Transatlantic Symposium Focuses on Corporate Human Rights Responsibilities

January 29, 2008

Conference Schedule (pdf)

View Symposium video:

Downloadable files best viewed with Realplayer, free download at and streaming audio is best listened to with iTunes, free download at

Keynote Address - Chip Pitts with Introduction by Prof. David Scheffer (streaming video)
Setting the Scene (streaming video)
The Governmental Perspective (streaming video)
The Victim's Perspective (streaming video)
What's the Problem? – An Overview of Human Rights Abuses (streaming video)
Opening Address by Gerald Pachoud
Who Has the Duty to Remedy Abuses
How Are the Abuses to be Remedied - A Focus on Effective Remedies
What Role is There for "Soft" Rules - The Issue Considered from Several Perspectives

Academics, government officials, and representatives from corporations and civil society organizations from the United States and Europe will gather at Northwestern University School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic Oct. 24-25 for the sixth annual Transatlantic Dialogue entitled “Symposium on Corporate Human Rights Responsibility: Its Growing Relevance and Enforceability.”

Organized by Northwestern Law professors David Scheffer and Stephen Sawyer, the conference is co-presented by the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center for International Human Rights with the Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. The event is offered in partnership with Columbia University’s Human Rights Institute, the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, American Society of International Law, and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, with support from the Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship (at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management) and Mayer Brown.

This symposium will identify recommendations for major legal and policy measures to address the human rights abuses for which multinational corporations (MNC), under appropriate legal standards, are beginning to assume responsibility. Panel topics include conducting a factual inquiry into the specific human rights abuses for which MNCs are being scrutinized, determining where the responsibility lies to correct these abuses, examining relevant policy arguments, considering the role of so-called “soft” rules in addressing human rights violations, and offering conclusions concerning a recipe for the future regarding corporate human rights responsibility.

Chip Pitts, an international attorney who is president of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and a lecturer at Stanford Law School, will deliver the keynote address at 7 p.m. Oct. 24. Pitts formerly was the chief legal officer of Nokia, Inc. and the chair of Amnesty International USA.

The Honorable Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will deliver the luncheon address at 11:45 a.m. Oct. 25.

All panel events are free and open to the public and will take place at the Bluhm Legal Clinic on the 8th floor of the Rubloff Building, 750 North Lake Shore Drive (corner of North Lake Shore Drive and East Superior), on Northwestern University’s Chicago campus. The symposium panels are scheduled from 2 to 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 24 and from 9:15 a.m. to noon and 12:45 to 5:45 p.m. on Oct. 25. (Attendance at the keynote address dinner on Oct. 24 and luncheon address on Oct. 25 is by invitation only.)

Northwestern University School of Law is an Accredited Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Provider in the state of Illinois. Symposium attendees can earn up to 7.75 general CLE credits. Questions about CLE should be directed to the Northwestern Law's Office of Executive and Professional Education at (312) 503-4213.

Established in 1998, Northwestern Law's Center for International Human Rights is dedicated to fostering the use and study of international law as a means to defend human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Likewise, the Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights is dedicated to providing a dynamic forum for the vigorous discussion of human rights issues among scholars of all disciplines and perspectives.

This symposium is part of the Northwestern Law's continued focus on international human rights and the globalization of business as it prepares both domestic and international students for a legal practice in a changing world.

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