Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

What role should business play in society, and what responsibilities do they bear for the state we’re in? As we struggle with the twin crises of the pandemic and climate breakdown, these questions are more pertinent than ever before.

For decades, the mantra of free market economics has been that the only “business of business is business,” as Marc Benioff, the CEO of the US software company, Salesforce, has put it.

He was reflecting on the enduring influence of an article published just over 50 years ago by the US economist, Milton Friedman. Writing on the “social responsibilities of businesses”

Decades of oil spills have left the Niger Delta one of the world’s most polluted regions

Since Shell first discovered oil near the village of Oloibiri in 1956, the Niger Delta has become Africa’s most valuable oil-producing region and the Anglo-Dutch giant has earned billions of dollars.

But Amnesty International’s research over many years has demonstrated that Shell’s Nigeria operations have come at the cost of the human rights of people living there.

Hundreds of oil spills a year from poorly-maintained pipelines and wells, along with inadequate clean-up practices, have damaged the health and livelihoods of the Niger Delta’s many inhabitants, who largely remain stuck in poverty. New research has exposed that a long-touted plan to systematically clean up contaminated land and waterways in the Ogoni region has failed to deliver.

Now, Shell’s Nigeria operations are facing scrutiny like never before, with an unprecedented set of legal…

This week, Amnesty International released a report documenting how TripAdvisor is contributing to human rights violations against Palestinians by listing accommodation and attractions in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

When TripAdvisor responded two days later, its statement dodged all serious discussion of the findings of our report:

We understand that this issue is a sensitive matter with cultural and political implications. The listing of a property or business on TripAdvisor does not represent our endorsement of that establishment. We provide the listing as a platform for guests to share their genuine experiences with other travellers. …

Shell photograph

This is the first of a series of blog posts detailing research that was first published on 16 March 2018 in the Amnesty International report Negligence in the Niger Delta. The report presented the findings of a unique investigation into the operational practices of the oil industry in the Niger Delta, and was the result of hundreds of hours of work by more than 3,500 Amnesty International supporters and activists, based in 142 different countries. They took part in Decode Oil Spills, an online project for crowd-sourcing research.

The Niger Delta suffers from an epidemic of oil spills. Every year…

Mark Dummett

Global Issues Programme Director, Amnesty International/ Researcher on Business and Human Rights/Journalist.

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