Shell Neighbours Demand Justice

29 June 2005

MEPs call for binding regulation for multinational companies

Brussels, 29th June - Communities living next door to the oil giant Shell presented today the report 'Lessons not Learned - the other Shell Report 2004' in the European Parliament. MEPs Richard Howitt (PES) and Claude Turmes (Greens) call for a more stringent EU policy on CSR, in advance of a planned European Commission communication on CSR due this September.

The protest comes ten years after the execution of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others who had all campaigned against Shell's polluting operations in the Niger Delta. Ten years on, communities say that despite many promises, Shell has done little to improve the situation for people locally. Many live with the daily impact of pollution from refineries, leaking pipelines and oil spills, which damage their health and the environment.

"Lessons Not Learned", the third alternative Shell report, catalogues how despite commitments made in previous years, Shell still shows a total disregard for the environment and the rights of the people living near its operations in many parts of the world.

Isaak (Asume) Osuoka from Nigeria is working with local communities in the Niger Delta who are currently taking legal action against Shell over gas flaring. "General flaring has been prohibited under Nigerian environmental regulations since 1984 but Shell continues to burn gas in the Delta and last month even announced that it will continue flaring after the proposed phase out date in 2008. This is outrageous".

British Labour MEP Richard Howitt, Vice-Chair of the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights and European Parliament Rapporteur on CSR said: "This report and the testimony of the fence line communities illustrate graphically that the current voluntary approach to corporate responsibility is not enough. The glossy advertising does not hold any weight with the testimonies from our visiting community representatives. We must see a set of minimum standards put in place to regulate corporate social responsibility so that the bar for all EU based companies is at set level
which companies can work further at improving upon."

Luxembourgian Green MEP Claude Turmes, as the Greens' coordinator for the EP Committee on Industry and Energy added: "The historic profits of oil giants like Shell do also stand for the misery of these communities, the consequences of global climate change we are facing today or the deterioration of the environment in a larger sense. This will not change until we have binding rules to hold our companies accountable for their operations around the world. As a priority we need to give the affected communities a voice in our courts. While we will fight for it in this house we start today by letting them bring the reality of their every-day life to our fellow MEPs."

The report can be downloaded from:
www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/lessons_not_learned.pdf

The following community representatives were visiting the European parliament:
Desmond D'Sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, South Africa,
Isaak (Asume) Osuoka, Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth),
Nigeria, Norbert George, Human Care Foundation, Curacao, Hilton Kelley,
Community In-power Development Association, USA