Human Rights

Dr Tom Kerns













Discussion Questions for
A Killer Bargain


First view this video, A Killer Bargain
(Login information for viewing the video will be made available in the classroom)

Then respond to the following questions and discuss them in the "A Killer Bargain" forum in the classroom.


  1. Fetuses seem to be affected by the mother’s exposure to pesticides and other toxicants. Do you think human rights norms should apply to fetuses? Do you think human rights norms should apply to future not-yet-actual human fetuses that may be affected by pesticide residues? How about to future not-yet-actual human persons who may be affected by residues? Please explain.

  2. Rights and duties are two sides of the same coin. If someone has rights then someone else has duties. If human rights standards do apply to these workers and their families, to whom would you say the duties apply?

  3. If a government is the bearer of these duties, which government, India, Denmark or the European Union, would you say should bear the primary obligation to see that worker’s rights are respected. Please explain.

  4. If you were leading an activist group that was working to protect workers’ rights vis-à-vis pesticide exposure, and if you had only limited time, helpers and resources, on which of these three governments would you focus your efforts? Why?

  5. The Indian government has issued a directive warning against overuse of pesticides.
    1. Do you think this adequately meets the government’s responsibility.
    2. If so, why. If not, what else would you consider it the government’s responsibility to do?

  6. Pesticide residues in ground water (drinking water sources) would increase the risk of adverse health effects of the local population that relies on the water for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning.
    1. Do you think any human rights norms apply to those citizens?
    2. Which norms?
    3. Would this be true even if causal connections between residues and disease could not be proven?

  7. Do you think non-state actors, such as private corporations, have a moral duty to protect the human rights of their workers and suppliers? Why or why not?

  8. Do you think customers in Europe and North America have any moral obligations toward the rights of workers who produce the goods they purchase? Please explain.


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