Corporations must be made accountable

Greenpeace tells governments at Earth Summit prep meeting to adopt Bhopal Principles

Feature story - 4 June, 2002
Greenpeace called on governments to curb the devastation wreaked by big business, by adopting a set of principles formed in the wake of the Bhopal disaster.

Wall of shame: Activists hold up pictures of toxic hotspots during an Earth Summit prep meeting in Bali.

While activists held up posters showing hotspots of environmental crime, Greenpeace urged governments to commit to an international agreement on corporate accountability and liability. The demonstration took place along an avenue taken by delegates as they entered the last preparatory meeting before the August Earth Summit, or World Summit on Sustainability (WSSD).

Also today, Greenpeace released a report titled Corporate Crimes, which details the environmental and human fallout of irresponsible corporate behaviour around the world.

Greenpeace campaigner Marcelo Furtado said, "Governments have allowed, and continue to allow, big business to wreak havoc."

"You only have to look at the aftermath of the Bhopal chemical disaster 18 years ago. Nothing much has been done by the corporation responsible to provide justice, rehabilitation and compensation to the victims of the disaster, or clean-up of the site which is still heavily contaminated and littered with stockpiles of hazardous wastes," continued Furtado.

Greenpeace is asking governments to take up the Bhopal Principles on Corporate Accountability and Liability, a comprehensive set of principles to ensure that corporations protect human rights, food sovereignty and promote clean and sustainable development.

The principles referer directly to the world's worst chemical disaster, in Bhopal in 1984, which destroyed the lives of thousands of people who were exposed to lethal gases leaking from a Union Carbide chemical plant.

The next Earth Summit must address corporate liablility, said Furtado. "By turning a blind eye to this issue in the WSSD, governments are surrendering the welfare of the public to the mercy of corporate criminals."

More information:

Greenpeace report compiling cases of corporate crime and showing how transnational corporations downplay damage and elude liability.

Read some of the case studies.

Visit the Earth Summit website