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Practical Steps in CSR and Human Rights Assesment


September 26, 2022
11:30 am to 1:00 pm EDT


Moderator: Douglas Cassel (King & Spalding)
Panelist: Nathan Lankford (Miller & Chevallier LLP)
Panelist: Stephane Brabant (Trinity International LLP)
Panelist: Elise Groulx Diggs (Georgetown and 9 Bedford Row)

What is the next frontier in Business and Human Rights in international law? Should the developments be limited to country-by-country national regulations and the creation of binding obligations for businesses to respect human rights and the environment? Or are there developments in international law leading towards the consolidation of due diligence binding practices on social, human rights and environmental assessments by companies and investors? Should those be minimum international standards that foreign investors ought to respect by performing such assessments?

The field of Business and Human Rights has attracted growing attention in recent years considering that companies can be directly linked, or even cause, human rights violations and harm to the environment both in their value chains and operations worldwide. The way in which human rights should be regulated for businesses, and even if there should be hard law on the matter, remains a spirited debate. As reflected in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States still hold the primary responsibility to protect human rights, while the responsibilities of enterprises may still not be fully clear. Although many transnational corporations have adopted Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies, these in many cases may result from reputational concerns rather than from a sense of legal obligation.

To address concerns for the protection of minimum labor, environmental and human rights standards, important legislative developments are taking place at the domestic, regional and international levels. For instance, some States have introduced CSR clauses into trade and investment agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Canada– Colombia FTA, the EU-Vietnam FTA, and the Regional Trade Agreement entered into between the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). Of special relevance is the 2016 Nigeria–Morocco BIT which includes several provisions related to human rights protection, labor, environment, and corruption. Several of those provisions are hard law.

In parallel, various States have adopted national laws and action plans on Business and Human Rights or are discussing legislative initiatives to prevent human rights violations and adverse environmental impacts. For instance, Article 5 of the Chinese Company act requires enterprises to “undertake social responsability”, whilst France’s 2017 duty of vigilance law mandates large French companies to prevent severe human rights violations and environmental damage. The European Commission has proposed a directive that aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour and anchor human rights and environmental considerations in the decisions on companies’ operations. Those legislative acts are helping to create binding obligations for companies to prevent and remedy human rights violations across their group operations. Yet, query as to whether the existing norms may help to drive change towards responsible business practices and whether the current voluntary approach of business to human rights and responsible business conduct is sufficient. This Panel will engage in discussions between experts, policy makers and companies to discuss the contents of existing legislations, its implementation, results and opportunities for strengthening regulatory requirements. It will also discuss the role of international law including treaties and investment arbitration in Business and Human Rights. Among others, the following issues will be addressed:

  • Countries’ journey from voluntarism to mandatory due diligence
  • How to define company liability in this legislation.
  • Whether international arbitration has something to learn from due diligence CS0 assessments, human rights assessments and the underlying instruments that may make those assessments obligatory?
  • Could failure to comply with CSR and human rights assessments contained in domestic law raise an issue of legality of the investment before international arbitral tribunals?
  • Are obligatory CSR and human rights assessment desirable to promote foreign direct investment in the host State?
  • While reports on this topic have concluded that CSR requirements have a positive effect on attracting investment, would human rights assessments have a same effect?
  • Should States and treaty negotiators aiming to attract investments reject requesting that due diligence CSR and human rights assessments be performed by companies and foreign investors?

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September 26 - September 30

September 26 - September 30

International Dispute Resolution and the Ukraine-Russia Crisis

World Arbitration Update (“WAU”) invites you to attend a 75-minute webinar discussion by leading practitioners in the international dispute resolution field on the recent developments concerning the intersection of dispute resolution and the Ukraine-Russia crisis. According to the Kyiv School of Economics, Ukraine has so far experienced economic damage amounting up to $600 billion. Over $10 billion in airplane assets have been reportedly stranded in Russia setting off potentially large insurance claims and related disputes. Yale School of Management has collected data showing that almost 1,000 companies have publicly announced they are voluntarily curtailing operations in Russia to some degree beyond the bare minimum legally required by international sanctions. The Russian parliament continues to consider the expropriation of foreign assets. International disputes involving Russia and Ukraine are arising from the crisis and more likely to follow. Our speakers will discuss related topics, including: the impact of sanctions, the proposed formation of an international claims commission for Ukraine, the impact of the crisis on the legal profession, the potential and current international forums in which Ukrainian businesses and investors could submit legal recourse to address the consequences of the war in Ukraine, as well as an update on the ICJ case, Ukraine v. Russian Federation.

