Royal Dutch/Shell: Human Rights in Nigeria.

Essay by blogblogmeUniversity, Master'sA-, August 2005

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1.Does Shell bear some responsibility for the problems in the Ogoni region of Nigeria?

It is obvious that Shell bears responsibility for the problems in the Ogoni region of Nigeria. From 1958, Royal Dutch/Shell struck oil on Ogoni lands. By estimates, the company has extracted some $30 billion worth of oil from the region since then. But Shell didn't give any contribution to the local people and environment. The social and environmental costs of oil production which Shell deliberately ignored and didn't attempt to take responsible for were really extensive:

-Large area of farmlands and fisheries had been occupied to explore oil. And because Ogoni is a powerless minority, they often overlooked when it comes to the allocation of jobs. This leads to the Ogoni region face with loss of land, as well as forced migration and unemployment.

-Numerous oil spills and leakage degrade of the soil. Without fertile soil, Ogoni people lose their mode of survival and are faced with the crisis of food shortages.

-Oil spills also contaminates the groundwater which can cause serious health problems for the inhabitants and destroy vegetation.

-Destruction of wildlife and damage to aquatic ecosystems.

-Focusing on exploiting the resources, while ignoring the local people's health and education conditions.

All these are due to Shell's poor social responsibility in Nigeria. Environmental regulations which are common practice in developed nations are often not followed in less developed countries. The system of oil production in Nigeria clearly is heavily skewed in favor of the Shell company and government elites rather than native populations. Hence, the indigenous inhabitants are actually further impoverished.

When Ogoni organized their protest, seeing a threat to the continuity of its oil operations, Shell informed the Nigerian government. Subsequently, a series of murky incidents occurred to quell unrests and hundreds of...