Social Responsibility of Shell


The thing that stuck out to me while reading the Shell case was the idea of the social responsibility of Shell, and how it played out in the stance of the company towards the Saro-Wiwa trial. The stance of Shell is that a corporation should not interfere with the trials of a sovereign nation. This is because there is a large amount of room for corruption and abuse of the legal system if a corporation is found guilty of such a practice. This is interesting from a few ethical perspectives.

In my view this viewpoint stems from a rule-based ethical  system. This is because Shell is right that in theory it should be a rule that corporations should stay out of the legal system of sovereign nations, as this would increase the utility in a system overall, assuming that the legal system of the country in question is just and functions properly. In this specific case, a person could make the argument that such a viewpoint is wrong because of the possible ramifications of a wrongful guilty verdict for Saro-Wiwa. In fact, Shell took this viewpoint into consideration in trying to use its soft power to appeal to the government of Nigeria on Saro-Wiwa’s behalf. It can even be said that since the government was corrupt and controlling the trials defacto, and since Shell had knowledge of this fact that they could have realistically interfered with the proceedings of the trial, therefore invalidating its original non-interventionist stance. In this case I feel as though Shell was right in mind, but wrong in heart. The government in Nigeria obviously put forth an unfair trial to get the verdict they wanted. Shell should have taken responsibility as a proactive social institution to help protect the rights of these individuals.

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2 Responses to Social Responsibility of Shell

  1. mcardinute says:

    I agree, I think Shell is socially responsible to clean up the mess it started. I think it would be a little risky to intervene in Saro-Wiwa’s trial because there is that concern with corruption if something does not go Shell’s way. On the other hand, Shell made it extremely tough for the people of Ogoni to live with its locations of pipes. At least the article mentions that they currently helping the community and trying to get them back on their feet. That’s the leas they can do IMO.

  2. meghancrawford says:

    I agree as well, I think Shell had a social responsibility to be involved in the situation concerning the trials of a sovereign nation. Although shell felt there were a large amount of room for corruption and abuse in the legal system, that does not exempt them morally from taking part in the affairs. When Shell decided to undergo business in Nigeria, they made a moral obligation to be involved in the outcomes of any situation concerning their company and the area within the location of its pipes.

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