Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) is the second largest multinational petrochemical company in the world. According to Shell, “In 1833, shopkeeper Marcus Samuel decided to expand his London business. He sold antiques, but now added oriental shells. He aimed to capitalize on a fashion for using them in interior design. His instinct was right – such was the demand that Samuel quickly began importing shells from the Far East, laying the foundations for his import/export business,” (The beginning, para 1.). Shell Group’s ultimate goal is to uphold their core values honesty, integrity, respect for people and its business principles that are applicable anywhere it does business.
The ethical issues that became evident in the situation as a result of Shell’s globalization began in 1958 when they began oil production in the Niger Delta “one of the world’s most severely petroleum-impacted ecosystems” of Nigeria. The Ogoni population living in Niger Delta 75% depends on the earth for their income and the Nigerians live on less than US$1 per day. Shell’s operations led to irreversible damage and devastation to their beloved land like oil spills and deforestation. The Ogoni people formed a nonviolent movement called the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) to protest the Shell organization.
From 1990-1995, Nigerian soldiers, at Shell’s request and with Shell’s assistance and financing, used deadly force and conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people to repress the growing movement in protest of Shell. On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders died because they opposed Shell’s devastating practices in Ogoni lands,” said Jennie Green, attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. One month after the executions of the Ogoni Nine, Shell signed an agreement to invest $4 billion in a liquefied natural
gas project in Nigeria (EarthRights, 2008).
The ethical perceptions across the cultures in regard to the ethical situation between the Ogoni people and Shell were views of perspicacity. The shrewdness Shell corporation displayed to the Ogoni people was immoral, illegally, and insensitive. The cultures of the world understood the suffering of the Ogoni people and how lesser countries are taken advantage of and disregarded because of their lack of education, resources, and governmental support. Moreover, the views from other cultures expressed Shell’s actions should be held accountable and the Ogoni people should have compensation for the damages inflicted to their environment.
The risk associated with Shell’s ethical dilemma is there is still little trust between the company and the Ogoni people and their representative organization, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Many of the issues raised by the Ogoni (such as the need for locally sustainable development, distribution of oil wealth, community projects and environmental issues) have yet to be addressed (Boele, Fabig & Wheeler 2001).
The consequences that were associated with Shell’s ethical dilemma is beginning in 1996, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), EarthRights International (ERI) and other human rights attorneys brought a series of cases to hold Shell accountable for human rights violations in Nigeria, including summary execution, crimes against humanity, torture, inhuman treatment and arbitrary arrest and detention.
The lawsuits were brought against Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Nigeria, and Brian Anderson, the head of its Nigerian operation.The case went to trial on May 26, 2009, in federal court in New York City. After 13 years of litigation, the case against Shell ended in a historic $15.5 million settlement for the plaintiffs. Shell’s reputation, ethics, and morality were negatively viewed by patrons, the government, and other corporations of the world. Shell illustrated their profit was more important than human life and the Nigerian environment.
CONCLUSION AND SUMMARY
When Shell began extracting oil from Nigeria; deforesting the land; torturing and killing the Ogoni people Shell did not abide by their ultimate goal, which is to (Trevino & Nelson, 2007) “uphold Shell Group’s core values (honesty, integrity, respect for people) and its business principles that are applicable anywhere it does business.
The Shell’s principles include the firm’s commitment to human rights, diversity and inclusiveness, security, health, and safety, and its concern for environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development.” In an influential article written by Boele, Fabig & Wheeler (2001, January) wrote so for Shell, a return to Nigeria would be a powerful symbol and statement to the Ogoni people that their corporation is commitment to being a socially responsible company and is translated into action on the ground.
Shell cannot right their wrongs, but for the next generation of Ogoni people it would show a peaceful and ethical step to attempting to right the wrong committed. Shell has the financial means, legal power, and other resources to ensure their past actions and choices will not be performed by other oil corporations that place themselves above the laws and regulation of foreign governments, outside of the United States. Foreign governments and officials should ethically and morally protect their people and land from money thieving corporations that are concerned with making a profit and not the welling-being of other citizens’ homelands.
Boele, B., Fabig, H., & Wheeler, D. (2001, January). Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni: A study in unsustainable development: I. The story of Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni people – environment, economy, and relationships: conflict andprospects for resolution. Retrieved January 29, 2010, from http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/79503312
EarthRights International. (2009, May 28). Congressional Commission Hears Testimony on Shell’s Environmental Abuses in the Niger Delta. Retrieved January 29, 2010, from http://www.earthrights.org/legal
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