Amnesty International & the Oil Clean-up Campaign

Amnesty International, a human rights organization committed to investigating and exposing the hard truths of abuse and corruption, is currently running a campaign called Shell: #MakeTheFuture – Clean up the Niger Delta. Amnesty explains on their website that Shell oil company runs a project every year called #makethefuture, in which it asks young people for ideas on how to change the world and make for a brighter future. However, Amnesty is quick to point out the hypocrisy in this, stating that “no amount of shiny PR can hide the sticky black truth about Shell’s ongoing pollution in southern Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta…sadly, despite its riches, Shell still hasn’t come up with any bright ideas for how to stop this [oil spills] from happening – or how to clean up the environment properly afterwards.”

Amnesty also includes a video on their campaign website. It begins as the Shell advertisement for the #makethefuture campaign, but it quickly turns into a critique of Shell’s environmental standards and the fact that the company has left large swaths of Nigeria covered in “sticky black pollution.” In addition, the website has statistics that compare the size of the Niger Delta and Shell’s oil pollution, noting that within the 70,000km2 Niger Delta, Shell has admitted to spilling 55,809,000 liters of oil since 2007. Amnesty claims that this is a massive underestimate of the true amount of oil spilled. There is also a photo journal on the campaign website which offers a visual depiction of oil pollution and the Niger Delta.

Finally, the campaign website ends with a plea that “Enough is Enough,” an appeal for Shell to finally clean up its oil spills in an adequate manner and prevent future pollution. Amnesty notes that according to its research, there are four spill sites that Shell claims to have cleaned up which are in fact still polluted today. Shell argues that most of the pollution and spills are caused by theft and sabotage, but Amnesty counters this point by maintaining that spills are triggered by malfunctions in Shell’s equipment. According to the website, Amnesty and other advocates are calling on the Nigerian government to stop oil companies from getting away with spills and pollution. The campaign ends with a quote from Amnesty, stating” we have an idea for how Shell can truly #makethefuture – start cleaning up your oily mess properly, now.”

Abby Pioch is the primary blogger for Remembering Biafra. She is a senior in the Elliott School studying International Affairs concentrating in international development with a second major in French Language, Literature and Culture and a minor in Political Science. She is a member of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority and currently tutors ESL students at the Washington English Center.