A Rights-based Approach to Oil Spill Investigations: A Case Study of the Bodo Community Oil Spill in Nigeria

Smith Azubuike, Ondotimi Songi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Oil-bearing local communities in resource-rich developing countries suffer human rights violations after an oil spill. The violations arise as a result of impacted water sources, destruction of the environment and access to food, affected economic livelihood, etcetera. In the oil spill investigation process, the existing laws do not incorporate an assessment of the human rights impacts of the spill, to forestall subsequent human rights infringement when another oil spill occur. The Bodo community oil spill in Nigeria is a case in point. This article utilises a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) framework to examine the oil spill investigation regime in Nigeria, regarding the Bodo community oil spill. The essence is to identify the flaws in the investigation process, assist in holding duty-bearers accountable to their human rights obligations and responsibilities while empowering local communities as right-holders in the oil spill investigation process. This article seeks to incorporate the HRIA framework into the oil spill investigation regime to prevent further human rights violations post-oil spill. It notes that the application of the core procedural elements of HRIA – DM-PACT - is fundamental to improving the human rights experience after an oil spill. As a result, the framework could be mainstreamed into policy, legal, regulatory processes and management systems to enhance restorative and energy justice post-spill and to enhance post-spill or accident investigation to improve the human rights experience in the energy sector.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-54
    Number of pages17
    JournalGlobal Energy Law and Sustainability
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2020


    • Oil spill
    • investigation
    • human rights
    • energy justice
    • environmental Justice
    • rights-based approach
    • Bodo Community
    • Nigeria
    • John Ruggie
    • corporate accountability
    • due diligence


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