(Pix from "Cuba plane crash leaves more than 100 dead" BBC News (19 May 2018))
"Three women were pulled alive from the wreckage, but are said to be in a critical condition. The plane, which was nearly 40 years old, was carrying 105 passengers and six crew members. Urban authorities have launched an investigation, and two days of national mourning have been declared. The Boeing 737-201 crashed at 12:08 (16:08 GMT) on Friday, shortly after taking off from Havana on an internal flight to Holguin on the east of the island." ("Cuba plane crash leaves more than 100 dead" BBC News (19 May 2018)).
So begins the usual coverage of this recent tragedy in Cuba. The focus is on the dead and their suffering, their number, and other statistics, prominent among these are the age of the aircraft. In the case of Cuba from the perspective of a segment of the U.S. media, it also touches on the political situation that sets the context for blame. That blame, in the case of the New York Times coverage (not unexpected of course) echoes the political line of an important sector of global society that has seen in the pullback of normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba a larger tragedy of which the air disaster can only be a symptom.
A Cuban state airliner crashed and burned moments after takeoff from Havana on Friday, killing nearly all 114 people aboard the nearly 40-year-old plane. It was one of the worst airline crashes in Cuba, which has been struggling to operate with a decrepit fleet of planes that it has blamed partly on the longstanding economic embargo imposed by the United States. (Rick Gladstone and Frances Robles, "More Than 100 Die as Aging Cuban Airliner Crashes," The New York Times (18 May 2018)).
All that may well be true--or not. And both the tragedy and its causes are important stories. Yet that obsession (as worthy as it might be) also distracts from an equally important element of the story that will receive scarce attention. That element centers on the way that the diffusion of authority in the global production of goods and services makes it much more difficult to assess and apportion liability (and to trace responsibility) under law across the domestic legal orders within which this diffusion is distributed. This is particularly the case where liability and responsibility chains may not align across nations or where they may not be coordinated between, for example, financial liability to convictions versus responsibility for supervision under corporate responsibility frameworks.
This essay briefly turns to a consideration of some of those issues in the context of this tragedy. It suggests that it may be time for an OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in Air Leasing and Chartering.