Nonprofit research and advisory organization that worked to implement the oil embargo initiated against South Africa and its apartheid government by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. Collection consists of administrative documents, correspondence, UN testimony, printed materials produced by the IOWG, various conference files, UN documents relating to South Africa and sanctions, and assorted reference materials, including shipping and tanker information as well as relevant news clippings.
The collection is open for research.
Background on International Oil Working Group
In December of 1979, the United Nations General Assembly initiated an oil embargo against South Africa in order to put pressure on the government to end the racist policies of apartheid. Anti-apartheid forces outside of South Africa recognized the country's dependence on foreign oil, not only to meet domestic energy needs, but also to maintain occupation forces in Namibia. Under the auspices of the UN, an embargo on the sale of oil was organized in an attempt to persuade oil producing countries to stop exporting to South Africa. The International Oil Working Group (IOWG) is one of a number of different organizations that worked to implement the embargo.
The International Oil Working Group grew out of the Sanctions Working Group, which was established in 1979. Although the nature and timing of the change in names is unclear from the organization records themselves, it appears that Dr. Teresa Turner was instrumental in the formation of both groups, and was primarily responsible for their organization and administration, continuing to act in the capacity of co-director of the International Oil Working Group. Other directors have included Luis Prado, Arnold Baker, and Kassahun Checole.
While the group was loosely organized, it maintained the basic structure of a special advisory board and a pool of research associates. The advisory board has included such distinguished members as C.L.R. James, Denis Akumu, George Weekes, Rene Ortiz, and Mohamed Sid-Ahmed. Research associates were primarily involved in gathering information pertaining to various aspects of the embargo, while the advisory board members acted as expert consultants and were more peripherally associated with the organization.
The International Oil Working Group described itself as a "tax exempt, non-profit educational organization dedicated to carrying out work towards implementing the United Nations oil embargo against South Africa." Primary activities involved researching topics related to the oil embargo; writing papers for regional, national, and international conferences; giving testimony at UN meetings; providing information to governments, unions, and other groups committed to aiding in the implementation of the oil embargo; lecturing to students and members of the community on the subject of sanctions against South Africa; and collaborating with the UN Center Against Apartheid. Research topics included tanker monitoring to detect and expose those shipping companies that break the embargo; the energy needs of those countries in southern Africa which depend upon South Africa to meet some of their energy demands; ways to effectively implement and enforce the oil embargo; trade union action by oil transport workers; Namibian independence/decolonization; and underground oil storage in South Africa.
The collection consists of administrative documents, correspondence, UN testimony, printed materials produced by the International Oil Working Group, various conference files, UN documents relating to South Africa and sanctions, and assorted reference materials, including shipping and tanker information as well as relevant news clippings. Materials reflect the loosely-constructed character of the organization, in which the work itself was more important than the structure. Documents span the years 1957-1987, but the bulk of material is from 1980-1985. Please note that in many cases dates are not inclusive.
This collection is organized into seven series:
Acquired from Teresa Turner.
Processed by Alison Post, March 1990.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: International Oil Working Group Collection (MS 268). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.