Masterclass ‘Business & Human Rights: Shell in the Niger Delta’
Economic actors, especially multinational companies that operate across national borders, have gained unprecedented power and influence across the world. Companies have an enormous impact on people’s lives and the communities in which they operate. Sometimes the impact is positive, but Amnesty has exposed countless instances where corporations exploit weak and poorly enforced domestic regulation with devastating effect on people and communities.
In the 1990s Shell was the single most important company in Nigeria and in 1995 it pumped almost one million barrels of crude oil a day, roughly half of Nigeria’s total daily oil production. Shell and the government were business partners and had a shared interest in ensuring that the oil kept flowing. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by author and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, protested against Shell’s negative environmental and social impact on the Ogoni community and told the company to leave the area. Pollution from oil spills and gas flaring, MOSOP said, “led to the complete degradation of the Ogoni environment, turning our homeland into an ecological disaster” – contaminating water, killing fish and crops and destroying livelihoods.
In November 1995, the Nigerian state arbitrarily executed nine men, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, after a blatantly unfair trial. Officially accused of involvement in murder, the men had in fact been put on trial for confronting the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, over its devastating impact on the Ogoniland region of Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta. Shell has always denied that the company played any part in the violence and gross human rights violations that took place in Ogoniland. However, Amnesty International has undertaken a detailed review of thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements which expose what Shell knew and how it engaged with the Nigerian security forces throughout this period. On 29 June 2017, Esther Kiobel along with three other women launched a civil case against Shell, that’s ongoing, accusing it of colluding with the Nigerian military authorities in human rights abuses during the campaign to crush Ogoni protests.
In this Masterclass for Students we will offer you a short introduction to human rights and to the global work of Amnesty. After the introduction we will focus on the theme: ‘Business & Human Rights.’ For this we are going to discuss the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, the 2017 report ‘A criminal enterprise? Shell’s involvement in human rights violations in Nigeria in the 1990s’, the ongoing court case against Shell, and what Amnesty is doing to support this. You will use your newly gained knowledge to discuss this with the other students in a case study.
What: Masterclass for students
When: 6 September 2019
What time: from 14.45 till 17.45
Where: Amnesty office, Keizersgracht 177, Amsterdam
Entrance is free, but registration is required!