GVC Symposium

Law and sustainability
in global value chains:

Due diligence and contracts in focus

  • International symposium on 25-26 April 2018


Today, production takes place in globally fragmented chains and networks of suppliers and corporate groups. In theory, global value chains should allow value and risk to be equally distributed across the points of production. However, in practice gains are not shared but instead amassed by centralized corporate entities. Those entities are often far removed from where production physically takes place and therefore far removed from the negative impacts of the production processes on people and planet. Those risks are borne by jurisdictions, such as developing countries, which may be less well-equipped to mitigate or remedy compounded and multiple social and environmental problems.

Law plays a central role both in enabling these modes of production and in providing solutions to the problem.

Call for papers

Law plays a central role both in enabling these modes of production and in providing solutions to the problem. On the one hand, the dominant conceptualizations of corporate purpose, contract, and tort allow the complexity of global production organized via contractual relationships to remain largely unseen to law. This invisibility of global production is reinforced by regulatory approaches which focus primarily on national markets (such as taxation, labour and environmental regulation) or global approaches that remove problems arising from production from their local social or ecological context (e.g. institutional investment arbitration or the proposed treaty on business and human rights).

On the other hand, the contradiction between extensive control over some aspects of value chains and utter lack of liability for other value chain related aspects has led to a budding law of value chain liability. Recent regulatory approaches ranging from hard to soft law attempt to deal with the ills of global production by focusing specifically on global value chains. At the same time, there is an increasing caselaw on liability for the negative impacts of fragmented production both locally and in global value chains. These approaches are complemented by growing awareness by way of civil society action of how global value chains shape our global and local living conditions. There also seems to be a growing awareness amongst lawyers that basic understandings of corporation, contract, and tort can be reshaped to make them sensitive to the challenges of global production. Any such approach requires action focusing not only on production itself but also on the drivers of production: consumers, businesses, communities, and public procurers.

All this provides context for a critically important analysis to find out how we can achieve global sustainability, contributing to securing a sound social foundation for people everywhere now and in the future while staying within planetary boundaries. Towards this, the present symposium discusses recent reactions of law to sustainability problems in global value chains.


We welcome proposals from all scholars with research interests in this area. The authors of accepted papers will be invited to present in one of the three sessions:


1)     Understanding the interaction of law and global value chains

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-         The concept of value chain from law’s perspective;

-         Mapping of regulatory environments;

-         Mechanisms of control in value chains;

-         How global value chains can be made understandable to law;

-         Theoretical investigations into the regulatory environment in the area and regulation types, including discussions on meta-regulation and EU’s agenda of better regulation.


2)     Due diligence regulation

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-         Comparative investigations of due diligence regulations and laws;

-         The interplay between hard and soft laws;

-         Theoretical and/or empirical investigations of selected due diligence law(s) and voluntary initiatives;

-         Liability issues arising out of current due diligence regulatory schemes.



3)     Contracts and contract law

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-         The use of contract law to operationalize sustainability requirements in global value chains – including efficiency and ethical perspectives;

-         The use of contract to operationalize sustainability requirements in global value chains – both theoretical and empirical insights;

-         The interplay of contract with other regulatory instruments, including meta-regulation, code of conducts and other private law tools;

-         Evaluating the effectiveness of contract in promoting sustainability in global value chains;

-         Enforcement of sustainability requirements in commercial contracts, including third party enforcement efforts.

Special Issue

Selected papers will be published in Sustainability (SCI/SSCI,Impact Factor: 1.789), the Special Issue: Law and Sustainability in Global Value Chains.

Speakers' dinner

We are happy to invite all speakers and organisers for dinner on 25 April at Restaurant Mellemrum at 7 pm.

The address is: Fredens Torv 2, 8000 Aarhus C.



The city of Aarhus

ARoS - Your Rainbow Panorama
Aarhus - Sculptures by the Sea
Aarhus - by activities by the harbor
Concert Hall Aarhus
Outdoor activities in Aarhus
Cafes in Aarhus
Aarhus - Rent a bike

A major city crammed into a mega village
Denmark is one of the world's leading destinations for international meetings. In the heart of Jutland, situated on the Eastern coast, you will find Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city with a population of approximately 315,000 inhabitants in the city and 1.2 million inhabitants in the greater Aarhus Area.

Being a university city, Aarhus is the youngest in Denmark measured by average age, but historically one of the oldest. The city was founded in the Viking age as an open trading station at the mouth of the river. The vibrant mix of youthful energy and a living history is what makes Aarhus a city with an energetic beat where everything is within easy walking distance.

Built by the Vikings
More than 1200 years ago the Vikings founded Aarhus that was then named Aros. Some of the great battles of Viking history took place in the Aarhus bay and back then the Viking ships sailed all the way up the Aarhus canal. Since then the Aarhus canal has been closed and turned into a boulevard however in recent years, the area has been re-opened and the canal is once again visible and a central nerve running through the city of Aarhus. Today, the café environment along the canal is one of the most popular gathering places, and acts as a magnet on the city's residents and guests.

Historic Latin Quarter
The oldest part of town with its narrow, cobblestoned streets oozes with a creative and trendy atmosphere in cosy backyards and little, charming shops with squeaky wooden floors. The vibrant and cosy atmosphere of the Latin Quarter is often compared to the one you find in Paris. The perfect mix of artisans’ workshops, coffee shops, specialist shops and cafés and restaurants with appetizing menus completes the characteristic ambience of the Latin Quarter and offers the perfect setting for a cosy break.

An active city by the sea
Aarhus is surrounded by forests, beaches and water – all within walking distance. In the heart of the city, you will find parks and green oases everywhere, which are perfect spots for quiet relaxation. The Greenhouses in the Botanical Garden, Marselisborg Memorial Park, the University Park, or the Town Hall Park are just a few of the great city oases, which are definitely worth a visit, and where the people of Aarhus go to relax as well.

