Scenario I

Scenario II


Looking Into the Future: Two Possible Scenarios

Likely Scenario I: Political Discontent with the Distribution of the Oil Revenues

The greatest risk to political order is related to citizen discontent stemming from the impact of oil revenues on politics. In weakly developed political environments, politicians who cherish their power eschew transparency and avoid public accountability. The oil consortium is committed to minimizing its impact on local communities by creating a sealed compound and building an underground pipeline with an offshore loading facility. It is convinced its technology will forestall any serious environmental impact. Isolation from the community will also shield the company and its installation from vandalism. The practices of both the government and the oil consortium discourage public scrutiny. This situation raises many human rights concerns.

  • How can communities have access to information on practices that may affect their lives?
  • How will freedom of speech for individuals be protected to enable them to voice public discontent should they believe that revenues are not being properly distributed or being distributed unevenly or wastefully (Article 19 of the ICCPR)?
  • Will local communities enjoy freedom of assembly and association for public advocacy if oil production leads to environmental hazards and revenues collected by the government are not fully accounted for or distributed to local communities and well administered by local officials?
  • Will political opposition be protected (Articles 21 and 22 of the ICCPR)?

In the past when the people have taken up public measures to pressure political officials for change, the government has responded with police powers without judicial scrutiny. Poorly trained government security personnel have been brought in and have used unreasonable force and extra-judicial measures against the civilians. In the face of political unrest, how will the government protect the property of the oil consortium? Given its past record, how will the government avoid human rights violations such as:

  • Torture (Article 7 of the ICCPR)
  • Loss of life and extrajudicial executions (Article 5 of the ICCPR)
  • Arbitrary and prolonged detention (Article 9 of the ICCPR)
  • Unequal and arbitrary application of the law in court of tribunal proceedings (Article 14)

This problem has arisen frequently in other parts of the world; see complaints against the multinational mining corporation Freeport McMoRan human rights abuses in Irian Jaya related to property protection measures of its extraction operations, and Shell Oil in Rivers State in Nigeria,

An example of local tension leading to citizen protest against oil operations, vandalism and kidnappings to which the government may respond to with force occurred in Mobil Oil’s activities in Aceh Indonesia,

Governments have also used oil revenues to militarize their ruling power for purposes of silencing or eliminating political opposition. On this subject see the following reports on the Sudan and Angola:

Likely Scenario II: The Absence of Significant Economic Betterment

The development of Chad’s oil is generating a new public revenue stream for investment in health, education and public works (i.e. roads and clean water). The World Bank has publicly stated that its involvement in the project is predicated on the need to promote government expenditures on poverty alleviation and economic growth through private sector led development. To ensure that such aspirations materialize, the World Bank required that the government of Chad adopt a Revenue Management Plan (RMP) to govern distribution of the oil revenues. Popular expectations in the oil producing region have been raised partly on account of the efforts of the consortium seeking local support through promising of substantial economic betterment. [To view the text of this law, see Volume IV, Part II, of Chad’s Environmental Assessment Report, which can be found at either the EssoChad web site under Documentation,, or the World Bank’s web site at,]

The RMP specifically stipulates that 80% of the oil revenues shall be allocated to “priority sectors” that include public health, social services, education, infrastructure, rural development (agriculture and livestock), the environment, and water (Article 7). The remaining revenues shall be allocated as follows, 5% for state administrative costs (for the first five years), ten percent to be held for future generations and five percent to the oil-producing region. In January 1999, the President of Chad enacted the RMP into law. This law stipulates how the money will be collected, allocated and disbursed, inter alia. Moreover it establishes a monitoring Committee (Section 1) to oversee the control and supervision of the funds. Further, the World Bank has put in place an International Advisory Group to advise it, and the governments of Chad and Cameroon, on the overall progress on the project’s implementation,
[See Hernandez-Ruiz, Harvard Human Rights Journal 2001]

Implementation of the RMP facilitates corresponds to government’s responsibility to progressively fulfill various rights enunciated in the treaty covenant it has ratified on economic and social rights (ICESCR).

The stage and the actors are thus set to show whether the promised can be filled. How will the revenue be spent? How will the 5% for the oil-producing region be distributed? Some of the possible problems can be anticipated on the basis of pest problems in other oil-producing regions. For a comparable oil revenue monitoring agreement, see that arrangement put in place between the government of Angola and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2000, which will be supervised by the World Bank.


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