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September 26 - September 30

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The Actions of Russia, Countermeasures and Resulting International Disputes, Including Investor-State and Commercial Arbitration

September 26 at 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm GMT



JULY 12, 2022


6:00 pm to 7:30 pm GMT


Moderators: Gene Burd (FisherBroyles) (TBC)

Presenter: Rob Houston (K&L Gates Straits Law LLC)

Panelist: Tatyana Slipachuk (Of Counsel at Chief Legal Department of the Ukrainian Parliament, Special Advisor at Sayenko Kharenko Law Firm) (TBC)

Panelist: Raja Bose (K&L Gates Straits Law LLC) (TBC)

Panelist: Derek Loh (Deputy Director-General (Economic & Social), Attorney-General’s Chambers, Singapore) (TBC)

Panelist: Simon Chesterman (Dean, National University of Singapore School of Law) 

In response to the imposition of international sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has imposed sweeping economic measures on foreign investors from States it considers “unfriendly”, including Singapore, the UK, the US, and EU Member States.  Both international sanctions on Russia and Russia’s own economic measures on foreign investors have had wide-ranging impacts across global market sectors, affecting foreign investors from around the world both directly through compliance mechanisms and indirectly through international commercial contracts.   

However, a number of venues exist for the resolution of the wide range of disputes anticipated to result from the current crisis.  In particular, foreign investors may still seek protection under investment treaties.  Currently, there are 62 BITs in force between Russia and other States, including 27 States that Russia has determined to be “unfriendly” as a result of international sanctions imposed on Russia.  Such treaties generally include substantive obligations to promote and protect foreign investment (e.g., to provide fair and equitable treatment, not to undertake unlawful expropriation of foreign investments, etc.) as well as for access to investment treaty arbitration against the Host State in certain circumstances.  Such public international law obligations under international investment treaties now appear at odds, for example, with recent economic measures imposed by Russia against foreign investors including: 

  • Currency Transfer Restrictions 

  • Transaction Approval Requirements 

  • Prohibition of Foreign Currency Export 

  • Restrictions on Debt Repayment 

  • Prohibition of Certain Exports and Imports 

  • Non-Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights 

Also, the Russian Duma has considered additional measures (which many anticipate to be expropriatory) to effect the transfer of ownership or operation of certain foreign investments where foreign investors have ceased operating in Russia in the current climate of international sanctions. The resulting international legal climate arising from Russia’s actions in Ukraine breaks new ground in public and private international law. Practitioners are therefore broadly anticipating a wave of disputes both in international commercial arbitration and in investor-State arbitration, including with respect to claims advanced by covered investors in investment treaty arbitration against Russia for economic measures like the above.   

This panel will explore the implications of these developments both from a global perspective and a regional perspective in Southeast Asia, highlighting the following key points of interest: 

  • The Current International Sanctions Climate 

  • Regional Focus on International Sanctions in Southeast Asia 

  • Consideration of Current Venues for Disputes Arising from the Invasion of Ukraine 

  • Potential Mechanisms for Foreign Investors to Pursue Claims Arising from the Conflict in Ukraine in Investment Treaty Arbitration 

  • Anticipated Disputes and Issues in International Commercial Arbitration Prompted by the Conflict in Ukraine 

  • The Current Landscape for Sovereign Immunity and the Potential for Enforcement of Arbitral Awards Against State Assets 

This program will provide a brief summary of recent developments in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and identify key legal issues, including the interplay between international sanctions and customary international law (e.g., the characterization of countermeasures and the application of the law of State Responsibility (including State Defences) in Public International Law as well as issues arising in Private International Law and International Commercial Arbitration (such as Force Majeure).  The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A period as well as a networking session.