Case Review: Unocal in Burma

Power is one of the tools that help people rule the world nowadays. In most cases, power belongs to those who own and sell energy resources. Such people also have strong political power. This paper discusses the price of getting money and power providing the example of Unocal’s decision to invest in gas industry in Burma.

It is obvious that Unocal’s actions can only be justified from the utilitarian point of view. The company’s authorities had the chance to make a beneficial investment, so they used it and made a good profit. From the point of view of human rights and justice, this is the case when the means cannot be justified by the purpose. No matter what social goods Unocal provided to the local residents (they promised to construct new schools, develop medical services, and contribute to the cultural development of the country (Velasques, 2005)), the locals would not trust the people who are to be blamed for the use of the forced labor and relocations, torturing and murdering. Parents would not want to send their children to schools built by those who paid for hurting the families. I think that the Karen people did not care what benefits Unocal prepared for them after the company first had supported violence in the area. Apart from that, while buying Yadana Field’s shares, the American company provided monetary support for the military regime in Burma. I think that even if there was no way to change the outcome of the case and it was foreseen, Unocal’s actions could not influence the social order in Burma; therefore, they could not be justified. The cooperation with the leaders who make their citizens suffer spoils US international image. What is more, building new structures would make locals abandon their homes, and the Karen people would still suffer.

I believe that Unocal is morally responsible for the injuries inflicted on the local residents. The organization funded the soldiers who hurt local citizens and helped Burma’s leaders get richer. After the company was sued and was to bear responsibility for their actions, Chevron supported it (Campbell, 2004). That is why I find Chevron’s leaders guilty of the disrespect for human rights as well. The people who headed both companies then were only interested in profits, so they are morally responsible for the sufferings inflicted upon Burmese peoples. Beside, Chevron and Unocal are the two of the world’s most influential companies. The way they neglected human rights was a signal to other businesses that they can behave the same way and remain unpunished. Not only did Chevron manifest the support for the immoral behavior, but they also protected Unocal from the due punishment.

In my opinion, in the considered case, ‘engagement’ was not beneficial for the Burmese people. Economic cooperation with the countries where despotic regimes prevail does not improve the level of living of regular citizens. As it has already been mentioned, those who own big companies satisfy only their own interests with the help of the costs they earn. On the other hand, isolating such states from monetary investments will make local politicians weaker, and, as a result, it will be easier for the citizens to fight violence and build a democratic society.

In conclusion, it is worth emphasizing that business investments help the leaders of undemocratic regimes enforce their power. Thus, those who cooperate with such people contribute to violence, injustice and the breach of human rights imposed on thousands of people throughout the world. Such behavior cannot be justified.

See more articles produced by Rico Shenk . All papers were prepared by letter of recommendation service

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