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

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


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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus School of LawErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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