UN Urged To Help Rehabilitate Bhopal

Feature story - April 10, 2004
BHOPAL, India — The Bhopal delegation visited the United Nations to urge the organisation to end its "20-year long discriminatory stand" by intervening in Bhopal's continuing humanitarian disaster. "UN agencies such as WHO, ILO and UNICEF remain silent as people continue to die at the rate of one a day, and babies are born with birth defects. The only reason for this is that Bhopal was not a natural disaster but a disaster caused by the deliberate negligence of a powerful corporation," said Rashida today. "Is this an indication of the UN's willingness to sacrifice its mandate in the face of corporate might?"

Rashida Bi, Bhopal Survivor

Champa and Rashida met with Jose Antonio Ocampo, undersecretary general of Economic & Social Affairs, to remind him of "the total absence of initiatives by any of the UN agencies towards rehabilitation of health, economic status, environment or child welfare for the more than 500,000 survivors suffering as a result of exposure". They also pointed out that Dow's actions in Bhopal violate some of the basic rights enshrined in the U.N. Charter and that agencies such as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have done nothing to bring the fugitives to justice. Five areas that UN agencies can make a critical contribution in Bhopal were outlined:

1. UN HCR to present a report on the ongoing human rights violations in Bhopal; 2. UNICEF to research and monitor children of exposed parents, and initiate rehabilitation efforts; 3. ILO to assess loss of work capacity among survivors, and initiate schemes for economic rehabilitation; 4. WHO to initiate epidemiological and clinical studies, and help develop suitable treatment protocol; 5. UN Sub commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to use Dow Chemical and Union Carbide in the context of Bhopal as a case to develop recommendations for legally binding mechanisms for holding corporations accountable for their impacts on human rights and the environment.