Thursday, May 18, 2017

Conference: Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017)

Sponsored by the Utrecht Center for Accountability and and Liability Law (UCALL), the upcoming conference, Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards, as its name suggests, brings together a great group of individuals to consider one of the most dynamic areas of law and policy today--the normative and methodological issues, in economics, politics and law, that touch on the ramifications of business responsibility for human rights, labor and environmental standards in their operations. I am pleased to pass along more information about this upcoming conference, including a conference concept statement and more detailed program.

Conference Fees: Regular: 150 euro*; PhD Candidate: 75 euro; Student: 35 euro. * Under exceptional circumstances, we can grant a partial waiver for the conference fee to NGO’s registrations. In order to apply for this waiver, a motivated request should be send to

Organization: The conference is organized by a team of researchers from the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law:
Prof. Ivo Giesen (private law)
Dr. Liesbeth Enneking (private law)
Prof. François Kristen (criminal law)
Anne-Jetske Schaap, LLM (criminal law)
Prof. Cedric Ryngaert (international law)
Lucas Roorda, LLM (international law)

The Conference Concept Note and full Program follows:

Ucall Conference 2017
Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards


The adverse effects of multinational corporations' business activities, especially on human rights, labor rights, and the environment in the host country of investment, have been well documented. A consensus has also emerged that corporations have social and environmental responsibilities when operating transnationally. However, how exactly corporations can be held legally accountable for their transgressions, if at all, is less clear.

This conference inquires how regulatory tools stemming from international law, public law, and private law may or may not be used for transnational corporate accountability purposes. Attention will be devoted to applicable standards of liability, institutional and jurisdictional issues, and practical challenges, with a focus on ways to improve the existing legal status quo. In addition, there will be consideration of the extent to which non-legal regulatory instruments may complement or provide (more viable) alternatives to these legal mechanisms. The conference combines legal-doctrinal approaches with interdisciplinary and policy insights.

Keynote speakers
Larry Backer (Pennsylvania State University)
Karin Buhmann (Copenhagen Business School)
Geert van Calster (KU Leuven)
Jan Eijsbouts (formerly University of Maastricht/AKZO-Nobel)
Liesbeth Enneking (Utrecht University)
Judith van Erp (Utrecht University)
Gilles Goedhart (Ministery of Foreign Affairs)
Nicola Jägers (Tilburg University)
Michelle Jonker-Argueta (Greenpeace International)
Radu Mares (Raoul Wallenberg Institute)
Martijn Scheltema (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Oliver de Schutter (KU Leuven)
Vibe Garf Ulfbeck (University of Copenhagen)
Jan van Wijngaarden (SER)
Jennifer Zerk (Jennifer Zerk Consulting)

Program (overview)

View the full program (pdf)

Friday, May 19, 2017 – Paushuize (Kromme Nieuwegracht 49)

09:00 – 09:30 Registration and coffee

09:30-11:00 Plenary morning session (Chair: François Kristen)

09:30 – 09:45 Introduction by the dean and Ucall directors Ivo Giesen and François Kristen

09:45 – 10:15 Larry Backer (Pennsylvania State University), Unpacking Accountability: The Multinational Enterprise, the State, and the International Community.
10:15 – 10:45 Liesbeth Enneking (Utrecht University), Foreign Direct Liability Litigation.

10:45 – 11:00 Gilles Goedhart (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Access to Remedy in the EU.

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee

11:30 – 16:30 Parallel thematic sessions (panels)

11:30 - 13.15 First part thematic sessions on International, Public and Private Law

13.15 - 14.15 Lunch

14.15 - 16:00Second Part thematic sessions on International, Public, and Private Law

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee

17.15 Plenary afternoon session (Chair: Cedric Ryngaert)

16:30 – 16:55 Olivier de Schutter (Université Catholique de Louvain), Monitoring Human Rights in Global Supply Chains.

16:55 – 17:15 Questions and Discussion

17:15 – 18:15 Drinks

Overview of Parallel Sessions:

PANEL 1 – Accountability through international regulation

Chair: Cedric Ryngaert

11:30 - 11:50  Keynote speaker Karin Buhmann (Copenhagen Business School) - Risk-based Due Diligence and National Contact Points Specific Instances: towards a Jurisprudence on what Constitutes Responsible Business Conduct?

11:50 - 12:05 Daniëlla Dam-de Jong (Leiden University) - The Contribution of International Criminal Law to Enhancing Corporate Accountability in the Extractives Sector: a Much Needed Development or Daring Distraction?
12:05 - 12:20 Aleydis Nissen (Cardiff University) – Between the Devil and the Deep Sea? A WTO Interpretation of Import Restrictions as Suggested by the UN Committee on the Rights of Childs.
12:20 - 12:35 Marjolein Kok (ACCESS Facility Foundation) - Access to Remedy: Measuring the Effectiveness of Non-Legal Regulatory Instruments and Complaint Processes of Company-Community Conflicts in Fragile Environments

12:35 - 13:15 1Discussion

13:15 - 14:15 Lunch

14:15 - 14:35 Keynote speaker Nicola Jägers (Tilburg University) - The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Respect of Business and Human Rights

