From the diaries by susanhbu. Last night, Nightline presented a documentary on human rights violations in Burma. “The Giant Slayers” is the story of a young lawyer, Katie Redford, and a Burmese human rights activist, Ka Hsaw Wa, who fell in love but waited to get married until they filed suit against UNOCAL on behalf of the people in Burma who had suffered at the hands of demonstrable collusion between the transnational corporation and the Burmese military. They formed a group, Earth Rights International, and filed Doe v. Unocal. The suit was based on an arcane 18th century law that would hold US companies accountable for human rights violations committed overseas. While one wrote a law school paper on the arcane law, the other gathered evidence against UNOCAL.

Below, the Bolton connection:

It all began 10 years ago, deep in the heart of the Burmese jungle. A consortium of oil companies, which included U.S. based Unocal, was building a gas pipeline across Burma. To help get the job done, human rights activists claim the notorious Burmese military did what ever it felt was necessary. This included burning down villages along the pipeline’s path, forcing people to work on it for no pay and jailing, torturing, even killing those who refused. At the same time, a young, idealistic American law student, Katie Redford, decided to spend her summers documenting human rights abuses in Burma. She soon met, Ka Hsaw Wa, a local hero and the only known Burmese human rights worker known to be sneaking into his country and informing international organizations about his findings.

They thought the law suit would take only a couple of years but it took 10. During those years they built a family, (they have two children, a boy and a girl) and a non-profit organization. Just before the settlement in March 2005, UNOCO was bought by Chevron Texaco and many think there is a direct connection between the sale and the settlement. —

Since the settlement, the USA (with Australia, and South Africa) voted against this April 20, 2005 UN resolution

In a resolution (E/CN.4/2005/L.87) on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, adopted by a roll-call vote of 49 in favour to three against, with one abstention, the Commission requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises[…] to identify and clarify standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights;

The full resolution is here.

You might be interested to know why the US voted against the resolution. This is the USA Explanation of Position on UN Resolution E/CN.4/2005/L.87:

Item 17 PDF  
Transnational Corporations, April 20, 2005
The United States has the strongest business regulatory environment in the world. U.S. corporations, whether working at home or abroad, are held to the highest standards of ethical behavior and respect for human rights. Corporations have an absolute and unambiguous responsibility to obey the law, and in so doing to honor the human rights of all individuals with whom they have contact.
We have been down this path many times in the UN, and it is both sad and undeniable that the anti-business agenda pursued by many in this organization over the years has held back the economic and social advancement of developing countries.[…]

The settlement, the UN resolution and the US explanation lead me to understand why the White House is insisting on John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN. I imagine the huddle of Karl Rove, and the three oil magnates, Bush, Cheney and Condi. They are saying “This  kind of lawsuit must never happen again! We will get our man in the UN to prevent it.” But the die is cast, the precedent set for the future regarding transnationals and how they treat people, thanks to this wonderful couple.

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