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Amnesty International Report: On Trial: Shell in Nigeria: Conclusions and Recommendations

FROM PAGES 28 & 29

These cases are important for what they mean for the individuals and communities involved. They could also set important precedents on the responsibility of companies for their overseas operations, which would open the way for further litigation not only against Shell but other multinational corporations as well.

They are also placing a much-needed spotlight on Shell’s business model in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s regulation of the oil industry is undoubtedly weak and lacks independence. Government agencies responsible for industry regulation and enforcement are under-resourced, ineffective and in some cases compromised by conflicts of interest. Its own courts have failed to offer the victims of human rights abuses a meaningful avenue for seeking justice for the oil spills that have blighted the Niger Delta and the lives and livelihoods of its communities. Shell has thus avoided being held effectively to account in Nigeria.

It has benefitted enormously from extracting oil in a context where there is little or no government oversight and no effective safeguards.

Profits have flowed to its parent company in the Netherlands and the UK. The cases and Amnesty’s research show that, while generating these profits, Shell has operated in a way that has harmed communities and has not effectively remediated the harm it has caused.

As elaborated in globally endorsed standards like the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate in the world. To meet that responsibility, companies should take steps to prevent, identify, address and account for their human rights impacts. This includes remediating any harm they have caused or contributed to. The responsibility to respect human rights exists independently of a state’s ability or willingness to fulfil its own human rights obligations. So, if a state where a company operates, such as Nigeria, is unable or unwilling to enforce applicable laws to protect human rights from abuse, the company must still act to ensure respect for human rights in their operations. Shell itself expressly says that it uses the UN Guiding Principles to inform its global approach to human rights. However the pollution in the Niger Delta has had a significant human rights impact. Shell has consistently failed to fulfil its responsibility to respect the human rights of communities there.

Esther Kiobel is one of the many residents or former residents of the Niger Delta to be taking Shell to court. While earning huge profits from its Nigeria operations, Shell has operated in a way that has harmed individuals and communities and has not effectively remediated the harm it has caused. © Amnesty International

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Government of Nigeria must significantly strengthen its regulation of the oil industry and guarantee that its regulatory bodies have the necessary enforcement powers, expertise and resources to ensure that companies take all reasonable steps to prevent spills and clean up those that do occur, as required by Nigerian law.88

The UK and the Netherlands and the home states of other multinational corporations need to introduce legal reforms to ensure accountability and redress for human rights abuse in the context of the overseas operations of their multinationals.89

They must require companies to undertake human rights due diligence measures in respect of their global operations and supply chains, with particular attention to high-risk areas such as the Niger Delta. This should involve the companies disclosing information about the potential human rights impacts of their plans and operations and specific detail as to how they have been addressed. They should make it mandatory for companies to disclose information in their possession to ensure the effective protection of human rights.

Shell must improve its operational practices in the Niger Delta, including to take all reasonable measures to prevent spills, and then effectively clean up and remediate all spills from its pipelines and wells in line with Nigerian law and international standards. Shell must ensure that all communities affected by failed or delayed clean-up of oil spills receive adequate compensation for their losses. Shell should disclose information relating to spills, the impact that these have on people’s health and the environment, the state of its infrastructure and the measures it is taking to prevent and respond to oil spills and improve remediation. This should be done as a matter of urgency and in consultation with affected communities.50

Shell should implement effectively human rights due diligence measures in respect of its global operations, including the Niger Delta. As part of this, Shell should disclose information about the potential human rights impacts of its plans and operations and specific detail as to how they have been addressed.

88. More detailed recommendations to the Government of Nigeria are in the Amnesty and CEHRD reports Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta and Negligence in the Niger Delta, Bad Information, Clean it Up and Negligence in the Niger Delta.

89. For a detailed discussion of these reforms, see Amnesty International and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Creating a paradigm shift: Legal solutions to improve access to remedy for corporate human rights abuse, 2017 (Index: POL 30/7037/2017), https:// www.amnesty.org/en/documents/pol30/7037/2017/en/.

90. More detailed recommendations for Shell are in the Amnesty International reports, Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta, Clean it Up and Negligence in the Niger Delta.

ON TRIAL: SHELL IN NIGERIA
LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST THE OIL MULTINATIONAL 29

Amnesty International

Esther Kiobel is one of the many residents or former residents of the Niger Delta to be taking Shell to court. While earning huge profits from its Nigeria operations, Shell has operated in a way that has harmed individuals and communities and has not effectively remediated the harm it has caused.

© Amnesty International

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Government of Nigeria must significantly strengthen its regulation of the oil industry and guarantee that its regulatory bodies have the necessary enforcement powers, expertise and resources to ensure that companies take all reasonable steps to prevent spills and clean up those that do occur, as required by Nigerian law.88

The UK and the Netherlands and the home states of other multinational corporations need to introduce legal reforms to ensure accountability and redress for human rights abuse in the context of the overseas operations of their multinationals.89

They must require companies to undertake human rights due diligence measures in respect of their global operations and supply chains, with particular attention to high-risk areas such as the Niger Delta. This should involve the companies disclosing information about the potential human rights impacts of their plans and operations and specific detail as to how they have been addressed. They should make it mandatory for companies to disclose information in their possession to ensure the effective protection of human rights.

Shell must improve its operational practices in the Niger Delta, including to take all reasonable measures to prevent spills, and then effectively clean up and remediate all spills from its pipelines and wells in line with Nigerian law and international standards. Shell must ensure that all communities affected by failed or delayed clean-up of oil spills receive adequate compensation for their losses. Shell should disclose information relating to spills, the impact that these have on people’s health and the environment, the state of its infrastructure and the measures it is taking to prevent and respond to oil spills and improve remediation. This should be done as a matter of urgency and in consultation with affected communities.50

Shell should implement effectively human rights due diligence measures in respect of its global operations, including the Niger Delta. As part of this, Shell should disclose information about the potential human rights impacts of its plans and operations and specific detail as to how they have been addressed.

88.More detailed recommendations to the Government of Nigeria are in the Amnesty and CEHRD reports Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta and Negligence in the Niger Delta, Bad Information, Clean it Up and Negligence in the Niger Delta.

89. For a detailed discussion of these reforms, see Amnesty International and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Creating a paradigm shift: Legal solutions to improve access to remedy for corporate human rights abuse, 2017 (Index: POL 30/7037/2017), https:// www.amnesty.org/en/documents/pol30/7037/2017/en/.

90. More detailed recommendations for Shell are in the Amnesty International reports, Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta, Clean it Up and Negligence in the Niger Delta.

SOURCE

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