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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 23, 2007

International Law and Justice

Edmund F. Byrne
Pages 103-114
DOI: 10.5840/socphiltoday2007239

Can Arms Be Sold Responsibly in the Global Market?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) research has ignored the arms industry, in large part because of political assumptions that tie this industry to nation-state sovereignty. Bypassing this obsolescent Westphalian world-view, I examine the US arms industry on the basis of CSR requirements regarding the environment, social equity, profitability, and use of political power. I find the arms industry fails each of these four CSR requirements. In response to the assertion that the arms industry should not be subject to CSR requirements because it is crucial to national defense, I point out that many arms manufacturers are post-Westphalian entities more powerful in their own right than many nation-states. So they should be held responsible for the foreseeable consequences that flow from use of their products, both under civil law and, where applicable, under international human rights standards.

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