Global Governance Summer School students at high-level conference on project aiming to RECONNECT Europe

Yesterday’s sessions of our Georgia Law-Leuven Centre Global Governance Summer School were devoted to a new, 4-year research project aimed at reinvigorating core values of the European Union.

Called RECONNECT: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law and supported by funds from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme, the project has just been established by KU Leuven’s Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and 17 partner institutions.

Our summer school’s morning began at a classroom in Leuven, where Michal Ovádek (left), a Leuven Centre PhD candidate and research fellow,  provided an introduction to the structure of, and contemporary challenges, to European Union integration. Among them are the efforts of recently elected governments to undermine judicial independence, free press, and other democratic institutions in Poland and Hungary, as well as the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which a slight majority in the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.

We then traveled to Brussels’ neoclassical Academy Palace, home to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts and the site of an afternoon conference launching the RECONNECT project.

Leuven Law Professor Jan Wouters, whose many titles include Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and Co-Director of our summer school, opened the conference (top photo). Stating that “the EU and its members are confronted with an existential crisis,” Wouters explained how “RECONNECT will intervene in the public discourse, to build a new narrative for Europe.” The EU can “regain authority and legitimacy through democracy and the rule of law,” he said, “provided citizens’ views taken into account.”

Delivering keynotes were H.E. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs & European Affairs – who urged, as a way to reconnect, emphasizing that the EU is not just an economic project, but also based on values and principles – and Dr. Adam Bodnar, Ombudsman of the Republic of Poland.

Two policy roundtables followed:

► “Strengthening Democracy in the European Union,” chaired by Julie Smith and featuring Alberto Alemanno, Richard Youngs, Zselyke Csaky, Vivien Schmidt, Carlos Closa Montero, and Amichai Magen.

► “Addressing Rule of Law Challenges in the EU,” chaired by Laurent Pech and including Tamas Lukacsi, Philip Bittner, Peter Claes, Lotte Leicht, Petra Bárd, and Dimitry Kochenov.

Many speakers revisited developments in countries like Hungary, Poland, and post-Brexit UK, touching on issues ranging from freedom of speech to social media, economic anxiety and political processes. Europe’s responses to global migration both within and outside its borders, was another topic frequently mentioned.

In a particularly moving presentation, Lotte Leicht (3d from right), EU Director for Human Rights Watch, told of seeing, at a middle school where she recently spoke, signs saying “Be Kind” and “Treat One Another as You Want to Be Treated.” Commenting that youths “get it,” she proceeded to outline problems and to welcome innovative solutions.  Yet Leicht cautioned against adopting perceived solutions that would have negative effects:

“It is a redline when we start undermining the rule of law and our obligations under international law.”

Our stay in Leuven concludes tomorrow, after sessions on related to human rights and security governance – and, fittingly, after tomorrow night’s World Cup contest between Belgium and Brazil.

Human rights, criminal justice, NATO, business practice, reception with Georgia Law alums: Global Governance Summer School day 3, Brussels

Professor Amann, Ana Sofie Silveira, Lucia Hakala, Eunjun Kim, Bryant Oliver, Professor Doty, NATO Legal Adviser Steven Hill, Hanna Karimipour, Maddie Neel, Julian Skoruppa, Brooke Carrington, Saif Ahmed, Caroline Harvey, Mills Culver, and Frances Plunkett

BRUSSELS – A variety of briefings in this Belgium capital, and home of many European Union institutions, highlighted day 3 of the Global Governance School that our University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center offers with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies at KU Leuven, one of Europe’s premier research institutions.

Our cohort of students from Georgia Law and multiple European universities first traveled to the Brussels office of No Peace Without Justice (left), a nongovernmental organization founded a quarter-century ago to promote “the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and international justice.” There Alison A. Smith (left), Legal Counsel and Director of the organization’s International Criminal Justice Program, took part in a dialogue on “International Human Rights Lawyering” with Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and one of our Center’s Faculty Co-Directors. Then the organization’s Secretary-General, Niccolò A. Figà-Talamanca, described the Rome diplomatic conference that led to adoption in 1998 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Next, Steven Hill, Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, outlined the work of his office, where an 8-lawyer team serves as counsel to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenburg and further liaises with NATO lawyers throughout the world. He then discussed key issues likely to be discussed at next week’s NATO Summit. (Preparations for that meeting of member states’ heads of state and government precluded a visit to the new NATO headquarters; we are grateful to the Brussels law firm Van Bael & Bellis for providing the lovely conference room, pictured above, where our students met with Hill.)

