McDonald's vs. Putin — Corporate Responsibility in Times of Armed Conflict

Banner image with McDonald's and Vladimir Putin

Institute for Honor Symposium

March 3 - 4, 2023

W&L’s fall, winter, and spring weekend seminars continue to be a popular feature of the Alumni College, for the programs offer participants a substantive weekend getaway in the beautiful environs of Lexington and Rockbridge County. Participants stay in local inns, with the program, receptions, dinner, and lunch on campus. Programs begin on Friday afternoon and conclude after lunch on Saturday.

Established in 2000 at Washington and Lee by a generous endowment from the Class of 1960, the Institute for Honor includes an array of initiatives and specific programs designed to promote the understanding and practice of honor as an indispensable element of society. The Institute for Honor Symposium is dedicated to the advocacy of honor as the core value in personal, professional, business, and community relations. The symposium is directed by Kish Parella, the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Law.

The 2023 Institute for Honor symposium will ponder the question “What are the responsibilities of a corporation or other business in a war?” This question became painfully significant in February 2022 when Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Many American corporations, some of them household names, operate in Russia, Ukraine, as well as in other countries involved in armed conflict. This year, the IFH Symposium will explore the ethical considerations that occur in boardrooms where executive decision-makers are confronted with hard choices: Should their company stay or leave? What is their responsibility to aid the suffering of those harmed by the conflict? What, if any, steps should they take to stop the conflict? And what should they do if any or all of these decisions impede the financial profitability of their companies?

The 2023 IFH Keynote address, “Corporate Responsibility for Waging and Ending Armed Conflicts,” will be delivered by Ambassador David Scheffer, the first U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues who negotiated the creation of five war crimes tribunals. The IFH Symposium will feature two panel discussions that will build upon Ambassador Scheffer’s address. The first panel, “How Can Corporations Protect Human Rights in Armed Conflict?” will feature Professor Erika George, Samuel D. Thurman Professor of Law at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, and Shannon Raj Singh, former Human Rights Counsel for Twitter. The second panel “Ethics in the Boardroom: How Can Corporate Executives Promote Global Peace?” will feature two W&L Law alums, Lizanne Thomas, who chairs the corporate governance practice at the international law firm Jones Day, and Michael Spencer, Group Vice President, Chief Counsel, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at Rimini Street.


Speakers for the Institute for Honor Symposium: McDonald's vs. Putin

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