The close interdependance between transnational corporations criminality and human rights and environmental international law violations: Bhopal case lessons

By José Elias Esteve Molto, Associate professor of public international law and international relations, and secretary of Valencia University’s Human Rights Institute. Analysis developed within the framework of the « New Challenges of International Law » project of the Ministry of Economics and Innovation, Redes de Excelencia DER2015-69273-REDT. The author wishes to thank author Javier Moro for his collaboration in this investigation and for providing him with his contacts in Bhopal, and in particular, Satinath Sarangi « Sathyu », defender of the victims’ rights and director of the Sambhavna clinic.

 

The Bhopal judicial saga has still not offered a dignified solution for victims of the tragedy after more than three decades of litigation. This issue shows paradigmatically the severe limitations of human rights and environmental international law to control and hold accountable transnational corporations. Massive and on-going disasters like this caused by Union Carbide, show that neither the Ruggie’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, nor the rhetorical mantra of sustainable development can contribute to tackle the vicious circle of impunity. That is why it is necessary to reach a consensus in order to stablish a binding international treaty on the subject that can effectively prevent and punish acts such as those committed in Bhopal.

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