Douglas Bishop's Arguments On Human Rights

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John Douglas Bishop and Florian Wettstein both addressed the topic of human rights, but from two different perspectives. The focus of Bishop’s argument focused on human rights obligations of corporations, whereas Wettstein focused on a corporation’s obligation and silent complicity. First, I will start my paper by defining both Bishop’s and Wettstein’s respective arguments. Then, I will proceed to explain as to why I believe that Bishop’s argument on companies’ limited human right obligations successfully challenges Wettstein’s argument dealing with corporations and silent complicity.

Bishop argues that certain human rights obligations are rather limited; such that as some human rights are limited by the host countries’ legal rights, corporations
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However, as corporations start to expand their business and operate multinationally, they must rethink that parameters of their moral responsibility. As Wettstein stated,

“corporations may become complicit in human rights violations although they are not doing anything wrong in a conventional sense or engaging in any unlawful conduct” (Wettstein, 37).

Corporate complicity generally implies that the corporation(s) at hand are actively aiding and abetting in the violation of human rights, whereas silent complicity implies the fact that corporations are aware that human right are being violated, however, they choose not to protect or assist the victims (Wettstein, 40). In Wettstein’s perspective, when aware of a human rights violation occurring, corporations should be obligated to step in and influence the government on certain human rights policies, only if a corporation is influential enough and has the resources. Thus, Wettstein combines both stated active and passive duties above and deems that a corporation is being silently complicit towards human rights violations when it fails to speak out and protect the victims, and if that failure to speak out implies a legitimization and implicit endorsement of the
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Money, power, and influence are three factors that can easily tip the balance of equality, especially in developing countries where liberal democracy does not have a strong presence, which are locations where the majority of multinational corporations set up factories. The act of corporations, especially powerful corporations, speaking out against human rights violations may appeal to the victims and seem to be beneficial as these corporations can set “the standard for the way of life and the mode of living of our citizens; which leads, molds and directs; which determines our perspective on our own society” (Wettstein quoting Drucker, 47). If all the negotiations regarding workers’ rights between corporations and governments happen behind the scenes, then public debate and outward opinions of the victims and the citizens would cease to retain any influence as public discussions would be further limited and suppressed, opposite of what Wettstein is trying to argue for. This would be due to two different reasons: as it is the country would be benefitting from the success of these corporations, the actions of a corporation would trump the opinions of the citizens any day, and as corporations may use their influence for good and to speak out against certain human rights violations as Wettstein discusses, they may also use their

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