The United States and United Kingdom: Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
In line with its international profile as a leader on these issues, Shell was among the founder members of the group developing the voluntary principles. SPDC reviewed its security policy in 2001, to ensure that it was in line with the principles.134 Shell also states that "All SPDC contractors are informed about the company's security policy and business principles and are expected to be guided by them."135 In a surprise move, ExxonMobil announced in June 2002 that it would also subscribe to the principles. Given the situation in Finima, near MPNU's Bonny River Terminal, this would be a good starting point to begin monitoring the behavior of the Mobile Police and urging the authorities to ensure that they abide by human rights principles.
It is still too soon to assess the effect of these principles. Much of their success is dependent on the willingness of the companies to respect them fully and of the governments to monitor and press for their implementation. While the U.S. has devoted resources to this effort in Nigeria, it is not clear whether that will be enough unless the governments involved also exert pressure on the companies and most importantly, perhaps, on the Nigerian government to ensure that its security forces respect human rights and hold those that are alleged to have committed abuses accountable.
U.S. interest in Nigeria has increased as the government has sought to diversify its oil supplies from the Middle East: Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States, selling about 885,000 bpd. This interest has not, however, included a focus on human rights issues. In May 2001, Human Rights Watch expressed its concern at the implications for protection of human rights in energy-producing nations of a new U.S. government energy strategy. The report of the National Energy Policy Development Group analyzed the impact of energy development on the environment, but failed completely to acknowledge the impact energy development may have on human rights. On the contrary, the report suggested making energy security an even greater priority in U.S. relations with some of the worst violators of human rights around the world, while proposing no strategy to keep necessary oil investment from perpetuating dictatorships or fueling conflicts, as it has in countries such as Angola, Sudan, Iraq-and Nigeria. Although the energy strategy recognized the need for "more transparent, accountable, and responsible use of oil resources" in Africa, the recognition was only in the context of enhancing "the security and stability of investment."136 American Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner visited Nigeria and Angola in July 2002, on a trip dedicated to "counter-terrorism, economic cooperation, democratization, counter-narcotics, and regional issues."137 Kansteiner asserted that African oil was of "national strategic importance" to the U.S., and urged Nigeria to increase production-prompting a denial from the Nigerian government that it intended to leave OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.138 But no public mention was made of human rights or community issues in respect of oil production, nor of corporate social responsibility in developing countries.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has devoted scant resources to ensure implementation of the voluntary principles by British companies. Although a political officer in the Abuja High Commission monitors the Niger Delta, there are no dedicated personnel to address these issues. British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Nigeria in February 2002: he did not publicly raise human rights issues, in the Niger Delta or elsewhere in the country. In a useful initiative, however, the FCO paid for twenty-five individuals working on environmental issues for government, private sector, and nongovernmental organizations from the Niger Delta to participate in a training program in environmental management developed by the University of Bradford. The program consisted of a three-week course in Nigeria in June 2001 and a five-week course in the U.K. in 2002, and supervised individual study projects in the intervening period.139
The European Union
The Cotonou Agreement governing relations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the E.U. includes provisions relating to human rights, democracy, good governance, and the rule of law. Article 96 of the treaty provides that if there is a dispute over human rights issues the parties may request "consultations" about the issue, though this provision has rarely been invoked. There have been discussions within the E.U. institutions about issues of corporate social responsibility, but no binding or even voluntary standards have been adopted for European corporations at E.U. level.
In June 2001, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector lending arm, approved the establishment of a U.S.$30 million revolving credit facility by the IFC, SPDC and a local bank, despite protests from Nigerian environmental groups focused on a lack of consultation with civil society and on inappropriateness of working with Shell, given its history in Nigeria. The facility would provide access to credit for Nigerian oil service companies to assist them compete with international contractors. While the IFC did undertake some consultation, this was cursory, and the project is poorly designed in other respects: for example, there are no explicit provisions to ensure that the entrepreneurs benefiting come from the delta area itself nor that the IFC will monitor compliance with environmental and other standards.142 In March 2002, the IFC announced a partnership with Nigeria's Fate Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in a project to develop entrepreneurship and small business development in the delta area.143
The World Bank has established a website on "Best Practices in Dealing with the Social Impacts of Hydrocarbon Operations," in collaboration with a group of oil companies and nongovernmental organizations committed to the protection of the environment and mitigation or elimination of any adverse social impacts from oil and gas operations.144 The website remains a work in progress, however, and there are no mechanisms for monitoring company compliance with the recommendations. The Bank also conducted a review of its role in the extractive industries, which gives it the potential to take on stronger governance, transparency, and human rights roles.145 But this review will not be completed until 2003 and it is not clear whether the Bank will take on its recommendations; even if it does, they will take several years to implement.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
In June 2002, the G8 industrialized countries adopted an "Africa Action Plan," by which they agreed to support African leaders' own efforts to overcome obstacles to development in Africa through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).150 Among the commitments made are many relevant to improving the situation in the Niger Delta, including promoting participatory decision making, supporting the reform of the security sector, combating corruption, and helping Africa attract investment. It is important that the aim of greater international investment in Nigeria is not at the cost of the other aims, including respect for human rights.
Publish What You Pay
133 The principles are available at www.state.gov.
136 See Human Rights Watch letter to Vice President Richard Cheney, May 30, 2001, available at www.hrw.org/press/2001/05/energy-ltr-0530.htm.
138 Jim Lobe, "US Lawmakers, Israelis, push for more W African oil," InterPress Service, July 26, 2002; Carl Mortished, "US presses Africa to turn on the tap of crude oil," Times (London), July 29, 2002. Nigeria is already producing well over its nominal OPEC quota of 1.7 million bpd.
142 "World Bank Delays Vote on Shell's Nigeria Fund After Criticism," Bloomberg, New York, June 15, 2001; Matthew Jones, "IFC postpones funding for Niger Delta," Financial Times (London), June 14, 2001; "IFC and Nigeria," IFC, August 2001. The IFC also approved a $2.5 million loan to construct a new hotel in Port Harcourt.
145 See www.eireview.org.
151 See www.publishwhatyoupay.org.