Advertisement

Transnational Human Rights and Environmental Litigation: A Study of Case Law Relating to Shell in Nigeria

  • Liesbeth F. H. EnnekingEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights book series (CHREN, volume 3)

Abstract

In June 2017, four widows of Nigerian environmental activists initiated a civil lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria before the Hague District Court in the Netherlands. This is one of six cases to have been pursued in recent years before courts in the US, the UK and the Netherlands in relation to the detrimental impacts of Shell’s oil exploration and production activities in Nigeria on human rights and the environment. These cases form part of a broader international trend towards foreign direct liability litigation, which is closely connected to contemporary socio-political debates on international corporate social responsibility. The likely success of this type of litigation is determined by four main factors: (1) jurisdiction, (2) applicable law, (3) legal basis and accompanying requirements, and (4) procedural rules and practices. In this article, I will analyse and compare the six cases mentioned with a view to understanding how cases that essentially share the same socio-political background may work out differently depending on their particular legal context, as reflected by differences in these four factors.

References

  1. Augenstein D, Jägers N (2017) Judicial remedies – the issue of jurisdiction. In: Álvarez-Rubio JJ, Yiannibas K (eds) Human rights in business – removal of barriers to access to justice in the European Union. Routledge, London, pp 7–37Google Scholar
  2. Bernaz N (2017) Business and human rights: history, law and policy – bridging the accountability gap. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonacorsi K (2014) Not at home with “at-home” jurisdiction. Fordham Int Law J 37(6):1821–1858Google Scholar
  4. Černič JL, Van Ho TL (2015) Human rights and business: direct corporate accountability for human rights. Wolf Legal Publishers, OisterwijkGoogle Scholar
  5. Childress DE III (2012) The Alien Tort statute, federalism and the next wave of international law litigation. Georgetown Law J 100(3):709–757Google Scholar
  6. Christensen D, Hausman DK (2016) Measuring the economic effect of Alien Tort Statute liability. J Law Econ Organ 32(4):794–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis S, Whytock CA (2017) State remedies for human rights. Boston Univ Law Rev 98:397–484Google Scholar
  8. Drimmer JC, Lamoree SR (2011) Think globally, sue locally: trends and out-of-court tactics in transitional tort actions. Berkeley J Int Law 29(2):456–527Google Scholar
  9. Ekhator EO (2016) Public regulation of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria: an evaluation. Annu Surv Int Comp Law 21(1):43. Article 6Google Scholar
  10. Emeseh E (2011) The Niger Delta crisis and the question of access to justice. In: Obi C, Rustad SA (eds) Oil and insurgency in the Niger Delta – managing the complex politics of petro-violence. Zed Books, London, pp 55–70Google Scholar
  11. Enneking LFH (2012a) Foreign direct liability and beyond? – Exploring the role of tort law in promoting international corporate social responsibility. Eleven International Publishing, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  12. Enneking LFH (2012b) Multinational corporations, human rights violations and a 1789 US statute: a brief exploration of the case of Kiobel v. Shell. Nederlands Internationaal Privaatrecht 30(3):396–400Google Scholar
  13. Enneking LFH (2013) Multinationals and transparency in foreign direct liability cases. Dovenschmidt Q 1(3):134–147Google Scholar
  14. Enneking LFH (2014a) The future of foreign direct liability? Utrecht Law Rev 10(1):44–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Enneking LFH (2014b) Civiele aansprakelijkheid voor (dreigende) milieuschade in een internationale context. In: Teesing N (ed) Duurzame handel in juridisch perspectief. Boom Juridische Uitgevers, The Hague, pp 33–65Google Scholar
  16. Enneking LFH (2017a) Judicial remedies: the issue of applicable law. In: Álvarez-Rubio JJ, Yiannibas K (eds) Human rights in business – removal of barriers to access to justice in the European Union. Routledge, London, pp 38–77Google Scholar
  17. Enneking LFH (2017b) Paying the price for socially irresponsible business practices? – Corporate liability for violations of human rights and the environment abroad. Aktuelle Juristische Praxis 26(8):988–997Google Scholar
  18. Enneking L, Kristen F, Pijl K, Waterbolk T, Emaus J, Hiel M, Schaap A, Giesen I (2016) Zorgplichten van Nederlandse ondernemingen inzake internationaal maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen. Boomjuridisch, Den HaagGoogle Scholar
  19. Frynas JG (1999) Legal change in Africa: evidence from oil-related litigation in Nigeria. J Afr Law 43:121–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frynas JG (2004) Social and environmental litigation against transnational firms in Africa. J Mod Afr Stud 42(3):363–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hodges CJS (2008) The reform of class and representative actions in European legal systems: a new framework for collective redress in Europe. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  22. Ite A, Ufot U, Ite M, Isaac I, Ibok U (2016) Petroleum industry in Nigeria: environmental issues, National environmental legislation and implementation of international environmental law. Am J Environ Prot 4(1):21–37Google Scholar
  23. Magnus U (2010) Why is US tort law so different? J Eur Tort Law 1(1):102–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McBarnet D, Voiculescu A, Campbell T (2007) The new corporate accountability – corporate social responsibility and the law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Meeran R (2013) Access to remedy: the United Kingdom experience of MNC tort litigation for human rights violations. In: Deva S, Bilchitz D (eds) Human rights obligations of business – beyond the corporate responsibility to respect? Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 378–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. O’Brian WE Jr (2003) The Hague Convention on jurisdiction and judgments: the way forward. Modern Law Rev 66(4):491–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schrempf-Stirling J, Wettstein F (2017) Beyond guilty verdicts: human rights litigation and its impact on corporations’ human rights policies. J Bus Ethics 145(3):545–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Simons P (2014) Introduction. In: Simons P, Macklin A (eds) The governance gap – extractive industries, human rights, and the home state advantage. Routledge, London, pp 1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Simons P, Macklin A (2014) The governance gap – extractive industries, human rights, and the home state advantage. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Verkerk RR (2013) Multinational corporations and human rights – civil procedure as a means of obtaining transparency. Dovenschmidt Q 1(3):148–151Google Scholar
  31. Yakubu OH (2017) Addressing environmental health problems in Ogoniland through implementation of United Nations Environment Program recommendations: environmental management strategies. Environments 4(2):28. Article No. 18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Young EA (2015) Universal jurisdiction, the Alien Tort Statute, and transnational public law-litigation after Kiobel. Duke Law J 64(6):1023–1128Google Scholar
  33. Zerk JA (2006) Multinationals and corporate social responsibility – limitations and opportunities in international law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus School of LawErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations