1.Does Shell bear some responsibility for the problems in the Ogoni region of Nigeria?
I believe Shell bears much responsibility for the problems in the Ogoni region. One reason is the fact that Shell has received nearly $30 billion worth of oil from the Ogoni land but has not helped the Ogoni people by providing them with jobs or money to develop their lands. If Shell had provided money to the Ogoni people they could have built schools and provided health care that would help the them get their feet on the ground and potentially give them some power.
Another reason Shell is responsible is because they destroyed much of the land in this region. This occurred through numerous oil spills that contaminated the soil and groundwater in the region. Even a spokesman at Shell admitted to them being at fault for this.
A third reason Shell is responsible for the problems in this area is because they were the causing the conflict between the Ogoni people and the government. The Ogoni people were fed up with Shell destroying their land that, they believe, the government was responsible for stopping. Because of this the Ogoni people protested against the government plus Shell.
A fourth reason Shell is responsible for the problems is because Shell would complain to the government about the Ogoni peoples protests and how it was halting their operations. Because of this the government would shoot at the crowds of protestors. These events caused hundreds of protestors to die.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that Shell was very much responsible for all of the problems caused in the Ogoni region. This includes, to an extent, the execution of Saro-Wiwa and his associates. This is because Shell only used discreet diplomacy to influence the Nigerian government to stop the execution. This was obviously not enough of an effort on their part.
2.What steps might Shell have taken to nip some of the protests against it in the bud, or even preempt them?
There are many ways that Shell could have stopped or minimized the protests against them. One way would have been to provide money to the Ogoni people for use of their land. This would have given the Ogoni people a reason to accept some oil spills and contamination problems because they were receiving something in return.
Another way that Shell could have minimized the protesting is by providing the Ogoni people with jobs. As with money for the community, it would have given the Ogoni people a reason to accept the problems Shell was causing on their land.
A third reason Shell could have minimized the protesting was by trying to have talks with the Ogoni people and try to come to a peaceful resolve instead of having the government resort to violence.
A fourth way Shell could have stopped the protesting was by not continuing their operations within the Ogoni territory. This would have been a very easy, but costly, way to prevent the protests.
One last way to prevent or minimize the protests would have been to talk with the government and work something out in regards to the oil revenue not being delivered to the Ogoni people. Basically, it would have been best if Shell took a neutral role between the government and the Ogoni people instead of siding with the government the whole way through.
3.Could the company have done more to gain clemency for Ken Saro-Wiwa? What? Should it have done more?
The company could have definitely done more to gain clemency for Ken Saro-Wiwa. This could have been done because of Shells influence over the government.
Saro-Wiwas death could have been prevented from the beginning. Shell could have resolved the issue with the protestors in more peaceful ways and should have tried to come to a resolution from the get-go.
Shell should have not even informed the government of the problems with the protests and should have done it themselves with the Ogoni people.
Once Saro-Wiwa and his associates were arrested, Shell could have done much more to influence the government. They could have threatened the government by saying they were going to move their operations out of Nigeria.
Another way Shell could have done more was by restricting the amount of operations in Nigeria. Additionally, Shell could have threatened to use different people (foreigners) for their jobs.
Overall, it is clear that Shell could have done much more because of their strong economic standing within the country. By using discreet diplomacy, Shell was not giving enough of an effort to prevent the worst from happening.
4.Was the response of Western governments to the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa about right, too excessive, or too mild? What should have been the appropriate response?
I believe the response of Western governments was too mild or about right. The Western governments could have done more to Nigeria.
The Western governments did make it clear that it was wrong what Nigeria did by cutting military sales and aid to them but arguably it was not enough.
By these western governments still purchasing the oil, they were, in a way, justifying Nigeria's actions in the first place. Why did the Nigerian government execute the protestors? They did this to not halt the production and sales of oil.
By the western governments still purchasing the oil, they are indirectly supporting the Nigerian government's decision.
I believe, that it is important, no matter how much money may be lost, that we do the moral thing. By halting purchases of the oil, we would really be making it clear to the Nigerian government that what they did was immoral and wrong.
On the other hand, by halting the operations many people would lose their jobs in Nigeria and elsewhere, which would result in a tremendous amount of hardship for many people. This is a tough question to answer because no matter what someone is getting hurt. But, overall I do think the western government did the most good for the most people by not halting oil production.
5.In the wake of Saro-Wiwa's execution, was Shell correct to push ahead with the liquefied natural gas project in Nigeria?
This is also a tough question to answer because part of you believes that it is the responsibility of Shell to stop operations all together because of what their actions caused.
At the same time, thousands of jobs would be lost by canceling the project. As I stated in the last question, Shell should be punished for their actions but, the Nigerian people end up being the ones that get hurt the most.
My belief is the same as it was in the last question. I believe that Shell should go ahead with the project because it will provide many jobs.
I believe it is important that people realize that no matter what, someone is always going to lose. I believe that the most good for the most people is the best way to go regardless of the situation.
I think that from the execution that happened Shell should be allowed to continue with their operations but receive consistent pressure from activists to become a socially responsible multinational corporation.
6.Do you think it is possible for a company such as Shell to reform itself from within, or would it have been better for Shell to establish an external body to monitor its human rights and environmental policies?
I think it is possible for a company like Shell to reform itself from within by doing some restructuring within the company. This restructuring could be done through many different methods.
Shell should establish training programs and have employees and top management become active in environmental campaigns. Overall, Shell should become a more socially responsible multinational corporation.
I do not believe that Shell should complete all of its reform by itself. I do think their should be an external body to monitor their human rights and environmental policies.
I believe this external body should not be actively reforming the corporation but should act as more of an audit and periodically perform reviews on the company (every 3, 6, or 12 months).
Overall, it is important that Shell is punished for what they caused and it is important that they learn from their mistake by becoming more of a socially responsible multinational corporation.