Ethical dimensions of sustainable development and their relevance to Organisations: A case study of Coltan Mining Industry
Sustainability and its use in enhancement of a sustainable development has become a major concern in the world economy. Many international documents including Agenda 21 on ethics highlights how governments and corporate bodies may achieve sustainable development. One of the strategies suggested by the document is ethical responsibility of business which ensures that organisations pursue development while at the same time protecting the environment. Due to emerging concepts of global democracy, civil society, citizenship and governance in their global perspective; ethics has become an important means which involves individual and organisational commitment to protect the environment adequately. This leads to sustainability which is a positive value in development. Ethics involves respecting the interests of all and protecting the interests of the global environment so as to promote a sustainable development. This paper proposes that practices result in sustainable development in the economy through the maintenance and enhancement of a sustainable environment. It will identify various ethical dimensions of sustainable development; the various ethical issues that influence sustainable development. In order to achieve this, the paper will use a case study of coltan mining industry. Coltan is a dull metallic ore from which the mineral components of tantalum and niobium are extracted. Tantalum is use to manufacture tantalum capacitors which are used in some electronic products. Australia is the leading coltan mining country of the world. I have chosen Coltan mining as the case study industry because it is one of the activities which affect the environment. The environment is the main component of the global economy whose sustainability has a direct impact on the sustainability of development. Therefore, it is important to use a case study industry whose main activities affect the environment. Coltan mining is one of such industries. Coltan mining process is an environmentally hazardous practice, while Coltan itself is a toxic contaminant. Therefore, Coltan mining industry exhibits ethical issues which impact on development sustainability and how such ethical issues may be addressed in order to enhance sustainability and sustainable development. Ethical issues related in the Coltan mining industry
African Coltan mining industry is tantamount to human rights violations. Apart from having a negative impact on the environment, Coltan mining in Africa has also resulted in human rights violations. Melcher et al. (2008) suggest that Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s leading producer of “blood coltan”; Coltan mined in a conflict zone. Fighting, wars and crime are experienced in Congo due to mining of several minerals including Coltan. The mining of the ore has led to violation of human rights, an issue which has distorted social order in the country. Apart from conflicts, other human rights ethical concerns associated with coltan mining include systematic exploitation of workers. According to the UN, it choosing one’s employer and working conditions is a human right. However, this is not the case in conflict Coltan mining areas such as Congo. In these regions, some indigenous residents are forcibly engaged in mining activities. For instance, in Colombia and Puinawai residents claim that children are forced to work at Coltan mines while they are being guarded with a gunpoint by militia groups. Coltan mining in conflict areas is therefore associated with poor working conditions for labourers. In most cases, it is illegally practiced by illicit groups such as drug cartels. The unregulated nature of coltan mining provides a wide avenue for exploitation of the local residents of the mining areas and other labourers who work forcibly in the...
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