A belated tribute to Ward Morehouse – a valued colleague

ward morehouseChecking up to see if his eaddress had changed, before sending a link to a recent article which would have been of interest, it was saddening to find that America’s Ward Morehouse died last year, though good to hear he was active to the end – passing away while ‘swimming laps’.

In 2000 he responded to an invitation to the Pereira Memorial Awards in Bromsgrove:

How I wish that I could be present in person at the presentation ceremony. But I definitely will be with you in spirit because I remain a great admirer of his work, his vision, and his commitment. What a terrible loss to the cause of human betterment was his premature death. If this is to be an annual affair, perhaps I can join you on some future occasion when I happen to be in the UK.

inhuman rights coverHis Apex Press published the US edition of Winin Pereira‘s “Inhuman Rights” – was one of three editions in India, Malaysia and USA. He may also have had a hand in ensuring that CHS publications were lodged in the Library of Congress.

At Morehouse’s request, CHS & Sachetan supervised the preparation of a submission of the Enron case, which was presented at the Permanent People’s Tribunal in Warwick, UK March 2000.

Chuck Collins wrote about him at length here:

A wonderful friend of Class Action has passed away.  Ward Morehouse, 83, an internationally known human rights and anti-corporate activist, author, publisher, international educator, union activist, housebuilder, lover of dogs and children, died June 30 while swimming laps in a pond near his home in Northampton, Massachusetts.

He had a multifaceted 60-year career that spanned many fields – activism, writing and publishing, alternative economics, establishing “people’s law,” and civil disobedience against war – but were all connected by the thread of his passion for social justice and equality . . .

While his advocacy was widespread, he was perhaps best known for working to keep focusing public attention on the 1984 toxic leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, which killed thousands. He was one of the organizers of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) in 1985, shortly after the 1984 Union Carbide chemical spill that left more than 22,000 people dead, often called India’s Hiroshima. When Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide and did not clean up the lethal chemicals continuing to pollute Bhopal’s ground and water, it only confirmed Morehouse’s understanding that the core problem was to find a way to exert citizen control over corporations . . . more here . . .

He co-authored The Bhopal Reader in 2004, a tool for activists and history of the 22-year struggle. The New York Times reviewed his 1986 book The Bhopal Tragedy, a citizens commission report. Morehouse and co-author Arun Subramian called for Union Carbide to pay victims and their families over 20 or 30 years.

Morehouse was the first chair of TOES North America, founded the U.S. in 1988. The first Other Economic Summit (TOES)was held in 1984 in London, a counter-summit to the annual G7 summits. It included diverse groups of economists, greens and community activists. TOES eventually became an umbrella term and similar meetings were organized in the U.S. and around the world. Morehouse was a regular activist and organizer of TOES counter-conferences. TOES’s major ongoing activity is a yearly forum/exposition held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the world’s leading industrial countries – the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

He befriended British economist E. F. Schumacher, author of the seminal book Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, and became involved with a the group of British economists critical of Western economics who proposed human-scale, decentralized technologies and formed the Intermediate Technology Development Group . . .

In 2004 he organized a Symposium on People’s Law at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. He was also Chief Organizer, People’s Tribunal on Corporate Crimes against Humanity, US Social Forum, Atlanta, 2007 . . .

He was also a consultant to various United Nations agencies, including UNESCO on East-West issues, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), and the Centre on Transnational Corporations . . .

In his earlier career, Morehouse was an academic. He taught Political Science at New York University and was a Visiting Professor at the University Lund in Sweden and at the Administrative Staff College of India in Hyderabad, then was director of international education for the State University of New York from 1963 to 1976. During this time he set up education programs in India for teachers, Indian and American, and published textbooks on a variety of areas of the world to help U.S. students understand international people “through their own eyes,” as he said . . .

“I get asked that question often, “How long is this chap going to be tilting at windmills?”  . . . Although his efforts did not always yield immediate success, Mr. Morehouse knew all along that his causes would outlive him.

As Winin Pereira explained when a similar charge was laid at his door, such people ‘go down fighting’ – and are honoured for it.







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