FRAMEWORK FOR OBLIGATIONS REGARDING ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION IN NIGERIA’S BILATERAL INVESTMENT TREATIES
Ekeolisa, Chukwunonso Cherechi
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This thesis explores the potential of imposing obligations relating to environmental and human rights protection on International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria’s Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) for the protection of the environment and the human rights of Nigeria’s Niger Delta people. While the thesis does not discount the importance of improving Nigeria’s domestic laws to address environmental concerns which adversely impact human rights of the Niger Delta communities, it argues that Nigeria’s BITs could be explored to enhance the accountability of IOCs in their operations in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. This research makes a significant contribution to knowledge by analyzing how IOCs’ environmental and human rights obligations could be enforced. It argues that the enforcement of these obligations could take one of two directions. First, it argues that they could be enforced by the Nigerian government in arbitral tribunals under the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes system. Second, it analyzes how the impacted Niger Delta communities could enforce these obligations in IOCs’ home states. It also examines the practicability of the enforcement mechanisms and provides useful insight into how the legal difficulties facing these mechanisms could be solved. In addition to a review of Nigeria’s domestic laws, the thesis analyzes international mechanisms for regulating the impact of IOCs’ operations on the environment and human rights. Specifically, it reviews international norms, principles, codes and guidelines that seek to regulate IOCs. It argues that the current approach of these international instruments has failed to effectively curb IOCs’ violations of environmental and human rights standards in their operations in the Niger Delta. Given the ineffectiveness of these mechanisms in mitigating the environmental and human rights impacts of oil and gas development in the Niger Delta, the thesis turns its attention to BITs. It examines the adverse effects of some clauses in some of Nigeria’s BITs on the protection of the environment and human rights. In spite of the adverse impacts of these BIT clauses, the thesis argues that BITs present opportunities for mitigating environmental and human rights impacts of oil and gas development. By imposing environmental and human rights obligations on IOCs in BITs, these instruments complement efforts that are made domestically by providing a different perspective that should be explored.
DegreeMaster of Laws (LL.M.)
CommitteeHeavin, Heather; Hansen, Robin; Penelope, Simons
Copyright DateMarch 2020
Bilateral Investment Treaties, Environmental degradation, Human Rights.