World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Bhopal: Chemical industry must respect human rights

GENEVA (27 November 2019) – In commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, a UN human rights expert is calling on chemical manufacturers to recognise and meet their responsibility to respect human rights. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, issued the following statement:

“The tragic story of Bhopal’s chemical disaster is far from over. Contaminated water and soil from the pesticide factory has denied generation after generation in Bhopal a life of dignity and maximum development, among many other rights. The factory was owned at the time by Union Carbide. The firm later became a subsidiary of Dow-DuPont.

The chemical industry’s ‘Responsible Care’ initiative was adopted in 1986 as result of the Bhopal disaster in an effort to prevent further abuses of human rights by chemical manufacturers. Yet this industry initiative contains no mention of human rights, and fails to require that industry respects human rights in practice.

Case after case has illustrated the chemical industry’s failure to respect the human rights to life and the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination, among others, and implement policies and practices that reflect the letter and spirit of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The chemical industry exemplifies the weakness of voluntary standards on human rights and the urgent need for strong requirements with legal force.

The petrochemical industry sits at the epicentre of the existential crises of climate change, biodiversity collapse and the toxification of people and the planet. The existing human rights policies of nearly all chemical companies only superficially address human rights, excluding the most significant actual and potential impacts of their products and practices.

“Preventable tragedies continue to unfold as a result of the chemical industry’s refusal to take its responsibility to respect human rights to heart, not just when it is convenient. From deadly explosions of manufacturing and storage facilities, to the scandalous abuse of the right to bodily integrity with toxic ‘forever chemicals’ contaminating water, air, food, housing and consumer products, the chemical industry must do more to respect human rights.

As the UN projects the chemical industry will double in size by 2030, the likelihood of human rights impacts by the industry is set to increase dramatically.

Thirty-five years is far too long for human rights due diligence not to be standard practice in an industry with such inherent risks to human rights. Industry associations must make robust human rights due diligence mandatory for their member companies for toxic chemical and pollution risks. This includes human rights due diligence for their manufacturing facilities and the hazards of their chemical products, as well as the impacts on workers, children, and others who are exposed to their toxic chemical products and by-products.”

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Julian Assange : Extradition Case Finally Heading To Court

Julian Assange's extradition case is finally heading to court – here's what to expect More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Rise Of Klobuchar And Bloomberg

Oh, the burden of being the front-runner. In 2016, when he was still the feisty underdog, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders set his campaign alight by beating Hillary Clinton in neighbouring New Hampshire by a resounding 60-39% margin. Yesterday, Sanders won again in New Hampshire. This time though only by a 1.3% margin over Pete Buttigieg, with Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar reasonably close behind in third place. More>>


Crisis and Opportunity: The ‘Deal of the Century’

After several postponements, US President, Donald Trump, has finally revealed the details of his Middle East plan, dubbed ‘Deal of the Century’, in a press conference in Washington on January 28. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Iran Aftermath

So, evidently, you can get away with murder. It looks as though a further escalation in the ongoing war between Iran and the US has been avoided – mainly thanks to Iran NOT responding in kind to the recklessly unhinged behaviour by the United States. ... More>>