The Times They Are a Changin’

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Speaker: Professor David Scheffer | Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law
Director of the Center for International Human Rights -Northwestern University School of Law

Host: Northwestern University School of Law | Bluhm Legal Clinic
375 East Chicago Avenue /8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611

In the complex and rapidly evolving arena of corporate social responsibility, satisfying a company’s social contract with the community clearly is no longer enough and leveraging social change to drive business value is just one of the innovative ways of meeting and staying ahead of the challenges. The new paradigm of the business case for CSR also includes the need for sophisticated, multi-layered regimes of compliance. Not just for solely moral imperatives or in order to create and capture business value for the long run, but also in order to protect the very existence a corporation and the worth of its stock as CSR issues take hold in the courts and beyond.

Professor David Scheffer, a former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001), who teaches International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law, and Corporate Human Rights Responsibility at the Center for International Human Rights, will discuss with us his five levels of CSR compliance—rhetorical deference to CSR compliance, self-regulatory compliance with industry standards, Alien Tort Statute compliance, compliance strategies to manage and minimize risks, and a “counterattack” level of compliance. 

The law of compliance and liability is changing perhaps just as fast as the definition of CSR. Prof. Scheffer will explain some of these changes – in particular, the extremely significant developments in the federal courts just since August on corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute. He will engage us in a discussion of the impact those developments may have − alone and in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s decision, that a corporation is a “person” for purposes of First Amendment freedom of speech protection − on a corporation’s and its board of directors’ liability – even criminal liability.