Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Plenary Keynote: A Conversation with Angel Gurria

Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Plenary Keynote: A Conversation with Angel Gurria

Article excerpt

This keynote address was delivered at 5:00 p.m., Friday, March 25, by Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The discussants were Susan L. Karamanian of George Washington University Law School; and Lucinda A. Low of Steptoe & Johnson LLP.


Earlier this week at the George Washington University Law School, we hosted, with the American Society of International Law, a two-day forum that discussed the role of the OECD in the development of legal standards. We looked at how norms are generated within the context of an international body that has as its objective economic growth and expansion. What are the best practices in reaching a productive and valuable consensus? Who should be involved? What information should they gather? Who should have access to this process and, importantly, the information? What can be done with the work product in order to promote consensus to development of legal norms? We also considered the questions: When was this process a success, and when did it not lead to a productive outcome?

Additionally, we looked at specific areas that will be a bit of the focus this evening, and that is in the area of anti-corruption and tax. We had the chance yesterday and again this morning to look at institutions, such as the World Trade Organization and the G20. All of these are topics that deal with areas in which there can be agreement and also areas in which there are differences.

So this evening we will hear first from the Secretary-General, whom I will introduce in a minute. After that, Lucinda Low will help lead the discussion. Many of you, of course, know Lucinda. She heads Steptoe & Johnson's anti-corruption practice group, which is located both here in Washington, D.C., as well as in London, Brussels, and Beijing. She is widely recognized as a leading authority and practitioner in the field of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and on international anti-corruption standards, including the standards under the OECD, the United Nations, and the European Union Conventions. She is former chair of the ABA section on international law, and, of course, important to this Society as a former vice president and executive committee member.

And now it gives me the great pleasure to introduce Secretary-General Angel Gurria, who came to the OECD following a very distinguished career in public service for his country. He is from Mexico and served in two ministerial posts on behalf of Mexico. First, he was Mexico's foreign minister from 1994 to 1998, where he took it upon himself to focus on dialogue and consensus-building. These are hallmarks of his approach to global issues, and, of course, are important to the work of the OECD. He was also, from 1998 to 2000, Mexico's minister of finance and public credit. For the first time in a generation, he managed to steer Mexico's economy through a change of administration without the recurrence of the financial crisis that had previously followed many such changes.

As OECD Secretary-General since June 2006, he has reinforced the OECD's role as a hub for global dialogue and debate on economic policy issues while pursuing internal modernization and reform. Under his leadership, the OECD has expanded its membership to include Chile, Estonia, Israel, and Slovenia, and he has been very involved in outreach to other important economies, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Russia. The OECD, as you know, is an active participant in both the G8 and the G20 Summit processes.

Secretary-General, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the American Society of International Law, to the members and guests who are here today. We look forward to your remarks and then to a discussion after that. So thank you very much for joining us.


SUSAN L. KARAMANIAN, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies, and Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School. …

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