In This Review

Sudan, Oil, and Human Rights
Sudan, Oil, and Human Rights
By Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch, 2003, 754 pp

Newcomers to the study of the decades-long disaster in the Sudan can be easily intimidated by the welter of factions, regimes, so-called leaders, aid agencies, and international players. Not for the uninitiated, this report assumes a familiarity with the underlying causes of the war in the southern Sudan and focuses exclusively on oil exploitation as a major factor in massive human rights abuses in recent years. Within that context, it presents a vast but well organized array of factual evidence that oil companies, despite their denials, have condoned, aided, and benefited from Khartoum's strategy of forcibly displacing civilian populations. Government forces use roads and airstrips built by the oil companies, and since 1999, when Sudan began exporting oil, government revenue has paid for helicopter gunships and bombers used to "secure" oil regions by driving off tens of thousands of their residents. While negotiations between the warring parties drag on, Human Rights Watch recommends that all oil companies suspend operations until minimum benchmark conditions to prevent human rights violations are met.