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Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth vs Shell

Case overview

Date filed 30 December 2011
Current status Withdrawn
Issue Human Rights and Environmental violations by Shell Nigeria
Summary of the case Amnesty International & FoEI allege that Royal Dutch Shell has breached human rights and environmental provisions of the Guidelines at its oil operations in Nigeria. The complainants are concerned by the practices and communications of Shell with regard to its in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. According to the complainants, Shell is in breach of the OECD Guidelines because of the severe pollution it has caused, the companys slow and inadequate response to oil spills, and insufficient control and maintenance of oil infrastructure. The complaint also alleges that the information provided by Shell with regard to these matters is incorrect, misleading and unsubstantiated.

The complainants have documented the impact of the oil industry on the environment and human rights in the Niger Delta over many years and also base their complaint on a report recently conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the request of the Nigerian Government to determine the environmental and health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoniland. Over slightly more than a year the UNEP researchers examined many locations, surveyed kilometres of pipeline, reviewed medical records and engaged people at local community meetings.

Oil production in the Niger Delta Area ran from the end of the 1950s until 1993. The UNEP report maintains that even though no oil production has taken place in the region since, the oil field facilities have not been decommissioned. Oil pipelines carrying oil from other parts of the country still pass through Ogoniland but are not being adequately maintained.

Consequently, the infrastructure deteriorated due to exposure to natural forces, which caused severe environmental pollution in the Niger Delta area. In addition, the UNEP report documents how Shell failed to adequately clean up oil spills and related contamination, failed to take appropriate action after problems had been identified, and failed to provide for adequate remediation.
Developments/Outcome The case was accepted, but was put on hold until a related complaint filed in January 2011 was concluded. The complainants were disappointed in the outcome of that case, which convinced them that the Dutch NCP was incapable of contributing to a meaningful resolution to the dispute with Shell. The complainants thus decided to withdraw this case.

In September 2014, the Dutch NCP issued a final statement in the case despite the complainants' insistance that it was inappropriate to do so because they had withdrawn the complaint. In its final statement the NCP concludes that Shell does not deny that the complex situation in Ogoniland has a very negative impact on living circumstances and the rights of many people and that Shell Petroleum Development Company was part of that problem. The NCP expects the companies to respect the rights of the people of Ogoniland and clearly and transparently provide access to remedy.

The NCP furthermore repeats the recommendations as stated in its former Final Statement in the Specific instance of January 2011 and remains open to playing a role in future dialogue between the parties.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Extractives / mining sector, Human rights, Environment, Energy sector, Disclosure of information, Multiple NCPs

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Netherlands
NCP address Den Haag, Netherlands
NCP website http://www.oesorichtlijnen.nl/
Other NCPs involved

Complainants

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij
Company address Carel van Bylandtlaan 30
2596 HR Den Haag
Netherlands
Company website http://www.shell.com
Company in violation Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij
Country of operations Nigeria
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
21 September 2014 National Contact Point Netherlands statement NCP issues final statement download pdf (134Kb)  
19 June 2013 FoE Nederland press release Complainants issue press release explaining why they withdraw the complaint. download pdf (82Kb)  
1 May 2012 National Contact Point Netherlands accept Dutch NCP accepts case  
30 December 2011 Amnesty International Sectie Nederland file Complaint against Shell. download pdf (543Kb)  

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