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The Oil Diagnostic in Angola: An Update
Human Rights Watch, March 2001
(Download PDF Version - 17 Pages)

First Page

Further Details on the Oil Diagnostic

The Cooperation of Corporations

Arms, Oil, and a Lack of Government Transparency and Accountability

Signature Bonus Payments and Arms Procurement after the Collapse of the Lusaka Peace Accords in 1998

Arrests over Arms-for-Oil Deals in 1993-1994

Recent Arms Flows to the Angolan Government

Oil Mortgaging

Government Attempts to Limit Public Criticism Over the Use of Oil Revenues


Signature Bonus Payments and Arms Procurement after the Collapse of the Lusaka Peace Accords in 1998

    Fighting resumed between the government of Angola and UNITA in December 1998 after the collapse of the Lusaka Peace Accords. New flows of arms into the country fuelled human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war, and the international community showed little political will to enforce the 1993 arms embargo against UNITA. At the end of 1998, UNITA purchased large amounts of weaponry from foreign sources, "sanctions-busting" through neighboring countries, especially South Africa, Congo, Zambia, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and also Togo and Burkina Faso.41

There were also arms shipments to the government throughout the Lusaka process. These transactions were not illegal, but they undermined the spirit of the Lusaka Protocol and contributed to undermining confidence in the peace process. The weapons were purchased from a range of countries, including Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Israel, Ukraine, and South Africa.42 Russia, one of the three governments serving as official observers/mediators in the peace process (the "Troika"), undermined its official position by selling large amounts of weapons to the government, resulting in a number of shipments to Angola. Portugal, another Troika member, also undermined its role as an objective and impartial observer/mediator, entering into military cooperation agreements with the Angolan government during the peace process. The United States, the third Troika member, did not have any formal military agreements with the government.43 The government's procurement of weapons again reached new levels in 1999, matching the high levels of purchasing of 1994. The Russian Federation was the prime source of arms to Angola during this period.44

Covert arms purchases financed by oil revenues were also a concern during this period. International oil prices fell sharply in 1998, leaving the Angolan government short of cash. But approximately U.S. $870 million in funds generated by signature bonus payments on oil exploration and offshore deepwater concession Blocks Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, and Thirty-Three were used by the government to pay for its weapons purchases. These funds were earmarked for the "war effort," according to the Angolan Foreign Minister.45 The multinational oil companies BP, Exxon-Mobil, and Elf are heavily invested in these blocks, principally because only the large oil majors have the technical expertise and investment capital to develop these technically challenging and expensive deepwater concessions.