Finally, we made our way to the Brussels office of Sidley Austin LLP. There Stephen Spinks (Georgia Law JD’76), a member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, led a presentation on key areas of global business practice at his office. Spinks is the immediate past managing partner of that office, and a well-known lawyer expert in matters related to EU competition (in effect, antitrust) law and trade law. Assisting in the presentation by Spinks (standing, at left) were 4 additional Sidley lawyers. From left: Dr. Michele Boggiani, who spoke on anti-corruption and life sciences law, Paul Greaves, on data privacy law, Anne Robert, on competition law, and Dr. Bregt Natens, on trade law.

The day concluded with a lively reception that Sidley kindly hosted. Participants included our students, firm attorneys, Center Director Kathleen A. Doty and myself, Sidley attorneys including Wim Nauwelaerts (LLM’94), an alumnus and head of the firm’s data privacy group, plus other Georgia Law graduates. These included: Johan De Bruycker (LLM’90), General Counsel, Ageas, Brussels; Porter Elliott (JD’96), the Van Bael & Bellis partner who helped secure a room for the morning NATO presentation; Daniel J. Felz (JD’09), an associate at Alston & Bird LLP; Professor Erik Franckxx (LLM’83), Professor of Law Director of the Department of International and European Law at Vrije Universiteit Brussel; and Dr. Christof Siefarth (LLM’86), a partner at GÖRG law firm in Cologne, Germany, and member of our Center’s Council.

Our group returns to Brussels tomorrow, to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, to take part in Reconnect: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law, a conference kicking off a 4-year-research project among 18 partners, including our partner institution, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven.

Contemporary challenges to global trade and sustainable development the focus of 2018 Georgia Law-Leuven Centre Global Governance Summer School day 2

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Global Governance Summer School students and faculty at the Central Library at Leuven. From Left: Professor Doty, Lucia Halala, Ana Sofia Silveira, Sarah Brugger, Hanna Karimipour, Caroline Harvey, Saif-Ullah Ahmed, Frances Plunkett, Brooke Carrington, Julian Skoruppa, Maddie Neel, Bryant Oliver, Mills Culver, Professor Cohen.

LEUVEN – Fresh from a walking tour of this centuries-old university city (top), not to mention last night’s celebrations in the Oude Markt plaza of Belgium’s breathtaking World Cup win, students in our 2018 Georgia Law-Leuven Centre Global Governance Summer School returned to the classroom today to explore contemporary challenges in the areas of global trade and sustainable development.

They took part in four lectures on the subject:IMG_2537 (1)

1st, Dr. Jan Van Hove (left), Professor of European and International Economics at KU Leuven, presented “A Political Economic Perspective on Global Economic and Trade Governance,” focusing on the changing landscape of global trade, including disruptions to traditional trade regimes.

IMG_25492d, Georgia Law Professor Harlan G. Cohen (right), Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and one of our Center’s Faculty Co-Directors, lectured on “Global Economic and Trade Law.” His lecture highlighted the issue of governance choice in the areas of trade, finance, and international business transactions.

IMG_2558 (1)3d, Leuven Law Professor Geert Van Calster (left) spoke on “Trade Policy and Sustainable Development.” Concepts like regulatory harmonization and risk management design informed his lecture.

IMG_25654th, Dr. Axel Marx (right) concluded the day with a lecture on “Challenges of the Post-Westphalian Order.” Among the challenges to traditional public international law he discussed were non-state actors and the effectiveness of international rules and standards.

Tomorrow, students will travel to Belgium’s nearby capital, Brussels, for a day of professional development briefings at a variety of law offices.

Professor Bruner’s book wins praise from two law journal reviewers

Winning accolades in two law journal book reviews is Re-Imagining Offshore Finance: Market-Dominant Small Jurisdictions in a Globalizing Financial World , a 2016 Oxford University Press volume by Christopher M. Bruner, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law:

► In a 19-page analysis entitled “Tax Havens as Producers of Corporate Law” and published in the Michigan Law Review, author William J. Moon, Acting Assistant Professor at New York University School of Law, describes Bruner’s book as

“a significant contribution to the literature that should become required reading for both consumers and producers of knowledge concerning the regulation of global financial transactions.”

