Georgia Law, ASIL to cosponsor conference on legal responsibility of corporations and nation-states

  • When private companies perform governmental functions and governments own companies, which acts should be attributed to the state?
  • Which should be attributed to the corporation?
  • And whose religious beliefs, speech rights, and moral standing can those entities claim?

These questions and more will be explored in The Law and Logics of Attribution: Constructing the Identity and Responsibility of States and Firms, a 2-day online conference that our Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, will cohost next month.

Melissa “MJ” Durkee, Allen Post Professor at Georgia Law, is leading the event, which will bring together a multinational group of scholars in law and social sciences. It’s cosponsored by the American Society of International Law and ASIL’s Interest Group on International Legal Theory. Durkee serves as Vice Chair of that interest group; Chair is her Georgia Law colleague Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of our Center. Registration is available here.

Scheduled to speak at the conference, which will take place 1-5 p.m. Friday, September 11, and Friday, September 18:

Olabisi Akinkugbe, Assistant Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Canada

William C. Banks, Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University College of Law, New York

Joshua Barkan, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Georgia

Kristen Boon, Miriam T. Rooney Professor of Law, Seton Hall School of Law, New Jersey

Rachel Brewster, Jeffrey and Bettysue Hughes Professor of Law, Duke Law School, North Carolina

David Ciepley, Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, California

Laura Dickinson, Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law, George Washington School of Law, District of Columbia

Melissa “MJ” Durkee, Allen Post Professor, University of Georgia School of Law

Benjamin Edwards, Associate Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

James Gathii, Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Illinois

Sarah Haan, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee School of Law, Virginia

Catherine Hardee, Associate Professor of Law, California Western School of Law

Doreen Lustig, Associate Professor, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Israel

Kish Parella, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Virginia

Dalia Palombo, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Business Ethics, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Mikko Rajavuori, Academy of Finland Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Eastern Finland Law School

Ingrid Wuerth, Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law, Vanderbilt School of Law, Tennessee

 

They’ll be examining aspects of the conference’s concept note:

“In international law, scholars and practitioners struggle to attribute rights and responsibilities between state and private entities in areas as diverse as military contracting, environmental accountability, human rights, international investment, and cyber espionage and warfare. In the corporate governance realm, attributing responsibility to entities is increasingly challenging in the context of globally dispersed corporate families with intricate parent-subsidiary structures; identity attribution has also produced headlining debates.

“While attribution questions fuel important conversations in both corporate and international law, the two literatures are not often in conversation. Questions of attribution in both domains nevertheless are becoming more complex and urgent, and the fields increasingly intersect: In some areas of law, attribution doctrines must determine the dividing line between states and firms. Doctrines of attribution construct the public domain, and thereby also the private. Attribution questions in both domains reinvigorate classic inquiries about the nature of a corporation, the relationship between private entities and the state, and the proper function of the law in mediating between the two.

“This conference will draw together corporate and international legal scholars, as well as thinkers outside the law, in order to cross-pollinate these two fields and the questions at their intersection, and to unearth promising theoretical tools. It will consider theoretical and doctrinal approaches to attribution, potential consequences of these approaches, and whether they may reconcile the ambiguities and deficiencies that drive current debates. The project aims to offer a new point of entry to enduring theoretical and doctrinal questions about the nature of corporations, of states, and of the relationship between them. It is particularly relevant at a time where corporations are ‘jurisdictionally ambiguous and spatially diffuse,’ states are deferential, dependent or outflanked, and multilateralism is at an ebb.”

Full details, including registration for this online event, are available here.

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