2011 International Conference on oil and Democracy in Nigeria
• Date: May 13-15 2011
• Convener: Dr Victor Ojakorotu, Department of International Studies, Monash University, Johannesburg
Over the years there has been a long-standing debate about the link between oil and democracy, as scholars have argued that oil wealth promote antidemocratic forces, and while others have asserted that oil wealth may promote democracy if certain factor (good governance) is in place. Given this scenario or relationship between oil wealth and democracy, where do we place Nigerian experience since 1999?
The crisis in the Niger Delta of Nigeria is attracting increasing international attention due both to the growing security threat it portends for the Nigerian state and, particularly, its impact on international oil prices. Although the Niger Delta problem has been around for several decades, the emergence of organized and militant pressure groups in the 1990s has added a new dimension to the crisis in the region. Protests and the threat of outright rebellion against the state are now ubiquitous. Environmental activism and militancy are a direct response to the impunity, human rights violations, and perceived neglect of the region by the Nigerian state on one hand and sustained environmental hazards imposed on local Niger Delta communities as a result of the oil production activities of multinational oil companies on the other.
From contemporary global perspective, the dramatic upsurge in violent confrontation and protests against the state and oil multinationals in the 1990s coincided with the end of the Cold War and the de-emphasizing of ‘high politics’ for ‘low politics’. In essence, ‘soft’ issues such as the environment, gender equity and equality, human rights, democracy and good governance have attained primacy on the international agenda. International concern over the crisis in the Niger Delta, including its attendant social and humanitarian implications, can be located in the context of this global attitudinal shift.
The internationalization of the Niger Delta crisis derives partly from the systematic publicity and struggle of the environmentalist, the late Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa not only succeeded in directing the attention of the international community to the plight of the people of the Niger Delta but also – through his advocacy – paved the way for robust international/civil society engagement with the issues at the core of the crisis in the region. This fact has been illustrated by the intervention of organisations such as Amnesty International, Green Peace Movement, Rainforest Action Group, the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Such intervention effectively internationalised the Niger Delta crisis.
Generally, the conference hope to address or answer some pertinent questions as it relates to oil wealth and democracy:
Does oil wealth really hinder or promote democracy?
Have oil wealth really undermined forces of democracy?
How does an oil rent retard forces of development?
More recently, the crisis has taken a new turn with increasing criminalization of the conflict, leading to questions as to why the problem is seemingly spiralling out of control with democracy in place since 1999. The spate of criminality (and possible external links to this phenomenon) has given rise to the question around the implications that the Niger Delta problem has for international (regional and global) peace and security. Also worth probing is how the Nigerian government can (re)gain the initiative in finding sustainable solutions to the problem. The proposed conference seeks to provide answers to these and other pertinent questions through rigorous debate but collaborative engagement by academics, civil society actors, government officials/policy makers, representatives of oil-producing communities and those of multinational companies.
Objectives of the Conference
To provide an international platform for the discussion of the crisis in the Niger Delta.
To examine the factors that have precipitated conflict in the Niger Delta with a view to proposing appropriate solutions.
To highlight the international ramifications of the crisis and to propose strategies for their mitigation.
To develop a framework of action that outlines the plausible contributions of both local and international actors to the resolution of the crisis.
Call for Papers
We are inviting scholars, activists, researchers and stakeholders to submit conference papers on Oil and Democracy in Nigeria. The Conference will run for three days in Johannesburg, South Africa and proposals should include 250- word abstract and title, author’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and institutional affiliation. A non-refundable registration fee of $150 must be paid once an abstract is accepted. Individual interested must register before 20 April 2011
Sub-themes of the conference are:
An overview of the Nigerian state.
The political economy of oil in Nigeria.
The politics of oil in the Niger Delta.
Environmental laws in Nigeria.
Human rights violations and social activism in the Niger Delta.
The social impact and costs of the crises for local communities and the Nigerian state.
The emergence and role of social movements in the Niger Delta.
Criminal networks and opportunism in the Niger Delta.
The role of external actors in the Niger Delta crisis.
Past and current crisis resolution initiatives.
Send your proposed title, an abstract of no more than 250 words by 11 April 2011 to: Dr Victor Ojakorotu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Victor Ojakorotu
Monash university, Johannesburg, South Aafrica
Cell: +27 783756718, Office: +27 11 9504084 Email: email@example.com
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