Published: 15 Feb 2013

"Business and Human Rights - Oil at All Costs"

Prague College, in cooperation with Amnesty International, is organizing the first in a series of workshops about human rights. The workshop will deal with the relationship between business and human rights.

Speakers will be Mr Filip Gregor, lawyer and chair of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice, and Ms. Lenka Pitronova, campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Czech Republic.

The first part of the workshop is reserved for a 30-minute documentary about oil spills and gas flaring in the Niger Delta region. After that, there will be an introduction to Amnesty’s ongoing campaign, calling for the cleaning-up of Ogoniland, where some 69,000 people are affected by oil spills. Royal Dutch Shell has accepted its responsibility for only two spills from 2008, but still has not cleaned up the Delta, which it is obliged to do by Nigerian law. Similar spills have been occurring for the last 30 years, due mainly to the corrosion of the pipelines that were supposed to be renewed by Shell many years ago. These spills affect the livelihoods of thousands of people in the region, denying them access to clean water and arable land. Amnesty’s campaign aims to compel Royal Dutch Shell to clean up and pay compensation for the damage inflicted.  

In the second part of the workshop, the focus will be on a broader context of multinational corporations’ legal impunity and what affected communities can do to receive legal redress. One of the big issues in the relation between business and human rights is access to justice, especially in cases where the domestic legal system is corrupt and unable to provide protection. This is largely a problem for developing countries, where governments are often - and to a great extent - controlled by large multinational enterprises, and unwilling to promote the protection of human rights.