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Shell in Nigeria: The Case for New Legal Strategies for Corporate Accountability

Author: Charity Ryerson, Corporate Accountability Lab (USA), Published on: 12 July 2018

...Shell has subsidiaries across the world...[M]any of the communities in which they operate have been left impoverished and contaminated...In 1996 a Nigerian and a US NGO filed a complaint with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, alleging that the Nigerian government, in collaboration with its national oil company and Shell, engaged in irresponsible oil development practices...Shell was not a part of this case, because...there is no corporate liability in these human rights tribunals...

Using the UK and Dutch National Contact Points (NCP), Friends of the Earth and Amnesty international filed OECD complaints against Shell related to their misrepresentations about the Niger Delta crisis...The complainants’ assessment of the mechanism...was that the NCP had little ability to influence Shell’s actions...

One of the first uses of the ATS [Aien Torts Claim Act] against a corporation was a case filed by a group of Ogoni against Shell in the US..., challenging Shell’s participation in the execution of the nine Ogoni activists...In 2009, a similar case was filed in the US...Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum...The Court dismissed the case...saying that the ATS could not be applied outside of the US...

Another case, brought by 45,000 Bille and Ogale farmers from Western Ogoniland...[T]he 45,000 farmers seek damages for the broad effects on their community of over 50 years of repeated spills, widespread contamination, and the effects of that contamination on the health and livelihoods of the residents of that area...[T]he Ogale plaintiffs wanted to focus on Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company, rather than the Nigerian subsidiary...Ogoni members of the Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo communities filed suit in the Netherlands based on a specific oil spill...Hundreds of cases have been filed against Shell in Nigerian courts over the past 25 years...[P]laintiffs have had little success...The primary barriers to justice have been procedural...

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Related companies: Shell