Book Launch, “Human Rights Obligations of Business,” a side event at the Second Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, 2 December 2013.

“Polycentricity in South Asian Human Rights Law: On the Strategic and Simultaneous Use of Multiple Sources of Law to Advance Human Rights Against MNCs in South Asia.” Conference: “Asia and International Law in the 21st Century: New Horizons.” Asian Society of International Law 4th Biennial Conference. New Delhi, India, November 15, 2013.

“Methodological Issues in Implementing an Internationalized Curriculum—Five Approaches to Internationalization.” Conference: “Internationalizing the Campus, College and Classroom.” Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania. September 27, 2013.

“Democratizing International Business and Human Rights by Catalyzing Strategic Litigation.” A Festival of Ideas Conference: Business and Human Rights: Moving Forward Looking Backwards. University of West Virginia College of Law. Morgantown, West Virginia. September 23-24, 2013.

“State and Party in the Scientific Development of a Legitimate Rule of Law Constitutional System in China: The Example of Laojiao and Shuanggui.” International Conference on “The Rule of Law With Chinese Characteristics” in Transition. City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, June 6, 2013.