A report has been published in London today (September 19th) on the activities of two major oil companies, Shell and British Petroleum, in evading sanctions against Rhodesia.
A report has been published in London today (September 19th) on the activities of two major oil companies, Shell and British Petroleum, in evading sanctions against Rhodesia. It was drawn up by a British lawyer, Mr. Thomas Bingham, at the request of the Foreign Office, after allegations of consistent sanctions-breaking; and it confirms that this did in fact happen, and that successive British governments knew about it, but failed to take action for fear of damaging relations with South Africa.
SYNOPSIS: The United Nations Security Council first imposed selective economic sanctions against Rhodesia, at Britains request, in December 1966 -- just over a year after the unilateral declaration of independence. They were aimed both at Rhodesia's export trade, and at preventing oil and military supplies getting through to her. Britain, as the power legally responsible for Rhodesia, was already operating her own sanctions -- with naval frigates patrolling off the Mozambique coast to stop tankers delivering oil to Beira if there was evidence that it was destined for Rhodesia. Prime Minister Harold Wilson hoped this would be enough to bring Rhodesia back to constitutional rule.
But it soon became obvious that oil, in particular, was still getting through to Rhodesia. Private arrangements were made by which imports were manifested to Mozambique -- then still under Portuguese control -- and to South Africa, to replace oil already in those countries, which was sent on to Rhodesia Regular consignments from South Africa were despatched by road. Before the end of the 1960s, African critics at the United Nations were already beginning to call for more determined action against Portugal and South Africa. Now, the publication of the Bingham report is expected to bring bitter African criticism of Britain.
1970: British frigates were still patrolling the Mozambique coast -- and the oil was still getting through to Rhodesia. It took the change of regime in Mozambique, after Portugal withdrew and an independent state was established, to put an end to this trade route.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has stiffened its attitude. Again and again, the Security Council reviewed the position, calling for sanctions to be made effective. The Somali delegate, speaking in 1973.
The streets of the Rhodesian capital, Salisbury, in 1978. Sanctions have been extended to cover all types of trading, but there is no sign of any lack of foreign cars or the petrol to fill them. The regime is under pressure, internal and external -- but there is little evidence that sanctions are a major cause of it.