Skip to site navigation

The Buck Stops Where? Responsibility in the Global Economy

Publication date: Apr 25, 2014 03:17 PM

Start: May 21, 2014 09:30 AM
End: May 21, 2014 07:00 PM

Location: Council Room, SPP, 29 Tavistock Sq, London, WC1H 9QU

Register now with Eventbrite

Click button below to be sure of a place. Opens in a new window/tab.

Register now

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory complex in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,127 people. This is the worst incident in a long history of fires and building collapses in sweatshops. When such disasters occur, responsibility ascriptions are notoriously complex and clumsy. In this case the factory owners were held criminally responsible. But moral responsibility was ascribed to many other agents, from the Bangladeshi government for failing to implement proper labour standards, to multinational clothing companies who bought clothes made in the factory, to individual consumers of the products. 

When international economic activity leads to severe harms responsibility ascriptions are not clearly understood, allowing blame to be passed from one agent to another without resolve. This problem applies not only to catastrophe but also to chronic economic harms. Complex processes involving countless individuals and multiple public and private institutional actors, transcending national legal systems, enable the majority of actors to wash their hands of responsibility.

This one-day conference aims to raise and explore problems surrounding the following questions: do we have responsibilities as participants in the global economy? What are the grounds of these responsibilities? What kinds of responsibilities are they? What are the responsibilities of different types of individual and collective agents such as citizens, consumers, states and corporations?

Welcome and Registration -
Keynote Speech
  • Elizabeth Ashford (St Andrews)
Tea and Coffee -
11.15 Session 1: Responsibility within Structures
  • Janelle Poetzsch (Ruhr-Universitat Bochum), “Sweatshop Labour, Structural Injustice and the Role of Corporations”
  • Melanie Brazzell (Humboldt University) “Positioning Ourselves: Iris Marion Young on Oppression, Shared Responsibility and Sweatshops”
  • Kristian Hoyer Toft (Aalborg University), “Liberal CSR and New Marxist Challenges”
Session 2: Collective Responsibility
  • Sara Chant (University of Missouri), “Collective Moral Responsibility and Collective Free Action”
  • James Dempsey (University of Warwick), “Moral Responsibility and Business Culture”
  • Dimitrios Efthymiou (University of Southampton), “State Responsibility in the EU: A Normative Account”
Tea and Coffee -
Session 3: Consumer Responsibility
  • Sabine Hohl (Zurich University), “Contribution-Based Consumer Responsibility”
  • Jan Willem Wieland (VU University Amsterdam), “Do You Care Enough?”
  • Nina Van Heeswijk (University of Gothenburg), “Global Justice, Special Relations and the Global Economy”


[Please note the change of venue for the panel discussion – Archeology G6 LT]

17.30- 19.00 Panel Discussion: "Responsible Conduct in the Global Economy: what is it and how do we get there?"

More information

For further information, please contact, or check the conference blog:

Induction Information for New Students

Current Information for Students

Frequently asked questions

Our programmes

Find out more

Contact us

School of Public Policy,
The Rubin Building,
29/31 Tavistock Square,
London, WC1H 9QU.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4999,
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4978,

Postgraduate enquiries

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4982/4950

Register with us

Register at UCL

New website

Register at UCL

Connect with us


Footer menu