14:35 - 14:50 Klara Boonstra & Robert Hoekstra (VU Amsterdam) - At last: Decent Work in the Supply Chain Resolution Adopted by the ILO in 2016
15:05 - 15:20 Tara Van Ho (Aarhus University) - Business Actors, International Crimes, and Investment Law: Finding a Solution
15:20 - 16:00 Katerina Yiannibas (University of Deusto) - The Adaptability of International Arbitration: Reforming the Arbitration Mechanism to Provide Effective Remedy for Corporate Related Human Rights Abuses

15:20 - 16:00 Discussion


PANEL 2 – Accountability through national public law

Chair: François Kristen

11:30 - 11:50 Keynote speaker Judith van Erp (Utrecht University) – Reputation as a Regulatory Instrument: the Potential and Pitfalls of Naming and Shaming Corporations

11:50 - 12:05 Annika van Baar (Utrecht University) – Conflict, Minerals and Reporting Obligations for Multinational Business Operations (what Did Dodd-Frank 1502 Do?)
12:10 - 112:20 Anne-Jetske Schaap (Utrecht University) – The Corporate Duty of Care in Domestic Criminal Law to Prevent Corruption and Modern Slavery
12:20 - 13:35 Wim Huisman, Mark Hornman & Marjolein Cupido (VU Amsterdam) – Holding Business Leaders Accountable for International Crimes: Lessons from Abroad

12:35 - 13:15 Discussion

13:15 - 14:15 Lunch

14:15 - 14:35 Keynote speaker Radu Mares (Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund) – The Tightening and Deepening of CSR – Implications at the Interface between Public and Private Regulation

14:35 - 14:50 Myrthe Vogel (VU Amsterdam) – Public Procurement as an Instrument to Promote Human Rights Compliance: Realistic Expectations and Appropriate Regulatory Measures
14:50 - 15:05 Jessy Emaus & François Kristen (Utrecht University) – From too Big to Be Governed to not too Big to Be Responsible?
15:05 - 15:20 Björn Fasterling (EDHEC Business School Lille) – Whose Responsibility? On the "Corporate" in the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights according to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

15:20 - 16:00 Discussion

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee

PANEL 3 – Accountability through private law

Chair: Ivo Giesen

Keynote speaker Martijn Scheltema (Erasmus University Rotterdam and Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn advocaten en notarissen) – Better Human Rights Compliance in Supply Chains by Strengthening Contractual Mechanisms

11:50 - 12:05 Daniel Augenstein (Tilburg University) – Torture as Tort? Access to Justice in Transnational Tort Litigations for Corporate Human Rights Violations and the Doctrine of Jurisdiction
12:05 - 12:20 Lucas Roorda (Utrecht University) – Private International Law Jurisdiction as a Tool for Improving Access to Remedy
12:20 - 12:35 Nicolas Bueno (Université de Lausanna) - From Responsibility to Liability: The Swiss Federal Initiative on Responsible Business

12:35 - 13:15 Discussion

13:15 - 14:15 Lunch

14:15 - 14:35 Keynote speaker Vibe Ulfbeck (University of Copenhagen) – Sustainable supply chains - towards a concept of production liability?

14:35 - 14:50 Loes Lennarts (Groningen & Utrecht University) – Preventing Adverse Human Rights Impact of MNC’s Activities by Promoting Socially Responsible Financing and Investment
14:50 - 15:05 Paul Dowling (Leigh Day) - Limited Liability and Separate Corporate Personality in Multinational Corporate Groups: Conceptual Flaws, Accountability Gaps and the Case for a Profit-Risk Liability Regime for Dangerous Activities
15:05 - 15:20 Franziska Wohltmann (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg) - Establishing a Lead Firms’ Liability for Human Rights Violations in its Supply Chain: Guidance from Tort Law

15:20 - 16:00 Discussion

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee

Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Academiegebouw (Domplein 29)

09:30 - 12:45 Plenary Morning Session (Chair: Ivo Giesen)

09:30 – 10:15 Jennifer Zerk (Jennifer Zerk Consulting) -- Accountability and Remedy for Business-Related Human Rights Abuses: Practical Strategies for a Complex and Uncertain World

10:15 – 11:45 Roundtable

Ivo Giesen & Liesbeth Enneking

Jan van Wijngaarden (Social Economic Council Netherlands)
Jan Eijsbouts (Maastricht University, World Legal Forum Foundation) Michelle Jonker-Argueta (Greenpeace)
Jennifer Zerk (Jennifer Zerk Consulting)
Larry Backer (Pennsylvania State University)
Olivier de Schutter (Université Catholique de Louvain)

11:45 – 12:15 Coffee

12:15 – 12:45 Geert van Calster (Leuven University) – For a Fistful of Dollars. An Attempt at
Summarising the State of Play in Corporate Accountability

12:45 – 13:00 Closing remarks Cedric Ryngaert

Thursday, May 18, 2017 – Toon Peterszaal (Achter Sint Pieter 200)

16:45 - 18:45 PhD Masterclass

- Daniela Heerdt (Tilburg Law School) - About the Need for Accountability of International Sports Organizations and Human Rights Contracts in the Mega Sporting Event Business
- Benjamin Thompson (Utrecht University) - Bridging the Gap between Principles and Rules in Financial Institutions’ Human Rights Responsibilities: The Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on Human Rights from a Legitimacy Perspective
- Ekaterina Aristova (University of Cambridge) - Tort
Litigation Against Transnational Corporations in the English Courts: The Challenge of Jurisdiction

- Koen de Roo (VU University Amsterdam / Zuidas Institute for Financial Law and Company Law) - TBA

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