Aarhus’ location by the sea and forest areas opens up a wide range of possibilities for an active lifestyle. Easy access to bike paths, running paths, outdoor gyms, and all sorts of water sports makes it obvious that there is a very active pulse in Aarhus. Within the past few years, Aarhus’ new quarter, Aarhus Ø, has seen the light of day on the harbour waterfront, and this modern part of town is rapidly expanding. Urban art, urban gardens, beach bar, beach volleyball, basketball courts, and a lounge area are just some of the initiatives that characterize the hip and unique atmosphere in the Aarhus Ø quarter. During the summer, the people of Aarhus head for the water and visit the beaches surrounding the city, for instance Ballehage or The Permanent, the marinas or the sea swimming lane North of Aarhus Ø.

Modern architecture
A mix of old, historic buildings and modern architecture characterizes Aarhus, which is undergoing a rapid development right now. Building projects worth more than 4 billion Euros are underway, creating among other things Northern Europe's biggest hospital and an all-new part of town on the waterfront with room for 7000 new Aarhusians.

Bjarke Ingels Group, BIG, are the masterminds behind parts of the new harbour quarter, Aarhus Ø, rethinking urban space and landscape. Especially Aarhus Ø is an architectural playground with modern structures rising from the ground, and despite its young age, the distinctive “Iceberg” is already a city icon. The Moesgaard Museum designed by Henning Larsen Architects is also truly an architectonic attraction in its own right.

Historically, particularly architect Hack Kampmann has left his architectonic mark on the city in the form of historic buildings central to the tale of Aarhus. Town hall, which was designed by the Danish design icon Arne Jacobsen, has been one of the city’s famous landmarks ever since.

Restaurant and café scene in Aarhus
You will find many cosy and great cafés in the old charming streets and along the atmosphere-filled strip along the Aarhus canal also known as “Vadestedet”. At the core of Aarhus, you will also find specialist shops, freshly baked bread from organic bakeries, gourmet take-away places, new Nordic “smørrebrød” and café burgers. The area around the Latin Quarter and Mejlgade is known for its hip urban environment and the area’s green initiatives. Here, take-away places and new restaurants frequently shoot up. Here you will find a modern luxury version of the traditional Danish grill bar where you can grab a gourmet hot dog or hand-cut chips with homemade mayonnaise. The atmosphere is informal and the prices are reasonable.

What truly makes the restaurant and café scene unique in Aarhus, is the vibrant, informal and charming atmosphere. 

Aarhus – now a Michelin city
The gastronomic level in Aarhus is of the highest order and with three Michelin restaurants, Aarhus has ample backing for its claim to offer world-class gastronomy. All of three Michelin stars put Aarhus in the prestigious company of the world’s gastronomic elite. 2015 was the first year in which the Guide Michelin Nordic Cities awarded Michelin stars to restaurants in a Danish city outside Copenhagen, making Aarhus a Michelin city.
The multiplicity of the city is one of the reasons why Aarhus is awarded two stars in the acclaimed and renowned Michelin Travel Guide. The guide also awards stars to exceptional attractions, churches and hotels – and Aarhus has its impressive share of stars in those categories as well. The Old Town is awarded all of three stars in the guide, which refers to the popular attraction as one of Denmark’s most beautiful open-air museums. The ARoS Art Museum receives two stars in the guide and is particularly recognized for the museum’s exceptional architectural structure as well as for its art collections. The Moesgaard Museum is awarded two stars as well for its unique focus on and illustration of Danish history. Several hotels in Aarhus receive mention in the guide and thereby contribute to making Aarhus a star-studded experience.

European Capital of Culture 2017
As European Capital of Culture 2017, the Danish city of Aarhus offers its visitors a spectacular program stretching across the breadth of culture, sports, gastronomy, events and exhibitions during the entire year. A particular highlight during the summer of Aarhus 2017 will be a special edition of the Sculptures by the Sea, a unique outdoor exhibition along the scenic coastline of Aarhus.

Her Majesty the Queen is patron for the entire year of cultural highlights and Aarhus in 2017 will offer a global audience the opportunity to see world-class Danish and international artists creating their most ambitious work together.

The theme for Aarhus2017 is RETHINK. However, RETHINK is not only a theme it is also a mindset. The European Capital of Culture should be a free space to experiment and rethink the way we live. RETHINK means that we build on what currently exists, while also exploring whether and how things could be done differently. The theme RETHINK provides Aarhus2017 with the opportunity to create a “cultural laboratory” in the region as a whole, where innovation and alternative solutions can be developed and grow.

Aarhus by bike
The people of Aarhus love their bikes! The bike is a means of transportation that is good for you, it supports a sustainable environment, and it helps to reduce traffic congestion in the city. Aarhus is a fabulous bike city, and it is an ambition for the city that more and more of its residents will use their bikes as their main means of transportation. Creative methods have been used to ensure a safe and easy passage of the city center for cyclists, such as turning one of the oldest streets in the city, Mejlgade, into a bicycle street. Around town you will find a system of self-service city bikes available for a symbolic deposit.

Among the places you need to visit while in Aarhus
ARoS Aarhus Art Museum
The Old Town - A Danish Open Air Museum
MOMU - Moesgaard Museum

For more information on attractions in Aarhus go to www.visitaarhus.com/ln-int/Node/29745



Time and place

25 April, 10.00-17.00
26 April, 9.00-16.00

Department of Law
Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Bartholins Allé 16
Building 1410, room 247
8000 Aarhus C



The symposium is organized by:

Transnational and International Tendencies in Law Research Center (INTRAlaw), Department of Law, Aarhus University and

Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART) project, University of Oslo. SMART has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693642.