March 12, 2009
On Friday, March 6, the Harvard International Law Journal brought together business and nonprofit leaders and academics from a wide range of international legal practices for a conference on “The International Lawyer’s Guide to Development: Current Problems, Future Solutions.”
The symposium began with a panel discussion on Corporate Responsibility in the Developing World moderated by HLS Lecturer Tyler Giannini, clinical director of the HLS Human Rights Program. Giannini is a founder and former co-director of EarthRights International, an organization dedicated to linking human rights with environmental protection.
Panelists David A. Baker, vice president for environmental affairs with Newmont Mining Corporation; Chris Jochnik, director of the private sector department at Oxfam America and coordinator of the private sector team of Oxfam International, and John Palfrey, HLS professor and vice dean for library and information resources, discussed the concept of corporate responsibility in the developing world.
Jochnik traced the evolution of corporate responsibility over the past 20 years. “You have definitely over the last 15 years seen a real convergence between the private sector and the NGO sector. And I think at the same time you've seen a real growth,” he said.
Palfrey described how the growth of Internet accessibility has changed the nature of activism, in both developed and developing nations. “In developing countries in particular,” he said, “Internet technologies are a key part of how activists do their work, increasingly.” He also noted that, in spite of their increased Internet use, activists often “don’t know how much they’re at risk in various ways,” particularly in regards to tracking and censorship efforts by governments.
A second panel, moderated by HLS Professor Rachel Brewster, focused on trade and development. Panelists included Claire E. Reade, chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement at the Office of the United States Trade Representative; Chin Leng Lim LL.M., professor at the University of Hong Kong; and Thomas Sebastian, counsel at the Advisory Centre on WTO Law in Geneva, Switzerland. The panelists described their various career paths, and discussed how trade and various international trade agreements and organizations are affecting developing countries in South America, Asia and Africa.
The conference concluded with a panel discussion, moderated by Harvard Business School Professor Catherine Duggan, on The International Financial System. Panelists included Sean Hagan, general counsel for the International Monetary Fund, Scott White, acting vice president and general counsel for the World BAnk Group, and Ed Greene, corporate partner with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Peter Uvin, the academic dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at the Fletcher School of Tufts University, delivered the conference’s keynote address, describing some of his own experiences in international law. A regular consultant for multilateral and bilateral aid agencies and ministries of foreign affairs, as well as NGOs, he is the author of “Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda, Human Rights and Development,” which won the 1999 Herskovits Award for most outstanding book on Africa. He also wrote “The Influence of Aid in Situations of Violent Conflict. In 2006, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Burundi’s post-conflict agenda.