Nigeria's new civilian government has inherited serious and often violent conflicts between international oil companies, which provide 98 percent of the country's export earnings, and local communities in the Niger delta, where the environment has been damaged by the pollution and disruptions that accompany oil extraction. This meticulously researched book takes a sociolegal approach to these conflicts by examining 68 court cases pitting village communities against the companies. The author finds that the country's environmental and land laws, its court system, and its law enforcement methods are biased in the companies' favor. But he also discerns a gradual shift in the outcomes of litigation in favor of citizen plaintiffs in the 1990s. This trend reflects the changing social attitudes of judges, the increasing professional skills of lawyers who defend citizen interests, and the liberalization of the rules and procedures that make citizen suits more likely to succeed. An important study of the interplay among multinationals, local legal systems, and activists for human rights and the environment.