International and Comparative Law

Symposium on Global Business:

The Challenges of Doing Business in an Imperfect World

Virtual Conference

Past Event

TX CLE Credit available

Details for connecting will be sent by June 25. If you registered but did not receive a link to participate in the webinar, please email Ryan Frome-Pezzulli.

9 am - 3:15 pm Central

Registrar: +1.972.244.3403
SWIICL: +1.972.244.3410
Fax: +1.972.244.3401


Global businesses are playing a greater role in peacebuilding and improving the world through development. Whether they do so from a sense of moral obligation or because of the encouragement of governments, investors, or customers; businesses have attempted to position and promote themselves as positive forces for change.

At the same time, businesses face significant risks to their brands if their business actions ultimately aid bad actors, including combatants, terrorists, oligarchs, and oppressive governments. The ability of businesses to claim adherence to sustainable development goals or ESG obligations by relying on the idea that more business leads to more peace is being questioned.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the response of global businesses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From Shell to McDonald’s to Coca-Cola to MasterCard, companies have suspended or withdrawn from doing business in Russia to create pressure in excess of sanctions imposed by their home countries. Similarly, law firms and other professional associations have withdrawn from representation of the Russian government and its accomplices and stated they will suspend their operations or close their offices in Russia.

Are we witnessing an emerging governance paradigm shift coming out of the global business world with governance as a form of peacebuilding and corporate actors in the role of peacebuilders? Will it expand beyond Russia? If so, how should business fulfill this role? And does business do so in its big decisions of pulling out of certain economies as well as in the seemingly small decisions in choosing suppliers and policing supply chains? How can law firms use law and lawyering as a tool to promote peace through business?

This Symposium will facilitate a discussion of these important considerations and allow you to be better prepared to handle the risk of international business in an imperfect world.


Monday, June 27

9:00 am Central


  • Thomas Cubbage, President of The Center for American and International Law, Plano, Texas
  • Daniella D. Landers, Womble Bond Dickinson, Houston, Texas
  • Frédéric Gilles Sourgens, Senator Robert J. Dole Distinguished Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, Kansas

9:15 am Central

Keynote: Why Globalization is About Peacebuilding and What Business Has to Do With It

  • Ambassador Lee S. Wolosky, Jenner & Block, New York, New York & Washington, D.C.

9:45 am Central


10:00 am Central

Business Decision-Making in the Wake of Ukraine

Historically businesses have been encouraged to do business in countries experiencing conflict because of the belief that development will lead to peace. In addition, greater economic connections have been encouraged between countries and global businesses with the idea it will facilitate peace. This has been encouraged even when a business might be required to engage in conduct, either directly or through a contractor, that might aid combatants or oppressive governments.

The response of global business to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that some situations may arise where businesses are arguably willing to withdraw from a location even if not required directly by governmental sanctions. Does the response by businesses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine open such businesses up to criticism for continuing to conduct business in other countries that have been accused of genocide or other significant human rights violations?

This panel will lift the curtain of corporate decision-making to assess when such a company will make such a move. It will explore whether Ukraine was unique and what measures short of leaving a market might be deployed in other contexts.

ModeratorM. Imad Khan, Winston & Strawn LLP, Houston, Texas


  • Yousuf Aftab, Director, Atelier Aftab P.C., New York, New York
  • Ellen Hewitt, Managing Director, FTI Consulting, New York, New York
  • Richard L. Kilpatrick, Jr., Assistant Professor of Business Law, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina

11:15 am Central


11:30 am Central

Do No Harm: How Global Businesses Can Be Agents for Sustainable Development and Community Building

Poverty is one of the main reasons for conflict. Business investment in developing regions is expected to reduce poverty and therefore also conflict potential. However, reality has shown that this assumption is deeply flawed and that businesses must work to address environmental justice and social governance concerns so as not to become a flashpoint for local and regional conflict themselves. Businesses in many instances must help build trust as well as additional governance capacity in local and regional communities to have a net positive impact on their new environment.

This panel will address how businesses can positively impact local communities and regions by focusing on environmental justice and sustainable development, particularly when businesses have not entered the market to sell to local consumers. The panel will discuss what works and how businesses can avoid doing harm and exacerbating conflict. 

Moderator: Daniella D. Landers, Womble Bond Dickinson, Houston, Texas


  • Diane Desierto, Professor of Law and Global Affairs & LL.M. Faculty Director, Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Lisa E. Sachs, Associate Research Scholar, Director - Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, New York, New York
  • Leonardo Sempértegui, General Legal Counsel, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Vienna, Austria

12:45 pm Central

Lunch Break

2:00 pm Central

Corporate Diplomacy: In the Room Where It Happens

The ability of business to sustainably support peace around the world relies upon ‘corporate diplomacy’.  This panel will address how this corporate diplomacy plays out in the real world.  It will focus particularly on how concerns of conflict prevention and sustainability contribute to business positions and how these are then expressed in the room where it happens.  The panel again brings together stakeholders from different industries, practice, and academia to outline what works, what doesn’t work, and what the current limits of corporate diplomacy are.

ModeratorFrédéric Gilles Sourgens, Senator Robert J. Dole Distinguished Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, Kansas


  • David L. Attanasio, Dechert LLP, Washington, D.C.
  • Lucinda A. Low, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Washington, D.C.
  • Julia Simon, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Diversity Officer, Mary Kay, Addison, Texas 

3:15 pm Central


TX CLE Credit

Texas Course Number 174163162. This course has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of Texas Committee on MCLE in the amount of 3.75 credit hours, of which no credit hours will apply to ethics/professional responsibility credit.

This online program has not been approved for MCLE credit in any other jurisdictions and we will not request credit in additional jurisdictions. Although attendees may be able to request MCLE credit directly in additional jurisdictions, the rules vary in each jurisdiction. Certain programs, subjects, and formats may not receive credit in other jurisdictions and there may be specific rules regarding who may earn credit or the maximum number of credit hours that may be earned with specific formats. We do not expect written material to be provided for this program, which may limit approval of credit in many jurisdictions. Please review the MCLE regulations and rules of your jurisdiction and contact your regulatory entity if you have specific questions about the jurisdiction’s MCLE rules.

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This conference is held under the Chatham House Rule. Participants, including journalists, are free to use any information received, but comments may not be attributed to any speaker identified by name or affiliation.

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The Center for American and International Law does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected status in educational activities, scholarship programs or admissions.

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