Well Oiled: Oil and Human Rights in Equatorial Guinea

Well Oiled: Oil and Human Rights in Equatorial Guinea

Human Rights Watch | July 9, 2009
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An in-depth analysis of the history and politics of Equatorial Guinea that accuses the government of Equatorial Guinea of human rights abuses, corruption, and economic mismanagement.

"Since 1968, the year Equatorial Guinea gained independence from Spanish colonial rule, the country has been run by a succession of repressive dictatorships. Until the mid-1990s it was one of the more closed countries in the world; generally what little international comment it attracted was for its dismal human rights record. But that all changed when significant oil reserves were discovered off the country’s coast in 1995. As one of the world’s newest oil hotspots, Equatorial Guinea garners global attention as a valuable source of natural resources. Its government, however, is setting new low standards of political and economic malfeasance: billions of dollars in oil revenue have not translated into widespread economic benefits for the population or dramatic improvements in human rights, making Equatorial Guinea a classic example of an autocratic and opaque oil-rich state. (...)

Oil revenues have provided the Equatoguinean government with the money needed to do a much better job realizing their citizens’ economic and social rights. Government officials have been derelict in taking this opportunity, using public funds for personal gain at the expense of providing key social services to the country’s population, and squandering other potential revenues through mismanagement. The human toll of the continuing chronic underfunding in areas such as education and health becomes starkly apparent when comparing health and literacy levels over the past 10 years: where there was an opportunity for great advances on both fronts using the large oil revenues, the situation either worsened or improved only slightly and not in keeping with corresponding advances in other countries.

Government recognition of the problems and statements suggesting a willingness to improve this situation have yet to move from rhetoric to action...." 

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