Exiting Russia: A New Paradigm for Geopolitical Corporate Responsibility?

13 04 2022

I’m sharing this announcement here because the high level of historical content promised here means that this talk should be of interest to business historians, at least those in suitable time zones.

Lecture | April 13 | 4-6 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

Speaker/Performer: Bennett Freeman, Associate Fellow Chatham House and former SVP, Calvert Investments

Sponsor: Institute of International Studies

Since late February, there has been an unprecedented exodus of Western
business from Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Multinational
corporations across sectors have suspended or terminated operations for
mostly reputational and political reasons, with sanctions from Western
governments deepening Russia’s economic isolation.

Will these actions give impetus to a new geopolitical corporate
responsibility that elevates human rights and avoids operating in countries
whose governments commit war crimes and crimes against humanity? Can there
be such a doctrine or at least a framework that is both ethical and
practical, consistent and constructive? If applied to Russia, can and
should it be extended to China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and if so
on what basis? What historical precedents, including divestment from South
Africa during apartheid and from Sudan during the Darfur genocide, inform
such an approach? Should multinational corporations make such political
judgments and to what extent should they be guided by the policies and
actions of their home country governments and the international community?
Can the application of political risk analysis and human rights due
diligence converge for companies and investors alike? How can unintended
human rights and humanitarian as well as economic consequences for civilian
populations be avoided? Beyond the UN Guiding Principles on Business and
Human Rights that establish companies as human rights actors, is there a
legitimate normative responsibility for business to support the rules-based
international order?

Chatham House Associate Fellow Bennett Freeman will raise these questions
and offer tentative answers from his perspective as former Senior Vice
President at Calvert Investments and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Note: Zoom and In Person options available. Please register in advance.



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