From 3/12 to 9/11: Future of Human Rights?

Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 39, No. 49, pp. 5198-5201, 2004

7 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2005

See all articles by Surya Deva

Surya Deva

City University of Hong Kong


The death and suffering that continues to unravel in Bhopal 20 years after the gas leakage from a chemical plant on 3 December 1984 and the destruction that unfolded in New York on the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001 symbolise in tragically different ways states' increasing helplessness in protecting the human rights of their populace. The Indian government's inability to ensure justice to the Bhopal victims, however, appears in stark contrast to the war against terror waged by the US government, ostensibly to ensure a world safe for its citizens, even as it remains oblivious to the rights of other citizens and other sovereign nations.

In fact, both 'Bhopal' and 'New York' have now acquired secondary meanings: whereas Bhopal symbolises the corporate irresponsibility of MNCs for human rights violations, New York now stands not only for the Statue of Liberty but also for an attack on what the Statue of Liberty symbolises. I argue that both tragedies represent the challenges that multinational corporations and terrorists pose to the realisation of human rights and in turn highlight the need to look beyond state as the sole guardian of human rights.

Keywords: Bhopal gas disaster, multinational corporations, terrorists, human rights, states

Suggested Citation

Deva, Surya, From 3/12 to 9/11: Future of Human Rights?. Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 39, No. 49, pp. 5198-5201, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Surya Deva (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong ( email )

School of Law
83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong

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