The Corporate Keepers of International Law

Jay Butler, LAPA Fellow; William & Mary Law School

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 4:30pm
300 Wallace Hall
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LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract:  "Can Airbnb enforce international law? Should it? I argue that the answer to these questions may well be yes and that many other companies like Airbnb are already acting as agents of international law enforcement. From international environmental law, to international human rights law, to territorial disputes to international investment and even the recent killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, this paper highlights the significant role of corporations as keepers of international law. It asserts that corporate enforcement presents a crucial means through which international law may address a persistent challenge it faces with enforcing its commands. However, the paper also grapples with key reasons for concern."

Jay Butler
LAPA Fellow
Assistant Professor of Law, William & Mary Law School

Jay Butler is an expert in private and public international law. His scholarship highlights intersections between corporations and frameworks of global governance and seeks more generally to destabilize long-held, but problematic assumptions in international law. He currently teaches International Business Transactions, Contracts, and Extraterritorial Jurisdiction. He received his A.B. in History from Harvard University, a B.A. in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.  He served as a law clerk to the president of the International Court of Justice and worked as a legal consultant to the government of Japan.  At LAPA, he will further explore the corporate origins of the modern state and the implications of this background for current processes of international lawmaking.