The “just war” for profit and
power: The Bhopal catastrophe
and the principle of double effect
All endeavours to relate ethics, morality, human rights, or justice seem necessarily to founder when “efficiency” or wealth maximization provides the “theoretical foundation of contemporary corporate and commercial law scholarship” and of corporate conduct.1 But, even in this milieu, the UNU/PRIO project to recraft the principle of double effect (PDE) provides a ray of hope. A viable framework for evaluating the “negative side-effects” of business and corporate cultures, practices, and decisions holds promise of some rapprochement between “efficiency” and “justice” and “wealth maximization” and “human rights”.
However, because of its focus on the engagement of multinational corporations in ultra-hazardous processes, manufacture, and industry, this chapter overtaxes somewhat even this worthwhile enterprise. The already complex issues concerning the authorship, agency, incidence, aftermath, and amelioration of “negative side-effects” become even more complicated. The expression “negative side-effects” strains belief when extended to situations of archetypal industrial mass disaster such as the Bhopal catastrophe, even if we accept the notion that we all live in an “age of side effects”.2 What I am suggesting, however, is not that the recrafted PDE project is for these reasons unproductive in such contexts but that its inadequacies need to be further rigorously addressed.