You are on page 1of 4

Case Study

Unocal in Burma
Business Ethics



the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued reports claiming that the Burmese army was using forced labour and brutalising the Karen population to provide security for Unocal workers and equipment. In your view.QUESTION 1. then it is known as a legal right. infant mortality along the pipeline dropped. However. However. Unocal and other companies built schools and roads along the pipeline. U n o c a l d i d t h e r i g h t t h i n g i n d e c i d i n g t o i n v e s t i n t h e pipeline and then in conducting the project as it did. caring P e r s p e c t i v e . All of reports were proves of indirect conflict with the rights perspective of ethics. Answer whether from utilitarian. a 1995 report commissioned by Unocal also stated that human rights violations have occurred and continue to occur. we find that references are made to the rights perspective of ethics violation. small businesses were also growing. From the case study. the project provided Burma citizens with employment. justice and.  Rights Perspective In general. the projects also caused the costs. and using your utilitarian. including: the report that throughout 1993 to 1996. a right is an individual’s entitlement to something. rights. rights. and caring assessments. Thailand was able to enjoy cleaner natural gas from the 500-600 million cubic feet of gas that was piped in daily through the pipeline instead of using dirtier fuel oil. there is a far greater right that encompasses all human beings or better known as moral rights. as follows: hundreds of Karen were used asforced labour and also forced to relocate to accommodate the pipeline project Considering the above mentioned benefits and costs. 2 . Also. didUnocal d o t h e r i g h t t h i n g ? A s s u m e t h e r e w a s n o w a y t o c h a n g e t h e outcome of this case and that the outcome was foreseen was Unocal then justified in deciding to invest in the pipeline?  Utilitarian Perspective Utilitarian is a moral principle that claims that something is right to t h e e x t e n t t h a t i t d i m i n i s h e s s o c i a l c o s t s a n d i n c r e a s e s s o c i a l benefits. justice. Utilitarian perspective would say that it was right for Unocal to investing in the Yadana pipeline. When an entitlement is a result of a legal system.

3 . In essence. From a retributive justice viewpoint.  Compensatory justice: The just way to compensate people for what they have lost when they were wronged by other. as follows:  Distributive justice: Distributive justice is concerned with the fair distribution of society’s benefits and burden. Since caring about other persons is the heart of the moral life and. it appears that the burden of the project has been focused on those living within the pipeline corridor. Unocal was not correct in investing in the Yadana project from an ethics of care perspective. thus ethics. kindness and the development of relationship. Justice Perspective Justice is giving to each that which is his due. it appears that Unocal was not correct in its decision to invest in the Yadana project as it was sued in both the Federal and State courts in the US. This is due to the nature of the ethics of care which emphasizes compassion. Since the Karen people was treated badly or without compassion by the Burmese army. From a distributive justice viewpoint. Unocal was right in investing in the Yadana pipeline as the Karen population who had suffered as a result of the project were adequately compensated through the court settlement. From a Compensatory Justice viewpoint. it did appear that Unocal made the wrong decision to invest in the Yadana project due to the fact that although the benefit of the project could have in been distributed to all of Burma via government development.  Retributive justice: Proportionate punishment is morally acceptable for breaking a rule or a law. it violated the ethics of caring perspective. and with the awareness of Unocal. with equal distribution of benefits and risks. the justice approach to ethics is ensuring that all are treated fairly. It can be examined Unocal’s position from the three different categories of justice.  Caring Perspective : Ethics from a caring perspective emphasizes the importance of relationships.

electrical power. Provided improving medical care. I agree with the Unocal’s preference of engagement rather than via isolation. Unocal should be held morally responsible and accountable for the injuries inflicted on the Karen people because they violated the three absolute principles. Reduced infant mortality. 3. new schools. Violation of justice principle. Created of employment along the pipeline region which was an extremely poor and underdeveloped region of Burma. 3. Violation of caring principle. 2. QUESTION 3. Violation of rights principle. which are as follows: 1. and agricultural development in the pipeline region. 2.QUESTION 2. because the loss of basic compassion for the people of Karen by the Burmese army. to affect changes in a country. 4 . Among the benefits derived were: 1. because the benefits and the costs were not evenly and equally distributed. Unocal chose engagement since they believed that they could affect better social and political change. Do you agree or disagree with Unocal’s view that “engagement” rather than “isolation” is the proper course to achieve social and political change in developing countries with repressive governments? Explain. given the reports that show the existence of human rights had been widespread. is Unocal morally responsible for the injuries inflicted on some of the Karen people? Explain. In your view.