From 18 May 2017 09:00 to 20 May 2017 13:00

Ucall Conference 2017

Ucall conference 2017 logos

Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards


The adverse effects of multinational corporations' business activities, especially on human rights, labor rights, and the environment in the host country of investment, have been well documented. A consensus has also emerged that corporations have social and environmental responsibilities when operating transnationally. However, how exactly corporations can be held legally accountable for their transgressions, if at all, is less clear. 

This conference inquires how regulatory tools stemming from international law, public law, and private law may or may not be used for transnational corporate accountability purposes. Attention will be devoted to applicable standards of liability, institutional and jurisdictional issues, and practical challenges, with a focus on ways to improve the existing legal status quo. In addition, there will be consideration of the extent to which non-legal regulatory instruments may complement or provide (more viable) alternatives to these legal mechanisms. The conference combines legal-doctrinal approaches with interdisciplinary and policy insights.

Keynote speakers 

  • Larry Backer (Pennsylvania State University)
  • Karin Buhmann (Copenhagen Business School) 
  • Geert van Calster (KU Leuven) 
  • Jan Eijsbouts (formerly University of Maastricht/AKZO-Nobel) 
  • Liesbeth Enneking (Utrecht University) 
  • Judith van Erp (Utrecht University) 
  • Martina Gasser (Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) 
  • Gilles Goedhart (Ministery of Foreign Affairs)  
  • Nicola Jägers (Tilburg University) 
  • Michelle Jonker-Argueta (Greenpeace International) 
  • Radu Mares (Raoul Wallenberg Institute)
  • Martijn Scheltema (Erasmus University Rotterdam) 
  • Oliver de Schutter (KU Leuven) 
  • Vibe Garf Ulfbeck (University of Copenhagen)
  • Jan van Wijngaarden (SER)
  • Jennifer Zerk (Jennifer Zerk Consulting) 

Program (overview)

View the full programme (pdf)

Friday, May 19, 2017 – Paushuize (Kromme Nieuwegracht 49)
09:00 – 09:30

Registration and coffee

09:30 – 09:45

Introduction by the dean and Ucall directors Ivo Giesen and François Kristen

09:45 – 10:15

Larry Backer (Pennsylvania State University)

10:15 – 10:45

Liesbeth Enneking (Utrecht University)

10:45 – 11:00

Gilles Goedhart (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

11:00 – 11:30


11:30 – 16:30

Parallel thematic sessions (panels)

Panel 1 – Accountability through international law
Panel 2 – Accountability through domestic public law
Panel 3 – Accountability through domestic private law

16:30 – 16:55

Geert van Calster  (Leuven University)

16:55 – 17:15


17:15 – 18:15


Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Academiegebouw (Domplein 29)
09:30 – 10:15

Jennifer Zerk (Jennifer Zerk Consulting)

10:15 – 12:15


11:00 – 11:30


12:15 – 12:45

Olivier de Schutter (Université Catholique de Louvain)

12:45 – 13:00

Closing remarks Cedric Ryngaert

Thursday, May 18, 2017 – Toon Peterszaal (Achter Sint Pieter 200)
16:45 - 18:45

PhD Masterclass

Conference Fees

  • Regular: 150 euro*
  • PhD Candidate: 75 euro
  • Student: 35 euro

* Under exceptional circumstances, we can grant a partial waiver for the conference fee to NGO’s registrations. In order to apply for this waiver, a motivated request should be send to 


The conference is organized by a team of researchers from the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law:

Start date and time
18 May 2017 09:00
End date and time
20 May 2017 13:00