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Shell’s alleged crimes against humanity


I would like to remind your readers that the United States held its own version of the Nuremberg trials in the American Zone of what was once West Germany. The trials held at Nuremberg ended in 1946 but the US decided to continue prosecuting those whom were deemed by the US government to be (suspected) ‘war criminals’. The trials in the US Zone ended in 1949. (see the attached link w/ PDF file). None of the other major powers conducted their own versions of the Nuremberg trials.

These articles have a very interesting discussion of the history of the Nuremberg trials and the establishment of recognized international legal standards for ‘crimes against humanity’, etc.

American Involvement in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Process

International Humanitarian Law – Principles Nuremberg Tribunal 1950

Principles of International Law recognized in the Charter of the …

The Influence Of The Nuremberg Trial On International Criminal Law …

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Nuremberg process was critical throughout, and the trial would never have materialized if not for American efforts. America’s role in the Nuremberg trials set the …

These trials, and the resulting body of international law that came from them, would probably never taken place had it not been for the efforts of the US government.

Briefly, the basis for the Nuremberg trials did not exist in international law as it then existed. However, since those trials a body of international law has been developed and codified, and it is recognized by United Nations, the United States, and a host of other nations as well.

The Nuremberg trials created the concept within international law of ‘crimes against humanity’, and well as the concept of ‘personal accountability’ for involvement in those crimes.

While no body of international law existed for dealing with ‘crimes against humanity’ at the time the Alien Tort Statute was passed into law, that body of internationally recognized law does exist today, and did exist at the time Royal Dutch Shell allegedly committed its illegal acts.

Shell is now trying to argue that this body of international law does not apply to corporations under the Alien Tort Statute, only individuals. Yet US law has given corporations many of the same rights as individuals. It would seem to me that corporations in the US are asking for many of same rights granted to individuals, but that they also want immunity from being held accountable and liable for their actions. There is a double standard at work here, of course.

Don’t forget, the Nuremberg trials did establish an international case law precedents for dealing with corporations, and the management of those corporations, who knowingly engaged in ‘crimes against humanity’, etc. The case against I.G. Farben is the most noteworthy.

In the end it may also be that it will be necessary to go after the individual managers of Royal Dutch Shell that were the powers behind the policies and decisions that are being addressed in the action before the Supreme Court.

Since the publication of classified US State Dept. documents by Wikileaks the world has learned of the degree to which Royal Dutch Shell had penetrated the Nigerian government with its ‘seconds’. Clearly, Royal Dutch Shell had knowledge of the intentions of the Nigerian government before they occurred. Shell effectively operated a ‘shadow government’ within the Nigerian government.

It would be interesting what further information a FOIA request to the US State Dept. might turn up, or not, whatever the case may be.

We now know that Royal Dutch Shell funded some of the activities undertaken by Nigerian governmental agencies against their own people. Shell management obviously approved of these actions, and may have even helped plan and execute some of them. These activities make Shell and the involved managers complicit and active participants in the alleged actions of the Nigerian government against the Nigerian people.

Interestingly, Shell has not proclaimed their innocence, only that under the Alien Tort Statute they are not liable or accountable for their activities in Nigeria.

This is going to be an interesting Court decision. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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