International symposium: Law and sustainability in global value chains
The University of Aarhus is hosting the international symposium 'Law and sustainability in global value chains: Due diligence and contracts in focus', which will be held in Aarhus (Denmark) on 25-26 April 2018.
Today, production takes place in globally fragmented chains and networks of suppliers and corporate groups. In theory, global value chains should allow value and risk to be equally distributed across the points of production. However, in practice gains are not shared but instead amassed by centralized corporate entities. Those entities are often far removed from where production physically takes place and therefore far removed from the negative impacts of the production processes on people and planet. Those risks are borne by jurisdictions, such as developing countries, which may be less well-equipped to mitigate or remedy compounded and multiple social and environmental problems.
Law plays a central role both in enabling these modes of production and in providing solutions to the problem. On the one hand, the dominant conceptualizations of corporate purpose, contract, and tort allow the complexity of global production organized via contractual relationships to remain largely unseen to law. This invisibility of global production is reinforced by regulatory approaches which focus primarily on national markets (such as taxation, labour and environmental regulation) or global approaches that remove problems arising from production from their local social or ecological context (e.g. institutional investment arbitration or the proposed treaty on business and human rights).
On the other hand, the contradiction between extensive control over some aspects of value chains and utter lack of liability for other value chain related aspects has led to a budding law of value chain liability. Recent regulatory approaches ranging from hard to soft law attempt to deal with the ills of global production by focusing specifically on global value chains. At the same time, there is an increasing caselaw on liability for the negative impacts of fragmented production both locally and in global value chains. These approaches are complemented by growing awareness by way of civil society action of how global value chains shape our global and local living conditions. There also seems to be a growing awareness amongst lawyers that basic understandings of corporation, contract, and tort can be reshaped to make them sensitive to the challenges of global production. Any such approach requires action focusing not only on production itself but also on the drivers of production: consumers, businesses, communities, and public procurers.
All this provides context for a critically important analysis to find out how we can achieve global sustainability, contributing to securing a sound social foundation for people everywhere now and in the future while staying within planetary boundaries. Towards this, the present symposium discusses recent reactions of law to sustainability problems in global value chains. The symposium will be divided into three sessions:
- Understanding the interaction of law and global value chains
- Due diligence regulation
- Contracts and contract law
More information and a tentative program will be available at the end of March.
Practical information and registration
There is no registration fee for the conference, and meals, coffee and refreshments will be covered for all participants. The conference is funded by INTRAlaw.
All participants must register in advance.
Katerina Mitkidis, firstname.lastname@example.org, Aarhus University, Denmark
Beate Sjåfjell, email@example.com, University of Oslo, Norway
Jaakko Salminen, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Turku, Finland
Mark Taylor, email@example.com, Fafo research foundation, Oslo, Norway