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Friday, 9 March 2018 - 10.00am
Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Finley Library

A series of three lectures by Professor Sundhya Pahuja, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

NOTE: This event has been rescheduled due to Industrial action by the UCU.  The University and University Union has called for strike action over pension overhaul, with the exceptionally strong support of its membership. Out of respect for this industrial action, both the speaker and host have decided to reschedule the lecture to Friday 9 March, a non-strike day.  The lectures will be held from 10am-1pm with a coffee break at 11 am, lunch at 1 pm and followed by Q&A from 1.30 – 2.30pm.

Series abstract: The Changing Place of the Corporation in International Law

In this series of lectures, I will offer an account of the relationship between global corporations and international law which disrupts accepted understandings of corporate power, and of the relationship between corporations, states and international law.  I will ground the account in the changing jurisprudential form  of the corporation, and its relationship to ‘laws of encounter’, from the early modern period to the present day. The account drawn out of this story will have analytical implications for how we understand - and conduct research on - corporations and international law, ethical implications for the writing of a postcolonial international law, and normative implications for how we might hold global corporations to account.

Part 1:  From Colonial Companies to Global Corporations

In this lecture, I will introduce the problematic of the international life of the corporation over time. The modern corporation is often understood to be a private economic actor, organic emanation of the market, or wayward child of the state, grown too powerful to control. However we need to go back further than the advent of the modern corporation in order to see that the Company emerged in the early modern period not as a child of the state but rather as a form of associational life which exercised public authority in particular ways, and which rivalled other such forms, including the state. The way we understand international law, tell stories about its emergence and assume its
its European character, obscure rival forms of law, whether corporate or indigenous, with differential effects. In this lecture, I will draw out the links between the way we ‘author’ international law, and the practices which are authorised in the context of global corporations.

Part 2: Decolonisation and Battles over Global Corporations and International Law

This lecture will trace the struggles over the question of the corporation, how it is experienced,  and its proper relation to international law during the period bookended by the end of the Second World War, and the end of the Cold War.  It will focus in particular on the attempt in 1974, by the ‘Group of 77’ developing states, to assert international legal control over trans or multi-national corporations through the establishment of the Commission on Transnational Corporations, as well as consider the rivalrous jurisprudence and institutional initiatives emerging at the same time.

Part 3: Contemporary Patterns of Ordering: Business and Human Rights and International Investment Law

This lecture will consider what happened to the earlier struggles over the global corporation, once history ‘ended’, and three worlds putatively became one.  It will trace the twin emergence of International Investment Law, and Business and Human Rights, in order to ask what account of the international - and what kind of world - is authored and authorised by those ‘regimes’.

Sundhya Pahuja

Sundhya Pahuja is Professor of Law at the Melbourne Law School, and Director of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at the University of Melbourne.  Her work centres on the history, theory and political economy of international law, particularly as it relates to questions of global inequality and to the relationship between North and South. Her books include the prize winning, Decolonising International Law: Development Growth and the Politics of Universality, as well as the edited collections, Events: The Force of International Law (with Johns and Joyce), and Reading Modern Law: Critical Methodologies and Sovereign Formations (with Buchanan and Motha). She is currently working on the book Cold War International Law as well as the edited collection Cold War Histories of International Law, both with Matt Craven and Gerry Simpson as part of a project funded by the Australian Research Council, and UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.  In 2017, Sundhya was a Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies in South Africa, in 2016, a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Harvard Law School, and in 2014, served as Director of Studies in Public International law at the Hague Academy of International Law.  Sundhya is also a Professorial Fellow at SOAS, University of London, and Senior Faculty at the Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School.