Will we learn lessons from Japan?

This article was written by FLA President & CEO Auret van Heerden for the Institute for Human Rights & Business. It originally appeared on the IHRB blog.

Anyone writing about a disaster has to be extremely cautious to avoid being insensitive and arrogant and so it is with extreme humility and sympathy for the suffering of those affected by the combined earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan that I venture the following thoughts. In fact, it is out of respect for the Japanese people that I raise the issue of human rights and the social responsibility of companies operating nuclear power stations.

Right now a few hundred of the bravest people on the planet are trying to prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power station. They are being exposed to extremely dangerous levels of radiation and their rights at work have had to be sacrificed to save hundreds of thousands of people from harm. At the same time the policy makers and company directors who took the decisions that made the disaster possible insist that they could never have foreseen such a series of events. Or could they? Did they plan for the worst-case scenario or did they take calculated risks based on some mathematical model and cost-benefit analyses? Most importantly for the future, will they learn the lessons of this disaster and will they be held accountable for any negligence?

Read Auret’s full article here.


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