► Beginning at page 312 of the “Book Annotations” section of a recent issue of the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics is a review by student Zachary S. Freeman. He describes Bruner’s work as “compelling,” and credits it for explaining

“a fundamental question of international finance: how are small jurisdictions able to compete with global powers?”

Professor Bruner presents on corporate law and corporate governance at international conference in England

“Contextual Corporate Governance: Tailoring Board Independence Rules by Industry” is the title of the presentation that our Christopher Bruner, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, delivered Monday at the annual International Corporate Governance and Law Forum, held this year in England.

Hosted by the Centre for Business Law and Practice at the University of Leeds School of Law and cosponsored by Deakin Law School of Australia and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the 2-day event brought together law and business scholars from around the world to discuss corporate board composition and process.

Bruner, a member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, was among the 20 or so scholars who presented, from Australia, China, England, France, Japan, Norway, and the United States. Here’s the description of his paper:

Over recent decades, several commercially prominent jurisdictions have increasingly required that listed company boards, and certain committees, consist primarily of ‘independent’ (i.e. non-executive) directors. In the United States, for example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act respectively require that a listed company’s audit and compensation committees be entirely independent. NYSE and NASDAQ rules go further, requiring that a majority of the whole board be independent. Such requirements reflect the prevailing view that independent directors protect minority shareholder interests through greater objectivity and practical capacity to monitor and resist domineering CEOs. That such benefits outweigh the costs – notably, limited information (relative to executive directors) – is assumed.

Recent empirical work, however, increasingly casts doubt on this assumption – at least in certain contexts. While empirical studies initially found little evidence that director independence rules impact corporate performance at all, more recent studies focusing on the cost of acquiring company-specific information suggest that the impacts of such rules are far from uniform. Indeed, mounting evidence suggests that such rules may improve performance where company-specific information can be acquired at low cost, yet harm performance where the cost of information acquisition is high. These findings – commending sensitivity to industry context – dovetail with a parallel body of post-crisis studies associating board independence (and other shareholder-centric governance structures) with potentially undesirable risk-taking incentives in certain industries – notably, finance.

These perspectives offer much-needed nuance to our thinking about corporate governance reform, strongly suggesting that one-size-fits-all rules mandating uniform board structures across the universe of listed companies may widely miss the mark in important contexts. This paper will discuss the history of such reforms, canvass relevant legal and financial literatures, and explore regulatory strategies for more targeted reforms on an industry-by-industry basis.

Professor Bruner presents at Law, Finance and Sustainability conference at University of Sheffield, England

Christopher Bruner, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, took part on Monday at a global conference on “Law, Finance & Sustainability” in Sheffield, England.

Hosted by the Institute of Corporate and Commercial Law at the University of Sheffield, and cosponsored by the Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART) initiative at the University of Oslo, Norway, the event brought together an international group of scholars and practitioners to discuss financial dimensions of corporate sustainability.

Professor Bruner’s scholarship scholarship focuses on corporate, securities and financial law, including international and comparative dimensions. At the Sheffield conference, he presented a working paper titled “Corporate Governance Reform in Post-Crisis Financial Firms: Two Fundamental Tensions.”

Georgia Law alumnus Robert Dilworth co-authors article on SEC rules

Developments at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission are the focus of a lead article that a distinguished University of Georgia School of Law alumnus has co-authored for a leading securities law journal.

The alum, Robert J. Dilworth (JD 1982), is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in New York at Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, representing the firm’s global over-the-counter equity derivatives business. His co-authors on the SEC article are two attorneys at Morrison & Foerster LLP: Julian E. Hammar, Of Counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, and David B. Lichtstein, Associate in New York.

Their article is entitled “The SEC’s Long-Awaited Security-Based Swaps Rules May Be Approaching,” appears (behind paywall) in vol. 50, no. 7 of The Review of Securities & Commodities Regulation. The article concerns timing and sequencing related to anticipated SEC rules pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Referring as well to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, the abstract states:

“The SEC has proposed all of its major Title VII rules regulating the security-based swaps market. The authors discuss the current status of this and related rulemakings, the relief the SEC has granted, and the provisions of the rules. They then turn to the timeline for implementation in view of the new administration, preparation for required registration of security-based swap entities, and business conduct standards for registered entities. At each point, they compare the SEC’s approach with that of the CFTC.”