Plenary corporate counsel forum: the impact of international law on multinational corporations.

Position:Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law: The Future of International Law - Discussion

The panel was convened at 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 30, by its moderator, Lucinda Low of Steptoe and Johnson LLP, who introduced the panelists: Thomas Gottschalk of General Motors; Alberto Mora of Wal-Mart; and Paul Wright of Exxon Mobil.


The theme of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, "The Future of International Law," has challenged scholars and practitioners to reflect upon their knowledge and experience and to predict the directions in which international law is headed. Such an examination of international law would not be complete without heating from the corporate sector, which is increasingly regarded as one of the most important actors in international law today. Lucinda Low moderated a panel of representatives from three of the most iconic American companies--Tom Gottschalk of General Motors, Alberto Mora of Wal-Mart, and Paul Wright of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

The panel discussed the myriad ways in which international law shapes corporate life. In doing so, the panel adopted an expansive definition of international law, encompassing international institutions, voluntarily imposed standards that have international scope, international law in the U.S. domestic system, and more traditional concepts of international law, including treaties, customs, and practice. Despite hailing from dramatically different industries, overall there was little debate among the panelists as they responded to the series of questions. The representatives from the three markedly different companies found that they all faced many of the same challenges and reaped many of the same rewards in their international dealings.

The panelists responded to questions relating to the often powerful influence of international law, including its greatest challenges, the benefits of recent developments in international law, and which international topics will gain importance in the future. In their remarks, the panelists commented on a wide range of issues, ranging from strengthening global anticorruption efforts to recent developments in American legal education.


Mr. Gottschalk advanced three areas of international law that most influenced the automobile industry. First, of strategic importance to the automotive industry is ensuring that it is not disadvantaged by ongoing trade negotiations. Also of primary concern to the automotive industry is broad intellectual...

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