International Business & the Environment (LAW-617-001)
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This short course is designed to introduce you to a number of international environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) legal issues and their impact on multinational corporations with global footprints.
This is a vibrant time for international environmental law, with treaties and “soft law” instruments constantly evolving to address emerging global environmental issues of concern. Developments at the international level are also building public awareness on key environmental issues and helping to shape countries’ domestic regulatory approaches. As the linkage between decision-making at the global level and domestic regulation becomes more evident, multinational corporations have taken note and now actively track and even participate in the international “lawmaking” process.
Over recent years, an additional layer of environmental regulation, controlling the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle, has been added to the traditional core air/water/waste aspects of environmental law. These requirements address environmental impacts during a product’s use phase or at the end of a product’s life. Increasingly, the conditions under which products are being made, and even the conditions under which raw materials used in their manufacture are extracted, are also subject to regulatory and non-regulatory constraints that focus on the end product. “Ethical sourcing” requirements, focusing on disclosure of the conditions under which components and raw materials are extracted and manufactured, are the newest example of such requirements.
Two of the largest markets in the world, namely the US and the EU, have seen rapid growth in such product-focused environmental controls in recent years. With this regulatory expansion comes a unique suite of challenges of which environmental lawyers should be aware.
Product-focused environmental controls typically only apply directly to manufacturers and importers. Indirectly, however, the globalization of supply and distribution chains gives these controls extraterritorial effect. In practice, environmental product regulation in one major jurisdiction causes ripples worldwide as multinational companies seek to harmonize standards, processes and procedures throughout their product networks. Consequently, key markets with well-developed product-focused environmental controls set de facto global standards to which multinationals adhere: the “race to the top.”
We will explore over the course of four seminar sessions several examples of international environmental and CSR law that are affecting the way corporations conduct business around the globe, with a particular focus on the emergence of product-focused regulatory requirements that trigger supply chain management demands.
Each topic will consist of an overview lecture followed by a focused discussion and case method problem sets.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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