Bhopal tragedy: UK expert wants `global manslaughter law`

Last Updated: Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 20:36

London: Terming the recent judgement in
the Bhopal case as a `preposterous travesty,` a British expert
on corporate social responsibility on Thursday called for a global
`corporate manslaughter law` that can hold to account
corporations such as Union Carbide.

Professor Martin Parker of the University of
Leicester, a leading scholar in the area of organisation and
corporate social responsibility, told PTI that the story of
the Bhopal case is that the people, particularly in the global
South, were unable to hold such corporations to account.
"If corporations claim to be caring, lovely, kind
creatures and spend billions of dollars to build such an
image, we should be able to hold them to account when they
fail to behave in a responsible manner.

"The story of Bhopal is that we can`t. This isn`t
justice, but preposterous travesty," he said.

There needs to be a manslaughter law that can be
enforced globally so that corporations such as Union Carbide
could be taken to task if they fail their responsibilities in
other countries, Parker said.

The short sentences handed out by the court to the
accused may be commensurate with Indian law, but it raised
questions about corporate social responsibility, Parker said
and added that the consequent concern over the judgement and
laws was entirely justified.
"So far we have a one-way version of corporate social
responsibility. Corporations spend billions building their
images, and claim to be socially responsible, but when it
comes to the crunch, such as in Bhopal, they don`t want to
accept responsibility," he said.

Questioning whose responsibility it was to deal with
the remaining chemical waste that continued to exist in
Bhopal, Parker said the key issue was a `reciprocity of
responsibility` in which corporations not only claimed but
also accepted responsibility.

The issue, he said, was not about raising compensation
or sending accused to prisons for such man-made disasters, but
whether they can be resolved within a global corporate
structure that was able to pin down the corporations to their
claims to be socially responsible.

"It is not enough for a corporation in one country to
excuse itself on the ground that incidents such as Bhopal
happened elsewhere.

"Geographical distance and deferral of responsibility
to local contractors cannot be excused. There has to be a
global structure of law that takes into account such factors,"
Parker said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 20:36

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